Disclaimer: This story comes from my own imagination with a little help from a couple of ladies that we are all familiar with. No infringement was intended, nor is any profit made from this work.
The first thing that Deanna remembered was pain. She tried to open her eyes, but they were so heavy they felt as if they were sewn shut. She could hear voices, but couldn't make them out. They were distant and echoed as if she were in a cave. A sudden heaviness descended upon her and she again was forced to submit to the darkness.
The second thing Deanna remembered was pain. Again she tried to open her eyes, this time successfully. She blinked as the bright lights stung into her, causing her to squint.
"Deanna," a gentle voice called out to her.
Through the echoes this voice was clear, and although soft, it commanded her attention. She turned her head toward the voice.
"Deanna," the voice called again, this time firmer and even clearer than before.
Deanna managed to fully open her eyes and was rewarded by a soft smile from a petite blonde who was sitting next to her bed. She tired to speak but only managed to produce a strained gurgling sound. Her eyes widened in panic. The blonde jumped up from her chair and laid a gentle hand on Deanna's shoulder.
"Relax. You have a tube in your throat that is helping you to breathe."
Deanna calmed with the touch, and then reality hit her as the memories came flooding back. The accident. Sarah. Where was Sarah? With pleading eyes she asked her question. The blonde stranger seemed to know what she was asking, but choose to limit her response.
"You were in a car accident. You need to rest. Relax and sleep."
Deanna narrowed her eyes wishing she was able to argue, but the lure of the stranger's voice was too strong. She felt compelled to obey. Her eye lids became heavy and she slipped back into a dark and dreamless sleep.
The third thing Deanna remembered was the blonde. She opened her eyes eagerly searching for her, almost disappointed to see her parents instead. She again tried to talk, "Water," she hoarsely pleaded.
Her mother quickly offered her a cup, to which she eagerly sucked on the straw. "We're so glad that you are awake. We've been praying for you."
"Wh.. what happened?"
Her mother took her hand and stroking it gently explained, "You were in an accident, honey. You're at St. Michaels. You've been in a coma for the past three days."
Deanna looked at her mother, her brow furrowing as she tried to comprehend. "Sarah, where is Sarah? Is she ok?"
Her mother looked away, her eyes suddenly filling with tears. Her father sat on the edge of the bed, pulling her attention away from his wife and toward him. "Deanna baby, Sarah she... she didn't make it."
"No, no. You're mistaken. She she's ok... please tell me she's..."
Her father closed his eyes. A single tear escaped, making a lonely journey down his cheek. "I'm so sorry, baby"
"No! I can't... I don't believe you."
Deanna tried to sit up, only to be pushed back down by her mother. "Deanna, please, You're going to hurt yourself. You need to stay calm."
"No, I need to get up. Let go of me!" Deanna continued to struggle as her mother pressed down onto her shoulders, urging in her remain calm. Deanna shoved her mother away and then felt her father join in the battle.
"That's enough," she heard him warn as he effectively pined her to the bed.
"Daddy, please. I have to find her."
"No, Deanna. That's enough. Stop it right now." His words were serious, in a tone that she'd only heard a handful of times.
She felt hot angry tears escape. "Why, Daddy?" she whispered. "Why?"
Her father let go as he felt her give in and stop fighting. She noticed that her mother reappeared with a doctor and a nurse. There was a bit of commotion as everyone seemed to be suddenly talking at once. Deanna felt a warm sensation in her arm as the nurse gave her something to make her sleep. As her eyes closed and as the darkness began to creep in, she heard the voices as they faded into echo.
"What happened?" the doctor demanded.
"She just found out that she killed her best friend," the voice belonging to her mother answered.
It was several hours later when Deanna awoke. Her room was quiet and she could sense that it was dark. She felt that she was alone but was surprised to find she had company. In the corner, under a soft light, sat the blonde reading and old and ragged book.
