The Lady in the Window
There is one place where I have felt that haunting knowing that you have been of a place before. And that was in an old brick hotel that sits back in the woods, beyond where I used to live as a child. There was a long lane, a no trespassing sign, a chain link gate, and the ranch style house of the people who owned the place, to go by to get there. But it was a challenge that we greedily took. We could tell when they were not home and their dog was locked up, and it was then that we daringly coasted our bikes through the barriers, taking a little side path through the woods, and then we were free to glide down the little cobble stone road with grass growing in the middle. I would take the right side, my brother the left. Jay, my brothers best friend would take up the lead. We coasted at full speed until the bend in the lane was coming up.
It was then that the creature that we had dubbed 'The Dragon' could be seen. The dragon was a huge old piece of farm machinery that had been left out in the field, Surrounded by tall grasses and swaying wildflowers, it was some type of a crane, and the neck of it reached up into the sky. It looked brown with rust and mold, as if some artist had created a prehistoric dragon to display there.
Then we slowed , half in awe, half in fear, of the dragon and the lofty brick house that was coming up to our right. We would dare each other to look up at the upper most window, because we knew what we would see there. The curtain would flap in a ghostly wave. And then a women's face would eerily appear. We would let our hearts swell with fear and then we would race speedily , past the dragon, the chain link fence and the owners dog, back safe in our back yards again.
One day Grandpa took us for a walk in the woods to show us some rare wild flowers, I remember having a feeling on that day, that this was where I had came from. This day we came up behind the old brick hotel and I saw that there was this other way to get there. And I did, at the next opportunity, by myself, without the noisy boys.
Coming up the back side, I had to go through bluebells, bluebells ! bluebells! Often I would be overtaken as if in a spell, to the place where bluebells go, and I would just sit among them and sleep. But then when I would wake I would go towards the house again, the house that called me. Daffodils joined the bluebells as I got closer to my destination, filling my path with ,yellow and blue upon green. I could see' The Dragon 'to the front of me, sitting in the sun, in its surrender. And to the left of me in the shade was the ivy covered backside of the house. How tall she looked from this angle, I found a little stone path that went through what looked like the ruins of an old kitchen herb garden, the smell of an herb was released as I passed. What was that? Something fleeted, like a sweet memory, of a laughing one, with a brave kind face surrounded by flowing brown curls.
The brick walls of the house gave off a soothing coolness, a refuge from the hot sun. My feet touched the wooden step and planks of a sidewalk that encircled the house. It seemed that my feet fell into footprints that were carved out and waiting for them. What happy hours I spent as a child discovering the secrets hidden away at this old hotel in the woods. A courtyard full of roses and thistles. An old barn covered with rambling roses of yellow.
I found a way to get inside, Yes! Over a side door there was a long rectangular window which had broken out and was covered with plywood that was hanging by a nail. I climbed up a trellis by the door and very carefully pulled the ply wood from it's loose connection and propped it to the side and then hoisted myself through the opening, then there was nothing to do, but hang by my hands and then drop, not certain to what I would be dropping!
I found myself looking at patterns, that light through a window was casting on the red and white tiled floor beneath me. As my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I took in more. Shapes, furniture with clothes draped over them, furniture pushed up against the walls. A point of light from over head drew my attention and I saw a stained glass window, of dusty red and yellow still allowing some rays of sun to enter, and in front of this window was the frame of a baby bed, and when I saw this I got a pang, and I felt grief, as if I felt the death of the child.
Then I could see the winding steps that lead up to this stained glass window, and in that instant I knew that there was another set of steps hidden behind the room, and I opened the door to a closet and indeed found the door to a lightless passageway to the up stairs. I did not enter those dark stairs but looked about the room, there was an old piano and when I pulled of it's sheet to look at it, the red wood of it's surface glowed and brought the warmth of some song to my heart and I felt myself wafting around the room in the embrace of a loving heart who held me close. What was that song?
"Around and around it goes, like the seasons of the rose,
I found an old box of letters and postcards and I ran my finger over the writing and I held some to my heart. Something I could sense but could not make sense of ,was there. Walking past the crib to go upstairs, I found a room that I fancied mine , and I imagined hanging up the wallpaper on a very sunny bright cheerful day, I could hear his voice laughing from the other room as he chased a little girl and made her giggle. Yellow curls, and ribbons, a white pinafore, little black shiny shoes. The sweetest dimpled face.
I thought that I was the bravest of the brave when I found the draw string that pulled down the attic trap door and I ventured up the thin wooden steps. My heart froze when an old fox hide that was hanging there swayed with the draft that my opening of the door had created. In an old trunk in the dark I searched with my hands and felt velvet and I pulled to the light a hunter green gown, with burgundy silk woven through at the neck. Something else I found, an old mirror, which I carried over to the window to look at. The window from which the lady would strike us with fright from when she appeared. I looked into that mirror and only now as I write this to you, do I now remember what I saw. I saw that the face that appeared in the window was mine. The lady in the window was me, through time, looking back at me.