"Skipping Stones"
  Neil Ayres
  E. Sedia
"Death's Little Sister"
  Mariev Finnegan
"Dirt Roads and Ka"
  Berrien C. Henderson
"Lady Glory and the Knave of Spades"
  Nicole Kornher-Stace
"Hard Little Shadows in the Early Morning Sunlight"
  James Owens
"Keep Calm and Carillon"
  Genevieve Valentine
"Problems of the Solid State"
  Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

"Off the Map"
  Ann Walters
"Homage to Al"
  F. J. Bergmann
  F. J. Bergmann
"How To Not Be Here When The Universe Dies"
  Marion Boyer

Death's Little Sister (A True Story)

by Mariev Finnegan

I float.

That is my purpose and my curse. Sleep, death's little sister, allows my soul freedom from the essential self. In the suspension between dream and full consciousness, I'm no longer a small point of awareness confined to a body.

I spontaneously be higher.

Matriarch of the Erie Tribe is who I be. Us Erie Indians possess an unusual set of psychological attributes: extreme psychic abilities. And a disposition for difficulty with authority.

The Erie are in direct contact with God. Each individual is a sovereign nation. We each draw our power from a central creator. Erie take care of the children, and everything else balances. We don't label, not even relationships. Us Erie, we just belong to each other.

However, some Erie children—the older ones who call me Grandmamma—question that, when no one sees me, I disobey the law of gravity.

Fuck the law, I say.

I float.

Jacob knows I float.

Jacob has always lived with me, and Shadow, the black cat, in this huge house on the edge of the Erie Canal. I call him my friend.

My friend sleeps with his eyes open. Jacob sees both evil spirits and angels. He sleepwalks in other realms. In his sleep, he wrestles with fearful monsters. Small boy, he kneels and lifts his arms in rapture to the saints. Higher beings above him, he sees. Sometimes he sees his dead mother. But it's really me. I'm floating.

Jacob was born with my blue eyes, round, full-pupiled, heavy black lashes. We just looked at each other and knew.

All babies over the world, in every culture, from birth, are Erie. At three months, babies develop the capacity to shed tears. Feel love and sorrow. Be.

Against my heart I held the babe, while he made an eerie wailing sound: I knew what Jacob wanted, what he needed. I stood looking through the stained glass window at Erie Street, expectantly. Hopefully.

My friend was squalling for his brown-eyed parents. I wept. I wanted his parents to get their shit together and come get this babe, (I'd had two teeth pulled, a case of pneumonia, a bad hip) so I could lay down and sleep, perhaps to dream. Perhaps to die.

Then Jacob's eyes moistened like dew on silvery spider webs, like fog rising in helixes from the canal. He took a shuddering breath, held it. My friend shed his first tears: a tear from one eye, then the other.

Next time I saw his parents, I informed them: "Two of them, one for each of you."

When finally my friend slept, I remember collapsing across my comfy grandma bed on my back, then at once, I found myself near the ceiling looking at myself, asleep, long hair sprayed across the pillow. As my astral body floated perfectly above my physical body, Jacob, cradled in my physical arms, asleep with his eyes open, focused.

He saw me floating.

Then, to prove I was not dead—I was asleep—I willed my physical eyes to open to see myself see myself. Two places at once and no place at all. That proves that I'm trapped eternally in a dualistic reality. I go on forever. End of duality.

The school arranges for me to meet with Jacob and a psychiatrist, Mrs. White, in a white room. A crystal hangs in the one window overlooking the playground. In front of the window are a chair and desk. Centered in the room is a table for the kids. On it are picture books, puzzles, and toys. Three chairs face the desk and the window.

Mrs. White is as nondescript as the room: light from the hanging crystal makes her aura apparent. It is green with a yellow tinge. Details are blurred, comprehension is hazy. I see she has one child, a boy, although she doesn't know I know.

