Mother-mine

I'm standing in a warm and white-washed room. The satin-lined walls, the endless ceiling above, the glossy floor below, my skin and silk shift; all a pearly white. The room itself seems to never end, as the hallway in "The Poltergeist" never ends. I fear that if I take a step, the room will extend as such and I'll forever be entombed within it's ivory walls. At the end of the pallid hall stands an upright rectangle donning a shroud of opaque ebony. There is nothing else in the white expanse; only the figure and me.

Pushing aside my fears, I progress onward, perfectly poised and oblivious to what dangers may lurk ahead. I wonder aloud, "What lies beneath the veil...?" My voice bounces off the lined walls (the acoustics are magnificent...) and back to my ears, reverberating in my head as if I keep repeating the phrase, over and over and over. The echo of my voice begins to dissipate and another voice transpires, sending out it's own lovely onomatopoeia, causing me to stop in my tracks: "Mother-mine..." I wonder where it could be coming from, what it could be, and find no possible explanation. A hallucination, maybe? I begin to move forward again, taking a fresh step, my bare feet gliding along the smooth marble floor. Another step and a familiar scent enters the hall. Smoke?

It tickles my nose, much like it did in my childhood. A few more strides and the smoke becomes stale in my nose, causing me to choke and gag on the air itself. I drop to my knees gasping for what I lack, struggling to pull some form of oxygen in to my lungs. I claw at my throat, near convulsing as the smoke seeps into my system. I can't breathe and the walls are closing in and there's no one around. Suddenly, as quickly as it had come, the smoke disappears and I can breathe again. That first sharp intake cures me and I begin to inhale and exhale steadily, regaining my bearings. Slowly sitting up, I bring my hands up to cover my eyes only to find that my fingers are a bloody mess. Had I really scratched myself so deeply? I reach up to my throat and feel nothing there, not a glimpse of discomfort or blood. I feel no pain, only ease, and at a second glance, my hands are pale and clean again. Another illusion, perhaps...

Standing feels like floating and I go onward towards the black figure. Taking a deep breath, the smoky aroma returns, but only a tickle like it had begun just minutes before. I ignore it and continue on my path. A few moments pass and a new aroma mingles with the musty smoke. The combination brings back the voice from before: "Mother-mine, 'tis Mother-mine", raspy this time. The aromas start to decay and I smell smoke and liquor and blood and death. I must keep going. The rectangle looms ahead, only 50 feet away. I'm so close, I can't be bothered by the smells. The voice goes on: "Come to Mother-mine... See? See..."

Mist forms, swirling about, creating images in my head. I drop to the ground again, plagued by a splitting headache and an image in my mind. A small girl in a yellow blouse and forest green jean shorts dashes across the room, her curly bronze hair flying and her feet bare. Dashing out the door, she stumbles through the yard, the front gate, out onto the pavement. There's glass in places, tiny shards glittering under the moon- and lamplight. She flies with the evening zephyrs and crystals fall from her eyes down to the ground below. "No, no..."

The girl is older now, still small for her age and fighting with an equally small, emaciated woman. The woman grabs the girl's hair from behind and forces her to the floor, the nails on her free hand digging into the teenager's back, ripping her black shirt. The girl attempts to lunge upwards, managing only to throw the woman off balance long enough to leap up and away. Sprinting around the corner to a cluttered bathroom, she's pursued by the woman. The girl tries to force the door closed, but the woman's rage throws it open. Before the woman can do more than punch her in the stomach the girl closes her eyes, raindrops falling down her cheeks, vanishing into the beige carpet. She pulls back her arms and pushes as hard as she can. The woman crashes through the glass of the shower door, knocking it into the porcelain tub. The girl screams and runs out, a look of fearful shame on her face. "No, God, please, no! I can't, I can't, I CAN'T!! Pleeease!" I shriek, my hands tangled in my dark bronze curls.

The two return, both noticeably older, the girl now a young woman. They're screaming, the younger crying again, this time tears of hatred. The elder has a large butcher knife poised above her head, ready to strike out, but where I cannot see. The young woman turns around to find a toddler, her sister, sobbing behind her. She picks up the screaming child, scowls at the older woman and leaves the room. Entering a dark bedroom, she lays the frightened tyke down on the bottom bunk of their bed. "It'll be alright, sweetie, I promise." She hugs the tiny child and kisses her forehead, and the child's crying ceases. "Just go to sleep. Sissy will make sure Mommy doesn't do anything stupid. I'll take care of it and then we can cuddle, OK?" The blue-eyed girl nods her head and nestles into her pillow, a near exact likeness of her sister, the only difference being the child's pin-straight, dark brown hair. The sister exits the room to find her mother. She finds her across the hall, lying on her bed, the knife on the floor smeared in blood. Crimson gashes mark the woman's forearms and rubies slide down into the navy blue cotton sheets. I cry out. It's too much, too much. It's all so familiar and I can't escape it. Jerking down my hands, I rip clumps of chestnut ringlets from my head and feel nothing.

A rush of wind passes through the enclosed hallway and suddenly the shape is there in front of me. I release my hair and stare at it. "You saw. Mother-mine is here. Feel her? She is always nearby. She never leaves. She never goes," the voice resounds, nothing but a corpse's speech reverberating through the hall. I need to see what lies beneath the sheath. I have to know....I need to know... Reaching out my hand, I grasp the cloth and pull it back....and there she is. There sits the woman of my past, her dark amber eyes burning holes into my retinas. She is just as I remember her: her dark thinning hair hangs pin-straight at her waist. Chunks of hair are missing in odd places, her face is scarred and purply-grey and her emaciated body is covered in blood and greenish pustules. The scars are apparent on her arms and match the wounds from so long ago.

I place my hand on the glass of her prison, almost missing her. She follows my lead and places her hand directly where mine is. I smile and she smiles, but only for a moment. "Mommy?" we say in unison. And then I recognize the voice from before. First light and soothing (my mother's when I was small), then a bit raspy (a smoker when I grew older), then the dead voice from just a moment before. When I scream, she screams and when I drop my hands, so does she. When I scoot back and away from the mirror, she follows, her ivory silk shift moving in the same manner as mine. Bringing my arms up, I find them to be purply-grey, scarred and bleeding and covered in pustules. The walls around me collapse and I fall onto the padded floor of my room, my cell. I'm still shrieking, ripping out my hair, my mother's hair, when a hidden door flings open and illuminated figures surround me, gripping my arms and legs as I thrash around. A sharp prick in my thigh and I realize this: Mother-mine is everywhere and everything all at once. She and are the same. I am mother-mine. Mother-mine is me.





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