Abby’s Sketchbook

This page includes excerpts from Abigail Brown’s sketchbook and journal. Abby is eighteen years old and lives in Santa Linda, California.

(To access these journal entries without scrolling, please click on the nested pages under the Abby’s Sketchbook tab in the upper-right corner of this site.)


Posted October 2012: The Ravens

The ravens were staring at me again today.

Yes, I am well aware of how insane that sounds. But it’s true. And since this is my private sketchbook, I think it’s okay to journal about all the weird stuff that happens to me. I should probably tell someone to burn this if I get hit by a bus or something. The most likely candidate for the job would be Jon, but I’m not sure that’s the best idea. Even though he’s my best friend on the entire planet, he can’t really be trusted not to read this. He’ll think I’ve written something juicy about him, and he won’t be able to resist taking a peek. So Jon, if I’ve died unexpectedly, and against my better judgment I trusted you to be the one to burn my sketchbook, please respect my dying wishes and read no further. I mean it. If you keep reading, I’m coming back to haunt you.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the ravens…When I walk down to Newcastle Beach to work at the inn, I always go down Ocean Avenue. There’s this spooky, abandoned mansion across the street from the inn, and there’s usually five or six ravens sitting on the stone wall right by the mansion’s gate. They remind me of that Edgar Allen Poe poem. I can totally see them saying, “Nevermore.” I wonder if I could teach them to say that. Some people might think they’re creepy, but I don’t. I think they’re amazing. I’ve started trying to see how close I can get to them. It’s crazy—they let me walk right up to the fence, and they don’t fly away. Maybe they’re just used to people. There are always hotel guests parking nearby—they probably feed the ravens.

The other thing that’s strange about these birds is their eyes. I thought ravens had black eyes, and these do, but they also have a gold ring around their eyes. (They must be a different species of raven than the kind I’ve seen hanging out by the restaurant dumpsters on La Playa Boulevard. Those birds seem smaller and more wary of people.) It’s so weird how the Newcastle Beach ravens stare right back at me, totally unafraid. I can tell that they’re intelligent. It’s the way they look at me, like they know me. But it’s not just that they recognize me—it’s something more, something almost alien, but familiar at the same time. I can’t quite describe it, but there’s some kind of connection between us. And I swear one of them has this little beaky smile and this mischievous look in his eyes—it’s like he’s keeping a secret. But if he is, he’s not talking.

I’ve started dreaming about this bird. More flashes of images than a full-fledged dream, I guess, but I keep seeing him on a beach, standing next to a silver seashell. I had to paint him because I can’t get the image out of my mind.

Posted November 2012: The Boy and the Shadows

Last night I had the most vivid dream that I’ve had in a long time. I was standing in this huge, mirrored ballroom. The only light came from a shaft of moonlight streaming through a glass dome in the ceiling, shining on the hardwood floor like a spotlight. Sitting in the center of that circle of light was a little boy. He couldn’t have been more than two years old—he was just a baby, really. He had round, chubby cheeks and a full head of gorgeous jet-black curls. His eyes were pale blue, and they made him seem older, because he had a very aware, intelligent gaze. I’ve babysat quite a few children, but I’ve never seen a kid with such intense eyes. I didn’t realize I was asleep, because in the dream I started thinking about the Newcastle Beach ravens again, and how they have that same kind of intense stare. I also got that same sense of familiarity with the little boy that I get with the ravens. It was like I knew this kid, even though I’ve never seen him in real life.

The little boy was holding something in his hands, something shiny that reflected light up into his eyes. When I stepped closer, I could see it was a round mirror. It was silver, and the back was engraved with some kind of design. I couldn’t make out the details, but the mirror looked like an antique.

I was so focused on the little boy and the mirror that I didn’t see the shadows at first. I almost think the mirror was holding my attention as much as the boy did, like there was something drawing me to it, a connection. I wanted to hold the mirror—I felt myself reaching for it, to take it from the little boy. Then I realized the room had gotten darker somehow, that there was something surrounding us. Something bad.

