The Dark Corridor

“One need not be a chamber to be haunted, One need not be a house. The brain has corridors surpassing material place.” -Emily Dickinson

photo courtesy of photobucket.com

I don’t know what made me think of him. I was getting ready in the bathroom, and the thought was suddenly there. We never had a relationship–it was 15 or 16 years since I had first met him–but the memory came in strong, and the guilt covered my mind like a dark fog.

We had spent numerous weekends driving around in this old real estate agent’s car. She probably wasn’t that old, but her shaky voice made her sound like she was at least 80. Up narrow, winding roads, looking for a home with the perfect view of the surrounding mountainous landscape. Down narrow, winding roads, never finding that home that made my parents’ hearts beat faster.

Until one weekend.

After seeing every mountain home in the area, Dad was frustrated. “We might need to go up to the next price range to get what you want.” The old real estate agent shook out the words. So my parents agreed. After all, they (or at least Dad) hoped to one day retire in this home.

So back up a narrow winding road we drove, and before we had even parked the car, I knew my parents would love this home. The view was breathtaking, and this simple, gray home was perfect. The main floor had one big room containing the kitchen, eating area, and den. Huge glass sliding doors leading to a porch all around the front allowed one to take in the mountains while cooking over the kitchen stove or relaxing on the couch in front of the T.V. And with the exception of the green-blue carpet covering most of this area, I could picture my family enjoying every inch of this space.

And so it was decided. My parents would buy this home. We went back to look at it one more time, and this time the owner, Mr. K__, was there. I don’t remember why he was moving–divorce? death?–but I remember his situation carrying a sorrowful story. He didn’t want to move but had to.

As I was standing on the porch, looking at the mountains, waiting for my parents, he came up to me.

“You’re stealing my dream!” He let the words escape as a desperate cry. Pain covered his face.

I was put off.

I wasn’t stealing anything. I merely accompanied my parents on their quest.

And I felt terribly uncomfortable and sad. How does one respond to such a statement? Why did he make it to me and not my sister, or better yet, my parents who were actually buying the house?

We drove home that day, and I took Mr. K__’s words with me down the gravel, winding road of the mountain. I never saw him again.

But my parents did.

Mr. K__ was dying of cancer, and my parents showing true goodness and God’s love as they always do, decided to visit him in his final days. They expressed their desire for me to come along.

“I just don’t want to go!” I exclaimed in the whiny way that only a teenager can. “I’m tired of being surrounded by death!” My drama classes had served me well. My parents didn’t protest but furrowed their brows and kind of shook their heads at a statement that they didn’t quite understand.

In the previous few years, I had experienced the deaths of both my grandparents and my aunt, but my reaction was rather extreme.

And I knew it.

The guilt hit immediately as my parents and sister backed down the driveway. I didn’t want to go, felt no obligation to this man with whom I had no relationship, this man who had accused me of stealing his dream, yet I knew I was wrong.

My parents were good people, showing kindness and mercy to a lonely man in his dying days. And I was selfish.

Mr. K__ died shortly thereafter.

But 16 years later, for no apparent reason, Mr. K__’s memory flooded my mind, full of life and reminders of a poor choice I had once made.

I don’t know what makes the memories I have ‘stick.’ I’ve lost so many along the way, good memories, beautiful memories of which my parents or sister or husband will remind me. But then sometimes, out of a dark corridor in the back of my mind, a memory which seems so small and insignificant will float its way to the front, illuminated in my mind’s eye, where I can fully see and remember.

Mr. K__ is there, stealing a place where I’d like to lay other dreams, desires, memories. This man whom I only knew for one day has taken a permanent residence, reminding me of who I was, hopefully much different than the woman I am now.

I don’t know what made me think of him, this man whom I had never really known, this man who made me feel bad for a decision that wasn’t mine, this man who died while I didn’t care and cared at the same time. I don’t know what made me think of him, but I know he resides in a dark corridor of my mind, beneath a dark fog.

Today’s post is inspired by the above writing prompt from Mama Kat. You can check out all of her prompts and others’ wonderful posts at her workshop.

Mama’s Losin’ It

What haunts you? Have you recently recalled a random event and have no idea why?

18 thoughts on “The Dark Corridor

  1. Too bad you can't go back in time and change some of the selfish teenager things you've done – and I mean that in a general way, not a specific shot at you. And yes, there are a few things that haunt me from things that I've done in the past.

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  2. Very touching and poignant. It's good that you remember him. Maybe there are not many who do.
    Stopping by from Mama Kat's

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    1. I feel that there is a purpose that I remember, perhaps God's way to encourage compassion. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. I always find it interesting the people that stick with us over the years. Sometimes, like in your case, it's the people we knew for such a short time that are no poignant.

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  4. Our regrets do weigh so heavily on our hearts don't they? So many come flooding back when you least expect.

    Today has been a day of deep reflection for so many of us, hasn't it?

    Great post 🙂

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  5. I got to know Mr. K____ fairly well after we bought his home and he was a good, gentle man. I don't think he meant it in the way it sounded and I wonder if saying it to you was something he wanted to say to his wife. She stole his dream as he had to sell the house to settle the divorce she wanted. I remember in the lawyers office as we were settling everything, he tried to share with her some of the photos he had taken of the home. As he was trying to to get her attention to share the photos with her, she took them out of his hands and slammed the down on the table. It crushed me. I was happy we were getting the home but sad that he was losing it. Mr. K_________ told me he was glad we bought the home and that we would love it. It gave him a good feeling,and you know how much I loved that home. In making that statement to you, a young girl, I don't think he meant it in a mean or vicious way. He had to tell someone how his home was being taken away from him as a result of the divorce. He was a good man.

    Love
    Dad

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    1. I didn't think he was being vicious; I just didn't know how to respond. I think I was only around 15 and pretty shy, so his statement was a little hard for me to take! Mom and you also didn't go into the details of his story with me; how horrible! I don't know what made me think about him the other day because I really only met him the one time, but I still feel bad.

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  6. I'm so glad you posted this. I am raising teenagers. 3 and one on the way. 😉
    Sometimes it seems like selfishness is the only emotion they know how to feel. This frustrates me because I worry that it is a reflection of poor parenting skills on my part.
    But, after reading your post, I am reminded that this is a normal stage in life.
    A stage that only a parent can love a child through.
    And one that is probably a necessary part of growing up.
    Thank you for sharing.
    I feel better now and think I will go find a teenager and give them a hug.
    I'm sure there's one around here somewhere.
    Probably in the kitchen. 😉

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    1. Thank you for your comment! I always love to hear when a post helps someone 🙂 Yes, give those teenagers a big hug–you just might have to pry a cell phone from their ears first. 😉

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  7. I'm visiting from Mama Kat's….I, too, have a haunting memory of a man who was only in my live for five minutes. But what those five minutes taught me about kindness to strangers, not judging others, and the real worth of a person has stuck with me for 17 years now. I believe God sends us messengers to show us the way. I'm guessing this man was sent to you for a lesson you needed to learn. What a great story – I bet many of us have a person like that who was only with us for a short time but who had a major impact.

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  8. Beautifully sad story. I could feel mood and see the light in the house and many other sensations brought out in the writing. Really appreciate the Dickens quote, it was a good way to set the story up.

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