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The strings of a marionette are quite like the strings of life. Each thread is attached to a single aspect of your life and when all of the threads stop moving, so do you. But how do you know how many strings of life you have left until you fall? Is it when every aspect of your social status falls into the toilet? Or is it when everyone in your family dies? Neither. It’s when the Dream Weaver comes to take you away. She decides when it’s your turn to enter this world and when it’s your time to leave it. No one really knows much about the Dream Weaver except that she isn’t like the rest of us. She is not a human. She is not an animal. She is not an object. She is an enigma.
Jerome Jenkins has lived at the Sandy Plains Retirement Home for twenty years and everyone who entered before him has met the Dream Weaver at least once in their lives on this earth. The nurses all knew that he was the next to go and so did he and he was ready for her should she ever come for him.
“Time for lights out, Mr. Jenkins,” the nurse called into his room early that night. Mr. Jenkins nodded and turned off his light and went to bed, but he didn’t sleep. As he lay there under the covers he began to wonder: would anyone miss him when he was gone? Who would take care of everything and make sure his family was all right once he passed away? Who would cry for him? But more importantly, what was the other side like? Those were the questions that kept him up until the early hours of the morning when a sudden noise caught his attention.
It was the nurse calling for a doctor in the room next door. All of the medical equipment was hastily brought into the room as all of the doctors and nurses began talking about the status of the patient. A heart monitor was hooked up to the man in the next room, so Jerome could hear his every heartbeat through the chaos. It first started out normal, then it became faster, then slower, and then a steady beat. Mr. Kyle Samuel had passed away on March 13 at 2:38 am of a heart attack and Jerome Jenkins was the only resident to know.
No one attended Kyle Samuel’s funeral. Not even the doctor. Kyle had no friends, no family…no one and when Jerome peered around the retirement home over the next few days, no one cried for him. In fact, no one even knew that he had died. All they knew was that someone else was moving in. Jerome didn’t want everyone else to not remember him. Then again, he never had kids and his wife died thirty years ago so there was no one there for him now. He was just like Kyle.
The total number of deaths at Sandy Plains Retirement Home was fifty seven. Fifty seven men and women had died while they lived in these homes. And tonight, it was fixing to be fifty eight. It was only three days ago that the Dream Weaver had paid a visit to Kyle Samuel and tonight she was seeing Jerome Jenkins. Tonight was his night.
“Dear Lord,” Jerome prayed somewhere around three o’clock that night, “I don’t care that you take me with you tonight. I don’t care how you take me. All I ask is for someone, anyone, to miss me. Please, Lord, don’t allow my life to become like Kyle’s. I want my life to have meant something to someone. It doesn’t matter how big or how small of a memory. Just a memory will be fine for me. Please, Lord, that is all that I ask of you. Amen.”
A sudden chill filled the room and a dark presence seemed to be next to him in the room. “Do not worry, Jerome Jenkins,” a calm female voice suddenly said from out of the shadows, “you will be remembered.”
“Who are you?” Jerome asked the woman, not wanting to turn on his light for he did not want to be awoken by reality this time.
The woman stepped into his view and held out a dream catcher with five gray feathers each with a thin white string attached to its corresponding feather: the five parts of his life. Jerome could not see the woman’s face for her dark hood silently caressed it. A small, blue, butterfly was her companion. Why a butterfly and not something more haunting like a crow was anyone’s guess. But, somehow, when Jerome looked at the butterfly, his life seemed to become better. “My name is the Dream Weaver,” the woman introduced herself, “It is your time to go.”
Silently, Jerome nodded and the Dream Weaver grabbed a hold of the first string: financial. This string was the smallest and the least important. Most people can go their whole lives without having this string grow an inch. But with each inch that it does grow, the firmer it attaches itself to your life. The Dream Weaver cut the string and Jerome suddenly felt weaker, yet happier. Money was one part of his life that he knew he didn’t need and that he was glad to be without.
The second one was long but not as long as the others. “Physical,” the Dream Weaver stated, “once I break this string, you will feel no pain and you will be at peace.” Jerome nodded and breathed his last breath of air before the Dream Weaver cut the second string. Jerome tried to turn his head to look out the window one final time, but he was paralyzed. The Dream Weaver smiled. There were three strings left in his life.
“Emotional,” she said. That was all that she needed to say to him for this string. He was ready for this one. Every worry that he’s had about death and about the afterlife would be gone and he could finally pass peacefully. The string broke in half and he became numb. He had no idea what he was thinking or what he was feeling. Everything just seemed to be neutral.
Jerome couldn’t speak now, he could only watch as the Dream Weaver picked up the fourth string: mental. This was the one that would finally make everything end. All of the pain and all of the suffering. Everything. “I must warn you,” the Dream Weaver said, walking up to Jerome’s bedside, “After this there is one more string to cut. That string is ‘spiritual’. I do not know where that one will take you for I do not know what the afterlife is like. All I do is lead you there. Once the fifth string is cut, your life will not exist any longer on this earth. Whatever type of god you believe in will control your life from that moment onward. My job will be done.”
He couldn’t nod, he couldn’t shiver, and he couldn’t scream. Once the mental part of his body was gone, so was everything else. The brain is what tells the heart to stop beating. The Dream Weaver brought the final string up directly in front of Jerome’s face and Jerome blacked out. He didn’t remember anything about the fifth string. In fact, Jerome didn’t remember anything at all. His life had ended and he would never know if anyone cried for him or not. All that he remembered was the Dream Weavers comforting words: “You will be remembered.”