The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes
A finely carved slab of white marble baring the name JACKIE and the dates May 21, 2000 - May 19, 2005, sat on an elevated hill beneath a large oak, behind the church where Jackie Hogan had undergone the Christian ritual of Baptism nearly five years to the date.
A rushing wind rustled the leaves of the old oak tree. Asters of sunlight filtered through the crooked branches and bathed the slabs or all the graves on the family plot. Large nimbus clouds drifted across the cerulean sky threatening rain, while the din of the bell tolling from the church’s spire, intoned a doleful lullaby that pierced the ears and hearts of the mourners gathered in prayer. Theodore Cunningham Hogan, Jackie’s father, stood silently with his head bowed to the ground, lost inside his mind.
T.C. Hogan did not lift his head to acknowledge the gathered. He kept his eyes shut. He was lost wandering through dark crevices inside his mind, his very last sanctuary, a refuge from reality, a reality he could no longer endure. He wanted to remain hidden inside the confines of the only place where he felt expiated.
When the fading echo of the tolling bell had been carried by the wind to the far edge of the woods, the sound of the priest’s voice shuttered the silence as he started reciting the rite of blessing the grave:
“Lord Jesus Christ,by your own three days in the tomb,...”
The priest spoke with his eyes to the sky :
“you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you and so made the grave a sign of hope..”
T.C. heard the monologue drifting through the wind. The words had no meaning to him, they failed to alleviate the despair and solitude he felt in his heart. He opened his eyes and stared at the grass at his feet, his shiny shoes. His eyes followed an earthworm as its muscle contractions powered its cylindrical body through the unyielding blades of grass to reach the soil at the edge of the grave.
The priest continued with his blessing:
“that promises resurrection even as it claims our mortal bodies...”
T.C. played the scene over and over in his mind: he saw himself running up the steps two-by-two to the second floor of his house. He saw his hand reaching for the bedroom door he had stenciled with multicolored lettering spelling his five-year-old’s name: J-A-C-K-I-E. He saw himself pushing the door open to find his daughter face down on the floor with her curls silhouetted by a red circle, glistening around her head like a bright halo. He saw himself hunched over the child’s body trying to shield her from harm.
Theodore Hogan could almost feel the warm blood flowing from a gash on the infant’s forehead, running through his fingers, dripping down his forearms and falling to the stain-resistant carpet like chocolate ice cream on a hot summer day.
Remorse punched him in the stomach and took his breath away.
He was not ready to confess to his wife, Robin, that he was solely to blame for what happened to their only child. He stood silently holding on to his wife’s hand. Robin, his wife, stood motionless next to him, staring into infinity with disbelief. T.C. squeezed Robin’s hand with despair, she lifted his trembling appendage, and pressed her lips gently on its surface.
The blessing of the grave ended softly:
“Grant that our child may sleep here in peace until you awaken her to glory for you are the resurrection and the life.”
A drop of rain stung T.C.’s face and mixed with his tears. His bloodshot eyes fixed on the tiny white coffin as it disappeared into the hollowed ground. The rain clouds swallowed the sunshine. Droplets of rain disturbed the serene stillness of the scene as their piercing force peppered the leaves of the oak, and bounced off the white marble tombstones like sparks from two crashing flint rocks. The sound of thunder in the distance announced the upcoming storm like the drummers leading the troops into battle. A fierce wind swept through the branches of the old oak tree, and lifted the black dirt piled on the side of the grave.
The mourners rushed their departure, shielding themselves from the rain, running for refuge inside the old church, without having approached Theodore and Robin to expressed their condolences. T.C. Hogan stood planted on the ground, unable to move, ignoring the wind and the rain. T.C. turned his body and embraced Robin, holding on to her body as if to preventing a fall. He felt Robin’s head rest on his right shoulder. With a tinge of guilt in his weary eyes he pressed his cheek to her hair, and with a deep and unexpected sigh he whispered to her:
“I’m so sorry.”
T.C. fell to the muddy ground repeating to himself, over, and over, and over: “I’m sorry.”
Theodore Cunningham Hogan sat on the mud like a heap of dried leaves being turned into compost. Robin stood next to him being drenched by the rain. Her jet black hair stuck to her face like the vines growing on the sides of the alabaster gravestones surrounding them. She, too, fell to the ground on both knees. She embraced Theodore, as if trying to shield him from the piercing rain. They did not move. They remained fused in a heap like animals being soaked by the rain.
As a vanquishing army, the storm marched through the graveyard like a charging brigade. it swiftly moved on, leaving nothing unchanged. Fallen branches and scattered leaves from the old oak tree littered the graveyard.
A robin’s nest, skillfully crafted by its creator, lay bare on the ground, its blue amethyst contents, shattered in waste. The tolling bell in the church’s spire announced with its doleful sound the remains of the day.
Theodore Cunningham Hogan felt nothing. He opened his eyes and saw his body curled in a heap in the dark, he was conscious of being on the soft ground. He wanted to move, but was paralyzed. He closed his eyes, and heard the dripping of water tapping onto his head, the tapping grew stronger and stronger, as it echoed down to his ears. The sound of a soft wind seemed to whisper his name: “Theodore,” “Theodore,” “Theodore”
Theodore! Theodore! Theodore!
The reproachful sound of Theo’s wife’s voice relentlessly pressed into his eardrums. The hammering sounds in his head, were the tap tapping fingers of his wife Robing rapping his head:
'Theodore! you’ve done it again! Theodore! How many times have I told you! Theodore! Theodore!'
Theodore Cunningham Hogan’s eyes bulged out on his head. He saw Robin hovering over him as he lay on his couch. Without saying a word he sprang onto his feet, ran up the steps two-by-two to the second floor of his house, he reached the bedroom and saw the stenciled name of his five-year-old daughter J-A-C-K-I-E in multicolored lettering on the door. He pushed the door open, and found his daughter face down on the floor with her curls silhouetted by a red circle, glistening around her head like a halo. Jackie was soundly asleep on the stain resistant carpet, still holding on to her red velvet blanket.
© Oswaldo Jimenez May 2013
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