Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Five Hundred and Eighty-two : When one is afraid


“Wha … How’d I get over here?” Ivy asked Delphie.

“We have a lot to discuss,” Abi said. “Come. Take your seats. We will talk about what’s next.”

Delphie helped Ivy to her feet. They went over to the large blanket where Sam was sitting and sat down.

“What the hell was that?” Sam asked.

“It’s a good question,” Abi said. She turned to Ivy. “Do you have any memory of what has just happened?”

Ivy shook her head.

“How is your panicky feeling?” Abi asked.

“I still feel it some,” Ivy said. “Like it would be right there if I just looked at it again. Mostly I’m kinda creeped out by …”

Ivy gestured to the crowd around them.

“I understand,” Abi said. “You don’t remember coming down tonight?”

Ivy shook her head. Abi nodded.

“Well, I invited our entire family and community to join you to help carry this burden for you,” Abi said. “Your strong feelings are too much for any one person to carry.”

“But they …” Ivy gestured to everyone.

“They are not of the line of Oracle,” Abi said. “Delphie? Can you explain?”

“Ivy,” Delphie said in a soft voice. She stroked the girl’s head. “You know that you are in the line of Oracle, right?”

“I’m your niece,” Ivy said. “You’re an Oracle.”

“Exactly,” Delphie said. “As you move closer to womanhood, every female with this kind of genetics has a kind of crazy burst of psychic activity.”

“Psychic activity?” Ivy asked. “Me?”

“We’ve been working with it a little bit lately,” Delphie said.

“But I’m not very good,” Ivy said. “Very strong. Not like you or Mr. Jake.”

“That has been true for you,” Delphie said. “Things are different now. As you continue to grow up, you run into a period of time where things are a little different. You will have anywhere from a few months to as much as a few years where you are tapped into the ether.”

“When I was a lad, they would take the girls your age and bring them to Delphi,” Fin said. “They’d use the girls and when their abilities waned they’d kill them.”

“Kill me?” Ivy asked.

“That’s exactly what she needs to hear,” Tanesha said.

“I thought she should know,” Fin said. “I’ll tell you this — they were never able to capture an actual Oracle. They just had these girls.”

Delphie nodded.

“That’s true,” Delphie said. “And that’s where you are right now. You’re becoming a woman and this is a side effect of being related to me.”

“Did your sisters have this?” Ivy asked.

“I don’t know,” Delphie said. “I wasn’t raised with them.”

Ivy nodded.

“Were you like this?” Nash asked.

“I wasn’t,” Delphie said. “I was born with a strong psychic ability. I was connected right from the get go. My challenge was to stay grounded. I, uh, left my family when I was about four years old. I did have a year of profound insight when I grew to womanhood but, by then, I was already a strong, experienced psychic. My powers were simply stronger. They continued to grow after that time. They have never diminished. In fact, they continue to grow every year that I am alive.”

“I can attest to that,” Sam said. “Celia rescued Delphie when she was about ten years old. We went through this with her.”

Delphie smiled at Sam.

“How can we help?” Jill asked.

“I think that’s a good question,” Abi said. “Oracle, can you explain what happened?”

Delphie nodded. She looked around the circle to see the concern, love, and more than a hefty dose of curiosity on everyone’s faces. They each loved Delphie. No one knew much about her powers. This was a window into her life and abilities that none of them had ever had.

“For me, I always knew about the past, present, and a potential future,” Delphie said. “That is my experience of every minute.”

Delphie put her hand on Ivy’s shoulder.

“For Ivy, she has lived in this life, this world,” Delphie said. “Every experience has been in this world and about this world. She is suddenly experiencing another world.”

“You mean like a dimension?” Teddy asked.

“Sure,” Delphie said. “Does everyone know the idea of multiple timelines happening at the same moment?”

She looked around the fire circle to see heads bob up and down. Jacob scowled at Delphie, and Delphie smiled.

