ONE - I Will, I Won't, I Want: What Willpower Is, and Why It Matters. TWO - The Willpower Instinct The Willpower The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering . Master storyteller and bestselling author Jodi Picoult teams up with Jake van Leer and Ellen Wilber to bring you an original musical, sure to breathe life into any. picoult, jodi, keeping faith. Home · picoult, jodi, keeping faith Author: Picoult Jodi. 31 downloads Views KB Size Report. DOWNLOAD TXT · Jodi Picoult.
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A Spark of Light By Jodi Picoult Release Date: Genre: Fiction & Literature Size: MB Link Download. Jodi Picoult, 47, is the bestselling author of twenty-one novels. to be able to pay the rent - led Picoult to a series of different jobs following her. Jodi Picoult - Where There's Smoke (ebook) - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. Serenity Jones has it all - a chateau in.
My producers have put together a reel on Rycroft. While the audience is watching, I silently summon Desmond and Lucinda. This is some weird shit, Desmond mutters, and Lucinda agrees. He wont talk to us. Well, but hes there, and thats a start. Besides, I have done read- ings for the families of dozens of servicemen whove died in the line of re. When your life is cut short abruptly, theres an anger that swells, a bitter appetizer to any subsequent feeling.
Jason Rycroft is such a strong, furious presence that I nd myself tapping my foot to keep from bursting out with the message he has for his wife. Betsey, I say, your husband is with me now. The Psy- Chicks sing: Hallelujah! Betsey sits up a little straighter.
Is he. They just want to know that, in the afterlife, their loved one isnt walking around with a steering column through his chest or still hooked up to morphine. Its a strange ques- tion for me, because I dont always see the spirit; I just feel the pres- ence and hear the voice. Now, though, there is so much pressure in my eardrums I think they might burst. Hes yelling, if a spirit can yell. Calm the fuck down, I say silently to Jason Rycroft. Tell her some- thing so she knows its you.
Usually when spirits come to connect with a loved one, they try to give me a picture of a memory they both have, as if to say, See, Im still me and Im real. Because honestly, isnt that what we all want? To be real to someone? Theyll show me a roach and say, It popped out of the sink once, and my wife nearly peed her pants. Or theyll ask why she didnt wear the red jeans that make her butt look so sweet. Sometimes a spirit has a negative message: Why are you fucking your life up with drugs?
Why are you with a guy who doesnt treat you well? But when people are hurting bad, whatever comes through me for them however that connection happens is positive. Does he know we have a son? Betsey asks shyly. I should be there. The words are steeped with pain, so heavy that they fall like stones in my mind.
Its a thought I didnt have, that has landed on the tip of my tongue all the same. Thats what hearing a spirit feels like: an in- voluntary reux. A hiccup. Its just there, and you cant make it go away. He says he should be here.
I wish he was, Betsey replies. There are tears in her eyes. I dont have to look at Marcy dancing in the wings to know that this is ratings gold. How do I tell him I love him? You just did, I say. I wait to see if I hear it back. I know thats what Betseys waiting for. But sometimes, a client says I love you and I dont hear a re- sponse. If thats the case, I dont lie. Looks like Jason isnt the type to express his feelings on national TV.
He doesnt say he loves his wife.
He doesnt say anything at all. My throat is so scratchy that I can hardly breathe. I blink, and when I open my eyes, I see a tornado made of sand. This is how I died. Your husband wants you to know how he passed away, I repeat. I think there was sand? All of a sudden I see a ash of lightning and hear thunder. A sandstorm, I correct. The army told me he saved his whole platoon by holding off rebel ghters. Betsey n- gers the Purple Heart pinned to her babys blanket.
Jason isnt speaking to me anymore. Hes madder than a one- legged lady at an IHOP, and hes bombarding me with images: a des- ert dry as bone, sand whipping in a cyclone around him. The shouts and screams of soldiers, who are barely visible in their camouage, as the storm rages.
The sight of the enemy, getting not closer but more distant. The hoarse message, ripped from his own throat, that the Iraqis are retreating. The gun barrel that suddenly glinted in front of him. The blood that bloomed on his chest, and the pain of his arm being ripped away. The man who leaned over him; the strip of fabric on his uniform that read ferreira.
