“Listen, I need you to walk back there and get your hat,” she said firmly. Not fully understanding why she was pushing so hard.
”No. Mom. I can’t. I’m scared,” Kaden stuttered through his tears, looking downward, feeling ashamed.
“You have nothing to be afraid of,” she replied, a little louder, all the while trembling from fear herself.
“Do it. Now!” She said harshly.
Kaden rushed down the dark hallway, returning quickly with the hat gripped tightly in his hand.
“Get in the car,” she said feeling annoyed by the delay.
Both relieved that the moment was over, they got in car and headed to the house Kaden called home.
After 5 min pass and emotions settle, she asks him, “son, what were you so afraid of?”
Kaden replied calmly, “I saw a bloody man with a tree though him at the end of the hallway.”
She paused. She breathed a sigh of relief. She wasn’t the only one.
“Oh. I didn’t know that. I’m sorry.” she said, full of guilt for forcing her 7 year old son to walk into a nightmare.
“It’s okay, mom. I’m just glad we made it out okay.”
She smiled looking at him in the rear view mirror.
“Me too,” she replied softly. All the while questioning if she would survive at all.
They arrived to the house. The house she once claimed her own. They exchanged hugs and she settled back in the car. With tears in her eyes, she turned the key and headed back to the place she dreaded most.
She pulled into the garage, turn the car off and lit a cigarette. She knew she had to go in but this weight was on top of her. She couldn’t. Not yet. She thought to herself,
maybe if I sit here long enough, some one will come help me figure this out.
She waited. She watched the cigarette burn without even taking a drag. After a few hours, she found the strength to walk inside and collapsed on the bed.
The next morning she woke up, not fully rested. Her sleep was interrupted due to the banging of the kitchen cabinets and the continuous barking of the dog. She felt a presence in that house. An evil one at that. She avoided it. She pulled open her sleep app that recorded all sounds in the night and played back what she knew would be waiting for her. It was a voice. A language she didn’t know. She began to wonder if it was her voice. It didn’t sound like it. She wondered if she was losing her mind.
Searching for answers, she went to the one she had put so much faith in. The one who single handedly took everything from her. Yet she still trusted him. He was always willing to help. Or so it appeared that way.
“I need you to listen to this,” she said as soon as she entered in the house. She proceeded to play the strange voice.
“Is this me?” She asked not sure of her own reality.
“Play it again.” He said inquisitively.
She played it. Looking at him for reassurance that she wasn’t crazy. Looking for love. Looking for anything.
“Nahhh, that ain’t you,” he said with conviction.
She begged him to allow her to stay. He refused. He said she wasn’t his responsibility anymore.
She walked outside, and got in her car, feeling terrified of the choice before her.
She was stuck. At a cross roads. Should she get a hotel? Go to her moms? Or go back to the house?
She was sobbing, feeling so lost and confused. Then she remembered that love wins in the end and headed toward the end of herself.
As she drove, she became angry. Angry with herself. Ashamed of who she was. Afraid of what might happen.
She pulled into the garage again. This would be the last time she felt this way. She knew the battle was raging. She just wasn’t sure how to fight it.
She stormed inside the house through the white door, immediately yelling to the darkness, “I know you’re here! Why are you doing this to me?!”
She rushed through the whole house, opening every door looking for the hidden key to unlock the mystery of her unraveled life. She let out screams of pain. Sighs of exhaustion. She fell on the floor hysterically crying, feeling the darkness surround her.
Her focused shifted.
She asked herself, Where was God? Why did he leave her alone to do this?
She knew in her heart that she had turned away years before.
Even more angry, she yelled at God,
”Why won’t you help me?! I need you to help me!” She screamed louder now releasing the storm that had been raging within.
Nothing happened. Nobody came.
She slid down the wall, hugging her knees tightly to her chest.
“Please help me,” she gently whispered.
She stretched out on the cool tile of bathroom floor. She was done fighting. She didn’t care. She told the darkness, “I give up. Do what you want.” And she drifted into a deep sleep.
