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The women upstairs

In the upstairs alcove of my dream, the ghost of a young woman slips into a single bed tucked against a wall. “I’m sleeping here now,” she says, awakening two others who were fast asleep.

“This is my bed,” the other Goldilocks say. Until now, each thought she was alone, resting in peace after a hard-fought battle.

For me, in the here and now, it’s 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning. They have awakened me too and I’m chilled to the bone by the occupation of these three sisters who will not share a bed. I’m so cold, I wonder if my husband has left the window open. But it's shut and the furnace is running, even though it’s June and I am menopausal.

As I look in the bathroom mirror, I remember there is no upstairs, no alcove in this house. The spirits are not confined to a single bed in an imaginary attic. They abide with me, reminding me who I am, safe as I may now be. They are the victims; I am a survivor. They are the women we hear about on the evening news being searched for or found, the long-ago victims, and the marked-for-dead who live quietly among us now. Do something, they insist, not begging or imploring. I am sleeping here now, they say, exhausted, having fought hard for their lives and lost. Save us.
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