Jessie’s Song by Eleni Papanou @elenipapanou


Stella was in the middle of an early evening lecture. She stopped as I made my way to the back of the room. A few of the girls smiled as I walked past. I sat next to a guy who was in the middle of sketching a picture of a naked woman with snakes for breasts. He covered the sheet with his hand when I gave him the thumbs up.

Stella stepped away from the podium, and I waved at her. She glared at me and continued with her lecture.

“Some have envisioned our subconscious minds as plugged into a universal computer where the blueprints of our physical and mental data are stored. Our experiences are also kept on file in the computer, and they feed back into the appropriate species. You can think of us all as individual monitors that display a specific image that’s unique to us both as a species and as individuals. What I find intriguing about this theory is it explains evolution from both a biological and sociological perspective. If all this is true, our minds aren’t required to be in our bodies.”

Some of the students laughed. I guess I heard my own voice in there as well. Stella had some wild theories about the afterlife. If you disagreed with her, you’d first have to present a cogent counterargument and then name your sources behind your claim. She would consider your position only if they were proven to be authentic.

Stella walked back to her podium and rifled through some papers. “Before you dismiss this possibility, ask yourself what would have to happen to shift humankind from a warring species to one that works interdependently?” She paused to survey everyone in the room. “What keeps us collectively repeating the same self-destructive patterns, even when they don’t work to our advantage? What do we, as individuals, feed into the computer that prevents us from evolving intelligently and compassionately? Ponder these questions over the weekend, and we’ll continue this discussion on Monday.”

After the class let out, one of the adjuncts, Phil, stayed behind. He raced to get to Stella before me. “Are we on tonight?” he asked.

“Are we ever.” Stella looked around the room, put her arms around Phil and kissed him.

I strolled over to them, whistling, “The Lady Is a Tramp.” Stella placed her arms on her hips as though expecting me to say something to annoy her. She wasn’t too far off.

“We need to talk,” I said.


I looked at Phil and back at Stella.

“I’ll meet you back at the brownstone,” she said to Phil, who nodded and walked away.

“Things look serious between you two. Is there a wedding in the near future?”

“What do you want, Markos? I don’t have time to socialize right now.”

“I wanted to apologize about my no-show the other day.”

“It’s not me you should be apologizing to.”

“I’ll make it up to Jessie this weekend.” I rubbed my head. My meds didn’t seem to be working.

“What’s wrong?”

“I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I was worried about Jessie.”


“If I tell you, I know you’re gonna take it the wrong way.”

“I don’t have all night. Either speak, or I’m leaving.”

“I had a dream and—”

“Call the doctor I recommended. He’ll do more than medicate you.”

“It’s not like that. Jessie was in it, and I had a feeling something bad happened to her. I wanted to make sure I was wrong.”

“Get help before you can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what isn’t.”

“Could’ve used your diagnosis sooner. I thought we were real.”

Stella walked over to the blackboard and erased a cool diagram of brains that were linked together by lightning bolts. They branched out to a giant cloud that surrounded them. I remembered the drawing because Leda, who was an accomplished artist, came up with a similar concept for one of her paintings.

“Either you get help now, or I’ll call my lawyer,” Stella said.

“There’s nothing wrong with me.”

She returned to the podium and put some stray papers into a folder. “Can you be certain?”

“The look on Jessie’s face when she came to visit me in the hospital still haunts me. I won’t ever hurt her again.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Stella placed the folders into her briefcase. “Will we see you this Saturday?”

“I’ll be there.”

Stella picked up her briefcase. “Don’t disappoint her. She really misses you.”

As I watched Stella walk off, I recalled the poem I wrote about our first encounter. She wore a white orchid in her hair like Billie Holiday. Meeting her made me want to be part of a duo. I considered that only once before…with Ezza. Right now, my focus was on Stella. It was hard to think about anyone else. I hated her, and I loved her.


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Genre – Paranormal Mystery

Rating – PG13

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