"There are choices you have to make not just once, but every time they come up." -- Chente
It starts with a dream. This dream creeps beyond others of sinuous ordeals, beyond demons throwing side-glances, beyond falling out of the bed and into an abyss of molten stone, beyond slipping in traffic and being unable to get up as headlights swim toward me. Then one night, a variation of the dream:
I'm in front of a house situated in a clearing among tall, moss-infested trees. The house is enormous, Gothic in style. I see myself walking toward it, leaves and branches lightly scraping the sides of my face.
I step up a creaky set of stairs with marble railings and emerge on a large empty porch. Through a walnut door, which opens without my assistance, I go through a dimly-lit hallway, the walls breathing. There are rooms on either side of me, but I venture on, ignoring them. I continue past a row of doors without doorknobs. Out of a smoky haze, another room comes into view. The door of this room opens, slowly, as I stand transfixed in front of it. The breathing walls now follow the cadence of a heartbeat.
I enter the room, a chill dampens the beads of sweat above my brow. In the center of the room is a baby's bassinet, washed in orange-red and draped in lace with ruffles along the edge, like something out of a Sears catalogue. I move toward the bassinet, deliberate, as if rehearsed. Lying there among the lace is my long-dead sister Lisa in a white baptism dress, her face in tranquil sleep like the way she looks in a picture my mother keeps in an old album.
This is where the dream usually ends, with Lisa in a death- bed of bliss.
But this time, the dream advances. This time I keep looking at the child. This time Lisa opens her eyes, so suddenly I jerk