She couldn't remember the first word she said to her father, but to her mother she remembered everything. "Beautiful."
Her mother had made a sound like a kitten mewling as she held her in her arms. "She remembers."
Her father had said. "That's ridiculous. Babies don't remember what you say in the womb."
She remembered the smile on her mother's face. It was like the sun coming from behind the clouds to brighten the day. "Lovelight does."
Her name was Cynthia Lovelight, but everyone called him Cindy for short. Her teacher called her Lovelight and that kind of got nailed to her as she grew up. Her friends, whenever they were in a mood to tease would say, "Hey! Has the light gone out yet?"
She had looked at Jimmy Patton, the first one who had teased her. He had this big green and yellow aura and there was a huge black area that was growing near his lungs. She had been totally frightened at the time and said nothing, her heart pounding so heavily in her chest; she had wanted to scream out in pain and fear. But she hadn't. Something she learned quickly over her early years was not to give into fear. It was the enemy.
Jimmy had died several months earlier from advanced TB, Tuberculosis. Had she known at the time what she was seeing, maybe she could have saved him, but later as she grew older and read about how the cancer spread, she knew she couldn't have. She was just being given an insight. She didn't know how to weigh it in her heart and mind at the time. She was too busy getting prepped for the Senior Prom, which Elmer Wilson had invited her to.
All the girls teased her mercilessly about him. He was awkward and shy, even if over six feet tall and stooped over as if afraid for anyone to see how tall he really was. She never did find out, because they never made it to the Prom. He had crashed his car on a mountain pass, and narrowly avoided death. She hadn't known about it until the next day, after many anxious hours of negating herself and blaming herself for him abandoning her at the last moment. She had gone to sleep that night and seen him in a dream where he was smiling, very tall and very handsome, wearing a gun holster and a cool suit and tie.
He had told her he loved her and always would. "Everyone calls me Ed."
He winked broadly, revealing a perfect set of teeth and a smile worth a million dollars.
"Rumors of my death were...to quote William Shatner...premature."
She had laughed in her dream, because the way he said it was so jokey. So cool. If anyone could have won a prize for being the coolest guy, he would have, if he were real.
Then the next morning her mother had awakened her gently and said that Elmer was all right. But that he had been in a car accident. She had cried then with relief, first for herself, to her shame, and then for him.
"Mom! We've got to go and see him at the hospital. He'll be all alone!"
Her Mom had smiled and dangled the car keys in front of her. "All ready parked out front, ready to go."
She had hugged her Mom, run into the bathroom, showered and did all the things a young teen does when she's a girl, and maybe a few more, then ran outside to join her Mom, eating an apple as she ran.
Her Mom scooted over from the driver's wheel. "You drive."
She had gotten in. All excited. She had only passed her Learner's Permit a week ago.
She gave her Mom a quick hug and kisses, then turned the engine over and laid a strip of rubber out of the driveway, leaving a smoking trail behind them.
"Whoops!" She had blurted.
Her Mom, always the gentle one, patted her knee. "I crashed my first car. Backed it into the garage when I punched the gas pedal, instead of the brake."
They both laughed, and then remained silent the further ten miles to the hospital. They lived on the e outreaches of a small mountain town named Placerville. It had all kinds of rumors and mythology hanging about its neck, just like the dead miner hanging over the Post Office for all to see. A sign, not a real person.
Lots of miners had come there for gold and found little, if nothing and many had met tragic deaths through greed and quarreling.
They reached the Placerville Memorial Hospital and she parked as carefully as she could, only running up over the curb twice, before finally settling the old Ford into place. She blew out a breath of air, then took in a deep breath and looked at her Mom, who nodded, then got out.
They held hands as they went through the lobby doors. At the receptionist desk her Mother told them they were friends of the family and were given a Candy Striper to guide them to his room. He was seated up in bed, sipping some water when they entered. No flowers, no cards. No family. No one.
For some strange reason Lovelight ran to him and hugged him tight, then began crying as if he were dead instead. He had given her a look of surprise, then held her close, thankful for her warmth and her spirit. He looked at the Mom, who was smiling at the both of him. She whispered, "Be right back." And exited.
Lovelight pulled back and sat down beside his bed, took one of his hands and pressed it. "I was so mad at you last night for dumping me!"
He laughed, and then made a painful expression. Then laughed again and looked pained again. "I think I better not laugh again; it really hurts."
"Why are you laughing?" She had demanded, starting to get angry instead of relieved as earlier.
"Because the whole time they were hauling me here in the Ambulance, I was thinking I just screwed up the best and only date of my life."
She barked with laughter and despite the pain of it, he laughed again as well.
"I see you two are enjoying yourselves." Her Mom had said, entering the room with a vase of flowers. She set them down on the bedside table, then pulled out a wad of comic books from her purse and handed them over.
He grabbed the comics and stared at them so hard, Lovelight thought his head would explode. Finally, he looked up and she could see tears in his eyes. "I don't know how to thank you. No one has ever been this kind to me before."
Her Mom looked at her, a concerned look in her face, then took his other hand and pressed it. "You're very welcome, Elmer."
"Call me Ed. I like that name better."
Elmer and her Mom looked at her in surprise. "What's wrong?" Her Mom finally managed to say.
"That's what he told me in my dream last night. My name's Ed!"
Then she felt this pulsing in her forehead and a beautiful red aura wrapped around Elmer's body, pulsing with bright streaks of white light that danced about his head.
"And you said...you said..."
"What? Said what?" He asked, tensing as she prepared to answer.
"That you were visiting and just wanted to say hi and could you borrow five for your lunch?"
He laughed again, wincing in pain, then said. "That is so me."
Lovelight and her Mom drove home in silence a long time, negotiating the steep hills and slopes of the mountainous region, their windows open, allowing the fresh mountain air to soothe their spirits. As they drove Lovelight could only think why she had lied to Elmer. Then again, why not? He didn't need to know everything. He wasn't anything to her, then what a might have been first date.
She smiled, and then laughed lightly.
"That was sweet thing you did in the hospital."
"What thing? She answered without thinking.
Her mother smiled. "You're not the only one with psychic powers, my dear."
Lovelight almost drove off the road when her Mom said that. She screeched in alarm, and then slammed the brakes on, sliding their vehicle partially onto the side bar of gravel. She twisted around to look at her mother.
"It's time we talked." Her mother said, a twinkle in her eyes. "Of cabbages and kings and those sorts of things."