by Jimmy Boy
Dreams about a dead loved one brings comfort? Forgivness? Maybe or Maybe not.
"Is this the way it always is?" Colleen wondered. "Is this what's supposed to happen when someone dies?"
The past month had left Colleen emotionally and physically drained: funeral arrangements, mourners, settling the will; all while keeping up with her routine commitments.
She had been in a constant daze, she couldn't tell when she was awake or asleep. Reality and dreams, present and memory; they were all a blur to Colleen. She reached a point of total exhaustion. She wanted a long night's sleep, undisturbed by the world of the living or the dead, and tonight she was going to have it.
Her bed felt delicious. She reached over to the nightstand; turned off the alarm and turned on the radio. The music was vaguely familiar, it was a wild capriccio with violin solo. It could have been her father playing. This was his type of music and the violin his instrument. A happy memory from childhood.
The violin solo faded-in-and-out as Colleen sat at the table peeling potatoes. "Why am I doing this now?" she wondered. "I wanted to go to bed. Who started the egg timer? I don't remember starting it?" The music finally faded away completely, only the timer continued to dutifully tick off each second uninterrupted. All Colleen heard now was the ticking of passing time and scraping of the blade across the potatoes. She couldn't tell if she was still awake or asleep, and she was too tired to care.
Slowly, the room started to brighten, gradually filling with that cool blue pre-dawn glow of an overcast morning. It changed so slowly Colleen wasn't aware it was happening, not until the entire kitchen was washed out by the light. It filled every part of the room, blotting out everything across the table from where she sat.
Now there was a new series of noises. First a door latch, then a door opening and someone walking across the room. Looking up, Colleen saw her father step out of the light.
"Pa, is that you?" she asked. Colleen couldn't take her eyes off of him; there was no way he could be here. He was dead, over a month now; he was dead. But here he was, looking young and as handsome as she remembered him while Colleen was growing up. His soft, sad smile was unmistakable; the contrite expression he always wore whenever he told Colleen "I'm sorry". "How many times did he say that?" she lamented
"What do you want Pa?" she asked.
Before her father could answer, Colleen heard the familiar Banshee trill of her sister Lisa, the beginning of another "episode". Those manic episodes that started in Lisa's childhood and escalated to daily rants out her bedroom window as an adult. The whole neighborhood would hear her twisted mind unravel. Colleen's parents were powerless to stop it.
No one ever knew what was wrong with Lisa; the doctors never figured it out. Lisa and Colleen grew up in a time when the best treatment available for a dysfunctional mind or emotional disorder was commitment to an asylum or electro-static shock. Their parents could "calm" Lisa as a child by offering appeasement, bribing her with some gift. Frequently, that present was originally for Colleen. Almost every time Lisa got bribed, Colleen saw her father's sad smile, accompanied by "I'm sorry".
Colleen gave up birthday gifts, cancelled visits from friends, and eventually gave up any expectations she had about getting her grandmother's heirloom ring or going to college, since her parents spent whatever savings they had on doctors' treatments for Lisa. Each disappointment came with "I'm sorry".
"So Pa, why is she here?" asked Colleen. "What is Lisa getting this time to shut her up"?
"Me," said Colleen's father.
The man who stood before Colleen now resembled the bent and worn man she visited in the hospital before he died.
Colleen's father turned away in silence; walking back through the light where he originally emerged. Colleen was alone now, just silence and the peeled potatoes on the table.
The silent egg timer suddenly chirped. In a half-awake stupor, Colleen reached across her nightstand to silence the alarm she failed to disable.
She laid in silence, wondering what had happened to her. Finally, Colleen rolled over and cried herself back to sleep.