I’ve been trapped here for a long time. A long time. I know this because after a while I forget how to define an hour, a day, a week. It feels like I’m contained under water, and all I can hear is the waves lapping at my ears. My vision is blurred. I see objects, people, but not detail. I forget detail. Can you miss something that you have forgotten? I remember words I once used. Stair. Vase. Key. I forget to what they refer. A strange world to which I am no longer connected.
I try to break free. I scream until the water around my head almost drowns me. I try to reach out, grab something or someone, but they cannot see or feel me. I wonder if they cannot see me in the same way I cannot see them. Just moving, man-shaped haziness. I have tried to call out: ‘help me, I am trapped; I do not know the way out’, but they do not hear me, and I fight against the current in my own sphere to be heard.
The paleness goes on forever. I can see only a short distance around me. The rest is obscure. I am numb for the most part. I do not feel my body. I am transparent, weightless. Sometimes I feel prickles where my arms would be, and this brings me comfort. If I focus hard enough, I can sometimes move things on the other side, small things, like a book or a glass. This also brings me comfort. Perhaps if they see that it has moved, they will rescue me from this translucent prison. I am afraid of sleep, and yet, at times I will it. I have been here for a long time.
All is still until:
I am suddenly awakened by a powerful emotion I had thought I had forgotten. It is fear, crippling fear, and it engulfs me. I am pulled forward through the partition (I am free!), and I can look down and see my body, dressed as it once was, in brown crinoline. And I am running, running down the great staircase in my home, running and trying not to look back. He is close, I can sense him. He mustn’t catch me. I am terrified by what he might do if he reaches me. I run, knocking over a table with the edge of my dress. I hear the porcelain vase smash behind me. I look back. I know I should see him, but he is not in sight. I do not slow however; it could be a trick. I can sense that he is near, perhaps just around the corner, waiting for me to stop, catch my breath, so he can have me. I see the door to the pantry, and then I am confused. I am inside, though I do not recall opening the door. I turn to check that the door is now locked and the key within sight, that he cannot get in, that I am safe. Once I lock the door, I know that I will be safe forever. It is not locked. I reach up to the lock, try to turn the tiny key, but an invisible force snatches my wrist away from the door. He has entered through the kitchen, one step ahead. He thinks I have betrayed him, but I plead and cry to him that I have not. “I am true, I am true”, I call out, not looking at his face, although I feel his eyes burning into me as his phosphorus grip burns my skin. He has a mallet in his hand, I see that, and I know, I know that if I stay there for a second longer, he will have me. I struggle to free my arm and turn, yanking at the door and then running, running down the corridor, through the hallway, the sound of broken porcelain beneath my feet. I run up the staircase and turn into the corridor and then stop suddenly. Something is different. Where is the damp, musty scent from the drapes at the window? The soft smell of burning from invalid grandmama’s fire one floor above? And then I look around and see. This is not my house. It has changed. I see unfamiliar people –a man, sometimes a little boy, a woman – all wearing strange clothing, all looking at me. I can see the details; the way the man’s moustache curls at the ends, the boy’s freckles, the woman’s fine lines around her mouth and her eyes. I see the detail, and it is overwhelming. And they can see me. And then I remember, and I start to call out: “help me, I am trapped”, but before I can finish my sentence, I am pulled backwards once more into the blue.
The fear has gone now. The red heat of panic subsides. My prison has pulled me back in, and emotion and hope is left behind in the other world. I am numb again. The water gushes back and I am still. I’ve been trapped here for a long time. A long time.