April 15, 2012

Beneath the Surface – Chapter Twelve Part 4

Edith refused to let go of Debra’s hand and pulled her over to the nearest sofa. Seated almost hip to hip she held onto her daughter’s arm with both hands. The end of the secret had her heart pounding and her mind ecstatic. Debra was hers again. Yet as the room quieted in anticipation of Eron’s findings, Edith also found herself feeling vulnerable. Would Debra still love her once the whole truth was out in the open?

Muscled arms and strong backs arranged two of the larger sofas and a couple of overstuffed chairs into a tight grouping so voices wouldn’t carry, but more important, to achieve an intimate show of support for Edith. Eron waited until all were ready and lowered himself into the remaining empty chair.

Seeing Debra wedged between Damon and Edith on the green plaid sofa, Eron sheepishly smiled at Debra like a kindly old uncle. Under Thalian law they were family, all members of the House of Bromon. “My dear,” Eron began, his tone purposefully neutral. “I’m going to keep you guessing about your evaluation for just a bit longer.” He glanced at Edith’s anxious face, believing the direct approach to be the fastest way to ease the woman’s fears.

Sitting on the edge of his seat, elbows flat against the cushioned armrests, Eron focused his attention on Debra. “You’ll no doubt be wondering why you ended up in Dorothy’s care.” An excellent poker face, Eron mused, then berated his wandering thoughts. “One of the reasons Trevon stayed at the Montana settlement was because of you, dear. The only guarantee of keeping your immune system strong and healthy against the atmospheric virus was to keep you on the planet surface.

“Your father wasn’t willing to give you up for the sake of staying alive a few more months on the ship. You had a very special bond with your father. Part of the reason was that you both shared Thalian abilities. But even more important was the fact that you were Thalian and human. He saw you as the best part of himself and Edith and took great pleasure in parental pride.”

Try as hard as she could, Debra failed to recall any memories of her father at all. Mind and heart found it so easy to love the sentiments of the man described to her. Yet she would never know him or remember that special loving bond between father and daughter. Times like these she had to wonder what good her total recall served when the most important memories were beyond her abilities.

“You were linked to your father at the time of his death.” Eron paused to let that fact sink in before carefully choosing his next words. “It’s because of that link that I can tell you what happened the day your father died.”

Eyes widened in surprise about the silently enthralled group. Except for Eron and Edith, all of them had been only children at the time of Trevon’s death; Debra only a baby. Each had still been growing into their abilities and learning Thalian ways of the past and future. Now as responsible adults, it was a little bit of a shock to discover that their old tutor’s skills as observer still had something new to teach.

Sitting back in the comfy chair, Eron looked inward at a memory not his own. “The two of you were in the backyard, lying on Trevon’s motorized recliner and watching the clouds float by. It was warm that day. Edith had cut the grass earlier, an earthly smell Trevon found deeply pleasing.  Although physically weak, Trevon remained strong mentally until the end. He was sharing visions with you about how Thalian’s view corporal death as a joyous release, like graduating from the university of life with honors, and the well earned pass to journey Home.

“The two of you were laughing at his funny images of the large flowers and trees that exist at Home. So he took you to the back fence and opened the gate to show you the verdant meadow beyond the ravine and the stunning wildflowers in bloom. He told you the colorful species of nature on Earth were just like Home, only at Home they were much, much bigger.”

Hearing the candor of the older man’s words brought back so many wretched memories of that day. As though Edith would ever let herself forget. So she sat like a condemned prisoner, awaiting sentencing from her peers and loved ones, and let the truth of Eron’s words stab into her heart over and over.

“The strain of walking that short distance was too much in Trevon’s depleted condition. He went into convulsions and collapsed in the yard, leaving the gate open.  Instinctively you laid hands on your father’s chest, trying to make him well. Because of the link, he knew it was more a matter of your body automatically doing what came naturally than a conscious thought.

“When his heart stopped, he lay dying, his mind watching with the help of the link between you as kinetic energy channeled through your hands and restarted his heart. In the process, the energy created a cloaking aura around the both of you. And because of the amount of energy being channeled into him, his torso levitated a good foot off the ground.”

Eron glanced at Edith’s stricken face, tears streaming, hands holding onto Debra so tightly she threatened to cut off the blood flow. “Your mother had come out onto the veranda and saw you standing over Trevon. She witnessed the energy leaving your tiny hands and driving into Trevon’s chest several times. The stress of the long illness had drained Edith’s strength, leaving her emotionally exhausted. We all knew Trevon’s passing would be very difficult for Edith to accept. When she came out and found the two of you—”

“She thought I was killing him.” Debra answered jadedly, eyes unafraid and intense. “Are you sure I didn’t?”

“Let me finish,” Eron said gently, watching the stubborn young face flush with self-recrimination, “and I think you’ll be able to answer that question for yourself. The sight of Trevon being bombarded by all that energy was too much for Edith to handle, and in human terms, her mind snapped.

“Screaming like a demented soul, Edith tried to tear you away from Trevon. You never made a sound, never cried out once. But even at the tender age of two, your cloaking aura was formidable and held her off. Using clasped hands, Edith beat you off of Trevon, then threw your body outside the fence and closed the gate to keep you away.

“By the time she got back to Trevon he had just enough strength to whisper the word “No” and place the image of you tumbling down the ravine in her mind. Already in a catatonic state, Edith couldn’t comprehend the danger she had placed you in. It took almost six months for her to recover and piece together what she had done. By then it was too late for both of you.”

What Eron refused to divulge were all the horrendous words Edith had shrieked at her baby daughter. The face of hate and fear screaming murderer, bad seed, evil and demon . . . kill you.

The insanity of that day had never been apparent in the woman he had known before or after her recovery. He saw no reason to taint the relationship further between mother and daughter for the sake of full disclosure. Edith still suffered for her actions that day and the ten years of hell Debra suffered at the hands of her sister, Dorothy. Often Eron was the voice of calm at counsel over Edith’s rebellion against protocol where Debra was concerned; a fragile mind’s way of trying to make amends.

“After that you would cry yourself sick whenever Edith was present. The decision was made by the elders to place you in the care of Dorothy and Jeff, who was still alive at the time. No one had any idea Dorothy would become psychotic about normal psychic behavior.”

Eron accepted a cold bottle of water from Manton and took several deep swallows to relieve his parched throat before continuing. His attention remained focused on Debra as he hurried to explain. “An evaluation was done at that time but you were way too young to get any accurate images from. And of course, your memory of that day had been completely eradicated. Yet you continued to suffer mentally and physically, as if tormented by phantom recollections. Shortly after your fourth birthday a memory block was inserted, concealing all memories of the first four years of your life.”

Silence hung heavy in the brightly lit room as tears rolled down Edith’s cheeks. “I’ve never forgiven myself,” she quietly sobbed. “So many times I wished I could just forget the whole mess. But then I’d see Debra, getting older and dealing with everything as best she could. Fighting on, no matter what. And I’d tell myself there had to be part of me inside her, making her strong to keep going. How could I do any less?”

Releasing her stranglehold on Debra’s arm, Edith took a deep breath and wiped away the fresh tears. “I deeply apologize, Debra, for me and my sister. You deserved so much better than we gave you.” Glancing at Debra she smiled halfheartedly. “I’ve often wondered what our lives would have been like had I not lost it that day.”

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” Debra answered calmly, feeling no real emotions over Eron’s words because there were no memories of the fear and pain as a baby. “Believe me, mother, I understand what it means to ‘lose it’. It’s happened to me, more than once.” She studied Edith’s lovely familiar face and remembered a little girl of five and that magical summer with Edith. Instead of feeling angry about the past, she felt the magic returning to her soul a hundred times over.

Eyes gleaming in amusement, Debra grinned. “I may be backward where some of my abilities are concerned, but at this moment I like who and what I am. I like being here and knowing you’re my mother and actually having a future for a change.”

Debra glanced around the group of smiling, caring faces, no longer strangers, more than a little surprised at how much of herself had been shared with these people in so short a time. In all honesty, she had lived more in the few weeks she had been here than could be said for her entire past.

“I even accept that Damon is the consort’s husband,” Debra said regally, then spoiled the effect by giggling when Damon choked on a mouthful of water. “But I’m only half Thalian and the human part of me doesn’t feel married.”

“Are you expecting me to get down on one knee?” Damon asked with sardonic laughter.

“We can discuss it later, over dinner,” Debra said genially, giving Damon a wink. Turning her thoughts inward, she listened to that tiny voice inside and tried to describe all the new feelings to Eron. “At the moment I feel so strong, like all of a sudden an oppressive weight, I didn’t even know I was carrying, has been taken away. Actually, I feel quite free and I don’t recall ever experiencing that sensation before.”

“I guess that means you’re ready to start linking with your tutors tomorrow,” Damon innocently grinned, lightly patting the slender hand that jerked against his thigh. Her fleeting frown did little to reprimand or change his plans for a quiet evening alone for two. At the moment happiness seemed a contagious commodity in the OT lounge. And like the others, he doubted anything could squelch the contentment bursting inside him right now.

Was she ready to link? Debra wondered, and stopped to consider if the feeling of dread in her stomach was a habit response or how she truly felt about linking with others? And yet she did feel different since hearing the truth about the past. But did that knowledge automatically wipe clean all the havoc her abilities had caused? At this point there was no way to be sure except by actually taking Damon, and her tutors, up on this challenge.

Dark eyes flashed with understated sarcasm at Damon’s smug expression, promising retribution later. Being on intimate terms with the sovereign, Debra knew every one of his weak spots and wasn’t above using them against him. She smirked to herself; no doubt that was one of her more human traits exerting itself from under the mountain of Thalian procedures and protocols.

Always the researcher, Rowan left Debra to her brother’s charms and zeroed in on the logistics of what they had just heard. “All this detail from a memory Debra doesn’t even remember. How is this possible, Eron?” Rowan curiously asked. Routine had her shutting out the lively voices of Manton and Theron as they drew Edith into a conversation of the many preparations still to be completed for the upcoming Jubilee.

