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The River’s Edge

Part 4





"Leah!" Jenna shrieked. "Oh no, nononono!" She shook Leah's shoulders again, knowing dimly that the action was useless. "I don't know CPR!" she told the unconscious woman.

Remembering what she had seen done on TV, Jenna gingerly plugged the swollen nose with one hand and opened Leah's mouth with the other. She pressed her lips to Leah's cold mouth, ignoring the coppery taste of blood that filled her own. She took in a deep breath and blew several times. Pausing, she checked for a pulse again, but found nothing.

"Oh God this can't be happening!" she whispered and looked at Leah's bruised and swollen face. She couldn't bear not seeing the blue eyes again and began to cry, afraid that she had failed the taller woman.

"Please don't leave me!"

Not able to think of anything else to do, she made a fist, drew her arm back, and hit Leah in the sternum with all her might.

The limp body jerked and blood sprayed all over Jenna's face and shirt. She ignored the urge to wipe it away and watched as Leah's mouth opened. She listened with great happiness to the gurgly intake of air and the harsh coughing that followed.

Jenna brought her hands to her cheeks and began to sob. She watched through the tears as the coughing subsided and Leah tried to sit up. She groaned in pain and lay still, panting.

"Just be still," Jenna told her gently and smoothed muddy locks of hair away from her forehead. "It's okay now."

Swollen blue eyes barely opened and found the green of her own. The sadness and pain that Jenna found there nearly broke her heart and her tears began to flow faster.

"Jenna?" the hurt woman croaked.

"It's me, don't worry," she told Leah, wiping at the tears spilling hotly down her cheeks. "Everything's okay now."

"Where's… Robert?"

Jenna cringed. It was the first time she had thought of the cruel bastard since watching him float lifelessly away. She had killed him, committed murder, had taken a life. The thought of it was too much and she scrambled on her hands and knees away from Leah to empty the contents of her stomach. She retched long after there was anything left to come up, and when she finally felt she was through, she returned to Leah's side.

"I killed him," she whispered. Jenna sniffed and wiped at the tears trying to form once again in her eyes. She was trying to be strong, to ignore the guilt that had started eating at her stomach, knowing the other woman needed her right now. There was time for mourning the loss of her innocence later. "He was trying to kill you and I hit him in the head with a rock as hard as I could and… he's dead."

The injured woman tried to sit up and with Jenna supporting her back, was able to. She smiled weakly at the blonde and wiped at the blood that had congealed on her lips.

"You saved my life."

Jenna nodded. "We need to get you help."

"But this isn't over."

The blonde's head snapped up in alarm. "Wha- what do you mean? He's dead!"

"Jenna, you know what's happening," Leah told her gently and put her hand on Jenna's arm.

She looked at Leah in puzzlement until it dawned on her what the other woman was talking about. This was another vision.

"Why did I see this, then?"

"I don't have an answer for that," she answered as she got to her feet as if nothing had ever happened. When she looked back at Jenna, all the blood, bruising, and mud were gone. She looked as beautiful as ever.

"Then why did I see this?" Jenna shot back, rising to her feet as well. She was trying to ignore the urge to start screaming and never stop.

Leah shrugged, looking at her compassionately.

"You have to give me something! I cannot keep having these crazy hallucinations or whatever they are and just walk away as if nothing ever happened. It isn't right and it isn't fair. It's ruining my life!" Jenna pleaded in exasperation.

Leah stepped forward and touched her cheek. Her long fingers were soft and warm, and to Jenna it felt like coming home. She leaned into the gentle touch and closed her eyes, wishing she would never wake up from whatever it was that was happening. It had been too long since she had felt good about another person's touch, too long since she had not felt too guilty to let anyone touch her.

"Is there nothing I can do to help you get away from that monster?" she asked, opening her eyes.

"No, Jenna," the other woman whispered, now taking the blonde's face in both of her hands and looking into her eyes. "He would hurt you. I couldn't bear that."

Jenna looked up, covering the larger hands with her own. "So you're going to let him keep hurting you? What if what happened today is a warning for the future? You could die. I'm trying really hard to understand this. Do you want to die?"

Leah closed her eyes, a pained expression clouding her features. She stroked Jenna's cheek, then removed her hands and stepped back with a ghost of a smile playing at the corners of her lips.

"Not now."

