As I lay in my bed, gazing up at the ceiling, I used to wonder what it would be like to be in outer space. I would often wonder if there was life beyond earth. I even wondered if there was another planet out there like earth. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has these thoughts from time to time. If we really dug deep into this theory, I’d almost bet you there is some truth to our conspiracies.
I know I probably sound like I’m stoned right now. Even though I wish I was, I wasn’t. It was killing me right now. Me and my sister smoked all the weed we had left hours ago. I had the munchies so bad. I looked over at my sister's bed to see if she was still awake. She wasn’t. Her mouth was wide open. She was sleeping like she had a hard day at work. I got out of the bed and made my way quietly to the door. I tried to ease the door shut so as not to wake her. I crept down the hall to the kitchen to find some food.
Once there, I opened the fridge to see if we had any left over spaghetti from the night before. That was gone. I then opened the freezer. To my disappointment, the only thing up there were popsicles. I then made my way over to the pantry. Thankfully, I was able to find some Ramen noodles. As I put the pot of water on the stove, I heard my grandmother’s voice behind me. “Lindsey, what are you doing? It’s 4 am.” she asked. “Sorry grandma, I didn’t mean to wake you. I was hungry. I was trying to be quiet so I wouldn’t wake you.” I explained. “It’s no big deal baby. I’m always up at this hour. I was just shocked to see you up.” she replied. She was right, I didn’t care what was going on, me out of bed at 4 am never happened. Me and Pearl got so stoned earlier, we passed out early. Having to use the restroom is what initially woke me up. The hunger pains kept me up.
A few moments later, Pearl emerged from around the corner. “What are you guys doing? It’s 4 am” she asked groggily. “Oh Pearl go back to bed. Don’t come in here with that negative energy.” I retorted. I hated when she did that. Instead of her going back to bed like she knows she wants to, she comes in the kitchen to be nosey and pick a fight. “Well I would go back to bed if you weren’t so loud.” she snapped. Before I could utter another word, my grandma intervened, “Girls it’s too early for you to be fighting. Lindsey was in here fixing noodles. Pearl honey do you want me to fix you some?” “No grandma, that’s ok. My menstrual cycle is on and I don’t have much of an appetite.” she replied. “There’s some midol above my bed if you need to take something for your cramps.” I informed her. She nodded her head in acknowledgement and disappeared down the hallway.
I got up to check on the water I put on the stove. Once I saw it was boiling, I added my noodles. Some people add the noodles before the water starts boiling. I always thought it took longer doing it that way. I actually experimented with it once. I was shocked to find that it took the same amount of time as the way I’m used to doing. Since I was so used to doing the way I learned how, it was hard for me to deviate from it. A few moments later, the pot started boiling over. I removed the pot from the stove and sat it on the counter. I placed the top over it to keep the steam from leaving the water. This was to make sure all of the noodles were cooked. After about three minutes, I drained them and added the seasoning packet.
As I was stirring the noodles to evenly spread the seasoning, I looked up at the kitchen window. I noticed the most beautiful bird you could ever see. I looked a little closer and saw it was an owl. “Grandma look! You see that?” I shouted, pointing at the window. She quickly looked up and I noticed the surprise on her face. “Oh my goodness! What a gorgeous bird.” she exclaimed. We sat marveling at the beauty before us for a few more moments. Eventually the bird flew away and we went back to doing what were doing.
“Grandma, if you could be any wild animal, what would you be?” I asked. She sat there and pondered that question for a moment before replying. “If I could be any wild animal, I think I’d have to be an eagle.” she finally said. “Why an eagle?” I asked out of curiosity. “Well, for one, their majestic creatures. The way they glide across the sky is breath taking. Another reason is they are what you might call kings and queens of the sky. No other predator really messes with them. Now that’s not to say they don’t have any predators; however, you’d have to be an eagle to understand.” she explained. We both laughed. “What about you? If you could be a wild animal, what would you be and why? She asked. “You already know grandma. I’d be an owl. I love them. They’re mysterious. They can be mythical creatures for good and/or bad things. Their big eyes are mesmerizing. They are peaceful to watch.” I replied. “It seems to me, freedom is what we both seek in the wild, huh.” she surmised. “You can’t be wild if you’re contained grandma.” I replied. We both laughed.