Ready for inquiries, Eron leaned closer to Rowan to be heard. “From a medical standpoint you’re aware that the mind dies slower than the body. But it’s not just the electrical aspect of the brain that continues to function. Cerebral awareness is also present.”

Rowan mutely nodded in agreement, accepting the premise of one specialist to another.

“And although it’s not a secret, many Thalians don’t realize that when linking with another, a part of them is left behind in the other. These bits of left behind memories are easily ignored because linked memories are often mirror images of each other. Trevon saw everything that happened just as Debra did, until she was rendered unconscious and tossed into the ravine.

“Debra’s memories of that day were destroyed when her father died, brutally severing the link between them. If she hadn’t already been unconscious then the severing would have put her into a coma, like what happened with Damon. Trevon knew what was coming and buried his memory deep in her consciousness. As it was, the chemical pathways where destroyed, but the memory remained intact. Without those vital chemical pathways Debra will never remember.”

“And that’s what you went looking for,” Rowan stated, her eyes reflecting an earnest fascination. “How did you know Trevon would send the memory deep? For that matter, how did Trevon even know how to manipulate a memory?”

Eron laughed at her eagerness, allowing himself a moment to reminisce about the old days. His current duties kept him quite busy and in constant interaction with the city’s residents. But his heart and soul deeply missed evaluating and teaching; what he had been born to do. Now, looking back, he better understood the discord his old friend had suffered.

“Trevon’s first love was wood sculpting,” Eron boasted warmly, sitting back in the chair, suddenly realizing all eyes were once again on him. “Many of his pieces are on display throughout the city. Excellent craftsmanship.” He chuckled at Edith. “He spent hundreds of hours hand carving each interlocking piece of wood for that Lover’s Box he gave you. Every spare moment till it was finished. A premier master for sure.”

A seriousness came over Eron’s demeanor that seemed to darken his drawn face. “But the times and survival in a new home called for sacrifices from many. Trevon was my trainee.” There were several gasps. Not many Thalians were born with the right qualities to be an observer. “I’m the only psychic master on Earth. There are several good psychic observers I’ve trained over the years. But Trevon was the first.”

Noting Edith’s confusion, Eron nodded and resumed. “It’s true, my dear. Not many knew. Mass assessments were conducted aboard each ship, with prospective trainees relocated to the mother ship. Trevon had one of the highest scores and had been training with me for almost four years before he became infected. None of the trainees had a natural aptitude for psychic observation. What set Trevon apart was his talent for learning. A gift he often cursed, at the time, when training took him away from working with the abundant supply of wood Earth had to offer.”

He looked at Rowan. “To answer your question, Trevon was fully qualified to perform psychic evaluation and memory manipulation. I knew I would find something buried in Debra’s consciousness about that day.” He rolled his eyes and glanced at Debra. “The problem was getting her to link with me so I could carry out the fact-finding evaluation.”

Debra shrugged sheepishly. “Sorry. Out in the real world it’s better to be tight-lipped and extremely cautious,” she touted in her own defense.

“What about her nightmare,” Damon inquired quickly, giving Debra’s hand a light squeeze.

“Repressed fears,” Eron said simply. “Debra and the kinetic energy became the evil killing power that destroyed Trevon, something that was reinforced by Edith’s actions. To cope, a sane young mind will often use monsters, fear, and punishment as persecutors rather than admit to the possibility of truly being all those terrible things. An insane person would have no conscience and not care, but go merrily about their way wrecking havoc.

“Linking or melding became painful, like the viciously severed link with her father. It was something to be avoided and caused numerous aberrations when tried.” Like a tutor to his students, Eron swiftly glanced at each face. “The mind has a way of self-correcting when the root cause of a fear or other problem has been confronted. It’s my opinion that Debra will no longer suffer her previous lack of control or the nightmare.”

“But if she didn’t remember anything—” Rowan challenged respectfully.

“Her awareness can’t remember anything of that day. It’s something she will never be able to access. But Trevon’s linked memory will always be a part of her consciousness.”

“Why did Debra and I never have any trouble linking and melding? We’ve known each other since she was eighteen months. So why were those memories never forgotten?” Damon asked, intrigued.

Eron smiled widely. “From a psychic observer’s perspective, the two of you are made from the same mental fabric. You were a part of each other on a daily basis well before Trevon died. There was nothing to fear between you, only comfort. Your memories of the dream world reinforced Debra’s early existence every time you joined mentally. She knew herself as a baby through you and the environment you created together.” Becoming more formal, Eron faced Damon directly. “With your permission, sovereign, I would like to be the one to announce your consort as Vion at this year’s Jubilee.”

“I knew it,” shouted Edith gleefully, pumping raised fists in the air victoriously.

Laughter filled the room, voices talking over each other, and whoops of delight rending the air. Eron sat watching the joyous pandemonium and sighed, a satisfied grin on his face. Damon and Debra, the only two Vions on Earth. Between the two of them there had to be an answer to the virus.

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