"Seven Equals One" by Carol Hughes CLICK HERE TO EMAIL

Loneliness is all I can remember ever since, well ever since I can remember. My social worker once told me that I was found on the town hall steps as a baby, I didn't even have a name. I can still feel those words, they cut through me like a knife. My mother didn't even care enough to give me a name. As a child I was always being moved from foster home to foster home, never making a connection with anyone, never feeling wanted.

This is my story and the story of the first friends I ever had, the friends that helped me and believed in me when I had no-one else, the first people that ever cared.....

The St Peter's church in San Francisco was a small quaint building, which when compared to the busy city with it's modern companions surrounding it made it look almost comical. It was a small church built in the early 1800's that miraculously survived the wrath of San Francisco where larger buildings had fallen. The church's priest Father Craig O'Mally had come from Ireland in the early twenties. It was there where he had known Phillip's family and had kept in touch with them ever since. It was only a matter of course, that Phillip had sought his old friend out when he too had come to America, and consequently had become firm friends and trusted colleagues. Father O'Mally's choice of temporary replacement was hence no surprise to anyone, when he had to spend some time in hospital, and Phillip gladly put his studies on hold to help his friend.

Phillip was finding the role of parish priest difficult coming to terms with after his retreat and his time with the Legacy. The congregation here were used to having a traditional priest with traditional sermons, and traditional was not a word that came instantly to mind when describing Phillip. It is a Saturday afternoon, and as it is a very warm summer's day the huge oak doors at the front of the church are tied open. Phillip still had to write the sermon for the following day's mass. He sat at the head of the church looking back to where he was imagining the congregation to be sat tomorrow, listening to his service, looking to him for guidance and confirmation that their faith was not in vain. He shuddered at the thought, taking mass has always been one part of his job that he did not enjoy, he had always preferred to deal with small groups of people who were interested in what he was saying, rather than a full church coming to see him for the simple reason that it is a Sunday and on Sunday that's what they do.

Through the large open doors a figure appeared, Phillip looked up at the silhouette, which looked lost compared to the immense size of the doorway. As the figure slowly walked down the centre aisle of the church towards where Phillip was sat. Phillip could see that the figure was a girl in her late teens, a tall slim girl with long dark brown hair and large almost black eyes, her skin in stark contrast to her hair was very fair. "Where's Father O'Mally"?, she asked walking up to Phillip. Phillip explained that he was hospital. He was shocked to see huge tears swell up in her eyes. "But it is important, I have to see him I need his help", the girl cried pleadingly, "He's the only one who can help me", a tone of despair broke it's way through her voice which clawed it's ways through Phillip's feelings. He stood up and grasped the girl gently by her arm. "I'm here, I'll do what I can to help". The girl looked up into Phillip's concerned face and nodded slightly, "I'll have to talk to someone, but you won't believe me", Phillip smiled to himself "You'll be amazed at what an old priest like me will believe".

"Well first things first, my name is Father Callaghan, Phillip to my friends", " Liza, Liza Bradley", came the reply. The two walked into the small reading room at the side of the church, where they both sat down. "Liza, what's the problem and what can I do to help?", Liza looked at Phillip for a moment and began.

"I have these dreams, they started about a year ago, at first they were very vague, and I thought nothing of them, everyone has dreams don't they? Then a couple of months ago, the dreams became more vivid, they became very real, but they're not mine, they belong to other people. I dream other people's dreams. The problem is, now I dream when I'm awake, I can't get away from them. Everywhere I go, whatever I do, all I can see is mixed up pieces of other people's lives. The pieces are all muddles up like some gigantic collage of life with no beginning and no end. It's like I've disappeared, and am part of a group and with no person of my own".

Liza stopped and looked at Phillip, "You think I'm mad don't you?", she asked nervously. Phillip stared into her crystal clear eyes, "No, I don't think you're mad, but I think you need help, and I know just the people who may help you".

That night I went home to my tiny apartment, with hope in my heart for the first time in a very long while. Phillip is the first person I have ever told about my dreams, and it felt so wonderful to have just shared my problem with someone.

