Silent Passengers – Inside the Spiral
First of all, I need to apologize for the length of this post, but it couldn’t be helped. In my last post, I mentioned the need to step outside my comfort zone as an author. Well, this is me stepping outside my comfort zone as a blogger. The following flash fiction story is part of a series that when finished, will hopefully result in a story worth reading. Once completed, I’m hoping to flesh out the story a little further, and perhaps turn it into a short ebook. We’ll see; I prefer to keep the horse before the cart.
I’m stepping outside my comfort zone, because as the story unfolds, I’m hoping to explore topics that I’ve never written about – ever. Although after this initial post, I will be making the subsequent posts shorter in length. That’s a promise, so feel free to hold me to it.
This could also turn out to a total disaster, but I won’t know until I try. At the very least, I will have enjoyed the process.
And now, I’d like to quickly introduce you to Becky. She’s a 27 year old journalist who lives in Toronto with her cat. She’s single and likes it that way. And she just published her first feature story. Excited by her first taste of success, Becky went out to celebrate with her friends…
Home Is Where the Cat Is
The sun was preparing to rise over another Toronto morning, when Becky arrived back at her creaky apartment building.
Out celebrating the publication of her first feature story, she lost track of time, as she often did while partying with the girls. Fortunately, it was Saturday, so she could sleep until at least noon.
Inside her snug apartment, White Socks greeted her with his usual affection, purring loudly as he weaves around the slight ankles of his beloved mistress.
“Hey, White Socks. Watcha doin’? You want something to eat before I crash?” Becky could hear the vodka in her voice. She didn’t normally drink so much when out with her friends. But last night was a little crazier than most. I’m gonna be hung over this time. That’ll teach me.
The walls in the apartment building were made of cardboard, affording little privacy. Becky could often hear her neighbor humming as he practiced on his guitar. So she chuckled softly. The thought of learning from one hangover striking her as more than a little funny.
What makes me think, I’m gonna learn after all these years? And besides, I have it under control. A few drinks never hurt anyone. So what’s a few more? She reasoned for the up-teen time while teetering toward the kitchen.
A few hours sleep, a quick run to clear the cobwebs, and I’ll be right as rain. Becky reassures herself as she places White Sock’s food on the floor.
“There you go, my friend. An early breakfast before I turn in. I won’t be up in time to feed you in an hour. I’ve had way too much to drink.” Becky didn’t mind admitting the truth to White Socks. He always forgave her, no matter how bad the admission. One of the reasons she loved him so much. A loyal friend to the end.
White Socks taken care of, Becky found the bedroom. The sun was just beginning to peak through the window, so she steadied herself enough to pull down the dark brown shade. She hated sleeping with either source of light. Managing to get the last of her clothes off, Becky fell onto her bed…
The Blue Spiral
One step back and I’m done. There’s no way to survive the fall. Why doesn’t she move up?
“Excuse me, miss, could you please move up a little?” The nameless woman looks back with indifference, but doesn’t move. Now what? If I move a muscle, I’m risking my life. No room for panic. Stay calm. How did I get here?
Not that it matters – the answer won’t help me. What if I turn around and go back? Too late, at least ten more have lined up behind me. The spiraling staircase reminded Becky of a white marble slide extending up and down, with no beginning and no ending.
Its surface glowed with a lustrous blue overtone. It really is a thing of beauty. If only it weren’t so damn narrow. The nameless woman in front moves ahead. Where are they all going? Becky wonders aimlessly, because she didn’t expect an answer from the others. No one else seemed concerned – their faces calm. Too calm – they look like puppets. What is this place? The silence clings to the air like an icy fog in November.
There’s nothing for Becky to do except follow the nameless woman in front of her. She can’t go back, and if she steps out of line, it’s a free fall to nowhere. Glancing down offers no clue as to her whereabouts, but an endless descent into nothingness.
What happened to her bed and warm sheets? Becky vaguely remembers going to bed. And for the first time, she notices her clothes. They aren’t hers. They look like hospital scrubs. Is this someone’s idea of a joke? Then Becky notices that everyone was wearing the same uniform, creating a perfect blue spiral as far as the eye could see.
To Becky, the whole scene feels surreal with no past or future. There’s only now, suspended in time and space on a white marble slide. What if she were to trip up?
Would they fall like dominoes? Or would they fall into the nothingness? A passing thought that Becky quickly dismissed. She prides herself on being a person who cares about others. And while she doesn’t know these people, behind those blank stares were real people.
The nameless woman in front kept moving up the line at a snail’s pace. Two steps forward, then pause. Two more steps forward, then pause. A slow dance to the top of the slide. The others were mimicking the woman’s steps with their own. Two steps forward, then pause. A pause for what? Did anyone know where they were going?
Becky wants to ask, but that would break the silence – the only sound they all shared, which united them in their dance. Its sound propelling them forward. Two steps forward, then pause. The easy rhythm clearing Becky’s mind from useless clutter. Gone was the stress. Gone was the self-doubt. And gone too, were the questions…
There was only the now, the white marble slide, and the blue spiral. Becky could see its beauty reflected in her imagination, as she closed her eyes to rest, and embraced the peace of the moment.
For in this moment, life asked nothing of her in return. Time itself had ceased to exist, replaced by the rhythm. The silence filled her senses, and she had nothing to distract her from its sweet breath.
All she had ever wanted was peace. And here it was, calling to her like a lover in the middle of the night. All she needed, was submit to its promise. The act of submission, in itself, a revelation. The questions forming of a different nature than the ones before. Why do we spend our lives rushing to somewhere else? Why do we concern ourselves with the opinion of others? Why do we try so hard to earn the esteem of others? And why do we strive so hard to create purpose for our lives?
Purpose found in the now. Are we so lost that we can’t tell the trees apart? The same trees who got it right a long time ago. There’s a season for everything. Nothing is permanent. You enjoy the sun when it shines, and the rain when it falls.
What else is there? Becky considers asking someone in line, but knows her question has no real answer. As per the norm, she’s on her own.
At long last, Becky sees something ahead. That something too far in the distance to be understood. But it could wait. The now precluding any unnecessary musings as to what it might be – best to wait with the silence.
Two steps forward, then pause. Now isn’t the time to worry about what lies ahead. She’ll find out soon enough. For now, there’s the slow dance, and the blue spiral moving to the rhythm of its passengers.
Lost inside the spiral, Becky gave herself up to its steady rhythm. The silence serenading her soul with its love song. And she too, was a part of that song. A song with no beginning and no ending. Like the spiral, it existed only in the now.
Becky couldn’t remember how long she’d been inside the spiral, but she no longer cared. The memory of her warm bed long forgotten. All that’s left is her will to keep going. And when the nameless woman moved forward once again, Becky saw another woman sitting in a rocking chair.
“Becky, my sweet child. I’ve been expecting you. It’s time to begin your journey.”
©Brenda Baker 2018
In next week’s post, Becky discovers the truth about the spiral. So stay tuned! Until next time, be kind to yourself.