Connie Bickman...author, photographer, traveler
Take a peek inside. My treat!
The Touchstone Diary Book One - "The Red Thread"
Miyah could see the dim light from a single lamppost reflecting off the cobblestone. A hint of moonlight saturated the crude stones with a mysterious blue shadow, while a thin mist shrouded the evening air. Silence surrounded the city. Yet within the stillness, Miyah’s footsteps could not be heard as she followed the winding street. Some said she floated like the mist, or hovered like an angel. Miyah would simply smile and say she walked in her grandmother’s footsteps.
It had been like this since childhood. Miyah would be sleeping deeply when dreams filtered into her mind, altering her state of peacefulness. She’d see faceless people whose souls were calling to her, reaching out for her help. She would be urged to awaken, dress and run out into the night. She had long ago given up having to know her destination.
Tonight, as she walked swiftly and silently through the sleeping city, she recalled when she first baecame keeper of a powerful Touchstone—a secret so holy, even she was not fully aware of its impact. She only knew this package she carried deep inside her grandmother’s ancient medicine pouch had shaped the fate of her family for many generations. It was her duty to carry on the Touchstone destiny.
Even now she could feel her grandmother’s heavy breathing. She could hear Nona’s raspy, yet gentle voice calling out to her, guiding her. “Go faster, my child. Time is running out. Hurry!”
Miyah picked up her pace, blindly following Nona’s map unraveling in her mind. By tuning in to her own instincts and her grandmother’s voice, she knew she was being guided to the right place, to the person who needed her medicine.
Before her death, Miyah’s mother, Junia, often watched from an upstairs window as Miyah disappeared into the darkness. She understood, sending prayers to the spirits to guide her only child. Junia had carried the Touchstone before her daughter was born and for a brief time after. As a child, Junia, too, would awaken in the night and travel through the city, hand in hand with Nona until they reached their destination. She watched every movement, heard every word her wise mother imparted. In her youth, Junia wasn’t sure if this knowledge was a gift or a curse. She often longed for a normal life where responsibilities were less. Yet she knew it was an honor to be a chosen apprentice. She felt such love whenever she watched Nona selflessly administer healing to those in need—the same love Miyah felt as a child when she watched and listened to Junia sharing her magic. Grandmother to daughter to granddaughter, the cycle had continued throughout generations.
Light shown dimly through an upstairs window as Miyah stood in front of a well-kept English-tudor home. She knocked on the door and a young woman answered, quickly inviting Miyah inside as if she were expecting her.
“Are you the woman they call Miyah? I prayed you would be coming tonight,” the woman said, leading Miyah up a shadowed stairway to the bedroom. “I hope there’s still time.”
Miyah no longer questioned how people knew she would be arriving. It was as casual as if they had called her on the telephone and asked her to drop by. Perhaps they did, only it was in another dimension of which even they weren’t aware.
“My brother, Michael, is very sick. The doctors have given him no hope. You are the only one who can help him.”
Miyah nodded and offered a slight smile. “They only call on me as a last resort,” she thought. “Don’t they know they could avoid so much suffering if they contacted me sooner?” Yet she also knew each soul had a reason for their physical body to experience suffering and pain. Many lessons needed to be learned, and sometimes sickness and coming close to death were the only ways to get their attention and open their senses to what lies beyond. One often finds truth in dying.
The young woman escorted Miyah into a stuffy bedroom and left, closing the door quietly behind her. Miyah sat down on a chair next to the bed and watched this dying man for a few minutes. He was feverish and very pale. She reached out and folded his hand into hers.
“Hello Michael. My name is Miyah,” she said softly, as she glanced at the row of drugs and medications lined up on his nightstand.
“You look quite peaceful,” she offered. Miyah had never met Michael before, yet she felt as if she knew him.
“I’m not peaceful,” Michael said in weak voice. “I’m dying. I know my sister sent for you. Can’t they just let me be?” he asked.
“Are you ready to die?” Miyah asked bluntly.
“Is anyone ever ready?” Michael shot back.
“You have a choice. You can choose to live,” Miyah’s voice was almost a whisper. “However, a price comes with that choice and you must make promises.”
Michael turned to look at Miyah. He half expected to see the devil bargaining for his soul, not this gentle woman sitting calmly by his side. He looked into her eyes, and despite his skepticism, he saw a light that drew him in. He felt a warm flow of love flush into his shivering, yet feverish body. He could not look away from the intensity of her gaze. It was as if she controlled his every thought, as if she was inside every fiber of his entire being. Yet, he didn’t feel afraid. An uncommon calm came over him and he managed a slight smile.
“Are you bargaining for my soul?” he cynically asked.
“No, not your soul,” Miyah replied. “What I am asking for is more than that.”
“What. . .” he began.
“Don’t ask me now. I have something I’d like you to have while you sleep. It will begin your healing and make you stronger. You will understand more in the morning.”
Miyah reached for her medicine pouch, a tattered, old, cloth bag with embroidered symbols, little bells, tiny mirrors and gemstones embedded into the fabric. It was made by a Gypsy woman many generations ago and had existed in Miyah’s family “forever.” Nona had told her granddaughter the bag was hundreds of years old, yet, even though it was a bit tattered, it didn’t show signs of ever wearing out. Nona said it was sewn with magic and love, and whenever love is woven into the texture of life, it never wears out. Miyah liked that.
