Lost in a wandering state of mind,
returning to memories I thought left behind.
A campground awaits from decades of yore,
There’s a lake nearby and nature galore.
Summers there filled with family and friends,
as the specter of youth unknowingly ends.
The journey’s now short to a time long past.
My cabin soon appears while the sun fades fast.
The sky was clear, blues deepened to black.
The stars shone bright, they welcomed me back.
I relaxed on the porch and sipped iced tea,
my friends due tomorrow the night was for me.
With waning moon the damp mist rose,
crickets serenaded, eyes started to close.
Blissful sensations then the start of dreams,
when startled was I by familiar screams.
Dolly, Dolly, Dolly! was all she ever said,
her childhood taunts now flooding my head.
She’s the ghostly remains of horrors we’d share.
The truth is haunting when better a nightmare.
She would scratch at the screen above my bed.
I’d shriek and shiver and cower with dread.
Mornings would come, I’d report of my fright,
“that little girl’s ghost came to take me last night”.
My brothers would tease and mom consoled,
dad says they’re figments of tales I’ve been told.
But when evenings cool and crescent moon high,
dense fog rose and that child would cry.
Dolly, dolly, dolly is all she would say,
Her bony hand summoned and pointed the way.
Never dared I answer her mournful request.
Silently I’d wait, ignoring my guest.
It’s been many years since last we met.
Time I’ve tried hard, but to never forget.
Now I’ve matured and conscience will decide.
Am I to seek or again shall I hide?
I know not what of this phantoms despair.
Yet together there’s grief we seemingly share.
Her woe is death while mine’s the living.
Each is assured though neither forgiving.
Our paths have crossed, all have an end.
My choice is made by this spirited friend.
With eyes open wide follow I must,
forsaking not, that lost child’s trust.
I rose and leaned forward, held out my hand.
Our fate’s to obey and to command.
We dashed through the field and into the woods.
A moment imagined of pleasant childhoods.
Each step echoes with brittle twig snap.
Till the shadows of trees soon overlap.
To guide my way mere slivers of light,
pursuing my phantom into the night.
Thicket and bramble claw at my skin,
bleeding the courage from deep within.
The worn paths end at fresh fallen leaf,
this forest beyond, beyond my belief.
Spirits roam free where the living don’t tread.
My friend had returned to her life of the dead.
I wished again to hide safe behind closed eyes,
trading this vision for dreams of blue skies.
The girl then pointed at boulders stacked high,
interwoven with brush to hide from the eye.
All layers of shadow, grays deepened to black,
foretelling the depth of crevice and crack.
Her hazy glow grew brighter, eyes more intense,
repeated cries for dolly now making sense.
She’s lost a dear friend and I’m chosen to find.
To abandon now this child was beyond unkind.
Exited are we, our quest’s nearly done.
‘Twas a test of persistence, both surely won.
My mind’s now a flutter, heart beating proud,
grasping in darkness through thick thorny shroud.
Our search going well till that last step was taken,
the ground then vanished, I was tumbled and shaken.
I awoke sometime later to whispers, mumbles and cries.
My new friend stood close as I opened my eyes.
I saw Dolly held tightly and a bustle nearby.
Mourners had grouped where a still body lie.
A lifeless figure with a familiar shape and size.
The live too are familiar, all saying goodbyes.
The little girl thanked me for my many good deeds.
As slowly she faded having found what she needs.
I begged to be taken for I’ve been truly kind.
When last she said “You need first find needs left behind.”