Sylvia Van Peebles | Lakshmy Mathur
They say everyone has this ability. We just don’t know it, so we don’t develop it. I wish someone had told me about it before I found myself on the floor of my father’s bedroom. I had no idea how long I had been out. This is not the first time this has happened, but not for a long time. I used to wake up on the floor, sitting in a chair or even in bed. Sometimes I’ve become disoriented and have taken severe falls, alarming friends and family. One doctor said I have extreme vertigo. Another doctor said it was epilepsy. Either could cause me to fall. I thought the problem was gone, or at least under control, until now.
I picked myself up and looked around to see if anyone had seen me. I walked into the bathroom and as I washed my face, I tried to remember the dream I had while I was out cold. The people in it were familiar, and yet I was sure I didn’t know them. One of them was a little girl. She was well dressed and doted on, but still seemed so sad. That is all I remember, and it’s odd, because I swear I’ve had this same dream before.
My father died several years ago, but I still liked to come in here and touch his things. I miss him so much. As I walked out of the bathroom, Marietta, my godmother was standing in the doorway.
“You’ve got it, haven’t you?” she asked.
“Got what, Godmother?”
“The touch. You’ve got the touch,” she replied quietly.
“I don’t know what ‘the touch’ is, but I’m sure I don’t have it,” I said trying not to sound irritable.
Marietta came into the room. She motioned to the bed, and we both walked over and sat on it. I must have looked worried for she took my hand, and stroked my hair to calm me as she did when I was a young girl.
“The touch is a gift where people can see images, or sounds, or smells, or sense emotions by touching objects. The proper name is psychometry. My grandmother had it, that’s how I recognized it in you.”
What was she saying? That I’m the family freak? I looked at my godmother as if she had just told me aliens are real. I was fighting to remain calm because an unfamiliar fear and anger were trying to surface, and I didn’t want to hurt my godmother.
“Godmother, there’s no way I have this touch thing. I just had an episode of vertigo. I know it’s been a while, but I skipped breakfast and am a little stressed today. That’s what brought it on. I’m not psychic.”
“You saw things, didn’t you?” asked my godmother. What were you holding when you passed out?”
I hesitated to answer her. This was not something I wanted to talk about. I refused to acknowledge that what I was being told could possibly be true. It frightened me, and excited me at the same time, and yet, there was something tugging at my curiosity. In spite of my fear, I wanted to know more.
“I was holding his pocket watch. I used to gaze at it on the dresser. Dad never knew that I used to sneak in the room and hold it when he wasn’t there. He said it was very old and very valuable, and that I was only to look at it and never touch it.”
My godmother looked at me and asked, “When you held the watch while you were growing up, you saw things, didn’t you?”
She waited a few seconds and when I didn’t respond, continued. “The impressions you had frightened you, and you fainted. You didn’t want to get in trouble so you never told anyone.” She reached over to the dresser, picked up the watch and handed it to me.
She was right. I kept pushing the pictures I saw out of my mind until I forgot them. Now as I talked to Marietta, they were beginning to resurface. Seeing the color drain from my face, my godmother knew, I was seeing the impressions again. She spoke quietly to me, and encouraged me. She let me know that I was safe, and to relax and let them come.
“What did you see?” Marietta asked softly.
“I saw the little girl again. She was with two people, a man and a woman, and she was laughing. The next time she was on a huge ship, holding the hand of a man but I couldn’t see his face, and she looked upset. Somehow, I know these people but that’s impossible.”
As I watched my godmother, I could see the inner war she was having.
“What is it, Godmother?” I asked. What’s wrong?”
She looked away from me and said, “You do know those people.”
“What do you mean? How could I possibly know them?” She was scaring me. I felt the hysteria rising in my voice.
“Have you ever felt that things were a little — off? That you didn’t belong. That you were different from everyone else?” Marietta asked, even though she already knew the answer.
“Well, I often wondered why Mom was so hostile toward me sometimes. I just assumed she had not wanted another child so late in life. I was also aware that I looked very different. I just thought I picked up some genes that had been forgotten.”
Marietta looked at me intently. “You are not going nuts. You do know those people. The man and woman are your family. That’s why you are always happy with them. They loved you very much. You are unhappy with the man on the ship because he is taking you away from them.”
As I listened, horrible realization spread across my face. “Are you telling me I’m adopted?” I almost screamed the words.
“Not adopted, my dear. Stolen,” replied my godmother.