Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Archeological Reminiscence

            My parents slept together in the front upstairs bedroom.  Entering their bedroom through the only door, one would see a window in the right wall that looked out over our neighbor’s yard, house, and to the intersection below.  A window straight ahead on the west wall overlooked a busy street which was really a two lane state highway. Beyond the highway was a glass factory.  Visible above and beyond the glass factory roof were the hillsides of the eastern Ohio border sloping down to the river below.

            I do not remember if my parents’ bed was a king or a queen, but when I was a young child of perhaps four or five, it seemed gigantic.  I also don’t recall how often I slept with my parents, safely nestled between them, or why.  I must have slept with them at least once, perhaps more often, but I think spending the night with them in their bed was not something I was in the habit of.

            One night while I was lying with my parents in their bed, perhaps the very same bed in which I was conceived, the strangers I saw walking around that darkened room both scared and fascinated me.  I cannot remember if my parents were awake or sleeping at the time, but I was awake.  And rather than closing my eyes in fear, I watched those ghostly intruders, tall, thin, and dark, sauntering in procession between me and the walls.

            For some reason, I did not then tell or ever tell my parents about those shadowy figures – those phantoms of the night.  Perhaps I did not want to wake my parents at the time or burden them later. Perhaps I did not want to admit my fear or confess my fascination. They were my secret.

            While I was both afraid and in awe of those night visitors, I also felt somewhat safe and secure snuggled in between my sleeping parents.  Nevertheless, the memory of this experience, one of my earliest memories, has stayed with me for over fifty years.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see those ghostly figures, like ancestors dug up and visiting from beyond the grave, as if they visited me as recently as last night.

            I eventually came to theorize that the appearance of these nocturnal strangers probably coincided with cars and trucks travelling up and down the road, perhaps turning the corner below the house.  Maybe their headlights had somehow shone or reflected through the trees and curtains, through the windows, and projected shadows moving across the walls like images in Plato’s cave.

            To this young child, those specters were mysterious, fascinating, perhaps even malevolent, and I have never told anyone about them – until now.

               (Note: I started working on this while attending a writer's workshop at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fl in the spring of 2014. We chose from one of several Dali's paintings to use as a writing prompt.) 

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