The woman slept by the shoreline In front of a small dock leading into the water.
She knew when she decided to walk down to the shoreline, she should not be there, torturing herself the way she was but she was now forever linked to that spot.
It is funny how sometimes, one event can have such a dramatic effect on one's life, causing them to stop living, replaying one moment over and over in their head.
The mind can be a funny thing. When it gets something to hold onto, it tears into it like a pit bull. The jaws of the mind seem to clamp down never to open no matter how hard you try to free yourself.
It was a clear day. Just as it had been on that fateful day, two years ago. The warm gentle breeze caressed her cheek. She stirred slightly, dreaming. The sketch pad resting on her lap moved slightly. The wind took hold of it, flipping the pages as if some unseen person flipped through it.
The pages moved back and forth in the breeze. The book opened to a sketch of the shoreline and the dock where a little girl in a bathing suit stood on the dock facing the water. Each page seemed to hold the same image. Thought slightly different in one she turned slightly and in the next, she turned some more until she was facing the front. The picture began to close in on the girl's face, giving the appearance of a hand-drawn flip-book.
The woman woke suddenly and sat up.
She looked down to see the sketchbook open to the picture of the girl's face. She looked warmly at the picture, drawing a finger along the child's cheek, caressing it. A tear rolled down her cheek as she stared at the portrait for what seemed an eternity.
Slowly, she reached out and closed the book. She gathered her things and rose. She turned to walk away and then turned back to gaze forlornly out towards the water.
She walked back towards the house that lay behind the trees. The rooftop was just visible above the tree tops.
It was a warm day but a sudden chill swept through her. She pulled her sweater close about her hugging the sketch pad to her chest.
She stopped walking and shot a darting glance behind her when she heard a snapping sound as if someone was walking behind her. She turned slowly.
There was nothing there. She cursed herself inwardly for letting her nerves get the better of her. She turned and walked on towards the house. Sanctuary.
She walked toward the house, the entire time feeling as if someone was following her but when she turned back once more, she again saw nothing.
She did not think there had been enough time for anyone to have ducked out of view before she turned but she felt a - presence.
It was hard for her to explain but it was as if she felt that something out there was drawn to her. She turned once more to look behind her as she opened the door and pulled it closed behind her.
She entered the house, placing her sketchpad on the counter as she walked to the fridge to get something to drink. She looked past the fridge to see that the door to the basement was open. Frowning, she walked towards it and closed the door.
"Damn! I'll have to get that door fixed." She thought to herself.
This was not the first time the door had swung open. She never went down into the basement but the door had a bad habit of never staying closed.
She pushed the door closed and gave the handle a good tug. It would not open.
Staring at the door, she knew eventually she would have to go down into the basement. There were things that needed to be packed up. There were things that needed to be sold or given away. But she did not think that she had the strength right now. Maybe some day ...
There was a knock at the front door, startling her back to reality.
As she walked to the door she had a pretty good idea of who it might be and why he was there.
Opening the door – it was just as she had suspected. She stared at the man standing outside her door for a moment. It was obvious from the look on her face that she was not happy to see him. She stepped aside. He brushed past her as he walked in. No need for words - they both knew why he was here.
Silently, she went into the kitchen and poured two glasses of iced tea. She brought them into the living-room where the man was seated on the couch. He smiled as he took the glass and drank deeply. It was a hot day and the house was a bit stifling, though she thought to herself the atmosphere in the house seemed to have thickened somewhat since he arrived.
She took a seat across from him.
"You haven't been so see me in a while." She glanced up at him, feeling like a small child as he looked her. He had a way of looking at a person that made them feel as if he were looking into their soul.
"I was under the impression that it was voluntary." She said as she averted her eyes away from him.
"Yes. Yes, It is." He agreed. "But I thought that we we're making progress."
She could feel her body stiffening. "I'm not crazy."
The man smiled grimly as she folded her arms across her chest. Perhaps he was coming on a little strong and the last thing he wanted to do was to push her farther away.
"I never said you were. But you have been through a lot and even the sanest person in the world sometimes needs to talk things through."
His glance fell upon the sketch pad that lay on her coffee table. Good. A hobby. He felt a little better now that he saw that she was doing something besides moping in the house.
"I see you are drawing again. That's good." He picked up the sketch pad and then looked up at her. There was something in her eyes and the stiffness of her body that wasn't right. "May I?"
She looked at him for a moment and then nodded briskly, leaning away as he flipped through the pages of her sketch pad.
He looked up at her as it became evident what was in the sketch pad. One picture, over and over again. As he flipped through he saw that they were all of the same view of the shoreline. He sighed. Maybe this was not that good for her after-all.
