In A Second Chance, Jenny suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and is grappling with a flurry of thoughts and emotions about it. This scene takes place about four months later as she and three friends, two of them psychic, spent the day trying to find the body of a murdered woman. This week our prompt is ‘hardy’.
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We sat at our booth in the back of Waffle House, each of us intently looking at the menus, except for Carla who always knew immediately what she wanted. “Pork chops and waffles,” she announced.
I waited for the waitress to finish filling up the coffee cups before I looked up and asked my friends a question that had been bothering me for hours. “What made it Maureen’s time to die that day?”
I tried to explain, haltingly, searching for words to express the thoughts that tumbled around in my brain. “I mean…everyone always talks about ‘it’s your time to go’ or ‘it’s not your time to go’. But, what are the determining factors that make it ‘my time’?”
Nancy looked like she was thinking of an answer. Gail sat there trying to look wise and all-knowing, but naturally didn’t have anything to say yet. She had to see what Nancy said before she’d know which direction she wanted to take that would make her look the best. Carla was busy digging in her bag for her cigarettes and I don’t think she’d even heard what I’d said.
“Everyone keeps telling me that ‘it wasn’t my time.’ Which I get. I mean, when I look at the players that were in place, and the situation where I had immediate care, including oxygen, I can easily apply that phrase to what happened to me.” I stirred some creamer in my coffee, waiting. I wasn’t getting any immediate answers, so I continued rambling on. “So, why were all the synergistic forces in place that day to save my life, yet they weren’t there in December to save Maureen’s life? What made it her time?”
“We don’t know all the answers,” Nancy finally said. “Even I don’t. Just because I can contact people that have passed, they don’t give me knowledge of the other side.”
I kept on with my incoherent thoughts. “I kept thinking of questions I wanted to ask her. ‘Did you know you were going to die that day?’ ‘As you were putting on your makeup that morning, did you realize that this was your last day on earth in this physical body?’ ‘As you met with your attorney or drove out to the property, did the thought ever cross your mind that – today I’m going to die, today my husband’s going to kill me?”
“Now, we have to keep an open mind,” Carla spoke up. “We all think that her husband killed her. But there’s no proof yet. That’s what we’re trying to find.”
“I think he did. A big hardy farmer like he was, out in the remote area they lived, with two hundred acres at his disposal?” Nancy smoothed her loose bangs back behind her ear and gazed off into the distance as if trying to see something in the black night sky. “I think he had it planned. But I don’t think she saw it coming, or she wouldn’t have driven out there alone to take him the divorce papers.”
Gail finally spoke up. “Most people never know, since most people aren’t sensitive or aware of other worlds. They don’t know things such as I know.”
“But some people have premonitions, of their own or other’s deaths,” I argued back with her. “Not me. That day as I dressed and we drove to the airport, the thought never crossed my mind that ‘Today I will die’.”
Carla held up an empty coffee cup in the air, getting the waitresses attention and signaling for more. “I don’t think we’re meant to know. Most people wouldn’t have the strength to know things like that.”
“Wouldn’t our lives be much different though, if we knew?” I asked. “At work a lady told me how her daughter’s friend was spending the night and started crying. The daughter said she felt her mom was going to die. Jana said she did her best to comfort the child and reassure her. A week later the girl’s mother died form an unknown brain aneurysm.”
Gail replied, “She was probably a young sensitive. Children can be tuned into worlds that adults can’t see. Most lose that ability. Like me, I was a child when I started seeing people that weren’t there. With me though, instead of losing my ability, my gift has only gotten stronger through the years.”
I took a sip of coffee and searched her face for signs of deceit. A memory surfaced of when we were all at a meeting about a year ago. Carla specifically asked Gail about if she had any paranormal gifts and her reply was emphatically ‘no’. I didn’t wish to follow that line of inquiry right then. I was keeping my own doubts about this woman to myself.
Instead, I shared another story. “When my brother died, my sister-in-law told us that he’d been sleep-walking the night before. She said he’d been ill that evening with a fever and sweats. She woke up in the middle of the night as he was getting up and clumsily trying to put on a pair of shorts. She said she tried to get him back in bed and he said ‘I have too much to do.’ Do you think he knew his heart would give out at thirty-five years old?”
The waitress returned to fill our coffee cups and take our orders, bringing the conversation to a halt.
I mused to myself as the others were busy chatting. If my brother knew his heart would fail before the day was over, I doubt he would have gone to work that day. I feel certain that he would have spent the day at home with his wife, on the land that he loved.
Work. Is that how any of us would choose to spend our last living hours? Probably not if we knew it. Right now I work at Crafty Hands. Do I love it? Nope. Not one iota. If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, or next week, or next month…would I continue working there? Absolutely not. I’d call the boss and quit in an instant.
The conversation picked back up and I returned my attention to the three friends in front of me. I knew my thoughts would return to this subject later, when I could reflect on them more. Gail launched into a monologue about her physic abilities and how talented she was and how many people she’s accurately read for. I figured that she was tired of the conversation focusing on someone other than herself.
Our friendly server headed our way, her arms laden with plates. Talk stopped and we quieted down and spent our energy cleaning up our plates. It had been a long day out driving around the countryside as my friends attempted to tune into energies and messages from the other side.
Nancy finished her meal first, pushed the plate slightly away from her and leaned back in her seat. “I am so ready for a nap now. What time is it anyway?” She pulled her cell phone from her back pocket and looked. “Oh my goodness. It’s eight o’clock already!”
“I’ve got to get home soon, then,” I said. “Tomorrow’s my long day. Six am will get here too soon.”
We quickly wrapped up the evening after that. Nancy and Gail headed off to their opposite sides of the world while Carla and I headed back to the parking lot where we’d met up. On the way back I ran some of my obscure thoughts by Carla. “So if working at Crafty Hands isn’t where I’d want to spend my last days, why am I still working there?”
“Um, other than the need to buy gas, buy food, or pay for silly things…like rent?” Carla suggested.
“Well, there’s that,” I agreed. “But it’s been several months since this all happened. If haven’t looked for a new job, there must be something holding me there. Maybe there’s a lesson I still need to learn.”
“Or, you’re comfortable there?”
That’s the bad thing about best friends. She knew me too well; probably even better than I knew myself. “Maybe you’re right,” I agreed. “Maybe a fear I’m afraid to face?”
Carla turned the corner that led into the parking lot where we’d met at eight o’clock that morning. When we’d made our plans for the day, I sure didn’t think that we’d really spend the whole day together.
It was a quiet drive home as I kept mulling over these thoughts. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from October experience it’s that life can end at any unexpected moment. Do I want the last days of my life filled with hours spent at a job I abhor, dreading the alarm clock each morning, hating the five days a week I have to go there?
Life is too short to spend working at a job you don’t relish. However, In the interest of my desire to eat next week and have a roof over my head, I won’t go to work tomorrow and quit. Not yet.