It was so long ago, why does it still hurt?
Do those words bring a situation to mind for you? In my estimation of things, we all have someone or something that hurts us long after the initial blow. A ghost in our past so to speak.
Most people know the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge (A mean old man, that has a change of heart) who appears in Charles Dicken's novel "A Christmas Carol". Channeling the energy of this tale, the Ladies of Hive community's 108th prompt asked us to represent these three ghosts in our own way.
Brrrr do you feel that chill in the air? Casting a shadow from candles that were extinguished decades ago, a strange visitor appears in my doorway. I know her face so intimately, that it will always sting that I don't really know her. Her name is Andrea, but I used to call her Mom.
In the flux of life that suddenly floods around me from every direction, I see her. I see every memory that I once cradled in my hands like the last drips of water in a deserted wasteland. My mother, who sometimes was warm, and sometimes was sweet. The first person in my life to ever harm me.
My mother taught me all the things that other people's do. Don't trust too easily, be careful with your money, don't allow yourself to be put in a vulnerable situation. Be on guard. She taught me them in practice, by giving me my first examples of how these things can come into play. Use your head kid, and if someone comes after it with a broom, guard your eyes.
I see her, in my pain which still bubbles up to threaten tears when I think of her now. A full adult woman with children of her own, and somehow, I still grieve for my childhood in some back corner of my head. I dive into the vision she lays out before me, and I see my part in it.
I watch myself as an angry teen again. Fist fights, big fines, expulsion after expulsion. My mom left my life when I was 1, leaving my dad to handle me alone. Yet, she was always present in those actions. My anger, my misanthropic outlook- everyone is garbage, who cares?
My mother the specter stands before me and gestures to my window, it's frosty pane replaced by a swirl of situations. Things I am not proud of, along with things I am, but shouldn't be. Buried in it all, I see a shining light, and I grab onto it.
"Begone Ghost," I say, "I understand. You are the trauma which still lives in me. Which hopes to replicate itself, as dark things do. So long as I live, I'll never be like you." and the light washes the details of my bedroom away. It's so bright that my eyes ache, yet when it subsides, she's gone.
I blink my eyes once, then again. The clock on my bedside table still says 3am, how bizarre. There is a strange noise in my basement, I'm scared but I'm fierce. Arming myself, I creep as quietly as I can towards the stairwell. This is my turf, I know which boards creak, and which do not.
On the stairs I can tell the noise is coming from my craft area. Tiptoeing quietly in before flicking the light on, I find an unusual house guest ruffling through my things. "Chad?" I hear myself say, "Why are YOU here?" I demand. Memories float back to me.
I was 24, and thought I knew it all. I had taken a job that it turns out was run by an unsavory source, but it was the best I'd ever had. Most days, the underlying business we were a front for didn't matter to me, it didn't change anything. I bartended as usual, happy to keep quiet and work.
Chad holds a mirror I've been gluing gems to the frame of, I'm pulled into the images that flow within it. My scared expression, a pit of anxiety that threatened to consume me on a daily basis. And his words, "If you say no, then kiss your job goodbye." he grips my livelihood with slimy hands.
I recall all the years before then that I'd accepted a repeat of trauma. I see myself perpetuate it in acceptance again under the pressure he exerts. Giving up my power, which ensured I had no ground to stand on. Chad, I know that in modern times karma found him.
He appears as I last saw him, scrawny and strung out, humbled into a lower position in life. I remember my gift, victorious in thriving despite what he did. I got the opportunity to screw him over in return, and I didn't take it. He visits me now to remind me, kindness is free, vengeance is not.
In nod along to the universe, "Noted, I have to use my voice." and then I shoot him anyway. "You could've sent a better ghost though, yikes." I say, as his form dissipates like smoke.
"Grandma?" His little voice is so sweet, I am so grateful to see him today... What? I almost jump out of bed this time, to face the little boy who looks just like my daughter. Sleeping in her bed in the room next to mine, my daughter is only four. Yet there is no mistaking it.
"Grandma! Come look!" he says, excitedly grabbing my hand in the way small ones are known to do.
We pass through my bedroom doorway, yet the hallway does not wait beyond. My grandson shows me myself, sitting hunched over in a rocking chair. My white hair has streaks of pink it in, I'm glad to see I didn't lose my touch. Then, I see the tears.
A nurse passes by, I guess I'm in a home, I watch my wrinkled hand reach out to her. "Dear, have my children arrived yet?" elderly me asks, her voice cracking. It's clear I know what she's going to say when she replies, "I'm sorry Mrs.Fakename, visiting hours are over now. Maybe they will come tomorrow?" she shuffles off, avoiding eye contact.
"Oh my goodness, I don't understand!" I say to my grandson, "I was a good mother, I thought..." I have no words. I look down to see if he can give me any insight, but he is gone. The voice that answers me comes from the rocking chair. I turn to face me.
"What did you think would happen dear?" she asks, dishing my own attitude out to me. I stammer, unable to form the right question to ask. I finally land on, "Please tell me what to do, I don't want to be estranged from the children!" I gasp, the air is too thick.
Her laugh is gravely, and in the midst of it she snorts, a sign that I am very amused. Oh, so this is really funny, huh? Gosh, what happened to me! I wait for what feels like forever as she tries to explain herself, another trait of mine. I just can't stop laughing. Trying to talk restarts it.
After I've almost caught up to her in age, she finally coughs it out. "The children come at least once a week! Something must have come up, a flat tire or the like." she assures me.
"Well, why were you crying?!" I ask too forcefully; she's almost given me a heart attack! She smiles warmly, waving a fragile looking hand towards the seat next to her. Reluctantly, I climb into the wicker rocking chair by her side.
"Steve broke an ankle this morning. He's okay, but it was my fault. I've been bad about leaving my things everywhere lately. I'm not feeling too good today." she confesses, soothing me with the additional information that my husband was still with me too. "I do have regrets though, dear." she hits me with the placatory term once again. "Everyone does."
"We can always face the hard parts of ourselves better. I'm you if you change nothing at all... and I did alright, sure." She nods. "Tonight was meant to draw your attention to things that maybe you haven't been maintaining enough however." she eyes me up and down.
"We didn't pick the first two visions, life did." she laughs, "I know you've read the book." she gives me that superpowered grandma look of near omnipotence. "Perhaps the moment you got to look into when you arrived here was a point in itself- why did you think the children had decided not to visit anymore?" she winks. She knows all too well how the past messes with my head.
"Things can creep up when we are dormant. Do not leave your anxieties unanswered, meditate on them." her eyes seem hazy "Now, I'm in dire need of a nap dear." and she waves me off, sending a ripple through my vision. I shake it away with a swing of my head, and I am back in my bed again. "Good morning baby." my sweet husband says, and I hug him tightly in my arms.
"Your ankle is okay!" I mutter into his chest as I squeeze him. He doesn't even ask when I say stuff like that at this point in our marriage. The kids jump into bed, a sudden awareness that we are up alerting them. All is well, and I begin my day with old lessons painted fresh in my mind.