I’m afraid it’s happening again. I dreamed of a woman, maybe in her early thirties, not very old. She was driving a red minivan, singing along to kid’s songs. She looked tired, but happy. The woman pulled up to a house on Maple. I know the area, she lives around here. When she got out I was surprised to see she was heavily pregnant, maybe that explains the tired, happy look about her. She opened the minivan door and the cutest little girls smiled up at her, twins I think, about three years old. I watched as she unbuckled the girls and set them in the driveway, adjusting each of their scarves as she let them go. The love I saw in her eyes was heartbreakingly sweet. I wonder if anyone ever loved me like that when I was three? The little girls grabbed hands and ran off together into the front yard chasing the leaves swirling in the fall breeze. Then a man pulled up in a blue four-door sedan. He was wearing a suit and tie. The woman smiled as he came up and kissed her on the cheek, fondly placing his hand on her swollen belly. The girls squealed as he chased them through the yard, catching them and tossing the girls gently into the air. I woke up as they walked into the house together, still bathed in the love I felt for this family as I opened my eyes. What does it mean? Why do I keep dreaming of people and places around me? I don’t want to think about what is going to happen next. It will disappoint Karen to know it’s still happening. She’ll try to hide it from me, she always does. That’s part of what makes her such a wonderful person, and why I don’t want to disappoint her even though I know I will. We made it almost a year since the last incident. This sucks! Why do I have to be like this? What happened to me to make me this way? I can’t remember! I need to know! I need this to STOP!
Deirdre slammed her diary down on her desk, the pen flying off the edge onto the floor. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. This was going to be a long day, but in the end she knew she wouldn’t remember much about it. That’s why she kept a diary, at least part of the reason why. She needed a place to vent, to pour out her feelings of loss and confusion, frustration at the things she went through, was still going through, that no one could understand.
She grabbed her backpack off the back of her chair and headed for the door. It was time to start this day, no matter how much she dreaded it.
Her younger brothers, Marcus and Joey, were just finishing up breakfast when she got to the kitchen. “You going to get breakfast before school, Sis?” Joey asked as he dropped his empty cereal bowl in the sink.
Deirdre waved a granola bar at him and walked out the front door, car keys in hand.
“Oh man, I think it’s going to be one of those days with her,” Joey said, heading for the door.
“Whatever.” Marcus put his ear buds in, pulled up his hood, and headed out to the car.
Joey watched Deirdre as she drove them to school. He could always tell when something was off with her. On most days she had a quiet kindness about her that was comforting to be around, even if you didn’t speak to her, her presence was just calming almost reassuring, at least for him it was. Joey wasn’t sure if Marcus and his older sister Caylin noticed it any more. If they would pull their heads out of their, uh, earbuds for more than two minutes around her they might.
Today she was different, agitated. She still didn’t speak much, but her mannerisms were abrupt and uninviting. Joey was going to keep an eye on her today. If it was one of those days, it was going to be bad for everyone.
After school they all met up at Deirdre’s car. Marcus had his ear buds out. He must want something, Joey thought.
“Can you drop me off at Jason’s house, and tell mom we had to study for a Chemistry test?”
Deirdre barely glanced at Marcus, “Sure,” she said, getting in the car.
Marcus nodded at Joey and smiled, putting his ear buds in as he slid into the backseat. Is it a coincidence or did he notice Deirdre’s mood too, Joey wondered. Is he trying to get away from it all?
Joey took his usual place in the passenger seat. “You want to hang out this afternoon?”
“Huh?” Deirdre looked over before putting the car in drive.
“You know, hangout, maybe go to the mall or something? We could go to that coffee shop you like,” Joey smiled, kind of liking the idea of hanging out with her for the afternoon. Maybe he could change things for her. Today doesn’t have to be the way they all think it’s going to be.
“Maybe another time, Joey. After I drop you guys off I’m going to the library to work on a project for my history class.”
“I like history. I could help you,” Joey offered.
“Thanks kid, but I’m meeting Jessica and Sara there. It’s a group project,” Deirdre lied. She knew Joey was trying to stick with her. He thought he could help. He really is a good kid, she thought.
Joey felt a little relief knowing she was going to meet people at the library. Maybe things weren’t going to be as bad as he thought.
When Deirdre didn’t show up for dinner Joey knew he had been wrong.
