Within a Dream, part eight

Fiction By Hannah W. // 7/7/2011


My feelings cooled somewhat as I wound through the look-alike halls in search of Molly’s room. Still, I was sour; how dare he bring up my lack of memory, rub it in my face?
            Well, I would show him.
            I finally came upon the door to Molly’s room. It was half-open, though no one was inside. I closed the door behind me as I stepped in.
            A strange feeling came over me, like being watched, only staler. Everything seemed in order as I turned in a slow circle, looking around the room. Yes, everything was as I had left it this morning. The bed was unmade, the mattress tidy, the wardrobe slightly ajar. There was a bit of water in the wash basin, and a crumpled towel beside it, but that was the only difference and not a sinister one at that. I sat down on the bed, let myself fall backward and sink into it with a sigh.
            Barely a few minutes went by before I heard the door open. I sat up.
            “Sleeping already?” Molly pulled the door shut behind her. “It’s my turn for the bed, you know.”
            “Right,” I said, standing.
            “Well, it is about bedtime, I suppose,” Molly said. “You’ve had a long day.”
            “It feels like a week.”
            “The beginning always does. But once you’ve been here for a while, you’ll adjust. You won’t notice time passing as much as you do now.”
            I decided not to argue with her, say that I wasn’t going to be here long enough to get used to anything. Instead I asked, “So how long have you been here, then?”
            “Longer than you have.”
            “Long enough to know what I’m talking about.”
            “Still not a very specific answer,” I said.
            “I can’t give you a number.”
            “But… seasons passing, something like that? There has to be some way to mark the time.”
            “There’s plenty of clocks around here if you’re so eager,” she said. “But I suggest you go to bed now, unless you want to sleep through breakfast again tomorrow.”
            “You’re probably right,” I muttered. But I was thinking about what she’d said. It bothered me for some reason, maybe even frightened me a little. I didn’t want to forget about time passing.
            Molly went to the wardrobe and opened it wide. She pulled two nightgowns off their hangers and tossed one to me. I caught the bundle of fabric easily, surprised to find that it was thicker than it looked.
             “Go on,” Molly said, turning her back to me.
            I turned too, slipped my feet out of my shoes and kicked them aside; took off the dress I was wearing and replaced it with the nightgown. It fell almost to my ankles, and the sleeves were too long, covering my hands.
            Molly laughed a little as we faced each other. “You look like you’ve got wings,” she said.
            “So do you,” I answered. “Maybe we can teach ourselves to fly.”  
            “We’re not birds, Ellen,” she said, and the cheer left her face. “Come on, now. Wash up and get to sleep.”
            I did as she said, splashing my face with cold water from the wash basin while she drew the curtains tight and hung our dark dresses in the wardrobe. Then I slid under the covers of the mattress and rolled onto my side so that I faced the door, away from her. She put out the bedside candle, and in the darkness I listened to the rustle and creak of the bed as she got in it. Finally, the only sound that filled the room was the low thrum, thrum, thrum, and Molly’s almost inaudible breathing.
            Night the second, I thought, and closed my eyes.

