Fifth grade. A year of change for us all. It was the year I entered the double-digits, and the year that I was only a year away, from being a year away to middle school, (which was very important at the time, believe me.) It was also the year that I developed my first major crush on a girl from my class, that lasted well into the beginning of my freshman year of high school. I was a big kid, now, and I felt it.
Something else, however, also took place. I began to see things that weren’t there. The earliest one, that sticks in my memory like a large tree in an empty field was of a man, in bright blue clothing, stalking through the overgrown stinging nettle that grew underneath the gnarled, diseased black walnut tree that grew behind my grandparent’s trailer. He moved without moving any of them, a long brown rifle in his arm.
He shone like a flashlight in your eyes — like he was a blue silhouette pressed against a burning lamp. He moved slowly. Deliberately, like a hunter after its prey. His head swerved from side to side, cautiously, before coming to a stop. His body faced my grandparent’s neighbor’s house, tucked the rifle against his shoulder and took aim. Before recoil could push his shoulder, however, his body was thrown back by some unseen, and unheard force, and he disappeared into the overgrown weeds.
I watched all of this playout without cresting my head around the corner of my grandparent’s baby blue tin trailer.
My parents told me it was just my imagination, and I would have left it at that, never to think of again, if it didn’t keep happening. From the fireless smoke that swirled above my head in the kitchen, to the hand pulling at my mattress in the middle of the night. The large black dog in the middle of the sidewalk, with eyes as dark as night, and snarling teeth as long as a man’s finger that vanished the moment I looked behind after running a couple of feet away.
I’ve heard birds speak plainly, and have watched as they became one fewer in the middle of flight. I’ve seen people fade in and out of vision, and have heard whispers from the deepest darkest places. And all of this — every single weird thing that happened to me during those tender years could be traced back to one thing: a dream I had when in the fifth grade.
It was one of those dreams that seemed to emulate life in an eerie way — where you’re caught in a familiar routine and you don’t even realize it’s a dream. For me, I was standing at the edge of a small dirt-trodden path that connected my parent’s trailer to my grandparent’s, and was walking back home. Something, however, stopped me halfway.
A figure rose from the ground, shining brightly like the soldier, but instead of blue, it was a bright pink. She wore pink clothes with blue stripes, and a hat on her head, from what I could remember. It was hard to look at her. She floated in mid air, a few feet off the ground and looked to me.
“You will die tonight.” She stated simply, facing me, but I felt no fear in the dream, as if I was barely registering what was happening.
As she sank beneath the ground once more, I continued along to the front of my house, climbing the creaking stairs to my laundry room, and entered inside.
Once in the familiar place, the room began to clatter, as the things that hung against the wall smacked against it. Soon things flew off the shelves all around me, running into me. It hurt. Physically. It was the first time that I’ve felt actual pain in a dream, though it wouldn’t be the last. As I ducked out of the way of a flying squeegee that embedded itself into the metal washer, my mother entered the room.
“Just die already!” The thing from outside said in her voice, and I woke up.
My body ached as if I had just done PE, but I kept it to myself for a week, until something else happened, but this time, not in a dream. I was lying awake, as I had done for the last week with memories of that dream still fresh in my minds, when something in the room began to swirl, like dust caught up in a dervish.
The dust began to coalesce in long, colorful lines, floating in the darkness of my room. Soon, those lines too began to form together, to become the same floating woman that I saw in my dream — burning white aura and all.
“Finally! I got you!” The same voice said.
I’m proud enough to admit that I screamed, as a colorful hand reached out towards me, only to disperse when my older brother ran in and flipped on the lights. As usual he saw nothing. My parents got my grandparents over that night to pray for me, and to drive out anything lurking in the dark. It worked and I was able to sleep again for the first time in a week.
Now, while this was a tame event, compared to others, it still became one of the focal points of my beliefs that — either I was crazy, or there was something else out there that we couldn’t grasp the reality of. Other events later in my life, up until my adulthood, would help cement these beliefs.