The lesson learned from a nightmare.
|Jenny Thomas woke up from her nightmare to find Grampa El shaking her into consciousness. Her eyes were round with fear. “I heard you whimpering in your sleep, little one. Us oldsters don’t remain long in our beds these midnight hours. We pace them, wear them out, put them to sleep instead.”
“That’s not funny, El. Do you want to hear my dream. You were in it.” Jenny might only be eight years old but knew already people liked hearing about themselves and she didn’t want to be left alone.
“Long as I wasn’t the monster, the . . . “ He paused to rub the gray bristles sprouting on his chin long enough to get his thought where it belonged on his tongue, "true color of the night..."
“How did you know?” Jenny shrank back against the hollow her body had made in her bed. Her tongue clicked on her upper palate, her mouth was so dry.
“Been there, little darlin’. It be a common enough place for fear to try to hide in when the shadows begin hunting.” El made himself a comfortable warm weight to lean next to, put his arm around the child. He made his bristles comb the feel of her soft angel hair.
“And the moon, it makes the shadows grow darker than the gray ghosts they first appear to be.” El pointed out the bedroom window where the great white orb winked in and out behind a whisper of disappearing cloud. “They lurk in the black cracks of our minds ready to color our our sleep filled dreams.”
“Mine started so nice. We were fishing at our fishing hole. My line got caught.”
“And it wasn’t a fish you hooked was it?”
“You were standing next to me. I wanted to do it myself.”
“The line hummed back at you it grew so tight.”
“That’s right. Just like when it got tangled on that moss covered log. That time you waded in to cut it loose.”
El sighed slow and deep, watching the shadows in the room dance with the cool night breeze coming in through the window. “That time I found the dead drowned body bobbing up when the line broke free.”
“My nightmare took me back, El. I was the body you tried to hide but couldn’t.”
“Near dusk it was, when the first twilight glint brings gray shadows out. I remember them playing on your face when you saw.”
“And I fainted.”
“Hid in pure black.”
“Just like the water the body floated in, and I was back again.”
“True color of the night.”
“That’s where we go when we die, isn’t it, El?”
“Except we don’t, baby. That’s the secret your nightmare dream didn’t share.”
“What? It was so real.”
“And then you woke up and I was here. Death is like that. We leave our bodies in the darkness, yes, but then our souls wake up and paint a different picture of the true color of the night.”
“Like now, right El? Everything looks cast in silver glow and moon beam light.”
“For those who lived well, yes, sweetheart. Now it is time for us to go, to ride one of those moonbeams and leave the night shadows far behind. There are others waiting to meet you filled with light.”
“Thanks for coming to get me, Grandpa El. I’m not afraid now that you are here.”