I pray you'll be my eyes
And watch her where she goes
And help her to be wise
Help me to let go
Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe
"If you would give me just a moment," Terrance excused himself slowly, uncertain. He still didn't trust the beautiful young woman before him. Her brackround checks came back oddly vague. Tracing her credit was nearly impossible. She knew all of this, he could see it in those deep green eyes, but she was playing it cool, acting innocent with that lovely and serene smile. He wanted to believe that beautiful face and that angelic expression, but instinct told him that she was hiding something. After years in the buisness, he'd learned to trust his instincts.
Catie watched the dark-suited buisnessman close the door behind himself, his eyes on her all the while. She kept her smile light, pleasant. He didn't trust her, and she knew it. She had hoped he would be less intelligent and easier to manipulate but, as usual, the universe was converging against her. However, she was just lucky enough that he was leaving her alone in the office. She had approximately five minutes, so she had to act quicklyly. The door latched slowly, but as the last click sounded, Catie released her breath, dropping her fake expression and running her hand through her thick, dark blonde hair. She surveyed the room quickly, clueless as to where to start. Without any other recourse, she jumped out of her chair and sprinted behind the desk, opening drawers and digging as fast as she could.
Anything, anything at all! Even if it's just a piece of paper, it's a piece of paper that could mean everything. She sifted through as fast as she could, the mumbling of the bankers on the other side of the wall was bleeding through, making her paranoid of every grunt and sudden outburst. Another drawer pushed closed as silently as she could; how could there be nothing there? Her informant assured her that the information was in that office. Catie dug and dug, but nothing even remotely close to what she was looking for.
She was running out of time. In a final effort, she grabbed the end of the desk in a firm grip with both hands. Using every muscle in her well toned arms, she lifted the mahogany desk and gave it one hard shake. A small thump responded, from under the desk. A manila folder was laying underneath, the papers inside worked out of their containment. As quietly as possible, Catie lowered the desk to the floor, and scrambled under the desk for the folder, flipping it open and speed reading it's contents. Jackpot! She began backing herself out on her hands and knees.
Suddenly, Catie stopped. Something had caught her eye. Between the carpet and the wall, something white and rectangular was visible. Catie reached out and tried to pull at it. It was not only tucked under the carpet, but it seemed to also be hidden behind the striped wallpaper. With a glance over the desk to be sure the coast was clear, she dipped back underneath, pulling a swiss army knife from her bra. She pulled it open and began cutting away the wallpaper around the rectangle. Just a small, exposed piece of the wall was left in it's place, she figured the man would never even miss it. It was a bit more of a struggle to pull it from under the carpet, but with a nice firm tug, the bit of paper came free from its binding with only a clean tear through the bottom of it.
Quickly, Catie stuffed the old, crumpled, folded, and half-wallpapered note into her new-found folder. She came out from under the desk in one swift movement, making her way around the desk and stuffing the manila folder into her briefcase. As soon as the briefcase clicked closed, the door clicked open and the dark-suited man entered.
"Ms. Wells, I'm very sorry. But, due to your lack of credit, I can't authorize any kind of loan at this time," his hands were linked in front of him, and only Catie would immediately notice that his knuckles were white.
"Well," Catie picked up her briefcase briskly, a solid, unshaking hand pushing her hair out of her face, "I was hoping that your bank would be more understanding than the others I've been to today, but I suppose I was wrong. Thank you for your time," she shook his hand... he was shaking. Her exit was swift and brisk, the faster she walked, the more the butterflies in her stomach eased.
"This was all I could find," Catie dropped the folder on the table in front of her collegue. "I stripped that office, this was all there was."
"This will be enough," Andy flipped through the folder slowly. "We'll send some of it up to the lawyers we're in contact with. You did a great job, Catie."
Catie slipped her hand into the deep pocket of her green sundress, assuring herself that the secret paper was safely against her person. "Thanks. I have to get back, Andy. I'd rather not be seen here if I can help it."
