Thursday, August 4, 2011

De-ja Vu

“How many times have I told you Miranda? Don’t stare into space!”

The teacher’s voice slowly broke into my consciousness and I struggled to keep my attention on the subject in hand; history, a lesson I always found it difficult to concentrate on.

It wasn’t until many years later when I learned of the number of wives Henry VIII had, and what happened to the less fortunate of them that I wondered why, when history had surprises in store around every corner, those in the education game in my youth made it entirely boring. What else could a girl do, but gaze?

Staring into space! Huh, if only that teacher knew! It wasn’t space that captured my thoughts; it was the other world encroaching.

For some time I allowed myself to be transported back in time, and all in the blink of an eye. I could be sitting quietly when suddenly I knew I had been in this space and place sometime in the past. For ages I kept quiet. After all, we all had heard about silly old Billy who ended up in the Asylum [spelt with a capital A].

The Asylum didn’t bear thinking about. Once a patient crossed the threshold of that establishment they were doomed to a life inside, a life of unimagined horrors stories of which drifted beyond the grey, stone, walls like rotting seaweed after abnormally high tides. You know the smells? Driving along a winding narrow road near the ocean one’s nostrils are suddenly assailed by a pong fit to make the nose disappear off a hedgehog, not that a hedgehog prefers the narrow sandy strips between ocean and highway.

The poor souls incarcerated behind those walls were seldom released to the Outside World. They existed, or so we are led to believe.

So, for simply ages I kept my little secret excursions into the Other Space. A short visit every so often was enough. Deliberately seeking to find that Other Space all the time, even I knew, might not be a sign of a healthy mind. Still, it did make those boring moments in the classroom tolerable.

One day, as Miranda was walking with her Aunt along a long white graveled dusty road, the grassy slope of a hillside where sheep grazed in contentment rolling to the coastline, she noticed out at sea a boat. This boat was unlike any that plied the coast today.

Casting a quick look at Aunt Miranda realised that this spectacular view had not captured Aunt’s attention. And not knowing where or what this boat represented Miranda inquired, “Aunt? What boat is that?”

Aunt stared at Miranda, then out to sea, then back to Miranda. Miranda was gazing beyond the horizon where the waves rolled gently in, crashing on the rocks splashing up a wondrous spray. Aunt gave the matter her full attention, took the binoculars from her shoulder bag and put them to her eyes. Nothing was in view. She looked back at Miranda who still gazed into the distance.

Aunt touched Miranda gently on the shoulder intending to inquire in which direction to look when Miranda, shook her head slightly as if clearing her mind, and visibly refocused her eyes. The distant look disappeared. Miranda looked uncomprehendingly at Aunt.

“I was on that boat just the other day,” Miranda stated.

Aunt gently reminded her that she had been living with her at the seaside for the past two years and neither of them had taken a boat trip.

“But Aunt, I could see everything so clearly. I was there, yet now I am not so sure.”

A slight wobble in Miranda’s voice gave Aunt a clue. She asked Miranda is she often woke from a dream, or a daydream, knowing that what she had seen just couldn’t be. Miranda confessed she had, and by the dawning look in her eyes it became obvious to them both that this was another of those occasions.

“Miranda”, replied Aunt, “You have experienced De-ja Vu.” She proceeded to explain that de-ja vu occurred when the brain skipped a rhythm. Miranda nodded, accepting the explanation, even though it made no sense.

As happens in most stories time goes by, and Miranda grew out of the strange de-ja vu experiences as exciting times in the life of a young woman unfolded.

It wasn’t until we were high on a rock in the middle of no-where that Miranda turned to me and announced that we should not be on that rock; it was sacred. Hearing the fear in her voice I acquiesced and together we scrambled down. She announced that she had another attack of de-ja vu and recollected being there years earlier when a murder took place.

I didn’t tell her that I too had seen the same murder scene and by the clothing of the participants it was obvious the attack had occurred over 100 years ago.

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