It was a cold winter’s morning. It seemed as if freshly fallen snow had just covered the ground from the night before. However, I had no memory of the previous night, no, the previous weeks. As I opened the door to leave the warmth and hospitality I was being granted by the small shelter I noticed something quite peculiar. About halfway out the door the building began to fade away. Back and forth I went. Out and in, in and out. The building existing and not existing at the same time. As I brought myself to step fully outside everything around me disappeared. Then everything went white.
• • •
I ran. I ran for as long as I can remember. Going nowhere. Reaching nothing, nothing at all. I screamed. I screamed until I couldn’t bear to speak another word. I just sat there staring into the void that was the blankness around me.
What felt like years passed. And then one day I just decided to walk. I tried to remember how I had arrived here in this forsaken place all those years ago. “If I just hadn’t left the house” I thought. And then, I finally realized, “I’m Dead.”
But then, it happened. A single grain of sand. It was just there. “Had I just not noticed it before?” No, that couldn’t be possible. And then there was another, and another, and another… until there was a desert before me. And again, I ran. But before I could escape it a sky was drawn into existence, then, an ocean, and then people! That’s when I saw her. I saw my mother. Before I could reach out to touch her, she vanished. Along with the sand, the sky, and the ocean.
“NO!” I screamed. I began to sob. And as sadness turned to anger I began to pound the ground with my fists in a fit of rage. I was...almost….free. I hadn’t seen my mother in what felt like years since I arrived here. And after she disappeared I was left on my own. But as I tried to dig through my memory for more pieces of my life I could feel it leaving me more and more. Why couldn’t I remember my 16th birthday? All the sudden a leather diary materialized in my hands. It had my mother's named burned into it. “Julia.” I began to read the words on the page:
April 12, 2009
…. I can’t keep Jamie from running away. He’s starting to do it more and more. He keeps saying that Alex is his only friend. I want to let him feel like he’s free. Maybe I’m handling this all wrong. . . . . .
When I read those words, I couldn’t remember anything about a friend named Alex. And then, like magic, a painting appeared in the whiteness. The painting began to move, it showed a teenager no less than 15 sitting alone in an orphanage. But I couldn’t remember anything about an orphanage in my childhood. And then another teenager came to ask him what was wrong. “Nothing, Alex,” he replied. I flipped ahead further in the diary.
July 7, 2013
….. So today, we started going to family therapy for Jamie. But after we got home he asked to stop going. He said his life is pointless. He still doesn't feel loved. …..
Understand what? What could she have possibly meant? What’s worse was I couldn’t remember anything from my childhood. But before I could read another entry, the diary disappeared. “WAIT!” But it was too late, it was gone.
• • •
I awoke with a sudden feeling of coldness. I could hear a faint voice somewhere in the distance. Someone was calling my name. “Jamie! Jamie! Jamie!” “Where are you?” I shouted back.
I started to chase the voice, I chased it until I could no longer hear it.
Almost as soon as the voice faded a school playground with a sidewalk off to the side with a teenager no older than 17 walking its path. A car pulled up to the teen. A man was driving, but I couldn’t make out his face. “Jamie...” the man said. “Get lost…. dad” the teen replied.
The surrounding school grounds vanished. I began to cry. I finally understood.
I spent my life pushing away the ones that cared for me, and now that I can finally see it, I can’t do anything about it. Whatever this force is that brought me here wanted me to understand what I had done. That house years ago was my…. My family. Tears rolled down my face. “Please!” I begged (not knowing who I was asking to help me), “let me leave this place!”. I felt that I was trapped in my mind. Without any way to escape.
And then I felt it. A warm hand on my arm. And then a pillow behind my head. “MOM?!” I shouted up into the white sky. Without any response. Then, I felt a sharp pain in my arm, and a voice overhead. “Are you sure ma’am?” the voice inquired. “Yes, do it, I’m ready” another voice replied. And then I felt my eyes open. I was in a hospital bed. With my father and mother holding my hand. And Alex was there too. A nurse had just injected something into my arm. As my eyes opened, Alex said, “Goodbye, Jamie.” As I tried to say, “I love you, mom” I felt all of my bones go weak, and as she tried to shout at the doctor to stop whatever she was doing, everything faded to black.