TIME WITH CATHERINE
by Vincent Peters
AUTHORS NOTE: This story takes place on day three of Pen Pals after Sarah arrives at Catherine’s building the last morning of her visit.
* * *
Sarah put on her backpack and carefully began climbing down the rungs. Once her eyes had adjusted to the light, she found herself in a narrow brick-lined corridor left over from the building’s construction. At the far end, multiple bricks had been removed, creating a hole large enough for a person to easily pass through. When she and Catherine had stepped through the opening, Sarah was amazed to find that it connected to multiple walled corridors going off in any number of directions. “I hope this world has good GPS.”
“That would make things easier. Vincent had to guide me for most of the first year we were together. I always got the feeling that he really didn’t mind too much. I remember the first time I made the trip on my own. I was so nervous. When I reached the entrance to his world, he was waiting there for me with a look of such pride on his face. He handed me something he had asked the school children to decorate for him, and he told me he had been saving it for that occasion.”
“What was it?”
“A gold star. I still have it.”
Sarah followed Catherine’s lead, turning this way and that, when it suddenly dawned on her that, like Jacob two days before, she had become so lost in her thoughts at the newness of everything that she had probably caused an awkward silence for her hostess.
“I think I owe you a penny, Catherine.”
“For your thoughts? Not really. I’m no empath but I think I think it’s pretty safe to say that I know what you’re thinking and feeling right about now. I had quite a few ‘lost in my thoughts’ moments after I met Vincent.”
“How long ago was that?”
“Oh – twenty-one years ago last month.”
“I don’t know how to say this without it sounding really really awkward…”
“There is nothing wrong with you having questions about this. I know I had plenty back in the day, so please take advantage and ask away.”
“To the best of my knowledge, you’re the only person who has ever loved someone who isn’t human. Is there anything I should, you know, be aware of?”
“See, that wasn’t so awkward now was it?” Catherine said with a smile. “As for your question, it isn’t as complicated as it might seem at first thought. You just love them.”
Sarah suddenly stopped dead in her tracks with a very strange expression. She seemed to be looking about, without any real target in mind. When she closed her eyes and shook her head slightly, Catherine smiled and put her hand on Sarah’s shoulder.
The feeling Sarah had experienced subsided slightly, and she opened her eyes. “I – I’m sorry I don’t know what came over me. I just felt — I don’t know how to explain it.”
“You felt something touch your very soul, maybe? Like the biggest case of love at first sight butterflies you’ve ever felt wrapped up in a warm blanket of security, the likes of which you’ve never known?”
Sarah looked at Catherine with complete surprise. Those were the exact words to fit what she had felt and to a lesser extent, was still feeling.”How did you know?”
Catherine stopped beside a bench carved into the side of the wall and sat down, patting the vacant space beside her. “You look a little shaken by what just happened. Here, have a seat. If I’m not mistaken, you just felt something very strongly that you’ve never felt before, am I right?” Catherine’s suspicions were confirmed when Sarah gave a nod. “That’s what I thought. First off, let me put your mind at ease. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s going to take a little time to get used to, but you’re going to be just fine.”
Sarah took a seat beside Catherine and set her backpack down. “I’m all ears.”
Catherine smiled and placed her hand on Sarah’s. “What you felt was coming from my son.”
“I felt the very same thing when Vincent came into my life. Until he told me that he was feeling the same things I was as they happened, I was beginning to think I was losing my mind.”
“Jacob said something about reading me. Is that what’s happening?”
“In part, yes, but there is so much more to it than that. It’s just one of those things about loving these men in our lives that can’t really be explained. It can only be experienced. But I can tell you this; there is no greater gift than to be able to actually feel the soul of another. What you are feeling is Jacob’s love for you. No matter where you go from this day on, you will always feel him in your heart and he will always feel you.”
Sarah closed her eyes for a moment and let the strange feeling wash over her. Catherine was right; it was very comforting, warm, and safe. If there were any reservations about what Jacob was, they were vanquished forever in that moment. She loved him and she knew she always would.
“You and I are part of a very exclusive club, Sarah. If you ever have any questions, I will always be here for you.”
“Thank you. You know, it’s funny, when I used the word human, it felt odd to make that distinction and I don’t know why.”
Catherine looked at her with a warmth in her expression that highlighted her maternal gratitude. “That’s because you see my son for who he is, not what he is, and I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for that.”
“I’d say it’s on a par with how thankful I am that you have a son like him.”
“Works for me.”
“I think we’d better get going, I don’t want to keep him waiting.”
“I wouldn’t be too worried about that. Jacob is the poster boy for morning hygiene, so it’s going to take him a little while,” she said, knowing full well that Sarah wanted more than anything to be with him again. Catherine stood first, handing the backpack off to Sarah. “Shall we?”
Several long and winding staircases later and there, in the light of two watch fires stood her gentle giant. He was leaning against a stone archway and smiling from ear to ear.