Mrs. White is going to help me tell Jacob his mother is dead. It took me an hour to notify anyone. Then I called Char Ma's oldest daughter, and told her. She'd never met Lyn. She told Char Ma, who would tell everyone. Lyn. Dead.

But Char Ma, an Erie, already knew, because Lyn came to her in a dream, in which they were both drinking in a bar, and Lyn told Char Ma, she was going Home.

My body is trembling uncontrollably. I'm hyperventilating. Shock. I just can't wrap my mind around it. I have—I had—an intense psychic connection with Lyn—poor me! I've always felt her pain and depression, her darkness; it sucked. I'm an open psychic sore. How can it be? I'd had no sign, no forecast, not even a dream telling me Lyn had given up the ghost. Gone to another dimension. The Happy Hunting Ground. Or maybe, as my father would say, HELL!

I realize our telepathic bond had disappeared slowly, faded softly away, until I feel nothing. Nothing.

Now I hear the echoing sound of thunder from a distant storm over Lake Erie, although here the sun is shining.

Jacob arrives escorted by his fifth grade teacher, who leaves to go back to the classroom. He's wearing his coat and carrying his backpack, ready to get out of school. Often I'd pick him up early just to go on an adventure on a sunny day. On his lapel he sports a red ribbon: I take in a deep breath when I realize it's awarded for the DARE program: Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

Last night my friend lost two baby teeth. He gives a wry smile, and I notice the gaps. Using slight-of-hand, Jake produces a toothpick in air, and then a snap of his fingers and it's gone. I manage a grin of sorts.

"Look at this, Grandmamma." He flips both eyelids up exposing full eyeballs.

Mrs. White gives out a gasp.

Lids replaced to normal, he studies Mrs. White intently as she introduces herself to Jacob as a psychiatrist. I do nothing to dispel his impression that a psychiatrist is someone to whom you demonstrate your psychic abilities.

I've got the comfy chair against the wall. Mrs. White stands awkwardly as Jacob goes immediately to her desk, centered on the window. On it are displayed several clay figures. He picks up an elephant. "You made this," he says to Mrs. White.

With a slight nod of her head, she acknowledges this truth.

Replacing the elephant, Jacob picks up a vase. "A child made this," and after looking at it intently, he observes, "Red hair. A boy." He holds the vase in both hands and considers. "Your son—his name begins with a B—he made this for you."

Mrs. White admits, "The only child God ever gave me."

"I know," says Jake.

The psychiatrist lowers herself into the chair behind the desk and offers, "Let me explain, Jacob, why you are here."

Jacob says patiently, "I know why I came here."

I tell Mrs. White, "He means he understands why he came into this world. His life purpose. And his curse."

Looking past the psychiatrist, I see a ball out on the playground; it rolls about fifty feet, then lifts in air. It floats.

Mrs. White smiles. "No, you see, Jacob, I'm a doctor of mental health."

"There are four kinds of health," Jacob explains to the psychiatrist, and he's soft and innocent and older than Mrs. White. "Physical, social, mental, and spiritual. I'm physically healthy. Socially, I have friends. I have intimate and successful relationships with others, who I support and who support me. Mentally, I have a very high IQ; I pass scholastically. I understand that the collective is higher than the individual. There is a spiritual component to the universe, and I have my place in it, and a purpose: to love."

My senses overlap, and I sense the word love with sight. It is in air. It's reddish orange, and moving toward me with the emotion of sorrow.

I'm the one who loves unconditionally; like Santa Claus, I give without receiving. I'd tell Jake, "I love you more than anyone," and his mother would take it that I meant I loved him more than she loved him. I love you more, she'd tell him.

I changed his diapers, I do his homework, and I was at school for Mother's Day. I'd slip her a ten to give him for his birthday, and she'd keep it and tell him she'd put another hundred dollar bill in his bank, hidden where no one can steal it. Or see it. I'd pay for the zoo and let her get him pop and a balloon; I'd stand contemplating the ape, his sorrow at being confined, while Jacob and his mom laughed at the naughty prairie dogs.

