Facing The Past

It had been twenty-four years since she’d last seen it, but the house looked the same, save for a family of doves that pecked on the hard ground for all they could get. Her heart sank in pity.

A large mugumo tree hung over the side of the house casting a gloomy shadow over it just as it always did. A slight wind blew over, and for a second, she saw the tree make a slow glance at her. She wondered if it could remember her. Had it kept her secrets safe? His immortal friend stood tall and strong, as he always did, although she thought he had arched his back a tad bit more.

The air was dry and dusty, filled with the smell of dry grass. The wind blew against the steel back gate, shoving it open. It loudly cursed at the wind. Theirs was a foul relationship, and the curses had only gotten louder over the years.

She couldn’t tell what it was at first, a feeling so grave and heavy that she let out a cough. It choked her. But then she figured it out. How could she have failed to recognize it? Had it been long enough to forget it?

It was the taste of despair, the constant reminder of the struggle and the lack that she had always felt growing up. It was the feeling that she had lived fleeing from over the years from town to town. She had never chased freedom but rather fled from slavery. A cloud of slavery after her, pulling her back to her rightful place. And so she ran, as hard as she could.

To her peers and her adoring fans, she was Belle. She was a talented author of ten bestsellers – an example of grit and ambition towards success. But deep inside her, she was Annabelle – a defiant girl on the run from slavery, running from her past. Always running.

And now she stood facing this masonry house crowned with a corrugated iron roof that bore the scars of war. A corrugated iron roof that might have been blue at a point (or purple.) Now its colors were well beyond the color chart Miss Ann had introduced in an Arts and Crafts class.

The wooden floor creaked under her feet as she stepped onto the front porch. With each step, it seemed to groan louder and louder.

She tried to steal a peek into the house through the large wooden windows, but the old rugged curtains wouldn’t let her. But she did manage to catch a glimpse of something. A monster she had grown to know and endure when she resided here. Darkness.

A shudder ran along her skin as she remembered the chill she would feel walking towards the house on her way from school. As her friends hurried home, she dreaded the dark emptiness that she had to walk into. She pleaded with the sun to stroll through the day rather than the sprint it did from morning to evening.

She now stood in her moment of reckoning – her time to face the demons of her past.

She remembered the joy that Sally, her therapist, had as soon as she decided that it was time to go back to where it all began and face her past. Sally believed she had made great strides. She was nearly free of all the nightmares, the cold sweats, and the occasional need to sleep with the lights on. And just yesterday, she had been going through a catalog of beds and beddings on sale – the proverbial turn of a new leaf.

Her hands trembled as she approached the doorbell. It was time.

She heard the wood creaking away as the boots on her feet walked away from the porch, tears rolling down her face. She had mustered the courage to come all the way and had walked to the door. But twenty-four years had not been enough to let out what lay behind that door.

Sam, her husband, and their daughter, Katie, stood by the car extending their hands towards her. They were her rock, and for now, that was all that mattered.

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