He looked over to the mantle where a picture of a little girl sat next to a candle. He smiled sadly as he looked back at the woman. A tear fell down her cheek. He leaned forward and placed a hand on her knee.
"It wasn't your fault. You do know that, don't you?" He waited for an answer.
She just stared blankly at the sketch pad. After what seemed like an eternity she slowly raised her head to him and looked him in the eye. "I know." She said weakly.
"This isn't healthy. You need to get on with your life. You can't go on like this." 29
"I know,” Her gaze fell on the picture of the little girl on the mantle. She swore she cold almost hear her daughter's voice, her laughter.
Later that evening, after he had left, she sat staring at the television. It was on but she was not paying attention to what the characters were saying or doing or even what program it was she had been watching.
Sighing, she turned the television off and went up the stairs.
She paused at the door to her bedroom, seeing the the attic doors. She stared at it for a moment, then found herself walking up the stairs towards the attic
She fumbled about in the darkened room for a moment trying to find the light switch. She found it and the room filled with an almost blinding light.
Looking in, she stared at what had at one time been her studio. She walked over to an easel, covered up with a tarp. She pulled it off and revealed a painting of the same girl playing in the sand directly in front of the dock where -
She winced at the memory. Suddenly it all came back to her in a flood or memories and emotions.
She had been there with her daughter two years ago and could still hear her daughter giggling as the little girl made that sandcastle. The little girl had ran to the dock.
Running toward her daughter, she called out to her, telling her to stay away from the water's edge but she was too late. The little girl had fallen into the water.
The woman dove in, searching the water. Her hand had passed through the girls hair in the water. Tears rolled down her cheek as she recalled sitting on the sand with her daughters lifeless body in her arms, cradling her as if she were a baby, sobbing into her hair.
The woman woke, tears fresh on her cheeks. She could not remember leaving the attic. She looked around the room, dazed for a moment then realizing where she was. She lay back down on the bed and rubbed her temple.
She shot up in bed. Something was wrong. She paused for a moment, listening. Then it came again. She looked up at the ceiling as she heard someone, something moving around in the attic.
Pulling her knees to her chest, she stared at the ceiling for a moment. Her eyes rested on a wooden baseball bat lying next to her bed. She had become used to keeping it there for protection. She stared at it and then looked back up at the ceiling.
The woman clutched the bat close to her as she crept slowly up the stairs. She hesitated at the door of the attic. Taking a deep breath, she threw the door open and launched herself into the room holding the bat in front of her.
She looked around and saw that the window was open and a tube of red paint lay on the ground. She sighed to herself. She frowned when she saw that the window was open. She did not remember opening it but then again she did not remember leaving the attic either.
She walked over to the window and began to close it when she stopped frozen. She swore that she could hear a child laughing. Peering out the window, she saw a little girl running away form the house in the direction of the lake.
"Samantha!' She called out before she realized that it could not possibly be her daughter.
She bowed her head and turned to go from the attic and again she froze. The bat she carried dropped from her hand, landing in a hollow thud on the floor. The world around her spinning.
She stared at the painting, not realizing at first what she was seeing. Her eyes darted to a tube of red paint on the floor, then back to the painting. Across the painting was written "Mommy I need you."
Hearing the giggling again, she turned and stared out the window again. She heard the giggling again.
The woman shot out of the house, running as fast as she could. She ran into the woods. For some reason the walk that seemed to take no time at all in the middle of the day seemed to stretch on and on in the darkness of night.
Frantically and out of breath, she burst through the woods and onto the sandy shore. She stopped staring at the water, calling out to her daughter. A distance away from the shore, she saw something bobbing in the water. Crying, she rushed into the water and was pulled down into the murky depths.
The next morning her therapist returned.
He felt worried about her ever since coming to the house last night. Some just did not feel right. He had come back as soon as he could.
As he walked towards the house a sinking feeling washed over him. The door to the house lay open.
He walked in and looked around the foyer. He called out but there was no answer.
He walked about the house trying to see if anyone was there but there still was no answer. Suddenly, he noticed that the door to the attic lay open as well. He walked up the stairs. The first thing he saw was a tube of red paint on the floor. He picked it up and looked around. It was a bit chilly and that the window was open. He walked over and looked out the window. He closed the window and saw a reflection in the glass of the woman standing behind him. He gasped and spun around only to see that it was just one of her paintings.
Then he looked at the painting more. It was the same painting of the shore that had rested on the easel, but now both the little girl and the mother were standing on the peer, facing away towards the red sunset, looking out at the water. He placed the tube of red paint in front of the painting and walked away.
He hesitated before turning off the light and closing the door behind him.