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You are running through the paint splattered halls of an ancient building, stained vibrant from generations of artistry. Overlapping murals are painted on each wall molding the floors with the walls and the walls with the ceilings. Letting your fingers trail across the numerous brush strokes and layers of paint while your eyes wander everywhere, you take in each illustration. Every image tells a story about someone who used to live here, in this building. It is full of memories and ghosts from the past who continue to effect this present. A woman carries a small child on her back wrapped in blankets and sheets made of gold, a young girl runs through a field of wheat carrying a cherished doll, a musician carries stacks of sheet music to gift a prodigy, a mother grieves the loss of her child to cancer and a wanderer adventures through mysterious mountains towards heaven. As you let your fingers guide along the textures and fissures of these walls, you feel a pull to join these wandering souls. You enjoy the historical significance of the illustrations and feel the incredible pull of the memories stored in the cracks of the floors and the holes in the walls. You are a part of these paint splattered walls, leaving your own chinks in the plaster with the backs of your hands. You begin running faster and faster, while the images begin to turn into spirals of color as you run passed them. You sprint to catch up with the quickly depleting light at the end of the hall until everything fades to black.
You are standing upright in your room near the open door that is covered in various strands of beads and threads. The colors are just as vibrant in this room with tapestries on each wall surrounding you. You twirl in a trance with each foot entangling the other, staring at the circular motion the ceiling creates with the movement. Twisting and turning, you dance to a silent tune as the pads of your bare feet create a rhythm unlike any other. In a dizzy confusion, you collapse to the floor remembering the meeting in that treasured place. The way the willow branches brushed across your face and hers, how the stones clinked beneath clumsy feet, creating a much needed serenity in this chaos. Jumping to your feet, you run once more to meet her, rushing from door to door searching for the proper attire. She’s been there for you through her divorce and the travel, both emotionally and physically. You owe her your life, practically everything you hold dear today. This place is a gift from above for both of you, adventurers in search of an ocean in this desert. You trip over some of her shoes while searching for the closet holding your belongings, wondering how all of your things could be vacant as all of hers were scattered throughout. As you detangle your feet from her strappy heels, you find a locked closet in the corner of your room. The lights become dim as you fiddle with the lock, time passing without the acknowledgement of your conscious mind.
Picking the lock was simple, as your mother taught you early in life. Therefore, you deduce she has placed your clothes in a locked closet, aware and in full knowledge of your skills. You crack open the door as the light shines through into the space. What you made out to be a small space for towels and clothing before, now displays itself to be a small inner room with layers of dust and dirt covering everything inside. You then suppose this was not the closet where you would find your belongings, simply by the lack of dust shaped footprints entering the room. Your mother has not been in this room yet. In fact, you don’t remember when you last saw your mother, although her room is attached to yours. Therefore, she is most likely getting ready to meet you, just as you are getting ready to meet her in “Serenity.” Perhaps you should search for your clothes and leave the exploring for another day. However, you don’t heed your inner thoughts and continue to push the door completely into the room, leaving the space wide open to the dim lighting.
The lighting is enough to see the large queen bed inside the room, however nothing else is visible. Dust covers the edges of the engraved boards holding up the mattress, displaying the ornate workmanship that had gone into each wooden piece. You reach for your smart phone in your back right pocket and take it out in order to use the flashlight. You shine the brightness into the room, squinting into the blackness and notice the ornate drawings on each wall, including the ceiling. Someone had gone through years of dedicated hard work in order to complete these masterpieces. Why someone would lock it away behind a rusting closet door was beyond your imagining. Reflecting on the murals and tapestries throughout the halls outside your room, you notice this room has an entirely different feel to it. It’s grey and lonely, as if someone had forgotten long ago that it even existed. You sober up as you walk across the dust-covered floor to the closest piece of furniture in the room, a wooden dresser with the same workmanship as the bed. On the surface mixed in with the grime, are photographs scattered all around. It is as if someone wished to display them, yet lacked to proper tools to do so.
Moving across the room towards the ornately carved bed, the music in your head slows and quiets, blending with the creaks and groans of the old building. You shine your light on everything as you slowly walk towards the end of the room. Noticing a small shadowy bulge on the queen sized bed, you wander closer, still wondering where your belongings could have gone. Your vision fills with thin wisps of smoke as your light crawls in slow motion from the ornately carved wooden boards to the Egyptian cotton laced sheets, your eyes widen as you view the beauty of this structure. You lift your light higher onto the surface of the bed as your eyes widen, this time in complete and utter fear.
White and pale skin. Hands holding hands. Legs intertwined. Slack mouths. Glassy vacant eyes stare back at you. There are three of them. The men are lying face down on the bed on either side of the woman. She is sitting in an upright position, staring at the closet door (you). Her slack mouth is open wide as flies buzz in and out of her head. Her bony, pale hands hold the hands of the men beside her, as if they were brothers or dear friends, taken too early from this world. She is in denial of her own death in her posture and expression. This isn’t possible. This isn’t real. You slowly back out of the room, as you take years to disentangle your eyes from her vacant gaze. You finally reach the closet door, now noticing how your steps leave no imprints on the dust covered floor. You are certain of your presence in this room not moments before. No matter how you search, the room looks as if you had never placed one foot inside. You reach for the door handle and swing the rusted door shut, quickly locking it.
You need to leave this place now… where’s Mom? You are running now towards her room searching frantically for any sign of life. You realize in all of the chaos surrounding your mind, you had dropped your phone in the closeted room. The dimmed light goes dark and you are in complete blackness. You feel your way through her room back to your own room and search for the door leading to the vibrant hallways, you know are outside. Your fingers find the door frame and feel for the metal doorknob, still shaking in fear of what lay beyond the locked closet door. You turn the doorknob slowly, too slowly. Why isn’t this door opening? Are you going to be trapped in this small room forever? You’ll die first.
You hear ragged breathing. You steady your own heartbeat as you tune your ears to the noises surrounding you and freeze. Your mother isn’t here with you. Not a living soul is here right now. You can’t move. You can’t speak. You are frozen in this moment as you hear the breathing make its way towards you. You feel your hair move from someone breathing on your neck and you slowly turn around, using your peripherals in the darkness. You see her, the woman from the bed, blindly standing in front of you. She is as white as her sheets with mangled limbs, two inches from your own nose with her glassy eyes open too wide. Opening her mouth to speak, she says…
You wake in a cold sweat, frozen in fear. You lay in one spot for several hours, refusing to move a single inch in the fear you would see her blind glassy eyes staring into your own. You cannot scream because you are afraid of no one would come to your rescue. You cannot cry because her ragged breathing is all you can think about. Don’t move and don’t speak. You repeat this to yourself until your mother walks in the room and opens the blinds. You turn towards her with utter relief. As she turns towards you, you open your mouth to let out a silent scream… it’s the woman from your nightmares.