            I awoke slowly, like I was moving through water. My eyes fluttered open, then closed again.
            “Ellen.” Molly jabbed me in the shoulder. “Ellen, get up, for goodness sakes, or neither of us eats this morning!”
            I batted her away and sat up. “I’m awake, all right?” I glanced at the windows. The curtains were drawn back, but it was still dark outside. “Why does it have to be the crack of dawn?” Yet even as I spoke I realized that I felt wide awake. At the same time it was as if I hadn’t slept—the same strange feeling I’d experienced the previous morning. The sensation made me uneasy.
            “No complaints,” Molly said. “Get dressed and meet me out in the hall. And please hurry.”
            “Fine, fine.” I got up and went to the wardrobe and reached inside. But I glimpsed something that made me drop my hand. My dress, the one that I’d been wearing when I’d arrived. I pulled it out to take a better look. Hadn’t it been brighter? The flowers on it seemed to have faded, aged years in the sun, and there was an underlying gray hue that I didn’t remember it having before.
            “Hurry up.” I heard Molly’s voice, muffled through the door.
            I snatched out the dress I’d worn yesterday and pulled it on, laced my shoes with clumsy fingers. Then I darted from the room, blowing the candle out as I passed it. No time to think about what I’d just seen. Probably it was from the poor lighting, something like that.
            Down at breakfast, everything seemed to be in constant motion. People came in and out, grabbing this and that, less structured than lunch and dinner. They seemed distracted, rushed. I looked to Molly. Her hands were steady as they spread jam across toasted bread, or poured water from a glass pitcher. I bent over my plate, nibbling at my food, glancing at everyone else out of the corners of my eyes.   
           Why wasn’t she like them? She seemed to be taking her time on purpose, leaning back in her rickety chair, spilling crumbs across her lap with each bite.
I looked to my right, at the head of the table.
            There he sat, straight-backed and stern, his flickering eyes watching the room. No—watching Molly.
            That’s why, I thought. That had to be the reason for her nonchalant attitude, her deliberate movements. She knew he was watching, and she was putting up a front.
            It made me wonder. When she was with me, did she do the same thing? Pretend to be one thing, when goodness only knew what the truth was?
            Maybe. But Molly didn’t put on a show of liking Sergio, or even being generally polite to him. And she had extended a hand of charity, even friendship, to me. Although I did have that underlying sense that she was keeping something a secret, I had to believe that she was being mostly true otherwise. I depended on her, after all.
            I popped the last bite of toast in my mouth just as Molly rose from her seat. She brushed the crumbs off of her dress and I followed her out of the room. I moved toward the side staircase, but she waved me over to the doors that led to the dining room. “There’s no one out there at breakfast time,” she said. “The kitchen girls bring trays up to the rooms of whoever wants it.”
            “Oh,” I said, a little disappointed. I’d had a sudden thought of Charlotte, and I’d wanted to see if she would be out there, eating with all the other guests. I couldn’t remember seeing her in the dining room before, and I wondered if she was really a recluse, hidden away in her room at all times.
            “Well, I guess this is where we part ways,” Molly said as we skirted around dining room tables and empty seats. “Have fun watching the door.”
            “Fun? But I take my post so seriously,” I answered, and I was pleased to see the shadow of a smile on her face.
            “Of course. That’s why you’re standing guard, day and night.”
            Now we reached the end of the dining room. Molly turned away from me, but I caught her by the shoulder.
            “Wait,” I said.
            She did.
            “You used to be at the door,” I said. “Do you think… anyone is coming today?”
            “You never know,” she said. “Like when you showed up. What a lovely surprise.” Sarcasm embittered her words.
            “Well, then,” I said. “I’ll see you later.” I walked through the door and left her behind.
             I stood at the front door for a long time. Thrum, thrum, thrum. Thrum, thrum, thrum. I let the sound take over until it drove every thought from my mind. I forgot the last fragments of who I was.
            Thrum, thrum, thrum. Thrum, thrum, thrum.
            The sound that had bothered me so much before now became soothing, pleasant. I didn’t have to think about things, or feel things. I could simply breathe in time to that sound, blank and content.
            Suddenly a pain shot up my spine, pulsed and pounded in my temples. A flash, a blaze of red, red, red, red—
            I collapsed and the pain ebbed, leaving me on the floor, blinking as my sight returned. My heart still thudding, I stood up and steadied myself on the wall.
            I thought of the vision that had flashed so brief, so bright before me yesterday, filled with that same blood-bright red. These things had to mean something, though I didn’t know what.
            Thrum, thrum, thrum.
            I covered my ears.     


all I have to say....

is that you need to get published! You are an AUTHOR! This is an amazingly mysterious, intriguing, awesome story! I really really want to know what on earth this mansion she is in is! Keep writing! Please do!!!!

Elizabeth | Thu, 07/07/2011


The Holy Spirit is the quiet guest of our soul." -St. Augustine


This is really creepy. But entirely awesome!

Bernadette | Thu, 07/07/2011

Wow, awesome new chapter!

Wow, awesome new chapter! Please, please keep it coming! You have me totally hooked!

Mary | Fri, 07/08/2011

Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

I just devoured all of these

I just devoured all of these chapters in one sitting! Very interesting, very interesting.

E | Sat, 07/09/2011

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

 For some reason, Ididn't

 For some reason, Ididn't read these last three chapters. But now I'm caught up, and I really hope you continue writing this. It would be awesome if it could be published some day! Right now, I'm most curious about two... scratch that, three things: who is Charlotte, and why does she scare Ellen? What are the stories about The Pool? and, who is Molly? 

Laura Elizabeth | Tue, 07/12/2011

The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --