Sarah had a gift; where was it when she needed it most? Charity's 10th Anniversary Entry
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Sarah Hobson’s life until her senior year of high school could be summarized in one word: “Normal.” True, she had lost her father in an accident when she was 6 or 7 years old, although she really didn’t remember it, but there were other single parent families and it seemed unremarkable.
Then came “the incident” at school just before graduation. She had been sitting in class, daydreaming, when she saw her best friend, Natalie, trip and fall down a flight of stairs breaking her leg. “Natalie, watch out!” she had blurted out loud before she realized it wasn’t real.
“Why are you freaking out like that?” Natalie had asked her after the class had laughed and made fun of her.
“I – I saw you. You tripped and hurt yourself. It was so real …”
“Well, as you can see, I’m fine. You need to get more sleep at night so you don’t doze off during class. That was embarrassing!”
“Hey, Natalie … watch out,” somebody shouted in the hall.
“Dork!” Natalie yelled back, giving Sarah an “I told you so” look.
Sarah could feel the blood rush to her face. “I’m so, so sorry,” she stammered.
Natalie turned and left with a “Humpf!”
An hour later, Natalie tripped on the stairs, fell, and broke her leg. “It’s all your fault,” Natalie accused, seeing Sarah looking wide-eyed as the EMT’s took her away. The friendship, like the leg, was never the same.
Sarah went home in tears and told her mother what had happened.
Margret Hobson sat with Sarah and listened. When Sarah finished, Margret handed her Kleenex. “Stop your sobbing. You have a gift, child. Your grandmother had it just like her grandmother before her. You have the gift of intuition.”
“Some call it psychic ability, some call it precognition, some premonitions, but it’s nothing like they write about in those stupid magazines or fantastic stories of super powers. You have an ability to collect facts – real things that happen around you or you’ve read - and find connections between them subconsciously.”
“You mean I’m a psycho-freak?” Sarah began sobbing again.
Margret laughed. “No, not a freak, but you are special. Not everyone can use their mind the way you can.”
Later, looking in the mirror, Sarah looked hard. She saw an attractive girl with long blond hair, bright blue eyes, and a crooked smile. “Mother’s wrong. There’s nothing special here.” The reflected face didn’t look convinced.
Over the years that followed, Sarah tried to ignore her ability and even tried to suppress it to no avail. Finally, Sarah came to terms with her “intuition.” It didn’t happen often but when these flashes of insight came, she couldn’t ignore them either.
One moment stood out in her mind. It came in the form of a dream. She had dreamt of her mother’s passing. It wasn’t accidental or the result of some calamity; rather it was “natural.” She saw herself crying next to her mother’s bed. What was strange and almost made her dismiss it, was the bear. A bear entered the room and instead of being fearful, she turned to it for comfort. When she awoke, the feeling persisted and she rushed over to her mother’s house. Letting herself in, she found her mother in bed.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” her mother said hoarsely. “I knew you’d come.”
“Mom. What’s wrong?”
Margret smiled wanly. “Nothing’s wrong, sweetie. It’s just my time. I have a final gift for you. In the top of the closet, get that yellow box.”
Sarah did as she was told.
Sarah pulled the top off the box and saw a teddy bear. She looked up, confused.
Margret smiled. “This is Albert. My mother gave him to me before she died. Said he’d be there to comfort me after she was gone. You can see he’s a little worse for wear but he’s reliable.” Her laugh was cut off by coughing. “He’s been loved for generations and all that love is there for you. He’s yours now.” With those final words, Margret closed her eyes and let out a final sigh.
~ ~ ~
Tonight, Sarah felt herself floating, looking down on her own sleeping form. This seems so real She knew, however, that it must be a dream and not some subconscious message. She had always been sensitive to movement and often got car-sick and never, she reminded herself, flew. Well, almost never.
That thought brought a chuckle as she noted her own tousled hair and saw a teddy-bear tucked beside the slumbering form, its nose peeking out from under the covers. The sight of Albert, threadbare and patched, brought a rush of emotion and a smile to her face.
“Hi, Albert.” The bear didn’t answer but she could sense its reassuring and welcoming smile.
A distant ringing pulled her back from the dream and she blearily opened her eyes. Disoriented, she fumbled with the phone, finally mumbling what she hoped passed for “Sarah Hobson. Yes?”
“Sarah?” Tom Dougherty’s gravelly voice was unmistakable. There were many things she loved about Tom but his voice was at the top of her list.