Jacob loves his mother the most, more than anyone, more than me.

And the stupid bitch went and killed herself.

In an instant, the sun is replaced by darkness. A flash of lightning, and hail pelts the window in an Erie Lake effect. Thunder rumbles, and the Earth trembles, like it's having a hard bowel movement.

"Why your Grandmother and I wanted to talk to you?" says Mrs. White, with perfect professional empathy and a question mark at the end.

"I have an eating disorder," Jake guesses. Round face, round features, hair in his eyes as an avoidance to intimacy. "I'm having a vision!" His eyes track space behind his bangs, then he has it: "Fifty nine, fifty nine!"

Our eyes meet. I hold my arms out to him. He takes a small, awkward step toward me. I make a grab and pull him onto my lap. Cradle him book bag and all, and at age ten, he's almost as big as I am.

He is my heart.

Trying to impress the psychiatrist, Jake relies on the expanded awareness shared by all Erie. "Déjà vu," he breathes. "I'm experiencing the reincarnation of another person."

"Your mother is dead," I tell him.

Thunder in sonic booms. The wind is Lyn force, the world flickers in brilynant lynight.

Jacob is bathed in an indigo aura. He pales, enhancing stark freckles on thin, white skin. A sudden sweat, and now blue veins begin to throb in his neck and forehead.

"She overdosed," I tell him.

One tear from his left eye, just one. The last tear I ever saw him shed.

For one precious moment, he allows me to hold him tight as a babe in my arms. "Where is she?"

"In the morgue."

"I knew this was going to happen . . ." he manages, "But I didn't know it was now."

Shock. To everyone, the whole Tribe, it was a shock. But not.

Everyone knew she'd go out by sleep.

He asks in a sudden rush, "Do you sense her? . . . I don't . . ." His voice ends with a sob.

"Yes," I lie. "Now I feel her joy."

We are one huddled mass of misery. It's us against the Doctor of the Mind, Mrs. White, sitting in front of the window, while behind her, lightning, wind, and chaos. The elements have gone insane. It's lynarchy.

"On my way here, as I walked out into the hall, the film skipped." This statement from my friend, who stares at the white wall. "Reality slipped a frame. The windows, all in a row, the lockers: but outside the windows, nothing moved. Not a tree branch or a blade of grass in the wind. Behind me, my teacher froze. And this boy was walking down the hall. And he just stopped. For one moment. A second, maybe. But it wasn't him. He didn't stop!" Jacob's features twist in anguish. "It was me! I was outside time!"

"You were floating," I soothe.

"Its shock," explains the psychiatrist in a gentle voice. "It's nature's way of allowing you to understand—she's gone. She's—you know. You know. But you're protected from feeling the pain, so you don't feel it all at once."

His tone is dull, like a recording. "2D. 3D. Holographicly."

"Horrographically," I put in.

"See in all directions at once, and still, I did not see it . . . She's dead. Are you sure?"

I make no reply but to cry like a babe.

A flash of lightning. Thunder is sonic in air.

"I never knew your mother, so I . . ." Mrs. White begins.

"Did she do it on purpose?"

"I can only let her go—that's hard enough," I moan. "I can't find any meaning!"

"Which drug?" He asks dully. Cause of death, please: he has a red ribbon, he oughta know.

"Heroin," I say without censoring my thoughts. It just comes to me.

"How do you know?" the psychiatrist asks.

"I know." But I feel a certain guilt, because I don't know consciously how she died. By autopsy, I'd be proven right, although the natural assumption would be pills.

We'd taken a few rides to Mercy Hospital, Jacob and I, not knowing if she were dead or alive. She'd have her stomach pumped and go to R-wing for a stay. And she'd tell the psychiatrists and she'd tell me, it wasn't attempted suicide: she'd just taken too many pills. Pills, so easy to take too many. Not intentionally. Not suicide. An accidental overdose.

She was addicted to pills that made her sleep, knocked her out, hopefully not when she was driving or after she had started a fire. Often her mind still engaged her body. Like Jake, she walked in her sleep. She didn't float—at least I never saw her. I'd watch her all night when she was in an induced near-coma, to insure she would awake. I never saw her float.

Now the wind howls like a banshee, and lightning is its own sound.

Jacob shifts his weight on my lap; suddenly his worried hands are of great interest to him. At last he asks, "What is heroin?"

Obviously they didn't cover heroin in DARE class. Mrs. White explains right down to IV. Injected with a needle. Shot up.

"A needle," he breathes.

"Probably died immediately." This from the psychiatrist.

"Was there any way to save her?"

I'm thinking Pulp Fiction. "A shot of adrenaline—adrenal lyn—direct to the heart."

Mrs. White explains adrenaline.

"Remember the little prairie dogs, honey?"

His eyes search mine. "Grandmamma, what happened? Who was there with my mother when she died?"

"God was there," the psychiatrist says, nodding wisely. "He was there with her."

"Mercy called me. They said an ambulance brought her there around eight last night. She was dead on arrival. Your Dad told the hospital that he'd come home from a bar. He said that he found her dead."

My friend and I both know positively that she died at 4:44, yesterday, on the thirteen, another 4. We just don't know, 4 what?

"It took the hospital awhile to notify me, because Dad told them he didn't know her next of kin."

Jake is shaking his head at this horrible lie.

"He said he didn't know what she'd taken. Then he left."

Jacob's father, Troy (an alias—his real name is Lynn) was the beginning of the end, of Lyn. I just knew it and told her so. No one ever listens to the prophets, knowledge gleamed from the collective: knowing. Can't prove it scientifically, but my friend, I know. That is why my palm must be crossed with money before I'll tell the future. No one listens for free. Actually, no one listens at all.

I witness Jacob come to an understanding: needle. It is out there in the ether; we both pick it up: would she inject herself?

Who shot her up?

I can answer any question, be it the past, the future, or inside another's mind.

I know who shot her up.

I know the question! To be?

Or not.

"He gave her the drugs!" Jacob declares.

"I see no difference, my friend. What is the difference?"

"It's the difference between murder and suicide."

I'm in absolute hell. I know.

The psychiatrist dictates: "You don't know. It was probably an accident!"

Lightning plays the room as slow motion.

The world is black/white: non-colors. Polarities.

"I want justice!" the child cries out. "Did anyone call the cops?"

"You know you'll never get justice through the law," I soothe.

The lights flicker, then stay out. The world is gray.

In Jacob's eyes, I see sorrow stricken of all reasoning. "Why didn't you make her come home?"

I hear a grinding in my head. It's my teeth. It seems that Lyn has gone Home, and it's not to Maw's house on the Erie.

Suddenly Jacob is on his feet, lightning-rod straight, fists clenched at his sides. His eyes wild, he finally fixes on the psychiatrist. "I need someone to talk to!"

"Why?" I moan.

"I need to know! I need to know, what's wrong with me?"

He's ten years old and the only kid I know who has a mother who died by injecting too much heroin. I can relate.

"There's nothing wrong with you!" Even to my own ears, I'm screeching. "There! Now you can talk to me!"

He says nothing.

I talk to him. "By coincidence, I was your age . . . My brother, Troy, killed himself . . . when I was ten years old . . ."

And I am. Flashback, keen as any acid. I'm a child. The huge house echoes with a blasting sound. A gun shot. Can't be: we don't have a gun. But I know. I know.

In a soothing tone, I assure Jacob, "My oldest brother, Troy, shot himself by putting the muzzle of a .22 rifle into his mouth and blowing his brains out the top of his head—IQ: 184—all his thoughts, pulp on a wall."

The psychiatrist takes a deep breath. "What color?" escapes her. Mindlessly. She may be in shock.

There is a dreamlike quality to the memory now. The gunshot is still echoing as I move slowly down the hall. The entire world is filled with blue light, and there is an air of staleness and decay. Then, taking a deep breath bordering on a sob, I opened the door.