Not wanting to disturb her, she took a moment to examine her injuries. She realized that both of her legs were in casts, up to her hips. She gritted her teeth as a wave of pain coursed through her body as she attempted to move them. Once the wave stilled, she reached up letting her hand travel over her swollen face and across a bandage. She paused as she realized that part of her head had been shaved. She had over heard something about surgery, but had yet to have anyone explain any specifics to her.
Deanna turned her attention to the corner as the blonde set aside the book and moved closer to the bed. "You're here."
"Yeah. How ya feeling?"
"You look like hell."
"Gee thanks," Deanna replied as she took a moment to study the stranger. She appeared to be about her own age, about twenty-two or three. She had on blue jeans and a dark green t-shirt. Her hair was short and messy, looking like she had done nothing but run her fingers through it. Her eyes drifted over her face, noticing a slightly upturned nose and soft round cheeks. Finally they settled onto a pair of striking green eyes. "You're familiar to me."
"I should be, we've met before." The blonde held out a hand, introducing herself. "I'm Gabrielle."
"Deanna," she replied, taking the offered hand in a warm grasp. She then furrowed her brow in thought. "I knew that. How did I know you name?"
Gabrielle smiled. "I told you we've met before."
"Where?" Deanna narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "You were there, at the accident weren't you?"
Gabrielle nodded. "Yeah, I was there. I saw the whole thing."
Deanna returned the nod, satisfied in her memory of Gabrielle at the accident scene, but at the same time had a nagging feeling that there was more to this stranger. She felt familiar, like she'd known her all her life. It was almost like they were old friends, like she had been with Sarah. Deanna couldn't help thinking about how unfair it was. Sarah. She should have survived. She was the bright one with a future, unlike Deanna, who had done nothing but struggle with finding direction in her life. Deanna reluctantly shook off the melancholy thoughts and turned her attention back to Gabrielle. "Do you know where my parents went?"
"Home. They were tired. After what happened earlier the doc thought it was a good idea for them to go home for a while."
"Oh." Deanna looked down at her casted legs. "Mom said it was my fault. I killed her. I killed Sarah."
"It wasn't your fault. The driver that hit you ran a red light. He was drunk." Gabrielle sat down on the edge of the bed. She gently rubbed a hand across one of the casted legs bringing Deanna's attention back to her as they made eye contact. "Sarah was killed instantly. She didn't suffer. It's important that you know it wasn't your fault."
Deanna turned her head toward the wall, the thoughts of Sarah's wasted life still fresh in her mind. She desperately wanted to believe Gabrielle's words, but in her heart she knew it was her fault. She was driving. It was her idea to go to a movie. If she had stayed home, like Sarah wanted too, or been paying more attention or maybe even taken another route, then Sarah would still be here. Deanna closed her eyes and bit her lower lip in an attempt to ward off the tears that she could feel forming. "I think I'd like to be alone for a while."
Gabrielle nodded. Deanna didn't open her eyes to watch her leave the room, but after a few moments she knew that she was alone again. Now that it was safe, she let the streams of salty sorrow flow freely down her cheeks.
The next two days were a blur to Deanna as she drifted in and out of consciousness. The medications she was on made the days blurry and the nights full of empty dreams. The brief moments that she was awake were full of agony, either physically as the doctors insisted that she try to move or mentally as the weight of reality settled in on her. Every time she opened her eyes she hoped to see Gabrielle, but she had failed to appear since that first night.
She had seen little of her parents since that first day. The nurses told her that they had been by to see her, but she was usually asleep. She had asked about Gabrielle as well, and was confused when she was told that no one fitting her description had come to visit.
Early on the morning of the third day Deanna awoke again. A smile graced her lips as she spotted Gabrielle reading that same old book in the corner of the room.
"I was beginning to think you were just a figment of my imagination."
Gabrielle returned the smile and set aside the book. She left the chair and sat on the edge of the bed, laying her hand on top of Deanna's and giving it a little squeeze. "Do I feel real to you?"
"I see they took the bandage off your head."
"Yeah. It's healing up. They took the staples out last night. Thought it was best for it to get some air."
A moment of silence transpired between them before they both tried to speak at once.
Gabrielle smiled. "You first."
"I was just gonna ask you about your book. It looks really old."
