The Chess Master's Daughter © 2020 Tammy Rébéré
This is the inspirational story of a woman while battling life threatening illnesses, reflects on how she survived being raised by a religious, mentally unstable, alcoholic father, and eventually escaped the confines of the religion that kept her bound to her physically and emotionally dysfunctional first marriage. This is a story of strength, endurance, and self-discovery.
Excerpt from Chapter 1
The bend along the drive, together with the thickly wooded forest on both sides, made it impossible to see the house or the lake from the road. It would have been the perfect escape from the world. It would have been the perfect place to dream. It would have been the perfect place to grow up. But like the thick forest, there was a darkness that permeated everything. There were secrets. There were cries for help, but there was no one to hear. If it were not for the inner strength I had been born with, the strength to look for the occasional stream of light shining through, it would have been easy to lose my way.
It has been over forty years since I have come down this driveway. Since I stood where my house used to be. Since I stood before this lake. The grand weeping willow is sitting on the shore’s edge, with its long, leafy tendrils waving in the warm summer breeze. Beckoning me. I close my eyes and I can see the little girl I once was, with long golden brown hair, sun-kissed skin, and scraped knees, grabbing a hold of those tendrils in one big mass. Swinging out. Yodeling like Tarzan. Jumping in the water. And doing it all over again.
The sound of a chipmunk chirping in a nearby maple tree causes me to open my eyes. I breathe in deeply and can smell the rich, earthy scent of the ferns and moss from the nearby woods. I take a walk towards the road and spot a porcupine. A memory of coming home from kindergarten comes to the surface. Mr. Porcupine was his name. Not original, but the best my five-year-old self could come up with. I see myself excitedly hopping off the school bus, hurrying down the drive with a partially eaten sandwich in my hand--that had been saved from my lunch--laying it on the ground and patiently waiting for Mr. Porcupine to emerge from the woods for his dinner. The memory makes me smile and I wonder if this little guy is his descendant.
I detour from the driveway and traipse through the woods in search of my old treehouse. There are so many trees—birch, maple, oak—I’m not sure I can find it. I stop. It’s this tree. I’m sure of it. High up, there are a couple of wooden boards used as ladder rungs nailed to the trunk. I knew this was the tree! Feeling proud at remembering what tree it was soon diminished when I realized that there wasn’t anything left of the treehouse besides the rotting old boards. Teary eyed, I walk back towards the lake.
Emerging from the damp woods, the heat of the sun feels good. The raspberry bushes used to be in this spot. They’re gone now. Mmm, the taste of fresh raspberries. Imagining the look on Mom’s face when her five kids came inside with barely filled buckets and red stained mouths, causes me to giggle.
They call this area cottage country, and Chemong Lake is one of the most sought-after places in Peterborough County. When I was little, we were one of the very few families that lived here year-round, and during the winter months we only had each other to play with.
I can still remember us kids playing hockey like it was yesterday. 1973 was definitely not yesterday, but when I think long and hard about it, as I close my eyes, I can almost feel the snowflakes on my cheeks, and hear what I said to my brother Greg…
Excerpt from Chapter 4
The nightmare was often the same...
I hear noises, but I am too scared to move.
The whisper of a man’s voice is just above my ear. “I will protect you, but only if you do exactly what I say.”
I turn my head to see who is talking, and it is a tall, lanky, creature-like man with long, stringy hair, a gaunt face, and is dressed in black. He is holding an axe in one hand and a chainsaw in the other. He sets the chainsaw down and strokes my hair with his bony fingers as his breathy voice tells me that I have to get up and crawl underneath the bed. I am so scared that I wet myself. I don’t want to move but am even more petrified if I don’t do what he tells me.
He whispers in an even gruffer tone, “My name is Simon, and you must do what I say. CRAAWWL…UNDER…THE…BED.”
In panic, I grab for my pink blanket and shimmy to the edge of the mattress, and quickly get underneath the bed. It is dark with not much room and my back rubs against the wood of the box-spring. I feel cold from my urine-soaked nighty, but my pink blanket gives me some comfort as I hold it to my face and start to suck my thumb.
I can see the beast's black boots standing guard. “I promise I will protect you as long as you stay hidden. Do not move, no matter what you hear.” He picks up his chainsaw and walks out of my room.
I can hear yelling and screaming in the living room. I am so frightened, but need to see what is happening, so I leave my place of safety. I open my door as quietly as possible and hide around the corner of the living room wall. Simon has my family lined up, and they are begging him not to hurt them, but he doesn’t listen and starts swinging his axe. They scream louder. Blood is everywhere. I watch in paralyzed horror as my family is cut to shreds.
All is quiet. Everyone is dead. Mommy, Daddy, Suzie, Jennifer, Donny, and even my Greggy, are all dead.
The creature turns. He has their blood on him. He sees me, and I run as fast as my little feet can go, hearing his heavy methodical steps behind me. I slide under my bed, scraping my back. He approaches, and his boots are all I can see.
I cry, “I’m sorry Simon! I’m sorry Simon! I promise to listen. I won’t leave again. I won't disobey.”
His voice echoes. “Good. As long as you do what I say, you will not be harmed and I will be your protector.”
I awaken from my nightmare, but my eyes remain closed. I can't open them or move my body. I am paralyzed, covered in sweat and urine. I realize that I am under my bed, just like in my nightmare. I am confused as to what is real and what was dreamt. My eyelids eventually lift and the paralysis diminishes. It is pitch black and I can hardly get my eyes to focus. Then I see Simon's gaunt face peering at me under the bed. I try to scream but only a whimper comes out. He reaches and just before his bony fingers touch me, he vanishes.
I want to get out of there, but the wood scrapes my back every time I move. I wonder if Mommy is alive. I want her so bad, but I am afraid the demon man will come back, so I lie cramped and eventually fall back asleep until the morning light shines through my window.