by Diane Buccheri
Trees were crashing everywhere. Isabel had arrived in full force, venting her fury with a vengeance. Dodging the falling trees on the curving, slick roads, I drove with a sinking feeling. I really didn’t feel right about this but the wedding was not postponed and I could not let anyone down.
New Canaan, Connecticut has long, winding roads with huge trees and woods enclosing the roadsides. It was October and the falling leaves were pouring down, wet with the torrential rains and flying with the nearly hurricane force winds. A friend from high school was getting married that day at the old Waveny estate, a mansion which sits regally on top of a high hill surrounded by acre after acre of lawn and woods.
The house is a familiar one. I know every nook and cranny of it, having worked in the building for years. The grounds are just as familiar to me. During the slightest of storms, the magnificent trees, exposed at the top of the hill, blow and knock out the power lines. Often, the house is in the dark and it’s cold. It is a darkly decorated building with grand mahogany wood, intricately sculptured, covering the walls, ceilings, and floors. The house should be a museum for nineteenth century architecture but instead is used as the town’s Parks and Recreation headquarters during the day and is rented for sophisticated affairs such as fortune five hundred company meetings and weddings by night.
It is a well-known fact that ghosts roam the mansion at night. The ground keepers’ children who live in the old butler’s quarters often see the ghosts. The basement is a place I wouldn’t even visit during the day. It is so dank and dark that I am sure ghosts thrive there twenty-four hours a day. A scary, scary place.
Now, with evening setting in, the wind howling, trees crashing, rain pouring, I was not looking forward to an evening at Waveny. And what about the drive home? I already heard that a father and daughter traveling in their car had been killed in the vicinity by a falling tree that afternoon. The foreboding grew…
Arriving At the Scene
I ran through the parking lot, head bowed, trying not to get soaked before arriving at the fancy event. Both the bride’s and the groom’s families were quite wealthy and many people had traveled far, I was sure, to attend tonight’s wedding. I had only traveled ten minutes so I should stop my inner complaining and relax.
But I couldn’t. Upon arriving and seeing the chairs set up for the wedding ceremony I felt worse. Candles were lit and sat in every empty space. The lights were out. My damp skin became chilled – the heat was not working either. But a warm fire flickered in the huge fireplace so I stood in front of it to warm up. Uneasy, I rubbed my hands together and stared at the orange flames, groping one way, the other. Feeling my cheeks begin to burn, I turned to face the room, beginning to fill with arriving guests.
One by one, I began to see people I knew and many of them saw often around town. Casually I said hello. One friend stood next to me and I expressed my uneasiness. His kind face looked deeply into my eyes and he asked what was wrong. Worried, I replied that I didn’t know. Just have a queasy feeling. Something is going to happen.
Thunder and lightning raged outside. Branches scraped the windows and their shadows flashed across the wide wooden floor planks, worn and creaky with age. I shivered. A small lady in a pink suit brushed up against me in the crowd and I gasped. Oh, excuse me. That was Chris’ mom! I hadn’t seen her in years and hoped she didn’t recognize me in the dark. I heard a familiar voice near me – Chris’ dad. Oh my. I should have known they would be here. I heard they had moved back into town after living a few years again in northern California. They moved back there after their four sons and daughters decided to stay in northern California upon graduating from college. None of them wanted to return to their stuffy, traditionally conventional Connecticut town. I didn’t blame them. I, too, had lived in northern California, on and off through the years, trying to escape the square attitude at home. Pay was poor for my work in California so I returned home, getting paid triple the amount in the rich town, saving my money to move somewhere else, eventually.
At the time I wasn’t very happy. I was searching for the right things in my life to be more at peace and more satisfied. I had had many exciting adventures and lived very fully but knew important things were lacking. I had holes in my heart and holes in my soul. Knowing someday they would be filled, I was unsure how to bring that about. What I did know was that I enjoyed my work but it was time to learn new things. I had to move on. But in what direction? To where? How?
