Posts Tagged ‘visions’

That night, Alex was waiting for me in my dad’s room when I finished getting ready for bed. He was leaned forward in the corner chair, chin propped up on his interlaced fingers; pensive, exquisite, and something else. It was when he looked up from his prayer like posture that I recognized the other thing. Seductive, and unknowingly so. I caught myself grinning before snapping out of my trance. I glanced over my shoulder and then quickly closed the door, paranoid even though David had been sound asleep for a couple of hours.
Attempting to sound exasperated. “What if I was David?” I scolded in a whisper.

He raised his brows and offered a wry smile. “Then doing what I’m about to would be a little awkward,” he said, lithely rising to his feet.



I froze, then stumbled back against the door as he trained his narrowed gaze on me. There was a look in his eyes that I had never seen in him before; feral and hungry. I wondered if I should be afraid. The charge in my blood warmed the pit of my belly as he slowly stepped towards me, the pulse in my neck hammering harder the closer he got.

No, I thought, not afraid.

Standing inches from me, he watched with amused gratification the effect his proximity had on my flesh. He slowly, and ever-so-softly traced his cool, slender fingers from my trembling hands, up arms and over my shoulders, to the sides of my neck, leaving a trail of desire burning in the wake of his touch. His eyes met mine and then fell, watching my lips as they parted. My chest rose and fell in uncontrollable intervals, the heat now frantically spreading through the rest of my body.

Alex cradled my face in his hands, whispering, “Stay very still.”

As if I were going somewhere. Unless my stupid, wobbly knees gave.

Alex licked and pulled in his lower lip, then slowly released it. His eyes searched my face as if asking permission to proceed. Without so much as a hint of resistance from me, he tilted his head, and like a feather, barely touched his lips to mine. He pulled his face away, his cool breath tingling my lips as his departed from mine. I couldn’t will my eyes to open, instead, I let his gravity pull me closer.

After a sigh and a pause. “Some bullshit training gig at Lejeune,” he said, his brows knitted tightly.
I wanted to jump up and down and squeal I was so excited. I didn’t though, knowing that being sent to a training command was as far down on David’s list of desired jobs as recruiting was. He often compared training to glorified babysitting. I was happy, because to me, training represented very few opportunities for real danger.
I contorted my lip, trying to fake mutually bummed.
“Sorry,” I said.
David tossed the envelope onto the coffee table and plopped down on the couch.
“Yeah,” he grumbled.
I took a seat next to him. David leaned back into the deep cushions and threw his arm around my shoulders. As he raised his legs to prop his feet up on the coffee table he stopped short. He appeared briefly startled, sitting up and dropping his feet. His boots hit the wood floor with a solid thud.
“It’s clean,” he said, finally noticing the lack of Chinese take-out boxes and empty whiskey glasses.
“Yup,” I replied nonchalantly, pretending the task was nothing out of the ordinary.
He looked at me and stood. “You did this?”
“By yourself?” he asked in disbelief.
I rolled my eyes. “Duh.”
As slight as it was, it was the first smile that dared to cross David’s lips since he was deployed. The house was in dire need of the attention, but I could tell by his appreciative expression that it meant more to him than just a task needing completion.
David sat again, sighing. “It looks great, kid.” he said, nudging me with his shoulder. “Thanks.”
“Yup.” I smiled back.
I contemplated telling him, while he was feeling so grateful, that I dumped all of his really expensive whiskey too. I flinched at the thought. No, I said to myself. Why ruin a perfectly good moment?

Alex’s departures had become a devastating and infuriating occurrence, though I wasn’t sure which emotion was more dominant at the time. He always seemed to bail at the most inopportune moments, leaving me with a head full of questions and talking to myself like a crazy person. But at least on this occasion he left me with enough time to jump back in bed and pretend to be asleep before David walked in. I wasn’t in the mood to explain to him why I was talking to myself again. I would never be in the mood to explain that.

The hallway light bled from underneath my bedroom door where I saw the shadow of David’s feet cut through the soft illumination. He stood there for a few seconds and then disappeared back down the hall. He was checking up on me less each week. I couldn’t decide if it was because he worried about me less, or because he was sinking deeper into his bottle of whiskey flavored misery.

