Dreams That Haunt Us

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Fiction
Tags: , ,

Dreaming men are haunted men.” Therefore, every man is haunted. And little girls too.

It is the peculiar aspect of dreams that haunt us, the I-know-not-from-whence aspect to them that causes them to stay with us. Sexual dreams gratify, dreams of wealth and prosperity excite us, dreams of health and well being entice us. But those are not the dreams that stay with us. It is the dream of the room at the top of the stairs, the one with the shadow just off in the distance, the dream of the face unknown yet wholly familiar; these are the ones that resonate and find a home within. In short, the dreams that come and call to us. The one just beyond explanation.

Our second tale is about Renita Jai.  A little girl haunted not only in life, but in her dreams as well.

Dreams That Haunt Us: Monnstro

Little Renita Jai. She had been called “Little” since she was born because she had taken her name from her great grandmother, the great matriarch of the family. A woman so important, so revered, that her name had been hers alone, kept from at least two generations. Hers alone, that is, until Little Renita Jai. She was the stuff of miracles: born premature, given a grim prognosis by the doctors. Her parents were told that if she lived at all, it would be at a ghastly price. That she would never maintain a “normal life.” Her eyes were malformed, though she could see. Her tiny arms were mangled and deformed, the shape a stick of Laffy-Taffy might take if left in the South Texas sun too long. Laffy-Taffy was her mother’s favorite candy, banana flavored. Her legs were bowed at the knees, so much so that they might have been portals to another dimension, to another time.

Her skin was so dark and mysterious, with multiple shades of deep, dark bruise-purple, it made the dense night sky writhe in jealousy of her. Her eyes, when they were open to be seen a deep eerie white, as white as pure sin after the Lord’s grace had washed it clean. She was a scion of a proud African family that came to Kingsville very early, when dark folks were welcomed only for the labor they could provide. They had settled in what was called “Little Africa” on the corner of 2nd street and Huisache; her great grandmother among the first to settle the neighborhood on land donated to the “town folk” by the venerable King family.

Renita Jai was not expected to live passed a year. And that year was to be full of heartache and medicine, doctor’s visits and costly procedures until finally what ailed would prove victorious and take her fragile little life. Leaving the family with memories and questions of “Why?” And yet, here she was at age six. A precocious girl with dark curly hair, eyes a splendid moss green, and a smile as wide as Texas itself. She still suffered the pains of her misfortune, of course, because miracles never work out as we’d like them to. In life, Lazarus never really rises from the dead. Or Jairus’ daughter for that matter. But here was Renita Jai, alive despite all the wisdom of the learned medicine men. She had just began learning to talk, a symptom of her mother’s insatiable need to read her stories at night. All the classics too: Dr. Seuss, the Brother’s Grimm, Aesop. When she began to speak it was a little miracle in and of itself.  When she was able to put words together, enough to string sentences along toward a semblance of meaning, she told her mother about a recurring dream she had.

~Mommy, I dreamed of a place I’ve never been. I was wearing a pretty dress with my new shoes daddy bought me and my hair was up in a bow. A purple bow. It was a big parking lot but there was no cars. It was night and I was all alone. The lights were on but I could only see so far into the distance. And it was purple everywhere. Dark and purple, like when I look out the window when you read to me, and the train tracks go on forever and ever. I was scared because I could feel something was there in the dark where I could not see.  I called out, “monnstro…monnstro,” like I knew the name of the thing that was there in front of me.  Then a man came behind me. He was a good man and asked what I was doing all alone out in the parking lot.

In my dream all I could do was point out into the darkness. And the man asked, “what are you pointing at? Are you afraid of the dark? There’s nothing there sweetie, I promise.” And all I could do was point out there. I was very thirsty too. When I could talk, I told the man “monnstro.” But he could not understand me: “Monnstro, what’s that sweetie? What is that?” I looked at him but he still didn’t understand me. And so I pointed again into the dark place. Then he said, “do you mean Monster?” And he walked a little bit to see if he could see something. And he said, “there’s nothing out there sweetie. No monsters. Nothing.”

That’s when we heard it. A loud noise, mommy. A very loud noise like a lion and a pig and a person all screaming at once. And the man jumped toward me to try and cover me. All I could do was cover my ears and close my eyes real tight. And then I woke up.

Her mother was put off by the dream she heard.  And told her that dreams are mysterious things that happen to everyone.  That sometimes they are scary but sometimes they are really good too.  And throughout all your life, she told her, dreams will always happen to you.  There’s no need to be afraid of them.  It was then that Renita asked pointedly, then why do I have this one all the time? And not those other ones?

Renita Jai lives and resides in Kingsville to this day.  Her mother has passed and her father too.  She lives her life with some pain and sorrow, as we all do.  She’s made something of herself. She can walk, talk and work; do all those things “normal” people do everyday.  All that which the doctors said she would never do.  Those words she outgrew long ago.  She has had a thousand dreams since then, and a thousand nightmares too.  But  this one, this dream, of her fragile little voice echoing in the night, “monnstro,” haunts her still.

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