Strange things had been happening since I built the barn house.
Minor strange that just made you go, huh, that’s weird, to the major ones where your heart was racing and your hairs stood on end. We all had different stories of things we had seen, witnessed or felt. Even Jade, which at first we thought were adorable toddler imagination stories-until she became more insistent they were real. That was when we started to worry, and not just a little.
Jade kept saying “purple lady”; purple lady this, purple lady that.
“The purple lady sang to me last night.”
“Oh that’s nice Jade. Did she have a pretty voice?”
“The purple lady rocked me to sleep last night.”
“Really Jade. Oh that sounds lovely. Did you fall asleep?”
This went on for weeks, a different story each time, but Jade seemed happy and we just thought she had created another imaginary friend. We saw that as a good sign. Perhaps she was beginning to grow her imagination and would soon move on from Wiggles.
Sun and I, it started with little things, like dishes left on the beach island. We both insisted we weren’t leaving them there. I wondered if Sun was sleep walking, but when dishes were still being left there in the middle of winter, we knew something funky was going on. Thoughts of trespassers in the night, had me spending hours in the lighthouse scanning the water with binoculars, only to find no one at all.
Then, every so often, we would find a baked good left on the counter in the middle of the night. Sun insisted she hadn’t done any baking and I knew I sure as heck didn’t. I’m not a baker. I can cook, but don’t ask me to make a pie. I will give you mush.
Then one night I woke up with that combination of thirst and hungry, so I decided to go downstairs and grab a glass of milk. I descended the stairs with my eyes virtually closed, but stopped at the bottom when I saw this:
I thought, I must be sleepwalking, so I turned around and went back to bed. When Sun and I awoke that morning, I told her of my bizarre dream, but then….. when we went downstairs to the kitchen, we found waffles on the counter waiting for us. That gave Sun leverage to say it was actually me who was sleep walking.
“Let’s see if your cooking is better in your sleep,” she teased.
I mulled that vision of the purple lady in our kitchen over and over in my head and began to wonder if she was real, or just an idea planted their by all of Jade’s stories. Had I really cooked those waffles myself?
The ghost of Aria was just as miserable as the cat was herself in the living world. Her haunting red glow gave one the feeling of impending danger every time one came upon her. She took particular pleasure in taunting Sophie any which way she could, except there wasn’t anything we could do about it. She started by taking over Sophie’s bed to sleep in, even going so far as to scare her out of it in the middle of the night. Then she stalked Sophie around the island to such a degree, that Sophie wouldn’t leave our side, day or night.
You never knew where she was going to be or what she was going to do next especially since she didn’t seem to be constrained by the light of the day. One afternoon, Sun was cooking in the kitchen when she turned around, only to be startled by Aria sitting on the counter top. Sun screamed, then yelled at the cat, (missed grabbing that pic it happened so fast)
“Aria, go away you nasty cat. Go! Scram!”
Surprisingly, Aria did jump down from the counter, raised up her back at Sun and hissed. I thought Oh No! I was sure Aria would come back with some retaliation at some time, and she did.
Sun was busy harvesting her garden one day, when Aria jumped out from behind some plants and yowled at Sun. Sun made this growling noise and after that, Aria seemed to leave her alone.
She placed her focus on me unfortunately, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m not as brave as Sun when it came to ghosts, so Aria, got me every time! Her torment didn’t last very long and then, she seemed to just simply disappear never to be seen again.
A few other odd things happened around the island. Things were cleaner:
Seeming to be accomplished before Sun or I had time to do them.
Then, we were finding full supper meals left on the counter.
Sun’s a really good cook, but not this kind of good. Please don’t tell her I said that though.
A few nights before the hurricane, I finally saw her. I had stayed up late watching the weather newscasters talk about the storm, trying to determine just how worried we should be. I heard Sophie barking these happy little yips and went to investigate.
I saw them through the large glass window, but by the time I got out there, she had disappeared.
I told Sun the next day what I had seen and she wasn’t the least bit surprised.
“Think about it Jin. We’ve been seeing Aria for months now. Why is it such a leap in your mind?”
“It’s not. But why didn’t she pass over? My father obviously did, why didn’t she and why are we seeing her now? You were here a whole year and didn’t see anything at all.”
“No. I never saw anything, but I felt that I had a guardian angel, someone helping me out when I needed it the most. Maybe it was her.”
The whole thing was distressing, more than Sun would understand, but I didn’t have much time to think about it with the hurricane and everything that followed.
Then a week ago, I emerged from the tent to see her floating across the beach coming my way.
“Mom,” I said softly, but there was no sign on her face she had heard me. In fact I didn’t think she even saw me, for she almost floated directly through me. I held up my hands and said “Whoa!”
She seemed to emerge from her trance, gasped and sped across the grass of the island. I ran after her yelling, “Mom.”
“Mom!” I yelled louder
She stopped then and turned just in time for me to catch up to her.
“Mom, it’s me! It’s Jin. Do you know who I am?”
She looked at me, eyebrows drawn together, then said “Jin?”
“Yes. It’s me mom.”
“Oh my gosh Jin! You’re so grown up! I’m so glad I found you, I don’t understand what is going on. Where is your father? Where is the boat? Where have you been?”
I looked at her stricken face and tried to understand where these question were coming from.
“Mom, dad is dead. He’s gone.”
“What? No, no that can’t be. When did it happen? How?”
“He died mom, just three days after you.”
“I’m dead? No, no-no-no. That’s not right. How can I be dead? I’m right here.”
I grabbed her hand, a new experience a must say considering I thought my hand would go right through her’s, and held it up.
“Mom, look at your hand. Look at mine. You’re a ghost.”
She stood there shaking her head, staring off in the distance. “I died…….. The last thing I remember………… was holding my baby. My baby! Jade! Where is my Jade? Please tell me she didn’t die!”
I told her all about Jade and asked if she had been spending time with a little girl in the house. She nodded and tears came to her eyes, when I told her the little girl was Jade.
“You’ve done a really good job with her Jin. She is so adorable.” I gave most of the credit to Sun.
She wanted to know everything about my life and we spent the rest of the evening talking about the past year and a half. I left out no detail, including how devastated I had been when I found out she had died.
“I’m so sorry Jin. I never wanted to leave you.”
“I’ve been doing okay mom. I miss you every day and I always will. Sun and I promised that Jade will always know who her parents were. Together, we will be happy.”
“I’m so proud of you Jin. You have grown up to be the wonderful man I always knew you would be. Your father and I loved you more than you will ever know.”
I didn’t know how much I needed to hear those words from her. I held back tears as she then told me, she wanted to be with my father.
“Yes, I understand. But we will see each other again, won’t we?” I felt like a small child asking his mother to explain death to him for the first time, wanting to be reassured that death was not an end.
She smiled and me and stroked my cheek. “Live a long full life. Be good to one another and make every moment count. Remember how much we love you and we will see you again.”
She hugged me then, and I honestly didn’t want to let her go. I was trying to be brave, but I had just gotten my mom back and now she was saying goodbye. She took a step back and with a flash of white light, my mother was gone. I stood there staring out at the ocean, wiping the tears that streamed down my face.
As sad as I was, I was also happy, because I had gotten the chance for a proper goodbye. It all felt so surreal, but I walked back to the tent to grab a few hours of sleep.
I had much to tell Sun, when I woke up.