Thursday, September 23, 2010

Confession From Back The Lane

The dark was truly dark. No streetlights to cover the evening sky. No busy highway to smother the sounds of the night. Nighttime was dark back the lane on Neff Road.

Confession time. I don't think there was a night that I was not afraid to go to bed in my bedroom upstairs in the old farm house. As a little child, I would hide my head beneath the blankets, hoping that nothing would notice the lumpy bed and come investigating. Yes, I was afraid.

When I was a bit older, I shared a bed with my next oldest sister, June. You might think this ended the fears. However, if you know my sister, June, that wasn't about to happen. She was always in bed first leaving me to pull the chain to turn off the wall light next to the door. While I was turning off the light, she would crawl beneath the bed. Of course, little me crawled beneath the covers only to find an empty bed.

"June." No answer.

"June, where are you?" Still no answer. Noises came from beneath the bed along with the pushing up of the mattress. When I was finally in tears, she would pop back into bed quite happy with herself and go right to sleep. I retreated back beneath the covers.

Other nights I would make my journey from light to bed. "Good night, June."

"I'm not June," my sister would say in a strange voice. I ran my fingers all over her face hoping to find signs of my sister.

"Yes you are," I would say fighting my fear to fly from the bed or to put a pillow over her face and be done with it.

Finally she would admit that she was my sister, fall to sleep, and I buried my head once more beneath the covers.

When I moved to the front room, I was probably in junior high. The fear of the dark didn't stay in the little room next to Mom and Dad. No, it followed me to the front room that had once been Peg's. The windows rattled with the wind. Rain fell on the tin roof of the house. The elm tree brushed against my window. The house was entombed in darkness, and I was afraid.

Hard to believe that a girl raised on the farm would be so afraid. I was never one to wander out at night alone. Some hidden fear had made a mark on a little girl.

The night before we had sale at the farm my family all went to Greenville to stay for the night. We needed someone to stay at the farm in case someone decided to see what could be stolen in the night. I volunteered. No beds were made so a mattress on the floor with a pillow and throw would have to do. I slept in my parents' bedroom.

Now a woman in her fifties, I decided to conquer my fear of the dark in that old house. I decided to make my peace with the loss of my parents and the loss of the farm. I roamed the house that night saying good-bye to each room and the memories. I stayed there with the spirit of my parents watching over me. I longed for the days when my sister would torment me. And, wished with all my heart that time had not gone so quickly.

That night I slept with my head above the covers and love in my heart.

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