It was happening to her again.
When she walked into the dining room, her mom noticed her pale expression, and asked, “Are you okay, child?” “You haven’t eaten anything much. I made your favorite chicken casserole.
“No, it’s nothing, I am fine, Mom”, Stacy replied.
As an afterthought, Stacy asked, “Did you and dad discuss the accident on the way back to Singapore?”
Her mom replied, “Oh yes, because we were surprised that we survived it! There was so much to talk about the incident. It was a miracle.
Our friends were in a state of shock that you survived without a scratch on you! Well, it is one of those incidences that would forever have me reeling with fear each time I think about it,” finished her Mom with a silent sigh.
After dinner, Stacy helped with the dishes, said that she was tired and wanted an early night. She went into her room after kissing her Mom goodnight.
She lay down on the bed and closed her eyes.
As she was drifting off to sleep, she was suddenly woken up to voices in a car. A few people were talking all at once.
Again it came back to her in a whirl - the same images.
The car kept spinning and a lady was screaming. There were other sounds too. Someone was groaning. It was a man.
Somebody was running towards the car, his face a blur. He carried a child and placed it onto another set of hands. Red stains, bloodstains were splashed everywhere. She heard cries of fear.
Stacy heard voices after voices like there were so many people talking all at the same time.
She saw her mother. She was sleeping or had she passed out. There were so many people surrounding them, while her mother slept. “Wake up Mom, wake up,” she was pleading. Her voice, barely a whisper.
She could not pronounce the words properly, though! She was sure she was saying it in her mind, but her tiny outstretched hands were touching her mother’s face. Her mother seemed to be in a deep sleep. “Mom, are you okay?” she heard herself ask. However, she didn’t answer her.
As days passed, Stacy grew sullen.
Besieged with the same flashbacks, she had restless nights waking up in cold sweats. She tried unsuccessfully to block out the images recurring from her mind.
However, it only got worse.
She decided to get professional help. Her blackouts were beginning to worry her. She was slowly drowning with fatigue and worry.
She didn’t want to see a shrink. The thought of it gave her goosebumps. She was at a crossroads about what to do.
Stacy woke up earlier than usual the next morning.
After her morning jog, she noticed her neighbor, Mr. Wong reversing his car out of the driveway. He was on his way to work.
He had a red convertible which Stacy admired.
She stopped to wave goodbye and saw his wife standing at the doorway of their house. Every morning she stood outside sending him off to work, with a smile and blow of kiss goodbye.
“Good Morning Mrs. Wong,” Stacy greeted her cheerily.
Returning the greeting, Mrs. Wong walked out to the lawn to speak to her. Smiling broadly, she said, “You went for your jog quite early I see, Stacy.”
Stacy replied, “Yes, Mrs. Wong. I had woken up earlier than usual today. Well, it is the early bird that catches the worm.”
Mrs. Wong agreed with Stacy before saying,
“Why, do you look tired, Stacy? Is everything okay with you?”
Stacy looked down at her shoes for a moment. She would get another pair of track shoes when she goes into town next.
Looking up again at Mrs. Wong, she said “I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was restless the whole night.”
She felt like crying when she spoke to Mrs. Wong.
Mrs. Wong’s voice held a note of concern and compassion.
Mrs. Wong noticed Stacy holding back her tears.
She walked nearer to Stacy, “Would you like to join me for a cup of coffee? We could have a chat.”
Stacy stifled a sob, accepting the kind invitation. “Yes, I would like that very much,” she replied gratefully.
Mr. and Mrs. Wong had been neighbors since Stacy and her family moved into the neighborhood about twenty-three years ago.
They were friendly, always courteous, and got on well with each other. Her husband was a pharmacist, while Mrs. Wong was a retired nurse.
After her retirement, Mrs. Wong took to indulging in her favorite past-time - gardening.
Stacy had always declared that Mrs. Wong’s garden which had the most beautiful roses and bougainvillea plants, the most impressive in the neighborhood. She had created an enchanting atmosphere with the plants she grew and tended to with so much care.
Mrs.Wong was famed for her green thumb. Her roses were recently awarded the first prize at the annual flower show in their small town.
Stacy lingered a little longer in the garden, admiring the roses, telling Mrs. Wong what she thought of it.
It did reflect the artistic talent she was gifted with.
After a lovely time admiring the garden, the ladies entered the house.
Stacy removed her shoes before going in. It was customary to do so when invited into an Asian home.
She contemplated whether to tell Mrs, Wong about her flashbacks.
Mrs. Wong, who was a trained nurse may be able to help. Or she might be able to refer her to someone qualified.