She was racing down a highway with a 18 wheeler to her right. Both going at a high speed, neck and neck. She saw the numbers 666 on the truck and knew instantly she had a choice to make. Does she stay on the road to destruction? Or stop and go a different direction? She wanted to keep going with every being in her body. She knew in her heart she couldn’t.
“STOP!“ she yelled in her dream. She stopped. The truck faded in the distance. She woke up.
Her eyes were open. She looked out the window and saw a vibrant lavender tree. She realized it had been over 6 years since she saw color. She was in awe. She was amazed by the beauty surrounding her. The house was no longer dark. She was no longer afraid.
In her new found joy and freedom, something still haunted her. Just before her dream full of redemption, she allowed the evil she had been battling for years to sew something in her cheek. She was not sure what it was. She was determined to remove it. This became her focus.
Months go by, and all her efforts made no difference. She made the decision to stop and just be still.
One afternoon, she gazed out the window looking past the top of the bush that once held a sliver of hope. Her held tilted slightly to the left. She felt her fingers graze her skin. Desperately wanting to make sense of it all. Questions invaded her mind. What have I done? Who am I? Can I remove this piece of me I hate? She looked to her right only to see her once comforting cigarette turned to ash. Time passed so quickly without her even seeing it. Destruction entered like an unstoppable force. There was nothing left. It was just her. The house. And a light filled presence, surrounding her with an invisible shield of love.
In the stillness, she hears His whisper. He reminds her that she is nothing but what she is right now. He reminds her that the old is over and it’s okay to let go. He reminds her that she is fully forgiven for the mass destruction she caused, attempting to destroy a precious life.
“That’s amazing, mom,” Liv said sweetly bringing her back into the moment. She turned toward her youngest daughter, taking notice of the tears Liv was desperately holding back. She had told this story before over the past 7 years but it was as if Liv was hearing it for the first time.
“Hey mom, share what you wrote last week with Kaden and Liv,” her oldest daughter, Emily said. Emily was always proud of her. All three of them were.
She smiled and pulled out her phone. She loves to share her deepest thoughts.
She straightens up on the sofa and looks at them.
“Are you ready?” she says with a gleam in her eye.
“Yes mom,” they reply in unison, their laughter filling the house.
She inhaled, feeling thankful for her life, began to share a piece of her heart with the three she loved most in the world,
“The chair is empty. That bitter, vile, woman is gone. She is dead like that cigarette. My mind stores the memories she created. Some of them quite exhilarating. Some of them terrifying. Like a snake entering in the scene to deceive, the head has been severed. Gone. Over. It is finished. I am reminded that the spirit of God is within me and has empowered me to live a life worthy of my calling. This new woman takes a seat in the chair. She is lovely. She has a heart full of love and understanding. She is helpful and considerate, kind and caring. She has compassion for the bitter woman and still looks for her to tell her it’s okay. I am reminded that though I missed the mark, my character remained in tact. I am reminded that I will not find the living among dead things. I am reminded to never look back and focus on the path set before me.”
She set the phone down feeling proud of her work.
“Wow mom! That is so good.” Liv said clearly impressed.
“Yeah mom. You should write a book,” Emily chimed in.
She pondered. Maybe.
“I agree,” Kaden said. “I would also like to add that I will never forget that moment, Mom. It still scares me when I think of it.”
She nodded with understanding.
Kaden looked at her thoughtfully and said,
“To be honest until that happened, I kind of thought you were going crazy but once I saw it for myself, I knew you weren’t losing it.”
She chuckled. She never knew he thought she was going crazy.
“I’m so sorry you had to go through that Kaden. I was relieved when you saw something that night. It was in that moment, I knew I wasn’t alone,” she said with tears in her eyes.
Kaden reached across the sofa meeting her halfway and she hugged him tightly, both feeling seen and heard. After a moment, she pulled back. She looked at him and both her beautiful daughters and said,
“Do not ever forget,” she paused until she knew she had their full attention.
“Love conquers all.”