The Boy and the Shadows

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.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2012