"Oh, it is. It's a copy of the Odyssey."
"That's an odd choice for casual reading."
"Not really, I enjoy the verse and the poetry. It reminds me of the past, of happier days."
"Hmmm... I could never get into reading that stuff. I'm more of a crib notes kinda gal, myself."
"I know." Gabrielle grinned. "You've always preferred actions over words."
Deanna wrinkled her brow, wondering how Gabrielle would know that. It was right on. It seemed natural that she did, but at the same time seemed like an odd comment for a stranger to make. That nagging feeling returned. Deanna couldn't shake the fact that she knew Gabrielle from somewhere else. She was about to inquire, when she realized that Gabrielle was still talking to her. "Um, what?"
Gabrielle shook her head. "I asked you how you were feeling."
"Oh. I still feel like hell," Deanna half joked.
"You still look like hell, too." Gabrielle smiled. "But that's not what I meant. How are you doing, in here?" she asked, emphasizing her point by gently touching Deanna's chest, indicating her heart.
Deanna frowned. "I miss her. Sarah and I...we meet in the third grade."
"That's a long time."
"Yeah...I don't want to talk about it."
"What would you like to talk about then?"
"What are you anyways, some kind of councilor?"
"No, I'm just a friend. An old friend."
"You are so familiar. It's like I know you and it's more than just the accident." Deanna's thoughts where suddenly interrupted by a soft rapping on her door. Looking up she noticed a police officer waiting for her attention.
"Ms Hawke, may I have a few words with you?"
"I'll be back later, ok?" Gabrielle reassured Deanna, before squeezing her hand and then slipping quietly past the officer and out the door.
Deanna watched her leave before her attention focused back on the officer. "Sure, come in. What can I do for you?"
"Hi, Dad. Where's Mom?" Deanna asked as she accepted a kiss on the cheek.
"Talking with the doctor. How are you feeling?"
"My head is killing me." Deanna winced. "Have this headache that just won't go away."
"The doc said that was to be expected. After the surgery there was some pressure from swelling." Deanna's father paused examining the side the her head for a moment. "The nurse tells me the police were by to see you."
"Yeah, apparently the guy driving the other car was drunk. They aren't pressing any charges against me."
"That's a relief."
"It certainly is," her mother's voice added as she entered through the door. "Now, as soon as you are better you can return to school, and we can put this whole ugly mess behind us."
"And how am I supposed to do that?"
"No Mom, it'll never be the same." Deanna paused, fighting back the tears once again. "Damn it... I killed my best friend. How is anything ever going to be the same again?"
"Deanna." This time it was her father. "You need to let this go. I know Sarah was a good friend. But there is nothing you can do about it. You are going to have to learn to live with that fact."
"How can you be so cold-hearted? Sarah wasn't just a friend, she was my best friend!"
One of the monitors that Deanna was hooked up to started to beep, indicating her blood pressure and heart rate were increasing. Suddenly Deanna felt very cold. Her eyes rolled back into her head and her whole body started to shake.
"Get a doctor!" her father yelled as he hit the nurse call button.
Her mother backed away from the bed in shock, turned and fled out the room, only to be pushed aside as group of nurses and doctors pushing a crash cart entered. Deanna father backed away from the bed, feeling truly helpless as the team started to work on his daughter.
Deanna heard her father's frantic scream and then the mumbled commotion that followed. The voices once again faded into echo as she was drawn further and further away in to darkness.
When Deanna awoke again the room was dark and quiet. The only light she could see was a soft glow that was illuminating Gabrielle and her book in the corner.
"I was hoping to find you here when I awoke up."
Gabrielle put down her book and moved closer to Deanna's side. As she moved the light seemed to follow her, and was now focused over the Deanna's bed. She sat down on the edge, and patted Deanna's hand. "How you feeling?"
"Much better, actually. I feel a little buzzed. They must have me on some new pain medication."
Gabrielle smiled. "I'm glad that you are feeling better. How about in here?" She reached over and touched Deanna's chest over her heart once again.
"Still hurts there. I don't think it will ever stop hurting there."