They were two simple words, but to Jenna they meant so much. Her pulse quickened and her knees went weak, and tears spilled from her eyes. She felt such longing, such sadness. It had been so long since she had even remotely felt this way and it was overwhelming. She couldn't bear the thought of what Leah must be going through, and because of that she could not stand to look into the blue eyes that had become an unwitting companion in the back of her mind.

"Then let me help you," she whispered, trying to hold back the flood of emotion threatening to spill out of her soul. "Please! Tell me what is happening and let me help you."

Leah's eyes grew distant and she cocked her head as if listening to something only she could hear. Jenna studied the way her shoulders slumped- it was like the tall woman was shrinking before her very eyes.

"I have to go now," she said finally, the emptiness in her voice alarming.

Jenna grabbed her arm. "You can't! Not now! Not when I don't know what's happening. Not when I don't know when I'll see you again!"

"Soon, Jenna." She sounded defeated and forced a smile.

"That's not good enough!" the blonde begged, taking Leah's hand and stroking the back of it with her thumb. Didn't she understand how important this was? Why couldn't she quit being so damned evasive? "Please, Leah, I'm losing my mind. What do I do?"

"I am so sorry, Jenna," she whispered, giving Jenna's hand a gentle squeeze. Looking away, she said, "It's time now." Leah began to fade away until only her apologetic silhouette was left shimmering against the water. "I'll see you soon," she told the blonde, sounding a million miles away.

Jenna's eyes shot open and she looked wildly around. Leah was definitely gone. She felt deflated after the events of the dream, and queasy from the adrenaline that had pumped into her stomach. If she were honest with herself, Jenna was scared. She realized in exasperation that she had become quite attached to the other woman, apparition or dream or not. She hated not knowing how to find her, and loathed that she knew what Leah was going through at the merciless hands of that barbarian she called a husband.

She screamed her frustration out to the setting sun, then got up and stretched her stiff and achy limbs. She could kick herself for not thinking to ask Leah more about herself, something that would give her a clue about how to find the other woman.

As she walked back to her house, Jenna contemplated the experience. It had been terrifying and exhausting, to say the least. She knew if she dreamed something of that magnitude again, she would definitely be taking a trip to the loony bin. She couldn't stand the way she had felt when she had discovered Leah was not breathing or the fact that Leah was so damned uncooperative when it came to helping her.

"So what do I do now?" she asked the twilight. All she knew for sure was the feeling in her gut telling her that if she didn't find Leah soon, it was more than a possibility that she would be dead for real.

Two days later found the blonde with no more answers than she'd had before. She had pored over everything that had happened, all of her experiences with Leah, and had yet to figure out how to find her.

"She's around here somewhere, at least I know that for a fact," Jenna growled in irritation. "I saw her and I know that was real."

She rubbed her thigh as she sat at her small kitchen table looking out the window. She idly traced patterns across the wooden surface with her free hand, fighting the urge to follow the path that led to the water. It was such a nice day and she hated to stay cooped up, and as much as she ached to see Leah again, she knew she had to find some answers about what was going on. She thought momentarily about a quick walk to the pharmacy for some pain pills, but dismissed it with a frown.

"Like that would help anything," she muttered. It had not been that long since she had been off the damned things and it was still very tempting to run to the oblivion they offered. But Jenna wanted to keep a clear mind, if not for her own sake, then at least for Leah's.

She stood and opened the kitchen window, enjoying the warm breeze and the smell of summer wafting in. She closed her eyes and smiled, allowing her mind to wander over the tall form of Leah. She thought of the way her hand had caressed her face, and the peace she had felt in the other woman's touch. Grimacing, she pushed those feelings aside. She knew that it was a bad idea to allow her thoughts and feelings to run wild like that.

Turning from the window and the nice day it framed, she wandered back to her bedroom and made her bed. If she was going to stay in the house, she could at least make it livable. As she picked up the pillows and dirty clothes that littered the floor, something sparkly caught her eye from just under the bed. She laid the things in her hands on the bed and lowered herself to the floor, stretching her bad leg out behind her as she peered under the bed. She squinted into the shadows and looked again to see what it was.

A small earring with antique looking pink beads lay on the floor. Jenna didn't recognize the earring as one of her own since she had not worn them in over a year, and she puzzled over where it could have come from. It didn't look like the style of jewelry that Mattie had worn either.