I looked up to see ghostlike figures standing in a circle around us—they looked like black smoke solidified, and they reached out long, grasping fingers to seize the little boy. The little boy didn’t see them—it was like he was enchanted by the mirror and couldn’t see them. But I could. The shadows’ eyes burned red-hot within their dark hoods, and although I couldn’t make out their faces in the darkness, I could see by the way they reached for the boy that they were hungry, and that he was dinner. It ticked me off.

I guess I should have been scared, because if the kid was on the menu, I probably was too. But I only thought of that later, after I woke up. While I was dreaming, all I could think about was how I couldn’t let those things get the little boy, that I had to protect him, no matter what. I moved closer to the boy and planted my feet, ready to fight. As I clenched my fists, ready to start swinging, I felt a tug in my shoulder blades. To my surprise, these huge white, feathered wings were unfurling behind me. I felt the muscles in my back tighten as the wings stretched out, and I heard a soft rustle as the wings, my wings, caught the air like a sail when they stretched to their full span. I felt strong, powerful. I stood over the little boy, shielding him from the wraiths. Then I woke up.

Posted December 2012: Who is he?

I dream almost every night now. Most of my dreams are about the same person. I think maybe it’s the little boy from the dream with the silver mirror and those shadow things, except that now the boy is all grown up. This guy has the same dark hair and intense blue eyes, but more importantly, there’s that same sense that I know this person, and he knows me, even though I’ve never met him before. I don’t even know if he actually exists, or if this is some kind of fantasy, like he represents my ideal guy or something. I won’t say he’s my dream guy, because that’s just cheesy and embarrassing. But he is easy on the eyes, and if he does exist, I sure wouldn’t mind meeting him.

The first time I saw this guy, he was standing in a garden under the shade of a large tree. I was walking toward him, and behind me was a tall stone wall that seemed like it was part of a castle. What’s crazy is that wherever we were felt familiar, like I had been there before, but seeing as I’ve never visited a castle in my life, that’s got to be part of this little fantasy of mine. Which is a shame, because that means the guy is probably a figment of my imagination too. I wish he was real.

When he turned and looked at me in the dream, I was so overwhelmed by him—it was like everything in me was drawn to him. There was that sense that I knew him, that I was connected to him—I could feel his spirit, his intelligence. He’s got to be real. Doesn’t he? I mean, how could I make up this whole other person? But even if he does exist, how would I ever find him in real life? I don’t even know his name.

After he made eye contact with me, I woke up. And then I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep so I could dream about him again. I felt horribly sad, like I’d lost my best friend.

Lucky for me, I keep dreaming about this guy. Maybe he’s not real, but he feels real in the dreams. I’ve actually been going to bed early just so I can dream about him. I guess that’s kind of pathetic, isn’t it? Chasing after someone who might not even exist? What’s worse is that Mom noticed the change in my bedtime, and actually commented on it. I don’t know how I kept from turning beet red—I just said I had a lot of tests that week at school and wanted to be well rested. I can’t believe she bought that. But then again, what else was I going to tell her? The truth? That I had to hurry and get to sleep so I could see some guy I have a crush on? Might as well ship me off to the loony bin right this minute. Maybe I’m going crazy, but I haven’t gone stupid. I can’t tell anyone about this. Not even Jon. He would laugh his head off.

Posted January 2013: The Labyrinth

I saw him again.

This time, I found myself at the entrance to a labyrinth made of overgrown hedges. I could have sworn I’d been there before, but I haven’t. Standing in front of me, motionless, was a pure white doe. She looked at me, totally unafraid, and then turned and entered the labyrinth. I followed her. The emerald walls of the maze towered over us, twisting with lots of turns, and I had to jog to keep the deer in sight and not get lost in the depths of the labyrinth. (I suppose it was silly to assume I wouldn’t get lost following a deer, but in the dream it made sense. I just knew I had to follow her.) I caught sight of the doe just before she disappeared around a corner, but when I turned down the corridor, she was gone. Instead I saw the beach, framed in an evergreen arch. I stepped out of the labyrinth, onto the sand, and saw him, looking out to sea. He turned, our eyes met, and I woke.