“Hi, Tom.” She glanced at the clock and saw it was 3:30 a.m. “I take it this is an official call.”
“I know it’s early but duty calls. There was a crash at the airport. We’ve been tapped for the investigation. The team is assembling at United Hangar 2B.”
At the word “crash,” Sarah was already rolling out of bed. “Oh God. How serious …”
Tom cut her off. “Sarah, it doesn’t get any more serious than this.”
“I’m on my way.” She quickly dressed, grabbed her go-bag and was running for the door with Tom’s “see you soon” still ringing in her ears.
She had worked as a member of the National Transportation Board’s Aviation Accident Investigation Team for over four years. After graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering, she had started at Boeing in Research and Development, designing the next generation of fly-by-wire control systems. She had an uncanny ability to understand complex electrical systems and had come to the attention of Tom while working as a liaison during an investigation of a crash of a Boeing prototype.
There had been no fatalities but from the pilot’s description of what happened, confirmed by the black-box flight details, Sarah's intuition said the cause lay in a remote relay failure. “Impossible,” was the head engineer’s reaction.
Tom, however, didn’t dismiss her. He sat down and simply asked, “Why?” She laid out the schematics, walked through each possible scenario by tracing the electrical flows and finally pointed to one place where all the possibilities coincided. When they found it in the wreckage and tested it, she was proven right. It didn’t take long for him to recruit her as a part of his team.
As she sped through the deserted streets, Sarah tried not to think of what was coming. She had, in the past years, been on investigations that had left her sick. Better not go there, she scolded herself. Letting her mind drift, she recalled the dream she had. What did I do with Albert? With her mother’s passing, it was her only solace but as time had passed, the wounds of the loss had healed and Albert had … I must have put him in the closet. Funny, I haven’t thought of him in years.
It suddenly occurred to her that she was hitting all the lights green. “Someone’s angel must be looking out for me,” she murmured. “Thank you.” She was sure that whatever was facing her was going to be unpleasant and she was grateful for the lack of delays.
Her train of thought was broken as she pulled up to the west gate and saw the gate open. She didn’t see the guard that should have been there. That startled her and she would have stopped but for the sense of urgency she felt. "I need to tell Tom and have him contact Security. We don’t want reporters – or worse, curiosity seekers - swarming all over and destroying evidence." Arriving at United 2B, she grabbed her bag and went to the small recessed door in the larger hangar door.
Inside, she was again surprised, this time by the lack of bedlam. Usually, everyone was rushing around trying to get organized. The recovery group should have had a table laid out with a map of the crash site. Instead, large groups of people stood about, seemingly without purpose. As she entered, their voices seemed to mute, as though she had put on ear protectors. Those closest turned toward her expectantly.
Spotting Tom, she pushed her way over to him. “What’s going on Tom? Where’s the team? Who are all these people?”
Tom smiled. “Hi, Sarah. It’s good to see you too,” he chuckled.
Sarah felt a warm flush creep up her cheeks. She loved Tom but had never told him. It had been a while since she last saw him. Sarah remembered how much she’d loved his laugh, the deep baritone held such warmth, and had always made her feel confident and safe ... before … before he’d died!
Sudden realization swept over her. “Tom – Tom? What … you’re …“ She couldn’t find the right words.
“It’s all right, Sarah. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“What … about the crash?” she finished lamely.
“You were on that flight, Sarah,” he said, a look of regret in his eyes.
“No,” she blurted but was interrupted as he handed her a newspaper.
Scanning the page, she read about the accident. She suddenly stopped as she saw her name. “No! I’m not dead. I’m standing right here!” Fear and shock made her knees buckle but Tom reached out, supporting her with his strong arms.
After a moment, she pushed him away. She wanted the comfort but she couldn’t think clearly. “I don’t understand,” she said, feeling tears well up in her eyes. “This isn’t possible.”
Tom smiled, a gentle look on his face. “I know it’s hard to comprehend but … “ He paused, as if listening. Suddenly, a big grin spread across his face. “Open your bag, Sarah.”
“Tom?” She stared at him, not understanding what he was saying.
“Please Sarah,” he repeated, “open your bag.”
Unzipping the go-bag, Sarah saw the familiar face of Albert … and, even without intuition, understood that everything would be all right.
An entry for "Invalid Item"
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Word Limit: 3000
Word Count: 1744