Sunday, August 3, 2014
Echos Through Time
(Author's note: This is just a story, no statement on my beliefs are implied.)
Jacob Haas heard the cry of his infant daughter from the speakers of the baby monitor sitting on his nightstand. Being a caring and dedicated dad, Jacob instantly recognized the screams coming from his daughter were one of sheer terror, probably from a bad dream, as opposed to the ones associated with hunger or a dirty diaper.
“I'll get the baby,” Jacob's wife, Emily, said sleepily.
“No honey,” Jacob said leaning over to gently kiss his wife on the forehead, “you go back to sleep, I'll get the little munchkin.” If Jacob expected a response, he was sorely mistaken because his wife had already fallen back sleep the second he said he would take care of the baby.
Jacob carefully got out of bed and walked into the hallway hoping not to step on Archer, the family cat who often chose the strangest places in the house to sleep. A few weeks before Jacob had stepped on the cat in the darkness while going to the bathroom and instantly feared he had killed the poor creature. The resulting noise and confusion as the cat screeched and Jacob fell to the floor scared the baby all the way in her room and woke his wife up. Luckily, the cat escaped unscathed except for nursing a clearly visible grudge towards Jacob for a couple of months.
Jacob reached the baby's room without endangering the cat, who heard his approach and issued out a nasty warning growl from his position on one of the living room couch's armrest several feet away. “Let it go you damn cat,” Jacob whispered, “I said I was sorry.”
Archer the cat was unimpressed with Jacob's words and quickly went back to sleep. Feeling slightly rebuked Jacob opened the door to his daughter's room and went inside. The light from the tiny fairy lamp allowed Jacob to see his daughter standing up inside her crib. The tracks of tears running down her small face glistened in the weak light.
“What's upsetting you little one,” Jacob asked as he scooped his daughter into his arms. A quick check revealed a dry diaper and Little Kathy rejected the bottle her dad pulled from the refrigerator and warmed up in the microwave a couple of minutes later.
Little Kathy quickly went back to sleep in her daddy's arms as he sat in the rocky chair across from her crib. Jacob relished these moments knowing that the years would fly by with her eventually going to college and making her own life away from Emily and him. It was the combination of the nighttime stillness and Jacob's own wandering mind that brought back the memory of how his daughter got her name.
The morning Emily went into labor Jacob called his mom and dad as soon as his wife was checked in at the hospital. The result several hours later was an invasion by his extended family who took up residence in the labor and delivery waiting room. Nine hours later Jacob's daughter was born with his great-grandmother the first person to hold the baby.
“Well my goodness,” the ninety-two year old woman said, “it's Katherine.” Jacob and his family was both charmed and saddened by the old woman's statement. Katherine had been Jacob's older sister who had been killed three years before in a car accident. Jacob's great-grandmother took the loss extremely hard because as much as she refused to admit it, Katherine had been her favorite. Matters were made worse when the old woman began talking to the newborn infant as if she were the deceased Katherine.
When it came time for the nurse to take the baby for further checks the old woman had a fit and began screaming for Kathrine to the point she had to be restrained. The event was discounted as an example of her advancing dementia but both Emily and and Jacob thought it would be a fitting tribute to name their daughter after Katherine.
About an hour after Little Kathy awoke Jacob felt it was time to place her back in her crib. The maneuver went off without a hitch with the baby still asleep as Jacob placed her on the small mattress. It was when he attempted to close the door to her room that Little Kathy awoke and began screaming again. Jacob retrieved his daughter and again sat with her in the rocking chair. Obviously exhausted the infant went back to sleep but again awoke when he tried to close the door to her room. It was on the third attempt that Jacob left the door open with Little Kathy staying asleep this time.
“What's wrong with Kathy,” Emily asked as Jacob climbed into bed.
“I don't know,” he said while making himself comfortable, “it seems she is like my sister after all and just didn't want the door closed.” It was common family knowledge that during her childhood Katherine had demanded the door to her room be left open. In fact, years before while they both still lived with their parents, Jacob had played the occasional trick on his sister by shutting her door in the middle of the night. However, both Jacob and Emily knew it was not uncommon for some children to feel more comfortable with the door to their bedroom left open and thought nothing more of it.
From that night on Little Kathy refused to go sleep with the door to her room closed. If she fell asleep someplace else she was sure to wake up in her crib a couple of hours later screaming until someone opened the door. For a while the joke going up and down the family grapevine was that great-grandmother might have been onto something when she appeared to have suggested Little Kathy was the reincarnation of her late Aunt Katherine.
Within weeks though, the amusement surrounding Little Kathy's behavior evaporated completely and was forgotten when Jacob's great-grandmother passed away in her sleep. The following months were quiet and uneventful, and for Jacob and Emily happy ones as they watched their healthy daughter grow and thrive.
Little Kathy's first real words came early to her, they were simple things like the expected “Dada” and “Mama” but also important ones like “cookie” and “milk.” It was during this time of happiness and tranquility that great-grandmother's words came back to haunt Jacob.
It was a late Saturday morning while Jacob was on the floor of the living room playing with his daughter. Emily was on the couch relaxing both reading a magazine and watching her husband and daughter play when Archer the cat jumped in the middle of the two on the floor wanting attention. As cats go, Archer was quite fond of the baby and was known to sleep underneath her crib some nights.
Little Kathy was known to squeal in delight and say “kitty” whenever Archer decided to make an appearance but this time she clearly said, “Hello Mr. Twinkles.”
Emily immediately saw how her husband first looked confused in response to Little Kathy's words, which quickly changed into shock and maybe even a little fear as the seconds ticked by. “What's wrong Jacob,” she said growing very concerned as her husband began to back away from his daughter who was now playing with the cat.
Jacob looked at his wife still feeling like someone had stepped on his grave. “Little Kathy just called Archer by the name Mr. Twinkles.” He said while standing up and quickly walking to the kitchen.
Emily followed and found her husband leaning against the sink clearly scared. “What about it,” she asked.
Jacob's response scared her as well, “It took me a couple of seconds to remember because it was so long ago but when I was very young my sister Katherine had a cat she had named Mr. Twinkles.”