The velvet drapes were closed, and the bedroom was almost dark; the dresser mirror and the standing mirror reflected each other. Tufts of Troy's blond hair were mixed with his teeth and sprayed with red blood over the purple bedspread; his brains dripped sluggishly down the blue wall.

SHOCK: Momentary insanity. Troy had no reason to quit life—he simply refused to be fired. What was wrong with that mind of his . . . ? That brain.

"Why?" My friend asks plaintively. Like a bird, he lights on the edge of the chair next to the door.

"There are chemicals in our brains," offers Mrs. White, holding a palm up in a gesture that means "How" to me. "Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance that—"

"Because he knew," I answer Jacob. "His power was endless. Telekinesis. Troy influenced matter, which was his gift. His purpose and his curse. With the power of his mind, he could actually move small objects. Troy could control matter, communicate his will to small creatures, especially onto his cat, Black, his familiar."

Our attention is drawn to a red ball: it jumps off the table, suspends in space, and then bounces three times, rolls under the desk. The psychiatrist gives a startled scream, muffled by her hands, as the ball smartly hits her foot, before it comes to rest.

"Troy knew he was responsible. God in mirror image," I explain. "And he chose not to be."

"You don't have to be depressed. There are other choices." And the psychiatrist begins to list them, starting with pills that will lift depression: make you sleep.

Jake jumps to his feet. He paces back and forth across the doorway. Mrs. White's voice raises; it makes me wince. "There is talk therapy!"

I say, "After Troy killed himself, my mother, who was Matriarch of the Erie, sat looking at a wall—It had this creepy wallpaper design." I add for the psychiatrist's benefit, "Dull mustard yellow and the repeated pattern of the silhouette of a woman crawling on all fours. My mama went crazy—insane." I lift one limp arm to demonstrate, and then paw the air like a cat, on whimsy.

Mrs. White leans forward to catch my attention. "She was diagnosed?"

"She just sat there, looking at the wall."

"I want to go home," Jake whines.

"I took care of the house and the kids, and when my father, the Deacon, the Youth Minister, the Mason, good business man, when my own father molested me, I took care of that too." I say. "I had to. And I forgave my father before he died. But I'm not sure about my mother, although I understand it isn't fair. That mother, my heart, should be blamed, when she loved. And love is what caused her such sorrow that she may as well have been dead!" I found myself beating one tiny fist so hard against the other it sounded like a tomahawk. "Love drove her insane!"

"I'm not sure this is appropriate . . ." Mrs. White starts.

In Jacob's eyes exists all-knowingness. All fear. He's suddenly right in front of me. "What would happen to me if you died, Grandmamma? Or went insane?"

That makes me laugh, the worse the more I try to control it—I'm hysterical, allowing air to fill me and escape in wild howling. I'm the Matriarch of the Erie; I don't obey any laws, not gravity, not aging.

Finally I manage, "I'll never grow up, much less grow old." I assure him, "I promise you, I'll never sit looking at a wall."

Jacob hunches from the weight of his book bag. He resembles a mushroom, a fungus like his father Troy.

"As long as I'm needed, I'll be here . . ." I give him the Erie logo: thumbs and pointer fingers forming a halo above the head, both middle fingers raised as horns. "I'm needed for my kids and grandkids—and great grandkids, still to be born—some with freckles, like yours."

Jacob giggles.

Mrs. White laughs too—a thin, high laugh. "That's not possible," she points out. "To live forever."

"That's what his mother said," I respond. "And look where she is. Dead."

Thunder. Lightning.

"I think that might be the meaning of your vision: fifty nine is my age," I tell Jacob. "I am halfway through my lifespan, I imagine. And your mother, Lyn, who was my brother Troy, will be reborn as my hundredth great-grandchild, the one that finally kills me. And Char Ma will be Char Great Grandmamma, Matriarch of the Erie! And she'll have me to help her from a higher plane, to teach the babe, Lyn, to float."

