From Genevieve Graham, author of Sound of the Heart, comes the tale of two strangers living with the Cherokee—one with a warrior’s heart; the other with deadly dreams…
The Cherokee call her Shadow Girl. A white woman adopted by Indians, Adelaide is haunted by the dark dreams she hides—of her murdered family, of the men she fears, and most of all, of the ones that foretell the future. After her visions cause her to make a terrible mistake, she renounces her power and buries her dreams deep in her soul.
Until Jesse Black is captured by the tribe. His life is spared because the Cherokee believe his warrior spirit belongs to their fallen brother. Though he hates all Indians, Adelaide illuminates their way of life for him, just as he shines light into her shadowed heart. But when her dreams return, Jesse must help her face them…or die trying…
My mother’s hair was blonde, but it never attained the near snowy white my hair turns in the summertime. Hers was the colour of straw. Like tattered wisps of grass after the autumn chill had stripped the land of any green. And though she loved to comb my hair until it shone, humming songs without words, hers was rarely tended. Like the grass again, dry and brittle, as if it might splinter at the slightest wind. In that way, strange as it might sound, my mother was much like her hair.
On the other extreme, little Ruth’s curls bounced with shiny abandon, a perfectly blended white and gold, as if the sun had painted the strands one by one, taking time to choose the exact gold, the exact white. Everything about Ruth bounced and glowed. Ever since that cloudless day of her birth in the summer of 1723, the most difficult thing about Ruth was getting her to sit long enough so mother could comb the tangles from her lively tresses. Even then her rosebud lips constantly moved, telling stories, singing songs she made up herself, filling the stale air of the room with light warmer and more illuminating than any candle.
The last time I saw my mother’s hair it blew in a moth-eaten veil over her eyes, their fading blue locked forever open and sightless under a neat black hole. Blood the shade of crimson maple leaves trickled in a thick path down the side of her face, sticking wisps against her cheek and turning them a dark chestnut, more like Maggie’s hair.
And when I last saw Ruth there was no more bouncing. The joy which had lit every part of her had been snuffed out, the soft white curls knotted around eyes red and swollen from tears. She looked like a doll who had been left in the dirt, and I imagine that’s how they saw her as they tore her to bits. Nothing but a sweet, helpless ragdoll with which they could play, then discard.
When the wind brings them back, I blame myself. It can be almost anything – the sharp smell of charred meat over a fire, an evergreen’s fragrant cloak. Even the sound of running water can call to mind the voices and smells and sights little girls should never imagine. So I built myself a wall. It is thick and sturdy, able to hold back all the pictures, the sounds, the pain I can’t bear to relive. If thoughts seep through, threatening to weaken the wall, I immediately plug it. I refuse to see any of it again.
But the wall will always be a reminder of that day. Though I no longer see the evil, I know it lurks there. I am often left empty while my entire soul is taken up by fighting. And when I lose myself in the pain of it all over again, I know I should have tried harder.
I should have practised. Even in secret, like Maggie did. After all, I always knew the power was there, buried inside of me. If I hadn’t always been so scared of what might happen, who might find out, what I might do, maybe I could have done something.
But I didn’t. I spent my childhood watching Maggie, seeing what her dreams did to her and vowing never to wake my own hidden secret. It was enough that I knew they were there.
My secret wasn’t exactly like my sister’s. Maggie’s messages came in dreams; mine followed me around during waking hours as well as during my sleep. Stirrings. A strength untapped. A power greater than I. Unlike her, I could walk away from them when I was awake, ignore their existence. That was my choice, and I chose it because letting them in meant feeling my heart swell with terror.
When they came as nightmares, I fled. From an early age I taught myself to burst from the monstrous images when they became too real. A useful skill for me, without question. A selfish one, perhaps. Because by doing this, I never saw the endings to my dreams. And by missing that elemental part of them, I didn’t know the inevitable conclusion.
But that was the dilemma. Were they inevitable? If so, was it worth forcing myself to stand up to the images, daring to push past the invisible wall that sent me screaming to the surface? If I had seen the ending, could I have changed it, or had that been the only possible outcome anyway?
So I chose to block them out entirely. I avoided the question as well as any answers which might follow.
Other than that, my life was straight forward. We lived simply, surrounded by little that should frighten a child, yet stepping outside my regular routine, testing the water so to speak, doing anything I didn’t understand sent me skittering back into the shadows. That fear was intimidating in itself. Simply put, I was afraid of fear. I never understood how Maggie – or for that matter, how little Ruth could run into the unknown and embrace it. I ran the opposite way and never let it touch me.
Everything in my life changed that day in the forest. Everything except my fear. That only got worse. So, like I have always done with my nightmares, I blocked everything out. The images, the pain, the knowledge that day had wrought on us was gone for me. Never happened. Because admitting it had happened was too terrifying to consider.
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In “Somewhere to Dream,” Adelaide has the ability to dream of what will happen in the future, but she blocks out her ability to use it because she’s too afraid of what she might see. Do you wish you could see into the future—even if you might not be able to change the outcome?
About the Author
Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing oboe). While on a ski vacation in Alberta she met a really cute guy in the chairlift line-up and they skied together for two days. After the second day she decided she had to have him … permanently. The couple (now husband & wife) subsequently moved to Calgary and brought two beautiful and talented daughters into the world. They recently settled in a small, quiet town in Nova Scotia and are loving their new life.
Writing became an essential part of Genevieve’s life a few years ago, when she began to write her debut novel, Under the Same Sky. Her second book, Sound of the Heart was published by Penguin in 2012. Somewhere to Dream, the third in the series, was released this month.