I dont realize Ive said that last bit out loud until Betsey inter- rupts. Captain Ferreira?
That was Jasons CO. He car- ried Jasons body back to safety. He wrote me a letter and told me how Jason had died a hero. I learned a long time ago not to edit the material Ive been given, and Im not accountable for the reaction it causes. Your husband wants you to know that Captain Ferreira is a liar, I say atly. Understandably, Betsey looks confused. So am I. In my mind Jason is throwing up images of his bleeding chest, and Ferreiras name tag, and a rie. Over and over.
You stupid bitch, I hear. If my senses are right, Jason Rycroft is trying to get me to think of a Fribble. Am I getting this right? Do Fribbles mean something to you? I ask Betsey. Like the milk shake they have at Friendlys? She bites her lip. I dont even eat ice cream, she says. Im lac- tose intolerant. Just then, a light in the studio blows and the glove of one of the grips goes up in ames.
Alarms go off. Someone grabs a re extinguisher and sprays the grip, who has dropped his equipment and is rolling on the oor, shrieking in pain. People in the studio audience start screaming, and the baby wakes up and does the same.
The Psy- Chicks kick off their heels and run. Marcy races onstage to shepherd Betsey to safety as Bethany appears out of nowhere and grabs my arm, trying to drag me along with them. Somewhere in the back of my mind, in spite of all this horror, I think: Its good TV. Thats what Im still thinking when I keep Betseys shoulder in a death grip and deliver the message I have for her before the cameras stop rolling. Friendly re, I say. Your husband wants you to know he was killed by his own captain.
Marcy is nowhere to be found the producer has gone to talk to Cliffs family, or give him a huge bonus, or a trip to Disney World or something to keep him from suing us. My bodyguard, Felix, drives me home and walks me into my house. Can I get you anything, Miz S? Youve had a pretty tough day. All I want right now is a big old glass of Caber- net Sauvignon and to put the last twenty- four hours behind me.
He disappears into the woodwork, like my housekeeper and my landscapers they are so good at it, in fact, that Ive sometimes won- dered if Ive mistakenly hired ghosts instead of humans. If I hadnt seen Felix once atten a crazy- ass stalker who thought she was my long- lost sister and was willing to jump me to tell me so, I would still have my doubts. Then I light a magnolia- scented candle, pour my- self some wine, kick off my heels, and put my feet up on the kitchen table a handmade piece from Tuscany carved of olive wood.
Well, I say out loud to Desmond and Lucinda. You two are being awfully quiet. You made that reading about you, not about her, Desmond answers. I scoff. I was doing my job. You were trying to get ratings, he replies. I didnt set that damn re, I point out. Lucinda, who is always the peacemaker, steps forward. I think Desmond is just reminding you to ask yourself why youve been given a Gift. Ive had just about enough of them for the night. Why dont you two get lost? I snap.
Just like that, theyre gone. I can feel it in my chest a lightness, as if Ive just hung up a Gone Fishing sign and Im no longer respon- sible for anyone elses problems. I take a long drink of my wine and try to taste the avors that Wine Spectator raved about and that made it score so high and cost so damn much. Oak and chocolate and li- gree is that even a avor?
I think I can taste the chocolate in the wine, and I denitely smell the woodsmoke. But thats because the bottom of my kitchen table is on re. I jump up so fast that my glass of wine shatters on the oor.
The commotion brings Felix running into the kitchen, his gun drawn. When he sees the ames licking their way down the legs of the table, he grabs a re extinguisher from a spot near the oven and hoses down the entire piece of furniture. I check myself over, but I already know Im ne.
Just a little shaken, Felix, I tell him. Must have been the candle. He nods and picks up the entire table as if it is a stick of kindling. Ill just put this out in the yard sos it dont stink up the house. Thank you, I tell him. I consider cleaning up the broken glass but decide to leave it for the housekeeper in the morning. Instead, I walk to the master suite, strip off my clothes, and run the shower as hot as I can.
Its a cavern- ous shower, tiled with pearly marble. I stick a plastic cap over my hair and step inside. The hot water loosens the knots in my shoulders, and gradually I start to let the days stress sluice down the drain.
