Chapter 17, The Store
I inch closer, pressing my face against the glass, desperate to find out who is here. Not realizing how close my body is to the door, the sound of metal upon glass sends the intruder into a panic – my belt grazed the door. The figure stood quickly, looking in my direction. I stepped to the side of the door, leaning against the wall, my breathing loud in my head. I concentrated on my breathing, focusing on my lungs slowly expanding and contracting, aware of my diaphragm keeping rhythm. The sound of wood scraping against wood startles me. Instantly, I thought of the connecting door to Antiques, remembering a pocket door. Without thought, I ran through the cashier station to the store room to head off the intruder.
I did not expect to see what I found in the store…
Stella and Ava stood before me, staring wide eyed, mouths agape.
I spun around, looking down the hall past the cashier counter. The lights were on. I panned to my right, taking notice of the door beneath the sign Antiques. I cannot even begin to understand what is going on in my mind. Stella moves close to me, placing her right hand on my left elbow. My arms are crossed over my stomach. She says something to me, but I don’t hear it. Somehow, I gather that I just breezed past the counter, stared into the office, then turned to do the same in the Restoration Room. It is plain to see I am scaring her.
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I am lying on the bed in the locked room. Stella and Ava are downstairs. For some reason it is the only place I feel comfortable, and I need to be alone. My eyes grazed the bookshelves, noticing everything, but taking nothing in. My thoughts swirled with earlier events. I have no idea what time it is. I also don’t care. Not even sure why time has entered into the mix. Though I guess that’s not really true. Something happened today. My mind was in another time. But what time? It was dark, but clearly day. Did I imagine everything in that book store? But what I saw was so real. Did I just hallucinate? I can’t believe that. This vision has to be connected to my dreams and memories. Was it a memory that had masked itself as present day in real time?
My brain began to hurt from spinning random thoughts and ideas, trying to weave a complete tapestry into composition. Tears slip from my eyes. Even with Stella and Ava, and all of their support and love, I feel so alone. In this very moment, all I want is my mother. I want to know why she isn’t here to hold me, to comfort me. To tell me everything will be alright. But she’s not here.
Something horrible happened to her. And I think I may have witnessed it. I am scared to learn the truth, afraid of what it may do to me, but I am more afraid of what will happen if I don’t remember.
I am mad at myself for not remembering more of her.
I fall asleep, lost in my bleeding heart. Once crossed over, I see an image of me resting in God’s hand, a lullaby to my soul.
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Warmth spreads, sun shines, and I smile. I open my eyes to my mother’s face. Spinning in circles, we sing Ring Around the Rosie. Laughter fills the air. I am a young girl…I am walking hand in hand with the woman I have forgotten. I chatter nonstop, she listens intently. The green canopy hovers high above us, rustling with the wind. We approach the tunnel between the cabin and Overlook Pass…I am sitting on a chair behind the counter at my grandmother’s store. I watch my mother talking with customers, answering their questions...
Each memory fades into the next, as if a glamour filter had been applied at the end of one memory, blurring into the beginning of the next. All previous memories wrapped in feelings of love, happiness, and safety. They were pleasant.
Then the mood changed.
My perspective shifted, resembling the point of view from my recurring dream: I was outside of my body.
There was something off about Mom that day. She was short, agitated. She couldn’t get me out of the bookstore fast enough. Pushing me out the door, she locked it behind me. I was supposed to go play with my friend (Ava?), but opted for sneaking back in by entering from the rear of the building. I walked around the block, passing Jittering Joe’s and Old Time Charm; this town so familiar.
Dancing light filled my vision. This lasts the span of time it takes for my vision to be completely filled by white, then slowly dissipating in reverse to reveal the office of Reticence Unlocked. I find myself crouched behind, and under, its desk. It’s warm. I am able to not only see my child self, but I have a view into the Restoration Room. I can’t help but remember the events from earlier in the day, the mind a strange place.
There is the sound of a door grating open, then shut. A shadow flickers down the hall. In the same moment, a shuffling sound comes from the room across the short hall. Curious, my child self inches herself out from under the desk. Crawling on all fours, she moves around the side of the desk, along the book shelves. Finally at the door to the office, she waits, seeing her mother in the Restoration Room frantically moving about the counter.
The crashing of boxes on the floor sends Rosemarie into a panic. In a flash, a shadow in a black hoody darts from the storage room to the Restoration room. A light gleans of off something within his/her hand. I hold my breath, watching as if a fly on the wall. My child self looks close to hyperventilating. The air thickens, the heat rises. Metal scrapes against glass, sending Rosemarie through the pocket door into the room housing all of those antiques. The intruder struggles with the glass door to the Restoration Room, cursing under his breath.
I watch Ivy, the child, run out of the office into the store, the thought, Mom, please, be ok, resonating in echo. The store room dark, Rosemarie rounds the corner back into the hall, the child hiding under the cashier counter. As Rosemarie passes the counter, she notices me, the child. The look of horror masks her face: eyes wide, and face white. She pushes harder, trying to get out of the store, heading straight for the shipping dock out back. I curl farther into the cubby, the shadow close behind, but not moving nearly as fast as Rosemarie…
I begin floating, light as air. I am surrounded by refracted light, acting as a prism dispensing the beautiful array of colors in every direction. To be in the center of a rainbow is truly awesome. This reminds me of God. I don’t remember ever actively thinking of God in a dream. But here I am, not only noticing God, but knowing that I am in a dream.
Feeling renewed and loved, my time in God’s gift expired. The sudden transition from light to dark was shear shock. I felt consumed by darkness. Light never reentered my dream state, but my hearing was perfectly intact.
“Mom, all I know is that we cannot take her back there!”
“Did they find out what you were doing?”
“I don’t think so, but once I saw Ivy, I – I – I freaked out! I was terrified! All I could think to do was run so whoever came into the store wouldn’t find her, hoping he would follow me…”
“Rosemarie, we need to come up with a plan…But you’re right, Ivy cannot go back to that store.”
Chapter 18 right here!
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Chapter 18 right here!