I felt a pair of eyes staring at me while I had my silent, self-absorbed conversation. Another gasp and I looked quickly away then moved quickly away and in a flurry of nerves, started talking silly gibberish to a girl I knew. She looked at me with a bemused half smile and I explained, my old boyfriend is here and I really don’t want to see him, don’t want to go through all those emotions.
With that, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around. Oh hi, Chris. (Had he heard me?) I didn’t expect to see you. I got your birthday card, he said, and was disappointed to know you lived a few miles away from me in California all summer and didn’t let me know until the day you left by writing a note in your card to me. I’m sorry, I answered. I thought I should not interfere with your life and your new wife. I know she is unhappy and uncomfortable about our friendship. Oh no! he exclaimed, we would have loved to have you visit us in our new home and spent time with you. You hurt me by being so close and not letting me know until you were gone. I’m sorry. And I was. It was Chris, one who I loved, standing here next to me and I got an old feeling of warmth.
Still, though, a chilly reminder flowed through my bones. Things had been difficult with him in the past, at times. His wife was uncomfortable in regards to me and I knew I should not spend much time with him so I started edging away.
With every step I took that night, he was there. In front of me looking at me, appearing behind me, to the right, and to the left, afraid I might slip away. We had nice conversations and I talked with his brother and mother and father. Seeing them and bridging the years’ distance, I felt good.
Devotion To Undying Love
Everyone I knew at the wedding was amazed by Chris’ attention to me. They had never seen someone so unabashedly, wholeheartedly, desperately, devote himself to someone this way. They were confused too. Isn’t he married? Where is his wife? He only came to Connecticut for the weekend and she stayed home in California, not knowing the bride and groom as we did and saving money.
Despite his enthusiasm with being near me, he could see unrest in my eyes. What’s wrong, he asked? I’m not sure, really. Maybe it’s my work. I don’t know quite what to do to be more at rest within.
I told him my soul felt something deep in California, a connection of some type. I was inspired to write a lot while there and liked what came out on the paper. He always knew I would write. What are you doing with your writing? he wanted to know. Well, I have had some poems published and a book was published that I edited and rewrote with an author whose first language is not English. But I need more. I don’t know how to get more writing and editing work.
His eyes lit up and he led me to his father. In the dark with the wind screaming into the cracks of the old windowpanes and rain relentlessly pelting on the windows, I found myself shaking the hand of Chris’ father with mutual smiles and agreement. I had new work to do! A new horizon was opening for me. Chris had come through for me, once again, with his utmost confidence in my abilities and his undying love for me. What a strange night. He knew with this storm, something big would happen. He felt the thrill. We were pleased to so unexpectedly meet again, particularly after having both been three thousand miles away and seeing each other on the same wild hill where we spent many of our teenage dates together.
Sadly, with yet another sinking feeling but now one of a different kind, I watched him walk into the storm, wondering how and when I would see him again.
The Spell Is Broken
Trees had collapsed under the weight of hurricane Isabel and smashed several of the guests’ cars in the parking lot. A flurry of activity began to help them and I was soon distracted from the night’s magic.
I haven’t seen Chris since that night he walked away into the darkness, destined to his home three thousand miles’ distance. However, the warm feeling has not left me and I have spent many hours in his mother’s and father’s home becoming an expert in my new career with his father’s work organization and under his guidance.
Chris’ full admiration for me has extended itself to his father’s confidence in my abilities. He has led me to new knowledge, expanding my mind and has returned the achievements with, “you must be Atlantean.”
That comment reached immediately far back in my mind and heart. An inner spark of electricity led me to reading. Way back in history, to the time of pagan mythology, my name has been intricately tied to that of Chris’ family. One aspect after the next in the story of spiritual human development since before Christ and all the way to modern times, has tied our names together. Chris always said our souls have loved each other for many lives and that I was always part of his family in one way or another.
I wonder if he has any idea just how many lives, just how much of past history was shared by us and how much knowledge we have shared and must have deep within our cavities.
I wish we could reach in and take out some of that collected information. Perhaps it still plays a large role in our immediate selves though we are unaware of it on a daily level. Perhaps we tap at that knowledge every day and it is so much a part of us that we are unaware, specifically. Or perhaps it is knowledge that we have yet to re-tap into.