"I understand," he shook her hand, and then came around to open the door of the conference room for her. "Cate," he set a warm hand on her shoulder, "your grandfather will be really proud of you. This will keep you all safe for a long time. You should be really happy right now!"
"I am!" she attempted to assure, but her face couldn't support it. Andy gave her a knowing look and she smiled shyly at him. "I've got something on my mind. I'm fine. I just got some... really weird information."
"Anything useful?" he looked hopeful.
"Oh, no! Nothing like that. It's just... it's kind of personal. Don't worry," she gave him a quick hug. "Everything will be fine. Thanks for everything!" And with that, she dashed out of the building, quick as a flash.
The water below her flowed effortlessly, a soft babbling sound rising as it found pockets in the silt, and slapped against the rocks. Catie leaned over the stone and iron bridge on top of the little brook, the brown, crumpled and torn paper spread out in her hands. The sun was setting, casting an orange glow on the nearly translucent paper. She'd read it at least ten times now, peices of it were even memorized at this point. She just couldn't stop. The words gripped her like none other had, nor would they ever again in her life.
September 26th, 1989
To whomever may find this, my name is Catherine Chandler. I have been held prisoner for approximately 6months now. My time is coming to an end. This will be my last chance to attempt to communicate with the outside world. I know this, I can feel it. I can hear it in the voices of each of the men who escort me and threaten me. The only shred of compassion I have been shown has been from the doctor in charge of my health. He's given me this paper and a worn pencil that I can't do any harm with. Sometimes I think he worries that I'll kill myself. Sometimes I worry too. He is a good man in a bad situation, not unlike myself, and he knows the importance of putting one's thoughts on paper. He's tried to escape just as many times as I have, I'm sure.
I don't know who you are, or how long it's been since my death, but I would like to think that I still deserve a final wish. My captors would have me think of myself as an animal; unimportant, and expendable. But, I know I'm a human being, and I remind myself of it every day. I'm a 33 year old woman nearing the end of a process I have dreamt of for many years now. I am carrying a child.
It's a boy. A beautiful, healthy boy. I've seen him in my dreams, laughing and happy. He has his father's bright blue eyes, and my dark blonde hair. He looks like my dad when he smiles, and he'll smile even when he has every reason to be sad. He is perfect, and sometimes I cannot contain my sadness in the knowledge that I will never know him.
I don't know what will become of him once I am gone. I can only hope and pray that his father can find him. I can only hope and pray that I will find a way to tell his father of our child. I only hope and pray that he finds me before I'm gone. If I must leave this world without him, I hope and pray that his is the last face I see before I am taken from him.
Perhaps it is unfair of me to ask this of you, whoever you are, but I need to at least send this request out into the universe. Please, look after my son. He will be vulnerable for a long time before he grows strong enough to be the leader he is destined to be. He will be like his father one day, but until then he will need someone to protect him. He is different, despite any outward appearance, he will be someone the world has never known. No one like him has ever existed. It is important that you know this. He is special, in every way that you could possibly imagine. He is the reason I am being held here, kept alive until I can give him to the world.
I have been working on this letter for three days now. I don't think I'm even writing this for you anymore. I just have to say what's been in my heart for months. I need someone to know, even if it's only in my imagination, even if this letter is lost forever, even if you never exist. It is almost comical to me. I have spent three years now, hiding from you all. Shielding my life as best I can from strangers, and even my closest friends. Now, I beg your help. Is this some kind of horrible karma?
I think you have a right to know, my baby's father; his name is Vincent. Vincent! I say his name every day to remind myself that he was real. He IS real! I didn't dream him, he wasn't a hallucination, we have a child! And we loved each other, deeper and more pure than anything I have ever felt in my life. I ache for his touch every day, but knowing how it felt when he touched me (like a flash of lightening between us) keeps me sane. Our lives depended on each other, we always moved in such perfect sync. When I thought I was going to lose him, I couldn't imagine living without him and I fought for his life. Now, there is nothing he can do, and I weep for him after I am gone.
