Copyright 2013 by Dan Nimak
All rights reserved. The reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form is forbidden without the express permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real locales or real people are used fictitiously. Other events, locales, names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
“Is she dying?”
The expression on the nurse’s face answered my whispered question, and I shouldn’t have been surprised. My dear aunt was almost ninety years old.
“I don’t think she has much time left,” said Sarah.
I stood at the door, unsure if I should go in. “Has she been asleep long? I don’t want to wake her.”
“She’s been out of it most of the day – except for a few times when I’ve heard her try to talk. She keeps mumbling something about it being time to move.”
“Time to move?”
Nurse Sarah nodded, and I thanked her as she left me alone with my aunt. I sat in the chair next to the deathbed, and I tried to relax.
“My favorite niece.”
Her sudden words startled me, and I smiled at this special lady who had no one left but me. “I’m your only niece, Auntie Anne.”
“I was there again,” she said.
She looked as if a secret had unintentionally escaped. “Oh, my. I didn’t mean…”
“Are you okay?” I asked.
Auntie Anne spoke very clearly for someone so feeble. “Maybe it’s time,” she said. “I’ve often thought about writing it down, but who would care about the dreams of an old woman?”
I reached for her hand. “I would.”
She carefully adjusted her position in the hospital bed, and my aunt told me of her dreams. “It’s another place, maybe even another world, or another time. I don’t know for sure, but I do know it’s a better place – especially for the children. The children,” she emphasized again, “are happier. They have hope. They are valued.” She slowly shook her head. “It is simply a better world for everyone there than what we have here, but…”
“What is it?”
“I’m not there, Margaret. Except in my dreams, I don’t exist in this other place. I know that sounds silly, but I feel as if I should be there. I need to be there, as a teenager I believe…yet, I cannot be.”
A single tear escaped from my aunt’s eye, and I asked her when her dreams began.
“It was the time of my thirteenth birthday. I confess I was so angry at first, but then I realized how childish and selfish I was. All of our resources were being used for the move, and I didn’t receive a birthday gift that year. Father, Mother, Sister and I left our home to come to this country. It was the very next day when the dreams began.”
She paused, squeezed my hand, and reminded me how special my mother was before she continued her story. “At first, the dreams were not dreams at all. They were nightmares. For almost three years, I hated going to sleep. I fought it, but I had no other choice than to surrender to the nightly agony. They were worst during the last several months of this period, until finally…thankfully, they changed. And they’ve been wonderful dreams all of these years since.”
“Where do your dreams take you? Do you think it’s heaven?”
“No, it’s not a perfect place. In some peculiar way, I almost feel like it is still here, the same place I’ve lived since I was thirteen. Only, it’s very different. It’s hard to describe. It is here, but it is better. I don’t…I don’t understand.” Suddenly, she struggled to speak. “It…it is so…so frustrating. Something is wrong, or…or maybe something is missing. Something…is not…right.” Her hands began to shake, and she looked at me as a child seeking comfort.
I crawled into bed next to my aunt and put an arm around her. Within a few minutes, she slept again. I was relieved, but it hurt that I couldn’t do more. I wished that I could somehow magically deliver her to this alternate Switzerland of her dreams.
She coughed, and spoke, though I questioned if she was awake. “Time to move. It’s time to move.” She repeated the word “move” and opened her eyes. She tried to say something else but failed.
“It’s okay,” I said. “I’m here.”
She coughed again, harder. Her words came faster. “I keep hearing people telling me ‘thank you’ for some reason. I hear children’s voices, adults, those who have been hurt, those who are safe. There are so many, so very many. I don’t understand. This place. It isn’t my dream. Why is everyone thanking me? Why are they grateful…for me?”
I held my aunt. Her heart raced.
“It’s time,” she said.
“It’s time for what, Auntie?” I softly asked, not knowing if my question was heard in her world.
She smiled at me. “It’s time…to move.”
I felt my aunt’s heart stop.
I heard my voice scream Sarah’s name.
I watched Auntie Anne’s eyes close for her final move.
“Ma’am, is Miss Frank okay?”
“Yes, Sarah. Thank you. I believe she is.”
I hope you enjoyed my short story tribute to a very special young lady. I have this available in both a mobi and an epub version. If you’d like a copy, just click a link below.