I close my eyes, re- playing what happened in the studio today, wondering if we will be on the E! News broadcast tonight. As if Im back in the moment, I can feel the heat from the ames that burst from the broken studio light.
But then I realize that the wall of re is right here with me, in the shower. The two Turkish towels, hung within reach, are blazing. Instinctively, I yank them off their hooks into the spray of the water. They fall on the oor, ames extinguished, smoking under my feet. A realization comes to me, quicker than a bee- stung mare.
There are certain earthbound spirits that have no way to expend their energy or anger. They are often associated with teenage girls, who are formed of pure drama, or with those whove died in vain.
They have been known to manipulate the elements of the earth water, re, wind, dust to make their presence known. Just my goddamn luck: Lieutenant Jason Rycroft is a poltergeist. They all show the debacle in the studio yesterday. The headlines accuse me of being antiwar, anti- American, a traitor.
I smile feebly at my producer. All press is good press, right? She crosses her arms. Its not funny, Serenity. Cliffs out on dis- ability and Im buttering his family up one side and down the other, because Warner Brothers has strongly informed me they dont want their lawyers to have to get involved. And if that isnt enough, I got a call from the freaking head of the House Judiciary Committee.
The what? House as in the House of Representatives, Marcy continues. They used to be called the House Committee on Un- American Activities and they investigated citizens who seemed to be doing subversive things. They wanted to know why you burned a bra your junior year in college. It wasnt because I was protesting a war, I say. There wasnt even one to protest! I whip off my sunglasses and wince at the light. Marcy, I support our troops! Well, thats not the way it looked yesterday.
The governments invading a country and you go spouting off about friendly re And today everyone and his brother is talking about the Serenity! Remind me why this is a bad thing? I look down at the pink slips in my hand. Betsey Rycroft is calling. Well, for Gods sake, dont call her back. The last thing we need is for her to go on Entertainment Tonight saying youre going to help her unveil some military scandal.
Marcy is pacing. Today her beauti- ful braids are piled high on her head; shes the one who takes me to get my hair done at the same place shes gone to for years.
Im the sole white girl in the salon when I go, and I love it. Odalie, my stylist, custom- blends my signature shade of pink. What you need to do is a show that glories an American hero, Marcy murmurs. Something that will take the heat off this episode. No pun intended, I say. But she isnt listening. Over my head, shes staring at the televi- sion in my dressing room, which is tuned to Good Morning America. I look at the senator a golden boy whose names been swirling around as a Democratic Party presidential candidate.
He has good hair, straight teeth, a pretty wife, and a cute kid everything you need to get elected in this country. But all that and a trust fund couldnt get him his baby back. The FBI had taken the case over from the local cops, and seven days had gone by with not a trace of the boy or a single ransom note. Someone who didnt know how to read people as carefully as I do might not notice how brittle Ginny McCoys features had become; how the senator had to process Joan Lundens questions for an extra beat, as if he were a foreigner who did not speak this lan- guage.
Now that, I muse, is a tragedy. What happened yesterday, by comparison, is just a little speed bump. I dont often trouble Marcy with my personal life, but I lean forward. Youre not going to believe what happened to my kitchen table last Thats it, Marcy says, snapping her ngers. Youre going to nd the senators son. And then youll be Americas favorite psychic again.
I dont like forensic work, even though Ive done it before. I used to put on the booties and walk into a blood- spattered room and open myself up to get an action that might have gone on in there, a move- ment or sight or sound or smell or impression, or even which way a perp entered the room.
But now, even if I get an impression about a missing kid, I dont call investigators to tell them so. A lot of pseudo- psychics do that, but its not about the kid. Its about the psychic get- ting fame. I just dont have a dog in that ght.
I hear a snort, and I know immediately it is Desmond. I am sick of his attitude, and I want to show him whos boss.
So I turn to Marcy. Justine Fawker, I say. You remember her, dont you? Marcys eyes light up. The only time we beat Cleo in the rat- ings.
When Cleo was photographed in US Weekly reading a book, it sold out in bookstores. When Cleo invited an unknown singer on her talk show, her single ew up the Billboard charts. Id been invited to do a reading for her, and the episode won her an Emmy. In return, she gave me a spin- off. Justine Fawker had been a cold case a little girl whod been ab- ducted when she was eleven, and whod long been presumed dead. After having her mother on my show, and getting a very rm response from the spirit world that Justine was not among them, we scheduled a live episode where, with Desmonds and Lucindas help, I led the police to the home of a postal worker who had a secret soundproof cell in his basement and had kept Justine caged in it for eight years.