She folded the fabric of the bag back to reveal a brown linen bag containing a thick diary, which she set aside. Inside was also a crude, hand-made box. She placed the box on the bed next to Michael and laid her hands on the lid, pausing a few seconds, as if in a prayer. Miyah then pulled her long hair to one side, revealing a necklace with a narrow, leather strap. Attached was a worn, washed-leather pouch from which she retrieved a small, ankh-shaped key. Unlocking the box, she slowly opened it to reveal a bundle of old cloth. Michael watched with interest, wondering what could be so important about an old box, a book and a heap of shredded fabric.
Miyah carefully began to unwind the cloth. When layers of fabric were peeled back, a large black stone was revealed. It was a rounded, long pyramid shape, embedded with sparkling bits of crystals. Miyah picked up the stone and held it in line with the moonbeams shining through the window. Tiny crystal specks reflected in the light and seemed to bring the stone to life. Miyah ceremoniously ran her hands around the entire surface of the stone while whispering a prayer, words that were foreign to Michael. Then she touched the stone to her heart and held it there for a few seconds. She kissed the stone and gently placed it in Michael’s hand.
“Look at this closely and tell me what you see,” she reverently commanded.
Michael reluctantly accepted the stone, fitting it into the palm of his hand. He felt a little foolish reading the face of a stone, but as he examined it closer he saw clear detail.
“It looks like the shape of a woman bundled up in a blanket,” he slowly responded. “I see an old face peeking through an opening in the robe, yet I can’t make out the features clearly. It definitely feels feminine.”
“What else?” asked Miyah. “Look deeper.”
He turned the stone over in his hand a few times, studying the features.
“Well, first of all, it’s either heavy or I’m damn weak,” he said as he examined the stone. “I see tiny crystals sparkling in the stone. And there are long lines, surface cracks, that cross each other and wrap around the circumference of the stone. Does that mean anything?” he questioned.
Miyah held out her left hand, palm up. “Look at the life lines on my palm,” she said. “Now look at the lines on the surface of this stone.”
Michael placed the stone next to Miyah’s hand. His eyes traced the lines on her palm and then the lines on the stone.
“The lines are exactly the same!” he exclaimed. “I’ll be damned.”
“It’s not so unusual when you consider the lines on this stone also match the palms of my mother, my grandmother and all the women of our bloodline who came before them. It is our birthright. Some say our curse.” She smiled, looking directly into Michael’s eyes. “The markings on our palms are from the source of our healing. The Touchstone of our lives.”
“I don’t understand. . .” Michael started.
“You don’t have to understand right now,” Miyah interrupted. “You will know soon enough. Just try to remember everything you see tonight in your dreams and tell me about it later.”
Michael stared back at her, feeling exhausted from their brief conversation. “I need to sleep now,” he said. “But I don’t feel like death is so near with you here. Will you stay with me through the night? I’m not ready to die. Hell, I’m barely 40 years old. I should be planning my life, not my death. I want another chance. . .” his voice trailed off and he sounded weary.
“Yes, I’ll stay the rest of the night,” Miyah replied as she put the key into the necklace pouch and tucked it back under her blouse. “But I want you to keep this stone with you as you sleep. You can place it under your pillow or hold it in your hand. It has strong healing medicine.”
Michael curled his hand around the stone and laying on his side, tucked his hand under his pillow.
“I don’t understand the healing magic in your stone, but I need all the help I can get. The doctors have given up on me. I have come home to die. Damn cancer,” he swore, sadly lowering his eyes. “What have I got to lose?”
“You have nothing to lose, Michael, but much to gain,” Miyah said as she placed the cloth back into the wooden box and gently closed the lid. She kept her hands on the box for another prayerful moment and then placed the box next to Michael on his nightstand.
“Miyah, it may seem strange, but I’ve seen you in my dreams. I knew you would come. Thank you for finding your way to me, especially tonight when I needed you most,” Michael said as he curled his body into a fetal shape, his usual sleeping position these nights. “I’ve heard about your powers. I didn’t mean what I said—I really am glad my sister sent for you. I don’t want to die yet.”
“It’s not strange,” Miyah whispered. “Good night, Michael. May you find peace in your dreams.”
Michael watched this mysterious woman settle herself into an oversized chair next to the window. Bathed in moonlight, her features revealed a delicate profile with thick, dark hair falling to her shoulders. Her eyes were wide open, staring at the moon, as if conversing, giving and receiving messages.
“She looks so peaceful,” Michael thought, as he slowly drifted off into a deep sleep, the healing stone tightly clasped in his hand.
Miyah looked over at Michael’s weak body as she listened to his shallow breathing. She wondered what work he had been chosen to complete. When she was called in to heal the dying she knew they still had things they must achieve in this lifetime. Often they just needed to know they had one more chance to make new life choices. . .and a chance to make positive changes in the world. Sometimes she was called in to help make the transition from life into the next dimension. But this case was different. She could sense it. She watched his eyelids flicker and knew Michael was off on a journey. In a few days he would be healed. . .and his life would never be the same.
This she promised.