Happy Friday, and do I have a treat for you guys–CLAY MORGAN, author of Undead–Revived, Resuscitated, Reborn. Some of you might think me inviting Clay to guest post is merely a shameless ploy to garner more zombie Klout…
Kidding! Though I do dig zombie Klout.
I met Clay on Twitter ages ago and have been blessed to watch him grow from hopeful noob to professional author. In true WANA style, Clay is here paying it forward which is awesome because it frees up time for me to keep reading his new book (which ROCKS, btw). Give him a warm WANA welcome!
I’ve been reading about how to get published for years, even before I wrote a bad novel that will likely never see the light of day. Like most of you, I’ve spent years trying to hop on that bucking beast known as publishing success. Studies have included:
The sky was black, with thick, fast-moving clouds. I looked up and felt the first few large drops of rain hit my face. They were cold, ice-cold. This storm was brewing up to be a wicked one. I smiled, I loved storms, especially wild ones that had lots of wind. The more thunder, lightening and wind the better I liked it. Loved it in fact! They have never scared me, I get excited and full of energy. I feel like I can do anything!
I hear the first far away rumblings of the thunder. See far off flickering of lightning. The rain gets heavier, the skies darker. The huge clouds starting to swirl and twist. I see the first tell-tale signs of a tornado forming. In the back of my mind was the warning of friends and family. They were telling me if I wasn’t careful I would be swept up in one of my storms. I hear the warnings, but I take no heed of them. I feel the rush of emotion, the excitement. I almost feel like I am a part of the wind, that if I could just rise up and join the wind I would be were I belong.
I’m not sure where I am right now, and don’t really care. My only instinct is to run towards the wind. I see the tornado form and get closer to the earth. It can’t be too far off. I hear the wailing’s of the wind, like a steam engine. The rain is beating hard on my head, but I hardly feel it. My heart is pounding in my chest, my breath labored after my run. I see the tornado move closer to where I wait. It zig zags, but heads right at me. I laugh with the sheer joy of it all!
I stand still, my body swaying in the wind. My breath caught in the beauty of what I am witnessing. The huge black funnel cloud is just yards away. I lift my arms up, like a child to its mother. My smile one of joy and acceptance. I feel the wind lift me up. I can hardly believe how light I feel. Higher and higher I go into the wind. I don’t feel any pain, just the love of the wind. Feelings of home. The tornado embraces me, wrapping around me like a mothers arms. I am where I knew I should be. I am home, again.
I needed to go someplace completely different. Online I found this beautiful cabin deep in the woods of Alaska. It was summer time there, so not too cold. The place looked perfect! Alaska! Still wild even in these modern times. I wanted a place of solitude. Someplace that I could sit and write all day without interruptions. I was writing the next great novel, well I hoped I was. I had given myself a year to write it, and that year was half over with. I needed to get away and just write!
From the pictures the place was wild and beautiful. And it had internet connections, so I could keep in touch with my editor and let her know the progress of the book. It wasn’t too far away from a small town with a grocer. So provisions were accounted for. It sounded perfect. I called the owner to set the date and paid by credit card for the first month. Since I planned on staying for at least three months he gave me a discount. I was set! I packed my suitcase, grabbed my laptop and cell phone and hailed a taxi to the airport. Off I went!
The flight was uneventful and as the plane got closer to Anchorage International Airport the view from my window was breathtaking. We landed and I grabbed my suitcase and started to look for the man who would drive me to the cabin. I had no idea what the man looked like so was hoping he had a sign or something. I noticed this tall, good-looking man dressed in jeans, boots and leather jacket. He pretty much stood out from the crowd. He actually looked like he should be in Texas, not Alaska. Then I spotted an old man in a plaid shirt, figured he must be my ride. I started walking over to him when the good-looking guy in jeans intercepts me.
“You the writer?” he asks.
“Um, yeah that would be me,” I mumbled, stepping back.
I looked way up to meet his gaze. He had to have been at least 6 foot 4 or 5. Of course compared to my 5 foot 2 frame everyone is pretty much taller than me. He grabbed my suitcase and started walking off. Hurrying I run after my suitcase. He might have looked like he stepped out of a GQ magazine but his manners left something to be desired. Out of breath I finally catch up as he dumps my suitcase in a jeep. Huffing a bit I take a quick look around and first thing I noticed is how cool it was. The weather I mean. Not cold but definitely cool. So this is Alaska in the summer? Good thing I won’t be here in the winter!
“You done sightseeing?” a rough voice asks me. I glance over to where Mr GQ is holding the passenger door open. I”m just about to open my mouth and give him a few choice words when he interrupts with, “We need to get going before it gets too late”.
I close my mouth and slide into the passenger seat. He closes the door a bit forcefully and walks around the front of the jeep. Geesh, I wonder what his problem is. Is he just surly hired help? I knew he wasn’t the voice on the phone who I talked to. That voice was older and a whole lot nicer. Without another word he puts the jeep in gear and drives north out of town. “Doesn’t it stay daylight here for most of the day in summer?” I ask.
“It does. But some people have actual work to do yet.” he almost sneers.
“So are you always this nasty? Or is it just with me?” I ask of him. “It’s not like I asked you to pick me up at the airport. I thought Mr. Douglas was going to.”
I saw him glance at me with what looked like surprise. Not that I was looking at him! But from the corner of my eye I saw him glance over. I was tired of the attitude, hell I was just tired, and I didn’t need bad mood hired help curling his lip at me. I had a good mind to talk to Mr. Douglas about it. But I guess when you are out in the middle of wilderness you can’t always get the best help. Still he should know how this man acts around paying customers. Hopefully it will be the last I see of Mr GQ once he takes me to the cabin.
“Dad had something come up so he asked me to do it.”
Dad?! He is nice Mr. Douglas’ son?? Still didn’t excuse him from being so testy. In fact it was worse, in my estimation. Sighing, I just let it go. My mind was more on the terrific scenery we had been passing for the last hour. It was simply breathtaking. Every once in a while I would glimpse a cabin or house in a clearing. Otherwise it was just majestic trees for as far as I could see. I turned my body as far as my seat belt would let me when I thought I glimpsed a herd of caribou. I had heard it said that Caribou outnumbered people in Alaska. We were traveling too fast to get a good look at the herd. But it was still breathtaking. Forgetting for the instance Mr GQ’s testiness I told him how beautiful I thought everything looked.
“Yeah, just wait,” he sneered. “When you can’t sleep for days because it’s always light. When the solitude makes you crazy. When the wild animals look into the windows and scare you half to death. We’ll see how beautiful you think it is.”
“Are you always this pleasant to people? If you don’t like it here you can always move ya know.” I stated.
“You don’t know anything Ms. Reynolds. So kindly keep your opinions to yourself.” He grated. The jeep shot forward even faster. Guess he couldn’t wait to get rid of his passenger. God knows I couldn’t wait to get rid of him! So, I just sat there watching the trees fly by. I wasn’t going to give him the chance to rip my head off again. Once he dropped me off at my cabin he could go his testy way! Mr. Douglas, the old Mr Douglas had promised me use of a jeep during my stay. Even though it was summer the roads could get a bit rough he said. I would need it to get to the small town and stock up on groceries. Or if I wanted to do any sightseeing. Part of renting the cabin he said.
