Serial Fiction: Monument Minders, Chapter Nine

Monument Minders
Chapter Nine
A girl is just a girl…five times over

Debtra looked out the window of her hotel room and watched the cars that crawled through Malfunction Junction. An accident further on, she guessed, because one side of the interstate moved smoothly, the other hardly at all. She wondered about the life or lives that had been changed, someone’s day going from fine or bad to terrible in a moment of carelessness. She had never been killed in a car accident. Sure, her deaths hadn’t been pleasant – boar attack, plague, beheading, choking during forced feeding as a suffragette – and she guessed that it would be closest to being burned as a witch, which she had been, but quicker. Hopefully.

She shook her head and wondered what Professor Homily was doing, where he was, why she couldn’t go with him… But he had only told her to stay put. She could only answer the door for room service should she get hungry, and Thom. She smiled when she thought of the young detective. She had been able to see his dreams. When she had been a child, she had similar ones. And now, to know the truth… She wanted to share it all with him, but he was probably still reeling from the revelations of that afternoon.

A knock on the door startled her out of her reverie, and she glanced at the clock. She had ordered room service, but only a few minutes before. When she checked the peephole as Thurston had showed her, it wasn’t food, but rather Thom.

“I’m sorry for bothering you,” he said. He’d changed into casual attire, jeans and a cotton shirt, and with his wind-blown hair, looked young and vulnerable. Or maybe that’s how she felt.

“You’re not. I was just wondering how I should spend the rest of the evening.”

“Where’s the Professor?”

“Out.” She closed the door. “He didn’t tell me where he was going, only that he needed to go see an old friend.”

Thom nodded. “Well, I just came by to see if you needed anything.” He looked at his shoes. “And to see if you wanted to grab something to eat. I know you need to, uh, feed your manifestation every so often.”

Debtra couldn’t help but laugh, he sounded so awkward! “I’ve just ordered dinner, but you may join me. I think I may have gotten too much – it’s hard to tell how much I need right now. Have a seat.” She gestured to the desk chair and sat in the heavier chair with matching ottoman.

They both started a sentence simultaneously. Thom shook his head and motioned for her to speak first.

“I was just wondering if you had any questions. We hit you with a lot of new information today. It can be kind of overwhelming if you weren’t expecting it. Even if you were.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Thom said, and she could sense his genuineness. “I had these dreams as a kid with spinning vortexes and layers of reality. When the Professor described the dimensions, it’s like it all clicked into place, like I had known it all along.”

She looked at him more closely – could he be an Old Soul like her and Thurston? Normally she could sense others like herself. In her lifetimes it had been an affinity toward kindred spirits. But Thom didn’t have that kind of vibe, like someone ancient looked out from behind his eyes.

“What?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I’m trying to figure out who you are.”

He laughed. “Good luck. I’ve been working at it for thirty-four years!”

A knock at the door heralded dinner. They split the pizza she had ordered, and she ate the salad.

“So do you know what everything in here is?” Thom asked.

Debtra nodded. “I had a class in Twentieth Century culture. I know about television, and I’m looking forward to a hot shower.” She grinned. “That’s something I never got in a previous life. It was only during the last one that I had indoor plumbing.”

“Wow.” Thom sat back and put his feet on the ottoman near hers. “What were your past lives?”

She blushed. “I’ve only had five. For a soul my age, that’s not many, but I’ve been told that the way I’ve died might have had something to do with it.”

“Like you were a ghost.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yeah, they called me the Gray Lady at the prison where they’d killed me.”

“How?” He curled his left hand into a fist.

“I was a suffragette working for voting rights. They’d put us in prison, and we’d go on hunger strikes. They’d force feed us, and sometimes we died from choking.” She sighed. “I haunted some of those guards into exhaustion. Then, after about fifty years, a Minder came.” She could still picture him vividly. He’d looked like an angel from the Bible her last grandmother had made her read with white robes and long, flowing blond hair.

“That’s one of those angel things.”

She nodded. “He told me that I was too good at getting myself killed prematurely and violently, and that I needed a good education before I could come back. So that’s when I started at the University of Inabsolute Truth in the Fourth.”

“That would explain why you look like you’re in your early twenties.”

“It’s about the life experience I’ve got. I never made it past twenty-three.” She ticked off on her fingers what she hadn’t done. “I’ve never had children, never got married, never grew old with anyone…” The lump in her throat surprised her, and she curled up, her head on her knees, and hoped he wouldn’t see her cry. “Hell, those prison guards had more experience than I did. They’d go home to wives and kids and lives, and I was stuck there!”

She felt Thom’s soft touch on her hair, stroking it, and it made her feel even more like crying. There must have been a boy who had done that at some point, but she couldn’t remember. The details of each life blurred into the next in her memory.

“You know, what, Thom?” She looked up and found her face to be mere inches from hers. The cool, wet sensation on her cheeks must have been tears, but she didn’t care anymore.

“What?”

“I’ve never even lost my virginity!”

So that vacation-like week I had taken off to get my new office set up? Not a break at all. Hubby and I were there until 9:00 last Monday, and then I had evening obligations every night last week until Friday, when we were at the office until — I kid you not — midnight. The good news is that I now have a kickass place to write. I’ll post pictures of the office soon. The next step? Minions…

Yeah, I did some stress eating last week. It culminated in sliders and this lovely Irish brownie sundae at The Marlay on Saturday:

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