Please, if you are real, and you can locate my son, tell him how sorry I am. I lost my mother when I was young, but I at least have the memory of her. He will have nothing of me. He will have Vincent, I'm sure of that, but I will have to rely on you telling him that, for these months that he's been inside me, despite my situation, I have been so truely happy. He has made me so happy! Tell him that his grandmother had cancer, and his grandfather had a heart problem, so be sure to keep healthy. Tell him that, no matter what his father says, this was no accident. I truely believe that all of this has happened for a reason. His father and I found each other so that we could know what pure, unfiltered love was. We loved each other so that we could create him, so that he could be the wonderful person he will become. Because he will be such an amazing person, I was taken prisoner. And, as much heartache as it will cause for all of us, I died for a reason. I had to leave my lover and my son, never because I wanted to, but I have to believe, out of my death, something beautiful will come to them. His father's side of the family always seem to endure hardships before something beautiful falls into their laps. Tell him, it's the same with the Chandlers. Please, tell him to tell his father that I love him and I will wait for him to join me in the afterlife. But, tell him that I will be very angry with him if he doesn't join me with happy stories of our son's childhood, and his adult life, and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren. I want to know what the world looked like with our son in it, and I expect him to tell me. The road will be hard for him, for both of them, but they are strong and resiliant, and I hope that their thirst for life will be stronger than their grief.
I have run out of space for the thousands of other things I want to say. However, I find it hard to finish this letter. So final. As if it's conclussion will mark the end of me. I will miss the world. I will miss both of my worlds. Know that I will fight. I will not submit to death easily, and I pray with everything in me that this letter won't be necessary, but something deep inside tells me that I won't be here much longer. The sun is setting now, always my favorite time of day; as if, for a few minutes, the gap between day and night are bridged, and the two worlds touch each other. Whomever, wherever, you are, look at the next sunset for me. I'll be there beside you.
Catie swallowed the lump in her throat, she had already cried three times throughout the course of her many readings. She looked out over the little brook. Between the trees of Central Park, the sun was setting. Orange and pink light radiating from the sky as hardly an eighth of the sun could be seen on the horizon. A tear fell again as she shook her hair out of her face. It really was beautiful, the way the sun greeted the moon, and everything seemed warm and comfortable no matter the season. As the sun disappeared and dusk set in, Catie watched, thinking of Catherine Chandler, trying to reach out and feel her. Tears fell anew when she ackowledged the strangely comforting smell in the wind, and the tingling warmth filling her body. And then it was gone, and Catie folded the precious letter neatly, clutching it close to her heart.
"Catherine Chandler?" Ethan sat cross-legged on the large, plush bed, the letter in his hand looking as if it may fall apart with the slightest pressure. Catie was pacing beside the bed, her hands twisting around each other incesantly. "Your grandmother?"
"I know," Catie mumbled. "I know, it's crazy! And I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it with my own eyes. But, it's undeniable. She even mentions my grandfather's name! I mean, that's not a coincidence! It can't be!"
"Have you shown it to your father yet?" Ethan watched her, picking up her nervous energy, his heart racing along with hers now.
"No. I... I... I just don't know what I would say to him. How... what do you say in this situation? 'By the way, dad, I found a note today from the mother you never knew'? I mean, he'd freak out on me. Well, actually I don't know how he'd react, but I know how I reacted and I freaked out!" Catie dropped onto the bed, curling up so that she faced her partner. "When I was little, I asked my grandfather why I didn't have a grandmother like most other kids. He told me that she had been taken by very bad men because they wanted to steal my father, and she had died to protect him, and to protect all of us," she sighed, her nostrils flaring against her flood of emotions. "Ethan," her clear green eyes pierced him, "today I sat in the room where my grandmother was kept, and probibly tortured, for six months! The chair I sat in... it could have been the exact spot that she sat and prayed for my grandfather to rescue her. I was that close to her today!"
Ethan slid next to her, the letter placed between them as he wrapped her in his arms and held her against his chest. "Of all places for those files to be hidden. That's one hell of a coincidence."
