Hi again. Here’s part four. I know I said I’d finish the story today and I beg your forgiveness for not living up to my promise. My only excuse is that my computer is going wonky. Really wonky. Won’t communicate with my printer and when I turn it on I don’t know if it’ll boot up like a nice little computer or whether some strange symbols will appear. My plan is to take it to my favorite guru next week and have him do his magic. Until then, though, I decided to get what I could on this blog so there will at least be another part to the story of Jenna’s waking dream.
So have you ever had a dream while awake? I must admit I have not but I know people who have. They say there’s a difference between a waking dream and a vision. Again, I wouldn’t know because not only do I not have waking dreams, I’m not psychic either. But I know people who are and they are pretty definite about there being a difference.
I didn’t wait that long because I couldn’t sleep. By the time the sun’s first rays sliced between those city buildings I’d left a message for work that I’d be taking a week’s vacation. Why not? My boss had nagged me unmercifully about not taking earned vacation time and that house in the forest needed occasional maintenance. It was a slow time at work but the yard to my forest house must be overgrown and the house itself should be aired out. So, taking enough time to stock up on a week’s worth of food at the neighborhood supermarket, I set off.
By the time that sun was peeking between trees instead of skyscrapers, I was almost home. I’d been raised in the city but, though I loved it, people and buildings close together never held the same meaning as the clapboard house in a clearing in the forest that belonged to my childhood.
When I reached that part of the forest that was deep enough that evergreens closed over the road, I took a deep breath and tried to think. I’d come willy-nilly, without a thought beyond finding out why this had happened but I didn’t know what I’d do when I found the object of my search. Whether MaryLynn Abigail Smith and her father would still be at the campground. Whether they’d talk to me if they were. Whether MaryLynn’s father would listen to my story or call the authorities because I was clearly delusional. Which is what I’d thought until seeing MaryLynn on television.
Now, as I turned into the entrance to the campground and slowed and took that deep breath, I didn’t know what to think. What to believe. Because the reality evoked more questions than the dream ever had.
Real morning, daylight and people moving around, arrived at the campground about the same time I did. It was a large place, with several long, winding roads with campsites on either sided. How to find one small girl among the hundreds of families there for the weekend?
A man was filling a water jug at a pump. I decided to ask for help. Maybe he knew about the lost girl. At the least, he could direct me to the campground host. A small girl stood beside the man, jumping impatiently from one foot to the other. There was something familiar about the girl. I looked closer and my breath stopped. It was MaryLynn.
I parked carefully, got out, took more time than necessary to lock it and made no move to approach MaryLynn and her father. What to say? I couldn’t function. I was frozen in place.
Not so MaryLynn. As she jumped from foot to foot, she turned, doing a little dance. Around and around, taking in the trees, the sky, and some birds that had her flapping her arms in imitation of the way they flew. And me. Her jumping stopped. Her eyes went wide. Her arms fell to her side, and then lifted as she moved once again.
“You came. They said you wouldn’t but I said you would.” The next thing I knew I was struggling to keep my footing as a very small girl plowed into me with the force of a runaway train. “What took you so long?” And I found my waist enfolded in a passionate embrace as that was as high as she could reach, her head buried in my tee shirt.
I looked over her head to the man who’d followed and was now carrying a jug of water as he stared at MaryLynn and me as if considering a riddle he couldn’t solve. Or didn’t want to.
I wished I’d chosen my clothes more carefully that morning. Something flattering rather than the first thing I found. Wished I’d spent time on my hair instead of tying it back in a ponytail. Wished he wouldn’t stare at me.
“You’re MaryLynn’s angel.”
I nodded mutely as I struggled to find my voice. “I’m not an angel.”
“Of course you aren’t. But you saved my daughter. You found her in the forest and brought her to me.” I said nothing, did nothing beyond hugging MaryLynn. “And then you left.” Our eyes met over MaryLynn. “Why? Why’d you leave her? Why didn’t you come to the campground?”
What to say? I took a deep breath as MaryLynn’s grip on my waist lessened and she tipped her head back so as to see my answer. “It’s a long story.”
He pursed his lips, and then looked around. In the short time since MaryLynn saw me, we’d attracted a small amount of attention. Several people watched curiously. Surely everyone in the campground knew the story of the little girl who was lost and brought back by someone she called an angel. Here she was now, hugging a strange woman. They smelled a story and moved closer to overhear our conversation.
MaryLynn’s father took in the onlookers with a sweeping gaze. “Come on. This isn’t the place to talk. Our tent isn’t large but it’s private.” Not wanting to become the object of stares any more than he did, I nodded and, unclasping MaryLynn’s hands from my waist and taking them in mine, I followed him to a green tent not far away. He opened the flap and we all crawled inside.
“Now what’s this all about?” Something about me bothered him. He didn’t trust me as his daughter did. I took a deep breath and decided I wouldn’t trust me either if my daughter had been lost and found by a disappearing angel. “Are you hiding from the law? Because if you are, I won’t turn you in. You saved my daughter… “He thought I was a criminal? The idea was so absurd that I laughed and he stopped mid-sentence. “Not that? You aren’t wanted for some crime? Then what? Why bring MaryLynn to safety then leave the instant you knew she’d be found by searchers.”
The laughter died in my throat. It was time for honesty. But where to start? I didn’t know so I just jumped in. “Because I wasn’t there.” He blinked and waited for me to clarify a clear untruth. “Not really. Not in the flesh.”
“Not there?” His eyes narrowed as his suspicion grew. “You talked with her, you showed her the way back to the campground. She saw you, she recognized you just now. But you weren’t there.” He made a guttural sound, the kind a father might make when defending his family.
My head dropped. I couldn’t meet that distrust any longer. “I can’t explain it any more than you can. All I know is that I was in the park across from my apartment in the city watching a baseball game when I had a dream.” I peeked at him. He was still angry, believing I was deceiving him somehow, but he was listening. “A dream while I was wide awake and MaryLynn was in that dream and she was lost in the woods where I’d played as a child and I knew I had to help her.”
He leaned back and placed his hands on his knees, examining me with a look that bored through me. I shivered beneath the force of that look but didn’t back down. “It’s the truth.”
Silence filled the small tent along with the first cracks in a disbelief that was pushing against me. It was too small a tent for anyone to stand in and we three were huddled close to each other, MaryLynn between us, holding hands with us. I let my gaze drift, waiting for more cracks to appear in that disbelief. Shadows of people moved past as the campground came to life and as news of the appearance of MaryLynn’s angel spread and everyone wanted to know what was happening.
MaryLynn’s father examined the shadows. “What say we go somewhere else? We can talk over breakfast.”
I almost cheered because the disbelief had lessened enough to allow normal human interaction between us. “We can go to my house.”
“You live nearby?” The eyes narrowed again, distrust returning full force. I’d just told him about my apartment in the city.
“I live in the city but when my parents retired instead of selling their house they gave it to me. Because houses in the forest don’t sell for much and I always loved it there.” I gave one last try at changing how he felt about me. “MaryLynn was less than a hundred yards from where I grew up.”
It worked. The disbelief disappeared or was temporarily suspended. “Okay.”
He led the way to a car loaded with gear. They’d been preparing to leave. If I’d been much later arriving, I’d have missed them. “Follow me.” He said he could shove some things aside to make room for me in their car but I had food in mine that should be refrigerated so he finally agreed to follow me to my forest home. “We can have breakfast there.” He didn’t care about breakfast. “When we’re done I’ll show you where MaryLynn was when she was lost.” That did it. He couldn’t wait to see where his daughter had been when he’d been frantically looking for her.