Inspired by a dream I had...
It is all we can do to nod our heads with acceptance. There really is nothing to be done about it. If it means a full recovery for our son, then we must be strong enough to help him through his pain.
The curtain closes in front of us, blocking Sean from our view.
Together we stand, hand in hand, facing that dreaded curtain, waiting for it to open. Afraid of what will be revealed when it does. What feels like hours go by and still we stand patiently waiting.
“Sean will wake up in 15 minutes,” the doctor announces as he comes out from behind the curtain.
James kisses me on the cheek before leaving with the doctor. I wait for them to leave before I go in.
Sean is sitting, slouched over, in a sink with his legs crossed. The procedure they did was on his legs. Anger and confusion flood my mind. In a panic, I struggle to lift him out of the sink. What was the doctor thinking to place him cross-legged in a sink? I try desperately to wake up Sean.
A lady comes in, her arms full of boxes. “James will be coming with the children soon,” out of breath, she puts down the boxes, “You will need to hurry to get them ready. There are heavy gowns, socks and slippers in here for them.” The urgency in her voice cannot be mistaken.
I am confused. What children?
When James comes in he is holding our younger son’s hand, Neil. There are about 10 other children behind them. Everyone crowds into the tiny room. I don’t know where these other children came from or who they belong to. I just know I need to move quickly and do as I am told.
I am standing on the side of a highway. The highway dips and turns.
“Why in the world did you choose this place?” a woman says. She has a bad perm, lots of jewelry, and her face looks heavy with makeup. She reminds me of a woman from a television show in the eighties.
“Because,” I answer, “you said we had to meet you at the roller coaster. There are no roller coasters around here, but this road,” I point out to the highway, “looks like one.”
She shrugs her shoulders, “I guess it will have to do.”
“It will. We must save the children.”
“Very well. Good job. My driver will meet you back here in two hours.”
“Thank you.” I nod.
She turns her back to me to cross the road where a silver sedan awaits her. She climbs in the back and opens the window. “Don’t be late. You only get one chance.”
I watch as the car quickly drives away.
I turn around and find myself back in the hospital room. Sean is laying on a bed as James keeps peeking out the door.
“Okay,” I say, “arrangements have been made. Let’s get ready.”
I help each of the children get dressed. There are clothes for them to wear under the special gowns. It is cold outside and we have a bit of a walk ahead of us. The children are quiet and help me with putting on the clothes I hand them.
“Sean, honey,” I smooth his hair, “it’s time to get up mister.”
“Huh?” He is groggy and disoriented.
“You need to wake up now. We need to get out of here.”
“It’s clear,” James calls from the door. “They round every fifteen minutes. We don’t have much time.”
I put on Sean’s clothes and put his arm around my shoulders. “I need you to help now.”
“Okay,” he mumbles.
As he stands, he stumbles.
“My legs,” there is panic in his voice, “they aren’t working.”
“It’s okay honey,” I try to soothe him, “they are still sleeping. I will help you. They’ll come back soon.”
A tear rolls down his face and he nods. His brows furrow with fear.
“It’s okay,” I say again to reassure him. “Come now. Together.”
He holds me tight. His brother holds his other hand. James ushers us out the door. Each of the children pair up, holding hands and follow us out. James takes the rear.
Half way to the roller coaster highway and Sean’s legs start working. The remainder of our journey goes much faster. We make it to the meeting point with 5 minutes to spare. The children are anxious and cold. We huddle together to keep warm as we wait. A yellow school bus appears right on schedule. James takes Sean and Neil onto the bus first and I usher the other children on. As the last child boards the bus, I grab the handle of the door to pull myself on.
“You think it should be so easy?” a velvety voice sneers behind me.
I let go of the handle and motion for the driver to close the doors as I slowly turn around to face the voice behind me. As I turn, I hear the doors close. I discreetly wave for the driver to go.
“I tried not to think too much about how easy or how difficult it would be actually.” I say calmly, my heart pounding, threatening to give away my fear. I hear the wheels of the bus rolling away. Subtle sounds of crunching gravel. “I just thought about what needed to be done and did it.”
I hear James and the boys screaming for me. A tear borders on the edge of my eye. I can’t let it escape. I need to hold her attention; otherwise she will stop the bus. Thankfully, she is so focused on me that she doesn’t hear the bus rolling away.
“You know you can never escape me,” she says, a wicked grin on her face.
“Perhaps not,” I admit, “but that won’t stop me from trying.”
“You are wasting your time. You should just submit yourself to me.”
“That, I will never do.”
“Ah, but you should. Otherwise,” she moves closer to me, “you could just lose it all.”
“Oh,” I say, defeated, “perhaps I just have.”
“What?” she asks, confused.
The bus is now gone. It went down the first crest and disappeared. I know that James, the boys and all the other children are now safe and far away from here.
The woman shoves me but I stand my ground. She walks around me, searching the highway. “Where are they?” she screams from behind me.
“Matters not where they are,” I say, “they are not yours.” I turn to face her.
Her back is still turned to me.
A voice in my head whispers, ‘Run!’
I run straight to her back, shoulder first, I knock her over. I don’t stop running. Her hand stretches out and I feel it grace my ankle, too slow to take hold. I run down the hill, my legs fighting to keep up with the momentum that carries me. A light shines in front of me and I run towards it. Through it.
When I stop running I find myself all alone. There is no space that surrounds me. No darkness. No walls of a room. Simple nothingness.
(c) Rachel Rennie 2015