Opening the door, she followed the crowd. The quiet crowd. How long had it been since she had to stand in a single file line? Second or third grade, maybe? Waiting her turn, she scanned the view of the adjoining rooms. To the left was a sun room created entirely of glass and filled with large exotic plants. In each corner of the sun room were love seats and handcrafted flower arrangements on glass coffee tables. Candles lit in each corner on round end tables. Looking at the room, she could tell not many visitors took the time to enjoy it. Perhaps later she’d find the time herself once she’d made it through the long line.
Directly across from the front door was a spiral staircase that seemed to climb forever. To Heaven, even. The cherry wood railing wrapped itself around the stairwell offering an invitation hard to resist. She wanted so badly to see where it might take her, yet she remained in her position waiting her turn.
To her right was a small alcove. Two winged back chairs; burgundy leather with a small round glass top coffee table positioned between them. With another candle arranged in the center of the table, the aroma of lilacs filled the tiny space. Yet no one stopped to enjoy that space either. “Such a waste of good space” she thought to herself as she breathed in the scent of fresh flowers, even though they weren’t.
One step at a time she moved forward.
One slow step at a time.
The carpet runner below her seemed out of place for such an inviting home . Perhaps its only purpose was to protect the gorgeous hard wood floors from the numerous high heels andboots crossing its exterior. Looking around she wondered, “why is no one speaking? We’re all here yet no one is speaking?” She didn’t dare ask out loud. She didn’t dare make eye contact with the numerous people that surrounded her. Finally, it was her turn. Picking up the ivory pen, she signed her name below the others. Hers was the last to fit on the page. Turning the page to a new line, she laid the pen down and continued to follow in single file to the next room.
How long had she been here? The crowd seemed to be moving slower now and growing behind her. From a distance, she could hear music playing though she couldn’t make out any words. It must’ve been forever that she found herself so dressed up. Her long black dress pants covered her new suede pumps just barely brushing the floor. With a long sleeve dress coat, the tails seemed to hang beneath the pockets she would normally have with jeans. The three large buttons remained unfastened. Certainly it was too warm for such an attire, she imagined as she repositioned the collarof her black turtle neck that held the strand of beautiful pearls she’d been given.
One step ahead. The music seemed louder and she could finally make out some of the words:
“for the people who don’t see the most
who say that I believe in ghosts
if that makes me crazy, well I am
’cause I believe, oh I believe.”
Crazy’s how she felt at that moment. Crazy for standing so long with her hands weaved together as she stared at the floor. Crazy for standing in a single file line as if in 2nd grade headed to the cafeteria. Just as she made the executive decision to leave the well orchestrated line and take a seat, she noticed something that grabbed her attention. She could feel the sweat forming in between her fingers and in her palms. Her heart began to quicken as she moved closer causing her breathing to speed up.
“every now and then
the softest breath upon my skin
I feel you come back again
and It’s like you’ve never been
gone a moment from my side
like the tears were never cried
like the hands of time were holding you and me”
The music began to play as the words became more familiar. Close to home, even. Why was everyone crying? She could hear no sound but the tears were evident on many faces. Finally, it was her turn again.
So many fragrances in the air. Roses, lilacs, and ah, yes..daisies. Lots of daisies. Those were her favorite of all. The velvet curtain seemed to come up from the floor stopping at knee level. Her eyes followed its path leading to a large shiny wooded box. It must have been polished recently. There were no fingerprints hindering its shine. The urge to touch it almost took over when she noticed the beautiful burgundy velvet material that seemed to be lining the box. There was a large bouquet of daisies just beyond the velvet.
Her throat began to swell as she swallowed trying to force away the lump that had formed. The room started spinning as she struggled to find something to hold onto. Her hand stretched to grip the gold bar attached to the wooden box. Her legs felt like spaghetti as her knees began to shake. She could feel herself going down. Reaching out with the other hand, she grabbed yet a second bar.
Was it moving?
Was the box actually moving towards her or was she falling towards it?
Her mind raced as she fought to gain her bearings. Who was screaming? Who was holding that horrible screeching sound for so long? Was it coming from her own lungs? As the box began to get closer, she realized she was actually getting closer to it. The scream was growing piercingly louder as she saw herself. Face to face, she saw herself lying in the beautifully handcrafted wooden box covered in daisies.
Her eyes were closed.
Her hands were ice cold.
No expression on her face.
Where was she?
Her eyes popped opened as the room became instantly dark. There was no light, no music, no long line of visitors. She couldn’t move. The smell of must and mildew filled her sinuses as she gasped for a new breath. Working her arms up from her side, she managed to place them in front of her though she couldn’t see them. Just inches in front of her face, she could feel the lid of the wooden box. A blood boiling scream left her throat as she pushed against the lid. There was no movement whatsoever. Nothing. She could hear something hitting the top of the lid with a loud “thump” from the outside. She held her breath to listen closer to distinguish the noise. One after the other, she could hear the loud sound over and over again. What was that? Again. The sound became softer with each thump even though it remained as frequent.
“Oh , no!!! No!! It can’t be!!! Help me!!! I’m alive in here!!” she screamed as the realization that she was being buried alive gripped her chest. She frantically began to pound on the lid from the inside hoping someone would hear her even six feet below. The pounding became as loud as her screaming. “NO!!! don’t!!! Don’t!! I’m sorry. I’m soo sorry, please DONT!!!!”
Nearly all of Jessica’s dreams seemed so real that her tired mind couldn’t tell the difference. She’d go months without one of these dreams and then out of the blue, they’d come crashing back like a raging sea against the shore taking every ounce of faith she had with them. Here lately, they’d been coming several times a week. “Please Father, take these dreams away. Please” she plead as last night’s dinner made its appearance. She heard no reply as she wiped her face with a cold wet cloth.
Just another Monday morning.
Monday’s were always the worst for Jessica Whitly. Each Monday morning always seemed to laugh at her as she attempted to face another week on her own. The only thing she ever looked forward to was The Hopeful Hearts Club with the girls on Friday night and that was another four long grueling days away. Four long nights of fighting through whatever dream decided to show up to ruin her sleep.
The sound of the alarm clock ripped her from the cold tile floor. “Oh, shut up” she said as she drug herself from the bathroom sink to the bedside table. Right on schedule, she started the pot of coffee and turned on the morning news. Her life had become one routine after another as she focused on getting through each day one day at a time.
One breath at a time.