"No one floats!" declares Mrs. White, the psychiatrist who will soon accidentally put her car in reverse instead of drive, and back over her son, Bob, the only child God ever gave her. And he'll be dead.

Jacob and I look beyond her, through the window. The storm is over. Arching over the sky to the East, over the Great Lake Erie, is a double rainbow.

Winter, summer, clear, or raining, late at night, I hear in the distance, the resonance of detonations, like a fireworks bombardment, explosions ripping the air and echoing. I'm told that it is an eerie atmospheric condition: I'm hearing thunder from storms far out on the Great Lake Erie. The sound drives me insane.

Jacob's room is purple and gold, fit for a king: layered purple fabric, stained glass windows, engraved wooden furniture, oriental art work, and the ceiling is a sea of multicolored balls of different sizes. Most people ask, How? All those balls. And the walls are ten feet tall. I'm 5'2".

Jake and I know how I glued those balls up there.

I float.

I'm sitting on his four-poster bed, staring at a wall, when he enters with a black kitten in his arms, a tiny replica of my familiar, Shadow, except this kitten has gray-brown eyes. "Where did you find her, my friend?"

"She needs me," says Jacob. His eyes sparkle as if they are full of chips of mirrors.

"That kitten is too small to be taken from its mother." Indeed, it appears that she's just recently opened her eyes.

My friend sits beside me and holds the kitten so that the babe instinctively suckles his shirt pocket while kneading his chest with her front paws; she gives a soft, tentative, purr. "My last memory of my mother—she was playing with a little kitten in the sunlight . . . she was playing with a black kitten. This kitten, I think."

Last time he saw his mother, at Christmas, she'd been living in an upstairs apartment on Normal Street, hallucinating that the whole Catholic Church was outside condemning her. "Make them stop!" she'd begged me. It was driving her insane! She'd passed out on the couch and urinated in her pants. I called an ambulance. She lived.

That is his last memory. And mine.

Jacob names the black kitten, Lyn. The kitten is a wild thing; it has ADHD, I'm positive. At once, Lyn displaces my collection of perfectly balanced balls, and then in one motion she's up the fabric wall to knock a framed picture of John Lennon askew. Lyn gets into open drawers, scatters anything not glued down, rips papers and books and upholstery to shreds, and waits on the balcony for someone to pass under, then leaps on their head, claws extended. I suggest giving her Ratlyn, Ritalin for cats.

Always the kitten is aware of Jacob, even when they are apart. She runs to Jacob when she is tired from raising hell. She's imprinted on him. Jacob is mother to Lyn. She sleeps on his chest, curled into a ball, while Jacob lies on the purple and gold bed, his eyes wide open, his lids flipped. Staring at the ceiling where I'd glued all those balls.

An Erie, she was. And a witch. The Tribe gathers for Lyn's Wiccan Wake. An Erie requiem. We form a circle in the library, around a pentagram table centered on the reflection of a pentagram mirror. On the table are an Ouija board and planchette, a crystal ball, and a deck of Tarot cards. Teddy, across from me, has the altar in front of him. Incense, candles and kerosene lamps, a flame in the fireplace to ward off the night chill.

McAuther Park is playing: Someone left the cake out in the rain. And I don't know if I can take it. Cause it took so long to bake it. And I'll never have that recipe again.

I speak: "This wake for Lyn is to remind us to live. To hold each other dear, support the young ones and everything is free. Now Lyn is. Awake!"

"Go to the light," someone instructs.

"Give us a sign," Jacob pleads, taking up the crystal ball and focusing. Next to him in the circle, Natasha, who is ten years old, reaches to touch his shoulder.

"Speak to us!" I invoke.


But for the maddening sound of a chaotic thunder storm over Lake Erie. That's the one sound we all hear. I think.

"Lyn!" Again I petition, leading my Tribe. "You love being the center of our circle. And we love you; you're hardwired to our soul. You came from me, and Jacob came from you. You are here now with us . . . Please, move the table . . ."

