It was eerily dark for a July Evening (fitting, now that I think about it), as my mom and I drove the long country roads to where her psychic advisor, Tessa Cohen, still lived in her very large and historic estate. It had been many years since I had seen this place, but the long gravel path leading up to the massive estate was just as familiar as the last time I had been here. The tall trees and flowers that lined either side of the driveway were beautiful and very well kept, but I couldn’t help noticing there wasn’t a neighboring house anywhere in sight. I wondered if it was ever scary for her living on her own so far from others. Then I reminded myself that she talks to dead people…what could possibly be scarier than that?
It had started to rain as we walked up to the large concrete porch and rang the bell. I couldn’t help but marvel at the elaborate architectural structure that went into building this estate. Even the huge white marble columns lining either side of the stoop were detailed so beautifully, that I found myself automatically reaching out to touch one (as I had done many times before as a child) and wondering what kind of history these walls had seen. As my eye went up to the second floor balcony overlooking the entire property, I began to daydream about what it must have been like to live in a place like this back when it was first built. I imagined it to be built by a wealthy family with many children who roamed the many halls and played in the numerous rooms with their endless amounts of toys, followed around by a full staff to wait on them hand and foot. And I imagined animals of all kinds roaming the grounds. There was probably much happiness and laughter here. But I also felt a sadness; this house had probably seen its share of grief and darkness as well.
A jolt of lightning startled me and immediately snapped me back to reality. I realized that Tessa was holding the door open and quickly followed my mother inside the enormous foyer. Tessa looked almost exactly as I remembered her. She still had the same long, wavy black hair, except it had some streaks of gray now. She was a little heavier than I remembered her. And other than a few added laugh lines, her face looked exactly the same as it had 20 years ago. She smiled warmly at us and shook our hands; remarking how the last time she saw me I was “this big” (holding her hand out to waist level). I laughed nervously as she continued, “So, I believe that double congratulations are in order!” I looked wide-eyed at my mom. How could she have known that already?!
Seeing my expression, she quickly added, “Don’t be too impressed…your mom told me over the phone when she made the appointment.” Whew! I let out the breath I had been holding and sheepishly replied, “Oh, of course. Thank you.” We then followed her through the old, familiar beaded curtain that lead into her parlor where she gave her readings. She had updated the furniture, but nothing much more had changed about the room. The walls were still the slate gray color I remembered with black and gray swirled carpet I used to play on. I also recognized the familiar fragrance of the incense she always burned, and for a second I was back to being that little child waiting patiently for my mom to finish getting her advice and guidance from Tessa. Except today, it was my turn.
I suddenly found myself a little nervous wondering what Tessa was going to tell me. What if she senses something is wrong with one or both of the babies? What if she sees something happening to me? Or to my husband? Or anyone else for that matter?! I was honestly starting to think this might have been a bad idea. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to handle what she was going to say.
Hesitantly, I sat down next to my mom on the red crushed velvet oversized couch. I watched Tessa enter behind us, walking slowly, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply. She exhaled and opened her eyes, smiling as she sat down in the black leather chair across from us.
I nervously glanced around the room and avoided eye contact with her hoping that maybe she’d start with my mom and give me a chance to prepare myself for whatever it was she was going to tell me.
She must have sensed my apprehension, because she turned her gaze to my mom and began with, “So, Annabelle…the last time we spoke many years ago, I saw you finding love after your divorce. How have things been going for you?” While my mother proceeded to relive the details of her many failed relationships over the past two decades, I playfully stroked my swollen belly. The babies had been very still up to now, but I must have awakened them because they began moving so actively, I could see it from the outside. I let out a little giggle as one jab struck me right under the ribs and tickled me. Tessa and my mom abruptly stopped their conversation to look at me. I was getting ready to apologize for interrupting, when Tessa’s expression turns very serious and she says, “How much do you know about the neighborhood you live in?”
I felt my face go pale as the blood rushed from it. “Wha…what do you mean?” I stammered. Without missing a beat, she replied, “My spirit guide has told me to warn you of a possibly dangerous situation on your street that you may not even be aware of. I am not clear on the details, but…how well do you know your neighbors?” She was staring at me intently; her lips pursed and her expression thoughtful yet stern; as if she were waiting for an answer. But the question had caught me completely off-guard, and I immediately started racking my brain and trying to recall any details about our neighborhood that could shed some light on what she’d just said.