You swore to me youd never go live again, Marcy says. You said it gave you hives in unmentionable places. This is true, I tell her. But Id do anything to help the McCoys nd their boy. I do want to help that poor family, truly I do. However, its also occurred to me that this might potentially land me my own Emmy. Marcy taps her pen against her teeth. Hes not going to want to come on a show like ours, she muses. Hes more of a Larry King Live kind of guy. I hadnt considered this.
Asking a dignied politician to come on a daytime talk show about ghosts is hopeless. But then I remember that the woman whod introduced me to Cleo in the rst place was a politicians wife Id met in Maine. Id diagnosed her daughters cancer before doctors could, and she was forever grateful.
I still get Christ- mas cards from her and the governor, and she still writes on them, If theres ever anything I can do for you. I tell Marcy my plan. If this woman makes a call to Ginny McCoy, maybe she can convince her husband to come on my show. Marcy, I can tell, is impressed by the way my brain works.
Its a small world, she says. By the time Marcy leaves my dressing room, I know shes not even thinking of Jason Rycroft anymore. But I am, because just as she closes the door behind herself, my curling iron shorts out with a shower of sparks. We are all psychic to a degree.
How many times do you walk into a room and just know theres tension in there? How many times have you thought about an old friend, and then she calls? Or had a dream about your grandma and you wake up and nd the lost earring you inherited from her? Its like making a psychic telephone call: you send energy into the universe, and it comes back to you. I get asked all the time what its like in the next world. Well, its the same, and its not the same. For one thing, its less dense.
Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day. Jodi Picoult—one of the most fearless writers of our time—tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry?
What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation. See More. But even before I get close enough to see their faces, I know something isnt right. The link between the spirit world and our world is made of collu- sions of energy.
If you do a reading at an event and the energy is all discombobulated, it can affect the connection, so to speak. Its why we screen our studio audience as if theyre applying for government jobs, and its why theres never any alcohol on the set. But right now, there is, and its swimming through the blood- stream of Senator John McCoy. And not to be outdone, his wife seems so doped up on antianxiety meds she probably couldnt nd her face with her own two hands.
Lets do this, I say to Desmond and Lucinda, and all I hear in my head is the chirp of crickets. His grip is rm and solid; his blond hair with just a hint of silver threaded through is smooth; his smile does not reach his eyes. His wifes handshake, however, is not a shake but rather a limp press, as if she has already made the colossal effort to get out of bed and this is truly the best she can do.
Im so sorry for your suffering, I say, and I mean it. No one should ever have to go through what they have. Are you ready to get started? Wait, Ginny McCoy says. Were not on camera yet, are we? I shake my head. My parents lived by themselves until they died in their nineties. Every night at ten P. After my dad passed, I went to stay with my mom for a few weeks, to help her adjust. A few days after the fu- neral, we were sitting and watching TV when suddenly it shut off, at ten P.
I tried fussing with the remote and with the buttons on the TV itself, but I couldnt get that thing to turn back on no matter what. The next morning, it was working just like nor- mal again. Senator McCoy sighs, and she cuts him a look that could slice a diamond. I tell you this, she says ercely, because I want you to know that I believe in what you do.
I believe its possible. In case that makes a difference, I thought you should know. I look her in the eye, and nod. Desmond, I think. Dont let me hang this poor couple out to dry. The Psy- Chicks sing the theme song, and then a little clip rolls that I pretaped, explaining the disappearance of Henry McCoy.
The camera closes in on me. Were here today with Senator McCoy and his wife, Ginny. They both murmur something appropriate. Its been a week since your son disappeared, I say. Yet there havent been any leads?
If there were, McCoy says, would I be here? Ginny grabs his hand and squeezes it, a warning. Were grateful to anyone and anything that can bring Henry home, she corrects.