We wait expectantly.

I do.

Lyn, the black kitten, makes a sudden leap, scattering the tarot cards; she skids on the tips of her claws to the edge of the table. Then she sits primly on the word NO on the Ouija board, switching her tail back and forth.

I've broken the first law of uncertainty: I asked for a sign: then I projected what the communication with the dead might be. Move the table, knock, possess my body and use it as an instrument: anything, but NO!

No sign, no message from the dearly departed.

If there is an eternal soul, certainly, Lyn, the wee cat, will leap onto Troy's head, and claw out his eyes, when he reminds everyone in a loud voice: "Lyn shot the Sheriff!"

Truth was, she'd been with Pete Novelyn, at Rosencranze's Drugstore, passing prescriptions that she'd stolen from Mercy Hospital. Pete shot the Sheriff five times, in self defense, Lyn would claim. The Sheriff shot first. The Sheriff shot twice. Pete dead. Sheriff lived, but later went to prison, as well as the Mayor, for selling cocaine.

Char Ma smacks Troy smartly on the back of his head for mentioning the Sheriff, and I like to think that is an indication that Lyn's spirit lives on.

Troy is the last to leave. Jacob stops him at the door. Troy is an Erie; he knows. Jacob wants justice: did Dad murder Mother? Or did Mama commit suicide?

Although Troy seemed uninterested in my prediction, I'd told him while we'd been in the circle, that two weeks in the future, he will be involved in a high-speed chase with the cops, and he'll crash on Normal Street. He'll be lying on the pavement outside the same address as Lyn died, with a gun held to his head. I wonder, if the Sheriff pulls the trigger, will it be murder? Or suicide?

Now, for his son, he offers his self-defense: "We bought some Xanax and Lortab. One will take you up, one will bring you down. We did all we had. Then I did a bag of heroin—IV."

Jacob nods and clutches his kitten tighter.

"I fell out—I died, I think." Troy says all this totally without emotion. "Maybe she thought I was dead, and that's why. . . . . But I came back. I came back. And she was dead. I don't even know how she shot herself up—she needed me for that . . ." His words fall off lamely. He shrugs, opens the door, and he's gone.

The kitten leaps from Jacob's arms and darts out the door, Jake right after her. "Let her go!" I call to him.

Jacob rushes back inside with the kitten held out in both hands, raises Lyn above his head and slams her to the floor. She lands awkwardly on her back, and gives a twist of her body to register pain. Then she regains her feet and runs up Jacob's pant leg to his heart. He cuddles her as she cries in pain. "You stay home!" he orders.

I say simply, "You could have killed her."

A sudden breeze moves the lyn chimes.

I comfort myself, rocking on the porch swing, looking at the stars, smoking my small peace pipe. Peace. I try to remember, did I ever have peace, since I left my dear Mama's womb?

I understand in an eerie kind of way—and that's the only way to fully understand—coincidence and synchronicity, and the interconnection of all things. I'm the dreamer and the dream. I'm high.

In a space above me, I feel my Mama and dead brother and many others who decided not to be. They be higher.

Lyn I do not feel.

The screen door slams. Jacob looms into sight, limbs stiff, like an automation. Staring vacantly, he strides—perhaps he is asleep?—down the porch steps, straight along the crooked lynstone walk, past the fountalyn, the madalyns in full bloom, the creeping purple paranolyns, the flaming insolyns, the weeping willolyns, to the middle of Erie Street. Shock. The film gets caught; slow motion. Jacob is laying on the pavement, limbs outstretched, in an Erie crucifixion, and I hear a car coming fast around the sharp curve.

Silently, I run, silently, knowing there is nothing I can, nothing. I scream. My body is the instrument that makes the sound. Scream. Music of the spheres played on high-pitched psycholyns.

The kitten shoots past me, I almost trip on Lyn, damn her.

The black cat crosses the speeding car's path to seek the peace of Jacob: Mindlessly, the babe curls into a ball on Jacob's heart.

