The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
June 9, Saturday
THE STOREFRONT WINDOW DISPLAYED colorful artwork with a New Age flair. Cosmic Portals beckoned from its midst, surrounded by stylized images of stars, planets, and a plethora of unfamiliar symbols. Sara got out of the car to check out the menu posted beside the door, Connie right behind her. Not much other than coffee, herbal teas, smoothies, pastries, salads, and a few sandwiches, all with space-themed names.
Connie slipped her arm around her waist "What do you think?"
"What is it? Some sort of Starbuck's wannabe?"
"Somewhat." A conspiratorial tone crept into her voice. "But that's nothing compared to what's not on the menu."
Sara raised an eyebrow. "Like what? Specialty bagels? Or joints?"
The woman's green eyes sparkled. "No. They don't sell them. But they've been known to happen. There's a dispensary just off the Diagonal, if you're interested. You certainly have justification, medically and mentally. That thing around your neck alone broadcasts you deserve a break."
"C'mon, Connie. You know I'm partially brain-dead. What is this place?"
"Well, they do have the best coffee in town. As good as any I had in Vienna, actually. But the bonus is the back room. The proprietor, Patrice Renard, is an astrologer. She doesn't make enough from that alone to maintain the place, so she sells a variety of light refreshments, provides free Wi-Fi, and bits of interesting reading material. So, what do you think?"
"An astrologer? I had no idea you were into this sort of woowoo stuff. Does Dad know?"
Connie's guffaw said it all. "Of course not! Do you know anything about astrology, Sara? Besides those dreadful daily horoscopes?"
"Not really. I know I'm a Gemini, but that's it. I've certainly never been impressed by those horoscopes. How could they possibly fit everyone?"
"You're right. They don't. But it's different when its based on you, personally. Calculated for when you were born. Then it works amazingly well. It sure surprised me." The woman's demeanor grew uncharacteristically serious as she continued.
"Not everything about life is logical, honey. When there are no sensible answers, sometimes you can find them in alternative ways. Other dimensions, if you will. I started coming here right before your mom passed. I needed to know why my best friend was being taken away by such a horrible disease."
Sara's intrigue deepened. "And you got what you were looking for?"
Connie's expression grew wistful. "Yes. Maybe not as specifically as I'd like, but answers that satisfied me enough that it was easier to accept and move on. It gave me the comfort of knowing that life isn't random or unplanned. That our lives have meaning and unfold when and how they're supposed to."
"Do you believe in reincarnation?"
"I do now. It makes things much easier to accept. Think about it. No matter how horrible a person's life may be, isn't it nice to think they might get another chance? I believe in God, Sara, but for me to put my trust in him, I need to know he's fair. Having more than one lifetime does that for me."
Sara bit her lip, pensive. "Do you remember any of your previous lives? Have you done regressions?"
The crease between Connie's brows accented the faraway look in her eyes. "I've thought about it. There's a woman in Denver who does them. Former nun turned mystic, but a trained psychologist. In a way, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to know. What if they were horrible? There's a reason we forget. A clean slate, if you will. A fresh start."
Sara nodded agreement. "I know now, without a doubt, that we don't really die. Our body does, but part of us remains. I know it wasn't an hallucination when I saw Bryan and watched him leave. For all I may have forgotten, that's one part I never will. It feels as if it's stored in my heart rather than my head. At least it served as a goodbye." She stopped to swallow when her throat constricted. "I know I'd feel even worse if I didn't have that. But I still wonder why I had to stay here?"
Her voice broke and she dug inside her purse for a tissue.
Connie rested her hand on her arm. "Listen, honey. We don't have to do this if you don't feel comfortable. I just thought maybe it could provide an answer or two. Maybe even why you had to stay. It's entirely up to you. You can trust her completely. Everything's confidential."
Sara stepped back to the car's side-view mirror to check her mascara. Satisfied, she stared back at the window where Connie stood, expression etched with caring concern.
"Okay. I'm game," she decided. "I sincerely doubt I could feel any worse. It might even help me remember something important."
"Alright. Great! Let's do it."
As the establishment's name implied, the interior resembled another world. Soft, meditative music played in the background. The tables and chairs were wood, not metal or plastic, the counter and coffee bar topped with granite. A hint of sandalwood mingled with the euphoric fragrance of freshly brewed coffee. Elevating it to an olfactory orgasm was the irresistible aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls.
Sara closed her eyes and inhaled. "Wow. This must be what heaven smells like. I think I gained five pounds already."
Connie gave her a one-armed hug. "Why don't we start with a cup of chamomile tea and one of those sinful pastries? Then we can see if Patrice is available."
They sat at the counter, Connie eyeing the bakery goods while Sara studied the menu. A college-age girl with short blond hair greeted them.
"What can I get you ladies?" she asked, her voice unexpectedly deep.
"I'd like a medium cosmic caress with extra cream and a lunar eclipse," Connie replied. She laughed at Sara's puzzled expression. "Chamomile tea and a dark chocolate cupcake with strawberry-mango frosting."
Sara pointed to the menu. "Bring me one of those cinnamon rolls. And a mocha latté."
"One spiral galaxy and a Lyra coming up," the girl said.
"Is Patrice booked this afternoon?" Connie asked.
"I don't think so. Let me check."
The beaded strands that separated the cafe from the reading room tinkled like tiny bells as the girl slipped through to the back. When she reappeared she gave them a thumbs-up. "Go on back whenever you're ready."
Moments later they received their orders. Sara savored the latté's energizing effects and sugar-laden treat, but nervous anticipation remained.
What on earth had she agreed to? What if this Patrice person told her something that made her feel even worse?
She picked up the last few crumbs with her fingers, then looked up to see Connie's confident smile. Surely her step-mom wouldn't set her up for anything traumatic. At least not intentionally.
Sara inhaled slowly, still deciding. Connie's smile vanished.
"I promise it will be good," she said. "Trust me, honey."
She blew out the breath, feeling as if she were skydiving for the first time.
Connie's smile returned. She stepped over to hold the beads aside and beckoned her through.
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