I couldn’t get back to sleep right away. My mind wrestled and rebelled against me each time I attempted to quiet it. I stared up at the dark ceiling, twisting my dad’s ring around my thumb. I often worried how long it would be before I would start to forget what he looked like. But I guess I held on to his memory so tightly, that even now, it was still crystal clear. For that, I was grateful.

It was David’s face instead that was slipping away.

I slipped into one of my dad’s white dress shirts and crawled into his bed. I never remembered falling asleep.
I woke in the morning to a high-pitched sound that I imagined a dying cat might make. It was the doorbell. That, like many other things, was somewhere on my dad’s ever growing, ‘we’ll get to it one of these days,’ list of to do’s.
I stood in the doorway watching three burly men pack a teenage girls room. I watched not because I didn’t trust them. I watched because for the last eight years this house had been my dad’s and David’s and mine. All of our memories and dreams had become as essential to this structure as the framework and foundation. I sadly imagined our little stucco house in the desert crumbling away, a little more each time a picture frame or book or hanging paper lantern was wrapped and meticulously packed in cardboard boxes.
It was nearly a week after my personal belongings hit the road to Camden that Alex came to me again. I was curled up around a pillow in my dad’s bed slipping in and out of various stages of consciousness when I felt him. It’s the subtle shift in energy, the hum in my blood that gives him away. I can’t see you, I thought to myself before finishing aloud.
“I know you’re there.”
I whispered in case David was still awake, suspecting that Alex would be able to hear me no matter how quietly I spoke the words. I stared into the darkness, not moving from the position on my side where I laid.
Alex had never answered me before, and I didn’t expect him to this time either. Perhaps for him it was a game, or maybe he was too afraid of my reaction.

Just as I was losing steam and about to close the page, a painting of a woman alone on a dimly lit, fog cloaked road seized my attention. The brick road was glossed over in places, from what I assumed had been a recent rain. Elusive strands of the woman’s loosely pinned hair streaked like ribbon across her face in the evening storm. She had one arm wrapped securely around her waist while the delicately gloved fingers of her other hand met her lips. Under the soft halo of a near-by lamp-post, a hazy cloud swirled to reveal a masculine silhouette. But it was woman’s expression that drew me closer. She looked how I felt the first time it dawned on me that Alex was more than human. Unequivocally more.
While the woman appeared staggered by the phantom’s emergence, it was evident that she recognized him. She gazed at him with relief and longing, like a mate setting eyes on her beloved for the first time after a prolonged absence. My pulse quickened as I took in the beautiful realism of the painting. I could faintly smell the misty breeze as if I were there with them now. I wanted to reach out to the vaporous figure under the light and help the woman reclaim him. My heart lurched and ached as if it was trying to recall a connection it had to the couple, and I was saddened by the obvious truth that there was none.
Here it was 4 A.M. and I was entertaining the feasibility of ghosts, reincarnation, immortality. I declared that I had officially been awake long enough to exhaust myself stupid and it was now time to go to bed. Frustrated by my insufficient findings, I jabbed my finger in to the power button, not waiting to properly shut anything down and then stormed out of the room, angry with myself for investing any amount of time on such ridiculous notions.

all i ve ever needed – paul mcdonald and nikki reed

I thought, like a puzzle, I would find a few clues and the pieces would begin to fall into place. But the more I read, the more complex the answer became, and the taller the hair on my arms stood.
Once the search engine displayed the results, it took me a few minutes to scroll through all of the irrelevancies like movies, Halloween stores, and craft tutorials before I found anything useful. The answers I sought were well beyond the realm of children’s party favors and haunted house props.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for, so I opened the first encouraging page I came across. A solid black background with a painting from a scene in Hamlet appeared, and underneath, white font filled the remaining space. It looked credible enough, so I read the first words elegantly scripted across the home page.

Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. ~ Shakespeare’s Hamlet

I recalled that particular quote from when my class studied the play in English last year. That single quote represented the tragedies entire theme; retribution. I read on, rubbing my crinkled forehead apprehensively, hoping to find something a little less ominous.

My dad was never an extravagant man, and his humble nature would never approve of the title ‘hero’, but he would receive a hero’s service.  I rode to the chapel with David and my dad.  It was as quiet as it had been the last time we were all together.

Panic struck me as I struggled to remember if I told my dad that I loved him the last time we spoke.  I remembered only his “I love you”.  Had I really forgotten?  Was I that thoughtless and stupid to think there’d always be more time?

