I first saw my guardian at age three, four years before I was expected to. She was cloaked in golden robes, arms outstretched to catch me as I fell from my fears. Her warm skin, obsidian in appearance and reflecting the soft light that surrounded her, comforted me as she saved me from my nightmares. Meeting her meant I no longer had to worry about monsters devouring me, or my family leaving me home alone in a house that, at that age, seemed too big for light to save me when it was too dark. I just knew she would always be there to rescue me from terror.
But my guardian left me once I turned seven. My four years of protection were over, and I had to begin facing the darkness of the world I was born into alone. Nightmares weren’t the worst thing I could experience without her. When you’re “blessed” like we are in my family, you’re subject to things that are hard to explain and painful to remember.
Have you ever smelled the stench of jumbies dwelling where they shouldn’t be? Have you ever risen in the middle of the night because you can feel lost souls calling out to you for help as though you were their messiah?
I was raised in a home where Kosher Salt was always in stock, not for cooking, but for ritual. Spirit boards were employed to speak to fallen relatives, and there was no secret that herbs could mingle for evil and words could heal if you spoke the language of your ancestors with your fingertips.
And I speak that language well, well enough to know that my headaches aren’t the kind you can cure with medicine but the kind that come when your energy is being drained by forces trying to tell you something. Going to bed with those pains mean visions are coming, whether you like it or not. And seeing the future never gets easier to stomach.
Sometimes you can prevent things, and sometimes you can’t despite all your efforts. My guardian isn’t here to save me from my fear, and it’s not as if she could have ever saved me from the future. I am older now, left to the devices that have made their way through generations to me.
Last night, before going to sleep, I lit two candles and placed red crosses around my bed. I spread salt, mint leaves, and sage at the threshold of my door. I went to bed with my phone in my hand, staring at the date displayed on my screen until my eyes burned. If anything was to come for me, it would not take me in my sleep.
And now I wake up hoping that today is not the day I’ve been worrying about for so long.
Pray for me.