WAS IT JUST A DREAM?
This week's Words For Wednesday beckoned me to write a story about a place where the line is a very fine one between what's real and what lags into the realm of mental illness. It's a shame in this day and age that mental illness still carries with it such a social stigma and that so many people feel the need to hide being "different" from everyone especially those closest to them for fear of being chemically restrained.
This week's prompts are: fragmented, gravel, blistering, mundane, clairvoyant, grasshopper or the phrase, "incidentally yours". From those prompts I wrote the beginning of a fantasy filled story: Each night I awoke at precisely the same time. It had been happening for months and tonight was no exception. As I quickly opened my eyes wanting to catch what seemed just out of reach, I looked at the ornately carved antique clock on my nightstand. It told me what I already knew. Like each night before, it was precisely 3:15am. 3:15? Did that mean something? Could it mean 3/15, the Ides of March? Could it be that simple? Would something happen on March 15th?
My attention drifted from the clock back to the fragmented dream from which I awoke each night. Once again I saw a small girl digging in the gravel that had been used as a pathway throughout a beautifully landscaped English flower garden. Above her the birds were happily chattering away in the giant oak trees that outlined the space used for the garden. The girl kept busily digging and sifting through the gravel as if she was looking for one special stone. She stopped digging when a colorful dragonfly landed on the wicker basket she was filling with carefully selected pebbles.
She curiously gazed at the motionless dragonfly and reached out to touch it to see if it was real. When it spoke, it startled her and she dropped her hand tool. It told her to listen to the grasshopper because he was the wisest of all the garden creatures. She smiled and thanked the dragonfly as he flew away. What she had to do finally became crystal clear.
What her grandmother told her was true. She was different! She not only heard voices, but she saw things as well. Her grandmother had called her a clairvoyant and although she didn’t know what that word meant, she knew it distinguished her from everyone else. Her grandmother was certain she was marked for greatness and would help many people throughout her life. Her grandmother claimed the gift the little girl possessed would lift her above the mundane and the ordinary. It would allow her to not only hear the grasshopper, but to understand his message as well.
Before she could hunt for the elusive grasshopper, her mother came rushing out into the garden hollering at her for not wearing her hat. It was hot and she always removed her hat because she like how the sun felt on her face. But her mother was sure the sun would have a blistering effect on her fair skin without it. She scooped her up and scolded her all the way back into the house. The girl had reached out for her basket, but her mother kicked it aside scattering all the carefully selected pebbles back to where they had originally laid. Her important project would have to wait until tomorrow and hopefully the grasshopper would come find her to give her the message she was supposed to hear.
As they quickly walked past the large mirror in the front hallway on the way to get cleaned up from playing outside, the little girl was startled by what she saw. The reflection in the mirror was of a face she knew very well. It was that refection that had jarred me awake at precisely 3:15 each night. The face of the little girl was my face. I was the clairvoyant and yes, I was awaiting a message from the grasshopper. His was a voice I needed to hear even though my mother didn’t believe in such malarkey and poppycock. She said hearing voices was a sign of mental illness and had threatened to have the family doctor put me on some medication that would make the voices stop.