TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Steve sat up, resigned to no more sleep. Ghost was not in the tent, and there was no telling where he was. He hoped he wasn't sleepwalking again.
"Ok, ok, let's go," Steve said. He and Stevie crawled out of the tent. He was surprised to see it actually was still dark out, and not morning, as Stevie had said. It wasn't just shadows from the trees making it seem dark in the tent.
"Which way did Ghost go?" Steve asked, as he looked around, not seeing him.
Stevie didn't seem very sure, but said, "That way, I think...maybe?" He was pointing toward the trees behind the camp site.
Steve sighed. "Ok, kiddo, let's get you over to your Mom's tent." They walked the few feet over there, and Steve called out quietly, "Linda, Linda...Stevie's coming in with y'all."
"What...is it morning?" Linda asked, barely awake.
"Not yet, but I think Ghost's gone sleepwalking. I gotta go find him."
Steve grabbed the flashlight, and shined it toward the trees. "Ghost...where are you?" He kept walking and calling, but got no answer. After a few minutes, he stood still and just listened. He heard the tree frogs, loud and clear, and a cricket buzzed. He could feel sweat trickling down his face, now, and he was really getting worried. Swatting away a moth, that was in the flashlight beam, he suddenly stopped, listening harder. It was a voice...Ghost's voice.
"Spider's been spinnin' all summer...we'll have a bad winter."
Steve's first thought was that Ghost was reliving the time they first met. He shined the flashlight beam up into the trees, scanning them, then finally seeing Ghost.
"Ghost, get down from there," Steve said, but Ghost just laughed.
"Wake up, damn it...damn it, Ghost...don't do this, please...not now." In the light, he could see Ghost peering down, his hair framing those eyes, that were now seeing only the hazy past.
I have to get him down, but how? How did he even get up there...the tree branches are higher than my head...ok, think...think...a bribe...maybe that'll work...
"Hey, Ghost...you ready for some coffee? I'm making some over there. Get your cup, so I can pour you some while it's hot."
"Coffee? I want coffee, Steve," Ghost said.
"Ok, c'mon then, let's go," Steve said. As hard as it was, he turned away, heading back to the camp site, to actually make a pot of coffee. The smell would surely bring Ghost down from the tree, he thought.
When he got back to the tents, Linda asked, "Did you find him?"
"Yeah, up a tree. He's coming down, I think. I gotta make coffee," Steve said, but just stood there staring at the fire pit. Linda got out the coffee pot, and started the fire.
"Steve...?" Linda asked, as she could tell he was about to lose it.
"He...he was talking like it was the first time we ever talked to each other. He said the very same thing..." Steve choked back a sob.
Linda made him sit down. "Oh, honey, he's still asleep, probably, and dreaming of that day."
Steve nodded. "Maybe...I hope that's all it is. He's always weird when he sleepwalks, but I still worry he may stay that way." He took a shuddery breath.
Linda squeezed his arm. "I know, and it sounds dumb, but worry doesn't help or change anything." Steve nodded again.
The coffee aroma was drifting through the air, now. Steve kept looking toward the trees, hoping Ghost's pale form would materialize. Linda spotted him first.
"He's here," she said, softly. They watched, as Ghost came closer. They couldn't tell yet if he'd woken up.
"Ghost, you ok? Are you awake now?" Steve asked.
"Coffee?" Ghost said, reaching for the cup Linda was holding out for him. He took it, and drank several gulps of the hot brew...black.
Steve knew he'd never drink it without cream and sugar, if he was awake. "Ghost, can you wake up, now? It's morning...time to wake up." He clapped his hands together, loud. It startled Linda and Ghost; they both jumped. Ghost dropped the cup, which splattered onto Steve's jeans, leaving dark, running stains.
"Spider's on you, Steve," Ghost shrieked, and began slapping Steve's legs. "Get it off, get it off, it's gonna bite you, and spin a web over you..." he kept hollering.
Steve hopped around, trying to grab Ghost's arms, to make him calm down. Melody woke up, and stuck her head out of the tent. "What's happening?" She stood, and still unsteady, made her way over. "Why's he yelling? Make it stop." She covered her ears. "My head's gonna explode," she wailed.
Linda, shocked at first, couldn't help it; she started laughing. The whole scene taking place in front of her was so bizarre, she had to let it out...big belly laughs that made her eyes water.
"Oh my, God, stop it y'all," she tried to say, but never quite got it all out, before another wave of laughter took hold.
Finally, Steve grabbed Ghost, who wrenched himself out of Steve's grip. "What are you doin', Steve? Let go..." He jerked back so hard he fell flat on his butt. This made Linda cackle even louder, and she peed her pants, right there. She couldn't have stopped it if she'd tried.
Ghost looked at her then, and started laughing, too. Steve and Linda knew he was finally awake.
After they'd all calmed down, Linda excused herself to go change clothes.
"You ok," Steve asked Ghost.
"Yeah, I'm fine. What happened...I can't remember anything." He had poured himself another cup of coffee, this time made how he liked it. He held it with both hands, feeling the warmth, and inhaling the steamy aroma. He was hoping it would clear his head, but it was making him sleepy, instead.
Steve explained all that had happened. Ghost frowned. "I was in a tree?"
"Yeah, and I made coffee to get you to come down." Steve told him all that had happened.
"Huh, I don't remember any of it," Ghost said.
Steve studied Ghost's face, knowing it was true. Ghost never remembered what he did when he was sleepwalking. "You were asleep, doing all that, Ghost."
Ghost glanced up. "I wish I wouldn't do that. I'm glad you always come find me."
"You know I will," Steve said.
Ghost sighed. When we gonna be home? I need to be home, Steve." He bit his lower lip, and swallowed hard, trying not to cry.
Steve's heart melted. He wanted to make everything better for Ghost, but Ghost still had demons to fight...and always would.
"I know, babe, and it will be real soon. We'll drive today, and there'll be one more night, and after driving some more, we'll be there," Steve tried to explain. Again, he wondered how it must feel to not have any concept of time, and how long or short things were. He watched, as Ghost brushed away a few tears that had started to fall.
"Ghost, what's wrong? Why are you so sad?"
Ghost just shook his head. "Don't, Steve...it's ok. I just need to be sad for awhile. I need to think of things. It's so hard, anymore."
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing