© 2005 Elizabeth Sinclair
A gauzy mist swirls around her. It cloaks her in a smothering,
ethereal blanket. She gasps for air. It smells earthy, like
the thirsty desert sands after a torrential rain. She spins
away into another wall of white nothingness. The mist thickens,
robs her of all sense of direction, pulls her ever deeper
into the milky haze. Panic paralyzes her. She opens her mouth
to call out. No sound emerges. The mist thickens. Her panic
becomes palatable, breathing more difficult.
Suddenly, as if an unseen force has taken charge, the mist
parts. Fearing it will close and trap her again, she runs
through the opening, unseeing, uncaring about what waits on
the other side. She knows only that she must escape the suffocating,
As she adjusts her eyes to the glaring brightness, a strange
scene takes form. A withered old Navajo sits cross-legged
before a boarded-up hogan; a twisted mesquite stump to his
right resembles a snake coiled to strike. His ancient, leathery
face bears the evidence of many summers spent beneath the
hot, desert sun. Observing her closely through large, owl-like
eyes, he measures her approach. That sharp, brown-eyed gaze,
brimming with the wisdom of his years, never wavers from her.
With a sharp wave of his gnarled hand, he motions for her
to join him on the ground. Welcome serenity replaces her panic.
From beside him, the old Navajo picks up a small, leather
pouch, then taking her hand, dumps the contents into her palm.
She stares down at a silver chain coiled around a rainbow
pendant. With her fingertip, she nudges the chain aside to
better see the pendant. Inlayed with bands of turquoise, abalone,
jet, and white shell, the rainbow’s arches catch the
sunlight and glitter, as though alive.
His guttural voice, crusty and angry, comes from inside her
head. “Sa?ah naghai bikeh.”
The pendant suddenly takes on an eerie luminescence, and with
it, comes heat that intensifies steadily until it burns her
palm. She cries out, but the sound is only in her mind. Dropping
the necklace, she looks to the old man for an explanation.
He’s vanished and so has the necklace.
In his place stands another man, younger, his muscular body
untouched by time. His features, concealed in shadow behind
a swath of dark hair, need not be illuminated for her to know
his identity. As familiar to her as her own mirrored reflection,
they live in her dreams nightly and reflect from her son’s
Hair, dark as a desert night. High cheekbones carved out by
shadows. Eyes, dark and mysterious, haloed in amber, luminous,
haunting, judging, accusing. And his mouth . . . Lord, his
mouth. The mouth that loved her to the heights of passion
and took her to worlds far beyond earthly reaches. His lips
turn up slightly, as if reading her thoughts and finding amusement
in her reaction.
A phantom breeze picks up his long, black hair from his broad
shoulders and whips it away from his face. Light bounces off
the contours of his coppery skin. He towers like a giant oak,
strong, immovable, silent—always silent.
Radiating ferocity as strong as the foreboding prediction
of a storm’s onslaught, he beckons, drawing her with
his powerful magnetism. She reaches for him, the need to touch
overriding all else, compelling her as surely as her need
for her next breath.
Then he vanishes. The fog closes in again, swirling, suffocating,
threatening. The panic returns.
Laura Kincaid bolted upright in her bed, choking and clutching
at her throat. A soft, early, summer breeze laden with the
fragrance of the rain-soaked Arizona desert blew through the
open bedroom window. The air currents played with the white,
organdy curtains, encouraging them to writhe in a mocking,
ghostly dance, a twin to the mist of her nightmare.
She tore her gaze away and dragged deep breaths into her starving
lungs. Finally able to breathe easily again, she fell back
against the pillows, exhausted.
Rolling to her side, she checked the glowing face of her bedside
clock. Four am. Trying to shrug off the nightmare as the byproduct
of her late-night, fast-food supper the evening before, she
snuggled deep into the warm folds of her blankets.
But the panic she’d experienced in the dream remained
with her. Even though she didn’t understand them, the
harsh, angry words of the old Navajo settled heavily on her
soul, chilling her to the bone. As hard as she tried to dismiss
their dire tones and make the excuse that some gastro-connected
upset had caused her to dream about the old Indian, it still
sent chills down her spine.
Not surprisingly, she found
the appearance of the younger man, the man she’d walked
out on eight years ago, the man who had haunted her dreams
many times before last night, even more upsetting.