Recently, Mums told me of being in a strange country and knowing that around the next corner to the left, she would come across a Norman church. Et voila, there it was!!! How did she know? She had never been there before? And this was before the advent of television.
Last year, a group of friends and I had a sleepover. We had this gorgeous meal cooked by B and then all sat around the kitchen table talking amidst many bottles of wine. I got up to pour a friend another glass.
“How did you know I wanted another glass of that beautiful Delaire Graf Shiraz wine?”
“Call it deja vu, Luce!” I replied with a laugh.
“Deja vu,” Lucy replied with a half smile, and then, “Deja vu,” she repeated softly, her eyes looking inwards.
“What’s up, Luce?” I asked.
Lucy took a big sip of wine, put down her glass and said: “I have something to share with you all. Was what I experienced deja vu? You tell me.
I was eight years old when I had a nightmare that terrified me! My screams woke my mum and she came into my room and gently woke me. I often had bad dreams but never one so vivid and clear. She climbed into my bed and held me as I told her what had frightened me so much. All these years later, I can still recall that dream with utter clarity.
In my dream, I was holding hands with a tall man who spoke a language I didn’t recognise. That scared me. I asked him to speak in English but he seemed to ignore this request. I was nervous but I also had this current of excitement running through me. We entered a large, dark avenue clustered with tall ominous looking houses. He pulled me along, then suddenly stopped. He dropped my hand and like a strange magician, clapped his hands three times very loudly. From out of the shadows, appeared this old man bedecked in what appeared to be a long, dark coat which swirled around him like a cloak. Indeed he had the appearance of the magician’s apprentice. A large bunch of keys dangled from his hand. Fear hovered around me. Where would these keys lead us? He ushered us to the front door of this distinguished grand building. My heart thumped madly. Using the keys, he pushed the door slowly open. We entered into this imposing, dark room. I heard the door lock behind us. A light suddenly came on and I heard a strange whirring noise that got louder and louder. The man grabbed hold of my hand again and pulled me towards some stairs which we began to mount. My heart beat quickened. On the first landing he held me close and put his arms round me tightly. I wanted to run but he grabbed my hand and pulled me behind him. We ran up countless flights of stairs. All the time I could hear this whirring sound coming and going as well as seeing a light that flashed on and off. Suddenly the man ran around a corner and as he did so, he flew straight into a casement window that opened onto a flight of stairs that flew down, down, down. Coloured glass shattered around me as he fell and I screamed and screamed.
I awoke to my mothers arms around me.
“Lucy, my love, my little love…”
When I was eighteen, I won a scholarship that took me to Spain for the summer holidays. I had to live with different families to improve my Spanish. I travelled to Burgos, then Madrid and finally Barecelona. I was eighteen, exceptionally naive and naturally fell in love for the first time with Rudi, the eldest son of the Caceres family. You won’t believe me, but all was innocence and charm.”
We laughed at this but were too caught up in Lucy’s story to interrupt.
“When I moved to Madrid, he came to visit me. It was the fact that I was English that persuaded my new hostess, who stayed in an incredibly grand and posh apartment, to give me permission to go out with this handsome stranger. Did she think we English damsels were no danger to hunky Spanish men, I wonder? She did put one stricture on this date: I had to be home by 11 o’clock.
What a lovely day we spent together. When you are happy and in love, time seems to fly by. We came out of the cinema and were laughing at various incidents in the film. Suddenly Rudi looked at his watch.
“Caramba, Lucia, look at the time! (I loved his way of changing my name from the English ‘Lucy’ to the Spanish ‘Lucia!) It is late, we must run.”
Rudi grabbed my hand and we began to hot foot it home. We ran along streets and down nifty little alleyways. Finally we arrived at the avenue where I was staying. As I looked ahead of me, I froze. The hairs at the back of my neck began to tingle and my arms and legs felt as if they didn’t belong to me. My heart began to beat loudly. I was looking at the avenue of an eight year olds dream! I was astounded.
Rudi looked at my frozen features and said: “What is it? What is wrong? You look as if you are going to faint. Lucia?”
I could not find the words to explain.
At eighteen, I could now understand what he was saying to me in Spanish. I hadn’t been able to at eight. The stupidest thought went through my mind: ‘Now I am almost as tall as you, Rudi. At eight, I wasn’t.’
He gave up trying to find out what was wrong. Time was racing towards eleven o’clock. He grabbed my hand and began pulling me after him. Then suddenly he stopped and I knew what he was going to do. I could have clapped with him to a flamenco beat. But I stayed silent. The three claps rang out and I watched as the old gowned man appeared with the keys. This was the night watchman who opened all the doors at night. Once inside, I heard him lock the door behind us. As in my dream, the lights of the lift came on as the lift whirred it’s way downwards. Rudi put his arms around me gave me a long kiss. No wonder my eight year old self was confused and slightly bewildered!
“Come on, it’s just about eleven,” he said grabbing my hand and began charging up the stairs. I remembered my dream, my nightmare, and it’s terrible ending. Up, up and up we went. Surely that was just an eight year olds dream. It would have no consequence now, I thought. Then we reached a turning in the stairs. A turning I remembered.
“Ten cuidado’! Be careful!” I shouted.
“Luisa, what is wrong? Come on!”
Breathlessly I said: “Look around the corner.”
He looked and saw the casement window open. Unfastened and ajar over a mass of stairs going down, down, down. If he had rushed on as he was in the process of doing, he not only would have shattered the glass into a mass of bright shining pieces, he would have reduced himself to pulp.
Rudy, realising what had so nearly happened, slid down the wall till he was sitting in a shaken heap on the floor. I reached past him and with considerable exertion, closed the window.
“Thank you,” he whispered. I slid down next to him. I didn’t have the right words to explain to him what had caused an eight year old to shriek out in terror at what she had witnessed in her dream.
After considerable silence, Rudi said:
“It’s okay, we are still going to make your curfew!”
I was utterly astounded by Lucy’s tale. Deja vu? Yes, certainly. But it somehow seemed bigger than what that term implied. Lucy’s eight year old dream had actually been a premonition of things to come. Thank goodness for the fear it had caused and the vivid recollections. They had ended up saving someone from incredible harm.
This Shakespearean quote from Hamlet went round and round in my mind. Sometimes we just have to marvel at the unexplainable in life.
What I have learnt is that there is too much in life that is inexplicable. You simply cannot explain it. I laugh gently at myself. Indeed LIFE is totally unexplainable! Perhaps we need to hear more stories like Lucy’s to drive that point home. Instead of seeking for explanations, we should simply accept the incomprehensible deja vu.
And the dreams of an eight year old child!