“Hey guys, where’s Deirdre? Dinner’s almost on the table,” Karen said, stirring the chili.
Marcus shrugged, grabbing a hot roll from the pan. Joey looked away, not wanting to tell his mom what he was thinking.
“She did drop you both off after school, right?”
They both nodded.
“What’s going on? You two are acting strange.” Karen put down the chili spoon and pegged the boys with her best ‘you better tell me now’ look.
Marcus crossed his arms and put his head down while Joey shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other.
“She said she was going to the library with some girls from school to work on a history project,” Joey said.
“Okay, so why the weird behavior from you two?” Mom asked.
“Because she seemed off this morning and after school, like something was on her mind, and not in a good way,” Joey explained.
“And you think …” Mom looked at Joey with worry in her eyes.
“Yeah,” Joey nodded.
“Why didn’t you guys tell me sooner?”
“I was hoping I was wrong,” Joey said, sadly.
“Who cares! It’s not like this is the first time it’s happened, or the last time it’s going to happen. She’s just screwed up. Get over it!” Marcus shouted.
“Marcus, I don’t want to hear you talk about anyone in our family like”
“She’s not even a part of our family. She’s adopted,” Marcus interrupted.
“That’s it! You’re grounded. No ipad, ipod, iphone, or any other ‘I’ things until you can figure out what it means to be a family. Now, if you’re not going to help the situation, then go to your room until we find her,” mom shouted.
Marcus stomped off, throwing his ipod and ear buds to the floor as he left.
Karen picked up the ipod so it wouldn’t get stepped on. “Do you want to help me find her?” she asked Joey.
He nodded. “I’ll call dad while you drive. He should be on his way home now, right?”
“Yeah, thanks sweetie,” she said, giving him a quick hug before they headed for the car.
Karen’s cell rang as they were driving around looking for Deirdre.
“Is this Karen Malone?”
“Yes, can I help you?”
“This is officer Grady with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. We got a call about a girl outside of a house on Maple in Cedar Springs. We believe it’s your daughter, Deirdre, since this isn’t the first time we’ve had a call like this about her. Do you want us to go pick her up, ma’am?”
“No, thank you. That’s just around the corner from where we are. We’ll get her. I’m sorry officer,” Karen said.
She put down the phone, trying to keep the tears from running down her cheeks. She cleared her throat. “That was officer Grady. She’s on Maple,” Karen said, making a left turn.
“I see her,” Joey pointed out the window, although it wasn’t necessary because they could both hear her long before they could see her.
It was a long, lonesome cry. The notes rolled over them like waves in the sea, a bittersweet caress filled with sorrow and grief. The pain expressed in her wailing made their chests constrict with sadness. How could one person contain that much anguish?
Karen pulled the car over, her and Joey running to Deirdre’s side. It’s like she didn’t see them, see just kept screaming. Her painful cries directed at the family inside the house.
Karen hugged her tight, smoothing her hair, trying to get her to calm down. Joey didn’t know what to do. This was the first time he’d ever been allowed to come find Deirdre when she was gone. He knew that something strange happened when she was missing because the kids all whispered about her at school, but he always thought they were exaggerated rumors. Now he knew that nothing the kids could say would come close to the truth of the matter.
Joey could feel her grief, as if she’d lost someone or something she couldn’t live without. It didn’t make any sense to him, but he could tell it was real to her. The eerie sound of her cries made the hair on his arms stand up.
“Deirdre, we’re here to help you. We’re going to take you home now. Everything’s going to be okay,” Joey said, repeating it as his mother hugged her close.
The screaming stopped abruptly. Deirdre looked around, trying to get her bearings. She recognized the house from her dream this morning. She could feel Karen’s arms around her. She could hear Joey talking. The family, oh the poor family, they were staring out the front window at her, the parents holding their girls tight. The girls were crying, they looked scared. Deirdre tried to say she was sorry, but her voice was raspy from all the screaming. She just watched the family with sorrow as Joey put his jacket around her and Karen led her to the car.
She couldn’t remember how she’d gotten to the house on Maple. Her car wasn’t on the street. The last thing she remembered was being at the library reading about the American Revolution. Was this ever going to end, would she ever find out what was happening to her? Deirdre was sure it had to do with the past she couldn’t remember, but what good was that.