I watched David stare vacantly out the window, wondering what atrocities he saw in Afghanistan.  Wondering if he would ever be the same-if I’d ever get him back.  Not likely, I decided.  I looked closer at the ‘S’ shaped wound drawn down the right side of his face.  Instinctively, I wanted to trace the track of stitches that led from above his brow to just below his temple.

Then, I thought of how bad my dad’s injuries had to be to require a closed casket funeral.  I cringed.  I shoved the image as far from my mind as possible, remembering only the good things.  His strong jaw-line and contagious, toothy smile that pronounced all of the little lines framing his eyes.  His deep laugh and the way he would peel off his reading glasses when he was really pleased with a piece I played on my cello.

I leaned up against David, loosely wrapping my arms around him.  He flinched slightly at my touch.  Lost in his own thoughts, he forgot I was there.  We stayed like this all the way to the chapel.

I was a little intimidated by the sheer number of people filling the old chapel.  Marines, Sailors, a few Army soldiers, and plenty of mourners in civilian attire, flew from all over the country to bid their farewells.  I recognized several faces from his current unit and a couple from previous units as well, but most were foreign to me.  The Hamlin’s were there to, of course, but unlike everyone closest to my dad, misery had not tainted their perfection.  They had not been marred by dark circles from sleepless nights, or sallow skin from lingering shock, and they had not succumb to the redness of imminent tears.

Eulogies were kept mercifully short.  Marines that were with him when he died testified to his heroism and sacrifice-some, visibly moved by what they witnessed, but grateful that the sacrifice had not been theirs.  Others, those closest to my dad, praised him for his love of country and family, attesting that they had become better men just by having known him.  The words and memories were touching, but still left me empty; unable to comprehend why it was him.  How selfish-wishing it was someone else that could have been brave that day.  What a horrible person I was becoming, or was this the real me?  I couldn’t tell anymore.

David took my hand as we followed the six pallbearers down the aisle.  His hand was the same temperature as mine and there was no unexplainable electricity to cause me to pull away.  It was the most normal human contact I’ve had since I saw him last.

We stood between the tall, white pillars, watching as the Marines placed my dad in the Hurst.

“Are you okay?” David asked.  What?  No!  Of course I’m not okay.

But all I said was, “I just want us to get through this.”

“We will,” he promised, squeezing my hand.

For an American, I suppose there is no place more honorable to be buried than Arlington National Cemetery.  Before today, it had been nothing more than a place I had heard about or seen pictures of in news articles, and now, the images of this imposing garden of stone rendered me speechless.

The wind picked up, but it scarcely affected the pallbearers as their steady march drew my dad closer to his final resting place.  I promised myself that I would be strong and I wouldn’t make this harder on David.  It kills him to see me cry.  So, I filled my head with meaningless things to keep the tears at bay.  I thought of pointless things like, the pallbearers having necks the size of a runner’s thigh, and the endless hours and fertilizer that it must take to keep the grass so immaculate, and then I started counting the rows and columns of head stones.

I was thankful that only the closest of family friends were permitted for the graveside service.  The sobbing and sniffles at the chapel were all too contagious.  Here it was quiet.  Only the rustle of the leaves and the Irish accent of the priest filled the air.  I mostly stared at David’s hand still holding mine-afraid that the right set of teary eyes would cause a chain reaction.

I held myself together fairly well, that is until my dad’s commanding officer knelt down in front of me, placing a precisely folded flag in my trembling hands.  As a distraction, I lightly traced one of the thick embroidered stars adorning the canton of blue.

“On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation…” he started.  And the rest I tuned out.  I simply nodded when his lips stopped moving.

The last sounds to resonate in my ears were the three volleys of riffle fire, and the haunting echo of taps through the damp morning air.

I stood unmoving by the wooden chairs with my dad’s flag tightly pressed to my chest, staring hopelessly at a casket that should have never been filled.  Normal circumstances make standing six feet from a loved one seem relatively inconsequential.  Soon, that sum of space would be filled with darkness incomparable to the deepest, moonless night, and the eerie silence of an earthen covered box.  Soon, my dad would be cast worlds apart, making that particular distance alarmingly unbearable.

I stared incredulously.  “Impossible,” I whispered, suddenly worried that this was the mental crack I had feared was coming.  There was no way I just imagined all of that-I’m not that creative, but the alternative was even less conceivable.

