Last night I dreamt that Rebecca was alive again. She rose from the lake like some exotic creature of mythology, an undine, graceful, lithe and ravishingly beautiful. As I watched from the shore, she raised her slender arms, and the fluid allure of the water nymph became the sinuous suppleness of a sea serpent, the breathtaking smile transformed into the glittering grin of a sea witch. She glided across the glassy moonlit surface, her gleaming eyes riveted on my trembling form, as I stood paralyzed and helpless at the water’s edge. She reached out to touch me; then the frightening spectre vanished, for with the supernatural ease borne of those who wander through the land of dreams, I was rescued from her clutches and transported far from the lake.
Now I was standing on the twisted drive that wound its way through whitened beeches and stunted oaks, meandering east, then west taking me away from Manderley and offering an escape from the vengeful creature who waited for me at the shore. But as I began to walk in the direction that, somehow, in my sleep, I knew led towards the gates, the forest closed in on me. The path narrowed, overgrown with strange and frightening shrubs that I could not recognize, and the pale beeches twined their branches overhead, creating a vault above my head—and suddenly I realized that I had strayed into the Manderley of fiction; this was the wild and unkempt forest of the novel, not the estate that I knew and loved, where alders, horse chestnuts and walnut trees mingled among towering evergreens. As I tried to find my way through the skeletal branches and ugly, parasitic shrubs, I heard Max’s voice in my head reminding me that I should have dressed as Alice in Wonderland, for that’s where I belonged, in a land of make-believe.
I stumbled over a gnarled root and clutched at a stump to keep myself upright, but my heart was pounding as I forced my way along the narrowing path. Relief flooded through my soul when I spied the iron gates ahead. As I pushed my way towards them, my nightmare receded. I stepped out from the trees and the ground in front of me was clear again; the gravel restored to the drive, the grass on its verge, smooth and tended.
But then I saw her standing by the gates, the serpent smile etched on her pallid face. I was frozen with terror, unable to take even one step forward, but Rebecca opened the gates and beckoned me through.
“Why don’t you go?” she said. “You’ll never get the better of me. I’m still mistress here, even if I’m dead. I’m the real Mrs. de Winter, not you.”
Mesmerized by her soft voice, I tried to move towards her, but a low wall seemed to block my way. A fog was settling around me, covering the ground and causing Rebecca’s figure to become hazy and insubstantial. She appeared to be hovering in the air, and I realized that I was now looking at her through a tall, narrow window. Far below, I could see the lake, a gleaming mirror, reflecting the brilliant moonlight and a purple mackerel sky.
Rebecca’s mouth twisted and her eyes became cruel.
“It’s you that’s the shadow and the ghost,” she hissed. “It’s you that’s not wanted. Why don’t you leave Manderley? Why don’t you go?”
Someone else had moved behind me, and another voice was whispering in my ear, echoing the voice of the alien spirit beyond the window.
“There’s not much for you to live for, is there? Why don’t you jump? Go on, don’t be afraid.”
Then I was hurtling through space, and as I descended, the reflection of the moon became Rebecca’s face and the mackerel sky faded into darkness. From the cold, black surface of the lake below, Rebecca reached out to welcome me into her watery grave.