Memories. Locked away in the dark corners of a tortured mind. Memories clawing their way through the darkness as they try to summon the conscious mind, hissing that they still exist, that no amount of time will force them to disappear. They live on. They will always live on. Even if only to haunt the dreams of the one who owns them, of the one who is bound by them.
The blackness faded to shades of gray, then lightened and waned like the heavy fog of a winter’s night dissipating with the clear morning hours of dawn.
The house is just how I remembered it, a muted green that blended with the orchard landscape. The small figure standing on the front porch caused my chest to constrict: a young girl, innocence in her eyes, yet an angst hidden deep behind them that only I could see. That only I could feel.
She stared at me as though I were an angel, wondering why I could see so deep into her soul. It was almost like looking into a mirror, save for the changes of age over time.
I crossed the paved walkway yet my boots made no sound on the concrete and as I climbed the front porch the steps didn’t creak as I knew they should.
Still she only stared.
“Do you know who I am?” I asked.
She shook her head, and I knew I would never be able to explain.
“I know who you are,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady. “I alone see the real you. Not only do I know what you have been through, but I know what you will go through. The hurt, the rejection, the shame—it only gets worse. Much worse.” I paused, extending my hand towards her. “Will you come with me?”
She nodded, her eyes filling with silent tears.
Slipping her hand into mine, she let me lead her down the porch steps. The wood boards creaked as she padded down them in bare feet. Her hand felt so small in mine and I squeezed it tight, vainly trying to impute two decades worth of love and acceptance through a single touch.
Behind us the door of the house swung open and my grip tightened, knowing it was him. For a brief moment, I closed my eyes as tension crept up my back and neck, clenching the muscles as though my body were trapped in a vice.
I took a deep breath and paused. The child at my side looked up into my eyes.
“You must say good-bye,” I said, my voice barely audible.
She turned, still holding my hand, and waved, then looked up at me with eyes that shone with a tranquility I could not remember, eyes that were a window to a soul that had not yet been damaged to the core. “Won’t you say goodbye?” she asked.
I gave her a weak smile and turned to see a man I knew to be in his grave. He stood in the doorframe, yet instead of the broad, imposing man of twenty years ago, with wrath burning behind the bloodshot eyes, he stood weak and frail, the disease having withered away his menacing frame, and his eyes jaded in sunken sockets buried within a yellowed face.
“Goodbye father,” I said, surprised by the strength in my voice.
We resumed walking away from the house, but this time it was the little girl who squeezed my hand. “It’s okay now,” she said. “Everything will be all right. God always turns the bad into good.”
Unbidden tears filled my eyes. “I know,” I whispered.
Her hand dissolved into mine and I felt her body absorb into me. A renewed sense of life and vitality, hope and potential, swept through me as we became one, connected and whole as we were before the past separated us.
Was she free or was I? Had I saved her, or had she saved me? Perhaps through God’s healing touch, we saved each other.
Release the memories so they will release you.
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