I had the dream again. I had to muffle my cries when I awoke not wanting to rouse my parents. If they knew I was still having the dream, I would be right back where I started. Weekly visits to the psychiatrist and a return to the daily doses of anti-depressants I worked so hard to get off.
It was the third time this month I had the dream and kept it to myself. I didn’t want my parents to think I couldn’t handle starting college in the fall.
The dream was always the same. It started with my boyfriend, Kyle and I taking the trip to his parent’s cabin. We had decided after graduation that the trip to the cabin would be the first time we would be together. Kyle wasn’t a virgin, but I was. He never pushed me to have sex, which was one of the reasons I loved him so much. He was always kind, gentle, and had great patience when it came to me.
The night of the accident was what started the dreams. I wish I could say they were just that, dreams, but they weren’t. They were a constant reminder, forcing me to relive the events that unfolded during that fateful evening. The dreams were so vivid all I had to do was close my eyes and I was there.
While Kyle and I rode silently in his SUV, too nervous to talk, I thought about how great that night was going to be and how much I loved him. All those feelings came to a crushing halt as I shouted at Kyle to look out for a man standing in the middle of the road. Kyle swerved so hard the SUV flipped and went skidding across the lane. My cries of horror were silenced by the sound of metal scraping against concrete and the crunching noise the windows made when they shattered.
Disoriented from the crash I struggled to get out of the car. I called Kyle’s name several times. He didn’t respond. I turned my head towards my now broken window and through my blurred vision I saw a man approaching the vehicle. I started to scream for help, but the man did not supply his aid. Instead he stood there and watched as the SUV started to burn. I stared back at the man, my expression pleading for him to help us. I couldn’t see his face, it was too dark, but his eyes, I swear they were glowing. I thought maybe it was a trick of the light, reflection of the moon, but my gut told me I was not hallucinating. I stopped calling for his help.
I knew I had to get us out before the car became completely engulfed in flames. My shaking hands grasped the edge of the window frame. Adrenaline kicking in as I pulled myself out from the wreckage. I hobbled around the front, trying to get to Kyle, but before I had a chance to reach him, the strange man appeared in front of me from out of nowhere. I sucked in a sharp breath as he gripped my arms. My eyes closed as the fear started to set in but when I opened them moments later, he was gone. There was no trace of him anywhere. Pushing my fear aside I turned to Kyle trying desperately to pull him out, but he was caught in the wreckage and the heat from the fire was too much. Through my tears I screamed and pulled, trying to free him. Seconds later, I was flying, rolling onto the hard dirt and into the thick trees. I struggled to lift my head as the weight of the body on top of me kept me down. My face was protected by long arms as I heard a pop and loud boom. I screamed as I turned and watched the SUV burn.
I had this same dream over and over again. It never changed and it always started and ended the same. I felt this was my punishment for surviving the crash when Kyle didn’t.
The man that they say saved me that night was a local resident who heard the crash, though I never did see him or find out his name. He disappeared quickly after the cops arrived. They told me I was lucky he heard the crash or I, too, might not have survived.
The dreams were a constant reminder of that painful event I endured back in June. A reminder of the day I tried so hard to forget. Although I recounted to my parents and various therapists what had happened, I never told anyone about the strange man with the glowing eyes. I was too afraid to mention it and they would probably just say I imagined him due to the severity of the trauma. I never did see his face. I was too focused on the intense glow of his yellow eyes.
I pushed the image out of my head, knowing I was doomed to see him over and over in my dreams. I was starting to believe maybe I made him up and that my subconscious was playing tricks on me.
I got up out of bed and quietly made my way to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Back in my room I set the glass on my nightstand and head into my bathroom. I splashed some cold water on my face to get rid of the perspiration that had drenched my hair. I looked at my pitiful reflection in the mirror, fighting back the tears. Gripping the edges of the sink I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. When I was finally able to calm down, I laid back in bed and prayed for sleep.
