Chapter 16, The Disorganized Mind
“Why have you kept silent for so long?” This question is asked by a man, clearly concerned, yet also bordering on angry.
I am sitting on the steps leading to the locked room. I know this now. The argument is taking place in the family room. It’s dark outside; I can hear the wind whipping through the trees. I am nervous, fearful of being caught eavesdropping.
“Because,” the words slow, thoughtful, but non-apologetic, “I thought it was the best thing for Ivy…” I recognize her voice, a memory within a dream: Mother. She sighs, sounding near to tears. I do not know where she is, for I am unable to see either of them, but imagine her sitting on the couch, elbows on knees, and head in her hands. Somehow, I have full recollection of what she looks like, how she positions her body, and the way her face changes with emotions. “I honestly thought I would never see him again.”
There is a loud clap of hands, startling me. My heart beats faster, harder. I struggle to get it under control, to ensure my ability to hear the rest of the conversation. This proves to be unnecessary. The man raises his voice. “But then he came back…” I hear footsteps, in a rhythm of pacing, “And with someone! It’s like he wanted to rub it in your face! And of course, all of those summer vacations weren’t what they seemed.”
“Oliver,” She said, just above a whisper, but packed with force, “you’ll wake Ivy!” So, the man is my uncle. He is Oliver. Was he killed because of what he found out?
“Well?” He sounded resigned, his pacing halted… “We need to do something about this. You deserve more.”
“Oliver, don’t! You don’t know what you’ll be getting yourself into. I’ve made it this far without problems; just leave well enough, alone.” Mom sounded tired, the fight in her gone. I cannot help but wonder what transpired to make her believe the only course of action was secrecy. But what was the secret?
“Well enough?” Oliver sounded incredulous. “Not for me, and it shouldn’t be for you either–”
“How do you even know all of this? How did you even find out about him in the first place? Is that why you came back?”
“Does Mom know?” There was a momentary pause. I pictured a sharing of glances, words not needed. “Of course she knows. She probably even helped you hide the truth…”
“Oliver, how did you find out?”
“Really, Rosemarie, it doesn’t matter how I found out, just that I have. What would Dad say if he knew?”
As in Grandpa?
As in Carter Sanders?
Stella, Ava, and I are in the village, eating dinner at Betsy’s – my mind is a cloud of thoughts, dreams, and memories, I am not in the present and take no notice of my food (odd, right?). Dusk is falling. We slept most of the day away, seeing as how we were up all night. I dreamt of my mother and uncle, though I am unable to recreate exactly what took place. It’s weird. In the dream, I knew my mother, I knew the cabin, I knew that something terrible was about to happen. But, upon waking, everything I knew flew out the window with the sun. How is it that my dream is so tangible in the moment, but once conscious it’s further than a distant memory?
I haven’t shared this dream yet. I am not sure why, but I know something within me is saying no. It also dawns on me that I have yet to show Stella my painting. Again, I wonder why, but not enough to spend too much time on it. Something is happening to me, and with each piece of this secret encased mystery, the depths of my soul are slowly revealed. I do not know what to do with all of this expansion. I feel stretched, beyond anything I have ever considered to be my truth. I feel the need to pray:
Lord, I am still lost. You know this. I have no idea what to do, and I fear that I am not seeing Your path for me clearly. Please light my way, so I cannot miss it, having no choice but to follow You. Amen.
For some reason, this prayer doesn’t lift me the way I had hoped. I am bordering on internal desperation, though I am not really sure what that means. I have too many questions, not enough answers, and it is deflating. Ultimately, though, I believe God will continue to be here, and I hope I stay open to receiving Him.
Todd’s face continues to play peek-a-boo within my mind. I know not much time has passed, its only day six of my vacation, but it feels like much longer since I have last seen him; Or talked to him. A part of me misses him. I miss his laughter, his hand holding mine, his support. But, I know that I need to give my time and attention to this lost friend from another time.
What am I to do with Ava? Again, weird; though, weird really doesn’t give what I am feeling and thinking justice. I am mentally disoriented. My mind mocks me: choose your adjective. I am so confused, that I cannot even pick the appropriate word to describe the type of confusion I am living. Too much is floating in my mind. I see words, images.
I must organize my thoughts, but how?
Clearly, I am not abiding God’s instruction very well, or I wouldn’t continue to get this gentle reminder. Ok, be still. I envision the cloudy thoughts of my mind rolling out, as if a great gust of wind has sent them packing. I picture only clear blue skies. Vast and empty sky equals uncluttered mind.
I hear scraping of chairs, and realize Stella and Ava are rising. Stella laughs, a beautiful melody, at something Ava has said. I smile at the two of them, light in their faces. It helps me to know they have hit it off. Feeling the need to be an active participant – how much time has passed? – I ask a question. “Do you mind if we check out Reticence Unlocked? This might sound weird, but I want to ask the current owners if I can check out the back of the store.” I sort of cringe, my nose scrunched, shoulders slightly hunched, expecting their reaction to prove to me just how ridiculous this idea is.
It turns out, the current owners were fans of Lillian Sanders, my grandmother, and willingly let me tour the back rooms without reservation. I also arrived just before closing; they even felt comfortable enough to allow me to stay after their departure. Ava took it upon herself to show Stella around town, believing I needed to go on this venture alone. I am completely ok with this, knowing I would have a hard time, feeling rushed, or worse yet, watched.
My tour started with the customer service desk, in the front of the store. I entered through the door from my memory, during my last visit, behind the counter. Once in the back, to my left an office, to my right, behind the Antiques room, resided a book restoration center. Facing this room: to my right, the connecting door from Antiques I noticed the day before; before me, an L shaped counter wrapped the room to my left, with open shelves above: bottles of chemicals, various brushes, masks, and other things I could not visually absorb. This room was walled off from the hall, a glass door allowing for visibility from the office desk.
Following down the small hall, on the right was an incredibly small kitchenette, running along the wall shared with the restoration room. It housed a small sink, under mounted fridge, and a small strip of open shelves above the counter. A small table with three chairs was pushed up against a half height wall opposite the counter, but open to the storage room. The storage room was a two story space, with a wall of windows at the back. The moon was visible from the windows, its illumination incredible.
So, here I am, standing just inside the office, the restoration room behind me. Directly across from the door is a vast desk, the illumination from the night sky not quite reaching the office, but I do not want artificial light. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust. Bookshelves line the walls on either side of me. A large antiqued mirror hangs behind the desk, an impressive chair below the mirror. There is something familiar about the space, though I cannot put my finger on it.
I am about to take my first step toward the desk, to look within their drawers, I hear the creak of old hinges, groaning with age. Closing my eyes, I hear a shuffling behind me in the restoration room. I am frozen, unable to move. I begin to feel the physical responses I am becoming familiar with: racing heart, quickened breath, spreading fear. I decide fear is not going to overcome me. Resolve asserted I open my eyes...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~