"It isn't coincidence," she whispered. "Everything happens for a reason. My grandmother believed that with all her heart. Those files were hidden in that office so that I could go after them and I could, therefore, find her letter. It was her plea for life, Ethan. Her plea for my father's life. When I read it, I felt like I was there, with her, crying as I made my last effort to save my child, to make some kind of an impression on the world. It was like her last will and testiment. Like, she knew I would find it. Like, she had somehow chosen me, just me, to carry out her final wishes."
"Then do it," Ethan told her quietly, kissing her head. "Carry out her final wishes. Tell her son everything she wanted him to know. I can't imagine any other way of honoring her memory now. I can't imagine anything that would make your father, and your grandfather, happier." Catie looked up at him, uncertainty still trying to creep it's way in. "Do it for our child; the great-grandchild she wanted to see so badly," he ran his fingers lightly over her abdomen. "Do it so that our baby can know the amazing line of women that he, or she, came from."
Catie grimaced nervously, but then kissed Ethan quickly and sprang from their bed and out into the tunnel passageway.
There were footfalls on the metal staircase that led into the chamber. A heavy-footed man and a light-footed woman. Vincent smiled, proud that he was still able to distinguish such things. As he set his book down, he found his son and his granddaughter smiling warmly down at him. "Well, hello," he tipped his head, his smile tucked into the corners of his mouth. "Catherine!" he made a point of her name, as he always did, but she flinched away from it. "How are you feeling today?"
"Very fine, grandfather," she settled herself in the little wicker chair that had always been hers. "I recovered those files, detailing the plans and possibilities of constuction under the subways. They're out of the wrong hands, and I've given them to my friend, Andy at the D.A.'s office. He's promised to take care of them for us."
Vincent smiled fondly at her, taking her hand in his. "Catherine; always our little protector, aren't you? I'm very proud of you. You take after your father, you know. Doesn't she, Jacob?"
"I like to think so," Jacob settled himself in the chair across from Vincent. "Father," he unbuttoned his suit jacket, suddenly uncomfortable, "we're not here to tell you about the files."
"Oh?" Vincent glanced between the two, his silver mane shaking as his head moved.
"Grandfather," Catie cleared her throat and set her other hand on top of his, "I found something yesterday. Something... well, something of a miracle, really."
"You see, father," Jacob began expounding, "the building that is now the bank where Catie collected the files yesterday wasn't always a bank." Jacob loosened his tie as he continued. "I did some digging Above today, but I can't find anything on the previous owner accept that his name is a suprisingly obvious alias. However, thanks to Catherine, we're fairly certain that we know who the previous owner was."
"Are you two going to get to the punchline, or am I going to have to guess?" Vincent joked at their oddly somber expressions.
"Grandfather," Catie took over, "I was in that building yesterday, in a large office, searching for the files about the construction, and I found this," she nodded to her father, and he slowly reached out and handed the preciously folded paper to Vincent. "It was tucked under the carpet and half-hidden in the wall."
"It's a letter, father," Jacob explained as he watched Vincent's old fingers work open the fragile folds. "It's a letter to you and I. It's from-"
"Catherine..." Vincent sighed as he began reading, his hand immediately finding it's way to his mouth. "This isn't possible. This is just not possible," he whispered.
Catie sat silently, just as she had with her father, watching him read the old letter as he repeatedly denied it's credibility to himself. He was quiet mostly, but he chucked at a line here or there, and as he made his way toward the end, he swiftly began to cry. When he finished, he let the letter fall into his lap, tilting his head up, a hand covering his wet eyes. "Catherine?" he called in a whisper.
Catie sat perfectly still, glancing at her father, confused as to whether he was speaking to her, or the Catherine of the letter. When Jacob gave no answer, she leaned forward and tentatively answered. "Yes, grandfather?"
"Are you certain," his hand came away from his eyes and he was bearing down on her intensely now, "are you absolutely certain that this is not some sort of sick joke? Are you certain that this is real? Can you prove this to me?"