I open my heart and my head to the universe, and wait for a sign. I am listening with every ber of my being for Desmonds and Lu- cindas voices. I see Marcy waiting in the wings, holding her breath in anticipation of whatever Im about to say. When nothing comes at rst, she makes eye contact with me and signals with her hand: Hurry, already. People who dont have the Gift dont realize you cant turn it on and off like a tap. Its hard, all the time, even when we make it look easy.
But getting agitated isnt going to help me clear the space I need to get a feeling from the other side. I know that what the McCoys want to hear is that their son is alive, although after the Justine Fawker case I would be the rst to tell you there are monsters in this world who make that option less than optimal.
If Henry McCoy is alive, God only knows what hes suffered. But if I cannot give them that peace of mind, I hope to at least let them talk to their little boy, if hes crossed over. To let them know he wasnt alone when he went. Its true that when its time to go, someone will be waiting for you. It might be a relative or a loved one, but not always. It could be a dog, hanging out with a tennis ball and ready to play again.
Some- times, when children die, they dont know any of their relatives who are on the other side, so theyll have an angel or even maybe a car- toon character or Santa Claus waiting to pull them across that bridge. Its just a manifestation of energy saying, Come on, baby, its okay. I try to determine if Henry might have transitioned that way. Then I ask, silently, for Henry to come talk to his mother. Usually, I dont have to try too hard to connect with child spirits theyve been looking all over the place for their parents and are thrilled to step up to the metaphorical microphone.
They are desperate to say, I chose you to be my mom, and I couldnt have made a better decision. Or Im sorry I had to leave the way I did. Or I died, and you didnt, so you have to go on living. Ill tell you, those kinds of readings are the ones that break my heart. I have prided myself all my life on not being a swamp witch the kind of faux psychic who does cold readings not through any paranor- mal connection but by reading the expressions and body language of her client.
Theres the Barnum effect where you say something that would apply to everyone on the planet: You suffered a great loss as a child. Or Youre conicted about an important decision in your life. Most of the time, the client will hurry to explain what youve said. Give them the rope, and let them hang themselves.
Theres shotgunning, where you just spit out a stream of things and see what resonates with the client: Im getting a B, maybe an H, I think its a man, someone in your family who died of cancer?
Again, people who come to psychics are des- perate. Theyll hang meaning on a statement if you give them the ti- niest hook on which to do it. Theres what I call the imam, where you make a statement with the opposite included: Youre usually a very condent person, but something has you rattled.
Either way, then, youre right. I take a deep breath and look at Ginny McCoy. You and your son were especially close. She nods, teary, and immediately I feel like a charlatan. I mean, what mother of a missing child would admit to anything less?
Im getting a C, or an S its the name of someone close to Henry.
A playmate, maybe, or a teacher? Could it be a G? His teacher is Mrs. And the poor woman is probably now under investigation by the FBI, thanks to me. I shift in my seat.
Then suddenly I hear Lucinda whisper, Ocala. Bus Shut up, Desmond reprimands her. She told us to get lost. But you cant unring a bell. I turn to the McCoys with a dazzling smile. Senator McCoy, I say, I have had a vision. The Psy- Chicks sing the word with a hundred extra syllables, a gospel hallelujah.
Ginnys face has gone white as paper. Hes in Ocala. She collapses into her husbands arms and starts to cry so hard she cannot catch her breath. Senator McCoy looks absolutely stunned. What what happens now? We go to Florida, I say. Thats a wrap, my director says, and I stand up. Marcy comes over, clapping, drawing me away from the McCoys.
This is going to be incredible. I hesitate, wondering if I should tell her that things were not cali- brated the way they usually are when I have a paranormal experience. The energy was off, because of the substances the McCoys were tak- ing.
Hells bells, the energy was off because my spirit guides were madder than a wet cat. At the very least, I should let her know that calling my vision a vision is a stretch of the word. But Marcy is a model of efciency, barking orders and directives. She has already ar- ranged for a skeleton crew to follow us, reality- TV style, to Florida. McCoy has called over his chief of staff and is telling him to get the private jet ready. Of course he has a private jet. But then, maybe after this airs, Ill have one, too.
When do we leave? I ask Marcy. Now, she says. Go get what you need. All I need is Desmond and Lucinda, but if they dont want to join me on this journey, theres nothing I can do to make them. I can only hope thats not the case.
