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I have come to seek and save that which is lost. Luke 19:10


A seismic wave coursed through my body, tracing its path from the crown of my head to the ends of my fingers. A distant glimmer illuminated him. He was a lighthouse of hope in the vast obscurity. Am I dead? I reached out my hand, searching for him in the light. My body filled with an effulgent warmth that glowed from inside my chest, its radiance spreading through my body and into my soul.

Touch me. My words echoed in the air around me, but my mouth didn’t’t move. Our eyes locked, and I stretched out my hand to him—my fingers straining to bridge the distance between us. Benevolence emanated from his eyes, sparking within me an ache for something beyond my reach—a longing for a feeling of home.


My name sounded the same, but the tone had transformed from something heavenly into a reality of cold discomfort. I stole a fleeting glance behind me, but in that fraction of a second, he vanished. Every element of the moments before receded into the dark corners of my mind, like a distant memory losing its sharpness over time.


A rush of air filled my lungs and I gasped, now acutely aware of the drum beating without mercy inside my head. I felt the pool of saliva beneath my cheek on the table, but in my stupor, I was incapable of wiping my own mouth.

“What the hell, Indie?”

A trance held my mind hostage. I closed my eyes once more, willing him to return to me. I was no longer surrounded by warmth and light, but a cold reality. Still, I could sense his presence. His divine scent lingered in the air and on my clothes. It was indescribable, yet unmistakable, like the smell of sun on my skin. It was pure. It was love. 

Jonathan knelt before me, his gentle touch grounding me in reality, anchoring my body and soul to the earth once more.

My heart raced, pumping adrenaline through my veins so fiercely that my shirt fluttered with each mighty thump. Desperation ached in my bones and I yearned for him—longing to slip back to where I’d been—where I could see him, talk with him. I squeezed my eyes, willing it to happen. 

Jonathan’s chilly fingers enveloped my wrist, pulling me into the harsh light of the real world. “Indie, look at me. When was the last time you had something to eat?”

“Is she okay?” The words echoed from deep inside the well of my mind.

“I think her blood sugar is low.”

"I've got her dinner and a Diet Coke.”

It was as if I was watching the scene from across the room and yet, I knew I was at Cortland’s; I could hear Burt’s every word. I was here for dinner. I was meeting Jonathan.

“Bring her a real Coke!” 

It’s time to wake up. Mike’s gentle voice whispered in my ear and I couldn’t’t control my smile. I opened my eyes, expecting to see him by my side, but as I focused on the image in front of me, I realized it was Jonathan. My eyes adjusted to the shape of his face as his voice turned from static to words. 

“Indie, your pulse is racing.”

I wiped the spittle from my lips with the back of my trembling hand, my eyes darting about the room. Bewildered, I couldn’t’t assimilate the moments before into the reality now staring me in the face. Craning my neck, my eyes swept across the entire store before bringing my lazy and barely focused vision to the face of my best friend. 

“For fuck’s sake,” Jonathon whispered under his breath. “Doesn’t she remember what happened the last time she put herself under this kind of emotional stress?”

“You know I can hear you.” My reply was somber, but I managed it all the same.

“Ah, there’s my girl,” said Jonathan. “Glassy-eyed, but still a tad bitchy.” 

I rubbed my temples and turned my attention to Burt, the owner of Cortland’s. It was a place I knew well—a favorite spot for fried chicken on Wednesdays. Burt was a sweet man who always had a smile for me, and the concern painted across his face gave me pause. Still, I knew I’d regret my next words. “Where did he go?”

Jonathan looked to Burt as I did, searching for answers.

“Who we talkin' bout, Indie?”

“Mike. The man who was sitting with me,” I said, gesturing to the empty seat across the table. 

Burt’s jaw tightened and I read his apprehension with ease. “Last time I glanced your way, Indie, you were nose-deep in a magazine.”

“No,” I said. “That’s not what happened.”

“Here.” Jonathan popped the top on the soda can, shoving it in my face. “Drink.”

The sting of the frigid can on my fingers brought me closer to reality. “You spoke to him, Burt,” I said with confidence. 

The two men exchanged glances, their obvious pity was now pissing me off.

“No. No.” I slammed my hand onto the table with as much force as I could muster, causing other chicken-eating patrons to look my way. I didn’t’t care. “Burt, you brought me dinner. You asked Mike if you could get him anything.”

Burt placed his burly hand on my shoulder. “I’m worried about you, honey.”

Pushing myself away from the table, I staggered to my feet, the chair screeching across the linoleum floor just as it had for Mike moments before. My legs wobbled, and I lost my sense of balance, stumbling on the first step.

“Indie, sit down,” Jonathan demanded, guiding me back to the chair. 

“What time is it?” I asked.

“It’s five. You told me to meet you here. Remember? The plan was to talk all things Luce-Thornbury wedding.”

“You said you couldn’t’t make it.”

“I rearranged my plans. I called you, but your phone went to voicemail.”

 Burt pushed the basket of chicken closer to me. “Listen to your friend, Indie. Eat.” He scurried back to the kitchen, and I could tell by the look on his face I was freaking him out.

Jonathan sat across from me in the same chair Mike occupied moments before. 

“Tell me what’s going on,” he said, glowering with an emotion he rarely showed—concern. 

I grazed my fingers across my mouth before speaking. “I was reading a magazine. Burt brought me dinner and even spoke to Mike—who was sitting right in front of me—where you are now.”

Jonathan frowned. He didn’t believe me.

“I’m not making this up.”

Burt made his way back to us with Jonathan’s chicken, and I looked to him, desperate for validation.

“Sorry dinner took so long,” he said. “I kinda feel responsible.”

