A Past Journey

November 16, 2010
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As my small feet touched each freshly sanded down step, a collection of sawdust coated my heel and toes. A loud creek sounded throughout the whole house and I scrunched my eyes shut and widened my mouth hoping no one heard that. After all, I was supposed to be in bed not sneaking down stairs to video chat with a…special friend. I continued down the ancient set of steps, thank goodness they were being re done. I listened to the sound of my soft heel pound on the ground; I had safely made it down.
Just when I thought I was alone I heard a large sniffle. I froze and stood still listening to the mysterious breathing noises coming from around the bend. It was not the sound someone makes when they sleep; it was a troubled, sad, scary, Darth Vader sort of breathing. I examined the battered floorboards beneath me to determine my path. I carefully chose floorboards that didn’t appear to be creaky. But I just couldn’t bring myself to move. It’s like something was holding me back. A supernatural force not wanting me to go on. I anticipated going back upstairs and retrieving my dad or my sister, but I convinced myself not to, I had come this far! In frustration and anxiety I thrust my left leg forward missing the specific floorboard I had intended on.
Ungracefully, I toppled over making a loud crashing sound that made my stomach turn in knots. Or was it the fall? I fell shoulder first and my weight loosened a board, and that’s when I saw him. The man! He was in sight, about ten meters in front of me, all the way down the long corridor. He sat on the ground outside a large rectangular window, so big a man could surely fit through. Being that we were on the first level a nice bed of grass cushioned him. He sat on his bottom; knee’s tucked into his chest, his arms grasping them tightly like an eagle’s strong talons holding it’s pray.
I stared at him; with thoughts rushing through my head, my judgment was cloudy. I had overlooked a very important detail, but how was I to know? Of all the thoughts I was deciphering one kept popping up and it was a question: how did he not hear me fall?
Attempting to clear my head and re focus I noticed this man had a small twitch, his head clicking to the left every second. I also noticed he was murmuring something, but I couldn’t understand it. Suddenly realizing that I had overlooked the fact that I did not know whom this was, I panicked! Scrambling around I tried to move back to the stairs where I could better access the situation. However as I tried to move my pilling flannel pajamas, caught on a rusty nail. I fell to the ground, again making a retched sound. I glanced back at the man still sitting twitching. I wanted to understand him. He looked hurt but I knew it would be too risky and dangerous to approach him. He looked mentally unstable.
Then a daring thought came to me as I gasped inhaling an unhealthy amount of air. Was it him? Was it ……BEN? No Ben was at war and he, he couldn’t be back. Not yet. I mean, not unless there was some sort of complication like being wounded or ill, so ill it would be far too severe to fight. Peering around the corner I looked at the man. My view was slightly obstructed by the stair railing so holding on tightly and planting my feet firmly on a step, I swung outward. Hanging there I examined the man closely. I noticed his hair was cut like a marine. Sort of like Mark Harmon’s hair cut on NCIS the naval criminal investigative show on CBS.But this wasn’t quite as neat…. or grey. It was half way grown out and greasy. His hair was a dusty brown color and I couldn’t tell if it was his true color or dirt. This led me to believe it wasn’t Ben. Ben had beautiful well kempt hair, not to long and not to short. His hair was a dirty blond color with sandy brown and golden highlights. He had a shaggy surfer hair due that rested perfectly on his head with just a touch of spray gel. This man had a beard too. Ben never had a beard just occasional stubble from time to time.
This man surely was not my older brother. I also saw that this man was wearing fatigues caked in dirt and dried mud. Which comforted me but also scared me a bit? You see growing up a Navy Brat I am around marines all the time. After all I do live on a naval base. My dad is a marine as well. He used to be a navy sniper, just like the character Gibbs on NCIS. Now he is in charge of all the mechanics, they work on Humvee’s. Living on a naval base you expect a certain amount of safety in your own home. It’s pretty hard to break into someone’s house on a naval base. Not impossible….just hard. Anyways, marines are good people who fight for their country; they are brothers, fathers, uncles, friends and more. But they also contract a lot of diseases and MENTAL illnesses. These men are strong what if they had a mental illness and went crazy? Who knows what they are capable of! That’s why I am concerned. This man is very large and that twitch of his looks all schizophrenic or something! Please excuse my insensitivity. I did feel bad for him he looked helplessly lost. But again it’s not as if I could have gone up to him.
I glared into the kitchen and wondered if I should run in there and try to get a look at the man's face. I wondered what Tali, my older sister would do. She is amazing and I greatly admire her. She is twenty-five and is very educated. She is book smart, street smart, and most importantly MARINE SMART or so I like to say. My dad taught her everything she knows. She can: dis-assemble and assemble a weapon, practically build a humvy from scratch, fight, shoot, and investigate crime. She has an internship at the real NCIS, where she is on a team. I often ask her if the team she’s on has a Tony, McGee, Abby, Ducky or Donald Mallard, Jimmy Palmer, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and a “Leon Vance” I say in a deep voice while pretending to chew a toothpick just like the character. I adore that show I watch it every Tuesday night and rarely miss it, and if I do I tape it. Would Tali approach the man? Maybe she would, she’s more qualified? Or maybe she’d bring down her gun and flash her badge she’s so infinitely proud of. I sprinted off to the kitchen stubbing my toe on the island I forgot was there. I went to the arches that lead to the hallway where the window was and peered out. As I poked my head out the man stood up revealing half of his face. But just one of those blue eyes was all I had to see to know it was Ben! His eyes passed mine and they seemed to have a glaze over them that blinded him from reality. He didn’t seem to see me. I watched him walk in a trance onto the street and leave my sight. Then I heard the front door open! He walked in and went up stairs to his old bedroom! I was very confused. I pinched my arm to tried and slip out of the shockingly real nightmare; well that’s what I wanted to happen. Unfortunately this was real and I couldn’t get out of it. In disbelief I went back up the stairs and went to bed!
I woke to the smell of banana pancakes, bacon with sesame seeds and melted brown sugar or what I call moose tracks and… “Death by chocolate” cookies? “Uh oh!” I said to myself as I thought back. The only time we ever have banana pancakes and chocolate chip cookies are on my birthday and no, it was not my birthday. My mom had something big to tell me and I knew it would end up being a long emotional lecture. I relized the minute I stepped out of bed, my wood floor would seem colder than ever and the usual week of school was about to be a rollercoaster of emotion while juggling family, friends and school work. And to this, I was not looking forward!





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