As a little girl, I remained in a Boston private school for girls, thanks to the generosity of Roger Collins and Elizabeth Stoddard. They have been like surrogate parents to me in my absence from Collinsport for years. Roger always said that I wasn’t facing reality by avoiding going “home”. But which place was or is home? Is it the house where my mother, Claudette tortured me for the first seven years of my existence, or Collinwood, which was my shelter from many of her storms?
Then there was that place in the mausoleum. Willie doesn’t even know of it, I think. I would sneak into there and dream I had a guardian angel watching over me there. At least I knew my mother would never set foot in the cemetery. I remember dreaming about that faceless dark angel with a calming voice. He’d carry me through the woods, teaching me about the birds and trees and such and the sun always shone there. In short, this entity was the phantom father I created in my mind, I suppose. At least the shrink says as much to me. I’ve written many songs about filling that gaping hole in my memories as well as my chest.
I somehow learned to write with penmanship from a time gone by. I won awards for it and I still prefer my quill to a fountain pen. I mastered math in my head long before I had access to a calculator. A large part of me wants to return, and another side of me totally dreads this. I keep having dreams of a duel, people dying, voices calling my name, and for what purpose? The worst ones are of me drowning in another time and place when I was still quite young, a long dress weighing me down as if it were a ship’s anchor, and something cracking my skull and knocking me out after struggling to come back to the surface. I always manage to wake up shaking and sweating after those. I fear water so much! Why me? Did my mother damage me so much that I cannot tell what is reality from fantasy any longer? I’m wondering if the dreams are symbolic. Whatever. It doesn’t matter at this point.
I know it is time to return to Collinsport. Elizabeth and Maggie have begged me for months. I suppose it is time to revisit the grave of the child I once was, and can never be again. Sometimes an infected wound must be thoroughly drained and cleaned before it can heal. Hopefully it will not leave a scar that is too noticeable. At least it is what the one familiar male voice says to me in those damned dreams I have every night as of late.
Only now the dreams are getting stronger, and the voices more clear. No matter how many psych meds the doctors put me on or how many gigs I do just so I can pass out and sleep after the ambien, they are there…They are waiting for me…It’s only the voice of that dark angel that doesn’t torment me. All he says to me lately is, “Perhaps you should reconsider this endless journey you are on and come visit your family. You are every bit a Collins now even if not by blood.” he says. Funny how Roger and Elizabeth keep reminding me that they do consider me thus. There I go–talking like he does. Dammit I am truly done for the night–until those dreams start-up again…
—S.R.T. April 3, 1990