Part I: http://www.joyindestructible.com/2016/01/16/the-recluse/
Part II: http://www.joyindestructible.com/2016/01/23/the-recluse-part-ii/
Part III: http://www.joyindestructible.com/2016/01/30/the-recluse-part-iii/
The sound of pouring rain and a crash of thunder startle Estelle from the depths of a familiar, re-occurring dream. Haunted and chilled to the bone, she wraps herself in a blue afghan she picks up from a bedroom chair and tries to peer through the window to ascertain the mood of the day. Grey, thick clouds and pounding rain, that promise to remain for several hours, are a validation of Estelle’s grief. She welcomes the flood as she stands, face and hands pressed against the cold glass, tears streaming her face as the cascade of falling water washes the world outdoors. In this moment of commonality with the outside world, Estelle feels a slight waning of her constant isolation. Flash-backs of her dream pierce her waking consciousness in images, feelings, desires, and memories that she knows should be pieced together. She recognizes the need to solve her inner puzzle but recoils in the same instant, overwhelmed by the painful, enormity of it.
Estelle turns away from the window and as the lace curtains float back into their familiar place, she looks around this room she created in remembrance of her mother. It’s beautiful; full of expensive, precious things but leaves Estelle feeling utterly empty and abandoned. There is no pain like the pain of abandonment and no act more life-threatening to a child than to be abandoned by their mother. “But why do I feel this way? My mom was always present, my dad provided for all of my physical needs. I have no reason to feel this kind of despair but this is my over-riding emotional state. I am abandoned. Alone! Stuck! No one cares and I don’t know how to connect with anyone or make them care.” This room is where her familiar nightmare always began; in the heart of this house, dedicated to Emma, with secrets lurking to be avoided in every room.
Estelle falls into the embrace of a softly, upholstered, bedroom chair, wraps the afghan tighter, and squeezes a small pink cushion to her chest. Closing her eyes, she allows her mind to follow the path of her ‘house dream’. She leaves her mother’s room, heads down the hall, and in her mind turns to the right to enter her dad’s former room. The old door needs re-hanging and squeaks as it opens on a cubical sparsely filled with shabby furniture and no decorations. Everything in the room is either brown or a non-descript neutral that blends so invisibly that color isn’t considered by any beholding eye. Estelle is startled and a bit angered by this imagery. She knows she redid this room! How did it go back to its original state? With frustration, she moves across the hall and opens the door on her own room and finds it full of boxes, packed, but scattered in disarray. The bed is covered with cartons and Estelle can barely, make her way into the room. She manages to suck herself in and negotiate a path to the opposite wall and the window. As she pulls back a heavy, navy-blue curtain, she confronts something very strange. Her bedroom window opens into an entirely, alien, broken-down passageway that she feels compelled to enter.
As Estelle steps through the window, she is propelled by a force she doesn’t understand while making her way through fallen roof beams and shards of broken glass covering the floor. Suddenly, she reaches a white door that swings open on a secret house she knows but has also, forgotten. Relief washes over her as she arrives inside with the thought, “I am home.” She rushes to explore every room; some of them lavishly furnished, some very odd with useful purpose shrouded in mystery. At the end of her exploration lies the most befuddling detail of all; the house suddenly opens into a shopping mall, full of people, and Estelle finds herself as one of them. This is point when Estelle always, wakes up and if she ever traveled further in this old dream, she blacked the memory of it out.
Estelle emerges from within herself and looks again at her mother’s room, feels herself at the heart of her mother’s house, and matter-of-factly, re- accepts her isolated reality. Her tears have ceased and the rain has stopped; but thick clouds promise more rain later. She pats the pink pillow back into place, neatly folds the afghan, and smoothes the wrinkles from the Queen’s bed before going to take her shower. She turns back for a quick look before shutting the door, “Good-bye for now, Momma. Rest well.”
Feeling clean and refreshed, wrapped in a thick mint-green robe, and toweling her hair, Estelle steps inside her office. She really must get some work done, even if she has to stay up all night. She loves her job and is glad she is able to lose herself in designing online advertising. Her creativity is her only real connection with the outside world and she loves to think about how her ads touch the people who view them. Though the intent is to sell, Estelle regards her work as art. Her ad campaigns are a way for her to communicate who she is and contribute to the world. Safe behind her computer screen, the world and its masses of people seem manageable. She feels a surge of self-confidence as she sits down at her desk and prepares to dig in.
Remembering her dream again, Estelle looks around at her Dad’s old room, which she reclaimed as her office, with a re-assured chuckle. No brown or neutral left in here and no squeaky door. The walls sport light lavender paint, with dark, hard-wood floors, and furnishings in cream. Sheer, lime-green curtains lay softly over the window to peacefully, filter the sun-light. Everything in this room is tasteful, feminine, and beautiful. Estelle intentionally, placed her desk beside the window to enjoy the ambiance of green-filtered light as she works. This day’s thick clouds allow very little natural light so, Estelle flicks on her desk-lamp as she sinks into her comfortable office chair. As is her habit, she looks through her window to the outside world before settling in and with a start, notices those familiar, chocolate eyes watching her from the window next door. Those hungry eyes… like the bottoms of Hershey’s Kisses, lock with Estelle’s green eyes for an instant, and then quickly vanish with the precocious little girl who owns them.
Estelle is first perturbed at the feeling of invasion, and then finds herself laughing at Alisha’s guilty, child-like response. She pulls down the shade to block any further view, in resolute purpose, to lose herself and all painful thoughts in her work. Absorbed in abstract ideas of color and the psychological effect of words, the disturbing thoughts triggered by the previous day fade into the familiarity of a happy task. Caravana rubs her ankles and contentedly settles on his favorite stool nearby, curling and settling for a long nap. All is as it was before except for the sudden mental flashes of those big Hershey eyes and the nagging thought that there were more disturbances to come.
To be continued.