"It always hurts to loose someone you love. You know it's ok to miss her."
Deanna half smiled at Gabrielle. "You know that's the first thing anyone has said to me that has made any sense." Deanna felt her eyes watering up again. "I hate this. I'm tired of crying. I know that I have to move on. Logically I know it's not my fault, but I just can't seem to get past that if I'd made a different choice she'd still be here."
Gabrielle shifted and gathered Deanna closer to her, wrapping her arms around her in a tight embrace. Deanna didn't resist, she needed this, had been craving it, but hadn't realized it until this moment. She allowed herself to let go and through Gabrielle's tender touch her defenses broke and she begin to cry. Gabrielle rocked her back and forth as if she were a small child, whispering the comforting words, "It's ok. Let it go. I'm here for you," over and over again.
After a time Deanna sniffled and raised her head from Gabrielle's chest. She accepted a tissue and wiped her nose and face dry. She then noticed that Gabrielle too, had been crying.
Deanna reached up and brushed away a stray tear from Gabrielle's cheek with her thumb. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your pain with me."
Deanna was quiet for a moment, not sure how to respond. "You know I feel better now. I'll always miss her, but I know in my heart it wasn't my fault. I think can accept that."
"Good. I'm so glad to hear that. I'm proud of you, you know. You have gotten so much better at that."
Deanna wrinkled her brow. "What are you talking about?"
"Forgiving yourself. You haven't gotten the memories back yet, but you have spent many lives in a cycle of redemption. This time you had to do it without me."
"What do you mean, without you?"
"I was allowed to watch, but forbidden to interfere. I've been waiting for you." Gabrielle paused, realizing from Deanna's confused expression that her memories hadn't yet returned. "I'm familiar to you because we are connected, Deanna. We are soulmates. We have lived endless cycles together in the past and will live endless more in the future. In every life we learn something new, this one was a test of both of us." Gabrielle then stood and held out her hand. "It's time to go, Deanna."
"Go? I can't go anywhere, my legs..." Deanna looked down and realized that the casts were gone. She ran her hand up the side of her head, realizing that for the first time since the accident it didn't hurt and that her hair had mysteriously grown back. "Gabrielle, what's going on?"
Gabrielle moved her hand closer to Deanna, inviting her again to take it. Deanna timidly reached out and touched it. It was then that she noticed that the room had disappeared. There was still a soft light, but the area around the bed was in absolute darkness.
"I'm scared, Gabrielle"
"As long as we are together there is nothing to be scared of."
"I go where you go." Deanna wrinkled her brow again, hearing herself say the words, but not fully understanding them.
Gabrielle smiled. "And I go where you do. That's good. You are starting to remember."
Deanna fully took Gabrielle's hand and allowed her to help her stand. She carefully tested her legs, putting gentle pressure on them, and realizing they were indeed fully healed. She looked over her shoulder and noticed that the bed had disappeared. Off in the distance another light had come to life. Suddenly she got a flash of memory. She staggered and Gabrielle steadied her.
"Yeah," Deanna smiled. "I remember...everything. It's ok now. I can see it. Sarah, she's ok. I know she went to find her Charles. And I'm ok, better than ok, I found you...again."
"Yes...again." Gabrielle returned the smile. "Charles was waiting for her, they were ready to move on. What about you? Are you ready?"
Deanna nodded as she intertwined her hand with Gabrielle's and her soul rejoiced with the sheer pleasure of the touch. "Where will we go this time?"
"The East Coast maybe, or Canada?"
"What about Italy? You know how I love the Mediterranean."
"As long as you promise to pick parents who aren't sailors," Gabrielle bargined.
"You usually get over the sea sickness... eventually."
Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "Yeah that eventually part is what I'm worried about."
"Oh come on, it'll be fun. I tried that whole llama farming thing with you a couple of centuries ago. Besides it's my turn. This last round wasn't my idea, remember?"
Gabrielle wrinkled her nose. "Wasn't exactly mine either. Go ahead, you choose. I'll go where you go."
"And I'll go where you do."