I was sitting on a porch at midnight. I’m not sure what I was waiting for. Maybe I was waiting for the night to talk. Maybe I was waiting for the night wind to give me a kiss on the head, pat me on the back and tell me that everything will be ok. But the night had no voice. And so I sat, forever a guest in life’s waiting room. Maybe I was waiting for crickets to chirp, for dogs to bark, for snakes to hiss, for wolves to howl. Maybe I was waiting just to wait. I never would have guessed, never even gave it a thought that the night was about to take me on this infinite colorful mysterious and pardonable journey.
It was during the heart of the night. My mother, my aunt and I were sleeping restlessly in the sweltering heat of the Caribbean air. Then suddenly, my aunt awoke to see green lights descending against the window. She then tried to speak, but her tongue became swollen, impeding her speech. Then she tried banging on the wall to wake up my mother, but no sound came. So they came for me. Because my aunt saw them, it made them angry and they shone brighter.
It seems that this went on for three consecutive nights, when I found myself wiggling in my bed with restless agitation. My soul was succumbing to my internal commotion, my spirit thirsty for salvation. And then it happened. My cabin enlightened! Green lights shone through my window and carpeted the floorboards. My tongue became heavy, my eyes wild with query. I thought, well, that’s it! The aliens have descended and have come for me! But I immediately thought that this idea was absurd. I don’t believe in aliens. And then I thought I heard the light speak.
“Who’s there?” I tried to sound brave as if I were commanding a response. But no reply. “I said, who’s there?” I waited.
Then there came this sound, a tiny screeching sound, as if spoken though a wire and with a conglomeration of microscopic voices all talking together. I couldn’t understand what their wiry voices were buzzing.
“Who sent you?” I found myself strangely unafraid.
“You zizzzizz didziziz fromzizz longziziz agoz whenzz youzz werezz littlezz,” the little voices were buzing.
“What do you want from me?” I was becoming both annoyed and fascinated.
“Wezzz wantzzz youzz toz comezzz withzzz uszz.” At this point, I threw my feet over the bed and stood up.
“Where are we going?” I decided to humor them.
“We zztakingzz youzz backzz toz finishzz whatzz wezz startedzz manyzz yearszz agozz.”
“And what if I don’t go?” I was curious as to what would happen to me.
“Wezz wilzzl willzz youzz tozz gozz.” They sounded very confident and decided.
“Ok, give me a chance to get ready.” I started to look for my clothes.
“Nozz, wezz don’tzz havezz anymorezz timezz. Youzz mustz comze asz youz arez.” And then, as if by magic, I was stripped of clothing and attired in green light. Suddenly I could hear the warnings of the howling wind. I batted my eyes and instantly I was hovering on the night, feeling the air rise, surrounded by tiny green specks of light mumbling excitedly what appeared to be inaudible words. Then, within an instant I was whisked away, encircled by small specks of green, transported by the wind. Later the wind grew two graceful white wings, batting long slow stokes against the night air, while I stared wild eyed, engrossed in the green glare.
I woke up rejuvenated the next morning, as the sun found a way to seep through the cracks of our boarded basement window. I decided to postpone analysis of my very vivid dream for a time when I could better reflect on its most devastating effect.
I knew that we would soon emerge out of the dirt and take our rightful place in society. As I was reading Julius Caesar for English class that day, the words of William Shakespeare filled the gap between my eyes so that I could see better. His words read, “cowards die many times before their deaths, but a valiant only dies once.” In essence, my stepfather died that night. Partly because he realized that I knew he was the ultimate coward. What he perceived as his strength—the ability to instill fear and his futile uses of intimidation tactics—was actually his weakness. And after all, I would have died more times than he did had I not defended myself and called his bluff.
My mom and I left my stepfather after twelve years of his knife grip. He just came home one day and found nothing but a mattress on the floor. “Good bye S.O.B., abusive binge drinker!” The whole time he was abusing us, my mom always made sure that I shook his bitterly cold and unaffected hands on the dawn of each New Year. You see, that way she made sure that I did not grow up hating him. Had I done that, it would be a win for him.
I did not want to facilitate his smug satisfaction. This made it possible for me to achieve the ultimate act of benevolence in contrast to his malevolence: the act of forgiveness. I saw him a few years ago. The tyrant of yesteryear had become a docile and crippled little deer. I invited him to our new home for a Fourth of July barbecue and took him out to see the fire works at the hatch shell in Boston. Afterwards, he went around telling everyone what a gentleman I had become and how he and I are becoming buddies.
Well, I decided that he at least got one thing right. I am a gentleman. But I am not, I repeat, am not his “buddy.” When I hear that kind of unmitigated rubbish, I say to myself, “I may forgive you but I will never forget you!”
And as far as the residual sparring that ensued between my mom and I because of the trauma we went through together, we’re still working things out. No longer comrades in arms, valiantly having marched onward out of the dingy and desolate basement to ascend the rungs of opportunity for contentment and refinement. Now we are finally basking in the light and smiling as morning filters through our window in the sky, with the American flag fluttering above our heads.
Jacques Fleury is a Poet, Author and Columnist. His book “Sparks in the Dark: A Lighter Shade of Blue, A Poetic Memoir” about life in Haiti & America was featured in the Boston Globe. Sample or buy the book at: www.lulu.com. Twenty percent of proceeds will go to Haiti charity Partners In Health. For personal appearances or comments, contact Jacques at: firstname.lastname@example.org.