Authors: P.J. Rhea
The Lost Memories of a Lost Child
Brighton Publishing LLC
435 N. Harris Drive
Mesa, AZ 85203
Copyright © 2015
Cover Design: Tom Rodriguez
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. The characters in this book are fictitious and the creation of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to other characters or to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
I would like to dedicate this book to my six grandchildren; Michael, Kayla, Slaid, Mackenzie, Jack, and Zaniyah. May your child hood be filled with sweet dreams. And to my sister Karren who gave me encouragement to follow my dream of becoming an author.
Being a parent can be stressful, and being a good parent will not be easy but will be one of the most important jobs you will ever have to do.
Every child deserves to be loved, to be encouraged and taken care of but sadly that is not always the case. I would like to acknowledge and give thanks to all the parents who love their children above and beyond what is physically required. Parents who not only love them but also support their dreams and give them wings to fly as well as a safe place to land. My three children are such parents and make me proud every day for the dedication they show toward raising their children. Matthew, Christopher and Carrie, thank you for being such excellent parents to my most precious gifts from God. I also have to thank the other parents of my grandchildren. Tara, Melinda and Shamicheal; you're the best.
I used to love scary movies. It seemed they always occurred in large old houses on the outskirts of towns. There would certainly be dense woods surrounding the property necessary for running through to escape the ghost that was determined to catch the person fleeing from the house. There would also be a lake where someone had drowned or a body had been disposed of.
Now, the ghost must catch the person in the movie. After all, he or she had discovered the secret of the house and its former occupants, which meant that person must also die. My heart would pound and my grip on the chair would tighten as doom closed in on the beloved character. The great thing was the hero of the move always escaped in the end.
In real life, when the ghost come they are not trapped in big old houses deep in the woods. They are often in the ordinary house in the middle of a block surrounded by other ordinary houses, or they could exist in a reasonably priced apartment in the middle of a big
city. The scariest ghosts are the ones that live inside our minds. Some ghost, I have found, live as our memories. Those are the ones we can’t run and hide from. Those are the ones we can’t escape. They seem to find us no matter where we go.
For at least fifteen years of my life, I had no memories to haunt me. I had no fond memories either. It was as if I had come into existence in the middle of my childhood. It just seems logical that a person would remember the things that lead them to where they are now. Don’t most people remember little stories from their childhood like the funny tails we share at family gatherings that make us laugh? We tell our own children the lessons we learned in hopes that they will learn from our mistakes and not do the same things we did.
It has been made painfully clear to me that this isn’t always the case. I know now that my reality is mine and no one else’s and that some scars are not on the outside.
I know now that there are ghosts that rattle around in our heads, free to haunt us whenever they please while often no one notices at all. These ghosts, like memories, can often be mistaken for nightmares.
She ran down the hall with her chubby bare feet slapping against the wooden floor. A mass of blond curls knotted by sleep or perhaps neglect was gathered at the end with a rubber band, but most of it had escaped the grip and wrapped around her short white neck like a scarf. Her blue eyes were wide with fear, and I could sense her fear in my own body. I felt our hearts pounding in our chests as adrenaline surged the blood quickly through our veins. Tears were wetting our cheeks, and she kept looking back to see if whatever she feared was about to catch up with her. If I could feel her fear, why couldn’t I see what she feared? Why did I feel so afraid for myself?
She darted into the bathroom and hid in the closet behind the hamper. I could smell the moldiness of clothes left too long in a hot damp room before washing. I felt as if I were watching from a distance. I didn’t know her but she was so familiar. The room was also familiar. The bar of Ivory soap that lay on the dish in the bathtub, the rust line that ran down the sink from the faucet to the drain from the constant drip of water, and even the fuzzy pink rug and toilet seat cover made me feel as if I had seen the room many times before. There were clothes hung on wire hangers along the shower rod. I knew they were hung there to dry, and I felt as if I had hidden behind them before. The room seemed more like a memory than a dream, and I was a witness of sorts watching this poor frightened little girl hide from what felt like a monster.
As she cowered in the closet, I saw the room through her eyes. It was dark in the closet, but the moonlight that peaked through the window at the end of the hallway reflected on the mirror above the sink and gave some shadow to the objects in the bathroom. I felt her every emotion as if I were inside her body, but at the same time I felt as if I was still watching from somewhere else. I knew her little heart was beating wildly, pounding hard in her chest to the point she couldn’t easily hear where the monster was.
