Madeleine, with eyes closed, screamed. She sat up in bed. Sweat beaded down her forehead. In the nightmare, she had refused to open the door.
“It’s okay honey, I’m here.” Jack gently shook his wife until she looked at him.“I’m here,” he repeated bringing her back to reality. This was the third night his wife had the dream of walking in a long dark corridor. A Blues song played through the walls around her as she took steps forward, closer to a door she refused to open.
‘Wake, scream, run,’ were her mind’s thoughts as the song faded with the dream and Jack held her close.
“I didn’t open the door, Jack.” “That’s the only way I’ll keep the children safe.”
“How do you know?” Jack asked, with no judgment in his tone.
“I just know,” Madeleine told her husband of 25 years. “If I open that door, one of them will die.”
Jack listened to his wife, allowing her to vent. He didn’t believe dreams came true, especially this one.
“It’s just too real. As soon as I sleep, I’m in this dark place with creepy music, then I see the door. I want to open it, but I feel the price will be a life.” Madeleine sobbed. “I won’t harm my kids.”
“Try to lie down and rest. You don’t have to go back to sleep. Just rest. I’ll be right here,” Jack calmly advised her. His sleepy eyes glanced at the wall clock showing 4:45 am.
‘Saturday morning thank god,’ he thought. Spooning his wife with his head on a pillow, Jack fell asleep. His warm breath soothed the goosebumps on her back, but her eyes remained open, staring at nothing.
“What makes you think the kids will die?” Jack asked her again, not understanding.
“Not both, just one I told you. I can’t figure out who or why,” Madeleine retorted as she made breakfast for her family. Chloe age 10, had the pineapple pancakes with a smiley face, Stevie 8, had the scrambled eggs and cheese in the shape of the sun, and Jack had sunny side eggs, bacon, and toast. Madeleine ate the remaining eggs, bacon, and pancake that were left on the stove.
Jack waited until the kids finished eating. Once they left the table, he brought up the dream again.
“Let’s try something. Tonight if you have the dream, I won’t wake you. Go through the door,” he insisted. Madeline’s eyebrow shot up in protest before she spoke.
“Don’t give me that look,” Jack said. “You have to get ahead of this. It may not be the best solution, but you’ve got to do something,” he pointed out.
Hearing the patter of bare little feet coming close, Jack and Madeline observed the younger version of themselves approaching fast.
“Mommy, we want to help you too,” Chole declared, entering the kitchen. “We will hold your hand all night if we have to, right Stevie?” Her younger brother nodded in agreement.
‘My kids manage to get in every conversation,’ Jack thought, as he smiled thinking about closing the door to their bedrooms in the future.
Jack spent the whole day with his children. Bicycling, volleyball, and tagball kept the kids busy. They were happy and exhausted.
‘I should have done this sooner. I really had fun with them giving Madeleine some me time.’ He kept the thought of losing one of them to a dream out of his mind. To end the long day, he made two glasses of warm milk as a bedtime drink. Young hands reached out for the beverages.
“Tonight we do our part to help mommy sleep, right?” Jack asked the children, as their eyes drooped. No answer came. Little eyes closed while lying calmly in front of the TV. Jack gently put them to bed.
Madeleine spent her day looking through family photos hoping something might explain the dream. Nothing. Just old photos of family, and one of a teen boy she had a crush on during her first year in high school. She closed the album, shutting down a memory she wanted to forget. Now nightfall, she wanted to rest but felt her mind would be taken by the dream once her eyes closed.
She lay in bed shaking from an imagined cold. Her husband’s idea was scary but she understood why he wanted her to try. Tonight would be the fourth night if she had the dream. Jack eased into the bedroom with a cup of camomile tea. Madeleine sat up, eager for the hot beverage her husband made with the right amount of honey.
“Remember what I told you,” Jack encouraged, holding her hand after she finished taking a sip. “If you have the dream tonight, go through the door.”
He put his arm around his wife, supporting her shaky frame. They lie in bed.
Jack, tired from playing with the kids all day fell into a deep sleep. Madeleine, still jittery about sleeping, sat up. After putting on wool socks and slippers she grabbed one of the paperback romance novels she kept on the nightstand. Eyeing her husband’s robe, she wrapped her small frame in it, tying it tight around her body. Tension faded as she made her way to the living room sofa, paperback at the ready.
An hour later, Madeleine had trouble holding the book. She read the same page twice. Words ran together, not making any sense. Her eyes grew heavy as the book fell quietly to the carpet floor.
The dim hallway was long and narrow. Madeleine stood in place as her eyes adjusted to low lighting. With outstretched hands, she moved forward, following the sound of “Evil Is Going On” by Blues singer Howlin Wolf. Its cacophony got louder as she approached the door. Taking a deep breath, she followed her husband’s advice.
