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Sweet Dreams This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     “Now I lay me down tosleep.”

Our words filled the room, carried to the mostinconspicuous corners by a soft, twilight breeze fluttering through theopen window. In the dim light of my mother’s childhood bedroom,the mattress gave way as my grandmother settled beside me. It was timefor the ritual, a seemingly commonplace event that defined the night andmade sweet dreams possible for a four-year-old girl.

“Ipray the Lord my soul to keep.”

She closed her eyes as sheprayed, as if seeking a private audience with God. Her face, normallytense with the everyday problems that complicate life, slackened inheavenly relief. Her hands were folded purposefully in her lap. I lovedher hands; they were so unlike mine - so unlike anyone’s - withtheir wrinkles and scars, a testament to longevity, to the past, tounending love, soul-crushing grief, and hard-learned truths, allexisting beyond my knowledge, all hidden in the alcoves of her mind asmemories that I was not, and never would be, part of.

“Andif I die before I wake,”

This must have been what it waslike years ago when my mother lay in this bed, preparing fordream’s elusive

embrace. It was those years that mygrandmother lived for, and it was those years that now blurred herreality. It tricked her into believing I was two people, that I couldsomehow be both me and my mother at the same time. The most mundanethings would trigger this. With a good-bye kiss or a simple request,time dissolved and I became Sandee.

I never complained, though.In a strange way, I understood. Motherhood had taken so much from her.She was an artist after all; she’d molded and reared. Her childrenwere her life’s work. It was only natural for the artist to wantto relive the creation, and it was only natural that I should fill thatrole.

In these instances the past took an almost solid form and Icould see back through the decades. I could almost visualize my motherdrawing the soft, white sheets to her and taking comfort in thefamiliarity of the words she prayed. They were familiar to me, too - sonatural that they continued to fall from my lips even as my mindwandered.

“I pray the Lord my soul totake.”

Imagination was further fueled by the relics of mymother’s childhood that surrounded me. Love-worn stuffed animalsin various degrees of shabbiness smiled sadly from their posts on thefloor. A vanity table still stood in the corner, yearning for the daysof teenage preening, yearning to be the center of the universe again.The table sat relatively untouched these days, littered with photographsof people I couldn’t name, an antique record player poised to play“A Hard Day’s Night” and a bottle of perfume soancient that its principle fragrance was flowery alcohol.

Mostenchanting of all was the mobile hanging above the bed. It featuredseven elephants, each wearing a covering of crushed, vividly dyed velvet(a camouflage choice that would surely have been in poor taste in theSerengeti). Their cheerful faces and awkward bobbing were undeniablycharming, but even then, I knew to pity any creature destined to spendits existence moving in endless, gainless circles.

“Godbless Mommy and Daddy ...”

They were both in the TwinCities, attending the funeral of a distantly related, and just asdistantly known, cousin. I had been left behind due to my tendency tomake inappropriate comments - loudly - in churchsettings.

“Grandma and Grandpa ...”

Theywould be in their room tonight, down the hall. Their mumbledconversations often carried through the walls. I wondered what theytalked about. I wondered if I really even wanted toknow.

“Grandma Schafer ...”

She was inWashington, fishing with her boyfriend. She’d promised to take mealong one day to see the mountains swallow theskyline.

“All my friends and all my family...”

I knew what would happen after we said our final“amen.” With a muffled groan, my grandmother’s tiredbody would lean across the mattress to meet my cheek with akiss.

“Good-night, Sand,” she would say. “Ilove you.”

With a certain amount of guilt, I’d dragher back to the moment.

“Nikee, Grandma. It’sNikee.”

A pause would follow. She’d turn her gaze tothe aged fixtures of the bedroom and smile softly at thememories.

“Of course. Sorry, baby. Sweetdreams.”

The little light would retreat with her, throughthe door. The knob would click into place, and then would come thesilence.

Ah, sweet dreams ... and nothingbut.

“Amen”



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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VATSVD said...
Mar. 31, 2011 at 11:05 am
That was really good actually! :)))) I really enjoyed it!
 
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