I kept quiet for the next half hour. We took a turn off the main road and onto a dirt path that led into a strand of pines. It was pretty rough going and Mr GQ made sure to hit every hole in the road, I swear! My butt was sore, along with my temper by the time we pulled in front of the cabin. I could definitely understand why I would need that jeep. Bless old Mr Douglas for his kindness. The cabin was quite a distance from the main road. Neither one of us spoke as he pulled my suitcase out of the back and unlocked the cabin door. I hurried inside after him and stood looking around. It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. It had a full kitchen and it looked like the bedroom was upstairs. I could see a loft. I decided I was getting a good deal. It would be perfect!
I set my laptop and purse on the kitchen table and wonder what happened to the grouch. He disappeared out the back door after lugging my suitcase upstairs. I shake my head, wondering how a good-looking guy like him had a personality of a prickly pear cactus. I look out the living room window and find myself looking at pure wilderness, rugged and beautiful. I hear a crash behind me and turn around just to get an eyeful of a well-defined butt as young Mr Douglas was bending over to pick up a log that had fallen off the pile he just brought it. I feel my cheeks warm with a blush just as he stands up and faces me. Damn, being a redhead sometimes sucks. Good thing the light was behind me. Hopefully he didn’t seem to notice my rosy face.
“You’ll need these logs come evening. It still gets pretty chilly at night. You’ll want the fireplace going.” he states. “I’m going to take the jeep back home. In the morning Dad and I will drop off the jeep you’ll be using for your short stay.”
I noticed the slight emphasis on ‘short’, but choose to ignore it. I was tired and just wanted some time alone to settle in my new home for the next several months. Because despite his sureness that my stay will be short. I was here for the long haul. Not only could I feel the great vibe of the house and surroundings. I just knew that this day was the start of a whole new adventure in my life. As he left the cabin key on the table on his way out the front door, he cautioned me not to stray to far from the cabin tonight. He stated it was easy for a tenderfoot to get lost. I assured him I wouldn’t leave the cabin till I was more settled. He closed the door with a solid thud, and I heard the jeep’s tires as he left me alone at last.
Sighing I turned around and viewed my new home. Smiling, I brushed the rudeness of a man I hardly knew out of my mind and felt the long-lost stirrings of enthusiasm begin anew. This cabin in the woods was just what I needed!
It was just yesterday when I told someone, when I die I wanted to come back and haunt some people. Hell, I never imagined it would actually happen! I wasn’t planning on dying the very next day. But, here I am. Or what’s left of me. I’m kind of floating around right now. I need to get the hang of this being dead thing. Really fast.
How do I know I’m dead? Well, for one thing I’m floating above my body. I see me down there. Pretty much dead as I can tell. Not a pretty sight either. Geesh, the least I could have done was die with my clothes on! There I am, lying in the damn bathtub, naked as the day I was born. Poetic huh? Come into this world naked, go out naked. Anyway, from what I remember I was taking a shower, getting ready for work. I dropped the soap and accidentally stepped on it and, whoosh! I slipped, fell, and hit my head and that was that. Not the best way to die, but effective.
I was only joking yesterday! I’m too young to die. Guess I don’t have a say so in it though. I haven’t spotted a bright light yet. You know, you read about it all the time. How when you die you’re supposed to see a bright light and walk into it. Nope, no bright light. Huh. Now what? How long am I suppose to wait? Wonder how I can move around, or IF I can. Maybe if I concentrate on where I want to go? Better start out small though. I’ll concentrate on my bedroom, see if I can move into it. It’s only the next room, can’t be too hard right? Okay, here goes nothing.
All right!! I did it! That wasn’t too hard. Now I’m floating in the middle of the bedroom. Oh man! I just bought those rockin’ high heeled boots last week! I was going to wear them to work today! Those boots cost me a bundle too! Seems such a shame too, not be able to wear them. This just sucks! And am I suppose to float around naked? Not so sure that’s a good idea. Not that I’m cold or nothing. Guess spirits don’t get cold. Still, I would much rather be dressed in something. Even if it’s a sheet! I mean, what if I meet up with another spirit?? I don’t want that first meeting to be with me naked. Wonder if I can conjure some clothes? Worth a try. I’ll squeeze my eyes shut and picture me with some really cool retro clothes. I love that stuff. Okay, okay, I got a good idea what I want. Now let’s see if this will work.
Hmmm, not too bad. I mean it’s all white or gauzy looking. But it’s a dress with my cool looking boots. I’m getting really good at this stuff! I feel much better now that I’m not naked. Where should I go next? Should I just stay here and wait? Not sure what I’m waiting on anyway. Well, let me think a minute. This spirit business is hard work. Especially when I’m not sure what I can do and what I can’t. But since no one is around giving me rules and stuff I’ll just see what I can do on my own. How about work next? That’s where I would be going if I was alive. Let me concentrate here.
Whoa! That was a trip! Here I am though. At work. Hey, there’s Ann! Hi Ann!! Guess she can’t hear me. Ann’s my best friend. We’ve been besties for years. We even got a job together! Can’t get any better than that! Ann looks worried. She’s probably been trying to get hold of me all morning. Wow, is she gonna be psyched when she finds out I’m dead. She’s going to be so sad, then pissed off! We do, or I should say did everything together since the 7th grade. She is going to be so pissed off when she finds out I up and died and left her behind! Ha! She’d be even more pissed if she knew about this spirit thing and wasn’t along for the fun! Poor Ann. Wish there was some way I could let her know I was here. I’ll have to figure something out.
Next stop, my childhood home. Mom and dad should be home. Let me concentrate here. Jiminy Crickets that trip made me dizzy! Who would have guessed spirits got dizzy? Maybe it’s just me. There’s dad! ” Hey dad!!!” Damn, he can’t hear me either. Just as well, he’d probably have a heart attack. Then he’d become a spirit and lecture me. I love my dad, but right now I got enough problems. Wonder where mom is? Out shopping again I bet. I feel bad about them finding out I’m dead. They were always good parents. Yeah, they like to lecture me about stuff. But hey, at least they cared. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to let them know I’m okay. And they should not be sad for too long.
Where to next?? I know! My ex boyfriend! The scum. He cheated on me and that’s why I dumped him last month. He didn’t even try to hide it! Such a jerk! If anyone needs a good haunting it’s him! Concentrate, concentrate. Whew! I think I’m really getting the hang of things. This trip at least didn’t make me dizzy. Okay, where is the dirt bag?? Ah there he is! Sitting in front of the TV as usual. I remember hearing he lost his job. Another job. He was always getting fired! Too lazy to get outta bed in the morning. He has himself a big bag of popcorn. Nice lunch. Probably all he can afford. Wonder what I can do???
All right. I just have to concentrate a bit, picture in my mind what I want to do. And bam! Hahaha! One bag of popcorn all over his head! Oh my!! The look on his face is priceless!!! He’s running around looking for the person who did it. “Hey jerk! I did it! Up here!”
“That’s what you get for cheatin on me!” Oh wow, that was fun! Guess I’ll go back to my place and see if anyone found my body yet. I’m sure Ann has stopped by looking for me. I sure hope she’ll be all right. I just have to find a way to contact her! I’ll think on it. In the mean time I’ll head back and see what’s going on. Concentrate, concentrate!
My name is Sam and I’m addicted to boxes. I like big boxes, small boxes, tall boxes, short boxes, and especially boxes I can sleep in. Just ask my human, Jackie, the writer of this blog. She’ll tell you how much I love boxes. My human asked me to take over this blog for today, because she’s real busy. Looks like she’s doing laundry right now, how boring right? Maybe she’ll wash my pillow, it sure needs it. I’ll remind her later, right now I have this blog to write.
