Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
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Correspondence may be directed to:
Mario V. Farina
Email: [email protected]
Dedicated to Lydia Silva
I awoke and glanced at the clock radio which showed the hour of two. Other than the light from the faint numerals, the room was dark. Then I saw it. At the foot of the bed there arose, from a murky nothingness, a nebulous glimmer. It increased in magnitude to a soft incandescence, which then slowly diminished until nothing was left. There was a pause of several seconds, then the light reappeared and again dwindled. As I watched, fascinated, the action was repeated several more times. In wonder, I continued to stare into the shadows, then sensed, rather than heard, “Robert Milford.” It came from an unknown source. There followed a silence that prevailed until I fell asleep.
The sound of music from the radio signaled seven o’clock. I listened to the news, the traffic conditions, and the weather. Reluctantly, I arose and began getting ready for work. Memory of the unearthly luminescence entered my consciousness as I showered. Had a dreamt that? Where had it come from?
I stepped on the scale. One-eighty. At five-nine, I was about twenty pounds heavier than I should be. Viewing myself in the mirror, I combed my thinning hair. A little too soon for thirty-two, I though. At 8:45 I stepped into the Civic and began the ten-minute drive to Edgar Elementary where I taught math.
The memory of the mysterious flashings returned. It had to be the blinking of some car’s emergency light coming into my room through the window, I decided. And my name being called? I had dreamed this. After all, it hadn’t been a real voice.
Something awakened me the next morning. The clock radio again showed the hour of two. At the foot of the bed there was a speck of light no greater than that given off by the evening star. It soon turned into an eerie illumination which grew to an acute brilliance. The intensity of the light held at this level for several seconds, then began to dim until it was gone. After a few more seconds, the action was repeated. Then again, and again. I glanced at the window to determine whether the light was coming from there. It wasn’t. The pulsations were taking place in the bedroom.
It wasn’t a voice. It was a perception in my mind. Someone was communicating with me, but it wasn’t being done audibly. It was nevertheless real. The impression was too powerful for it to be a thought. Before I had time to analyze who or what had transmitted the salutation, I felt it again, “Robert.”
“Who, what…?” To whom was I speaking? There was no one in the room but myself.
“Robert, I perceive that you can hear me.”
“Who are you?” I gasped. “Where are you?”
“Don’t be alarmed, Robert. My name is Sylvia Jameson. I’m speaking to you telepathically.”
“Who are you?”
“Speak to me with your mind, Robert.”
“Who are you? I repeated, this time mentally.
“In your frame of reference, I am a spirit, Robert. But those who share my state, use a term that carries a meaning closer to self essence. I know this is strange for you but do not be frightened.”
“You’re a ghost?” I spoke the words.
“No, nothing like that! In the spiritual realm, there are no ghosts as you conceive them. We don’t rattle chains, wear sheets, moan in the night. Just think of me as a person without a material body.”
“Why are you?…”
“Please, speak to me with your mind. It is easier for me to grasp your thoughts. While I have no substance, I do have the ability to ascertain facts about you in a way that is similar to your sense of touch. Just as seeing is easier for you than touching, so is telepathy easier for me than hearing.”
“The glowing, is that you?”
“Yes, this is an ability that I have mastered. It is done with an extraordinary exertion of a kind of material force. Only a few of us are able to do this. Communicating with you, even mentally, requires a great deal of fatiguing effort.”
“Why are you here? What do you want of me?”
“I must go. I’ll return tomorrow at midnight.”
I was not a sleep the next night when I observed the pulsating light. At first, it was hardly more than the flicker given off by a firefly but, as I watched, it grew in strength until it brightened the room with an unearthly glow. Sylvia’s mental utterances began to penetrate my brain.
“Before I answer the question you asked last night, I need to tell you more about the ethereal world. Mortals, such as you, consist of a self essence and a physical body. When mortals died, the physical body ceases to exist but the essence continues. In the past, mortals who died continued to drift, barely self-aware, wanting nothing, needing nothing. Without substance, they were not located anywhere at any particular time, yet everywhere at the same time.”
