It felt like a dream; maybe separate from a normal consciousness. I went to a house that seemed familiar. I passed by a dog that was laying next to three or four uprooted rose bushes, paying no attention that I was there.
Walking inside, I first see an oversized vent in the kitchen. My attention corralled to the left, which took me through a practical looking living room, then past a small bathroom. I stopped in a bedroom, set-up like a second living room. I found myself getting comfortable on the sofa and hugging an embroidered pillow. Closely.
It isn’t clear how long had passed while I lay there. I became alert due to the sound of a vehicle. A door shuts outside. I sat upright, panic starting to rise. The realization of being in a stranger’s home gripped me entirely. I heard a door open and footsteps and shuffling noises inside. I wondered what I’d done, feeling the panic press in. Quickly, cautiously, I ran to the living room, ready to plead my case to whomever I met.
A woman of plain origin stood before me. Her blonde, cut-off bob style hair and her casual dress implied, possibly, a strong-willed and level-headed woman. I proclaimed my innocence with precision and fear. “I must have been sleep walking. (I lied.) It’s never been into another person’s home before.” Her demeanor remained calm, and in the moment, it was refreshing. Her tone kept to a polite response. “It’s early morning and you fell back to sleep here, from your sleep walking? I need to get some sleep. Between work and - Were you a friend of my sisters? Since she went missing, a lot of her friends are calling me and showing up. It’s hard for me, already.”
I was surprised at myself for the lack of compassion I felt when I said, “I’m so sorry. I’m not sure if I know her.” The woman remained silent, pulling a photo from a book on the living room table. “She went missing about a week and a half ago.” I put my finger to the picture and ran it across the girl’s face.
The woman sighed and said, “I would like to get some sleep. I’ll let you out. Since nothing is out of place or damaged, I won’t bother the police with this. You managed to get through the gate while asleep, past my dog and in through the back door. Look, you didn’t shut it all the way. I’m a little surprised you didn’t.”
I scanned her face, a security check to reassure myself, preparing to leave as boldly as I'd arrived. Looking down at her white tennis shoes, I shrugged. Then I confessed, “I am embarrassed,” then walked forward to my freedom.
The dog jumps for me, nearing my chest, it’s peering eyes full of blood lust and looking into mine. I shut the door quickly and stiffly rotated my body to see the woman. Behind me, I could hear the dog whimpering. The woman beckoned me toward herself waving a hand, leading me toward the front door. She stopped at the door with an abrupt sigh. She says, “I do not know how you weren’t attacked last night.”
Passing hers, my eyes kept closed. My body pushed itself through the anxiety, exiting her doorway toward the escape to a sidewalk. I yearned for it, omitting any suspicion of a crime – instead, the morning walk to a normal life.
I slowed my pace upon hearing the woman’s voice again, “By the way, Rose. I know you don’t sleep walk. Last night was not quite that either.” Was that laughter I heard at the end? I turn my head in horror, expecting to see her twisted, mocking face. There was no one there. Had she gone inside, already? I wondered if I was losing my mind. I stared blankly at the front door, for several undetermined moments - myself ticking away.
Maybe I was in shock, still my mind snapped into focus. I was thoughtless; I felt nothing, as though movement was mechanical, or programmed. My feet covered miles of road and sidewalk. Then at last, I was home. I ran to the porch and stepped across my threshold. I closed the door, now at my back. I pondered the events, even as I wept over the blood in my fingernails.
Looking around as far as I could see, still not expecting to see anything, I screamed, “Rose, what happened to you!”
I felt drained for days. Afraid. I was considering admitting myself into a hospital. I barely left my couch for nearly a week. Then, when I turned the news channel on, I couldn’t believe what I was watching.
Investigators discovered the body of Rose Breton, buried in her own back yard. The family pet dug through rosebush and thorns to recover the missing girl. The older sibling is said to be missing and as well is the prime suspect. If you have seen this woman, please contact the police immediately.
I turned the tv off. Stunned, I looked around for an answer. I wasn’t sure if I was even sane. I put my hands over my head and found the impression created in the couch.
I heard a dog barking and wondered who had a dog so close. Then I realized I wasn’t on my couch alone anymore, but was inside the house - with that woman. She was crying for me to let go, but I couldn’t. I heard someone’s voice next to me, but no one was there. I see the woman in my grasp, begging with sobs and fear permeating her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please don’t kill me! Rose! Please! I will give all of the money to our parents and leave town, just please, let me go.” Suddenly, I’m stepping outside and right back to the sidewalk, staring at the doorway. I heard the dog barking again and it woke me up, startled. Very startled.
I started to cry and couldn't seem to stop feeling the betrayal of blood. The fact alone would be haunting to most humans. “I’m so sorry, Rose. You poor thing.” I reared up my head in amazement, hearing her voice sweetly cascade my mind, “Thank you for agreeing to help me. I will never forget.” I whispered nervously, “And I will never remember.” The last thing she said to me was, “Not until you’re ready.”
The pitter patter of feet tells Mary that her grandchildren are right around the corner. She smiles, almost mischievously, tucking her hand into her satchel. “Grandma! Gamma. Gamma," the grandbabies squeal, watching her pull candies from the magic bag. Mary’s oldest sips her lemonade next to her, inquiring, “Why haven’t I heard this story sooner?” Mary nods a small nod before saying, “I am old now, and it could be just an imagined part of my life.” Mary raises her eyes to see her daughter sitting there in the other rocking chair, before saying, “I didn’t remember any of it though, not until after you were born. Then I kept it in a journal.”
Her daughter leans back in the rocker, her expression of anticipation. She stays speechless for several minutes, then says, “I knew you and I were meant to be.” Mary marvels, her eyes filling with tears as she reaches for her daughter’s hand. She speaks with a compelling glee, “Do you know that I have always loved you, Rose? Rose’s words are reveling, illuminating space and time, ”I have never forgotten that, mom.”
© 2018 Courtney Grant