Now according to my human I’m suppose to write a story. She’s into this story a day thing this month and doesn’t want to miss a day. Also she said she doesn’t want to let her readers down. So, since she’s pretty busy she figured I could take over today and she won’t have to miss any time. Personally, I think she knows I’m full of stories and I would make a great blogger! Anyway, I love boxes right? Yeah, you probably got that huh? Well I live with two cats. Man, are they a pain in the tail! They are a brother/sister team and boy do I have trouble with those two! They are always buttin’ in my business. Talk about nosy! Just because they are bigger then me they think they can just take over what ever I’m doing. They like boxes too, but not as much as me!
Now, I’m a pretty good looking dog. Everyone says so! Okay, they tell me I”m cute, when I would rather be handsome, but hey, humans are strange ya know? Sorry, sometimes my mind wonders. Back to the story.
My human got something in the mail a few months ago. It came in this huge sturdy box! Wow, was I excited! I couldn’t wait for her to get that stuff outta the box so I could take over! I mean this was the box of my dreams! It was really tall and wide, I could turn around several times in that box! I was in love! So I’m jumping up and down and barking, trying to hurry her along so I could take over that beautiful box. Finally! She was done taking the things out of it. She laid it down so I could get inside and it was great! I mean that box was huge! I checked that box out inside and out. I checked all the corners, then jumped on top and made sure it was as sturdy as it looked. Yup, it sure was!
I was just getting ready to move some of my favorite toys in, when I see those darn cats coming around the corner. They were headed straight for my box! Oh no they don’t!! They ain’t gettin my box! So I scramble inside that box ready to defend it against those two devils. Now, those cats are bigger then me. They outweigh me by a good 10-15 pounds. And Pouncer, the female, oooowie! She is a mean one! They got these wicked sharp claws too! But, I’m not afraid of no stinkin’ cats! That box was mine and that was that!
I take a stance in my box ready to defend it when I see one cat missing. Where the heck did he go?? Just when I’m thinking that, Wham! Something hits the top of my box like a cannon! I thought for sure the ceiling of my box was gonna come down and crush me! But, nope, my wonderful box held up to the onslaught of Notwen jumping on it. Whew! I knew that was one great box! Now I had to get that sneaky cat off the top of my box!
So I run outta my box and start nosing Notwen off the top of it. Notwen is the bigger of the two, but he is such a softy that I know if I keep pushing at him he’ll leave. And darn if I wasn’t right! Notwen hates to fight, so off he goes back to his bedroom and a good nap. Yes! One down, one to go! I know I have to be a bit smarter with Pouncer, because she don’t put up with being pushed around. Especially by no dog! So I gotta out think her! Should be easy I figured, I mean she’s a CAT. The day I can’t outwit a cat is the day I hang up my dog license!
Well gosh darn fur balls! (Excuse my language) Pouncer’s all ready inside my box! She must have snuck in while I was chasing off her brother! And she’s hunkered down in there too! Now, I know there is no way I can push her out, because she just don’t push! She’ll swipe me with one of those giant paws with those razor-sharp nails and I’ll be hurtin! So I have to be smart about things and call in reinforcements. I know when I need help and am not too proud to ask for it! Time to get my human! She knows that box is mine, she’ll help me! So I go runnin to her and sit up in front of her, that always gets her attention! She looks at me and asks me what I want. I look towards MY box and bark! I’m telling her to get rid of that darn cat and let me have my box back!
Well she gets up and chases Pouncer out of my box! She scolds that old cat, telling her she knows she’s just being contrary because I have something she don’t! I quickly get in my wonderful box. Whew! That was tiring! I think I need to take a page out of Notwen’s book and take a nap. But there is no way I’m leaving my box! It’s perfect for nap taking. So I just laid down and went to sleep. Had some good dog dreams too!
Thanks everyone for reading my story! I got lots of them. My human will be back tomorrow, hope you all have a wonderful day! I might have to tell my human I want to write another story………..
Mardi Gras was in full swing. The streets were crowded with people of all ages. There was lots of laughter and good times. My friend and I stayed away from the French Quarter on Bourbon Street after the parade. We knew from experience that was where the rowdiest bunch were. We weren’t the “bare the breasts” kind, so stayed away from the college set that liked the Quarter part of town. Despite most peoples belief that “baring the breasts” of women was a tradition. It wasn’t. It started when college age female students thought it was a good way to receive more beads. It worked, but it isn’t a tradition of Mardi Gras.
We walked with the crowd, enjoying all the bright costumes and high spirits that is the essence of Mardi Gras. My friend Amy was born and raised here. We met during college and soon became fast friends. I moved here after we graduated, having no family and no ties to anywhere. I grew up in foster homes and worked my way through college waiting tables at the small cafe’s around campus. Amy came from an old New Orleans family, and money. Though you wouldn’t know it. She was a bright and personable woman with short blond hair and an infectious laugh. Her southern drawl was in complete contrast to my more mid western twang. We got along great from the beginning. I couldn’t think of a better friend than Amy.
During our last semester of school Amy came up with the idea of opening our own touring company. We specialize in ghost and cemetery tours. We do a great business, but close down during the two weeks of Mardi Gras. We’ve been in business three years now and are booked a year in advance. We enjoy the tours, which are all done at night. It’s scary, if you believe in ghosts. And it always amazes me how people love to be scared. As far as believing, well I was still on the fence with that. Amy believed though, she said she had seen and heard too much not to believe. I promised her I would keep an open mind, which I have.
But, for now, we were on our yearly vacation. We were headed to one of our favorite restaurants, in the Business District. It serves the best creole cooking in the city. We had a way to go yet, as walking through the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras was an experience all its own. No cars were allowed on these streets during the peak hours. Not that you would be able to drive through anyway. It was congested with wildly costumed people of all ages, gold, purple and green could be seen everywhere. It was one gigantic party!
We finally reached the restaurant and pushed our way to the front. There was a long line of people waiting to get in, but we had a standing invitation from the owner to come in and enjoy a meal. We always got a table no matter how crowded they were, due to the fact we sent our tourists to his restaurant. It was a mutual benefited deal for us all. In fact he was there to greet us with a big smile and hug. I was still getting used to the easy displays of affection that was part of New Orleans culture. I wasn’t really the hugging type, even though that seemed to be changing the more I stayed in my new home town.
Amy and I both had the restaurants famous Jambalaya. The homemade sausage in it had a kick, but we ate it with gusto. Sopping the last of the rich juice with my bread I popped it in my mouth and sat back fully satisfied. Amy sat opposite wiping her mouth with her napkin and looked at me with her bright blue eyes. I knew from that look that she had something to say, and it was probably going to be outrageous. She liked doing that to me at odd times. She said it was to shake up my mid-western soul. I just waited for what was to come next.
“Let’s go have our palms read”, Amy said as she threw her napkin on the table.
Groaning inward, I leaned further back in the chair and rolled my eyes. It was a running joke with us, she would try to convince me to have my palm read and I would refuse. This has been going on between us for 3 years. Amy had her palm read at least every other month. Been doing that for years, even before I met her. I always resisted, not sure why really, just a feeling in the back of my mind. I sat looking at Amy, and then thought, why not? It would make her happy, and it would stop her from bugging me about it. Two out of two isn’t bad.
“Okay” I stated. “Lets do it!”
It was almost comical the way her mouth dropped open and her eyes got wide. “Really?” she asked. “You really going to do it?”
“Sure, why not! That way you’ll leave me alone about it.” I joked back at her. “Sometimes you are such a nag!”
“Well, damn girl! Lets go!” Her southern drawl always got more pronounced when she was excited. As we went to pay our bill, the owner waved us off. Giving both of us another hug and kiss on the cheek, he pushed us towards the door with a demand we go enjoy ourselves. Waving good-bye we pushed our way through the crowd of revelers again and set off towards Amy’s favorite Voodoo priestess.
I knew that Amy had a woman she saw about palm readings. I also knew she had been going to the same woman since she was a teenager. She swore by Madame Renee’s readings. Me, I wasn’t too sure. But, I was determined to keep an open mind. Who was I to say what was right or wrong as far as religious beliefs were concerned? I also had to admit, at least to myself, that I was curious. So there we were, pushing our way through the crowd. Dodging too amorous men in costume. Laughing with the tipsy women as they accidentally bumped into us on their way to more merriment elsewhere.
We paused in front of a small windowless wood door. The sign next to it, swinging slightly in the night air was faded, but you could just read “Madame Renee’s Shoppe, Palm, Tarot, Bones & Stones, Psychic readings available.”
Amy pushed open the door, amid the tinkling of the bell over the door we walked in. As the small red door closed shut behind us, it seemed like the world became still and quiet. It was like walking into another world. The air smelled like dried herbs, slightly dusty. We were the only ones inside, which I thought was strange as there was a big party going on just feet away on the other side of the door. While Amy went towards the back, no doubt looking for Madame Renee, I gawked at all the odd items on display. There were of course the usual herbs. Also there was a shelf of voodoo dolls, gris gris, oil blends and the such.
Amy stuck her head around the corner. “Madame Renee is going to do my reading first, then she will do yours!” I nodded that I understood and Amy’s head disappeared back around the corner. I wondered around the front of the shop trying to figure out what everything was for. I had no idea! It was like a strange language, the meanings were beyond me. As I rambled closer to the back of the store I heard faint mumbling come from the closed curtain in which Amy disappeared. For some reason the longer I waited the more nervous I was getting. The atmosphere of the building was pressing down on me. Almost like a presence.
Before my imagination could completely take over, Amy came towards me. All smiles she didn’t notice my nervousness. “Okay! You’re turn!” she almost sang. “I’ll wait right here for you.”
Taking a deep breath I pushed aside the faded blue curtain and walked inside. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t the tall regal black woman standing before me. She looked like an African queen. Her hair was braided and laid long over her shoulder. On top of her head she had a bright green turban that matched the long green dress she wore. Her face was coffee dark, with large intelligent eyes that looked straight through me. Her feet were bare, with delicate silver chains around the ankles. She didn’t smile, just gestured me towards a velvet chair next to hers. I sank down into the chair as she gracefully sat next to me. For a few more seconds there was complete silence. She stared at me as I tried not to stare at her.
“You have a strong aura”, she said in a low voice that suited her perfectly. The voice wasn’t loud, but it was commanding.
“You have powers that you don’t yet know you have” that low voice stated. I looked at her in surprise. That certainly wasn’t what I expected to hear! What was she talking about?? “You are not what you think you are, you are much more.”
I swallowed and started to ask her what she meant, when she spoke once more with that low voice. “Let me see your hands child.”
I wiped the sweat off my palms on my jeans, and nervously held out both my hands. My breath caught in my throat when I felt her cool hands clasp mine. She pulled them over closer to her and begun to rub her thumbs over my palms slowly. She held my eyes, never once looking at my hands. Just keeping a slow rhythm with her thumbs, till I began to feel a warmth start with every small circle. “Yes” she whispered. “You are destined for more than you have now.”
I started to pull my hands away. This is not what I expected at all. Where was the ‘I would meet and tall dark stranger who would carry me away’? This had nothing to do with strangers, tall or otherwise! This was just a little scary! Madame Renee held my hands tighter, closed her eyes, and then opened them wide. “You have power, child!” she said with authority. “You have a power I have not seen before!”
“With this power, you will become something you may not want to be.”
All of a sudden I was breathing harder. I could feel something in the air. I could feel something within me! It was a sudden prickle between the shoulder blades. Something almost crawling beneath my skin. Madame Renee dropped my hands and sat back in her chair. She stared at me, not with fright, but with awe. “You are a child of the past!”
I stared at her. What did that mean? Child of the past? I opened my mouth to ask her, when she once again grabbed my hand. She just held it softly, then kissed the back and laid it gently in my lap. I covered that kissed hand with my other.
She smiled at me and said. “I have enjoyed our encounter, child of the past.” Standing up and moving towards the curtained doorway, she pushed the curtain aside and gestured me through it. Getting up I walked slowly past her. As I get by her side. She whispers one more thing.
“We will meet again. When the answers you want overcome your fears. And I will reveal more that you will need to know”.
In a daze and my mind in a whirl, I walked towards Amy. “Isn’t she wonderful?!” Amy asks as she hugs me. “I knew you would love it once you got a reading done.”
I didn’t have a clear enough mind to contradict her. She was happy. I was confused and just a little frightened. I wasn’t sure what had just happened in that little back room. But I did have the distinct feeling my life will never be the same after this first encounter.
She spotted him again this morning. Every morning for the past two weeks she has seen him come in and order his coffee. One cream, no sugar. Just like she drank hers. She was new to town and found this quaint little coffee shop a block from her new house. So every morning she took a leisurely stroll to stop in and have her first cup. She sat at the big picture window to watch the town come to life slowly, enjoying the friendliness of the owner of the shop as she stopped and said good morning.
She had moved from the big city a year after her divorce. That was 6 months ago. She did free-lance writing work for the local newspaper and for a few top magazines. She might not have been able to save her 5 year marriage, but she was able to save her sanity by moving here. A small friendly town. Lots of nice helpful people. Strangers, all of them. It was sad that she felt more at home now with these strangers then with the “friends” she had left behind in the big city.
She had gotten tired of the awkward conversations. The pitying looks. The fake “I’m so sorry things didn’t work out” from people she knew weren’t sorry at all. When you divorced a rich, high-powered lawyer, who turned out to be a rich, high-powered scum bag, things got a bit messy. And ugly. So she left. Good-by scum bag, good-by fake friends, good-by ugly.
She smiled and took another sip from her rapidly cooling cup of coffee. Debating whether to have another cup to indulge herself, or head back towards home she noticed the man come into the shop. For two weeks she watched the same handsome man do exactly the same thing. He would walk in, glance around briefly, and walk to the counter to order his cup of coffee. One cream, no sugar. Then he would sit at a table next to the wall, open his morning paper and read it while sipping his cup of joe. After exactly half an hour, no more, no less, he would fold up his paper. Reach in his pocket for change that he left near the empty cup, smile at the owner and leave.
It was fascinating to her that he did this every morning, without fail. Never once changing his actions. Obviously a man of habit. A very good-looking man of habit. She gave a small self-deprecating laugh. She shouldn’t be noticing handsome strangers. For all she knew he could be married with five kids. Or be another scum bag. And one in her life time was enough! Feeling satisfied she left, waving good-bye to the owner.
The next morning came in a blustery, dreary, looking like rain, fall light. She debated going for her usual walk to get her cup of coffee. She had a brand new coffee pot at home she could use. It was sitting on her kitchen counter just waiting to be filled full of fresh hot brew. Instead she found herself locking up her house as she set off towards the coffee shop. She smiled as she walked briskly down the sidewalk. The fall wind at her back, pushing her on wards. The dry crackling leaves swirling around her feet.
As she came closer to the quaint coffee shop she noticed a tall handsome figure just walking through the door ahead of her. He was early today, she thought to herself. For some reason she felt a flicker of anxiety. In the two or more weeks when she had first noticed him he never deviated from his routine. Always the same time he arrived, always the same time he left. She wondered if something was wrong.
She opened up the door and was greeted with the smell of freshly ground coffee. The shop was gratefully warm and cosy. She saw the handsome man standing at the counter. As she approached to give her usual order she spotted the owner on the phone. The woman gave a small friendly wave and mouthed, “be right there”. She waited, almost made nervous by the man next to her. Then she heard a deep soft voice state, “I notice you’re here every morning”. She nodded, looking up into hazel eyes darkly fringed. The eyes were warm and curious.
“So are you” she stated. Looking at a wide-set face with a slight dusting of freckles. The face went well with the reddish/brown hair falling over his forehead.
“I enjoy the walk before work. And I enjoy good coffee. So I get both every morning” he laughed.
The laugh was infectious. She found herself drawn to the man. She felt the beginnings of interest flicker in her mind as he introduced himself as the local hardware store owner. He engulfed her hand in a warm handshake that lingered just a bit, as she told him she had moved to town six months ago and was a free-lance writer. She liked how he looked. Friendly, interesting, open, just like the small town she has come to love.
Slowly they both faced the woman behind the counter as she stood waiting for them to order. The man then said in his deep soft voice, “Two coffee’s please. One cream, no sugar”.
When I saw those high heels for the first time. I was about five. It was New Year’s Eve and my Mom and Dad were going to a New Year’s party. My mom looked beautiful in her short dress, her legs encased in silk stockings and those high heels on her feet. In my young eyes she looked glamorous. Diamond earrings hung from her ears, her diamond studded watch on her wrist. But it was those high heels that I coveted. With the matching purse.
They were brown, made out of Alligator skin. The purse even had a small alligator head on the front flap and small feet in the back. Later when I was in my early teens I listened while my Mom told the story of those Alligator heels and purse. Long ago, her oldest brother joined the army to fight in World War II. He was sent to Europe to fight the Germans. There he spotted the heels and purse in a small store in one of the tiny towns he was passing through. He immediately thought of his young sister. He knew she was too young to wear them at the time, but sent them home anyways. My uncle knew that my mom, even at that young age loved fancy things. He knew it would be just the right gift, and that she would love them. She did.
My mother and uncle came from a really poor background. They lived in Upper Wisconsin in the middle of the woods. In a log cabin that was without electricity or inside plumbing. I was told he joined the army when he turned 18 to get away from the poverty and see something of the world. He also thought it was exciting in his young age to fight the enemy.
At first she played dress up with those high heels. Walking around that log cabin, playing fancy dress. When she ran away from home at the tender age of 14, she said the first thing she packed were those high heels with the matching purse. She was determined that she would make the opportunity to wear them in the big city of Chicago. I’m sure she did too. She was always a stubborn woman.
Those fancy shoes with the fancy purse has traveled quite a lot since they were delivered into my mother’s young hands. They traveled to Chicago many years ago. Back to Milwaukee. Years later they moved to Texas for a short stint. Then back to upper Wisconsin. They have seen lots of wear. Lots of dancing floors. Lots of memories made with those strappy heels.
A few years ago they made the long trip to Alberta Canada. My mom had told me she mailed something to me and to be on the lookout for it. I was never so pleased or as excited as when that box came and the first thing I pull out was those heels! I quickly searched the box and there was the matching purse! Yes! My childhood dreams became reality, those shoes were mine!
I couldn’t wear them of course. They are much too old now for that. Also, at a size 5 they were too small for me. So I decided that after 70 plus years it was time to retire them for good. They are on proud display in my living room in a glass case. On the shelf below the beloved cookbook of my Grandmothers .
Everyday when I see those wonderful shoes with the matching purse memories come flooding back. Of my childhood. My mom’s early teens. Of a barely known uncle that fought in a war so long ago and thought of his young sister. Lots of memories have left scuff marks and scratches on an Alligator hide from a country far away. Indeed, the past is a pair of heels with matching purse.
She sat in her rocking chair in front of the big picture window. On a small oak table sat her old gramophone. Softly playing scratchy tunes from her childhood. She smiled as she listened to songs from so long ago.
There was no sadness in her eyes. Only shadows of memories past. Happy times of long ago when things were simpler. She was a young child again. Playing in her granny’s garden among the flowers and the birds. Carefree times. She saw herself pouring tea in tiny china cups from a tiny china teapot. They had small red roses on them. Granny would fill her tiny teapot with afternoon tea and she would carefully take it out to the garden for all her dolly friends to share. Sometimes granny gave her beautiful sugar cookies to have with her tea.
The old woman sat further back in her rocking chair as memories floated back to her. The music played on and in her mind she was a young woman again. Childhood tea parties gave way to evening dances in friends homes. Laughter and clinking of cocktail glasses. Chiffon dresses in soft hues of colors. Up swept hair and heels on her feet. Handsome young men vying for her attention. Soft smiles and flirting eyes. Whispers of affection and daring kisses in the dark. Love had found her.
She sighed softly as the memories then turned to motherhood. Her man proud of the children she gave him. Their love growing deeper as they watched those children grow. Soft baby laughter. First steps, first words uttered from smiling baby lips. Feeling once again those small strong arms giving her hugs and big wet smacks on her cheek. The love that withstood teenage drama, and the tears and fears of growing up. She relived those times with other baby laughter and strong hugs of affection that are her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Even as she remember the sad day that the love of her life passed, her smile dimmed but never completely left her face. Silent tears slowly ran down her face as her memories of having to say good-bye came back to her. How she missed him. His laughter would ring out and fill her heart. His way of surprising her with gifts for no reason at all. Like the gramophone that softly played onward. His gift to her one week after they were married because he knew how she loved to dance.
Her tears dried as other memories marched forward. All good, even the bad. They were her life. Her heart. Her soul. She sighed as she smiled. Her eyes softly closed, her body relaxed. Her spirit floated upward, drifting, then she felt him catch her hand. Once again she was in his arms, her smile brighter as she said a silent good-bye.
This is the conclusion of My First Brush With Death post from yesterday. You can read it here. It’s a true story. A small slice of my life. Please read on.
I went to work that day exhausted and worried about Lynn. The night before was surreal. I remember I tried not to think how close I came to dying. I went about my work, tried calling Lynn’s parents house at lunch time and got no answer. That really bothered me. Were they at the doctors? At a hospital? Or worse?
After work I went to Lynn’s parents. I was frightened. But I had to find out what happened. Everything seemed all right. They were sitting watching tv when I walked in. The huge pile of clothes were gone. I didn’t see Lynn. When I walked in I remember Lynn’s dad turning off the tv. He told me to sit down. I sat. Then he proceeded to tell me what happened after I left that morning.
He said he called Lynn’s doctor and told him some of the things that were happening and asked if the pills he subscribed could somehow be at fault. Maybe she was allergic? The doctor told him in no uncertain terms that the pills were NOT at fault and to get Lynn to a hospital for tests. They wanted to check if she had a tumor on the brain, or something else to explain the hallucinations and strange behavior.
He told me when he tried to get Lynn to go out to the car so he could take her to the hospital, she became distraught and agitated. She said she couldn’t leave. That the clown was in the basement and wanted her to stay there. When he tried to force her out the door she became highly upset and fought him. She told him she was going to kill him. He called 911. I remember the deep sadness in the man’s eyes as he told me that when the police arrived she fought them. They had to call in backup and an ambulance. It took 10 men to control her. She was put in a straight jacket and taken to the state mental hospital.
I remember that I sat and cried. My heart was so heavy, my mind picturing the scene. This was not my best friend. This was not the funny, goofy, fun-loving, kind woman I knew. He offered to let me stay with them that night. But, I declined. I went back to my apartment, but it wasn’t the same. The apartment felt lonely and somehow forbidding. But, I was determined to stay. I never did sleep that night.
The next morning was a Saturday. No work. I cleaned the apartment and waited for a phone call. Lynn’s dad said he would call me when he found out more about her condition. When the phone finally rang I felt dread. I knew instinctively that it was not going to be good news. It wasn’t.
Instead of Lynn’s dad on the phone it was her oldest sister. She explained that they just got back from the State Mental Hospital. Lynn had been medicated and seemed to be much calmer that morning. Janet explained that because Lynn was over 21 her parents could not have Lynn committed for more than 48 hours. Lynn would have to voluntarily commit herself for a longer stay. They were trying to talk her into it. Without much luck. So they had another day to try to convince her that she needed to stay and get help.
I asked her to keep me informed and she promised she would. I never thought I would be more involved then a phone call now and then. I was never so wrong. In fact it started that night. My further involvement. In another bizarre twist I was asked to come to the hospital and talk to Lynn and her doctor. Janet called me that night. She said the doctor called them and asked who Jackie was. They explained to them that I was Lynn’s best friend and roommate.
He told them that Lynn kept insisting she had to talk to me. That she refused to take her meds and she was becoming “disruptive”. She threatened to walk out of the hospital if she couldn’t talk to me! Janet asked if I was willing to go and talk to Lynn. I said of course! She was my best friend, how could I turn her down? That was the beginning of a twisted trail of weirdness that should have been fiction!
Have you ever been inside a State run mental hospital? You know those horror movies from long ago? It shows all these strange people talking to themselves and rocking in place? Well, that’s what I walked into with my first visit to the Mental hospital.
That visit has been imprinted on my soul. I will never forget it. Janet picked me up, and as we drove to the hospital she explained that usually only family members were allowed to visit a patient the first 48 hours. But because of Lynn’s adamant demands to see me, her doctor waived that rule in my case. She explained that we would talk with Lynn first. Then her doctor wanted talk to me. Me? How strange I thought.
We walked through the hospital doors and via the elevator went all the up to the top floor. I was nervous. I never did like hospitals. We came up to the nurses station first. We had to check in. Then a few feet down there were 2 heavy metal doors with small windows. They had to unlock the doors to let us in. To this day I can remember how hesitant I was to walk through those doors. I wanted to turn and run and never look back! Instead I took a deep breath and followed Janet inside. I followed her inside to hell.
The first thing that hit me was the noise. There were moans and groans. Some people were walking around talking to themselves. Some were just sitting staring at nothing. One older man off to the side was yelling at a guy dressed as a nurse. He was walked out of the room. I saw a woman towards the back of the room clutching a sweater and rocking back and forth. The room was large, about 10 tables with chairs pushed haphazard around them. There were a few tall windows with wire mesh in front of them. I suppose so patients wouldn’t try to break the windows. But, the mesh made the room darker. The overhead fluorescent lights were not helping much.
I finally spotted Lynn sitting at one of the tables. She was staring right at me. Janet was sitting at the table saying something to her, but she was focused on me. I could not believe my eyes. It was amazing how much she had changed in 24 hours! She was pale, her brown eyes were huge, the pupils large black pools of darkness. Her hands were clenched on the table. Her short dark hair was ruffled and uncombed. She wore her pajamas and robe. Someone had given her slippers that looked like two cute little brown puppies. I suppose in an effort to cheer her up. Her face was a complete blank though. No emotion showed at all. That’s what bothered me the most. She watched me walk to the table with a complete absence of emotion. It was unnerving.
I sat down and smiled at her. I asked her how she was feeling. She never said a word. Just that deep empty stare. I wanted to cry, to wail, to scream! This was not Lynn!! My heart broke a little more. Finally after about 10 minutes, she turned to me and said, “I love you, but I hate you too.” Janet grabbed her hand and asked her why she would say she hated me. I just sat there numb. I didn’t know what to say. She didn’t say anything more after that. She just stared straight ahead. Finally Janet and I got up and left. Just as I was turning to leave Lynn looked at me, and she said very quietly. “I’m sorry.”
Janet and I met the doctor outside that room. He introduced himself to me and we followed him to his office down the hall. He told me that the reason he asked to meet me was because Lynn kept talking about me. She kept telling him that “Jackie would be upset, I can’t upset Jackie.” So he of course wanted to know my relationship to Lynn. I explained to him that we were best friends. We shared an apartment, we worked together, we did almost everything together like best friends do.
He explained to us the for whatever reason, Lynn’s mind just snapped. They had run many tests and there was no tumor, no bleeding in the brain. They could see nothing wrong. So his explanation was, sometimes a person’s brain just snaps, it breaks. I asked him if she was going to get better. He said with the right medication, the right treatment, yes he had every reason to believe she would get better. Today, I look back at that conversation and I think that doctor was full of BS. Because Lynn never got better. She was never “Lynn” again.
The following six months or so are a bit of a blur. I had to give up the apartment and go back to living with my parents. I couldn’t afford the apartment on my own. Lynn’s parents had to go to court to declare Lynn incompetent so they could get her the treatment she needed. Some days Lynn wanted to see me and she was almost like her old self. We were able to talk. Some days were rougher, because she would tell me she hated me and refused to talk. Her doctor suggested I keep coming to visit because Lynn seemed actually calmer after I did. I lost about 40 pounds in those six months, even my mother became concerned about me. I wanted to stop seeing Lynn, but felt so guilty, I couldn’t stop.
One Sunday afternoon, my sister called. She said that I needed to come over right away. Apparently Lynn escaped the hospital and made it all the way across Milwaukee to my sister’s house. She demanded to see me. My sister was upset and didn’t know who else to call. Lynn was not being threatening. She told my sister that she didn’t know where I lived and she needed to talk to me. My mom and I went to my sisters.
I had tried calling Janet before I left but there was no answer. I didn’t want to call the hospital or police just yet. My sister wasn’t scared, she was just upset a little. So I made the decision to talk to Lynn and see if I could convince her to go back to the hospital. When we got there Lynn was calmly sitting at the kitchen table. I sat next to her and asked her why she left the hospital. She said she had to talk to me. Okay I stated, what do you need to talk about? She said she had forgotten. She looked tired and confused. I knew it must have taken her hours to get to my sister’s house. She walked the whole way! She didn’t have any money of course, so she just walked!
It was amazing and a little frightening. She was one determined woman! I had finally gotten hold of Janet and she came and picked Lynn up and took her back to the hospital. The next day I received a message at work from Lynn’s doctor. He wanted me to call him at my earliest possible time. On my lunch hour I called him. When he finally came on the phone he explained that he didn’t think it was a good idea for me to see Lynn any longer. He explained that after Lynn got back to the hospital she became very upset. So upset that they had to medicate her and tie her to her bed so she wouldn’t escape again.
It seems they caught her trying to escape again late that night. When he talked to her and asked her where she wanted to go, she stated to him that she needed to see me. That the clown was back, and that he told her I was going to hurt her and that she needed to kill me. In Lynn’s mind I was the reason she was locked up. I was the reason she couldn’t do what she wanted. I was the reason the clown was yelling at her again. She had to get rid of me. The doctor feared for my life. He thought it would be best if I didn’t see Lynn again. That somehow she had made me into the one and only reason she was locked away.