So I walk down the hall to pick up my purse and my coat, Felix stalking me like a shadow, and when Im in the dressing room wiping the stage makeup off my face, I say, Im sorry, all right? I didnt mean it. I need you two. Before they can answer, however, my cell phone rings with a call from a blocked number. This is Serenity, I say. I know. Theres a beat of silence. Why didnt you take my calls?
I guess correctly. Where did you get this number? What you said the other day, about Jason and how he died Look, Im sorry, I interrupt. But I gave you the message. Thats my job. Im not supposed to go burn a ag in front of the White House or force the military to look into what happened Thats just it, Betsey says. The army, they keep calling me. They want to sit down and just have a little chat.
Well, that seems to be what Jason wanted. What about what I want? I came to you because I needed to know that he loved me. That he was with me the day I gave birth to JJ. That he died thinking of my face. That he died a hero, not because of some accident. She spits out that last word like it is poison. I lost my husband. I should get to hold on to my memories of him, dont you think? I am taken aback. I dont know what you want me to say. Id just told her what her husband wanted her to know.
How about that youre sorry, Betsey says. For ruining my life. I hang up the phone, my hand shaking. I dont have to turn around to know that behind me, the wastebasket full of tissues Id used when I was taking off my makeup has caught on re.
I take a vase full of lilies, yank out the owers, and pour the water into the trash receptacle just as Felix knocks. I open the door to nd him snifng at the smoke and hand him my cell phone. Get me a new unlisted number, I say, and I walk down the hallway to the limo that will take me to Senator McCoys plane. Well, I hate to pee in your Cheerios, but it doesnt work that way. The afterlife is all about overlapping planes.
We all live in the same physical space, but on different metaphysical levels, and someone whos passed before you might have reached a consciousness you havent yet. Take Romeo and Juliet, for example. Romeo dies because of someone elses initial mistake Friar Lawrence relying on the Verona postal service, when we all know theyre freaking government em- ployees and deliverys not guaranteed. Juliet, though, stabs herself, in the hope that she can be with Romeo again.
Clearly, she messed up in this life. Shes going to have to deal with that in the soul world, and because of this, she is far more likely to bump into Friar Lawrence whos got his own mess to atone for than into Romeo. Trust me. Before that big sweeping romantic reunion, Juliet has to gure out what she did wrong. You may get bit in the ass by an alligator. But youre going to go in there like youre a crocodile hunter and do it anyway. Thats what Im thinking as I sweat through my pantsuit in the bus terminal in Ocala, Florida, hoping that Desmond or Lucinda will offer me a morsel of direction.
I begin to make bargains. If you let me nd Henry, I will never think of anyone but my clients again. If you let me nd Henry, I will never disrespect you. If you let me nd Henry, I will let any spirit who has a message speak through me without setting any parameters.
Any time of day or night. All this time Id bitched and moaned about setting limits so that the paranormal chatter didnt overtake my life, and it turns out that the only thing more terrifying than endless cacophony is absolute and utter silence from the other side.
The cameras are rolling. Later, we would nd out that wed had over a 7. Also, because this is an open police case, we are accompanied by some of Ocalas nest and a police dog. Hes here, I say, when we reach the bus station. I can feel it.
With the McCoys in tow, I start walking, my hand held out before me like a divining rod. But really, Im just doing that so that the police dog sniffs at my ngers, and maybe tracks a scent I can then follow. I turn a corner, and then another and another, until we are standing right back where we started. Please, I beg silently. Let me nd the boy. I start out again tentatively, turning down a hallway I havent yet treaded.
The cameras, and the McCoys, follow. At the end of the hallway is the mens room. Beside me, the dog pulls on its leash. This way, I cry. I cannot believe Im doing cold readings on a dog. The bathroom? Ginny cries. Is he in there?
She starts to run, but before she can, the dog breaks free on its leash. It runs to the entrance of the bathroom and feints to the left, snifng at a bank of lockers. The rst one the dog touched was number I point to it and turn to a cop. Break the lock, I say, and as soon as they do we all fall back from the stink of decaying esh. My eld of vision narrows, and stars burst at the edges. Every- thing is going black as I lean down, brace my hands on my knees, and vomit.