“Pshh,” Jonathan said, throwing a wrist. “She’s a big girl, and a nurse. She knows better than to go all day without eating.”

 “Would you please stop talking about me like I’m not here,” I said, my voice spiking with irritation.

I took a cleansing breath; my hands quivering as I ran my fingers through my hair.

“See?” Jonathan said. “Agitation, confusion, rapid heartbeat, shaky hands.”

“Jonathan.” I barked his name with as much energy as I could muster.

He cocked his head with confidence, pursing his lips. “I’m just saying.” 

“Please, Jonathan. Stop.”

“Drink your Coke, sweetie. Right now, I’m giving the orders.”

I sat back, tossing my hair over my shoulder as Jonathan placed a bendable straw into the can. He was treating me like a patient. All that was missing was the smell of disinfectant and a tray from the hospital cafeteria. Forcing the Coke into my hands, he barked. “Sip.”

 “I’ll leave you two,” said Burt.

“I’m fine. Really.” The soda burned the back of my dry throat, and I felt a hearty belch rise from deep within my empty stomach. I took a long breath, thinking perhaps it best to listen to Jonathan’s impending tongue-lashing while I was still in a fog. If I said something regrettable, I could blame my words on the situation at hand. “Let’s get on with it.”

“A lecture is the last thing you need. The anniversary of your brother’s suicide is just around the corner, your fiancé just buried his father—your patient—you’re renovating a house, planning a wedding, and moving. Did I leave anything out?”

Defeated, I shrugged him off. “Aunt Sally Isn’t doing well.”

“You’re not doing so hot yourself. Drink,” he ordered, pointing to the Coke while sliding the basket of chicken closer. “Indulge me.”

I picked up the chicken breast, peeling back the skin to reveal the juicy meat. Taking a bite, I heard the bell ring above the door and turned around looking for him. Disappointment immediately washed over me. “Just locals,” I muttered under my breath.

“You wanna tell me what that thing with Burt was about?”

“That thing?” 

Jonathan met my reply with a sneering expression and I took a beat before shaking my head.

“Indie.” He paused to bring his voice down. “Who is Mike?” 

“It’s hard to understand. Harder to explain.”

 “Try me.”

Jonathan knew me too well. My supervisor at The Path, a hospice program for the wealthy and well-insured, he was the one who ultimately talked me into taking the interview and eventual job at GlobalTech, caring for CEO Lewis Thornbury in his final days. 

Jonathan stood by me through my brother Jacob’s drug abuse and overdose, not to mention all my financial woes. Unfortunately for me, he could read me like a book. If I told him about Mike—the real truth—there would be no going back. 

“Fine,” I said in a whisper. “But you cannot, and I repeat, cannot judge me. Nor can you speak of what I’m about to say ever again. If you do, or if you tell anyone, I swear on my life I will completely deny it. All of it.”


“I’m serious, Jonathan,” I said with new-found strength. “Do you understand me?”

I watched his Adam’s apple rise and fall as he swallowed hard. His usual joking manner giving way to the serious man who only made appearances when absolutely needed. “I understand,” he said. “But take another bite. I want you to eat.”

I gave him a surly glare, pulling at the chicken breast with my fingers before stuffing it in my mouth. “Are you sure you want to know this?”


I took a breath and gathered my courage. “Back when I took the job with GlobalTech—with Lewis.” I hesitated knowing there was no coming back from this.

“Go on.”

“I met a man. He was in the park one day—under my favorite tree.”

“The oak where you go to write?”

The tension in my shoulders faded as I released a deep breath. “Exactly.”


“His name was Mike, and he had a pit bull named Frank. Anyway, our paths kept crossing over and over. I felt…I don’t know…drawn to him. He was full of this beautiful light, and I felt, you know…”

“No, I’m afraid not.”

“You know when someone hugs you, and you can sense their true, unconditional love? You can feel how much they care for you? It’s pure. No assumptions. No judgment. That’s how I feel…felt, when I was with him.”

“Go on.”

“It made me wonder if I really understand what it means to be loved—you know—without any strings attached, without expectations.”

“When did you ever find the time to go out with this guy while taking care of Mr. Thornbury, traveling, and dating David?” 

“He would show up. You know, like he did tonight,” I said, my voice trailing off. “Almost as if out of thin air.” 

“What does he want?” I knew from the look in Jonathan’s eyes he was trying to understand.

“I don’t know. But whenever I see him, no one else does or can. It’s like…” I paused trying to put into words a sentence that sounded the slightest bit sane. “It’s like he’s visible only to me.”

“Like an imaginary friend?”

“I’m not a child, Jonathan,” I said, narrowing my agitated glare. “I should’ve known you wouldn’t understand.”

He ignored my comment, inching the basket of chicken closer. “Have you discussed this with your shrink? Have you told David?”

“No.” In reality, I’d danced around the subject of Mike with Dr. Nabi, but when Mike stopped showing himself to me, I chalked it up to stress. “When I started taking my anxiety medication again, it all kinda went away.”

“When was the last time you took it?”

“I can’t remember.”

Jonathan leaned back in his chair crossing his arms. “So, here’s my professional opinion as a licensed healthcare practitioner—if you want it.”

I nodded with reluctance. Jonathan could be brutal in his assessments, never sugar-coating. 

“You’re under a tremendous amount of stress. You’re not eating. Your blood sugar is crashing, and we both know that does nothing to help your anxiety.”

I wasn’t convinced he was correct, but I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. “I’m sure you’re right.”

Jonathan stared at me. 


“Shall we talk wedding plans?” 

I tucked my lips into my mouth and shook my head.

“What do you want to talk about?”

“Just sit with me?”

“What kind of Man of Honor would I be if I didn’t hold the nervous hand of the bride?”

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