They seemed to follow one another – the one that made me nervous, followed by the one that was happy, and then – my favorite – the nice one.
I wondered why. Where were they going?
They didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Above my head, the last followed the first and, then, the next, always the same. I wanted to move with them.
I reached out to them from below, but they were in another world from me, so far away. I tried to call out to them, but they never seemed to hear me.
Watching them made me happy. Then sad. My arm hit something in the dark and I cried.
Why was I always in the dark? I had been in the dark for a long time…
Things were better now, since that huge being showed up, but the darkness still made up so much of my existence…
I think I fell asleep…
More darkness. I resented it, so I cried again. My legs felt so heavy – not like before I landed here. I couldn’t pull myself up; I couldn’t even turn over. What had happened to me?
I had been an acrobat in my former life.
I wailed and threw fists at the air.
The larger being appeared again, peering over the ledge at me. It whimpered at me; I think it understood my pain. I called the being ‘Warm’ because it was. It lowered itself into my space until I thought I might be swallowed up by it. Then, it scooped me up with two long arms, smooth and squishy, that seemed to work far better than mine.
I sucked from its own breast to sustain my life during this time – this time of darkness I thought would never end. The larger being called me ‘A-E’. I knew the world by familiar sounds, but even those had changed since landing in this new place of light and dark.
The light was nice.
I felt with ‘Warm’ the way I used to feel about the darkness – when it was warm. Darkness was never warm now, but it used to be – back when that was my whole world. Back when I could somersault and my legs didn’t feel so heavy. I had to be carried around everywhere now by the higher being. My world was small before, but, at least, I had carried myself…
I finally learned the name of my whole world: It was ‘Mom’. Mom was a delightful place, full of light and warmth! In Mom, I had discovered worlds within worlds! – But everything seemed to exist in this place called Mom.
Mom was a big place…
I could roll over now in the darkness and, beyond the entrapments of ‘IB’, see worlds below and worlds above! Below, there were bodies of softness, bumpy billows, and enormous things that reached halfway to the world above. Nervous, Happy, and Nice still chased each other over my head, but beyond that, a whole sac of milky smoothness stretched out above.
What was it? What did it mean? I didn’t know yet…
I put my knees under me. I could rock now, back and forth. One day, I would leave ‘IB’ and see the whole of Mom! – There was so much to see, and I was eager!
Today, Warm had that thing on its head that looked like too much warm – like the same feeling as my former dwelling. That meant we would see other creatures and others like me. I liked that.
I fell asleep until the light-burn under my eyes made everything look like the thing on Warm’s head. There was a lot of light today; somehow, it made me sleepy.
Warm put me in the ‘BO’ so I could sit up and see the others like me. I liked that.
We followed one another like Nervous, Happy, and Nice: I picked up the nervous squish and, then, the other ‘A-E’ picked up the happy crackle, while another tested the nice squeak. We tried to throw them to each other to test; then, we’d do it all again. I’m not sure we were getting anywhere, but I thought I wanted to be an explorer forever, but then I was hungry again and didn’t want anything except my large Warm.
One day, I should like to learn the name of this wonderful huge being that fed me.
Mom was such a good place that I had almost forgotten the former place…
I put my hand on the cabinet handle and looked at Mom to test her.
“Raimie.” Her voice lowered like a truck’s growl.
I was a good tester. I smiled and put my hand back down. She liked that.
I squealed and ran away from the kitchen. Mom’s happy sounds chased me down the hall like bubbles –
Dead stop. I turned around to find Mom.
Why didn’t my mouth work like my brain? I knew the word; I just couldn’t say it. Bubbles were my whole world and I couldn’t say it!
The knees of my chin quivered. I had worked so hard to make my legs do what I wanted, but it seemed the work was never done. Now, it was my heavy tongue and unruly lips.
“Bubbles?” Mom asked.
I almost cried for joy. She seemed to be the only large being in the whole world who understood me.
“Yes!” I nodded and celebrated with my hands in the air.
O, mysterious and glorious creature that was called my ‘Mom’! Wasn’t she magnificent? Wasn’t she mysterious? She took that hard, heavy, burnt-light looking thing – the thing I could never do anything with because it was all hardness to me – and, with her breath, made entire worlds! – Shiny, round, films of glee!
It’s true that some of them popped. I didn’t like that. But some of them got away…
I think – if I could float away with them – they’d grow into great, big, full worlds of light and warmth and nice crinkles – just like my world.
“No more ‘IB’! No more crib!”
I jumped and danced on top of my new bed – a whole bed without bars!
