The Lady In The Purple Dress
When i was about 4 or 5 years old, my grandmother from my father’s side took me to a relative’s house in the countryside, where a family reunion would take place. I remember it being a very elegant yet antique structure, with a cobblestone base and tall mahagony walls. To be honest, everything seemed tall at that time, because it was indeed, taller than me. The house itself was built next to a lake, which was so deep in certain parts that the water looked like a portal to the void, black and seemingly empty. I, who was always excited at the sight of a body of water and the possibilities of being able to play in it, stared deeply at that lake. Ignoring the scary-looking water, I immediatly started to get ready to go for a swim. I think i was the first one ready, actually.
As the rest of my family got ready, i ran towards the lake shore and slowly dipped my foot into the water. To this day, i still remember the way it felt. In contrast to the ever-hot tropical weather, this lake felt like a tundra. It did not just feel like the cold feeling of a breezy winter night, It was the type of cold that one feels when in a state of absolute terror. The feeling crawled up my legs and up into my spine and i slowly walked into the lake, water enveloping me. As i walked, i could feel the wet, slimy rocks beneath my feet, threatening to betray my step at any moment. When the water hit me waist deep, their threats became a promise and i slipped and fell fully into the water. I panicked as water went into my mouth and nose, and quickly opened my eyes under the water to process what had happened. The panic increased as my lungs started to fill with water. I swallowed what seemed to be a gallon of water before i felt a hand grab me and firmly pull me up. My grandmother stared back at me with a mix of fright, shock and relief at the same time. She scolded me for trying to act grown and not waiting for the adults to accompany me.
I coughed up water as she carried me out of the lake, and into the house. We went inside a random room that had a bathroom attached and she set me down on the tall sink counter which was situated right in front of the bathtub. Still scolding me, she told me to stay still and left me all by myself. I heard her exit the room and close the door. Tears started pouring from my eyes from the scare of almost drowning, and my even bigger fright of disappointing my grandmother. How unlucky was i? To almost drown in waist-deep water and to risk a spanking on top of that? Not very, not in the least. My luck deteriorated even further when the weight of me leaning foward to wipe my tears and rub my eyes made me fall from the counter.
Even at that age, i knew i would either die or be seriously injured. Time slowed down to a crawl as i saw the edge of the bathtub get closer and closer. My head was an egg about to get cracked open. I closed my eyes waiting for the impact. But it never came. The smell of fresh lavander emerged suddenly, like a soft mist. The feeling of soft satin fabric pressing against me felt comforting. The touch of a woman’s delicate hands made my eyes open in surprise. Her mocha colored face was detailed beautifully by wrinkles. Her dark eyes were kind and motherly. She felt cold, but a comfortable kind of cold, like the cool side of a pillow.
We stared into each other’s eyes for what seemed like a life-time. I could sense something was wrong with her though. Despite being pressed against her torso, i never felt it rise nor fall, i never felt a heartbeat. Despite our faces being so close together, i never felt the gentle air of her exhale. Now that i think about it, she looked more like a wax figure than a person. The same expression locked on her face even after i said thank you.
Slowly, she kneeled and set me down on the floor on my rear. And just as suddenly as she was there, she disappeared. I stayed still on the floor, still looking in the place she was. When my grandmother came back and saw me on the floor, she freaked out. There was no way i would have been able to hop off the counter without injuring myself in some way. With a smile, i explained to her what happened. I told her about the nice lady and how she saved me. I could sense her confusion and watched her purse her lips, getting ready to say something and then pausing.
After composing herself a bit, she said “There is nobody wearing a purple dress in the house.” Then i learned the reason why we went to the lake house in the first place. A rememberence ceremony. Among the bouquets of lavander flowers, i saw a picture that made me freeze. It was the lady in the purple dress. She had been dead for 10 years. She drowned in the lake, and her favorite flowers were lavander. They buried her in her favorite purple dress.