Spectrum of Life (circa August 1989)

The day began as any other.  Cara was at the breakfast table telling all about her dream the night before.  She was quite an imaginative person and believed strongly in her dreams.  Cara felt that night images brought messages and even warnings.  As for her being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed so early in the morning, that was no surprise to her family.  For Cara was also very talkative.  Sometimes it seemed as if she could go on forever, like nothing could shut her up.


As the day progressed, Cara carried on with her daily schedule.  She stopped, as usual, at the bookstore between school and home, spending hours glancing through their selection.  She loved to read to broaden her areas of though, but everyone already thought her imagination was vivid enough.  Yet against her mother’s will, she continued reading tales of suspense, horror, and murder.  The latter of which was her favorite.  These books only contributed to Cara’s frequent concoctions of legends.  In other words, she was constantly making up stories to tell her friends about places that existed long ago.


Anyway, on this day, after choosing yet another mystery novel, she began her journey home.  It was getting late, and the moon was rising, but Cara’s head remained buried in those new adventuresome pages.  When she finally realized that her mother would be worried, she ceased to read and rose her head only to find that she had stumbled upon the old Livingston house.


No one dared to go in there.  Twenty years before, Old Man Livingston was found dead in the living room.  His wife had been dead for years, so he and his teenage daughter lived alone in the big house.  The girl disappeared about the same time her father died.  Some said she murdered him and took off with all his money.  The police disregarded that theory from the beginning.  The truth being that when Old Man Livingston was found, everything was intact.  The only thing missing from the entire house was an amulet given to the girl by her mother, wi

th an inscription that read, “To my one and only daughter, my little spectrum of life.”


As Cara climbed the stairs to the old house, she heard a noise from inside.  “Could there actually be someone in there,” she asked herself.  Being the curious youth she was, (bravery had nothing to do with it) she raised her hand to knock on the door.  With the slight touch of her hand, the door creaked open.  Cara stepped inside and the door slammed behind her.  “Oh God, let me out,” she screamed.  “If anyone’s in here, please don’t hurt me.  I’ll leave, just please let me out!”


As she babbled on and on, a voice called out, “Cara, what on earth are you doing here?”
“What? How do you know my name,” Cara asked abruptly.  The the woman stepped into the light.
“Mom! What’s going on? Why are you here,” Cara demanded.
“Come here. I think it’s time you and I had a talk.” Her mother sat down on an old wooden chest and motioned for Cara to sit next to here.


“I came here tonight to shut out a part of my life,” her mother began.
“What do you mean a part of your life,” Cara asked.
“Just listen.  When I was growing up, I was much like you,” her mother continued.  “Very curious, maybe even nosy.  I found out one day that my mother’s death wasn’t due to a heart attack.  My father murdered her, and he was going to do the same to me now that I knew the truth.  I had to save myself.  All I can remember now is that haunting feeling of knowing that he killed my mother and I killed him.  I have to end that part of my life.” She began to cry.

“I look at you, Cara, and your love of knowledge, and I see my mother.  I listen to your wild stories, and I remember all the  lies my father told.” She took a necklace from around her neck and slid it over Cara’s head.
“I want you to have this.  Do you know what the inscription says?  It says ‘To my one and only daughter, my little spectrum of life.’ I’ve always loved that.”
“The amulet!” cried Cara.
“Yes,” said her mother, wiping tears from her eyes. “You see, you are my spectrum of life.  You are my afterimage of my life then.  You remind me of them.  If I want to end this nightmare, I must end you.” She picked up a length of rope that was hidden behind the wooden chest and twirled it on her hands as she slowly leaned toward Cara.
“No!” shouted Cara.  “You’re crazy! Somebody help me!”

Startled by this, Cara awoke.  She found herself safe in her own bed.  There was no Livingston house.  There was no amulet.  Suddenly, her bedroom light came on, and her mother was standing in the doorway.
“Cara, are you alright?” her mother asked.
“Uh, yeah,” she stuttered.  “I just, um … had a bad dream.  It was really scary.”
“Well, it’s all over now.  Go back to sleep, honey.”
“Sure, mom.  It was just a dream.”
“Right.  Now, you need your rest, dear.  Sweet dreams, my little spectrum of life.”
Cara glared at her mother.  For the first time in her life, she was speechless.

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