The Barn

My sister Katy and I were walking hand in hand through a seemingly never-ending cornfield. The harvest moon was high in the inky sky, the cerise ball towering above the ready to harvest stalks.  I didn’t know the exact time, but I guessed it was around 9. I was young, maybe 7 or 8, and I couldn’t remember where we were, or how we got there. Katy urged me to stay silent, and by her anxious tone I realized I better follow her directions. We could smell smoke from somewhere in the distance, and my legs and feet were exhausted, they felt drained. How long had we been walking for? It seemed to be ages.  I wanted so badly to ask her again, but I didn’t want her to be upset with me. Out of the darkness, we heard a low whining. I froze in my place, but Katy silently urged me on by tugging gently on my hand. As we continued forward, the sound changed. A sharp scream, then a long keening sound broke through the night. I was horrified, and my body felt cold and tingling all over. We continued walking this time with urgency, I could feel the cornstalks brushing up against us. It felt like small hands tickling us as the stems were jostled and prodded out of the way. I hoped we were going in the right direction, but it was impossible to tell. Without warning, we stepped into a large clearing. The cornfield was circling the old barn, which was as imposing as it was derelict. We paused for a moment, taking in the scene. We could see smoke starting to seep out of its edges, and the penetrative cry was like a beacon in the night. No, no, no, no.. I knew instant what would have to happen next, as if I had been here in this exact place time and time before. Katy gave me a mournful smile, and squeezed my hand 3 times, before whispering that she had to do it. I have to, I need to try and see if I can help them. They might be stuck. I knew enough of my older sister to know that there would be no stopping her. I brushed the hot tears angrily off my face and nodded, before giving her once last hug. I stayed frozen in place while she crept toward the barn, which looked even more humongous with Katy’s frame walking purposefully beneath it. The barn itself was the typical red sort, but it was wind washed and fading. The siding and roof seemed to have better days, but the door looked solid and when Katy struggled to open it, it seemed to be heavier than air. Before finally gaining access to the ancient building, Katy turned and gave a small wave, as if saying goodbye. As soon as she disappeared into smoky darkness, I finally found the power in me to move. This was a mistake, this is bad. I ran as fast as my little legs could take to me to the massive door and banged on it with my fists, scraping my hands against the wood and getting a stinging sliver in the process. I shouted after her, and tried to heave the door open, but it wouldn’t move for me. I could see no open windows or other ways to enter, but the smoke seemed to now be seeping out of the structure’s pores, and the strangers screaming was still prominent in my brain, piercing and throbbing. But then another sound added to the orchestra, my sisters whimper. Quiet at first, then suddenly it was deafening. She was hurt! What is happening? Her scream was wild and raw, as if to tell me of the violent pain she was in. This is it, what do I do? My sister!


I woke up gasping and choking on a sob. My heart was racing and my skin was clammy. This dream, again. I had been having since before I could remember. But unlike when I was child, I could no longer pad out of my bedroom into hers to ensure she was safe. I look my phone, bleary against the illumination of the screen, and went to my tracking app, clicking on her name. I track all the most important people in my life, or at least the ones who would let me. Some people think its weird, and why on earth I insist on tracking my family members. But it is for moments just like this, when I need to ease the gnawing panic and worry inside my solar plexus. I see on the screen that she at home, last updated 3 minutes ago. Inhale, exhale. We are okay for now.


3 thoughts on “The Barn

  1. Thank you for posting this Colleen. It’s written so well that I can smell the smoke, hear the night sounds, and feel your rapid heart beat. I am so incredibly proud of you💞


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