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“True Colors”

I wonder if there are dreams after you die.  Maybe it depends on where you go – up or down, so to speak.

About a month ago I had a dream.  I was sitting in a hammock with my dad and we were watching the ocean.  I could hear the shush of the waves as they washed over the sand, that sort of hypnotic white noise of the sea.  The hammock creaked softly as we rocked, and my toes traced a little trench in the warm sand beneath me.

Suddenly the hammock stopped swinging and my dad stood up.  He reached for my hand to help me up, and instead of telling him to F— off (which is what I would have done in real life), I actually took his hand and stood beside him.  He began to walk along the shore, and I followed at his side.

After a while he slowly stopped, staring uncomfortably at his bare feet, burrowing his toes in the sand.  Clearly he wanted to say something.  I watched in silence.

"You’ve been sad,” he said, lifting his head and looking straight into my eyes.  I found myself disconcerted for a moment, looking at his eyes.  They were clear, no bloodshot redness creeping out like serpents, and I could see, for the first time in years, the clear stony blue I remembered from my childhood.

Shaking myself from my reverie, I shrugged.  “Not so surprising, right?  I’ve always been prone to melancholy.”

“This is different,” he stated with certainty, “like there’s darkness inside you, where it used to be light.  Just shades of grey, where there used to be color.”  I rolled my eyes and turned towards the house – our house – my mom’s and mine – getting tired and annoyed with my father’s chosen conversation topic.

“Maybe grey is just who I am,” I snapped.

“Grey is what you show,” he said, “but I see more.”  I could hear him following me, his steps determined.  “You used to smile, you know.”  I headed up the stairs of the porch and reached for the screen door.  He called out to me: “Show me your smile, Cass.”  I turned in the doorway and gave him the finger – the dream was taking a turn towards reality.

The screen door slammed behind me, and from outside I heard my dad still yelling to me, as if an increase in volume would somehow convince me to listen.  “You used to laugh, too!  I bet you can’t even remember what that feels like!”  I headed up the stairs and happily left his voice to fade behind me.

As I approached my old bedroom, I noticed a light peeking out from under the closed door.  I reached for the knob and turned, slowly pushing the door open to peer inside.  There I saw a small child – a little girl running from the bed to my faded blue toy chest.  She had dark hair, wavy and mussed about her head, and she wore a white sundress with a small green and pink floral print.  She couldn’t have been more than three at the most, and I wondered how she came to be in my room.

I stood there momentarily frozen by her movements as she toddled merrily to the toy chest, heavy footfalls padding across the hardwood floor.  When she reached the chest, she pushed the lid back on its hinge, and I saw inside a garden overflowing with beautiful white flowers.  The little girl reached in and picked a tiny bouquet, each bloom lovingly plucked from the soil with tender care and chubby fingers.  Once she had gathered the flowers, she carefully closed the lid again and scampered back towards the bed.  When she got there, she brought the bundle of flowers to her nose and breathed deeply.  Then, in one exuberant burst of motion, she tossed the flowers up into the air.

As soon as she had released them, she clapped her hands together and giggled, watching the flowers fall.  And with each peal of merry laughter, one of the blooms would burst into color, a vivid crimson or velvety blue – the colors of spring and summer and fall and childhood and happiness and simplicity and love.  It was like a fireworks show, with petals exploding in every color of the rainbow.

I gasped with wonder as I watched, and the little girl turned at the noise.  She seemed curious about my presence, but unafraid, and she approached me with her head tilted at an inquisitive angle.  When she reached me, she tugged on my hand, and so I knelt down to face her.  She sat there, seemingly waiting, so I waved my right hand at her to say hello.  At the exact same moment, she raised her left hand to wave.  I stopped and pulled my hand back, as did she.  Slowly, I reached my hand toward her, and she did the same, and I realized she had somehow become a reflection – merely a mirror image of myself, though completely different in appearance.

Then she opened her mouth to speak, and I could feel my own opening in response.  And when she spoke, I heard my own voice.

“Such sad eyes…”

I woke up then.  My eyes were wet with tears. 

That was the afternoon the doctors gave me the news.

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This post was part of a "blog swap" and challenge to write a song-inspired post.  Please welcome my guest blogger and Blog Exchange partner for today (and leave some blog-love in the comments):

This is an excerpt from a piece of fiction currently in the works by the ineffable Lara David.  (That’s right – I said ineffable.)  “Ever a student, ever a teacher,” Lara is working towards a degree in education and a career as a high school English teacher, constantly discovering that the more she learns, the less she really knows. She loves new friends, so follow along with the ups and downs of her life lessons at Life: the Ongoing Education. Plus, Crystal is writing over there today, so go visit and leave a friendly word or two.

**Crystal** - Isn’t she a good writer?
This was so much fun, Lara. Thanks for being such a great first partner!

Tali - Lara, I was sucked in. Go you for putting it out there. And I want to keep reading it, so you better keep writing! =)

charlotte lyons - Lovely. thanks.

MamaLee - What a lovely post. And what a wonderful writer! Thanks for sharing this with us today!

Nutmeg - Hey Lara, Nice hook! You are one talented writer!

Jen - You write fiction too?! We really *do* have so much in common!
Thanks for posting this, Lara.

Laura Lohr - That was really good Lara!
Very good!

Kate - Wow, great writing. I totally want more.

Gunfighter - Nicely Done!

Karen - Great job! Crystal, I liked your post on Lara’s blog as well, very moving.

Aimee - Lara! This is amazing! I can’t wait to read more!

Allison - Wow. I loved this.

Mom - Lara,
Wow. Where to start? Is this fiction, or a dream you personally had? I find it very captivating that the Dreamer’s father, a person with whom so much anger is obviously still unresolved, is the one who reminded her of who Dreamer had been… who she is deep inside. Her “true colors.”
This has all the hallmarks of a great book intro, Lara. You must continue to develop it! “Inquiring minds want to know” as my dad is fond of quoting :)
~ Jan (crys’ mom)

Mom - PS. Lara, I just went over to your Blog and HAD to click on the link “My Bad Mother” :) I’m struggling to put my thoughts into words here… this tribute to her MUST be tucked away in her dresser drawer and re-read often, and with happy tears. On behalf of struggling moms everywhere (esp. those of us who had to work overtime to stretch a penny)–thank you for your public acknowledgement of her life’s work.
Again, I connect with (and enjoy) your writing style.
~ Jan

Jenn - oh my goodness – this is just amazing! thanks for this :)
(via the Blog Exchange)

eve - Awesome story I normally only read 3 lines in a newblog but this one grabbed me.
Thanks for sharing

lara - yay! thank you all so much for your supportive words! you were all very welcoming to me as a guest. i hope to hear from you even more in the future. :)

CC - Very nice writing! I’m intrigued as to what the story behind this story is, or what inspired it, but I won’t ask since it’s a secret :)

dancing dragon - I really want to read the rest of this!

anonymous - beautiful