I know everything right now is all about Christmas. But if you’re like me, it is starting to be holiday overload. I know I’ve seen hundreds of Christmas decorating for months, and I need to think about something else for a little while. So I’m going to write about a recurring dream.
I still see her oftentimes. The little girl in the boat. She’s about three years old. Maybe some of you remember my mentioning it before. I’m probably ten years old. We’re at some sort of summer camp event. There is a young woman in the boat with us, our chaperone.
We’re just floating out on the water, pretty far from shore. I don’t recall if anyone is talking. For me there is silence. Everyone is looking out toward the water, seeing the sights.
The trees that seem to graze the sky. The way the water ends so abruptly, it seems, and land begins. Birds soaring overhead.
But my gaze has fallen on the little girl across from me in the boat. Her eyes meet mine.
I see her raise herself up from the flat seat in the boat, and up to the edge. She is unafraid, like children her age often are. Why a toddler is there I don’t know.
I watch her as she begins to bounce up and down on the edge of the boat. She is smiling and having fun.
Up and down. Up and down.
I know something bad is going to happen. But I can’t find my voice. I open my mouth to speak and nothing comes out.
In just seconds, she loses her balance and falls backward. Her eyes widen as she realizes something scary is happening.
Why couldn’t I find my voice?
Finally I did, when she was just ripples in the water. I screamed that she fell over the edge.
The chaperone turned to face me, then went into active mode. She rises and quickly dives into the water. She goes under, looking for the little girl.
All the children are open-mouthed, filled with alarm. And the shock of fear that takes over when something bad grabs you so suddenly.
The woman comes up, gasping for air. She shakes the water out of her eyes, and droplets from her hair ping back onto the dark surface.
Finally she stops diving under, and hoists herself up by her arms over the edge of the boat and back into it.
My heart is pounding. “But you didn’t find her!” I yell. “You have to go back and find her!”
Her face twists up with emotion and she shakes her head.
“No! You can’t leave her down there. Please! Go back!”
Tears are streaming down her face. “She’s gone,” she says. “I’m sorry. But I can’t find her. It’s so dark down there.”
I can’t believe it. I look out over the water. She fell backward and it just gulped her up. Then closed its curtain of darkness.
Little ripples caused by a little body. Gone in an instant into a dark abyss.
She was smiling at me just seconds before she fell backward, as if to say: Look at me, look at me! Unaware of the danger behind her.
It swallowed her up and no one could save her.
The young chaperone rows us back to shore, her body shaking with sobs. Her face is white with shock. And the look someone gets when they know their life is suddenly altered forever.
Once on land, I see everyone talking; many crying. Adults and children gather together, looking out over the water. As if it might magically change the tragedy that has just occurred.
I stand alone. I don’t speak to anyone. I just stare out over the water, which was just a fun excursion such a short time ago.
Until a little girl, too young to understand, took advantage of the fact that no one was keeping an eye on her, and lifted herself to the edge of the boat. Completely unaware of the danger.
I keep seeing her eyes as they meet mine. I wonder why I turned to look at her, instead of at the beauty just beyond the boat?
I see her sweet little girl smile.
Why was I the only witness?
Why could I not speak? Why could I not let the chaperone know before it was too late?
And why is it so clear in my mind? Most of my dreams are muddled and vague.
Do you have a dream that won’t let you out of its grip? That you can’t understand, but somehow know it is of great importance?
Because it just won’t leave you alone.
What do you think is the significance of dreams? Or are they just particles of life mixed into a stew and stirred?