“Our Jacob doesn’t believe in multiple timelines,” Delphie said. She nodded to Jacob.

“There is a possibility of multiple outcomes in any situation based on individual decision and action,” Jacob said. “Chance. Serendipity. But they don’t all exist. There isn’t another me or you living out an alternate life.”

Jacob shook his head.

“At least in my experience,” Jacob said. “Delphie reads timelines. That’s how I describe what she does. She reads the future options a person has and can determine which works best or the crucial moments, junctions, in the timeline.”

He looked around the circle and saw confusion.

“When I went to the zoo the first time with Jill and Katy, Delphie could see that Katy might have an issue with allergy,” Jacob said. “She didn’t know for sure because she cannot determine all of the factors and no one can determine the decisions of a bee. She told me to get the bronchial inhaler. Katy was stung by the bee. I had the inhaler. That was a crucial junction in the events of things.”

“Does that make any sense at all?” Delphie asked.

“It sounds like painting,” Mike said. “I get an idea of what I want or need to paint. I set about creating it. The outcome could be anything from what I originally thought of to something much worse or even much better.”

“Exactly,” Delphie said. “All of those options are like timelines. They start from the moment you get the idea and finish when the thing created.”

“The timelines aren’t fixed,” Jacob said. “You can’t go from this one to another one where the same life is lived out only with different options in place. They do not all exist at once.”

“I’m not sure if this is helping,” Delphie said. She looked at Jacob and he gave her a soft smile.

“No, I get it,” Jill said. “You’re saying that Ivy was living along one reality or one timeline, and now she can see all of the options.”

“As well as the past,” Delphie said. “The dream she had tonight is out of my mother’s past.”

Delphie looked at Ivy.

“It is?” Ivy asked. “The shooting and everything?”

Delphie nodded.

“They were speaking Polish,” Nash said. “You were probably triggered by us talking about the tunnel in Poland.”

“Triggered is a good word,” Delphie said. “You heard us talking about Poland, and probably heard some Polish. This acted as a hook in the history of the world, your history in particular.”

“Oh, you mean like a computer query,” Nash said.

“I think so,” Delphie said with a smile. “Is that like putting a question into the search?”

“Exactly,” Aden said.

“Then that’s what happened,” Delphie said. “Ivy’s brain is connecting to river of time. With a hook, particularly a family connection, she is brought back to see something. The question is why that thing?”

“It feels so real!” Ivy said.

Delphie nodded.

“You poor thing,” Heather said. “It sounds terrifying and overwhelming.”

“It is,” Ivy said with a nod of her head. “I didn’t want to talk about it because I was afraid that I was going crazy.”

“Not crazy,” Delphie said. “Well, maybe a little crazy.”

Ivy grinned at her aunt. After a moment, the child’s face fell.

“What does it mean?” Ivy asked. “The women and the people and the cemetery and …”

“What does it feel like it means?” Delphie asked.

“You can’t put it back on me because I don’t know!” Ivy said.

Delphie gave the child a soft smile.

“At the end of your dream …” Heather started. She looked at Delphie, “What are we calling it?”

“Vision?” Delphie shrugged. “Dream works because she did have it while she was asleep.”

Heather nodded.

“At the end of your vision-dream.” Heather’s eyes flicked to Delphie. Delphie nodded. “I saw images from the current news cycles. The President yelling from a podium, people rioting …”

“I saw a shooting,” Tink said, nodding. “In her vision-dream. I saw a shooting. I noticed it because Ivy and I talked about that particular one. We looked it up on the Internet.”

“Shouldn’t she be more careful about what she watches, now?” Jill asked.

Unable to speak, Sandy grunted.

“It won’t matter,” Jacob said. “When you are tapped into the energy of a time, you know, or maybe a better word is sense, everything that’s going on at all times.”

