Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ghost Children

Some nights, I have the weirdest dreams.  It seems to happen when I'm not in the process of writing - like my creativity is desperately trying to find a way out.  Last night, I experienced one of these dreams.

I was walking to a dark and dreary house with wooden siding which was beginning to crumble.  Tall, dried weeds surrounded the house, as if someone had planted a garden in centuries past but had just left them to run rampant, their skeletal stalks warning those who approached.  The weather even seemed to reflect the drab color of the house and yard.

When I entered, I was surprised to find that it felt more lived in than the outside did.  Warm candles were lit in every room, giving it a homey glow - the only light in the whole place.  It was pleasantly devoid of dust and cobwebs, even though it was clear that nobody had lived there for a very long time.  No TV graced the living room, no computer sat on the roll-top desk, and there was an actual icebox in the kitchen.

I began my search.  It was an odd kind of hunt - I didn't know for what I was looking.  I knew I would know it when I saw it, but until that moment, I hunted blindly.  It wasn't a buried treasure, it wasn't a scavenger hunt.  Maybe it was an item which I could hand in for a prize?  I looked fervently, hoping to be the one to find it.  Others had found it before, but not many.  I looked under, behind, and in.  I searched high and low.  Touching centuries-old items, I didn't take the time to appreciate them, but I hunted.  I squinted in dark corners and held my breath in the places which stank of old, un-aired heavy fabrics which had lost their luster.  I thought of all of the places I might hide it, hunting for hours.

"If you haven't found it by now, you're not going to," a man who sat on the ratty settee called to me.

That made no sense to me.  I just hadn't found the right hiding place.  I needed to think better, search more thoroughly. 

"Honestly," he added.  "If you didn't see it right off, you're not going to.  You have to want to see it."

Well, of course I wanted to find it.  I'd been searching for hours, hadn't I?  I stood up from my crouch, letting the logs in the holder beside the massive fireplace fall back as they were.  Breathing deeply, I closed my eyes. 

When I opened them, the sun began shining through the windows.  The room in which I stood suddenly became brighter, cheerier, the color returning to it - like when Dorothy landed in Oz.  Looking to my left, I noticed the banister was changing, as well.  Lush grass began to grow up it, flowers sprouting from it.  Dust mites, floated lazily in the sunlight streaming through the windows which curved up the wall with the stairs. 

Looking back in the room where I stood, children appeared.  They were well-dressed, but their clothes were of an era long passed.  They played and giggled, inviting me to join them.  I ran through the house with them, playing and laughing.  My friend who had joined me looked at me like I had gone insane.  She couldn't see them - she couldn't see any of it. 

The children were ghosts and unseen to her eyes.

After a while, it became clear that they were in distress.  Someone was after them and he wanted to harm them.  They looked to me, the only adult who could help them.  I thought of all that I knew about ghosts.  Why were these children still here?  I found it hard to believe that they had unfinished business.  Maybe they just didn't understand that they were dead and that it was time to move on.

So, I told them.  As gently as I could, with all of the motherly love within me, I let them know that they didn't belong here and that they would be happy and safe if they moved on.  Slowly, one by one, they dissolved before my eyes, a smile on each of their faces.

And then my stupid alarm woke me up.

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