The Other room...
I tumbled through a vortex, time and eternity passed in brilliant flashes of light, like sparklers in the hands of a child. Decades passed before me, people, places and things, from the pages of history books, darted past me on their trek backward in time.
The centuries passed like flipping the pages of a book, times of war, the sounds of battle, the cries of death, fear and famine.
Spirit separated from body, and then returned, with the sudden realization of a higher being. One of majesty, love, and awesome power. The like of which I could never have imagined.
My heart felt faint in this uncertain reality. Darkness engulfed me, I felt the grip of a hand in mine and I held fast, as it was the only reality I knew. Life moved around me yet in silence and in darkness.
Then I felt the reality of a cold floor against my back. I lay there shivering. Uncertain of what was happening. It was then, I realized, my eyes were closed. In opening them, my first sight was a woman standing over me.
Are you able to stand?
I think so. I answered without hesitation. And stood to my feet. Still holding my hand.She led me out of the room glancing back at me. Then turned and led me down the hall toward massive doors that opened to the outside world as we approached.
I watched as a golden carriage stopped in front of us and a footman dressed in white stepped forward to take her hand. There was another occupant, a young woman, who sat quietly across from us holding a white rose to her cheek.
As the carriage pulled away from the portal, I realized, we were bound for a place not of this earth. Or at least... not the Earth I knew.
It was then she spoke to our traveling companion.
Such a beautiful pink rose Alana, and so early in the spring, wherever did you find it?
Spring? I thought... It's the middle of August.
It was a gift from...She stopped as if she couldn't remember where she got it
I don't ...
It's a symbol of love. It's to show you that for the rest of your life, you never again have to worry what someone might think of you. From this moment on, you will know you are totally and completely loved. Every thought, gesture, smile, frown, every aspect of your being.
Is there such a love? She asked.
Oh yes, even now there is one who prays to God in Heaven that you be granted eternity together.
Where are we going? She asked.
Be patient Alana, all will be revealed in time.
I do not understand. She said.
You will return to him. You must find him again, then and only then will your love be eternal.
Yet... how will I find him? You must search with your heart not your eyes.
When your heart hears his voice, you will know. Alana wrapped the rosebud in her handkerchief and tucked it beneath her bodice close to her heart.
Will he remember me? She asked.
He will remember the love. And he will return the rose.
Alana's hand instantly moved to her breast. Removing the handkerchief from her bodice she found but one peddle. She held the handkerchief close to breathe in, the fragrance that lingered.
When the carriage stopped we stepped out onto the threshold of a large building. Inside... a great arched hall ran the length and across from where we stood, another arch led to a massive spiraling staircase. The halls were graced by large paintings, and priceless pieces of sculptor, both porcelain and marble.
We go this way, the woman pointed to the stairs. As we up the stairs, I realized it was a gallery, and oddly familiar. At the top of the stairs...She lead us across the hall and through the door of first room to the right and into another adjoining room, at the rear. There were people admiring the works of art. Alana stopped and turned around.
What is this place? She asked.
What are we doing here? I asked.
I was to show you this. The woman pointed behind us.
As we turned, I found something quite unexpected. We were back in the Museum, the National Art Gallery, in Washington. It was the same portrait, I instinctively turned to look for the girl on the couch. There was not even a couch.
I don't understand, how? why? I questioned.
Watch quietly, and just listen.
Then a small girl came and stood next to us.
Who are you she asked?
Do not answer her. The woman told us.
Can they see me? Alana asked
Only the child can see you,
Are you Angels? The little girl asked.
Do Not answer her.
Let's go sweetie, the child's mother took her by the hand and left the room.
The little one waved goodbye from the door.
Alana started to wave but the woman caught her hand.
But why? Alana asked
The time has not yet come.
She looked back to the portrait.
How did this get here? She asked. It is his gift to you. He has immortalized you by sharing your beauty with the world. He loved you, you know.
He kept it from you because he was forbidden to speak of it.
Twice he had found you.
Twice? I don't understand
Yes and both times, through the eyes of man he was deemed unworthy of you. but what men don't understand is that true love passes all understanding and is eternal. God in his infinite wisdom knows that men are prone to mistakes and because this love was perfect, he has granted You another lifetime in which to share it.
Another life? But how? She asked.
It is not ours to question, but simply to obey.
Where? How? Alana tried again.
You will find each other. He will be there, still waiting for you. She said glancing at each of us. It was at that moment that I realized. She had been talking to both of us.
Still waiting? For what, and for how long? I asked.
Three Hundred Years.
Three Hundred.... Alana gasped
Watch carefully now, its almost time.
Who? She asked, looking back at the woman.
Who had moved to the window. And pulled the drapes back. Searching the street below she pointed to a group of women, coming up the steps.
The time has come,
What's going to happen? I asked.
