It was a long time ago, but not long enough to forget. It all started the day I turned eighteen. Eighteen and life, my mother Beth, used to say. I remember that beautiful, sunny November morning.
I jumped out of bed, and I opened my bedroom window. The refreshing winter breeze rushed into my room.
I watched the treetop slowly waving good morning. A small cloud darkened the scenery for a moment, but soon moved away as the bright sun took its place, I remember watching the birds playing happily outside my window.
Down the hall, it was aunt’s Bella’s room. The relaxing sound of Blue Danube Waltz, Aunt Bella’s favorite piece, Bella’s Lullaby my mother used to refer to it as, made me feel relaxed calm, lost in a dream world of nature and sound.
The knocking on my door and my mother’s voice, wishing me a happy birthday and calling me for breakfast, sounded annoyingly loud, in my head.
As I walked down the long hallway, the sound of something flying above my head made me look up. I saw the reflection of a crow flying outside the glass patio door. I looked around as I walked down the staircase. There was nothing different from the day before, but the house felt strange, distant, like I was not even there.
The happy voices from the breakfast room and my faithful dog Amaranthine, which was always happy to see me. They were there, like the day before, and the day before, like a recording that plays over and over the same part at the same time every day.
With a smile on my face, I walked into the breakfast room. The big cake, the presents, the smiley faces, my mother, with her arms wide open, hugged me, kissed me. Then everybody with one voice sang my birthday song.
After breakfast, I took my dog for her morning walk as I did every day.
On sunny days, I always liked to walk a narrow path in my personal forest, as I used to call a small area heavily planted with trees, less than a mile away from the house. I played the game of light and shadows as the tall trees were forming a perfect tunnel.
With my dog Amaranthine, preoccupied with chasing squirrels, and digging holes, I had plenty of time to enjoy my morning walk.
As I walked through my forest, a shadow darkened the area, for a moment, I thought it was a cloud, then a bright lightning pierced through the darkness, and I saw the crow in front me.
Not too far on my right, I saw the image of an old man, with a cape on his shoulders, and a staff, in his hand.
The old man looked at me, smiled, and as his image, slowly disappeared into the morning fog, with an angelic voice he said. “I’ve waited too long; it’s time for me to rest, remember, remember.” Said as his silhouette disappeared in the morning fog.
“Remember what” I asked the sound of footsteps made me turn around. A tall, skinny man dressed in black, walked through the fog. He looked at me with his fiery eyes and smiled.
“My little Gabriel,” he said, and he put his arm around my shoulder. “How do you know my name, have we met?”
“It has been a long time, and you probably do not remember, but we have met several times, you, me, and… him.” He said as slowly raised his arm and pointed in the direction of the old man.
Somehow, he looked familiar, but at that moment I could not remember where we’d met. I looked at the red eyes, the same fiery eyes that haunt me in my nightmares.
“Who are you?”
“I am just a friend from the past. Remember, remember.” He said, and he walked away, as his silhouette slowly disappeared, the dark cloud lifted, and I was alone in the forest, Amaranthine she was lying dead in front of me.
Confused, I started walking back to the house. As I left the forest behind me, I thought, I saw the tall man following me, but when I turned to look, there was nobody there, but I could hear footsteps behind me.
The house was different; it looked abandoned, old, with broken windows, and faded paint. The red roses, my mother’s pride there, were gone.
I opened the door. I looked around. The place was quiet. I called my mother. No one answered.
Amarintine’s bed, a large couch next to the fireplace, was gone. An elderly woman walked in from the kitchen, and without seeing, me passed right next to me and sat on the couch.
I recognized my mother. A young dog walked in from the backyard and looked at my mother.
“I lost my baby, my Gabby, forty years ago, and then everybody, one by one gone. I don’t want to lose you too Amaranthine.” She said.
I looked at myself in the mirror that was hanging above the fireplace. I saw an old man looking back at me. The sound of the front door opening made me turn to look. I saw the old man from the forest.
“You look surprised Gabriel, remember, remember what happened when you left the house, remember the forest.”
I looked in the mirror again, and I saw my reflection. I was an old man, suddenly. I remembered; I remembered the storm, the crow. I remembered Amaranthine trying to protect me from the tall, thin man with the fiery eyes. He killed her.
“May it be it may very well be, what mortals call déjà vu.” I heard a voice behind me, the tall, thin man with the fiery eyes he was standing in the middle of the living room.
“I’ve been giving you everything anyone can ever possibly ask for. I’ve given you fame, money, immortality, and what did you do for me? You left me. You left me for him.” He said as he looked at the old man.
“Come back Gabriel. I have waited for you. I have waited for many centuries; don’t you know we belong together? Don’t you know together we can rule the universe?”
I looked at him and smiled. “You gave me all I ever wanted, not what I needed. I had to choose between you and him, and I chose him.
I felt the ground shaking and through a bright flash, I found myself in my room, my mother’s voice wishing me happy birthday, and calling for breakfast, and Aunt Bella’s lullaby sounded heavenly in my head.
I walked down the staircase like I did many times before; I walked Amaranthine in my personal forest, as I did many times before.
I’ve travelled through time, to help those in need, and help those who were lost, as I did many times before.
I am the old man with the cape and the staff in my hand who slowly disappearing in the morning fog. I’m looking at you, and I know you will do this over and over again, until you redeem yourself and reunite with the creator of all and everything. And then it’s gone be another Gabriel, and another, and another.
Dean Steven Nichols