The closet was so hot. A water heater was in the back of the closet, and it made it so warm in that cramped, molded hiding place that I felt sweat trickle down our backs. It was eerily quiet. The girl was trying to peak through the opening in the door. We noticed a small spider crawl into the closet. She was very afraid of spiders but more afraid of the monster outside of the closet. We knew he was still out there, but he was just standing in the doorway teasing her. He was letting her fear grow, and I just knew that he was smiling. He had to be enjoying the fear he was causing.
The monster shifted his weight and the floor creaked. I saw a large shadow on the wall in the shape of a man, but I couldn’t see his face. He was holding something in his hand. The light reflecting from the mirror revealed what it was: a belt folded in half. He snapped it to make a loud popping sound. The monster knew the girl was in the closet. He called out to her, demanding that she come out and take her punishment. She tried to be still and quiet, but her tears are uncontrollable and she made a soft whimper, which assured him of her location. Our hearts were pounding again. But now the pounding was so hard it seemed to shake our bodies all over. Could he hear the beating as it pounded in our ears? He put his hand on the doorknob, and the door started to creak and slowly open. She could see his reflection in the mirror through the small opening, and her tiny body jerked with fear. We wet our pants.
“Kat, you wet the bed again, what is wrong with you?”
My husband was angry because he had to change the sleeping shorts he always wore and let me change the sheets. This was not the first time this had happened. For several weeks I had been dreaming about the mystery child who seemed to be trying to relay a message to me and on a few occasions had wet her pants from fear, and I had done the same.
“I am so sorry, Jason; please don’t be mad at me. You know I can’t help when it happens, and it upsets me too. I can’t seem to control it.”
Jason stood in the doorway of the bathroom. He rubbed his tired eyes with the palms of his hands as if trying to remove the thought he was having, and then took in a long deep breath that he exhaled slowly. He looked at me with sympathy for a few seconds before finally speaking.
“Kat, I’m not mad at you. I’m just so frustrated and tired. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in weeks now!”
I haven’t either
, I thought but didn’t say it out loud. If we weren’t up at some ridiculous hour changing sheets then he was being hit by flying limbs as I thrashed around in the bed fighting off some invisible monster. Sometimes Jason would wake up and find me missing from our bed only to discover me standing in the hall fast asleep or cowering in the closet. I was just as exhausted as Jason and felt so guilty for what my nightmares were doing to him.
I went to see my doctor thinking maybe I needed something to help me relax. After making sure the bed-wetting was not due to any medical problem, the doctor suggested something to help me sleep, which in turn helped Jason sleep. I still had my nightmares, but I seemed to sleep so soundly I didn’t disturb Jason. I had stopped the thrashing around and the sleepwalking. I hadn’t hidden in the closet in a couple of weeks. The only thing the pills had not stopped was the bed-wetting.
“Maybe you need to see a different type of doctor about this,” Jason suggested while stuffing the wet shorts and sheets into the laundry basket.
“Oh, so now I’m crazy,” I said with a huff and jerked the sheets over the corners of the mattress. I wasn’t really upset that he’d suggested it but was furious because he was right. I noticed the desperate look on his face. He had not meant to upset me, and I knew that but it didn’t stop me from reacting.
“I’ll look into it,” I snapped as I got back into the bed and pulled the cover to my neck, and then I immediately felt sorry.
If it had only been a matter of the dreams I would have blamed the fact that our five-year-old daughter, Gracie, was about to start school. I had always been overprotective; never letting her go to daycare for fear something could happen to her. Now that I had no choice but to let her go, I was in panic mode. I had even suggested homeschooling, and Jason had put his foot down.
“No, Kat! You are not going to let your paranoia hold her back.”
It wasn’t like she was unprepared for school. I had spent hours teaching her the alphabet and her numbers. She could even read a little and was a very bright child. I had enrolled her in playgroups and different activities that had allowed her to interact with other children, but always with me nearby to keep an eye on her. Was I the only mother so concerned, so protective?
“She needs to have some independence; you are going to make her a social outcast if you don’t cut her some slack,” Jason had insisted.