The interior of the house was as beautifully decorated as the garden.
Stacy was ushered into the kitchen to have their coffee. It overlooked a luscious garden in the backyard too. “How lovely!” Stacy thought.
Stacy sat down at the kitchen table and watched Mrs. Wong stir the coffee in the pot.
Stacy thought it best to inform her Mom of her whereabouts since she did not get a chance to see her before leaving the house that morning.
Her Mom was in the kitchen when she received Stacy’s call. “Okay sweetheart, take your time,” she said, after hearing that Stacy was next door.
As they sat sipping the hot beverage, Mrs. Wong told Stacy about her fascination for flowers, and how it turned into a passion that inspired her to create beautiful flower landscapes in her garden.
“It soon became a passion, and then, I was encouraged to participate in the flower shows. Well, my hard work paid off, I guess.”
“I think it is a rewarding passion to have and look at how it has proven to have inspired everyone around here. Anyone who passes your house will be inspired by its beauty,” Stacy said admiringly.
Mrs. Wong decided to ask Stacy what was bothering her. The girl seemed to have calmed down after nearly bursting into tears earlier.
“Tell me what is worrying you, child. I would love to help. Is there someone special in your life? I have never seen you with a boyfriend.”
Stacy shook her head sadly, saying “No, it is nothing like that, Mrs. Wong.
“I have been experiencing some sort of flashbacks from my past. Especially painful memories, after which, I get monstrous headaches. I have even had blackouts due to that, and unfortunately, it is now recurring more frequently, It keeps me awake most nights.”
“Oh, tell me about the painful memories, Stacy. Talking at length about it always helps.” Mrs. Wong encouraged.
“It starts with voices, people talking around me, then I see a red car spinning, turning turtle and crashing into another car, before coming to a stop at a junction.
“I must tell you, beforehand, that my family and I were in a horrible accident when I was two months old. The circumstances in which it happened are similar to my flashbacks. We were traveling to Singapore with two other friends in a red car when Dad lost control, and we crashed into a speeding oncoming vehicle.
Mom said that it was a miracle, we all survived that crash!
It was only yesterday Mom related the whole incident to me.
After that, I felt a little squeamish, fearful, and started breaking into a cold sweat. It felt so strange.”
Mrs.Wong listened quietly.
Once Stacy had finished, she said, “Even now as you relay this to me, I can see the look of fear reflected in your eyes. I can see how you are affected.”
Stacy was quiet for a few minutes.
“It could be the trauma you experienced coming back to you. Subconsciously, it may have triggered the fear that you have suppressed as a child.” Mrs. Wong informed.
She explained that, as a professionally trained nurse, she had come across a couple of similar cases, and the patients were usually referred to psychiatrists.
“It helps to talk to a medically trained professional about these things,” she added again.
Mrs. Wong also said that there were people who believed that they were reborn, whose previous life is somehow related to the present, hence experience deja vu moments in the form of recurring dreams – reincarnation they call it.
Stacy felt herself go cold when she heard that. She didn’t want to be one of those whose previous life is related to the present.
She admitted, “That is a frightening thought.”
Then added, “however, the flashback relates to an accident that happened when I was two months old, and I can’t understand why it is coming back to after all these years. It’s a nightmare each time I recollect the incident.”
Mrs. Wong was thoughtful for a moment.
She had to weigh what Stacy was saying very seriously.
She stood up to fry some bacon and eggs. She suddenly realized that Stacy would be hungry after her jog. She was herself hungry.
“Let me get some breakfast. Does bacon and eggs sound good to you?”
Stacy welcomed the idea of bacon and eggs. She was admittedly hungry after her jog.
While Mrs. Wong was busy at the stove, she looked around the kitchen. It was spotless.
The walls had yellow sunflowers on the tiles. The floors were of white marble.
The windows were wide open, and the morning breeze blew in. The lacy curtains moved to the gentle breeze.
The curtains were bright yellow with little printed sunflowers, brightening even more as it caught the rays of sunlight filtering through them.
The ambiance made her light-hearted and carefree.
She was suddenly brought out of her sunny reverie by the appetizing aroma of bacon and eggs.
“I am happy to have you join me for breakfast, Stacy”, said Mrs. Wong, lightheartedly.
Mr. Wong normally has his favorite noodle soup every day at the restaurant near his place of work, so it is nice to have company for a change on a weekday.”
The two ladies had a hearty breakfast that morning.
Stacy suddenly thought that it was a good thing that she stopped to wave at Mr. Wong that morning which led her to speak about her fears to his wife.
She felt a lot better. She decided to take Mrs. Wong in her confidence.