Catie took a moment before she answered him, forming her words with purpose. "I only know that yesterday afternoon, I went to the Prudential building on 23rd street. I know that I went searching for the files, and found this letter stuck underneath the carpet and covered with wallpaper. I know that it looks like it's been there for a very long time. And I know that it contains details about you that no one else could have known." She took a breath and closed her eyes for composure; Vincent had begun seeping with unashamed tears. "I believe, grandfather, that I found some lost piece of my grandmother yesterday. I believe that at somewhere around noon, I stood in the same room where Catherine Chandler stood forty-five years ago and waited, wondering when you would rescue her, or when they would finally kill her. That's all that I know."
Vincent sighed and dropped his head, his eyes skimming the soft pencil marks on the paper before him. "Jacob," his son sat rigid and wide-eyed, "this is your mother's handwritting. There's no mistaking it. This letter," he ran the pads of his thumb and forefinger against it lovingly, "was never meant for me. It was meant for you, Jacob. It was meant for the person who found it in the first place. You, Catherine. I appreciate your sharing it with me, but it is not for me to keep," Vincent handed the paper delicately to the young woman beside him.
"Jacob," Vincent stopped him, their identical eyes meeting, "that letter was a message to you from your mother. It was the only way she knew how to tell you how much she loved you, and everything else she wished she could share with you in your life. I already know. I already know it, Jacob. Here," he clutched his heart, "and here," he touched his head. "Your mother's heart was my heart, Jacob. We knew each other beyond mere words. She didn't need to say anything to me. I already knew it. Keep it. Read it. Remember it. Read it to your child, Catherine. Read it to your grandchildren. That was all she wanted; for her family to know who she was, and how much she loved them, and what she had given to them. This letter, it was never for me."
Slowly Vincent captured Catie's head and kissed that sweet, honey-colored hair. With an obvious effort, he climbed to his feet and placed a warm, comforting hand on his son's shoulder. Then, he laborously made his way to his chamber, leaving his puzzled family behind him.
"Do you think he did it on purpose, dad?"
"I think that my father was a very troubled man, Catie. He was plagued with all sorts of ghosts and shadows of his past for as long as I can remember. But, I don't think anything haunted him more than the death of my mother."
"Did I do this to him? Did I push him to this, daddy?"
"No, my sweet. I believe that letter made very little difference at this stage of his life. Your grandfather lived with the knowledge that he had a promise to keep. When Caleb was born, he saw it as an opportunity to finally let himself go. He had promised my mother that he would one day tell her of her great-grandchildren. Once your son was born, he knew he had fullfilled his promise, and he started to let go."
"I hate knowing that he spent half of his life waiting to die."
"Then don't think about it that way. Think about it as if he were simply waiting to go home."
"It really is beautiful, isn't it? The sunset?"
"Daddy, do you think he had this in his will the whole time?"
"My father had amazing foresight, Catie, but I think this really had to do with that message you shared with him."
"... A ceremony at sunset. Perfectly fitting. Catherine would have liked it."
"I would agree, sweet. And I'll bet their both standing here with us, now, watching the two worlds touch."
The large presence moved away from Catie, a step and then two ahead of her, toward the setting sun. A smile graced his entire being. All was well with the world, an incredible serenity swirling in the orange light. A hand suddenly closed around his, and he looked down to find the soft features of the most beautful creature he had, and ever would, lay eyes on. He only stared, taking her in for the moment, her small warm hand in his was an indescribable comfort.
"So," her smile radiated off of her, "you've come for me."
"I'll always come for you."
"Walk with me?" she asked, gesturing to the glow of the setting sun. "Tell me of your adventures!"
"Oh, but where to begin..." he followed her into the invisible distance.
I pray she finds your light
And holds it in her heart
As darkness falls each night
Remind her where you are
Every mother's prayer
Every child knows
Need to find a place
Guide her with your grace
Give her faith so she'll be safe
Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she'll be safe
**Mother's Prayer by Celine Dion