My fear of Gracie being away from my protection may have explained the dreams about a scared little girl, but the fear I felt during the dreams and the bed-wetting several times a week seemed extreme, even for the most paranoid parent.
I had to be honest with myself. I knew the dreams and the bed-wetting had not been our only problem. There were problems in my marriage that stemmed from somewhere, and I needed to stop resisting and seek some professional help.
Jason was a wonderful man, a good husband, and a fantastic father. I loved him madly, and he was extremely handsome and sexy. I was very attracted to him, but I had problems with intimacy that made no sense. It kept us both on edge. He had been more patient with than most men probably would have been.
I would go to extremes to avoid him seeing me totally naked. It had nothing to do with body image. I was slim and toned. Exercise had always been a daily thing for me, and I was a very healthy eater; but being completely naked even when alone made me feel uneasy. I would rush to dress as if someone were peaking at me from somewhere. Even when I was alone I took extreme measures to dress quickly and often hid behind closed doors to insure privacy.
The problems with my “shyness” began even before we married. Jason and I had started dating our freshman year of high school. We attended the same church and had taken the purity pledge together with our Sunday school class. All the kids were given rings to wear to remind us to stay pure until marriage. There were times when keeping that promise wasn’t so easy. Jason and I were in love and once we were engaged to be married, Jason would reason that we shouldn’t have to wait because, after all, we were officially promised to each other and had saved ourselves for one another. I just assumed my insistence on waiting was because I wanted to keep my promise to God, but on our wedding night I realized there was more to it.
As we drove to our hotel on the South Carolina coast, I was excited and feeling sexy and eager. I was ready to finally give myself completely to the man I had loved from my early teens. Jason carried me into our suite, and I squealed with joy when I saw the beautiful view of the ocean from our balcony. It was perfect, and I was the happiest woman alive. I was happy, that is, until we walked into the bedroom, and I saw that the bathroom to our love nest was open with no door to hide behind. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt panic and a sickness in the pit of my stomach. I told Jason I was just really shy, so he didn’t complain too much when I insisted on draping a beach towel over the clear glass door of the shower. He was really disappointed when I was unwilling to join him in the extra-large whirlpool tub in the corner of the room. I even found myself darting from the shower stall to the tiny room that held the toilet in order to dress. It was the only room with a door that would lock. I felt completely idiotic over my behavior, but it was something I couldn’t seem to overcome.
Once we were in bed and under the covers I was fine, and our lovemaking was everything I had dreamed of and more. Jason was patient and gentle. I could have stayed all day and night in his arms, but as soon as we left the safe confines of our bed, I went into crazy mode and treated Jason as if he were some pervert for the normal flirtation one would expect from a man who had just married the woman he loved. There was a feeling that crept from my stomach to my throat whenever Jason would try to initiate sex anywhere other than in our bed. It was almost a fear, but I wasn’t the least bit afraid of Jason. I knew I was hurting his feelings, but I had no explanation for my behavior.
Things improved with time. With deliberate effort I overcame some of my shyness, but the bathroom was still my biggest issue. Jason had been tolerant of my phobia, but he resented my uneasiness around him. We had assumed after Gracie was born that I would be different. I was fine breastfeeding in front of my husband. Goodness knows he saw every inch of me during the birth process, but I still could not let go of all of my hang-ups.
“I’m your husband, Kat. We have a child together, but sometimes I feel like a peeping tom trying to see my own wife.”
I knew he had a right to be upset. It wasn’t natural to be this way with my husband. I was fine with our sex life. I enjoyed it, but only if it were restricted to the bedroom. If he attempted to touch me in any other room, I would almost become angry; and the worst reaction was still in the bathroom. I insisted on total privacy in the bathroom for anything other than brushing my teeth or putting on my makeup.
On several occasions I had heard my friends laugh and joke about the sexual antics between them and their partners in every room of the house; especially, it seemed, in the bathroom. They would boast of running through the house naked together when the kids were away and even creating games. I would feel my face blush during those conversations. The idea was not only repulsive to me, but also frightening. What was wrong with me? I was married to a man I loved, who I considered extremely sexy, and who was in love with me and yet I acted as if I couldn’t stand his touch at times. I knew these were unnatural reactions, even overreactions, but I couldn’t help it. I needed to do something or risk losing my husband.