TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
After driving about four hours straight, Steve saw the sign and turn-off for Forrest City, Arkansas. He thought the sign wasn't quite right, though. This was no city; Berg was what came to his mind, as he passed the city limit sign. He pulled into the first convenience store with a gas station that he found.
"I'm getting the gas," Steve said, when he got out of the U-Haul. "See if you get any more directions from you weird voice."
Ghost closed his eyes and concentrated, but didn't like what he was hearing in his head. The voice was just laughing.
"Where do I go? What do you want to show me?" Ghost kept asking. There was more laughing. Then he heard, "It's right in front of your face." Then there was no more, only silence.
Ghost startled, his eyes flying open. "Huh? That's it?" He took out the heart necklace, and rubbed the locket, hoping to get a vision...or something. He was concentrating so hard, he didn't hear Steve come back to the truck, until he'd knocked on the window. He jumped at the sudden noise, then saw the odd look on Steve's face. Something had happened, he could tell. Steve was white as a...well...ghost.
Rolling down the window, he heard Steve say, "Get out...now...I think I found it."
Feeling shaky, he opened the door, and climbed down from the truck. "What is it?" he asked, but Steve just motioned for him to follow him back into the store.
Just inside the store, Steve stopped. "Just look, Ghost...look at the clerk...when she turns around...just look."
After a few seconds, the girl turned around to face them, and she froze.
Ghost had Steve's arm in a vice grip, and was shaking so much it made Steve's teeth rattle. So many words in Ghost's head now...and none would come out of his mouth. He had no breath in him. It was like looking into a mirror. This girl was the exact image of Ghost. She was gripping the counter, looking like she might faint.
Steve managed to put one foot in front of the other, and move him and Ghost forward. He was afraid both Ghost and the girl were going to have a heart attack, right then and there, and he'd have to bring them both back to life. Then, they both spoke at the same time.
"Who are you?" Ghost asked, and the girl was saying, "It's you."
Steve was mesmerized. He kept looking back and forth, trying to see if his eyes were playing tricks, but no...they were the same, the only difference being their gender. The same build, the same long blond hair, the same sky blue eyes.
She noticed the necklace Ghost was still holding. "That's mine. Where did you find it?" she asked.
"Uh, I bought it. You can have it back," Ghost said, holding it out to her. She took it, then opened the locket, to look at the picture inside, and back to Ghost. She smiled...the same crooked grin, Steve noticed.
"This is you...Ghost," She said.
"Yeah, it's me, but how?"
"I seen you once," she said. "A long time ago. I took this picture."
"Wh...where...wh...when?" Ghost whispered, barely getting the words out.
"It was in a coffee shop, or bar, in...oh, I can't think right now...in Kentucky, or maybe Tennessee? You were singing. Later, I followed you to the parking lot, but I was scared to say anything," she said.
Ghost was trying to process all this, and Steve could tell he was about to lose it.
"Hey, are you from the mountain in North Carolina?" he asked. "There's some people there that look kinda like y'all."
"Huh?" the girl looked around, confused. "Mountains? I never been in the mountains. I did see some. That time I saw you and Ghost, I was running away...from home...here...well, over in Ozark," she said.
"That's where we bought the necklace," Steve said. "Right, Ghost?" he elbowed Ghost, to jog him back into the conversation.
Ghost nodded. "Um...it was guiding me to find it," he said. "Now, I know why. It was telling me to come find you"
"Who was?" she asked. "Someone was trying to find me...in Ozark? I haven't been back there. I figured I should just keep running. I left almost everything, like this necklace."
"Who are you?" Ghost asked, again.
Steve was wondering the same thing. It was all so confusing. In his head, he was thinking, 'get Ghost out of here, now' ... and then, 'we have to stay and find out more'. He shook his head to try and clear his thoughts. They both looked at him, with the same expression. This is too weird...I'm seeing double... Before he could stop himself, he began to laugh. I really am going crazy... "I'm sorry," he finally said, when he could control himself. "It's just so weird to see two of y'all." He nervously laughed again, but was able to stifle his laughter, when he saw that neither the girl or Ghost were laughing.
Just then, the door opened, and Linda and the kids came in. "What's taking y'all so long?" Linda asked. Then, she saw what was happening. "Oh my, God. You have a twin, Ghost?"
There was dead silence, as that word sunk in. "Uh, Linda," Steve said, "that's what it looks like...or what they look like."
"Wow, I think you're right, Steve." She came closer, looking from the clerk, to Ghost. "Did you know you were a twin?"
Ghost shook his head. "The voice made me come here, to find out."
"Hmm," she was thinking. She could tell Steve, Ghost, and the girl didn't know what to say or do now. Smiling, she said, "Ok, honey, we all need to sit down and talk. When do you get done at the store?"
"Any time now, as soon as my replacement gets here," the girl said.
"Ok, is there a coffee shop, or a diner, or somewhere we can all go, for a little while?"
"Yes, a coffee shop over in the next block. Should I meet you there, or you could just wait?"
"Why don't we go on over. You can join us when you're done here, ok?" Linda said.
"Ok, I'll come over there, soon as I'm through here," she said.
Stevie and Mandy came up to the counter, with candy and chips. "Can we get these, Mama?" Stevie asked.
"Ok, sure, I guess so. We're leaving, though. Here's some money...go pay for it," Linda said. He did, and she took the kids back to the van.
"Let's go, Ghost," Steve said. "We'll see you there," he said to the girl.
She nodded. "It won't be long."
Outside, heading for the U-Haul, Steve said, "That was the weirdest thing ever."
"Who is she?" Ghost asked, again, still a bit dazed.
"You already asked that, about a hundred times. We're fixin' to find out. Now get in." He opened the truck's door.
He and Linda drove around the block, and found parking in a small lot, behind the coffee shop. Inside was cool, and dim, and smelled wonderful, with the aroma of coffee beans. He ordered coffee for them all, and milk for the kids, hoping to counter-act all the junk food they'd been eating. They found a table in the back of the room where it was quieter.
Ghost put his face down to the cup, inhaling the steam.
"Ok, Ghost," Steve began, "when she gets here, you gotta start talking. Ask some questions, things like that, if you want to find out who she is. You gotta speak up. She seems nice. She isn't gonna bite, ya know. You're both surprised as hell at this, and she wants to know who you are, who we all are. Do you get what I'm saying?"
"Yes, but the words wouldn't come," Ghost said.
"Well, now that y'all have had a few minutes, I want to hear some talking. Like, what is gonna happen next. We're all in this now. We all want answers. Ok?"
"Umm-hmm," Ghost and Linda both said.
The door opened, and the girl walked in. She went to the counter to order herself a coffee, then gave them all a wave.
"Ok, here she comes," Steve said.
"This can't be real," Ghost was saying, softly. "This can't be real..."
Steve could feel him getting tensed up. "It'll be ok, Ghost. We're just gonna talk to her."
"But, why didn't I ever know, Steve? I never sensed anything like this," Ghost said.
Steve grabbed Ghost's hand, under the table, and squeezed. "Stop worrying."
Nest part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing