“One need not be a chamber to be haunted, One need not be a house. The brain has corridors surpassing material place.” -Emily Dickinson
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.
What haunts you? Have you recently recalled a random event and have no idea why?