Ginger, our family dog, woke me up the next morning nudging me with her long, black nose. She knew it was past time for me to get up. The whole family was taking a weekend trip together. My mom said she wanted everyone to spend some time together before I left for college. I would have rather stayed home, but I knew it would upset my mom if I didn’t go.
I stepped out of bed stretching my arms above my head feeling better than I did a few hours ago. I gave Ginger a few pats on the head encouraging the German Sheppard to follow me downstairs. When I reached the kitchen my nose is assaulted with all kinds of delicious smells. As soon as my bare feet hit the cold tiled floor I instantly regretted not grabbing my slippers. I quickly made my way to the safety of the plush carpet covering the dining room floor. My eyes widened at the enormous spread of food that covered the entire table.
“Good morning sweetheart,” my mom said, smiling brightly by the kitchen counter. She was sipping her morning cup of coffee, stray pieces of her hair sticking out everywhere from her ponytail showing signs of a person who had been up since the crack of dawn cooking.
“Hi mom,” I replied stealing a piece of toast from the table. “What’s with all the food? Expecting company?”
“No, but you know how your brothers eat.”
It was true. My brothers always ate as if it was their last meal.
I sat down at the table and helped myself to the smorgasbord of breakfast foods knowing if I waited for my brothers there would be nothing left. As soon as I finished filling my plate my oldest brother, Xander, walked into the kitchen and ruffled my hair as he grabbed a dish.
“Good morning.” I managed with a mouth full of food. I watched as he piled his plate high.
“Where’s Dean?” my mom asked sitting at the table to join us.
“Still sleeping,” Xander replied while stealing a piece of bacon from my plate.
“Ella dear, will you please go wake up your brother.”
I let out a sigh and got up from the table just as Xander stole another piece of my bacon. I smacked his hand. “There’s a whole tray of bacon. Why do you have to take mine?” I growled.
“Cause your plate is closer.”
I rolled my eyes at him and decided to take my plate with me for fear of it being empty by the time I got back. Chewing greedily on a greasy piece of bacon, I trudged up the steps to the second floor, dragging my feet down the hall to Dean’s room. I knocked lightly to be sure I wasn’t about to walk in on something that might cause a whole set of new nightmares. To my surprise everything was quiet. Dean was passed out face down on his bed, still in what I assumed to be yesterday’s clothes.
Dean just finished his second year of college, but due to his need to party more than study, he had to take some summer courses to pull up his grades. After finishing his summer semester last week he apparently thought he needed to catch up on all the partying he missed. Obviously he didn’t learn his lesson.
I pushed the door open all the way and walked across the room side stepping dirty and probably clean clothes strewn across the floor. I sat on the edge of his bed beside him and waved my plate of food in front of his face trying to wake him with the delicious aroma. His nose twitched slightly. I pulled my plate back and continued to eat my breakfast.
“What do you want Ella?” he grumbled.
“Mom told me to wake you. Breakfast is ready.”
He lifted his head slightly and with one eye open stared at me while I ate. He tried to steal some food from my plate, but I quickly pulled it away. I gobbled up a spoonful of eggs and rubbed my belly, indicating how good they tasted. He took the plate from my lap and started to eat my breakfast. “Hey!” I whined.
“Breakfast in bed, you shouldn’t have.”
“I didn’t, jerk. Give that back.” I ripped the plate away and took what was left of my breakfast, stomping out of the room. I was so happy when my brothers left for college. I didn’t have to fight to get table scraps.
Dean eventually stumbled out of bed and joined us downstairs. He looked like a typical college student who was out partying all night. His brown eyes were all bloodshot, his dark brown hair a mess, and his clothes, wrinkled. He walked straight over to our mom and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“Where’s dad?” I asked.
“He’s in his office doing some last minute business,” my mom replied.
“He better hurry up or there will be no food left,” I said, watching my brothers gobble it all up.
“Why don’t you make him a plate and take it up to him,” my mom suggested, handing me one. I filled it up with all his favorites: pancakes, eggs, toast, and bacon, and carried it back up the stairs to my dad’s office. “Dad,” I called, knocking on the door and slowly pushing it open.