My breath is inhaled inhaled inhaledhallelujah. As a baby I'd sing to him, "Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Jake's a petunia! Ha! Ha!"

The sound of squealing brakes and headlights fishtailing crazily.

Just before that though, Jake recognizes that the kitten will surely die, if the car hits them, kinda suicide/murder. He grabs Lyn from his chest with both hands, even as he is jumping to his feet. He dodges. The car swerves to avoid him and his kitten, jumps the curb and comes to a stop a few inches from where I'd been seconds ago.

My friend and I lay in a hammock strung between trees, tiny Lyn purring between us. The distant sound of thunder synchronizes in rhythm with the water lapping the canal banks. We align heart beats, thought patterns, swinging back and forth, breathing in, and breathing out.

Staring up at the Milky Way, the galaxy, the universe, Jacob expounds. "My purpose is to always wonder, what is my purpose?"

"Your purpose is to love. Don't let it curse you."

"Let's name a star after her." This is Jacob's idea.

I say without moving my attention from the star: "She would like that. You pick. Which one?"

Jacob's eyes remain fixed on the star. Is he naming it, Lyn? Mama? My focus is on the same pinprick, a sun among billions. Our combined awareness is projected to that light, so far away, it may not even still exist.

Thought is the speed of light, consciousness is the event horizon and love is gravity. That's all that matters. I space out.

But for one shocking moment when my friend and I erupt in a fit of giggling. "She's laughing back at us," I manage, continuing to meet Jacob's concentration at a coordinate out in space.

The euphoria fades to sorrow.

Where the hell are you, Lyn? Why can't I feel you out there, when you are still here inside me?

A screaming light enters the atmosphere, brilliant as a hallucination and from the same place. My friend and I have caused the star to become a psychic break through time and space. A falling star! Like a rip in the sky, blazing light streaks for long moments. One wish, that's all there is time for.

Not fifty feet down the canal bank from us, the meteorite, a chemical mix of the universe not from this planet, impacts the ground, creating a small crater! Instantaneously: explosion, flames, echoing detonations, lightning bolt effects, and after- shocks seizure our brains at their reptilian cores. "It's her," we both breathe at once.

He carries his mother home outstretched in his arms like an offering. She is the size of a human skull, but distorted: shaped like a flame, covered in glowing green ashes and stinking of sulfur. He drops her near the hammock.

We fall to our knees, pagan nature worshipers fulfilled by our ultimate God. Light and shadow play across the volcanic rock, moltened into the features of a face suggesting the Scream. Jagged eyes, elongated nose, the mouth a slash across the pitted meteorite.

I know.

The moon sets; bats and toads and owls sleep. My friend and I sleep in the hammock. Lyn, the black cat, sleeps between us. Lyn, the meteor, rests in peace nearby on the bank of the Erie.

Spontaneously we leave our physical bodies. We each open our eyes and our gaze locks. "I'm floating," says Jacob. Or maybe he just thinks it.

So am I.

Mariev Finnegan, mystic intuitive, lives on the dead end of Erie on the edge of the Erie canal in a Gothic house with her grandson, Jacob, and a cat, Erie. She has published in Farrago's Wainscot, the best fiction magazine—she reads their stories, and her head aches. She understands them, some just subconsciously. She has published in Advances in Parapsychological Research (Saybrook).

Mariev is Matriarch of the Erie, a tribe notoious for intense psychic abilities. And a disposition for difficulty with authority. The Erie, global consciousness, is coming. We are evolving into a higher being, in a transformation of higher consciousness. We are becoming enlighted collectively and with each Erie who awakens, the momentum in the collective grows and becomes easier for others. A profound shift in planetary consciousness is destined to take place in the human species. This is the spiritual awakening that we are all beginning to witness now. A still relatively small but rapidly growing percentage of humanity is experiencing Erie within themselves, the breakup of the ego and the emergence of a new dimension of consciousness: Erie.

E:mail: Yinarchy@Yahoo.com