“I think everyone’s able to do that,” Honey said. “I don’t need to see the news to know that things are crazy right now. Just go out of the house and see how people treat each other now. Work is sheer madness. I have to regularly remind people that they will be fired for being an asshole. They joke that it’s my regular ‘don’t be an asshole’ announcement. But joking aside, I have to do it because people are acting like fools. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Not in my life.”

Everyone in the circle nodded in agreement. They hadn’t seen anything like this either.

“So we have to think — how are these current events connected to the vision she saw of her grandmother’s life?” Delphie nodded. She gestured to the group. “Any ideas?”

Shaking their heads, the adults looked at each other. Too intimidated to speak, the teenagers looked a little dazed.

“I have an idea,” Katy said. “Is it okay to talk?”

“Of course,” Jill said.

Katy looked at the fire for courage.

“Katy?” Delphie asked. “What’s your idea?”

“I noticed that your mom was about Ivy’s age,” Katy said. “I wondered if maybe your mom was going through her vision-dream time. You know, she was hiding under the cart. Maybe she knew those guys would come and kill everybody, you know, from her own vision-dream. So she hid.”

When no one responded, Katy dove into her mother’s belly from embarrassment. Jill held Katy close.

“She’s right,” Ivy said. “The girl under the cart did look like me and was my age. What does that mean?”

“Well,” Abi said. She looked around the circle to see if anyone else wanted to say something before she continued. “One thing that I noticed was how brave and resilient these people were. Yes, the women were shot, but their families stole their bodies and buried them with their own ceremony in their own cemetery.”

“Tremendously courageous act,” Fin said. “An act of war, really.”

“An act of war?” Delphie asked. “What do you mean?”

“From what I saw, and I only saw what Ivy showed us, it seemed like one party was attempting to control another group of people,” Fin said.

“That’s right,” Jacob said.

“When the goal is control over people, those in control work to destroy the very identity of the other group of people,” Fin said. “Wipe out their identity, you gut people. They become powerless, barely able to function. These people rose up against their oppressors. By stealing the bodies and giving them a proper burial, they were saying very clearly to those in power, ‘We will not be destroyed.’ That’s nothing less than an act of war. And certainly, I will tell you that the people who arrived while the bodies were being ritualistically buried, felt the stealing of the bodies, the funeral, and burying the bodies as an act of war.”

Fin nodded.

“Those who wish for power over people usually fail because of this kind of small acts of uprising,” Fin said. “It’s death by a thousand cuts. Each small act causes a little amount of blood to leak out. More cuts, more lost blood. Each loss of blood weakens them until they are overthrown. It’s just how things work.”

Abi waited to see if Fin would say more, but he just nodded.

“It’s my opinion, and it is just an opinion, is that you, Ivy, are seeing your grandmother’s life as a way of saying, ‘You are stronger than you know,’” Abi said. “Your grandmother got through this time, somehow. She came to the United States to marry and have children. While we know that she didn’t have the happiest of lives, she did give birth to our beloved Delphie, an Oracle no less, as well as your mother, Ivy.”

“She lived her life the best she knew how to live,” Delphie said with a nod.

“Sounds like she’s reaching out to Ivy to tell her that she’s going to be okay,” Tanesha said. “That this time will pass. Do what you can — small acts of resistance or whatever.”

“It is certainly possible,” Abi said.

“Seth O’Malley, in the tunnel? You know?” Nash looked around and people were nodding. “He said something about small acts of resistance.”

“Imagine how much courage that would take to go against all of those Nazis,” Aden said. “The scientist stole the detonator to a nuclear bomb. They chased him into the mine, but he never lost track of the detonator. Never dropped it or lost it, even after all of this time, he was still holding onto it.”

Aden nodded.

“I think Fin’s right,” Aden said. “Burying your beloveds in a time of oppression is an act of war. And, small acts of resistance make all the difference.”

Outside of a few nodding heads, no one responded.