Who is he? Why do I keep dreaming about him? Why do I keep seeing him in places that feel so familiar, even though I know that I’ve never seen them before? And why did I dream about a white doe? What does she have to do with the boy?

White Doe

Posted January 2013: Nightmare

I had another one of those nightmares where I thought I was awake, but I wasn’t. This is becoming really disturbing.

In my dream, I had been asleep in my bed, and I woke up to see my closet door swing open by itself. In the darkness of my closet, I saw a black presence coming toward me. I couldn’t see any details, but the figure had a human shape, kind of like those wraith things in the dream about the little boy with the silver mirror. This shadow thing, whatever it was, was completely black, black-hole black, the kind of blackness that is so dark that it eats light. And now it was in my room, coming to eat me.

Then I heard something hit my window. It sounded like something pecking the glass, trying to get into my room. That’s when I woke up for real, gasping for breath like I’d been suffocating.


Posted February 2013: The Woman

I visited the castle again tonight, and this time I got to see more than just a wall. I had been walking through a forest, the kind with evergreen trees that are covered in damp moss and even have ferns sprouting from some of their branches. I stepped out of the woods, and in front of me was a towering ivory fortress. It looked exotic, like maybe something you’d see in Morocco or India. Jon’s mom has a collection of coffee table books, the big kind filled with color photographs, and one of them is on architecture. I’ve seen buildings that looked similar in that book, although not quite as sprawling or majestic as the castle in my dream. I know my castle didn’t come from a photo in a book, though—that’s not something I would see and then forget about and somehow include in a dream. But I wonder if the castle actually exists, and if so, where in the world it’s located. There’s no way that lush forest was in Morocco—I know that much.

I kept walking toward the castle, expecting to see him again. But I didn’t. Instead I saw a woman approaching me, crossing a bridge leading from the castle’s gates. She wore a white, floor-length gown, and almost seemed to float toward me. She was beautiful—she had long, dark, wavy hair, and pale skin, and she carried herself like nobility. I was totally intimidated by her, especially given that she had these brilliant blue eyes that burned into me; her eyes made me think of the intense stare from the boy I keep dreaming about. I thought she was going to say something, but she didn’t. Instead she just smiled at me, like we shared a secret. Unfortunately, I had no idea what that secret might be, and she walked past me before I had the chance to ask.

It’s frustrating because I have no control over these dreams—I can’t change the outcome to find out more about the boy, the shadows, the castle, or now, this woman, and I always wake up just as things get interesting.

The Woman

Posted March 2013: Found

He IS real.

I’m grinning like an idiot right now. I seriously can’t stop smiling. It’s becoming a problem. People tend to notice when you have a stupid, ecstatic smile plastered on your face, and there’s no way I can explain this without sounding cheesy, or insane, or both. How can I possibly explain that the person who is quite literally the man of my dreams happens to be real? See? It just sounds cheesy. And insane.

I was working at the inn today, folding towels at the guest services cabana by the pool, and all of a sudden, I felt this familiar presence. I looked up and there he was, walking down the patio toward the hotel lobby. And he was real. I felt like I’d been hit by a freight train. My heart stopped, and I pretty much had to wrench my jaw up off the floor, because my mouth was hanging open. That’s how shocked I was.

Here’s the good news. One, I’m not crazy. Yay! He does exist and he lives in Newcastle Beach. Two, he is just as handsome in real life as he is in my dreams. Awesome. And three, now I know his name.

His name is David. David Corbin.

Oh no, there goes my face. Just writing his name has made my idiot smile stretch even wider. If I keep this up, I’m going to pull a muscle and be stuck like this forever.

This is hopeless—I have got to pull it together. Come on Abby, he’s just a guy—show some dignity for goodness’ sake.

Okay, I’ve managed to get my face under control. Now, if only I can work up the courage to talk to him.

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© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2012