Just listen carefully
When the first women entered the room,
She was looking straight across at the fabulous portraits and when she turned, what she saw took her breath away. To her astonishment she found her own image looking back at her from a portrait on the opposite wall, dressed in 16th century attire.
She looked as faint as I felt. How could this be possible? It was like looking into a mirror and seeing even the crinkles in her lips. The dimple in her chin, the huge sparkling blue eyes, the curl..."Oh dear heavens", the young woman was startled.
Who is she? Shhhh...Just listen.
It was the same girl. The back pack, the overalls, the hair tied back.... But she was younger, by at least a few years.
What is this? some trick of the imagination? I asked.
The couch was immediately between us.
Her face grew faint as she called to her Mother in the next room.
I'll be right there sweetie. Came the response.
"Mom"? Her voice grew weak,
I moved in behind her but she passed through me as if I weren't there. My mind was spinning.
The shade of pale on her face, testified to the lack blood. A fathomless cavern threatened to swallow her.
"I'm coming Ashley." Her mother said again.
As her mother entered the room she saw a very pale face and eyes that threatened to close in a dead faint.
"Ashley! What's wrong"?
She flew to her daughter's side and gathered her into her arms. But she could only point at the wall.
Her mother turned not knowing what to expect.
"Oh my! Oh heavens! It looks just like... Oh my Lord! Chris, look at this"! She called to her friend.Who is she? I demanded. Shhh, careful!
There before them, larger than life was a portrait, which bore the exact image of Ashley. They were amazed at the portrait. Both the mother and daughter were over come with emotion. The mother took her daughter to the couch and sat down.
Who is she?
Reading the brass plate below the painting, Jessica replied.
It says Madame De CauMartine... As Hebe. It was painted in 1573. At....
Versailles. Whispered Alana.
Can they hear me?
There are some, who can, but most are small children so we must be quiet.
I don't understand what's happening.
You have been so patient.
He wanted you to understand what was about to happen. Once you leave here, you will not remember this moment.
The likeness to Ashley was startling. Right down to the small lock of hair that had rebelliously refused to comply with any sort of hairstyle, her entire life.
Her mother had always referred to it as her baby curl, being that it was her only lock of hair with natural curl from the time she was small.
The two gapped at the portrait and then began to compare, every little aspect of the faces.
Her hair was the same fine gold. Her smile, that was somewhat mischievous and beguiling at the same time. Her mother kept looking from the portrait to her daughter.
"Ok I recognize that expression, what was she thinking".
It was a secret.Shhh...
"She was keeping a secret". Ashley told her mother. The blue eyes that starred back, from the mirror image were like the depths of an ibis. It was chilling to say the least. Other people entering the room realized the likeness as well. They began asking if she was a descendant of the woman in the portrait
Her mother reached and took her by the arm.
"Let's go see if we can find out more about her". They left the room
Alana stood there not knowing what to think. In the past few moments,
they had seen places and things that she never knew existed.
they had seen the world she once knew go through so many changes.Wars were fought over boundaries, religion, slavery, and freedom.
Kings no longer ruled the land.
The world turned finally to peace once more.
Yet the Middle East was still in complete chaos.
Carriages now moved at great speed without horses to pull them.
Great flying machines filled the heavens
Huge ships, sailed the seven seas, both above and below.
Wonders upon wonders, she could hardly keep up.
There was so very much to learn.
Come we must leave this place now.
Where are we going? You'll see.
I'm not going anywhere until I get some answers. What the hell is all this?
Alana stood silent.
The woman approached his side. You do not understand, You and she were together in another life. You shared a love unspoken, a love repressed. When she died, a prayer was spoken, asking for another chance to share that love. He has granted that request. You are the one who spoke that prayer.
Look I don't know where you get your information from but...
Go to her, touch her hand.
Why? Just touch her hand.
I moved to where she stood and reached for her hand. It was like the walls. Nothing, as if she were not there. I dropped my hands to my side and asked. Can you please explain all this to me?
"Oh Ye Of Little Faith" She smiled.
Do you not remember coming here?
Yes I remember. But what does it all mean?
He brought you here. She does not know you are here. She cannot see you or hear your voice.
The young girl you were watching in the gallery, is Alana.
You saw her and the portrait. Look around you, what else do you see?
Everything is the same as before.
Yes, but look carefully.
I turned unsure of what I was supposed to be looking for. Then I saw it, there in the shadows of the doorway..." my brief case". You were brought here, so that she would not see you. When you leave here you will may or may not remember any of this, I don't know how you came to be in the gallery. But I suspect you have a memory that has led you to this place and time in search of her.
You forget, you have been thru 300 years of waiting for this chance. She has already stolen your heart. You have been searching for her. And I think you were about to find her. That is why you were brought here.
Will she still be there?
Yes. But you must return to...
To the Gallery.
But how do I get back.
I will show you the way. Come.
She took my hand and we walked toward the portal where my briefcase stood in the shadows. I turned to say goodbye and she was gone.