Have you ever been reading a book, and suddenly skip one hundred pages ahead and continue to read? At first you're completely lost; you have no idea how you got to where you were, and then you read something that falls into place. And little by little, you piece together what you had missed in those hundred pages.
Like, for example, I'll be riding my bike down Miller Street, and suddenly, I remember my tenth birthday party, when Daddy took me to the Musuem of Natural History. Or when I was eight, and I developed hypothermia after being caught in a snowstorm for an hour, and Daddy went to Dr. Kendrick's office and demanded a cure. Slowly but surely, the memories started to seep into my mind, and my new life started to stick.
At least I know my "other life" was a dream. Although it seemed so real at the time, I realized that Daddy dying had been a dream. It was recurring, though, and often haunted my sleep. I'd often wake up sobbing from the nightmares; the sheets hot and sticky with perspiration. Mama would run into the room, trying to calm me, and Daddy would follow several seconds behind her in his wheelchair. He would pull me to him and stroke my hair. It was just a dream, Alba. Just a dream. He would hold me until I fell back asleep.
Saturday, May 11, 2019 (Alba is 17)
My bare feet pad against the soft ground; my palms brush the tips of the tall; golden grass. The sun curls around me, surrounding me in warmth. It's a beautiful day, the snow has evaporated and the trees are lush and green. As I approach a vast expanse of trees, I slow from my run to a walk. My breath rushes from my lungs and I struggle to gather it back. I stop at the edge of the treeline.
Within these trees, my nightmares had been created. This forest had haunted my childhood. But I felt myself drawn forwards. Glancing backwards, I could barely see the Meadowlark house past the field of grass. Mama and Daddy were probably still sitting inside, having tea with Grandpa, Uncle Mark and Aunt Sharon. I turned back around. No one would no that I was gone. With one last breath, I stepped into the forest.
I ducked under vines and low hanging branches. Twigs snapped under my naked feet and echoed through the woods. In my dream, I had returned here so many times that I knew my way around; my mind was a map. I approached the place. The space where I had repeatedly seen my father, hunched on the ground, his stomach exposed in a bowl of blood. The very thought made me gag. I pushed away hanging debris of winter and moved towards it.
Letting out a breath I didn't know I was holding, I gazed around the group of trees. The forest floor was free of blood or any other body parts. I didn't know what I was expecting, of course it would be clear. Even if it was more than just a dream, the incident had occured almost thirty-five years ago. With a sigh of relief, I turned to exit the woods when I saw a flash of red in the corner of my eye. I approached the flush of red against the greenery, and picked it up. A sweater. The material was damp and musty, and disintegrating in several places. Lifting my eyes, I saw a break in the trees. I pushed through the bush and into a small clearing.
It was littered in articles of clothing. Socks were scattered on the ground, as well as several pairs of jeans, jackets, shirts, sweaters, and cardigans. I ran my hands over a skirt that was tangled in the branches of a tree. It had happened. They weren't just nightmares! I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. As I fingered each article of clothing, recognizing each one. I bit my lip to keep the tears from running down my face.
"Alba? Alba!" My head shot up. Daddy. I made my way out of the woods, trying to contain my confused emotions. Daddy stood in the Meadow, leaning heavily on his cane. I was suprised he had made it all the way up here with his prosthetics. I smiled and ran to him, wrapping my arms around him. He shifted his weight and pulled away slightly, holding on to me for support. The pad of his thumb brushed my cheek.
"What's wrong, Sweetheart?" His eyes held concern, but still sparkled in the sunlight. I shook my head and smiled.
"Absolutely nothing." He smiled again. I grabbed his arm, letting him lean on me, and lead him back to Meadowlark House.
Saturday, October 27, 1984
Clare: I pad down the stairs, my nightgown flowing around my shins. Nell has obviously been making pancakes, because the house smells of sweet batter.
"Clare?" I turn to see Etta approach. "Did you take your clothes upstairs, honey?"
I shake my head, and she scratches her head. "Then where have all your clothes gone?" She says more to herself than to me.
"They're all gone?" I ask. She shakes her head.
"Just the ones in the basket I put out this morning." I nod and Etta sets off to find Mama. I bet to myself it was Mark. It must have been Mark. I'll make him pay for that. But first, I'll eat. The warm odours fill my nose, and I float into the kitchen before Mark can reach to table and eat everything.
The End! Thanks for reading!