Imagine, if you will, a child, small, fragile, fair of face. Everyone looked at her with sadness in their eyes, yet called her whiny when she looked to them for understanding. Each day was the same. She looked at all the faces towering above her yet saw not, the one she needed. The one that shared the knowing in her eyes as they gazed upon each other. The one that sparkled and carried the arms of comfort for her when she reached out
Then came the nights.
Her world, motionless as she tries not to move in her bed and silent, ever so silent, until it’s not. Almost instantaneously to her slumber, it is clamoring, full of unapproachable, unbridled anger. Unyielding restraints forbid her access to the blurred obscurity just beyond her reach. Then, just as abruptly, the sound of the invading voices is interrupted by the boisterous cannons sounding powerfully in the darkness of the night.She awakes trembling with same fear she felt the first time.The first time the voices expelled the clattering of overwhelming fury.
She weeps silently, crawling deeper into her bed, while the battle begins, again. The desperate battle of resistance to the sleep her body is yearning for, along with the comfort of the arms that that had held her prior to that first intrusion. The arms and the face that had disappeared after the first time, just as she willed herself to do each night, every night, time and time again.
Now imagine this same child, eight years further on in her life, In the same bed, the same room, with the same voices, the same restraints and the same thundering of explosive cannons, pulling her from her sleep. She huddles, each night , every night, alone, weeping. The torment and the voices, have stalked her feverishly through the years, waiting for the nights to fall upon her. Still no understanding. Still the inescapable desire to disappear, just as the remembrance of the arms and the face had disappeared and left her alone with the thunder, alone, huddling, weeping, time and time again.
Again, imagine as best you can, an adolescent girl, quiet, unassuming, somewhat withdrawn several years later. Not too many friends, does average at school, smiles and speaks when spoken to, yet, fearful of shadows, of walking alone, of large groups, overwhelming noise, and the large trees on the path leading home from school as there was darkness beneath them. The darkness lingered around every corner. She couldn’t do sleep over’s with her friends for fear of the darkness tiptoeing in and then they would know. Know of her fear. The fear that still returned each night, every night, time and time again, as she fought to not give in. Give in to the sleep that brought the darkness, that filled her with anguish and the overwhelming need to hide because she now knew, she could not just disappear
Time moves on.
There is a young woman with small children of her own. The days are saturated with joy and gladness. Brimming over with dress up days, dolls and tea parties galore. She smiles and her eyes light up each time one of them looks at her and she remembers. She offers her arms, holding them tight and promises to never go away. They are too young to understand her words but they can see their meaning in her eyes and feel the comfort she gives with her arms.
Then comes the night.
She reads a story and tucks them safely in with a hug and a kiss for each one. As she exits the room she leaves the door ajar, just a crack. They are not alone in the darkness. She, is just beyond the door. With tremendous happiness in her heart she again crawls, into her bed, wishing that her contentment would be enough. Enough to stave off the the voices, the cannons, and all that the darkness brings but she knows that the darkness will fall upon her. She drifts off with the thoughts of her babies swirling in her head and yet, still, it comes.
Exhausted from her day, the hope of being too tired to fulfill her nightly escapades vanishes as she ascends into the darkness, returning to the restraints that held her just out of reach. To the inaudible voices and the lewd bursting of the cannons. She screams as the darkness holds her captive and repeats the scene over and over again. The unexpected sound of her own voice jolts her. She jumps from the bed, running swiftly to check on her babies, afraid that the broken silence had awakened them, as it had her, night after night, year after year. But they slept. They had not heard her agony. Had it been real or just another part of the malignant vision she carried within her. The one that denied her the details of the face and the comfort of the arms as she fought it’s inevitable return, time and time again.
Now, picture thirty years later. The little girl is now a woman with silver streaks in her used to be golden hair. Her fair skin is dulling with the signs of age creeping into her soul. The nightly terrors had vanished after that night of whence they had exploded into her life with her children. The fear of bringing the horrors into their nights, their peace and comfort disrupted as hers had been had, evidently, forbidden the return of the darkness. But she had also learned how to fight the sleep that the darkness needed to weave it’s fear through her soul. She had fought the nights with chores and projects to keep her focused, moving, alert and without the need of slumber,except for short periods during the day.
But now, the children were grown and moving on with their lives. She had also recently lost the second most important person in her life. The one, that she realized now, bore a resemblance to the face she just could not quite remember
She had tried to restore the peace that a full night of rest should bring. But the peace did not come. Only the darkness, the restraints, and the thunder of the canons that jerked her up out of he bed, weeping in pain. The kind of pain within oneself that only loss, loss of a loved one, congers up out of your inner being. The pain she did not want to feel. But at least now, she didn’t huddle to fight the darkness, she arose from her bed fusing herself within it. She embraced it because now she knows the child, the adolescent girl and the young woman. It is the older woman she doesn’t recognize. The one who stares back at her in the bathroom mirror. The one that, try as she might she cannot restore what the years have taken from her.She has learned to respect the presence of the older woman and to accept the knowledge that has come with her presence. The knowledge of who she is, from where she came, and the why of the darkness that had surrounded her being for so many years. The woman now understands the voices. knows the fear well. and the booming canon no longer frightens her. She can see the face again. She can feel the arms around her and she embraces the memories as she sits at her desk, writing, night after night, year after year,time and time again.