I found myself back in New York. I had never been to this particular apartment, but the pictures of Lee and Erica on the wall filled in the blanks. I had gone to the past. Going to the past was always odd for me. Well, it was odd any time I ventured any where near Lee, Erica or Steve; not always Steve, but definitely always Lee and Erica. I haven’t been keeping track of what bodies I Soul Jump to, but I have noticed that I can’t Jump into either of them. No matter how hard I try, I always end up as the ghost of Christmas Future, hovering in the background waiting for something interesting to happen so that I can feel vindicated for traveling back here. I say vindicated, but that implies that I am the master of my destiny. Hearing some tidbit of their life allows me to feel justified, in the fact that I have gotten mere inches closer to understanding how this ability works and how I can become the Jumper, not merely a ricochet puddle.
I surveyed the room; it was straight and narrow, obviously some type of hallway or closet or some hidden escape hatch. I had found enough of those on my ‘Jumps’ through time that I didn’t rule them out any more. This one though, looked like a simple hallway. It was a different color than the hallway in the apartment when Lee Jumped with me. I think it was the same hallway, but Erica moved around enough in the early years that it could have been an entirely different part of New York or even a different city. I still haven’t figured out how she erased that from his memory. Knowing him, he erased it himself. I need to remember to ask him about that, it could get very dangerous in the future.
I heard a massive thunder clap, followed by a pain-filled groan from Lee. A few minutes later, Erica walked out of her bedroom at the end of the hall and walked to the room a few feet from where I was standing. She went inside and found Lee sitting up in his bed with his knees to his chest, staring out at the moon.
“Bad dream baby?” she said as she sat on the bed with him, stroking his neck.
“Yeah, I just… they were… I couldn’t reach him. I tried and tried but I couldn’t reach him,” he said, a tear streaming down his cheek. She simply pulled him in for a hug, and started to softly sing ‘Stormy Weather’ into his ear. She held him as the tears fell from his eyes, the full moon the only light source in the room.
“I don’t like it here, Mom. There is something bad here.”
“Bad now or always bad?” she responded, pulling back so she could look into his eyes. Until this point, I had never thought that Lee inherited his off beat way of thinking from both parents. I would have either ignored the comment all together as part of a kid having a bad dream, or at least found out what felt odd to him first. She skipped right over the why to the when. I guess after being on the run from some unknown entity for so long, the when was all that really mattered. She stared at him, waiting for an answer that never came. She began to sing again, before kissing him on the forehead and heading for the door.
“Mom, can we stay at Steve’s tomorrow?”
“Baby, I don’t know. I have to ask and I don’t know if he will want us just showing up on his door every time we get a bad feeling.”
“That’s his job.”
“What do you mean that’s his job?”
“On TV, whenever the kid has a bad dream he goes and crawls into bed between his parents. You don’t share a room here. You do there. I want to go there.”
Erica clutched her hand to her chest, and stifled a sob.
“I’ll call him baby. First thing in the morning.” She began to finish the song again as she closed his door and walked down the hall back toward her room when she saw a flash of movement from the kitchen. She crept down the hall, continuing to sing hoping to lull the intruder into believing she was unaware of his existence. I started to ‘float’ down the hall to follow her, but Lee started to sing. It was so haunting to hear this high soprano little boy voice, coming from the pitch-black room. It took me a second to place the medley but I guess I was seeing the creation of one of his melodic mix ups. ‘Zip-a-dee-do-dah’; I thought it was a fitting song at first, until the slow speed of the song finally sunk in. He sniffled through a particularly long, drawn out run.
I left the doorway at that point; I had heard enough of his full moon sad songs to know I would like this one even less than I liked those. I had almost forgotten about the intruder in the kitchen when I heard Erica talking to Jay. I rounded the corner thinking I might have been wrong but, I knew my brother’s voice and he was most definitely here arguing in the kitchen.
“Jayson had a nightmare. Half the floor flooded. I came here to see if Jonathan was alright. Did he have a nightmare too?”
“Kids have bad dreams Jay, it’s not what you think.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Because, I know what I am talking about Jay. Wishing for things to change won’t do me any good.”
The phone rang, briefly interrupting their conversation; the caller ID showing ‘Stefan Belamo’. She looked from the phone back to Jay, who stared at her waiting for a response. They let the phone ring until the machine picked it up, and silence reclaimed the room.
“So, at least tell me what the dream was about. Jayson woke up screaming about how someone was trapped somewhere far away and he couldn’t get there. Was Jonathan’s anything like that?”
“His name is Lee. And seriously Jay, this has got to stop. He can feel you when you teleport in like this.”
“I used my key. Or did you think it was Steve you had given that, too?” Jay responded, venom finally touching his words. “Did the boy flair any Elemental abilities?”
“Nothing Jay. I heard him scream and then I went and checked on him. That was, maybe, five minutes ago. But even if this… You are not… What is bothering him … I can’t keep doing this. I followed this plan of your father’s because my sister, who was supposed to be dead, showed up the day my water broke with Brian. But I have had to give up my whole life, everything; I can’t even call my mother or see my boys. I gave up everything and the best I can hope for is that he looks at me with disgust when he gets to be my age. You showing up like this, Jay… I’m an Empath. I can’t deal with all these emotions and stay focused. I can’t be with you and protect my kids.”
“But you can be with him?”
“He helps me filter. But, Jay… we’ve been through this before. We can’t continue to happen. We can’t even be friends. I don’t know if I truly love Steve, but I know I can’t love you and my children and keep everyone safe.”
“But, why don’t I get to love my children and my wife? Have you seen this year’s rankings? Or last year or the year before? There is no one on the planet who can protect you better than me.”
“That’s only true until Eli-, until she shows up again.”
“You won’t even say her name anymore. I hear the kids are reading a book with a character like that.”
“Yeah, Lee has it on his list now. But Jay, you have to leave. Before you do, if you truly want to keep us safe, will you check for someone lurking? Lee says he feels something bad here. I don’t know what that boy is sensing but his judgment has been right enough that I trust it when he says he feels bad juju.”
“I’ll check. But I didn’t see anyone when I arrived. Is that him singing? Can I see him?”
“Yes that’s him. He sings to ‘let out the bad vibes’. Hopefully, he is almost done, but no, you can’t see him. I really would rather not have to have this conversation with him just yet. Especially considering how complicated everything is between me, you, Steve, him and Jayson. Oh, and Jay,” she walked over to the fridge and snatched down Lee’s latest school photo. “Can you give this to my mother?”
“Do you have a copy for me?”
“No, Steve took the duplicates to his family.”
“How wonderful for him. His family gets to watch my son grow up.”
“Erica, go tend to the boy, this song is starting to grate on my nerves.”
“Well, be glad you don’t have to live with him then,” she said, arms folded across her chest and glaring at Jay.
“I wasn’t talking about his song,” he said pocketing the picture and walking to the door. “This is ridiculous. Two more years and we tell them everything. I don’t care how you feel about it. I am done with this and watching you with him. Two years… Day one of high school.”
“….Maybe please someday, we’ll all be okay. Maybe please someday, I’ll be okay…” She looked up at Jay, tears streaming down her face. Jay stood staring at the door to Lee’s room, pain etched on his face. He turned and walked out the door.
“….Maybe please someday…” she repeated as the door closed and a clap of thunder sounded in the distance.