“Ella honey, come in,” he gestured with his hands.
“I brought you some breakfast before the pigs downstairs eat it all,” I said, handing him the plate.
He smiled and kissed me on the forehead. “Thank you, it looks wonderful.” His office phone rang and he checked the caller I.D. “Excuse me Ella, but I have to take this. It’s business.”
I nodded understanding and headed back down to the kitchen. Of course by the time I got back downstairs the food was half gone and cold. I took what was left and threw it in the microwave. Carrying my plate back to the table I sat back down to hopefully, finally finish my breakfast.
“You’re still eating? You better hurry up and finish. We’ll be leaving soon.” I looked at my mom thinking she was kidding, but her face told me she wasn’t. I shoveled as much food as I could into my mouth, then rinsed off my plate and placed it in the dishwasher. Out of habit I started to clean up the mess my brothers had left until our maid, Danni, shooed me away.
“You make it hard for me to do my job when you do it for me,” Danni said, smiling politely at me.
“Sorry, just wanted to help,” I shrugged.
“Thank you, but I’m fine and you need to get ready to go.” Danni pushed me out of the kitchen and in the direction of the stairs.
Danni and I got along very well. She wasn’t too much older than me, somewhere in her mid to late twenties. She took this job to help pay for school. She had gotten pregnant right out of high school and had to put some things on hold. She’s a single parent and a good one at that. Her daughter always comes first.
My parents took a liking to Danni right away and kind of took her under their wing. My entire family loved Danni and her daughter and always treated them like they were part of our family. Dean even had a crush on Danni and doesn’t shy about letting her know it. Danni would always politely decline Dean’s advances, but that didn’t stop him from trying. I could see why he liked her. She had golden blond hair that fell delicately over her shoulders, a tiny figure like a dancer, baby blue eyes, and a smile so big it could light up any room. She was kind, friendly, and very family oriented.
My parents gave Danni a decent place to live, help her out when she needs a sitter, and give her all the time off she needed for school and for her daughter, Hadley. They definitely pay her more than the traditional maid’s salary. Being as fortunate as we were my mom believes that we should give back to people who were less fortunate which was why she was active in many different charities and always trying to get us involved as well. I liked helping my mom and watching how passionate she was when it came to helping others. For as much shopping as I did I was always donating shoes and clothes to the local homeless shelters.
People always assume that because we had money it meant we were spoiled snobs, but we were quite the opposite. I couldn’t deny that we were spoiled, but we didn’t fall into the snob category. Well, except for Dean.
I hated being judged for the fact that I had money because that was not what we were about. While I agree I had no problem spending it, I did have a problem with people thinking that was all I cared about. My mom taught us not worry about what other people thought. Just because we may be more fortunate than others doesn’t make us bad people or superior to others. “Always remember to be humble,” my mom would say.
By the time I reached my room, my mom was already in there packing my suitcase. “Mom, I can pack my own suitcase. I’m not five.”
“I know dear. I just like to make sure you don’t forget anything, seeing that you like to leave things to the last minute.” I stifled an eye roll and walked over to sit on my bed next to Ginger who had already made herself comfortable.
I watched as my mom glided gracefully over the floor to my dresser while humming a tune. I swear she was Mary Poppins in a former life. Her red hair was still a mess from this morning, her petite body was covered up in a sweat suit, and her freshly manicured nails were starting to chip. My mom wasn’t the type to get caught up with her looks. When she needed to look presentable she always outdid herself, but on days like today, it didn’t matter.
“Do I have time to shower before we leave?” I asked.
She let out a sigh answering, “Quickly.”
I hopped off my bed and jumped in the shower. We only had two bathrooms at the cabin, so I shared one with my brothers.
I barely had time to dry my hair because my mom was rushing us out the door. I quickly threw my hair up into a ponytail and slipped into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. My mom handed Danni a list of things that needed to be done while we were away as the rest of us loaded our suitcases into the car. I climbed into the back seat with Ginger and put on my head phones to drown out the noise, hoping I could sleep on the way to the cabin.