I grew up in the country—nice parents, fresh air, crisply defined seasons—the whole nine yards.
We had, and still do, a small tree farm operation. We also grew our own vegetables
and did a lot of crafts together as a family; but sadly, that had changed with time.
In the midst of all this wholesomeness, I was still troubled by feelings of dread and fear.
Don't get me wrong, I was basically a happy kid
but there was this piece of me in there somewhere that was on the verge of sheer panic,
constantly in fight-or-flight mode.
Maybe not that unusual for adolescence, or even in the human condition, but it was constantly reinforced and crystallized by my recurring nightmare.
Or, I supposed at the time, that my recurring nightmare was an expression of it.
Something like that, I don't know.
Maybe I shouldn't have talked my parents out of the counseling
that they had wanted to get me at one point.
In the dream it is daytime.
I am standing outside in the snow looking at an old, stunted tree
that we have on our land in real life.
It's been there forever and sprouts some leaves every year but doesn't really grow.
My parents were told by somebody or other
that it had been struck by lightning decades ago but didn't die.
We affectionately considered him (it became a him) our mascot of sorts and we called him Orphy.
I don't recall who came up with that name; I asked my mom and dad about that once,
and neither did they.
Anyway, I am standing there and and the figure of a woman in a long, black dress and black hat appears and starts floating toward me.
I cannot see her face and the contrast of this mysterious specter
against the bright country day is startling and alarming.
She continues to move closer until she comes to a stop, standing by Orphy.
In her hand, raised across her chest toward her shoulder, is a bloodstained knife.
She starts to lift her head. The lower half of her face appears, a Mona Lisa smile, and then . . .
I wake up. I am scared to death.
Even after I grew up and moved to the city this dream haunted me.
After a couple of years of the same lifelong anxiety added in with frustrating career results,
I decided that maybe it was time for that counseling that I had avoided for so long.
And then I decided that it was definitely time.
But first I was going to go home for a visit.
I missed everyone terribly and the thought of the outdoors and fresh air sounded really good.
Everyone was happy to see me. I shouldn't have stayed away for so long.
After some tears and laughter, I took my things to my old room, now a man cave for dad,
and took a walk to see what had changed at the old homestead--
and what hadn't changed.
There was snow on the ground and the smell of pine; it was heaven.
I walked up the road past all of the familiar spots,
thinking of the good times that we had as a family; the simple times.
I made my way up the knoll to the area where Orhpy kept watch
and there he was, standing ever faithful. I smiled.
I felt better than I had for a long time.
But then my blood ran cold. I seemed to stop breathing.
There by the stand of trees, appeared the woman in the long, black dress
and the black hat that hid her face.
In her hand, raised across her chest toward her shoulder,
was a splash of red.
She started to float toward me.
I was utterly terrified, frozen in place.
"Am I dreaming?!" I thought frantically, "I must be dreaming!!
Wake up! Wake up!" I shouted to myself inside my head.
But I wasn't dreaming. She floated closer and closer until she came to a stop,
standing next to Orphy.
I stared in paralyzing disbelief at the thin, black figure.
I saw the red, bloodstained knife in her hand.
Except that it wasn't a knife, I realized; it was a beautiful red rose.
She started to lift her head—the Mona Lisa smile.
My soul braced itself, trying to prepare for whatever shock was imminent.
"Wake up," she whispered. And she was gone.
I was left standing in stunned immobility but the horror instantly evaporated.
I felt—calm and at peace.
After several minutes, I walked back to the house. I told no one about what had happened.
What had happened? Had I hallucinated this or was it something that had actually occurred?
And what did it mean? Had I misinterpreted the image of my own nightmare all these years?
Did whatever force involved come to me to correct or change that image?--
and all of the feelings and beliefs that it represented?
I didn't really have any answers but there were some things that I knew.
After a week, I returned to the city. It was different, I was different.
Doors started to open and I worked hard and happily for another two years to develop the resources and contacts that I needed for a business idea that I had.
And then I went home, for good this time.
I continued to develop my small company
and I helped mom and dad with the tree farm and the land.
We started growing vegetables again—and roses. I'm doing that to this day.
Sometimes I'll go out and sit by Orphy and watch the sunset,
grateful for the good times; the simple times--
and for the ghost with the Mona Lisa smile.
Written Content G.A.M. cc
Lady In Black Kristina 888