She reached out and picked it up, holding it into the light so she could see it better. Still not able to place where it had come from, she stood, intending to take it to the trash. As her hand closed into a fist around it, Jenna froze in place as images began flashing in her mind so fast that she couldn't see what they were.

"What the-" Jenna dropped the earring as if it were burning her and drew in a sharp breath. She rubbed the palm of her hand and glared at the earring where it lay on the floor.

Unsure of what to do, she sat down on the bed and continued to stare at it. She didn't know what had just happened, wasn't sure that she wanted to, but the first tendrils of curiosity were already digging their way into her mind. What she had just experienced reminded her of what she had read on the Internet about clairvoyance and all that. What if there was some important message in the earring's presence?

"That's just crazy!" she shouted in frustration to her empty house. Things did not just 'magically' appear from out of nowhere. Not to bring messages or whatever it was that she had just seen.

'Leah magically appears out of nowhere,' her mind conveniently reminded her with a laugh. 'And you don't seem to mind that very much.'

Jenna pressed her lips together to suppress the urge to argue with herself. That was crazy. But her mind did have a point, at least about Leah seemingly coming from nowhere. She chose to ignore the rest of the comment.

The blonde squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then lowered herself back down to the floor. She would not leave the room until she knew what was going on, of that she was sure. Chewing on her lower lip, she slowly reached for the trinket and closed her eyes as her fingers wrapped around it.

Blinding flashes of light alternated with blackness, and a hissing noise filled Jenna's ears. Eventually the dizzying lights stopped and a hazy light replaced the darkness. She felt herself sitting in a cold metal chair, surrounded by strangers that seemed very large to her. Their eyes watched her intently, some over horn-rimmed glasses, others doubtfully down their noses. She felt like a bug under a microscope.

Jenna looked down to see small, thin legs peeking out of a frilly white dress and feet that didn't quite reach the cement floor. Different colored wires trailed down the side of her cheek and small body. They were connected to a machine with many lights, and on it, a small needle wiggled furiously back and forth across a ream of paper. It looked as if it could swallow her whole at any minute.

Something tickled her palm and when she looked down at it, she saw the earring. It brought her a sense of peace that she did not understand in this room full of people that she didn't know. In her left hand, she held a picture of her grandmother and herself. She looked at it intently, hoping that if she wished hard enough, she could bring her Granny back and make this all go away.

"What do you see, Jenna?" a deep voice asked.

She looked up and saw that all the men wanted something, but she wasn't sure what. Jenna studied the picture again, trying to find the answer she knew these men were looking for.

"It's okay, Jenna," a gentle voice whispered in her ear. "They won't hurt you."

Frightened green eyes looked up to see who had spoken. "Granny?"

"Yes, Jenna, that's your grandmother, but do you see anything else?"

"Look at the meter, it's going off the charts!" one of them practically yelled and hurried over to look at the paper the needle was scratching over in large waves.

"Yes, it's me dear," the old woman answered as if she hadn't heard the other men in the room. "I have to tell you some things, and you probably won't like most of them. But trust me, little one, someday you will understand."

"Wha- what do you mean?" she heard herself ask in a shaky voice.

She looked back at the men in the room and suddenly their voices were far away. Her eyes returned to the gray eyes that belonged to the person she loved most in the world. All she could hear was the scratching of the needle on the paper and her grandmother's soft voice in her ear.

"Jenna, you have a gift. There will be times you won't think of it as a gift, and for good reason. You will see things that aren't really there, like I am now."

"But you are-"

"Hush dear, I only have a little time left and I have to hurry. When you see these things, don't be afraid- they can't hurt you. But they will tell you about things that will happen, sometimes very bad things. Things that you will wish you had never seen. It's like a warning. And you should always pay attention to those things that you see, they happen for a reason. Some day it could save your life."

Her grandmother looked anxiously about the room before continuing. "I have to go now, my sweet Jenna. I won't be able to come play with you anymore after this. You won't be seeing me again, either. Just remember that I love you and to pay attention to the things you see."

Jenna watched as her grandma faded out of sight, a feeling of panic setting in. She clutched the earring in her palm as tightly as she could and stared at the picture, trying to will her Granny back to her. She couldn't bear the thought of her being gone forever. It was then that she heard a shrieking noise, so loud that she thought her eardrums would break. As she felt her body hurtling through the air, she realized that the piercing sounds were her own voice.


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