When I tell the NAET specialist about the sun making me worse, she accommodates me with a nighttime appointment. It seems like this is destiny. I am going to be all right. I feel certain she will find the cure to give me back my life. I answer her pages and pages of questions all about me. I go on the internet to find out her address. She’s in the backwoods on a lake. Bob drives me out there. He waits in the truck as I get out and go up to the front door, but there’s no answer. I ring the doorbell numerous times and then go to the back door and knock again with no response. Walking along the length of the house, I peer in through a window to see the TV on and rap on the glass; again nothing.
I have a strange feeling about this: like it doesn’t matter if she is there or not, but know this is where I am supposed to be. From where I stand, I can see her large dock at the water’s edge planted in a bed of thick tall weeds. I’m drawn to it. Under the canopy of trees, in the pitch dark, the only light comes from the windows of the other cottages. I walk, my feet feeling the worn path, rolling on weathered stones, stubbed against tree roots finding my way down to the lake. My feet slap against the dock boards, bouncing along the wooden deck.
It’s eight at night. I can hear the frogs and see the white flowers already closed on their lily pads. Tall weeds poke out like needles in a pincushion from the water. I don’t know why I’m drawn to this place. I sit down on the worn wooden bench, its back built-in to the deck. Rustling leaves, their shadows draping me in solitude, cocoon me from all else. The moon illuminates the water with silver highlights shimmering the tops of waves that float to the dense tree-lined shore. Enveloped in dull gray hues, it strikes me that I’m looking for black and white answers where life only offers discernable shades of gray. I forget about my appointment knowing this is where I’m meant to be. I listen to the water’s rhythm, the gush of waves slapping the shore, like overwhelming emotion flooding my being. I smell the algae and its earthy dampness. I’m rocking. I do that to soothe myself; left my imprint on the back of a chair when I was a kid; even rocked so hard once I flipped the chair over. My breath matches the rhythm of the lapping waves, a part of the water, immersed in its darkness. I struggle like the wave to break free to the surface and remember another time when I struggled to break free. But Mom was holding me down. Dragged down by the current, drowning in an undertow of memory, emotion claws its way to the surface with gnarled versions of a mother’s hate which forever haunts me.
My Mother is here vivid as that day. But I know that’s just my imagination, it isn’t like she’s really here. She’s been dead for over 25 years. But she is standing over me. Almost towering, but that’s foolish since she’s only five foot four and I am five foot two. It’s her arm that towers above me.
I have been haunted by this scene numerous times except for this time I am reliving it through my mother’s point of view. I have become her tortured soul trying to make me see how she feels. I can hear her lamenting self; am touched by her despair; her fear as she clutches the butcher knife above my head ready to bring it down with considerable force. I know it’s her arm, but it’s like it’s my arm too. Cause I feel the weight of the knife, its wide, wooden handle and the force she’s going to use. I feel her tense, feet bracing for the impact, her breath heavy. But it’s my breath coming from her, my snorting, my hysterical panting. As if I were her, in her body, using her strength. Knocked backward and splayed out on the laminate countertop, I feel the strength she uses to keep me there. She is as scared as I am.
I know where I am. I’m on the dock. Mosquitoes swarm my body. I snort when they try to crawl up my nose. I shake my head trying to get their incessant buzzing out of my ears. My face and arms are coated in them. My skin seems to crawl. I don’t swat them away. I know I must stay here to suffer the abuse to learn of my mother’s agony. It’s why I’m here.
It’s torture, the bites so many, so painful but I must suffer to learn of my mother’s affections on that day that so torments me. Even with the knife above my head, I feel her love for me. She has no hatred or animosity for me, I sense it.
I must endure the stinging bites to know her pain, so I sit on that bench and open my arms, gritting my teeth, squinting my eyes to keep those insects out; while waves of tiny bodies, pierce my skin; but through it all is my mom’s love for me.
I perceive the calm that comes over my mother and her wonderment to be in such a strange predicament when she puts the knife down. Her words resonate through my body. “What am I doing? There’s something wrong with me.” There’s no hatred in her voice only love. Even with the knife above my head, she loved me. It wasn’t her. It was the illness.
Mom’s whispered words float through my being, wandering. I feel her searching in me for something she can’t find. In her clear voice, she asks, “Where is my headstrong girl? Why has she disappeared?” I wonder, was I ever that person she imagines me to be? The person I long to be. And I remember my wedding night, in my first negligee, standing provocatively in the doorframe saying, “Is that a pickle in your pocket or are you just glad to see me, wink, wink.” And Bob’s response, “Don’t you think that thing you’re wearing is a little too big for you.” And our honeymoon camping a week in Prince Edward Island. It rained every day. Bob was out in the rain cooking our breakfast. I poked my head out of the tent flap and asked if it was ready yet. He had a steak knife in his hand and threw it at the tent close to where I crouched. Later that night after he fell asleep, I opened his suitcase and moved it under the hole in the tent. In the morning his clothes were soaked. What happened to that girl? When did I lose her?
In her clear voice, she tells me, I will be all right and I believe her. She says she will protect me. But like the mosquitoes’ bite, I will feel the pain but will not suffer its adverse effects.
Mom saved me once, she will do it again. I was an ectopic pregnancy. The doctor told mom he had to terminate her pregnancy, kill me, if he didn’t, she would die. She went to the hospital but couldn’t go through with it and left. Later that day, she was doing a head, that’s what she called it, she was a hairdresser when she felt me shift and move into place. The doctor confirmed I was now in the uterus. This is what I attribute my bad sense of direction to. I was born with it.
Mom risked her life for me. I don’t think I could be that brave.
Mom explains the circle of life. It’s so simple. In the afterlife we relive our memories. Mom made me relive that day when we both suffered, so I would know her pain and love for me. She said, “In the end, we are our infinite memories revisited.” She wants to give me peace with this memory, so revisiting it again and again will be less agonizing. A relief to the circle destined to repeat itself.
I am startled by the loud sound of the truck’s honking horn. I get up as if in a trance knowing it is time to go. I’m not disoriented by the blackness but follow the truck’s headlights. When I get to the truck, a woman is standing next to it.
“I am so sorry,” the woman says. “I emailed you to tell you, I had to cancel our appointment. I can book another for you.”
I am jittery. I can feel my body quake. “That won’t be necessary,” I say. I got what I came for.
I jump into the truck more agile than I have been in months.
“Where were you?” Bob asks.
“On the dock.”
“For an hour and a half! What were you doing?”
“Remember the day mom tried to kill me with the butcher knife?”
“Well, it’s strange because I was thinking about that day. It was the weirdest thing sitting out there.”
“Why didn’t you book another appointment?
“I just know I don’t need her. I feel like everything is going to be okay, but it’s going to take a while.”
“So, I came all the way out here for nothing?”
I thought about reliving our memories in death. Bob’s mother, Violet, has had such a hard life with few good memories.
“I’m worried about your mother,” I say. “We should bring your mother and father to a retirement home here. We have to make nice memories for your mother before it’s too late.”
Bob turns and looks at me. “That’s not going to happen.”
“But all of your mother’s memories are so sad. We can’t let her die without happy memories.”
“How could you have stayed on that dock without getting eaten alive? The skitters are thick at this time of night. Didn’t they bother you?” Bob turns the overhead light on. “You don’t have even one welt; how could that happen?” he asks.
I flip down the visor to look into my mirror at my skin, more flawless than I have ever known it to be. There’s no explanation for it and none that either of us try to make.
The next morning, I examine my body. “I will feel pain but have no adverse reactions.” My skin is smooth, untouched.