“This is the way that their existence would have continued if it hadn’t been for a cataclysmic event that occurred similar to the one your scientists refer to as the Big Bang. Some spirits began to your yearn for more. In the way that mortals have endeavored to devise machines to communicate electronically, and to participate in genetic engineering, spirits began to strive for the ability to be more aware of their own existence, to be mobile, to communicate telepathically, and to gain substance. All this had to be done with extraordinary exertions of an attribute similar to human willpower.”
“The first important event took place several hundred years ago when a spirit shucked the bounds of dreamlike existence and became an individual in a specific location. With exercise of the will, the spirit learned to sharpen its sense of self-awareness. Then, it encouraged others with the same yearnings to reproduce these achievements.”
“How do I fit into all of this?”
You’re very important to me, Robert. You see, some of us have learned to attain physical substance. As yet, our efforts in this area have been meager, but we know that we will soon be able to attain a form of materiality which will enable us to handle things, to use tools, and to build. It will not be long before mortals will be able to see us, not only as luminous objects, but also as persons. I selected you to participate in my next endeavor because seventy-five years ago, I lived in the house which you now occupy. I was…”
Sylvia unexpectedly disappeared. Without warning, the room returned to darkness and silence, but I knew that she would return.
It was midnight the following night, and Sylvia was speaking. “I was seventeen and boarding with Gerald and Wilma Cranston who owned your house at that time. I was a freshman at Emma Willard and, in the evenings, spent most of my time studying.”
“I began to notice that some of my things were not in the same places where I had left them, and I suspected that the Cranston’s were snooping. I had nothing to hide but it pained me that they might be spying in my diary where I wrote my most intimate thoughts.”
“In my room, which is now your bedroom, there was a closet which was much deeper than it was wide. It was so dark at the back that I couldn’t see anything there when I opened the door. Getting on my hands and knees I crept to the very end with a flashlight. My objective was to hide my diary where would be free from prying eyes. There I found that one of the boards on the floor, about 2 feet long, was loose. I pried it up and saw that there was a small cavity below into which I could store the diary. It had been a lucky find.”
“Now, I could make entries in my diary and feel that they would be secure. To make sure, after each time that I wrote in the diary, I arranged it in a special way when I put it back in its secret place. From that time, there was no evidence that the diary had been disturbed and I felt that what I wrote would remain inviolate.”
“Emma Willard held a dance one day in 1942. There I met Robert Milford, a graduate student at RPI. He was your grandfather. We fell in love and began to meet whenever we could escape from the pressures of our classes.” The mention of my grandfather startled me. He had died in 2011. The pictures I had seen of him as a young man revealed an uncanny resemblance between him and myself.
Robert and I declared our love for each other and vowed to wed as soon as our education was completed. He gave me a diamond ring that we agreed I would not wear until we announced our engagement. I hid the ring in the same cavity that held the diary.”
“One day, Robert and I went boating on Lake George. The boat capsized and I drowned despite his heroic efforts to save me. I became a restless spirit waiting for Roberts to join me. I had none of the abilities that I have now and was not able to communicate with him.”
“Robert bought the house in which you live when the Cranston’s offered it for sale. Being a lonely man, he married Winifred Rossman in 1946 soon after he had returned from service in the Army during World War II. This was a marriage of convenience; Robert wanted an heir; Winifred wanted the comforts that he could provide. Robert and Winifred had two children, William and Rosemarie. William grew to adulthood and married Adelaide Feller. They had three children, only one of which was a boy. That boy was you. You were named Robert after your grandfather. Your grandparents both dies in 2011.” I marveled at how much Sylvia knew about my ancestry.
“I must leave now. Every day I grow stronger in my abilities to communicate with you, but I must leave since tonight’s efforts have fatigued me greatly. I expect to have a surprise for you when I return tomorrow.”