What happens next explodes like reworks before my eyes: The locker door opens. The stained suitcase is revealed, still seeping blood. The police dogs tail is wagging madly. The way Ginny slumps to the ground and no one notices; the cameraman stumbling forward; the senator screaming in slow motion for him to turn the fucking camera off and the brawl that ensues. I walk away from the fray, from the body of that poor boy and his grieving parents.
People grab at my sleeve as I go, and I hear Felix call out my name, but I move blindly through the crowd searching for air. I nd it by ducking into a stairwell and running up to the roof of the building, where I stand under the splintered sun and sob.
I am crying so hard I almost dont hear it. Desmonds voice, a whisper. Be careful what you wish for. Senator McCoy gets pulled over for drunk driving and assaults a cop.
Ginny is found unconscious in the bathtub, and although ev- erything is hush- hush, Page Six reports a whopping combo of seda- tives and alcohol in her system. I am a punch line on Lettermans top ten list, when, just a year ago, I told him he needed to beef up his security and a week later two men were arrested trying to break into his house. I ask Felix to drive me in to the studio to get something in my dressing room, but in reality, I am going to clear it out.
I dont have to talk to Marcy to know that my show and my career is over. I take a box, and I am in the process of stufng all my personal items into it when Bethany comes in. Im not here, I tell her. You never saw me. She is beaming. I just had to tell you. Last week? It was, like, the worst day of my life. I had to take the bus home. And I was trying to keep all my stuff from rolling down the aisle and I was really pissed off at that lady, who didnt even say Im sorry, when this guy started gathering my pens and my sunglasses and everything.
I was mortied. She hesitates. His name is Charles. He wasnt from Fin- land or Norway. But he was eating a cheese Danish, and we talked the whole way home. I force a smile. Im happy for you. I pick up the box and walk around her. I just wanted you to know that, Bethany says, to my back. I wanted you to know I totally believe in you. I dont turn around. That means a lot to me, I murmur, and I wonder how long it will be before the world is divided into those who remember when I had a Gift, and those who know categorically that I dont.
Felix shakes his head. Miz S, he says. The Big Guy up there needs to cut you a break. At this point, Im practically expecting things to burst into ame around me. Dont think I havent noticed the irony, either, of a psy- chic whos lost her mojo yet is haunted by a poltergeist.
I get out of the car and talk to one of the remen. Hes old, older than me, with weathered brown skin that looks like hes spent too much time being toasted by blazes like this one. Its the drought, he tells me, as his colleagues spray a wall of water, destroying the landscaping that cost as much as a sedan.
Your lawn isnt the rst to go up in ames. He tells me that I really shouldnt go into the house until its been cleared as safe. Felix asks me if Id like to drive around the block a few times or go out to dinner, but I shake my head. Instead, I wander through the gate to the backyard, where I have a little tranquillity pool and a rock garden that are meant to be all Buddhist and soothing but that, in reality, I am way too busy to enjoy.
In the middle of it, on an expanse of smooth white pebbles, is the charred kitchen table that Felix removed last week. I sit down on a wrought- iron chair and stare at it. Its funny, how fast life changes. One minute you are present, and the next, you might nd yourself futilely trying to get back to the world you were once part of.
You might nd yourself looking for people who can no longer hear you. You are in the world, but not of it. I might as well be a ghost. Last week, I was famous. This week, if I speak, no one will listen. Last week, I was rich. This week, Id trade everything I own for one genuine psychic thought.
I have made a career, in fact, out of providing ve more minutes for those who didnt listen to me. And now, I understand intimately how you dont realize what you have until you lose it. Maybe holding some- thing precious at a distance is the only way to measure its value. The reman I have been speaking to opens the gate and takes a seat beside me. He smells of creosote and char.
When he smiles, his face pleats over and over, laugh lines like origami. Miz Jones, he says. Could I ask you a few questions? So you know who I am, I murmur. Right now everyone knows who you are, he says bluntly. But I knew before. I used to watch your show when I was on disability for a bad back last year. He clasps his hands between his knees.
Twenty- something years ago I got a phone call one night from my son. Wed been estranged for a while hed gotten messed up with a bad gang in L. The line was scratchy, I could barely hear him.
He said he wanted me to know he loved me, and he was sorry for screwing up his life. Thats considerate.