I was devastated. Shocked and scared. I agreed to stay away. Privately I prayed she never escaped again. She did. Just two weeks later I received another frantic phone call from my sister. She said Lynn was there again. And this time she was scared. She said she wouldn’t let Lynn in the house. She had a baby to think of. She and her baby son were the only ones home. I called Janet again. According to Janet the hospital knew Lynn was gone this time. How she escaped no one knew. Janet would go and pick her up, and take her back, again.
According to Janet, Lynn was supposed to have been getting better. The doctor told her family that he changed some of her meds and she seemed to responding well. She was more lucid. She was beginning to understand she was sick and needed her meds. And she would not talk about me anymore. She never mentioned me again. Ever. So the hospital let their guard down. And she escaped. She headed straight for me, through the only way she knew how. My sister.
That led to another 3 months of lock down for Lynn. As far as I know she didn’t escape again. In that time my sister and her small family moved to upper Wisconsin to be closer to her husbands elderly parents. My younger brother moved to Texas and asked me to move there also. So I did. It was years before I heard from Lynn again. My older brother saw her one day at a flea market. Said she was with some man. He also said in his tactful way, that she still looked crazy as hell.
The next time I heard from Lynn herself was years later. Me and my then husband moved from Texas to Wisconsin. We lived there for about a year and half. (A whole other story here) One day the phone rang and it was Lynn! I was floored! She said it took her a long time to find me. That she finally found my phone number. That she had been married to a drug addict for a while. She wasn’t with him any more. Her parents had died. And she kept looking for me when she got out of the hospital but couldn’t find me. She never would tell me how she found me, or how she got my phone number. I later found out my good ol’ big brother thought it would be funny to give her my phone number when he saw her in Milwaukee at a farmer’s market. I always did dislike my older brother.
She wanted to know exactly where I lived. She said she would take a bus from Milwaukee and come visit me. I hemmed and hawed, but never did tell her where I was. Thank god she never called again, that I know of. And she never came to visit! That was the last time I heard from or of her. I still remember the girl I was best friends with so many years ago. I don’t like to think of what she became. I always wished her well. I will always wonder what became of her. I always loved my friend Lynn.
Death. Not a very uplifting or cheerful topic, is it? I find myself looking back on my life lately. I’ve been doing it a lot. Must be a sign of getting older. This morning I was in the throes of remembering my first brush with death. I have no idea why I would be thinking about that. It’s not a good memory. But, it is a memory that will always be with me.
It might not even be my first brush with death. It is the first one that I know of. It takes me back many years. It started with my first job. I was 18 and just two weeks out of high school. My mom and I, as usual, were not getting along. She gave me an ultimatum. Get a job as soon as possible or get kicked out of the house. Yeah, a bit harsh. That’s just the way she was. To me anyway. But I digress.
She told me to put in a job application where she worked, she would put in a word to a manager friend. Her thought being if I worked at the same place she did I would have a ride to work. I also think, but this is my personal thought, she could keep an eye on me also. Heaven knows why she thought she had to. I had to have been the most boring kid around. I wasn’t a party girl, and I didn’t date. I read. A lot. But, again I digress. Sorry about that.
Anyway, that next day my sister took me to put in my job application. I talked to my mom’s manager friend and got hired that same day. I would start work the following Monday. That was at a J.C Penney warehouse. Not the most thrilling job, but at the time it paid good money. And that is where my story really begins.
That first Monday I was introduced to all the people I would be working with. There was a girl there that was a few years older than me, her name was Lynn. In the coming weeks we became fast, best friends. She lived with her parents also. Both of us were eager to be on our own away from parents. Finally, adults!
After about six months we both decided to find an apartment that we could share. She had a car so transportation was no problem. We worked together, got along great and saw no problem sharing living quarters. We found a nice 2 bedroom apartment soon after and moved in. It was great! We both felt we had freedom at last! We got hand me down furniture from family. Managed to buy a few things to make the apartment “ours”, and called it home.
We lived there for a year. Moved because of a man bothering us. (That’s a whole new post). Found a better apartment with security, and moved there. We lived there for quite a while, if I remember right we were going on our fourth year there. That’s when things started to go wrong. Got bizarre.
Lynn and I were best friends. We did everything together. We even went on camping vacations together, taking her niece and nephew. It was some of the best years of my life. It’s hard to find a friend like that. One who understands you and you understand her. We were sisters more than friends. She spent a lot of time with her family, and I would go along. She had two really great older sisters. We’d play card or board games for hours. It was a lot of fun.
Then like I said, things got bizarre. Lynn came into my bedroom one night. It was really early morning, like 2 or 3 am I remember. She woke me up and said something had scared her. I got up and we went into the living room. I sat her on the couch and asked her what scared her? She said she saw an “evil, Ronald McDonald” in her room and he was telling her to do bad things. She was really shaken.
I took her back to her room, turned on the lights and checked the windows. We lived on the second floor. Hard to get in those windows and they were locked tight. We looked under her bed and in every nook and cranny in that small room. I wanted to show her it was just a bad dream and that it wasn’t real. That’s how scared she was. She had been ill the preceding week, with some sort of bladder infection or something. I remember the doctor had her on some sort of pills. Antibiotics I would think. Anyway, I managed to calm her down and got her back into bed. She went back to sleep and I went back to my room, a bit worried but shook it off.
Things seemed to be back to normal. Then a few days later I was watching TV. Relaxing after work. Lynn was in the kitchen. She came in the living room looking distressed. I asked her if she was okay. She wanted to turn off the tv because it was bothering her. I didn’t have it very loud, so I wondered how it was bothering her. She said it sounded like it was blaring and it wasn’t making any sense and it bothered her. Could she turn it off? I said sure, by now seeing how much it WAS bothering her.
She sat down on the couch and asked me if she could tell me something. I told her she could tell me anything, that’s what friends were for. She said last night she saw the “evil” clown again. It was in her bedroom and saying terrible things to her. I remember feeling my heart speed up, I knew this wasn’t normal. And I didn’t think it was because of the pills the doctor gave her. I was getting scared for her! She said the closer it got to bed time the more scared she was becoming. She didn’t want to sleep in her room that night. She couldn’t!
We decided to call her parents and ask if we could stay with them that night. Maybe, we reasoned if she slept in her own bedroom at her parents home she wouldn’t be frightened. For me, my thought was if something was really wrong with Lynn, I would have her parents there to help. I was getting scared for Lynn. I never thought I should be afraid OF Lynn. Not till later that night. Then I became terrified. Terrified I was going to die.
We made the 45 minute drive to her parents home without incident. Lynn was beginning to relax and so was I. When we got there Lynn went to her girlhood bedroom and I tried to explain to her parents what was going on. They became as worried as I was. Her father decided to call her doctor in the morning and ask if there was a possibility that her pills were causing these hallucinations some how.
Lynn decided to sleep on the couch in the living room. I would sleep in her bedroom. Her reasoning was, if she couldn’t sleep she could watch tv without bothering anyone. We didn’t see any harm in that, as I had to be up in the morning for work. So we all went to bed as it was getting late. Her parents always closed their bedroom door, I left mine open.
I must have fallen asleep fairly fast. I know I was emotionally exhausted. I felt safe and I felt like Lynn was safe. The doctor would be called in the morning and Lynn would be all right.
