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Warren Vanderpool
Me-Child

Someone or something is in the doorway, just hovering there. I wipe the sleepwebs from my eyes and look closely; it is the little boy again. He always seems timid, and afraid to enter the bedroom.
I lie still, saying nothing, simply watching the little boy. This is not the first time that the little boy has appeared and when he does, he evokes dread along with pity.
He never enters the room but stands looking at me with eyes that are sad and filled with an indefinable longing. He stands now just looking, and then a tight little smile crosses his lips. At last he steps inside and creeps toward my bed. When he is close to the bed I realize that the little boy is me. A fragment of my childhood transported to the present. This discovery terrifies me more than if he were some unknown apparition.

It is difficult to think of this apparition as myself even though it certainly has my appearance and seems to be deeply associated with my psyche.
I began to think of him as me-child.
I look at the boys eyes, is the longing a sense of disappointment for his unrealized ambitions?
I chastise myself for the self-flagellation, this little boy; this me-child is a figment of my dreams. He can be no other.

After standing silent at my bedside my boy self leaves and in his place is emptiness.
I think about the apparition from the past. There was something unusual, something unique ... the clothes, yes the clothes, a special significance not quite remembered as I fade off into sleep.
I awake with a vague feeling of misgiving something more than the apparition; it is a niggling memory involving the boy's clothes. And then it comes back the, hand embroidered two colored yellow and brown cowboy shirt that my father brought as a present from Denver.

I remember the day he came back from the shale oil project. God, were we ever all so happy?
Our happiness was short lived for Dad disappeared about a week later. I never heard from him again.
Dad got out of the car that day, we ran to him laughing, my brother Charles and I, our arms out stretched. He lifted us as if we were weightless, big crushing bear hugs. Then came gifts, a cowboy shirt, an indian outfit complete with bow and arrows, and several lesser items of clothing.
My mother just stood back smiling at our welcome of father.
I sleep again and unaccountably, I anticipate the visit from him. I am undisturbed by the narcissism implied by my attraction to the me-child.
I vow to remain alert and see if the apparition appears to me in a waking state,
as opposed to the unknown wake-dream state of previous visits. However as the hours pass sluggishly I doze sporadically and eventually fall into a sound sleep.
Some time later, I again awake to see the boy at the accustomed place in the door. Now he is more confident, more willing to approach than before. Tonight he smiles broadly as if to indicate approval, but the look of longing soon returns.
As he approaches I see that he is caring something in his hand. He holds it up and I can see that it is a fragment, a torn piece of cloth that appears to have been torn from a shirt. It still has a button down pocket with the vee shaper flap. He holds the cloth as if displaying it for my inspection. Brown spots that resemble blood stain it.
I look at the cloth closely. It is a royal blue plaid crossed by red stripes, a plaid that my father wore because he was a Scott of the Angus clan.
The me-child leaves slowly, looking back over his shoulder, now his eyes are questioning.
An involuntary gasp of anguish arises in me and escapes as high-pitched wail.
Long repressed memories well up and filter into my head. I see an image of my father wearing the Angus tartan shirt walking in a wooded place. He is alone ... no ... not alone. A figure is walking in the distance behind him, the image is indistinct and I cannot recognize the figure, the remembered scene lingers for only a short while and then fades and I cannot bring it back into focus.

I can think of little else after waking. The scene of my father walking plays out again and again.
I can recall some of the landmarks in the scene. There is the stone-faced cliff with the rapid whitewater brook rushing through a glenn.
It is Perry's Gorge. I drive the miles to the gorge and walk the path that my father walked so many years ago but I learn nothing, and return home dissatisfied and
I am more troubled than before.
I prepare my meals and bide the lethargic passage of time in nervous anticipation of a repetition of my rendezvous with the me-child.
With each visit I have remembered long forgotten details about my father.
Is that the purpose of these visits? Are they a mechanism for unlocking blocked recollections, or is the little boy a visitation from the supernateral?
I am tired before my usual bed time and fall into an early and troubled sleep several times I awaken and look to the door but it is empty.
It is nearly morning and feel a deep sense of disappointment that the little boy has not visited my dreams. But then he is there just standing his face is smiling as if in approval.
He walks to the bed no longer creeping but now moving assertively and with a confidence that was not previously in his step.

He is again carrying an item in his hand which he holds up for my view. He has a pair of horned rimmed glasses of the type that my father wore. The lens of the right side is broken. It is a break of the type caused by a sharp blow, the center of the lens missing while jagged shards of glass still cling to the rim. Fear and confusion merge within me as I look at the glasses. The glasses unleash a pack of new unsettling recollections and I cannot clearly see the images that they bring.
I find myself resisting the fleeting glimpses playing out in my head. But now, I sit bolt upright!
I have seen the body of my father. The glasses are pinned to his head by an arrow which is protruding from his eye. The image quickly fades but I am left weak and trembling, and the little boy is gone.
I sit shivering on the bed with my hands clasped behind my head, holding it, my elbows covering my ears as I sob.
For the better part of the morning I pace, wracked with sobs. The wretched view of my father's body imbues me with an overwhelming sense of remorse.

© Warren Vanderpool
2003
Wvcierra@aol.com

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