Just before we married, we bought a modest little 2-bedroom ranch home. It wasn’t much, but it was the perfect starter house for a newlywed couple. Our street only had about ten homes on it, and we knew most of our surrounding neighbors. On one side of us, lived a retired couple in their 60’s; Gabe and Linda Schmidt. They kept to themselves mostly, but always made it a point to ask how we were doing and see if we needed anything. On the other side of us was an elderly widow by the name of Vivienne. We’d only spoken with her once or twice, but because she didn’t get around very well, we didn’t see her out much. Across from us was Savannah Lewis. She was a school teacher at the local high school and also happened to know my parents from when they went to school together. She was, by far, the friendliest of all our neighbors and we talked to her often. We jokingly called her the ‘neighborhood watch’ because she knew and saw all that went on with our street and always kept us informed. Next door to her, was a quiet, middle-aged man, named Kent. Although he always greeted us with a smile or wave, I didn’t know much about him. I assumed he lived alone, because I never saw him with anyone else. He came and went at all different times of the day, so I wasn’t sure what he did for a living. And on nice days, he could be seen riding around on one of his two motorcycles. The rest of the neighbors on the street were mostly elderly couples or young couples like us. It was a fairly quiet street. And we’d never had any reports of theft, violence, or crime of any kind on our street. We had always felt safe living there.
“Quinn?” Tessa’s voice broke through my thoughts. I blinked and let the room come back into focus as she continued on. “I didn’t mean to alarm you. I just get the information and it’s my job to pass it along…Can you think of any reason why your neighborhood would not be safe?” All I could do was shake my head. My mom reached over and grabbed my hand for support. “Honey, you ok?” she asked. I swallowed hard and cleared my throat; hoping my voice would be steady when I spoke. “Yeah, I’m fine. And no, I can’t think of any reason it would be unsafe, but I will definitely keep my eyes and ears open even more now. Thank you for telling me.” I took a deep breath and forced a smile.
After what seemed like the longest pause in history, Tessa finally spoke again.
“Your grandpa is here with us, Quinn.” She paused before continuing and furrowed her brow. “He’s showing me something about a baby being with him…was there a pregnancy that was lost?” I tried my best not to get choked up as I answered, “Yes; right before this one.” I knew the grandpa she had to be referring to my dad’s father, Everett. He and I were very close when I was growing up. He had a stroke and passed away right before my high school graduation. He was the only grandparent I had lost so far, so it was especially hard for me. But I’ve always felt that he was still with me. Sometimes I even find myself having conversations with him in my head. In a way, it was strangely comforting that Tessa could sense him too.
“He says the baby is safe with him now. And not to worry…these babies will be healthy and beautiful.” I nodded and bit my lip, looking away to keep the tears from flowing. “Well that’s comforting to know. Thank you,” I managed to choke out.
The rest of the reading was fairly uneventful, thankfully. Tessa mentioned that she saw a promotion opportunity coming up for Bryce at the hospital. I really hoped she was right about that, because Bryce and I had been stressed about finances ever since the pregnancy first began.
She talked a little more to my mom about some things she saw for her immediate future, but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t really paying attention to what they were saying because I was still trying to absorb what she had already told me. By the time we left, I felt both emotionally and physically drained. I just wanted to go home, lie down, and tell Bryce everything she had said.
We thanked Tessa and paid her for her time. And just as we reached the front door, she put her hand on my shoulder. I stopped abruptly and turned to face her. “Do you know someone named Claire? Or Clarice…or some other name that sounds similar?” I thought for a moment, but no names immediately came to mind. “No, I can’t think of anyone specifically” I said, shaking my head. She paused as if she were listening for some sort of response. “Hmmm...Has someone on your husband’s side of the family been sick or has there been some problem with the heart?”
“Not that we’re aware of,” I told her. “Why?”
“I’m not sure,” she replied. “I’m being told that there is something going on with the heart of an older female that you need to be aware of.” I just stared back, wide-eyed. What an odd thing to say! I really wasn’t even sure what to do with that information. My mom and I rode all the way home in silence. I guess she didn’t know what to say either.
When I told Bryce about my visit with Tessa, he seemed totally unfazed. He’s always been a skeptic of the supernatural and thought it was a stupid idea for me to go to a psychic in the first place. “You’re really going to take advice from someone who claims they’re receiving messages from ‘the beyond’?! Do you know how crazy that sounds?!” he had told me when the idea first came up. So, of course, he put absolutely no stock in anything Tessa had said. I, however, wasn’t as willing to cast it aside so easily. And we would soon find out the meaning behind her messages and the true terror it held in store for us. And as for Bryce’s skepticism, well, it was about to be put to the ultimate test!