Madeleine gasped at the scene unfolding before her eyes.
She saw herself when she was a teen about to give birth in an unfamiliar bedroom. Two women by her side held her as her child was born. Cries of life filled the room.
“Good job Maddie. Everything is okay. We’ll get you cleaned up. It’s best you stay with us for a few weeks,” the older woman suggested.
“Yes, you can stay in my room,” the other woman said. “I’ve had friends visit before.” She looked the same age as teenage Madeleine.
Through tears of joy, the teen Maddie asked to hold her baby.
“It’s best not to,” the older woman admonished. The newborn, cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket was cooing quietly in the unknown woman’s arms.
“Please let me hold my baby,” teen Madeleine begged, too weak to get up.
That happened a long time ago, in a home forgotten. Madeline never got to see if she had a boy or a girl. Anger replaced fear as the older Madeleine stepped into the room to confront the woman with her child.
“Hey! Give me my child!” she yelled at the woman. Reaching out to grab the baby, Madeleine’s touch caused the vision to disappear. She was standing once again in front of a closed door in the dark narrow corridor.
‘I’ll go in again. This time I won’t touch anything.’ she decided.
Madeleine opened and stepped through the door. She found herself on a playground. Schoolchildren played about while others ate. A gang of kids about twelve or thirteen were picking on a short stout kid. They chanted “Chubby Charles Chubby Charles,” while taking turns hitting and kicking him as he fell to the ground. She knew in her heart this bullied kid was her child.
“Get the hell away from him!” she yelled at the boys causing them to scatter as she ran to his aid. When she touched the fallen boy the vision vanished and she found herself back at the door’s entrance. Howlin Wolf’s signature blues song played in the background.
‘His name is Charles, a boy,’ she told herself standing in front of the closed door.
Her parents forced her to give up her baby to a foster home because she was underage at a time when families were shamed if teens got pregnant. He was adopted and she never heard of him again. A boy. She had no idea what became of him.
“I’ll keep going through the door until I can get some answers,” she said stepping through once again. This time a young man in his late twenties lay in a hospital bed. He was in an acute care facility. Heart and breathing monitors kept him stable. Madeleine was careful not to touch anything. Instead, she looked about the room and out the window, searching for a way to find the location when she woke up.
“Charles, can you tell me your last name? Where is this hospital? I can’t touch you but I want to help. I want to visit you when I wake up. Can you help me?” she sobbed while waiting for a reply.
“No one would help me find you,” the ill man whispered. “Then a Wiccan told me I could find you by spirit visions. I believed him and here you are,” Charles told his mother. The words came slowly, but he continued. “I wanted to see you before I died,” Charles said. “To meet my birth mother. That was the deal,” he confessed.
“What’s a Wiccan and can you change the deal you made?” she protested, close to losing the battle of not touching her son.
“He’s like a wizard. He needed a life. I offered mine. Once you came through the door, the vision was completed. I was able to meet my mother as the Wiccan promised. Now I must pay up,” he regretted.” Charles’s breathing became labored.
“No!” Madeleine screamed. “We just met! I can’t lose you now! I couldn’t find you either. There were no records back then. My parents told me to never tell. I’m so sorry Charles. I love you! Find another way to stay with me. Do anything you have to do to stay. Do you understand? Do anything!” She reached for his hand and as before, the vision disappeared and she was in front of the closed door as blues music played.
“Wake up! Wake already! Maddie! Wake up!” Jack shook his wife while shouting until her eyes opened.
“I’m here honey. I’m here,” he held her hand.
“I opened the door,” she said faintly. “I went through. He died.”
“Stevie is fine. Chloe too,” he tried to reassure her.
“He died. I’ll never forgive myself.”She looked at her husband with tearful eyes. “You made me go through that door and he paid with his life. I wanted to find him too, but I couldn’t tell.”
“Tell what honey?” He hugged her tightly. “Who paid?”Jack pleaded.
Pulling from his embrace she ran crying to the bedroom.
Jack sighed. “I’ll check the kids again,” he called out to her as he went into Chloe’s room. She was still asleep. Chest rising and falling in peaceful bliss.
‘It will be a long time before I get to sleep like that.’ Jack thought.
When Jack walked into Stevie’s room, he was sitting up in bed.
‘Well, he’s not dead. I’m 2 for 2,’ he chuckled to himself.
“Hey, buddy! You can’t sleep too? I guess nobody’s sleeping tonight except Chloe. How about you and me get a nightcap of warm milk?”
Stevie stared blankly, the same as Madeleine had after waking from her nightmare. Jack shook his son.
“Stevie! Come out of it! Wake up boy, Stevie!” Jack yelled at his son.
Coming out of a fog, he looked into Jack’s eyes.
“My name is Charles,” he corrected.
Copyright © 2018 Darnell Cureton. All Rights Reserved.