Through the bright sunlight penetrating the kitchen window, I could barely see my son playing in the backyard.
Finishing the dinner, my thoughts were chaotic about tomorrow and stuff that needs to be done.
Not only that I’ve worked two jobs, but after recent moving into a new house, there were diverse stuff that had to be fixed around, repaired…I could hardly concentrate anymore, tiredness was consuming me.
“Hey, mom!”, Mark yelled from the backyard.
“What is it, son?”, I replied.
” I found a turtle, a turtle mum….look…”, said Mark running towards the house.
With his blue eyes and curly hair, breathing deeply from running, all messed up and dirty from the grass and sand, the picture of his father flashed through my mind. Briefly, I was lost in the foggy memory of someone who has been everything to me. Once.
“A turtle!”, Mark said, amazed. Eyes wide open with fascination, he held a small turtle in his hand.
“It’s beautiful!”, I said, ” but Mark, you really should put it back were you found it.”
” Why mom? Can’t I keep her?!” Disappointment tone and sad eyes. The cute face he had made with a purpose- I can get all I want. But not this time, I decided.
“Honey…the turtle lives there somewhere in the bushes…you will take her back. I’ll give you a little bit of salad to feed it. Turtles love salad. And when you get her back, leave it be. If she wants to come back here, she will. If she doesn’t, she wont come again. She is free, and she will decide.”, I said.
Heavy, dark silence suddenly filled up the kitchen.
Like a burden, I could feel it in my chest.
“What I said wrong?!”, crossed my mind. “What?!”
And then, Mark with his head nodded down, looking at the cracked tiles on the old kitchen floor, said: “Just like daddy did?”.
When you move up into a completely new, strange town, you really feel like an alien.
I had been trying hard to blend in, but it was difficult.
The people were full of questions, analyzing me.
Surely, the rumors about a single mom with a son, was the biggest news amongst the residents. “At least, they finally have something to talk about”, I thought sarcastically.
The school was something else.
Mark found friends in a moment, and he was really good accepted in the class.
That was expected, though. Mark, a little blue haired freckled boy, with a constant smile on his face and full of energy, extroverted and funny…everyone he met was amazed with him.
He already had plans for a sleepover night this weekend, with a couple of his friends from school.
“It will be fun”, I thought. I like kids.
As a child I was raised in a house with three brothers and a sister, and there was always something going on,all of us acting like a crazy little bunch, exploring and playing around.
But, at the moment, going from work, my mind was overstretched with thoughts, plans and a shopping list.
I stepped on the road, heading for the grocery store, lost in my own tangled plans, I haven’t looked around.
Suddenly, the car drove out of nowhere, speeding right towards me.
Blue sky. Clouds. Spring breeze with a fresh scent of grass and flowers. And a stink of a gasoline, emerging from somewhere…and then the endless blackness.
Couple of months later, I was almost back in shape.
Concussion, broken leg and arm, two months in a hospital, all of that has left its mark on me.
Luckily, my best friend came to town and lived with Mark while I was recovering.
I knew her from the high school, a tiny, redhead energetic woman, now an established painter and artist.
She was always different, with her clothing style that would make you turnaround and ask yourself if the circus was in town.
A truly unique person, with a big heart and an open and sarcastic mind.
Pretty much like me. That’s why we considered ourselves more than friends, more as a sisters.
Mark was fine, he get used to live with her because he adored her, and when I came back we throw a party with a barbecue and fireworks at the end.
Only three of us, standing in the dark, hugging like a little family.
Suddenly, I jumped out of bed.
It was middle of the night, moonlight looming through the blinds and making shadows on the floor.
The rumbling sound was coming somewhere from the house.
I heard my own heart beating like a drum, and felt hands shaking from a fear.
“Marie?” No reply. I whispered once more entering her room, “Marie?!”.
She slept like a child. Well, with all that snoring not like a child.
I shook her hand. “Marie!”.
“Whaaat?”, she asked half asleep.
“Don’t you hear that?!”, I said in fear. “What? I hear nothing….”, she slumbered and turned around in the bed.
