She was in my dream again. I’m not sure how many times I have dreamt about her throughout these ten or so years since I first found out about her. She always seems to remind me I have a job to do, and a gift/promise to her I told myself I would deliver. It was during a hellacious June month her story captivated and horrified me.
Her story being years and years older than my own existence, one would think I could feel far away from it… protected from its horror and general, disagreeable details, I’d be able to sleep soundly, leaving her and her damn story in the past. But I can’t do it. For the life of me, I can not.
Months and years have gone by when not so much as a single sentence has been created by me to share her story. In a drawer is a stack of disorganized, incomplete manuscript pages. The bulk of the work has been lost – lost during that time in my life when ALL seemed to be lost and held no meaning. However, I still had dreams of her. Like I did tonight. I had not even been asleep three hours before my eyes were open, searching the darkness surrounding me for something moving around.
There was, as always, nothing. Just the thoughts and memories of the dream.
After a moment, I was getting up from bed, leaving behind my bed full of sleeping dogs, and a wonderful wife. I had to leave. I knew after a dream like that, after so many of them over the years, there would be no point trying to get back to sleep. Waking from a dream like that – a reminder such as that – sleep has a way of leaving me the way warmth can leave the body when the heavy, comforting covers are thrown off.
Best just to accept it’s going to be one of those nights. A night of me pulling up the saved files on my email account, rereading the facts of the case, and, with all the dedication left in me to continue on with the project, brainstorming some new brew in the brain on how to proceed.
I even keep a framed photo of her to the left of my laptop. It is a print-out image from a newspaper published in May of 1964. Her name, Ruth Gutherie, is in bold caps letters beneath her image.
How many hours have I looked at that damn photo? How many hours of pulling at what magic creative strings I may have left to try and conduct some semblance of her last days on earth have gone by? This is, without a doubt, the longest amount of time I have spent thinking about a story. And, in all honesty, it has to be more than just a story I’m writing. It’s a memorial. That is how I feel about it. A memorial to a girl that, in all harshness of how life and the world can be, could easily be forgotten. Her murder, like so many others, has become nothing more than collected data at a local library.
I’d like to change that.
So, dear Ruth, we are still in this together. I have not forgotten you. And your story will be known.