I don’t remember what woke me up. Some slight sound I think. Yes, it was a rustling sound. I do remember that I woke wide awake. But didn’t move. It was like my subconscious knew I shouldn’t make a move. I slowly turned my head towards the bedroom door and saw Lynn crawling on all fours in the doorway. She had some pieces of my clothing in her hands, almost like she was scrubbing the floor with them! I watched her as she crawled out the door and slowly went down the hallway towards the living room.
I couldn’t believe my eyes! I blinked my eyes open and closed thinking I must have imagined what I saw! I lay there wondering what I should do, if I could do anything? I must have laid there for a while with my mind going in a thousand directions. Unsure what I could do. I heard another noise. I laid completely motionless, with my eyes half closed, my heart beating fast.
The bed faced the open doorway, so I could see through half closed lids that Lynn had crawled on all fours back to the bedroom. She didn’t have any clothes with her, and I remember wondering briefly what she had done with them. What I saw next took all thoughts except ones of survival out of my head immediately. Lynn rose up at the foot of the bed and in her hand was a knife! It looked like the biggest knife there was from the kitchen! All I could see was a black silhouette of her standing with that knife clenched in her hand because the light from the hallway was behind her.
My breath stopped. I was afraid to make the slightest move. Looking back I believe that was the only thing that saved my life that night. I didn’t move.
We stayed like that, Lynn and I, for what seemed like hours, but was only for seconds in reality. To this day I don’t know what made me do what I did next. I really truly don’t. I said her name very softly. Lynn? Hardly loud enough to make a ripple in the blackness. Lynn? I questioned. I saw her shadow relax. I felt her relax. She didn’t drop the knife, but she relaxed. I began to breathe again.
She walked to side of the bed, I can remember my heart pounding so loud I thought it would either explode or jump out of my chest. Instinctively I knew to stay still, stay calm. If I stayed calm she would stay calm. She laid down beside me on the bed. That big butcher knife between us. She told me in this eerily still voice that she was so tired. That the clown wouldn’t leave her alone. That the clown told her that she should kill me. She didn’t want to kill me, but he kept demanding that she should. She was tired of fighting him.
I had to get help some how. I gave up the idea of yelling. I knew she would kill me and maybe her parents if I yelled. I don’t know how I knew this, I just did. Then I thought if I slowly got up, talking to her softly and slowly got out of bed then got to a phone somehow. I could call 911 and get her some much needed help. I decided I had to try. I started to sit up so I could get out of bed. All the time telling her quietly that I could help her. If she would let me up I could help get rid of the clown.
I was almost sitting up when she grabbed me by the throat and forced me to lay down again. Lynn was a big girl. I was 5 foot tall and about 130 pounds. She was 5’10 and about 180 pounds. She was big boned and very strong. Normally she was the kindest person I knew. Sick as she was, she wasn’t Lynn. She was something else. Something that wasn’t nice. She held me by the throat and whispered fiercely in my ear. “Don’t get up and leave. I will have to hurt you if you try that again!” She held my throat so tight I couldn’t talk. So I just nodded my head that I understood. Thankfully she let go. I stayed where I was.
We both laid there for hours. Never talking. Except for a murmur from Lynn now and then. Like she was whispering to someone I couldn’t see. Finally I could hear her parents moving around in their room. I didn’t know whether I should be relieved or worried. I heard their bedroom door open then close. Then I heard her dad shout her name. I heard him swearing then call for Lynn again.
Looking back, the only reason I can figure out why Lynn changed back to herself at that time is from so many years being conditioned to answer her father in a respectful way. She heard her dad calling for her and she got out of bed, without the knife and went to her dad. I picked up that knife and hid it in the closet! Then I got dressed and went looking for Lynn and her father. When I got the living room I was amazed! During the night Lynn somehow got every ones clothing and shoes and made a gigantic pile in the middle of the living room!
Her father was talking to her and telling her he was going to call her doctor and get her in to see him as soon as possible. For the time being she looked more her normal self. Just very confused and scared. Believe me, I knew how she felt!
I had to get to work, I couldn’t miss even though I wanted to stay and help someway. But I talked to her parents and they convinced me to go to work and come back there after wards. They would take Lynn to see her doctor. I didn’t tell him about what happened to me that night. Not at that time I didn’t. I hadn’t even had time to sort it all out myself. I was tired and I was scared for Lynn. I decided to tell them later when I got off work. I was (naively) thinking that things would be okay then. After Lynn got her medicine straightened out, things would be back to normal.
Yesterday’s post dealt with lists. The idea for today’s writing is in response to that posting. You can read it here. Name the 5 best gifts anyone ever gave me. This one stuck in my mind last night. I don’t know why, maybe I was feeling nostalgic. It sometimes amazes me how I get sappy and melancholy the closer my birthday gets. So the next 11 days I will be looking back more than I will be looking forward. Once that day has passed I will be back to my normal self. (whatever that is)
The first gift is not something material. It was from my high school English teacher. For the life of me I am sorry to say I can’t remember her name. I’ve always been terrible with names. But, in my mind’s eye I see her as if it was yesterday. She was a tiny, African-American woman. She had really short grey hair, and she always wore African dresses. They were always brightly colored and cheerful. They suited her very well. Every summer she would go to Africa to teach English to children who couldn’t afford to go to school. She did this for free. She did this because she loved teaching and she loved kids. She has always been my favorite teacher.
Her gift to me? It was confidence. Confidence in myself. Confidence in my writing skills, and her belief that I could be a writer someday. How do I know this? She told me herself. I will never forget that. In her way she blessed me.
Not only did she tell me if I worked at it I could become a fine writer. She kept all my English papers. The ones where our assignments were to write stories. She kept every single one! She explained to me that the reason she kept them was because she was working on her second book (the first being about her experiences in Africa). The second book had to do with her years of being an English teacher and some of her better students. She wanted my papers to show how story telling should be done! I was walking on cloud nine for weeks after she told me. I wasn’t use to praise, so when I did get it, it was a bit overwhelming!
The second best gift was a dog. It was my sixteenth birthday. My mother and I hadn’t been getting along, as usual. So I really never thought I would be getting anything special for my birthday. Hell, I didn’t think I would be getting anything! My parents had left early that morning (it was a Saturday). They never said where they were going. I never thought about it. Later that afternoon they came home. With them was the smallest, cutest Shih Tzu puppy I had ever seen! He was black and white and his little pink tongue stuck out of his cute flat face. I was instantly in love! He even had papers! He was a registered pure bred!
My dad put him in my lap and said, “He’s yours. Happy Birthday.” I have to say that one gift was one of the best gifts in my life. He gave me unconditional love. I miss him to this day.
The third best gift is one I gave myself. The gift of freedom. The day I walked out on an abusive marriage. One of the best days of my life indeed!
The fourth gift would have to be friendship. The day I met one of the best friends of my life. Also probably the love of my life. He was a very special man. I met him shortly after my divorce. He gave me his friendship first and his love later. He was smart and funny and cute and compassionate. We talked about everything and anything. Nothing was taboo. He had one of the finest minds I ever knew. He gave me his undying friendship when I needed it so much. He gave me his undying love when I finally could accept it. I miss him so much that my heart aches. He died of complications of diabetes much too young.
The fifth gift. The fifth gift is a gift received and given. A gift of forgiveness. The day several months after my father died. When a rare occasion happened. My mother called me here in Canada. She offered me the olive branch and I accepted. My mother and I have had a very stormy past. The year my father died we had not talked at all. She refused my phone calls. But that day I forgave her, she forgave me. We moved on to be friends. Now we talk at least once a week, sometimes more.
So there are 5 of the best gifts I have been given. What are yours?