I did not sleep the next night until midnight arrived. This time Sylvia’s radiance was much stronger. As I watched as the image, which had had no definite form in the past, took on the shape that, hazily, resembled a human figure. I could see nothing clearly but was able to discern a blurred woman’s figure, a head with flowing hair, a lithe body, indistinct arms and legs.
“Sylvia,” I murmured audibly, “is that you?”
“Yes,” she responded telepathically. “In this form, I can hold the image for only a short time. Would you do something for me?”
“Anything,” I exclaimed.
“While I am gone, please get the ring from where it is hidden in the closet. I will be back tomorrow.”
The spectral image of Sylvia shone brightly for a few more seconds, then began to disappear. My eyes clouded. The scene before me quivered growing smaller, then larger. Suddenly, it sharpened. I experienced an uncanny feeling that I was seeing through eyes that belonged to someone else. I dimly discerned the features of Sylvia’s face, eyes, nose, mouth, and hair. She was dressed in a gown of shimmering gold. She raised her arms, crossed them, eclipsing her face, then slowly opened them as a velvet blackness replaced the bright light in the room.
Abruptly, I felt a profound love for Sylvia. It seemed I had known her for an eternity. There was no concern that she was older than I, that she had lived in another age, and that she was a spirit. The differences between us were of no consequence. All that mattered was that this was the person for whom I could dedicate my life, the person for whom I would be willing to die.
I covered my face with both hands, then felt the sensation that my own eyes were being returned to me. In the sleep that followed, I dreamed that for a few moments, the visions I had experienced had been seen through my grandfather’s eyes. I awoke with a start and did not sleep again.
In the morning, I opened the closet door, got on my hands and knees, and armed with a flashlight, crept to the far wall. The loose board that Sylvia had described was there. I pulled it up and discovered her diary. It was open. Without intending to, I read the words, “Robert and I plan to go boating today at Lake George. I love him so much. Despite anything that the future might hold, I know that we will always be together.”
A diamond ring was lying beside the diary. I picked it up and backed out of the closet.
I did not go to work that day, but sat motionless in a chair near the window. My thoughts were of Sylvia and by irrational love for her. Near midnight I sat on the bed and watched as the hands of the clock crawled toward the top. The awaited hour finally arrived.
A tall, unbelievably beautiful woman, dressed in a long flowing, white evening gown materialized at the foot of the bed. She had the bluest eyes I had ever seen, the blondest hair, the most exquisite lips. She smiled. My brain numbed as I stared at her loveliness.
“Sylvia?” I stammered.
“Yes, Robert. Do you like the way I look? Her voice was hushed but audible.
“Sylvia, your beautiful!”
Why shouldn’t I be, Robert? This is the way I’ve always wanted to look. In life, everything was always a little too long, or a little too short, or a little too something else. Now I can attain whatever appearance I want. Do you have the ring?”
I nodded, stood, and took the ring from my pocket. I stretched my arms toward her. She cupped her hands and moved them toward me. I gently placed the ring in them. She closed her hands tightly and fix our eyes on mine. “Thank you, Robert dear,” she whispered.
“Sylvia, I – I need to say something. I faltered. I think she knew what I wanted to say.
“Wait, Robert, she interjected. “I want you to rejoice with me. I have been working with your grandfather for several months. He has already mastered many skills that I have taught him. In a few days he will be able to attain the same kind of physical quality that I now have. When that happens, he’ll place this priceless ring on my finger and then we will be together forever. Wherever we are, we won’t be far from this home and from you.”
We talked after that. I don’t remember what was said, my mind reeled with thoughts that would not focus. Sylvia placed a surprisingly warm hand in mine as we bid each other goodbye. She kissed me lightly on the cheek and was gone. I knew that I would never see her again, but I lay on the bed completely at peace. For a few moments, which will be forever cherished in my mind, I knew that I had shared a vision of bliss through my grandfather’s eyes.
End of story