Book – Unbound
The next day she was restless, unable to concentrate on her work or anything else. Since it was Sunday, she decided to go out for a drive. She found herself on scenic Capital of Texas Highway, driving at a reckless speed. The sun blazed brilliantly in the deep blue sky. Loud rock music played on the stereo and she took the curves almost blindly as she stared straight ahead. Something caught her eye off to the right. An eagle was flying overhead and landed gracefully on a cedar. Sarah caught her breath. She turned off the stereo, opened the windows, and inhaled deeply, wrapping one hand around the pendant suspended from her neck.
She took in the drone of insects, the calls of birds, and the vivid colors of the wildflowers that grew along the highway. Time almost seemed to slow down and she felt herself drifting away, as if in a trance…
…suddenly, everything stopped. The breeze stilled, the hum of insects and the cries of birds were gone. She was floating over hills and valleys, seeing rivers, patchworks of crops, cities and oceans, and then—
—images of people flashed before her eyes, like someone flipping channels on a television. They were dressed in clothing from a different time. A town square and marketplace became visible. A horse pulling a wooden cart passed before her on a cobbled street, its hooves distinct against the stone. Sarah was walking down the street and happened to catch her reflection in a puddle. An unfamiliar face peered back at her. Long dark hair cascaded down her back and she was wearing a gray gown and a matching cloak, pulled tight for warmth. Here and there were small patches of snow on the ground.
Someone bumped into her shoulder and she stopped momentarily and glanced down to see a short woman smiling up at her. Sarah spoke involuntarily, hearing words and an unfamiliar voice with a brogue coming out of her mouth, “I beg your pardon, Mrs. Bailey.”
The shorter woman continued to smile. “Don’t concern yerself with it, Deirdre. It’s such a cold day out…”
The scene shimmered and froze—
—and then the highway and its surroundings returned to her senses with a burst of life and activity.
A squeal of tires.
Sarah slammed on the brakes as she realized she was about to collide head on with another car. She pulled to the side of the road and sat shivering in shock. The other driver approached her, an angry look on his face. She tried to open the door, but failed, as her hand couldn’t seem to grasp the latch. She pushed a button and rolled down the window instead.
“What the hell were you doing back there?” screamed the irate driver.
“I—I’m sorry,” said Sarah.
“You just about killed us all!”
She finally managed to open the door and lurched from the car, a hand on her head. The man’s anger turned to concern. “Hey, are you okay?”
She leaned against her car, grateful to have something to keep her upright. “I’ll be fine. I just need to sit here for a moment.” The world seemed to be spinning.
“Maybe you should see a doctor. My wife and I can take you if you can’t drive.”
She gave him a weak smile as her vision cleared and everything fell back into place. “Thanks, but I really think I’ll be okay.”
The man didn’t look convinced. “Well, if you say so…” He turned and stalked off towards his car.
Sarah pulled the psychiatrist’s card from her pocket. She would have to give him a call.
Sarah took a bleary-eyed glance at her watch. 10:20 PM. She yawned, rubbing her eyes, recalling her visit to the therapist that day. While he seemed confident that she wasn’t going crazy, he wasn’t so sure that there wasn’t a physical cause for her experience. She took comfort in this. If that were the case, she could live with it. There would probably be a way to prevent it from happening again, but until then, she was determined to remain awake. If she didn’t, she might leave her body once more, and that was something she was not prepared to experience again. She reached for a jigsaw piece to fit into the mandala puzzle spread before her.
Failing to find a fit, her eyes fell on the bottle of pills to her right. She picked it up, fingering it for a moment with shaking hands, before unscrewing the safety cap and spilling a few pills into her palm. Popping them into her mouth, she washed them down with the last of the coffee in her cup. She breathed deeply, trying to refocus on the puzzle, but Maggie jumped onto the table, scattering the pieces onto the floor. “Shit, Maggie!”
She collapsed back into her chair in exhausted frustration, her head on her arms. She froze as someone knocked at the door. Her voice muffled by her sleeves, she called out, “Who is it?”
She sat up and rubbed her eyes, trying to look more alert. “Come in!”
“I haven’t seen you in a few days, so I thought I’d make sure you and Maggie were—” he trailed off as he walked in, catching sight of her disheveled appearance. He let out a low whistle. “Christ! What’s wrong with you?”
She couldn’t tell him. Not yet. She became melodramatic as she cooked up another excuse. “This damn puzzle! I’ll never see it all in one piece!”
“I wouldn’t stress over it, Perry. It’s all the same—whether it’s complete or in a thousand pieces,” he grinned as he continued, “You know—energy can never be created or destroyed—it only…” his smile was shrinking as she scowled at him and he finished lamely, “…changes form…”
“Smartass,” she said, “I know the laws of thermodynamics. Anyway, I’m throwing it out. It’s too complicated.” She went into the kitchen and grabbed the smoldering coffee pot, the last of its contents burned to a crisp at the bottom. “Damn!”
Matt continued to watch her calmly as she returned to her chair, still fuming. “So why don’t you tell me what’s really bothering you.” This was not a question. He knew she was hiding something.
“How do you know something’s bothering me?”
“Do you normally drink a pot of coffee before you go to bed?”
She suddenly looked defenseless. She closed her eyes before speaking. Her voice was soft, low even, when she said, “I’m scared.”
He looked concerned. “Of what?”
“That I’m losing my mind.”
He became skeptical. “Come on…”
“I’m serious. I’m afraid to go to sleep. I might leave my body and never come back.” She leaned forward suddenly, staring at him in earnest. “Listen—this is gonna blow your mind.”