Change. Why do people always say change is good for you? Why does everyone always try to make you think change will make you a better person…a stronger person?
“Change will keep you sharp.”
“The only constant in life is change.”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Yeah, well it’s all crap, total bull. Change is scary. Change can be stressful and nerve racking. Change can hurt. Change can rip you apart and leave you a different person. Someone you don’t recognize and never wanted to be. No one is immune to change, but some of us get more than our fair share of it. Some of us face changes so large and devastating we end up barely recognizing the person we were before the big Change in our lives happened.
Oh, and did I mention change also likes to blindside you when you’re least excepting it? One minute you’re driving along the interstate with your parents and the next, BLAM…you wake up in the hospital, trying to figure out how you got there and wondering why no one will tell you anything about what happened. The nurses just keep pumping medicine into your IV and giving you sympathetic looks when you ask them about the shadows on the walls.
“Just relax Jessica. It’s just your eyes playing tricks on you from the medicine.” Looking back on it now, I wish she had been right.
Then a few days later, the doctor, my doctor, comes back in with an entourage of people: doctor, nurse, social worker and my dad’s lawyer. They’ve all come to break the news to me that my parents are gone and that my life will never be the same again. They’ve all come to tell me that there was a car accident and that I’m a 20 year old orphan now, but all I really want to know is why no one is watching the shadows on the walls and who the guy in the doorway is.
“You sustained a concussion, two broken ribs and a hairline fracture to your tibia. However overall you are relatively uninjured and you’re healing rather quickly. It’s actually quite remarkable, you were extremely lucky.” Says my doctor with what I think is supposed to be a comforting and pleased look on his face.
Lucky? Uninjured? Is he kidding? I’m the polar opposite of uninjured. My body would heal, but my psyche would never be the same again. My parents were gone, my life as I knew it had just been turned upside down, I was seeing things floating around my room and there was a stranger hanging around that no one was looking at. Yeah, I was pretty far gone from being lucky and uninjured.
Dad’s lawyer stepped closer to my bed, “Jess, I just want you to know that everything is being taken care of for you. We don’t have to discuss the details right now; there will be plenty of time for that later. Just know that you don’t have to worry about anything, I’m taking care of it.” He reaches out and gives my hand a little squeeze. His hand is soft and slightly clammy; I resist the urge to pull away because I know he’s just trying to comfort me. Even though there is no comfort for me at that moment. There is just the pain and the shadows and the man leaning against the door frame.
I turn my head and look up into his face, “Mr. Dawson? Who is that?”
“Who?” he asks me with a puzzled look.
“Him.” I flick my eyes to a spot over his left shoulder. “Behind you.” I say in a low voice.
Mr. Dawson looks over his left shoulder, “Who Jess? There is no one there.” He turns back to look at me with confusion and worry on his face.
I flick my eyes back to the doorway, but this time it’s empty. “He was right there!” Panic starts to rise in my voice as I watch the shadows start hopping around the room on their own accord. Nothing is making sense and I’m starting to lose control. I start yelling, “What is this? What’s going on? Why can’t you SEE them??” I start thrashing and trying to get up. The pain from my injuries lances through me like a bolt of lightning and I gasp. Doesn’t matter, I need to get up, to reach out and touch them and see if they are real or if I’m losing my mind. I need to find the man.
I never felt the needle. I felt the doctor grab my arms, pushing me back down towards the bed. I felt Mr. Dawson’s hand release mine as he was pushed out of the way. I heard the nurse say, “Hold her still. This will only take a minute.” Then, there was nothing.
The next time I woke up, groggy and confused, he was sitting in the chair next to my bed, waiting and watching. I laid there staring at him for what seemed like several minutes, trying to figure out if he was real or just my imagination again, like the nurse said.
“I can assure you, I am most certainly real.” He said calmly, as if he’d read my mind.
“I don’t believe you.” I said equally as calm. It must be the drugs. He’s just a figment of my imagination.
“Suit yourself.” he said.
“If you’re real, how come no one else can see you?” I asked.
“Who are you?” I asked, still trying to fight my way out of the drug fog. I was starting to feel sleepy again and I wasn’t sure how long it would be before I passed out again.
“Well according to you, I’m just your imagination.” He said with a smirk.
“Who are you? What do you want?” I could feel my eyelids getting heavy again.
“You can call me Caleb. Tell me Jessica, can you see the shadows?” Caleb asked causally.
I paused, blinking at him. “You can see them too?” he had my attention now. Or at least what attention I had left before the drugs took me back to La-La Land again.
“Yes, I can.” Caleb said with a slight smile.
“What are they?” I slurred.
He didn’t answer me right away, just tilted his head slightly to one side and looked at me. “Sleep Jessica. You’ll know soon enough.” Caleb said softly and I felt myself succumb to the drugs coursing their way through my body.
Even now, eight years and a lifetime later, I can still remember those days like it was yesterday. I can still feel what it was like being in that hospital room. I can still remember the panic and fear I felt as I watch the shadows for the first time. Gliding around my room; tormenting and terrifying me. I can still remember the way the police came and asked me questions. I remember the looks of pity on their faces and the overwhelming feeling of loneliness and loss. Most of all, I remember Caleb.
Today, I’m a different person. I’m nowhere near the person I thought I would be, but I’m alive, kind of. Truth is I’m not quite sure what I am now. The only explanation I’ve been able to come up with is that the accident changed my perception. Allowed me to see things other people can’t. Not just ghosts, but all the other unworldly things that go bump in the night and terrify sane people. I guess I’m not entirely sane anymore either, but really, who is?
I’ve seen and done a lot of what most people would consider bizarre things over the last eight years. Not all of them sane and most of them half a step away from getting me killed, but I need answers. I need to know who or what I am now. I need to know why I can see the things I do and why I have an unexplainable desire to destroy some of them. Most of all, I need to know who or what Caleb is…and who I am.
This piece is also part of a fiction writing group that I belong to. Our shared theme this week was this:
|Things do not change; we change.|
~Henry David Thoreau
There are several other awesome writers in this group and I am honored to be a part of it. So PLEASE, go check them out! They ROCK!