“I can sneak to the cabinet at night and blow bubbles by myself now,” I said, chin high.
“No you can’t,” Mom answered.
We laughed. She liked that, so I liked that.
“I am master of the world!” I screamed, elated.
Mom laughed; it was the nervous color. “Ok-ay.” She made a surprised doubter’s face.
She finished putting the new bedsheets on, and I helped her straighten the furry, pink pillows. They looked good. When she hugged me, I felt warm. I hugged my pillows at night like that – to pretend it was her, to pretend I could always be warm.
Cold was the new dark. I didn’t like cold.
Standing next to the deep side of the pool made me feel cold; it was cold outside when Grammy died; cold peas on my plate were the worst; and Dad’s hugs were cold…
What did it mean? I didn’t know. I could remember thinking dark was scary; sometimes, I still thought dark was scary. But cold was worse. Why?
I think ‘Home’ was the name of our world, but Mom said the world would soon be ‘School’. I didn’t like the sound of it.
I fell out of my bed the very first night. My arm hit something in the dark and I cried.
Mom said it was broken. Mom carried me to the car, she carried me into the Emergency Room, and chairs and beds carried me after that.
The doctor said it was a ‘fluke’. Something about the way I landed.
I cried. I didn’t call it ‘fluke’; I called it ‘pain’ – mean pain! Everything hurt. Everything in the hospital was cold and, either, too dark or too light. I wondered why they didn’t paint it in the color that was nice –
Blue was nice.
Mom didn’t leave me. She never left me. They put me ‘to sleep’ and put pins in my arm; she was still there when I woke up.
“You’re such a big girl, Raimie,” she said, patting my arm.
I wanted to cry again, but how could I? She said I was ‘big’, so I tried to be.
“I remember when you were born,” she said, smiling.
“When you landed here and became mine.”
Hadn’t I always been here?
“You’ve grown so much...”
I think she was still talking, but I fell asleep… The warmth of her hand was an unspoken lullaby.
“I’m cold,” I said after waking.
The nurses – Nervous, Happy, and Nice – were on rotation. It was Happy’s turn. She fluffed my pillow, punched some buttons, got an extra blanket for me, and made my bed go up so I could sit up. Her name-tag read BO.
“BO is your name?” I asked.
She laughed. “Yes. Short for Bonnie – Okay, I’ll be back in a little while to get your lunch order.”
“Thank you,” Mom replied.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“Mayfair Hospital – You didn’t know?”
Mom smiled at me as if I should know, so I said, “Oh. Right.”
There was an ‘I-V’ sticking out of my hand. I didn’t like that; it was cold.
“Why are hospitals so cold?” I asked.
Mom nodded. “It was cold when I delivered you too.”
“When I was born, you mean,” I clarified.
“Yes. When I delivered you – when you were born – same thing, dear.”
“Didn’t Jesus say we had to be ‘born again’?”
“Yes. And He’s called the ‘Deliverer’ too,” she answered, distracted with the ‘T-V’ remote.
I thought about this for a long time. At least three minutes. I wondered why, and I wondered where we were going.
“Do we keep growing forever?” I had heard that noses always grow, which was a terrible thought.
Mom turned the ‘T-V’ off and looked at me. “Well, while we’re here, yes; I don’t know after that.”
Jesus’ world seemed so far away. I imagined reaching out to Him, but it was harder with a broken arm. Sometimes, I prayed to Him, but I wondered if He could hear me up there, so far away.
“Where was I before I was born?”
“You didn’t exist yet,” she answered. Her laugh was like tiny bubbles. “Do you remember what it was like to be in my belly?”
My nose scrunched. “No. Eww, Mo-m.”
“I’ll bet it was dark in there...” she said.
I pulled the covers up further. The cold made me feel sad. But Mom was watching me, so I watched her.
“Sometimes, we’re in the dark here too,” she said, softly. “Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? Why did your arm have to break? – I think these are questions everyone in every kind of world asks.”
“Maybe that’s why Jesus said we had to be ‘born again’, Mom. Maybe that’s how we get to His world.”
Mom’s eyes lit. They made me feel warm again.
“’Out of the mouths of babes’...” She smiled.
That was just something Mom liked to say. I don’t know what it meant…
“I hope God’s arms are as warm as yours.”
She got up and kissed my forehead. Her eyes were happy and nice, a little nervous, always hanging there over my head – her entire world peering into my entire world…
Nothing at all like that annoying toy that used to rotate over my crib.
This piece was inspired by the prompt, though not exactly fitting for the fantasy genre. I hope that's okay... Thx