Chapter 1: A Dream
"Mama, tell me again. Please, Mama, tell me, tell me, tell meeee!" My voice sounded childish even to my ears. I must have been only two or three. I could almost make out my mother's face, but it remained infuriatingly blurry. I snuggled down in my tiny bed with its pink and white quilt. My favorite rubber ducky was on the pillow next to my head, and I held my little hand sewn rag doll tightly in my chubby little hands. I loved that house. My room was pink and white, and there was always a mess of toys scattered across the floor, but Mama never seemed to mind. She and Daddy would get down on the floor with me and play princesses anytime I wanted.
"Okay, okay. Ti amo, Maria bella, ti amo del mare alla stella!" Her soft chestnut hair tickled my face as she bent to tuck me in. I giggled. My mother smiled and kissed me several times on my cheek. I could feel her. I clutched at her with my tiny hands and breathed her in. I loved her smell, baby powder and Ivory soap and just Mama. She took my hands gently from around her neck and kissed both of them before placing them on the blanket.
"Tell me what it means, mama! Tell me, tell me! Pleeease!"
"I will, I will. Hush now, my baby." She tucked in the blanket all around me and placed the statue of Mary on my nightstand, "Okay, now. You all snug, good! It means I love you, my beautiful Maria, from the sea all the way up to the stars!"
"I love you too, mama! Up to the stars!"
"I know, baby, I know. I love you so much! Now you must promise me that you'll run when I tell you, Maria! Run, Maria! Run! Run! RUN!"
Cold sweat clung to me as I sprang up in my bed. My hands tangled in my long loose hair as I struggled to turn on my bedside lamp. This was a recurring dream or nightmare or both. I guess it depends on how I'm feeling. Sometimes I was so grateful for it, and other times I'd just be so frustrated I couldn't fall back asleep. I never understood why I couldn't see her face. I mean I had photos of her, I know what she looked like, but in my dream, I never saw my mother's face. But her voice, that I heard perfectly. I could hear her as clearly as if she was in the room. Her voice yelling for me to run would sometimes ring in my ears for hours. Weird, but not the weirdest thing to happen to me. I guess I should introduce myself.
My name is Maria Graziana Kelly. People call me Grazi (grah-tzee). I am trying to make sense of everything that has happened to me over the last few months. How I became the person, I am now. A good story has a great beginning. Something that draws you in. Well, I am not trying to impress anyone. Nor am I drawing anyone into some sort of fictional world. This is real. I guess you could consider my tale a warning. There are things out there. Things you and I never dreamed existed.
At a time like this, I always go with the classics. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy." That's my absolute favorite Shakespeare quote. Good old Hamlet. Of course, the first time I read it I had no idea how right he was. There was a time I could lose myself in a good play or book and forget the world. Escape from all my so-called problems. You know what I mean. Family, high school, my social life or lack thereof. I should start at the beginning. Give you a little background info.