A few hours had gone by as we were deep in our conversation about our choices in wild animals. We were so deep in our conversation, we hadn’t noticed daybreak. “Oh look grandma, the sun is up.” I said as I got up to go to the window. I looked around in hopes of seeing that beautiful owl again. I didn’t do anything but disappoint myself. I knew it was probably sleeping somewhere, as most owls are nocturnal. They don’t emerge in the daytime. Still, I had hopes that maybe that one wasn’t nocturnal. I guess my grandma sensed what I was doing, because she said, “If you’re up again at 4 am, you’ll see it tomorrow. For now, he’s gone. Let it rest. It’ll be back.” I gave my grandma a peculiar look. She said that as if there was something about this owl she knew and I didn’t. I tried not to give it much thought for now; however, I did make a mental note to ask her about that owl later on.
I sat my bowl down in the sink and filled it with dish soap and water. Since we had sat at the table chatting for a few hours, some of the noodles that were left, hardened and were stuck to the bowl. Soaking the dish for a few moments made it easier to clean. I walked into the living room to find my grandma sitting in her rocker. She had her photo book out. I knew not to bother her during this time. This was the time she mourned my grandfather’s passing. She didn’t do this often, but when she did, everyone knew to just leave her be. My grandfather passed away two years ago due to Alzheimer’s. It was rough on her, hell, it was rough on everyone. We had no idea what he was going through or even her for that matter. Everyone chalked it up to old age. While apart of that may be true, Alzheimer’s is deeper than that. How do you tell someone that they are literally losing their mind. That’s literally what Alzheimer’s is. It diminishes the brain, so coherence becomes almost non-existent. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I went back to my room and got back in my bed. The feeling of sleep finally returned to me. I snuggled deep in my bed and pulled the covers over my head. I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.
“Lindsey, come this way!” Pearl yelled, while frantically motioning her hand to follow her. I quickly ran in her direction. It seemed like the closer I got to her, the further away she seemed. “Pearl would you wait a minute, I’m trying to catch up to you!” I shouted. “Lindsey, hurry up!” she yelled. I looked around and noticed Pearl wasn’t in sight. “Pearl! Where are you?” I yelled. “Over here Lindsey!” she replied, this time her voice was distant. I shouted for her again and this time listened carefully so I could gather a direction in which she was coming from. I ran in the direction of her voice and stumbled upon a cave. I saw Pearl standing in front of it. “Pearl, what are you doing? Don’t go in there.” I shouted. “Oh Lindsey, don't be a sour puss. You always ruin the fun. It’ll be exciting.” she replied. Before I could reply, she disappeared into the cave. I rushed in after her.
I looked around the eerie cave in awe. It was the most beautiful creation known to mankind. The rocks were a hue of green and blue. I went to touch them. The wall damn near burned my fingers off. I snatched my hand back quickly. While I tried to stop the burning on my hand, I still marveled at the sight of this place. Without even realizing it, I had gone deeper into the cave than I thought. I looked around and noticed it was dark behind me. “Pearl, where are you?” I whispered. I waited a few seconds for a reply. When I didn’t get one, I whispered again, this time a little louder, “Pearl, where are you?” Still received no reply. I kept walking, still admiring the beauty of this cave. The walls had now turned into this sultry hue of purple. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
I walked until I came to a corridor that led to another section of the cave. This was where I had to make the ultimate life decision. Do I go down this corridor, still marveled by the beauty of this place? Or, do I find Pearl and get the hell out of here? I figured why not do both. I knew she was in here, so I’d run into her anyway. I made my way down the corridor, where the walls then turned fiery red with orange hues. It was still so breathtaking. I was so impressed and lost in the beauty of this cave, I hadn’t noticed how cool the air had turned. It was also very dry. I snapped out of my trance, and frantically tried to find the nearest corridor. It was no use. I was running in circles. I panicked. My heart started racing and my palms were sweaty. “Oh God, please help me! Please get me out of here!” I cried. I balled up on the floor of the cave in a fetal position. Surprisingly, the air was much more tolerable on the floor. I was able to catch some of my breath.
