This morning the world feels underwater there is so much rain! Today's segment of 500 Days features Diana remembering part of her backstory - her life growing up in North Carolina.
Diana: How to Live Like a Ghost in your Mind
When I woke up I was confused where I was. This ain't my room? I think? What time is it? Where am I? Then, I look up and see Widow Ricketts standing right there looking right at me. At first, I was startled, and then, soothed. There's just something about her face and the way she looks at me that tells me she ain't judging me. That she knows where I'm coming from. When she leaves to make coffee though, the dreams come back. They come back and wash over me. Girls who try to run away and whose legs instead turn into trees. The flames all around me and my wish to walk into them. Something inside me feels lost. Like a part of me was never found in them woods when I lost Mama. It was so long ago, I hadn’t thought about it for years, but this morning, sitting real still in the chair, feeling the electricity in the air from an oncoming storm, I remember the day like it was yesterday. Momma and my brother setting the wool horse blanket down on the ground and setting down the fried chicken and biscuits Mamma had brought from our restaurant in town. We’d ridden about a half hour out of town. Papa had only been gone a few weeks, but Momma was so sad she’d stopped getting out of bed. We’d have to wake her up and push her out the door or she’d not forget to open the restaurant. Mama thought of the picnic as a vacation from our lives. So as we sat around her, my brother John and I smiled at her. Hoping our smiles would reflect light and joy back into her like sunlight. But, after she set down and was still, we saw the sadness sink back into her. First, her eyes dulled, and then her body. We ate the chicken and biscuits and talked between ourselves. Sometimes, Momma would flicker back and smile before she’d drift back out to wherever she had to go in order to keep sane. I know that place now, but when I was a child I was mad not to be able to just climb into her lap and feel safe. Not to be able to feel her arms melt around me as they always had. After a little while she said she was going to take a nap. John (who is a few years older than me) ordered me to stay put as he gathered wood. But, after he left, something grew in me. And I got it in my mind that I should make my Momma pay for all of the hurt she’d caused me. So, I got up and started walking into the darkness of the woods. As soon as I walked from the clearing, the darkness of the woods wrapped around me. I walked and walked until I felt I’d gone far enough to make her scared and I sat down and waited, thinking I’d be found soon. But, hours passed and to my surprise, no one came for me. The woods got even darker and I felt the noises around me press in. When I cried out, Mamma, I’m sorry. Come get me. John, I’ve over here. Come and rescue me out of the woods. All I heard in return was the hollow sound of a screech owl. That feeling, of the dark world swirling in on me, and being utterly alone is what is creeping up inside me now. Sure, I was found in those woods. After hours of searching my big brother had had the sense to ride the horse into town and find the Sheriff. He’d gathered a posse and combed those woods all night long until they found me near dawn, huddled in a hollow tree. My Momma, she never came back from that, from the idea of losing me. After that, when I returned, it was as if she couldn’t stand loving me, for fear she’d lose me again. Imagine that, being seven years old and not having a mother to hold you? But here I am again in a dark wood with no Momma.
Just then Widow Ricketts walks in. She’s laughing like her sides are gonna split. I look at her, perhaps revealing the darkness that’s been pouring over me, but it doesn’t make her skip a beat. “Diana,” she says. “You’re gonna want to put on your clothes and come see this!”