Nine Lives, Ten Deaths?
The swing moved back and forth in the hot summer’s breeze, the ropes holding the old wooden seat, frayed and weather worn. The old tree swayed from side to side, moaning like an old man trying to stand up from his chair. Branches peppered the ground beneath the oak tree; remnants from the last storm that had crossed the fields and battered the aging tree. From the kitchen window, a man watched the swings movements, staring as if something besides the wind were moving it. The hot sun pierced the branches and burned grass that had been far too long without rain. A hand crafted see-saw adorned the yard alongside a sandbox that would have become a cat-litter box if not for the man in the kitchen. He looked down towards the kitchen floor, slowly bending forward. The cat that brushed his leg with its side made him smile.
“Well Sebastian, it looks like you and me against the world again. The wind is lying to us, of that I am certain. That old swing moves only because the wind forces it too.”
He reached down and picked the cat up. Pure black, with just a tuft of white under his chin, Sebastian had been with Alexander for nearly sixteen years. He was there when she came to Alexander… He was there when she left him. Alexander prayed Sebastian would be there when he found her again. He held the cat up at eye level and stared into the big cats eyes. One of them yellow and one of them green, Alexander always knew there was more to Sebastian than he simply being a cat. There was a knowing in the cat’s eyes that said he understood everything Alexander said to him.
“I think it is time we searched for them again, old friend. Spring has come and gone and the summer is hot as Hades. There may still be those that think they just walked away but we both know better. We shared a love that few even dreamed of and fewer would ever know. She knew you were special, the same as I know. I can feel her presence as if she were standing here beside me.”
A flash from under the tree caught his eye. He could feel his heart racing as he watched the swing move upward towards the tree-tops. Electricity flowed from the swing t the ground pushing the swing higher into the sky. He heard a sound, almost inaudible to most but to him, as loud as a freight train. Suddenly, the swing dropped and in an instant, it sat still again. Only the wind caused it to move now.
He thought back to the days when his powers meant something to him. Born into the gifts, his parents had sacrificed themselves to save him. Too young and inexperienced, he nearly caused their deaths to me nothing while trying to bring them back. The place was cold and scary to that little boy, so long ago. When Alisha and Tawnie had come into his life, he found purpose and a new meaning to his powers. She, also born into the gifts, was nearly as strong as he was. Only one of her parents had been gifted which left her a bit weaker. She, none the less, could hold her own in a battle with the enemies that wanted them dead. When she left, Tawnie went with her.
Alexander moved away from the kitchen window. As he walked through the house, Sebastian followed close behind him. Pushing the door leading out on to the porch open, they stepped out into the scorching sun. Beads of sweat formed quickly on his forehead. Sebastian sipped from a water dish before following Alexander down the steps to the yard. Alexander stopped and turned to look at the house. Though in need of a good paint job, the old house stood as solid as it had one hundred years ago when it had been built. The porch ran the full length of the house, a wooden railing encasing the entire porch. Rounded pillars held the roof covering the porch in place. The split level house looked enormous against the back-drop of blue Spruce and huge oak trees that shielded the backside of the house from the world outside.
Windows, double wide for easy viewing from the inside out, adorned the front and sides of the house. Blue shutters accented the window-frames against a light grey coloring on the outside walls of the house. Under each window, wooden flower boxes, once filled with the most vibrant colored flowers, now sat empty. Vines, once full of life now draped over the sides of the boxes, their leaves shriveled and brown. They moved gently with the breeze, reaching upward as if to beg for water. Sadness overcame Alexander as he stared at the house and remembered what it had looked like before she had disappeared.
Alexander watched as a car came up the long driveway. He knew the car and its driver, as did Sebastian. Hissing and arching his back, the cat at his side made aware its dislike for the driver.
“Here now, old friend, there is nothing we can do about this visit. We will do as we always do and she will go away again.” The cat’s back straightened as it sat beside its best friend.
“Hello-o-o-o-o” came the greeting from the car as it stopped in front of the house. “I was hoping to catch you home today. This is the third time I have driven out here this week. You are a hard man to find sometimes, Alex.”
He cringed when she called him by that name. Only one woman had ever been allowed that grace and this woman was not her. Sebastian slipped back away from her as she walked towards them.
“I see you still have that nasty old cat. How long do those creatures live, anyways?”
“What can I do for you, Samantha?” he asked, ignoring her question completely.
“Alex, you know exactly why I am here. I don’t understand why you are so bull-headed. This old house is worth a fortune to the gentleman that wants to buy it. His offer went up Again. I swear one day he is going to tire of waiting and just move on. Now, not being snoopy or anything but… your finances are not what they used to be. I am sure you are aware of that already but I just want you to know that this offer would set you up for the rest of your life. I am sure there would even be enough to get you a new cat, in case this one decides to finally die.”