But then, the sound filled up the house, like its going to tear it apart.
Marie jumped out of the bed, and before I was even realizing what we are doing, I was holding Mark in my arms, tightly.
“Mom, what’s going on?”, he asked. “I don’t know….but it’s gonna be fine. Just stick with me, ok?”, I said.
Marie was dialing 911 from my bedroom.
I was confused by the noise. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. The kitchen, the living room…I couldn’t tell.
Marie came and said that police is on the way.
With Mark half asleep in my arms, standing there in the dark of the hallway, I felt so lost. I was afraid, really afraid.
And suddenly, some kind of golden light appeared at the end of the hallway.
Like it was coming out of the wall. I knew there was nothing, there was a wall, and an entrance to a bathroom on the left side.
“Do you see the light also?!”, asked Marie with a trembling voice.
I saw the light. It was somehow attractive, warm, soothing. Like it wanted me to come closer. But I just stood there,barefoot in my pajamas, holding onto Mark.
“Beautiful……!”, said Marie and started walking.
“Stop! Stop Marie!”, I yelled.
But she kept walking, like she was hypnotized.
The light diminished a little bit and suddenly I could see a door.
A door? “There are no doors on that wall”, I thought confused. Marie was almost at the room entrance.
I kept quiet, wouldn’t say a word. I knew she will not listen to me. I could feel it. The door was too…alluring.
Like a warm yellow embrace.
A click. From the door knob.
A squeak. From the door opening.
Marie’s footsteps echoed in silence as she entered the room behind the golden door.
All at once, everything stopped.
The noise, the light disappeared.
But the door were still there. I could see Marie, her silhouette in the dark, standing peacefully in that room. She was silent, no words spoken.
“Marie?”. No answer.
Mark was sleeping in my arms. I slowly got back to his room and put him into the bed. He was tight asleep, mumbling something as he grabbed his favourite plush rabbit and continued sleeping.
In a split second I was back in the hallway. I looked towards the door, and yes, they were still there. And yes, Marie was standing in the room, silently, in the same position as before. But now, she had spoken with a soothing voice : “So much peace…such a beauty…”
I run towards her.
I didn’t think about anything while I was entering the room, with intention to grab her, and pull her out.
But once as I stepped in, some kind of vertigo appeared in my head…and I saw everything through a light fog.
It was a room. With one window. And nothing else in it.
Marie’s face expression couldn’t be described by any other word, but a pure bliss.
I could feel something infiltrating me, too. The serenity. The joy and feeling of a complete abundance.
I was astound and felt like I never ever want to leave this place.
We looked into each others eyes, feeling the absolute understanding of each other, as we were one. I could almost hear her thoughts.
With an euphoric voice, I asked hear: “What is this place?!”
“Something celestial…….”, she said, mesmerized.
We were standing there for an eternity, or it just seemed like that.
The sunshine was already appearing through the window, when I heard a voice calling me, from a distance.
“Mom? Marie? What are you doing?”, asked Mark with a sleepy voice from the hallway, holding his rabbit in the hand.
Abruptly, I felt like I was thrown out from a sleep. Coldness surrounded me. I didn’t felt the bliss anymore, but a threat.
I felt I had to get out of there, quickly.
My feet were heavy, and I was moving slowly, towards the door. “Don’t come near baby, please!”, I said.
But Mark, with his sleepy eyes, was walking to me, wanting his mommy for a morning hugs and kisses, like usual.
I was horrified. I knew somehow that he must not enter that room.
I tried to get out, but as much I was trying, it seemed like the door were more far away then before.
Finally, I got to the entrance.
But, it was too late.
Mark stepped into the room, as I was out with one foot inside.
Golden brightness. Bunny lying on the floor. And the door closed.
I put the rabbit on the kitchen table. Marie was making coffee, singing silently.
Emptiness filled me instantly and I felt tears on my face.
“Why are you crying, for God’s sake?”, said Marie.
I replied silently: “The room. It is gone.”
“What room are you talking about? What’s gone?”, asked Marie confused.
“Everything, I said. “Everything”.