Monday, April 13, 2015


As I stroll through the streets of the San Telmo district, the familiar sounds and smells of Buenos Aires surround me. I slow down to snap a picture of the beautiful tin houses that have been painted a rainbow of colors, and I can hear my friends laughing and calling my name farther up the road.  They stop at a food cart for Argentina’s famous choripán, and I hurry to catch up. I reach to pay for my food and the man behind the grill smiles and says “happiness will come from an unexpected place today". A little taken aback I thank him and soon fall into a lively discussion about upcoming research plans with my colleagues from the university. A feeling of content and happiness washes over me. I feel at home here on these winding streets.

Yet, just when I am finishing up my conversation about the new rural outreach program, my friends suddenly begin to shimmer as if they are no longer made of flesh and blood. Before I can utter another word, they disappear. In a panic, I whirl around to see if anyone else saw what just happened before me. But the streets are suddenly vacant, the only sound I hear is the sizzling of the meat on the now abandoned grill. I run down the streets, and the houses begin changing around me. Suddenly I find myself running frantically through what appears to be Dreamwood Terrace. I come to a grinding halt right in front of the fountain; the hot tile searing through my shoes. I feel a hand on my shoulder, and I turn to find myself looking into the eyes of Jasmine Reed. She reaches her hand out to touch my face, “go back” she says. I reach out to embrace her, but wake up screaming on the floor of New Hope Children’s home only to realize it was all a dream.

One thing is clear. I need to leave Dreamwood.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


The ambulance siren blares above me. The paramedics move rapidly to secure the oxygen mask over my head, and I see the blurry outline of a man wrapping gauze around my legs. “Hazel, focus on me.” But that takes too much effort, and the searing pain in my lungs is enough to make me lose my grip. I feel myself slip away.

I’m stuck in limbo. The room around me wavers and shifts, as if it could all float away at any second. As I look around to find myself sitting in a bar, a woman bursts into the dimly lit room. She has a commanding presence, and in my state of confusion I cant help but be terrified. “Check the paper”, the woman says. I quickly scan the headlines and find myself reading the details of my own obituary. My whole body grows cold as I realize where I am and who she is. I’m dead. This is it.

The women in front of me sees the panic on my face, “Relax!, your name isn’t going to stay there”. How can I possibly relax? “Where am I”, I demand. She doesn’t answer my questions, but instead explains that my life has been spared because The Plan has been changed. Her tone softens as she tells me that she was a foster child as well. “You have to be willing to let some things go”, she tells me.  As she talks in front of me I find it hard to focus on what she’s saying. I sort of just sit there in a daze the whole time. She finally shoves a drink in my hand and tells me I wont remember any of this. Suddenly everything disappears around me.

I wake up to the familiar sound of the hospital and Brian’s relieved face looming overhead. Brian tells me that I’m going to be okay, but that I have fallen down the stairs and sustained severe injuries. Before I can reply, a strange feeling overcomes me. I feel as though an important memory is slipping away from me, and I try to reach out for it through the foggy haze of my thoughts. But its gone, and all I’m left with is a snapshot image of a woman in a bar and a chilling sensation that spreads across my body.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I stood in front of Dreamwood Terrace, unable to move. The wind tangled my hair. I watched people move around me as the sun beat down upon the sidewalk. Today was the day. The anniversary of my parents death.  I watched the fountain trickle slowly into the basin. I knew I should probably move. I had to get to work, but I felt paralyzed. A man to my right  jostled me into the street, closer to the fountain. I peered into the basin, only to find myself staring into the eyes of a girl I didn't recognize. Her lips  looked blue, her hair wild, and her cheeks flushed. Startled by my haunting reflection, I took a step back, landing on a searing hot tile by the fountain. Before I could even register what was happening, a blue subaru  came careening out of nowhere. Its horn blaring and its headlights flashing, it was clear I wouldn’t get out of the way in time. As I let out a desperate scream, I felt myself being pushed out of the way by a man next to me. Although out of  the car’s path, I was launched into the ever widening pothole to my left. All I could see was a flashing blue light as I fell farther and farther into the hole. Is this what it feels like right before you die? The fear of suffering the same fate as my parents overtook me, and I blacked out.