“Your dislike for my cat is almost as deep as his dislike for you, Samantha. Why do you insist on wasting your time and gas to come here. I have told you one hundred times that I am not interested in any offers.”
Samantha snuggled next to Alexander and smiled. She reached out and touched his hand. “Alex, seriously Honey, surely this is not still about Alisha, is it? It has been six years and still no word from her. She has moved on and obviously has no intentions of returning. Why don’t you under…?”
He pushed her hand away from his and stepped away from her. He felt the anger rising inside of him and fought to hold it back. He had never hated a woman as much as this one. He responded slowly so as to keep his temper in check.
“I think that it is in your best interest to get in your car and leave now. Why I keep this house and anything to do with Alisha are of no concern of yours. I don’t need you to remind of how long she has been gone. We are finished talking here so kindly leave or I will have the authorities remove you.”
“You think I am afraid of you or the authorities, Alex? I fear no one, especially not you! I remember before she came along. You and I could have been so happy together. What you ever saw in that little…”
“Stop now, Samantha! I promise you that I have not forgotten us either. You wanted everything I had then and you still do! What you and I shared died inside of me long ago. Nothing you offered was enough to hold me for long. Don’t bother coming back out here again. Sebastian and I are going to be away for a while. There will be no reason for you to return.”
Samantha looked at Alexander as he turned to walk away. Her eyes filled with tears as she reached out for his arm. Anger and hurt do not make for a good mix and Alexander could feel both as she grabbed him.
“Don’t you walk away from me, damn you! I am not just some toss away that you came across! I am still as strong as I ever was and if you keep walking, you will find out exactly what I mean!”
Alexander stopped and turned around. Sebastian was at his side now, feeling the electricity in the air. His fur ruffled as the wind moved a little more. Samantha’s long blond hair blew in the wind as electricity moved up and down her arm. Her blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight as she smiled a cruel smile at them both.
“We go back way too far for you to turn away from me, Alex! She had no right to come between us and the fact that she is gone is of no problem to me! You know damn well that where-ever she is, neither you nor I have the power to bring her back! Leave it alone before you invite things back here that no one wants to see!”
Alexander grabbed her and backed her against her own car. Sparks jumped from his body to hers and back to his. The darkness in his eyes made Samantha’s body shudder. He felt her body tremble and smiled.
“I hate you, Alexander Truent; I hate you all of my soul! Let me go right now!”
“You neither hate me nor wish for me to let you go, Samantha. What you truly hate is me feeling the fear that is inside of you. Alisha knew the evil that came with being with you. She saw it inside of you the first day she met you. How you hid it from me for so long shames me. I will go searching for her again and this time, I will find her.”
Alexander softened his hold on Samantha. She looked into his eyes; eyes that now were the baby blue they had been just moments before. She reached up and touched her palm to his face. Tears wet her fingertips and she realized that nothing she would say would stop him.
“I want only for you to be happy, Alex. I believe that I can do that for you. Where you have to go to find Alisha, few have come back from and none have returned here unscathed physically and mentally. Your cat can only protect you so much. Even he will use up his lives sooner or later.”
Sebastian hissed at Samantha and arched his back high into the air. Claws, sharper than a Bengal tigers scratched across the dirt, splitting a stone in half as they did. Samantha kicked dirt on to him and Sebastian displayed his teeth, suddenly as long as a saber-tooth tiger, glistening in the sun-light. His sized tripled in a matter of seconds as the transformation took place. Samantha stepped backwards, holding on to Alexander’s hand.
“He isn't going to hurt you, Sam. He is just showing you he still has a lot of lives left inside of him. If you wouldn't mind, I have some things to do before we leave.”
She smiled at him, gently, with pure love. The fact that he had called her Sam had not escaped her ears. He had called her Sam when they were in love and she missed the sound of her name.
“Will you use the swing to search for her, Alex?”
“It is the only way I know to reach her or at least to reach where she went. I only have a very short time that I can stay there. I just hope I can find her before I have to return. I don’t want to wait another year to search. I wish you understood, Samantha.”
She touched his arm and leaned forward to kiss him. He did not pull away this time. “Oh, I do Alexander, I do understand. I only wish it were me that you loved so much that you were willing to die for me. I will be around when you come back, waiting to see what you find.”
Samantha watched as he gathered the things he would need. She closed her eyes and wished it were she he loved so deeply. Anger began to well up inside of her again. She pushed it away, not wanting Alexander to feel it. She had always chosen her battlegrounds and this fight would be no different. The only thing standing between her and Alex… was Alisha. “Oh, and those damn cats,” she said in a low voice.