Entry 22: The Dress: Saturday July 30 – continued
I woke up around two AM, brought out of sleep by a dream. I distinctly remember someone calling me, repeating my name over and over, and then there was a bark. I awoke.
Donna was still sleeping and the night was still. No one was calling me. The dog wasn’t barking. In the silence I lay there, eyes open, staring at the ceiling. And then a thought hit me. Something I had forgotten.
The duffel bag was still outside, by the back door. I hadn’t brought it in. I got out of bed and walked quietly to the back door. I opened it, half expecting the bag to be gone. But no, there it was.
I lifted it and brought it inside. I closed the door as softly as possible so as not to wake my wife, and took the bag to the living room. I sat Indian style on the floor and opened the drawstring. Right on top lay the yellow dress. I pulled it out and unraveled it, as if it was on a hanger.
It was a pretty dress. There were a few stains and soils, but other than that, it looked almost new. I held it up to my nose and took a deep breath. There were no pleasant scents, no perfume, or the smells of summer. Instead the strongest odor was dirt and earth. And beneath it were other fainter smells. I took another breath, the fabric of the dress pressed to my face.
I caught one of the fainter smells. Kerosene. Not exactly on my list of favorite aromas, but maybe something else in the bag had been doused with it. Why would a dress as pretty as this carry the scent of flammables? I guess being exposed to the elements all this time, who knows what odors could seep into the fabric?
I held the dress against my cheek, pressed to my skin. I wondered briefly what it might have felt like to the person who had worn it. The dirt and earth smells, as well as the kerosene, began to fade, replaced by something else. A pretty scent. Like the smell of flowers, a young girl’s perfume. It grew stronger as I inhaled the scent, almost as if I were drawing nearer to someone whom had just prettied themselves up for the summer dance. The scent was becoming stronger, and it gave me an almost dizzying effect.
I closed my eyes and I could nearly imagine myself as the one who had worn this dress last. I had a vision, a quick fleeting thought that appeared not my own. A person standing in front of a tall mirror, admiring the look of this dress on their body. It was snug, very tight fitting, as the person twirled and spun before their reflection. But the mirror itself was cloudy. I could not see the person’s face, yet something told me there was something not right with this vision. This picture was not my own, and nether was it Mischa’s. It was something else entirely. I knew the last person to wear this dress had not been Mischa. But if not her, then who?
Suddenly I heard my name. “Paul?”
I turned around and there she was. No, not Mischa, but Donna. She was in the doorway, a look of extreme hurt on her face. She looked about ready to cry.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
I looked at the dress in my hands, the very one I still held pressed to my cheek. I lowered it quickly.
“I…uh…I found her dress.” I almost winced as I said it, because I knew how badly it sounded.
Tears welled up in her eyes. “What are you doing to us? Don’t you even care about me anymore? About us?”
I dropped the dress on the floor and stood up.
“Of course I care. What kind of question is that?”
“An important one,” she answered, her voice almost lowered to a whisper.
“Donna, I am sorry. I know I’ve been acting strange lately…”
She didn’t let me finish. “Strange? No, it’s gone beyond strange. You are a man obsessed. And what hurts is you used to be obsessed with me.”
“Donna, I still love you. Nothing has changed.”
A tear trickled down her cheek. “I still love you too, but something has changed. You have changed. You are caught up in something I don’t understand. I don’t know if you’re having a sexual affair, or some attempt at recapturing your youth through the attentions of a younger girl. I don’t know what…”
“I don’t love anyone but you,” I interjected.
“It doesn’t matter if you love her or not, but I can’t share you with her.”
“Donna, I swear to you, she’s not real. She’s a ghost.”
“Yes, well, so am I. I’m just a ghost in your life now.”
I started to walk towards her.
“But I won’t haunt this place anymore,” she added, as she turned from me and went back to the bedroom. I stood there alone, her words sinking in. and the realization hit me, as I sank to the carpet in tears. Donna is leaving me.
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.