Let me start by saying: This is a weird one. True or not, that's for you to decide, but either way, it's weird.
Several years ago, I went to a wedding in Cincinnati. My friends Kathy and Leon were tying the knot. Another friend, Caroline, was kind enough to let me sleep on the futon in the living room of her apartment.
The rehearsal dinner was lovely. Afterward, Caroline drove us back to her place, and we stayed up late watching The Simpsons on DVD. Eventually, we went to bed. The futon was comfy enough, but just before dawn, something strange happened. I sort of woke up. I say "sort of," because it didn't quite feel like waking... especially when I felt the presence of an old woman drift into the room through an open window. When the old woman lay down on the futon next to me and began speaking, I figured I must have been dreaming. She spoke for a long time, telling me the story of her life. I listened intently, knowing, for some reason, that her story was very important to remember.
As the sun brightened the room even more, I drifted closer toward consciousness, and soon I knew the woman would have to leave. I realized that I couldn't remember what the old woman had told me. "I need to remember you," I told her. "How?"
"You'll know me by the name Lee," she said.
"Lee?" I asked.
And she spelled it for me. "L-E-E."
I woke up and was alone, of course, the dream clinging to the corners of the room like cobwebs.
When Caroline got out of bed, I told her about the dream. "Do you know anyone named Lee?"
I certainly didn't.
She said she didn't either but suggested I call my friend Kathy who was getting married that day. I knew it was important, and what could have been more important than the wedding we were to attend that day? Kathy said she'd known someone with that name in high school. "How did she spell it?" I asked.
"Leigh," said Kathy, and I knew that wasn't it.
Anyway, Caroline and I went to the wedding and had a blast. I passed off the encounter with the old woman as nothing more than a dream. By the next morning, I'd nearly forgotten all about it.
I left for the airport that afternoon. I found my seat on the plane and opened the book I was reading. At the last second, a woman and her daughter boarded. The mother took the window seat next to me, and the daughter had the seat in front of her. Almost immediately, the woman began talking to me. At first I was annoyed, but I quickly warmed up to her. She was charming and sweet and funny. She told me about the book she was writing about her awful husband. I told her about the book I was writing--some massive brick of a first novel which will never ever be published, though at the time, it was all I could think about.
Eventually, it came out that I was working at a cancer hospital... The woman's face changed. "I'm just coming back to New York from my mother's funeral in Texas. She had cancer." I told her I was sorry for her loss. We spoke a bit more about my job, and that was that.
By the time we were about to land, we finally introduced ourselves. I told her my name, and she asked my family heritage. "My father is 100% Polish," I explained.
"Oh, I come from a long line of old Southern families. We have names like Adams. Lee. We're related to General Robert E. Lee. In fact, my that's my maiden name."
My mouth dropped open, and the woman looked concerned. "Lee?" I asked. "L-E-E?"
The woman nodded, and I tried my best to recount the dream I'd had the morning prior. She just looked at me strangely, not quite getting it...
But, if there was a puzzle to piece together, I'd finally managed to find the parts. If this woman's maiden name was Lee, then that was her mother's last name as well--the old woman who had only just passed away that week and whose funeral had been held the day before...
The plane landed, and the woman and I wished each other luck with our books and our futures. She said nothing more to me about my dream, or vision, or whatever the hell it had been. Then we parted.
I like to believe that she was merely being polite... that deep inside, she was touched by what I'd told her... by the old woman I'd seen and her story, which I couldn't quite remember.
**** Come on... that one's gotta be fake, right? Or is it??? Leave your vote in the comments below for a chance to win a signed copy of The Stone Child...****