“Ivy?” M.J. spoke up. Everyone turned to look at him. “I will carry some of your burden. I’ve been aware that you’ve been afraid. I want you to know that you are not alone. You might be the only one having these vision-dreams, but there are thousands, tens of thousands, of adults who are keeping an eye on things in the world. Good people everywhere are doing what they can to be kind and loving.”

“I will carry your burden too,” Jill said. “I know what it’s like to be afraid every day. Terrified. Not able to sleep. Not able to change anything. You are not alone in this. Time will pass. We will get through this as a family, together.”

“I’ll help too!” Katy said.

“I will!” Noelle chimed in.

Jill looked at the girls and smiled.

“Me too,” Tink said quickly. “You know that I know what it means to be afraid.”

“I’m on your side, Ivy,” Charlie said.

Jeraine got up from where he was sitting and went to Ivy. He knelt down and took her hand. Ivy began to cry.

“I will help in any way possible,” Jeraine said. “You would not believe the shit I’ve been through. I am happy to share this with you.”

“Me too,” Tanesha and Heather said in unison.

“We know just how you’re feeling,” Heather finished. “I also want to add that none of this — people’s anger, the strife, the struggle right now — is yours to fix. Not even if you were a full Oracle. It’s not yours to fix. All you can do is love well, be kind, and focus on doing good in your own life. That makes a huge difference in the world.”

“We’re here for you,” Teddy said and Nash nodded.

Mack got up and toddled over to Ivy. He gave her an apple.

“Thank you,” Ivy said.

“That’s a gift for a King,” Fin said.

“Go ahead,” Blane said. “You’ll feel better.”

Blane nodded to Edie. Ivy took a bite of the apple and fell into a sound sleep.

“Thank you,” Abi said. “It’s so important to share each other’s struggles and joys. We are good at sharing joy but hide from sharing our struggles. We need to learn how to do that.”

“Thank you for doing this, Abi,” Sam said. “Setting this up, officiating and everything.”

“It is my pleasure,” Abi said with a nod.

The group began to break up. The adults carried sleeping children back into the house. Aden drove the teens and Sandy back to the O’Malley house. After agreeing to meet Jacob by the grass, Edie took Jill’s twins and Wyn into the Castle. Tanesha and Jeraine helped pick up the area. True to his word, Fin replaced the grass.

“I’ll get her,” Blane said.

He lifted Ivy into his arms. Sam and Delphie followed Blane back into the house. After a few minutes, Jacob and Jill were alone on a blanket on the grass.

“How was today?” Jill asked.

“I missed you,” Jacob said. “I felt … I don’t know, spoiled, stupid. I wished I was here in the middle of my life.”

“But …” Jill started. She’d been arguing with him about this for so long that her frustration came right to the surface.

“I know what you’re going to say,” Jacob cut her off. “And, you’re right.”

Her frustration drained out of her and Jill smiled.

“I need to figure out what I’m doing before I can really participate in our life,” Jacob said. “I just want you to know …”

Jill turned to look him in the face.

“The one thing in my life that I am certain about is you and our children,” Jacob said.

“Oh Jake,” Jill said.

He leaned over and kissed her.

“You’re sure that you’re okay here?” Jacob asked.

“I’m sure,” Jill said. “I’ll call you on Friday. See if you want us to spend the weekend with you.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that,” Jacob said with a smile. “That’s a great idea.”

“Have your cake and eat it too?” Jill asked.

Jacob simply smiled. He helped Jill up off the grass and folded the blanket. She turned to him and he held her tight in his arms. Over her shoulder, he saw Edie standing at the edge of the deck.

“My ride,” he said.

Jill turned to look. Nodding, she let go of him. He walked over to Edie. The fairy touched his arm and they disappeared.

Sighing to herself, Jill picked up the blanket and started into the house. She had been the one who’d come up with the idea of Jacob staying at the cabin for a while. It was her plan.

And she missed him the moment he disappeared.

She carried the blanket to the storage box on the deck and went back to bed.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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