Words will keep us together

Fiction, musings and all things writing by Gregory T. Janetka

Caroline

Caroline sat, hauntingly flipping through the torn, yellowed pages.  She had found the book in the wall of her room by accident, after she had put her head through it.  Other than the small headache, (and the gaping hole in the wall), she was fine.  There were many black and white photos in the book, (most with a great deal of fingerprints on them), but nothing about the people or the places was familiar in any sort of way.

It was then that she found a picture of herself.

At least she thought it was herself.  But it couldn’t be.  Why, the clothes were so different than anything she had ever seen, and she certainly didn’t know the other people involved.  In fact, it couldn’t be her because she had never been outside of her room.  It was all she knew and all that she had ever experienced.  To her, nothing else existed.

Her room had four walls, each ten feet high, painted off-white.  Above her there was a ceiling, painted blue, and beneath her a hardwood floor, painted green.  It measured 8’ by 12’.  Around the top of the walls there was natural looking light, with no visible source.  The light would begin softly when she would wake, grew brighter throughout the day, and dimmed until she went to bed.  After which, she figured, it must go out completely.

There were no windows to be seen, and no doors.

When she awakes, there is food, and the dirty dishes of the previous day are gone.  Sometimes with it she will find a book, or a toy, next to the meal.  If she had made a mess the day before, it is gone.  If she soiled her dress in any way, she finds herself in a new one.

This is how it is, how it has always been.

Within the four walls the only permanent thing she has is her bed – a small, plain mattress on a simple four post frame.  There are no sheets or blankets, as it is always 72 degrees.  She does have one white pillow (which is always bright white).  Next to the pillow is her stuffed animal, Cavity.  He is more than an animal though, more of a stuffed monster.  She loves him and he her.  It is the only thing that has ever appeared and continued to reappear every time she awoke.  Every other time a book or toy would arrive, it was gone with the next awakening.

But yet Cavity remained.  He was missing an eye (which had been stitched up), had a hole in his back, and a large bump on his head.  He was exciting, and they spent a great deal of time together.

There was not much to do, but she did not know that there was anything else that one could do.  And so her days passed.

She enjoyed the books, but had difficulty, as they often contained mysterious, nonsense words that she had no idea about.  Most of all, she enjoyed the books with lots of pictures, and so it was quite exciting when she found the photo album.

How she found it was thus – that day she had awoken to a copy of Peter Pan next to her food.  She decided that she too should fly like Peter.  And so she climbed on her bed, to the top of one of the posts, thought a happy thought, (at least she thought it was a happy thought), and jumped off…putting her head directly though the lovely off-white semi-gloss.

Once she righted herself, she got curious about the hole, and went about examining it in great detail.  She began to dig through the debris, ultimately discovering the well worn album – and so she sat, transfixed by the girl who wasn’t her.  Then the girl who wasn’t her began to age with the successive pages – leading her to the horrible thought that she too would look like this one day.  On the last page the girl who wasn’t her stood, holding a very small baby.

“How very bizarre,” she thought.

The lights began to dim and soon it was time for bed.

Upon awakening, the hole was gone – taking with it Peter, the photo album, and her dishes.  And so it began again.  Replacing it was new food and a copy of  James and the Giant Peach.  She began reading, and it was interesting, but the adventure contained within could not hold her attention.  She wanted to know more about the girl who wasn’t her.

And so she decided to fly once more.  With happy thought in tow, she flew.  Another hole appeared in the wall, another headache.  She eagerly sifted though the debris once more, but to no avail.  She tried again and again, the walls appearing a minefield of sorts.

But no album was to be found.  Or anything else for that matter.  She sat on her bed, asking Cavity for any advice.  His silence was telling.  They read some more of James together, and it gave her an idea.  Closing her eyes she stood in the direct center of the room, spun around seven times, and walked forward.  When she felt the wall in front of her, she opened her eyes.  This was the hole she would excavate.  There had to be something, it just must be well hidden.

As she started to dig, the lights overhead began to dim.  She did not have much time.  Caroline worked herself into quite a sweat, but the only thing it did was leave her rather tired.  With the room almost completely black, she stumbled to bed, and went to sleep.

Caroline struggled to open her eyes.  When she did she saw Cavity looking right back at her.  She liked it when he watched her – especially when she was sleeping.  They embraced, and she sat up in bed.  She looked around, and saw nothing of her previous work –  the walls were perfect, the floor was clean, and there was a new set of dishes, with a new set of food.  Beside it was a copy of Treasure Island.

As she ate, Caroline began to wonder all sorts of things…and then she decided to fly once more.

Perched precariously atop the second of the four posts of her bed, Caroline took a deep breath, summoned up all of her strength, and flew.  The resulting hole was larger than any of the others she had previously made.  For a while afterwards she was unable to hear herself speak, but that was soon replaced with a nice dull ring.  The light overheard was only beginning to illuminate the room, and it was then that her work began in earnest.

With perfectly manicured nails leading the way, she started ripping through the guts of the wall as quickly as she could.  All sorts of building materials went flying through the air, and by the time the light had peaked, Caroline had a nice pile of rubble sitting beside her.  She took a short break for food, discussed with Cavity the progress they had made, and went right back at it.

It was sometime after her fingers began bleeding that it happened.  She broke through.  There was something, and it was well hidden indeed.  Caroline stood deathly still, staring at the hole deep within the wall.  It was about the size of a quarter, and a small beam of light progressed through it.  She put her face up to it and sniffed.  It was something she had never smelled before, and it was delicious.

After staring at it for awhile, she backed up very slowly until she was in the dead center of her room.  Cavity wondered if she would ever move again.  Seemingly out of nowhere he then watched as she ran at full steam, punching out the quarter-sized hole, going through it up to her shoulder.

Extracting herself, Caroline walked over to the bed.
“Cavity, it’s time,” she said, grabbing him by the hand, backing up slowly.
This time she went all the way to the wall opposite the hole.  She then began screaming, her entire body shaking violently.  Holding Cavity to her chest for dear life, she ran toward the girl who wasn’t her.

-September 2007

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