I felt the room becoming faint and I started feeling light headed. “Lord Jesus I just want to find my sister and get out of here.” I cried. I opened my eyes and there stood before me was the beautiful owl I had seen in the window. I reached out to touch it and it let me. I cuddled the bird in my arms for a few seconds. I placed it back down and it flew up into the sky. I looked up at it to see which direction it was going. This was a bad idea. I was so mesmerized by the blue and green roof of the cave again, I stopped paying attention to the owl. Eventually, the bird landed in front of me again. I reached out to touch it again. It let me. I went to cuddle it again, this time it flew up before I could reach it. I looked up at it again. This time, the colors on the roof were gone. It took away my distraction. I got up off the cave floor and followed the owl to the exit of the cave.
He landed back down in front of me. “What about Pearl?” I asked. He stared at me with those mysterious eyes. I stared back. The owl then flew up into the sky again and I followed it in the direction it was going. A few seconds later, we came to a house that looked exactly like my grandma’s house. I felt a feeling of relief rush right through my body. “Thank God! You led me home.” I said.
I rushed to the door and barged in. “Grandma, oh thank goodness you’re ok.” I shouted as I fell into her arms. She looked at me strange as if she hadn’t had the slightest clue what I was talking about. “Pearl took me out to the fields and led me to this cave and said the only way to save you would be in here.” I explained. “Girl what are you talking about? Me and your grandfather have been in this house all day.” she replied. I quickly sat up off of her. “Grandma, papa is dead. Don’t you remember?” I asked, now looking at her peculiar. “Girl your grandfather is fine. Gerald! Get out here. Your granddaughter thinks you’ve passed away.” she shouted. “Well, Carolyn, she’s right. I have passed away. I have passed away physically; however, I am still with you spiritually.” he said as he emerged from the bedroom. My eyes filled with water. He was nothing like my grandfather when he passed. He was more vibrant and full of life. The way I remembered him. “Oh darling don’t cry. You see I knew you all would take it hard when I left this earth. This is why I moved you close to the barn next door.” he explained as he sat down next to me. “Papa, I missed you so much.” I cried. “I know darling, but you see that barn owl over there?” he asked as he pointed to the bird. “Yes, the one that brought me here.” I replied. “He is me now. Whenever you see him, just know that is me coming to check on you. I’ve been checking on your grandma for a while now. I was surprised to see you earlier this morning.” he explained. I cried even harder as I rested my head in his lap. “C’mon baby girl. Don’t cry. Just remember, when you see that owl, you see me.” he said as he got up and walked away.
“Lindsey! Lindsey! Wake up! You’re crying in your sleep again!” was all I heard as I awakened by frantic shaking. “Pearl what are you doing?” I shouted as I moved her hand off of me. “You were crying in your sleep again. Were you dreaming about papa again?” she asked. “Yes, I was. It was weird; however, Pearl, he was so vibrant in the dream.He told me he’s a barn owl now.” I explained. She chuckled a bit before replying, “Girl you need to stay off the tree.” “Pearl, I’m serious. This was our conversation.” I replied. “Ok, Lindsey, whatever you say.” she said, full of sarcasm. Pearl making fun of my dreams was nothing new. She always did that. That was why I hated telling her. This one time, I really wished she hadn’t made fun of my dream.
All of the weird dreams she’s told me, I never made fun of them, I always tried to help her make sense of them. Not Pearl, she finds humor in everything. I hated that about her. I got up to use the bathroom and to brush my teeth. Upon making my way to the bathroom, I passed the kitchen and noticed my grandma sitting in the window. I walked up behind her and kissed her cheek. “Don’t worry grandma, he’ll come when we’re least expecting it.” I said. She turned to face me. She laid her head in my chest and cried. I finally knew exactly what she meant when she made that reference to the owl earlier.