Connections are important.
Kameron had developed this philosophy as a child. Oddly enough, it was only after having made the realization that she was inexplicably disconnected from those around her, that she was able to come to this conclusion.
She was walking by the sea. She had followed the scent of salt and shells to a row of windswept homes. She followed a narrow and winding footpath, enjoying the sensation of warm evening breeze tickling the edges of her skirt and white sand snaking between her toes. Seagulls swooped across the sky, their deafening shrieks slicing into the late-afternoon. The summer air was over warm and stiflingly sultry, but she didn't mind that very much. She was mildly dismayed when the footpath ended suddenly and she was standing before a seemingly forgotten little bungalow, shrouded in tall grass and caught in the throes of being swallowed up by a weeping willow tree. The hollowed out old house, cradled by droopy willow tree roots and mist, made her uneasy. Looming at the very edge of dusk, its mahogany bones glittered in the crimson remnants of sunset. The glass pane windows were like monstrous, hollow eyes. The perfect recipe for a haunted house, it set her teeth on edge. She felt that certain click in her mind. Her muscles trembled and the hairs on her skin were suddenly electrified. An old memory surfaced, uninvited, of another house, the only other house to have elicited such instantaneous and inexplicable unease.
When she was twelve years old, she was sent to live with relatives in a small town just north of Ocho Rios, in Jamaica. She would walk a few miles each day, to the local elementary school. To get to and from school, and just about to anywhere else, she had to walk down the narrow street in front of her aunt's house. The house that now came back to haunt her was just a block or two away from where she lived, but she had to walk past it several times each day. Perched on a steep hill, it loomed over the roadway at a slightly crooked angle. That other house was not much like the one she happened upon now. It was humble and small. The roof was made of aluminum shingles and there were Joseph's coats growing in the red dirt at the front door. What made it familiar was the uneasiness that again rattled her bones and brought paranoia rising to her throat like bile.
That was the connection. She could feel something seething inside. Something malevolent. Something almost alive. Her fear was inexplicable and it was irrational, she recognized that even back then. She loathed having to pass by that house. She would stand yards away, rooted to the ground, afraid to go by, to look at it, to listen to the eerie silence from within. She never knew the people who lived there. Sometimes, she would stand on the stone fence of the house that she lived in, and she could see people going up or down the hill.
The wall at the front of her aunt's house was made of brick and cement. It spanned the length of the entire front yard. The top was wide enough to sit on. She spent many hours there. The road was directly below and it was fun watching the occasional pedestrian go by, wondering where they were coming from and where they were going. It's strange remembering being that age. All her life must have been summed up in one simple philosophy.
You find a perch. You sit there. And try to will the world to acknowledge that you exist.
There was a woman who would walk by the wall everyday. This woman, she frightened her in ways she couldn't even begin to articulate. She was always impeccably dressed, clothes well pressed and hair caught in a fierce ponytail. She had the saddest, most turbulent eyes that Kameron had ever seen. It seemed she just could never get to where she was going fast enough. She was always in a hurry - half walking and half running, like angry little demons were nipping at her heels. Kameron once heard someone say that her children had burned to death in a fire. They said that the tragedy had driven her mad.
She didn't know why, but even then she saw something of herself in her and her eyes said that she saw something of herself in Kameron as well. Kameron suffered the insane thought that perhaps the part of the woman that had died in that fire with her children had somehow endured and was squatting inside Kameron. It was an uncomfortable notion.
She had been twelve years old at the time. What had possessed her to think such a thing?
She had developed many such inane little theories that governed the secret aspects of her existence. A child's inner life was nothing but adventure, and she had the quirkiest of imaginations. Kameron feared that woman. There were a finite number of things that she feared then, the house she walked by everyday, her mother, and this stranger would stare into her with a degree of loathing that she could never hope to fathom.
She later learned that the woman who frightened her, and the house that she dreaded so much, were indeed connected. The house had been built over the scarred remains of this woman's home. It was the place where her children had died. Kameron left that town a year later, spending the next few years in boarding school miles and miles away. It wasn't long before this strange situation was forgotten, her childhood imaginings scattered away in the past. And now, years later, the experience had surfaced when the fleeting significance of a moment long forgotten had since been manifested.
The light of day had gone. The quarter moon was up and the first stars had come up. Dim lights filled the windows of nearby houses. She gazed at the one dark, abandoned house. She wondered if anyone thought it suspicious, some strange woman standing before the creepy neighborhood eyesore crying her eyes out. They would whisper about the tragedy that had happened there a few years ago. They would whisper about a man and child who had gone to sleep one night and never woke up, because of a stupid gas leak, of all things. So tragic, they would whisper. So sad, they would say.
Kameron had returned home for conference on Saturday morning. She had smiled when she entered the house, and found Robert and Sam asleep in their bed. She had grinned because they were so peaceful and didn't usually sleep in when there was so much fun to be had. They had matching black hair and pajamas on, her husband and son. So infinitely adorable. Because she had missed them so much while away, she decided not to wake them right away. She decided to surprise them with a big and special breakfast outing. So, she took shower and changed before going to wake them. She bent to kiss her son's cheek and just like that, her entire existence had sharply tilted.
So yes, she had lost something precious too... her husband and child. Her family... her whole life. And now she knew she was feeling what that crazed woman had felt. Life had become a vicious whirlwind. Everything. Everything hurt. She could feel those demons at her heels. She couldn't walk fast enough. She couldn't outrun them either.
They say that when you lose people that you love, that years later you begin to forget their faces. That wasn't true. That moment had been seared into her brain. Her family, dead before her eyes in very fine detail. She ran away from this sad place, all the way across the world. She only came back to visit their graves. She hadn't intended to come back to this loathsome house. She didn't even remember taking the path that would lead her here.
She hadn't though of that woman in years or of that house on the hill that had been build over the ashes of her children. The house that had terrified her so much in the very same way that her own abandoned home frightened her. It was the sadness that she had sensed. It was the crippling and indescribable sadness that had gathered and was trapped inside. She saw it now, what was once her future as it had been seen in the eyes of a grief stricken stranger. She recognized the desolation that had pervaded every moment of her existence. It wasn't some mystical chain that had connected the souls of two strangers. It wasn't some vague and superstitious notion of her daughter reincarnated that had caught the woman's eye.
They were kindred spirits. That was all.
©Tonya R Moore, 2007