I woke up surrounded by clothes in the back of a storage closet, but I felt surprisingly calm. I was alive. I felt shocked and physically drained, but I knew I would be okay. Today, the very day my parents lost their life, I had faced the same fate and survived. For the first time since I got to Dreamwood Terrace, I knew I was going to be okay.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I slowly stirred the vat of oatmeal in the kitchen of New Hope, lost in my thoughts. Jason, one of the younger boys living here, wandered in and asked if he could help make breakfast. I hoisted him up to the pot and was reminded of my first few weeks here. It was a blur of tight smiles, sympathetic glances, and awkward embraces. I was older than Jason is now, but still oblivious to what was in store for me. After the crash, it took me two years before I could get into a car again and five years before I could be behind the wheel. I still can't drive past the pub without feeling the scars burn on my shoulder.

Jason hopped off the stool and scurried away after I doled out the oatmeal and handed him a bowl. I worked with Christina and Sarah to tear sheets off beds and throw them in the giant washers before heading out the door to the minute clinic. I stepped out into the morning air and the world seemed calm, as if sheltered by the sky and its blanket of dark clouds. The trees loomed in front of me, completely still. All I could hear was the crackling of a fire to my right. Then suddenly a women burst into frantic laughter, her face framed by the dancing light.  Eager to avoid an encounter I tried to walk quickly to my car, but she pulled me into a conversation about New Hope and her friend Sarah, a volunteer at the children's home.

I arrived at the minute clinic a little later than expected, and I moved quickly to make up for lost time. It hasn't been that long since I started working here, but I can already feel my mind going numb. I end up with too much time to think about what I've given up to be here, and then I just feel guilty for even thinking about turning my back on Christina and New Hope. I have to continuously remind myself that I'm here to give back and to confront the trauma that has plagued the past fifteen years of my life. But that’s getting pretty hard to do as the days whip by in a blur of flu shots, oatmeal, and grubby hands. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

3. (New Hope Children's Home)

The sky was spinning. The stars whipped by in a blur of light, going faster and faster until I felt as if the heavens were descending upon me. I could hear my name being called out, but I couldn't respond. Just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, I woke up in a panic. 

I’ve been having a lot of those types of dreams lately. Ever since the accident. I find the best way to cope is to turn on all the lights, make some coffee, and go talk to the first person available in the hopes of letting the fear from the nightmare drift away. 

Heading out of my bare room and out of New Hope, I strode quickly to the Sunnyside up diner. In search of coffee, I was not ready for what I saw inside. Note to self: when you've barely just gotten out of bed, don't show up at a speed-dating event. You will feel very out of place in sweats and a ratty T-shirt. Just as I was about to get out of there, I had a nametag shoved into my hand. I looked up to see who the offending stranger was, and found myself staring into the "dreamy" eyes of Brian. 
            "What the hell are you doing here?" I asked. 
            He laughed and pulled me out of the doorway "I’m trying to represent the minute clinic" he responded. 
I rolled my eyes as I ripped off the nametag. I wasn't going to have any part of this, so not my thing. But he insisted I stay and meet some of his friends. As I wandered around with my coffee, I took in the people in front of me. Could I really stay in Dreamwood for that long? It feels forced and strange to be in this town. I don't want to spend my life around people that only remind me of my childhood and what it was like to lose my family. Standing there alone, watching the room swell in front of me, I began to panic. What was I thinking coming back here? Does New Hope even really need me? All of the sudden the room felt too crowded, the lights to bright, and the music too loud. I staggered to the door, the paranoia from my nightmare quickly returning.

The frigid air burned my eyes and my throat as I started running. I needed to get away, and I needed to clear my head. I ran until all I could hear was my heart pounding and my jagged breathing. I ran until the pain of my past began to ebb away leaving me exhausted and more confused than ever.