Miles laid me across one of the bench seats and placed a towel across my forehead just as the harbor police arrived.

A middle-aged woman stepped across the edge of the police boat on to ours and began putting on a pair of blue latex gloves.  The officer had no discernible expression on her weathered face. As she lifted her sunglasses to take a closer look at my cut lip, she began asking a series of questions-my name, what day and month it was, all while mashing on my head and flashing a light in my eyes.

One by one, I answered all of her questions.

“What happened?  Someone mentioned you got caught in a net,” the officer said, helping me to sit up.  “Does anything else hurt?”

This would have been the time to tell her that I was dragged under by some homicidal crazy person, who I had not ruled out to be Alex; was purposely trapped in a net; and that Alex mysteriously appeared to save the day and then suddenly dissolved into water.  Not only would I have sounded like I needed immediate hospitalization, but the sudden undeniable look of apprehension Constance gave Miles compelled me to leave out those minor details.

His hand gently wrapped around the back of my head, pulling me closer to him-I didn’t resist-I couldn’t resist.  And the instant he put his soft warm mouth to mine, my entire body went lifeless in his arms.  He impossibly breathed a full breath of cool air that filled my lungs.  It was as pure as if it had come from an oxygen tank.

Alex released me from his embrace, reached down and effortlessly tore the net, setting me free.

Shadows from boat bottoms obscured the light of the sun as we began to slowly resurface.  When we got a little closer, Alex pulled me in one last time, firmly placing his lips to mine.  I closed my eyes, gratefully accepting his breath as we continued our ascent.

I opened my eyes to see someone dive from a boat into the water.  In that instant, Alex was gone; vanished like he was never there.  I reached for him as the stranger scattered what remained of Alex’s image-the water’s chill separating us once again. The stranger grabbed my outstretched arm and pulled me the remaining distance to the surface.

I gasped for air as we came up, choking on the salty water that I accidentally swallowed.  I spun around in confusion searching for Alex, panicked that he was pulled under too.  There were already several boats surrounding me when I came up.  Horrified onlookers, some with tears streaming from their faces yelled for someone to pull me from the water.

“No! Alex is still down there, you need to get him,”  I choked out.  No one heard me over all of the commotion.

The stranger towed me to the side of a boat, pushing broken pieces of red and green plastic out of our way.  I recognized the sparkling paint and accepted the helping hand that reached over the edge.  My eyes were still a little blurry from the burning of the salt water but I recognized the voice as belonging to Miles.

“You’re bleeding,” he said unshaken.  I had forgotten about pain until he mentioned it, and then my lip started to throb in time to my pulse.  I reached up and felt the cut on my lower lip, when I pulled my hand away it was colored crimson.

Panicked.  “Alex is still down there,” I told Miles.  “He might be in trouble.”

“Alex is fine, he’s right here,”  Constance assured.  “Evie and Matt are on their way back to the house with the Jet Ski.”

The engine rumbled to a start and I looked past Miles to see Alex in the driver’s seat, back in his wet suit, and bone dry.

My life didn’t flash before my eyes and I didn’t move towards any light, but I was certain death had come for me.  In the few seconds it took for me to be completely depleted of energy and hope, the figure was gone-disappeared into the deepest shadows of the water.

Instantly, I was renewed and began clawing my way towards the beautiful, glimmering surface.  But freedom didn’t last.  My captor relinquished me to an even more pathetic demise when it ensnared my foot in a net.  I pulled at my foot, then the seaweed covered net, then I tried dragging it with me to the surface-I went nowhere.

Trapped, exhausted and out of air.  So when the shadowy figure approached to finish me off, a strange calm soothed me and I almost welcomed it.  Here, in the dark, frigid Atlantic I would meet the bringer of death.  My courage abandoned me the clearer the figure got and I closed my eyes in anticipation of the end.

Suddenly, I was neither cold nor alone.

I shouldn’t have known, and there was no logical reason for me to know, but his warmth and electricity were unmistakable.  I reopened my eyes, and in his firm grasp, Alex held me tightly to his body-one arm securely around my waist and the other cradling my head. I flinched under his touch, assuming that he was my attacker, but I had nothing left to fight him with.  Alex looked wildly into my eyes, as if knowing he was watching my life slip away.