I am at my cousin's house in South Georgia, an old Victorian of 4 thousand square feet. Except she and her family are just moving in. There are a lot of people around, it's like a family reunion as everyone helps her clean out the old owner's furniture and belongings. But I'm no use, I try to help someone do something and they tell me to move along, mostly because I can't concentrate on the task. There is something wrong with the house, that kind of visceral, instinctive sense of 'wrong' that tells you something is dangerous, that it has gone too far, like the irrevocable sense of death. The house is the color of driftwood, although the inside is clean and has white walls and hardwood floors, which are dirtied as everyone walks in and out.
Something happens in the front yard, something bad, and I am secretly relieved that something happened which validates my consternation about the house. An ambulance comes, and everyone stands around for a little while before going back inside the house. The yard is strangely small for such a big house, only sixty feet or so on each side of the low stone wall that surrounds the yard. The ground is covered with copper-colored dead leaves, and white swaths of dead grass. I watch my cousin dig his foot easily into the ground, and the soil comes up the silky gray of freshly-turned earth that has not had anything planted in it for years, like fine ash. There are no grass roots below the soil, there is nothing growing in the yard.
My Uncle Foye sits down at a small worktable against the stone wall, trying to coax some kind of small green plants to grow. They sit in broken coffee mugs and soda cans cut in half.
I go to talk to him, I haven't seen him in months. I want to ask him how he is, to reconnect to the people I miss in South Georgia, to tell him how well I am doing. To tell him, basically, that the strange, overly-sensitive and antisocial child he remembers is a functional adult, is doing well in the big world.
He seems weary as I approach him, and he will not look me in the eye. "Jennifer, Uncle Foye is boring," he says, with his habit of speaking in third person present even in the dream. "You go on and leave me alone now, I don't want to talk."
I turn to walk away, but going back into that awful house is the only option, and I know that if I go in something will happen to me. I walk back to it because that is what I was told to do, and start crying because I am afraid going back into the house means I will die.
And as I look at the house I realize why I don't like it, why I don't want to return to it and why I feel that sense of being trapped against my will: it's because I am the bad thing, I am the ghost that everyone tries to ignore and will not interact with.
At this point, Nathan woke me up, as he does every morning before heading out to work. He said I looked really upset. I remember seeing his face and my first thought, in that addled space in between waking and sleep, was 'Oh no, you came into the house with me, and now you're dead, too. I am so sorry I did this to you.'
Bizarrely,I had a lovely day today, and got quite a lot of work done, in direct contrast with the series of crummy, distracted, and bad-tempered days I've had recently. Nothing to make you appreciate life like a really goddamn horrifying dream!