It had been a long time since Phillip had last been to the Legacy House, and even though he had left on goods terms, at least with Derek, he still couldn't get rid of the feeling of being the prodigal son returning home with his tail between his legs, as soon as he had hit a problem. As he drove up the driveway and opened the main door to the house, he felt ill with anticipation at the welcome he was going to get. Derek had seemed glad to hear him on the phone last evening, but what about the others.....

As he walked into the large hall of the legacy house, Alex was the first to greet him, her eyes smiling warmly at him, and her arms outstretched around him. On hearing the noise the others came to meet Phillip. Phillip stood motionless looking at his old friends, only Nick wasn't smiling. Eventually Rachel broke the ice that was frosting over the reunion, "What's the story with the girl you mentioned last night?". She asked linking arms with Phillip guiding him into the lounge where along with the others they sat and heard his story.

"To make any sort of diagnosis on what could be happening here, I really need to meet Liza", Rachel said afterwards, "When are you seeing her next Phillip?". "At the church, later this afternoon after mass", came the reply.

The small cafe opposite the church was the type of place old people go to when they have nothing better to do and no-one to talk to, basic and cheap. Over lunch, Phillip and Rachel discussed the girl's story, "So what have you been doing since we last saw each other?", Rachel asked changing the subject blatantly. "Oh this and that,... well actually not much, studying with the Jesuit Order wasn't exactly how I thought it was going to be.. I was almost happy when Craig asked me to cover for him at the church".

Later as they waited at the church for Liza, Phillip asked Rachel whether she thought there could be any foundation for her story. "She seemed,.....well so sane!, but genuinely troubled", Phillip explained. Rachel sat silently for a moment "A year ago I would have said without hesitation that she was disturbed, but now after my experiences with the Legacy, I just don't know,.. the Legacy has certainly widened my outlook on life and it's possibilities". The two sat in silence thinking about the truth of her statement, when a familiar figure appeared through the church doors. "Hello", Liza said smiling at Phillip, letting her gaze drift over to Rachel. "Hello Liza, my name's Rachel, I'm a friend of Phillip's. Phillip has told me a little about your dreams, and I might be able to help, is that OK?". Liza frowned "OK, but how can you help?, I can always feel them now, it's more than just having a waking dream, I can feel what they're feeling, taste what they're tasting". "Liza can you try and isolate one thought, try and pick out a single person's feeling", Rachel asked the girl in a reassuring voice. "Concentrate on the strongest emotion, the most reoccurring thought". Liza groaned in frustration "I can't, it's not like that it's all muddled, the voices just won't go away, they're always here inside my head, they're driving me crazy, ...on TV mad people always hear voices inside their head don't they?" Rachel's heart went out to the girl in sympathy as she thought of the pain Liza was going through, "I don't think the voices are quite the same", she replied trying to sound positive, "Liza, do you know what hypnosis is?".

"Yes, a little", Liza replied curiously, "It's when you're kinda asleep and people can make you do all kinds of weird stuff, like pretend to be chickens". A smile verged on Rachel's lips "Sort of, Hypnosis is a state where a doctor can talk directly to your subconscious and try to open the curtains of your mind that your conscious mind closes to protect you, such as blurring your mind with voices, Liza I would like to try to hypnotise you, to help make some sense of all this, would that be alright, you don't have to if you don't want". "If it'll make these voices go away, I'll try anything", Liza replied. "OK then, but not here I know a better place", Rachel looked at Phillip who simply nodded and picked up their coats and walked towards the door. He stopped and turned around to Liza " Don't worry, I'll be with you all the time, I promise I won't leave you".

Back at the Legacy House, Liza and the Legacy members all sat in the house's large library, she looked round in awe at the walls stacked from floor to ceiling in books and old scripts. Rachel assured her that everything was going to be alright. Rachel moved her chair so that it was in front of Liza's and she was facing her. "Close your eyes and relax, just concentrate on your breathing, ignore everything else, inhale, exhale, inhale exhale.....", she continued slowing her voice down with each repetition. After a little while Rachel asked Liza where she was, Liza opened her eyes wide and stared directly at Derek, her eyes were so dark the whites could not be seen, no reflection just matt black. "We are everywhere, we are always, we hold the key to all there is, we are the seven, everything is seven", Liza's eyes then closes and she fell back into her original position. Rachel sat thinking "Liza, I want to talk to Liza, I want to help you Liza, where are you now?". This time she spoke in her own voice her eyes remained shut, "I'm floating, it's wonderful, I can see everything, anything I want to" "Liza, who spoke before, do you know?", "They are my friends, we're all the same, we are one. "Liza listen to my voice, what can you tell me about the others, who are they, who are the seven?". Liza's eyes again opened black, and the voice again came back "No!, she's not ready yet, leave us alone, no more, no more". The Legacy members sat in silence as Liza's limp body slept peacefully. Nick ended the silence, "Well what now?". It was decided to take Liza home, and for the Legacy members to try to find out more about the seven.

I remember at the time I was just so glad that someone was there trying to help me, I didn't care if they found out about the seven or not, I was so relived that I wasn't going mad and this wasn't in my imagination. It's strange really because I would have guessed that I should have been terrified about having six people knowing everything about me all the time, but I wasn't. The other six infact didn't scare me at all, now that I knew they were real. I felt no hate for them anymore, and was beginning to accept them

The next morning at the Legacy house, Rachel and Alex were researching references to the seven, at the same time as discussing Phillip. "So is he staying then this time"?, Alex asked, "I don't know, why don't you ask him", came the reply.. "I suppose really it depends, depends on whether he feels this is his home or not". The two then fell into silence.

Derek and Nick walked into the room and asked how they were getting along, "There are many references to seven, the seven heavens, the seven angels guarding them, the seven planets, throughout all the scriptures of many religions, seven is one of the constant figures, even down to there being seven days in the week, need we go on"?

Nick asked the group " I think the question we should be trying to answer is not who is the seven, but do we need to interfere, shouldn't we just let things take their natural course and perhaps Liza will eventually be able to tell us, after all they haven't hurt her, in fact it seems they are trying to protect her". Derek considered this for a moment, "Perhaps Nick is right, instead of seeing Liza as having a problem that's she needs our help in solving, we should just be here to help her and not to help her with the problem. It may be inevitable that she will grow to become part of the seven whoever they are, and at the moment there is no evidence to suggest that the seven are in any way evil, in fact most references to the number seven are good, the number seven has been long thought to be perfect, and it would be best if we didn't interfere". "Who exactly do we think we are to make these decisions for people", Phillip interrupted, "Liza came to me for help when she thought she was going insane, we have already helped her with that problem, it should be up to Liza to decide if she wants our help any more".

Later the next day Derek accompanied Phillip to the church to meet Liza. They asked her if she still need their help. She answered, "I can't thank you enough, for the kindness you have showed me, you were there, when I had no-one to turn to. It was hard to concentrate on the voices when I thought they were in my imagination, but it's a lot easier now, I've been thinking about the voices, and I think that's where I am supposed to be. All my life I have been alone with no family or friends, but now I'm never going to be alone again". Derek stood up and gently took Liza's hand, " If you ever need us, or just want to talk to someone, you know where we are and you're always welcome". Liza smiled a smile, the first in a long time, "thank you", she said as they both walked from the church.

It's two years now since the Legacy helped me, we have kept in contact since, especially Phillip, he will always have a very special place in my heart. I understand the voices now, and have got to know them all again. I am slowly remembering all our past lives and the memories we all share. I still don't know the reason for us being here, but there is a reason, and when the time comes we'll know what to do. There isn't a Liza Bradley anymore, just us, the seven of us equals one. I have been trying to explain this to Phillip, but it is very hard to explain feeling so strong they can't be put into words, I just hope that one day the Legacy come to understand how much they helped me and how important it was to us.

From the moment before time began

Until a second after it has ended

The seven are born and die again

They watch and wait until they are needed

This is the life they're born to have

To die and then again be reborn

To live all their lives in faith and love

To help all others is the oath that is sworn

This is our destiny, it's what we do

I thank you dear friends for your humanity

I hope that one day I can repay to you

The kindness you have showed to me

The End.