Within a Dream, part nine

Fiction By Hannah W. // 7/18/2011


Fog licked the doorframe as I stepped outside. I stood on the doorstep; gray stone, gray sky, gray quiet—except for the thrumming. I tried to block it out, thinking of that vision, searing with blood-red and pain. I sucked in the cold air, hoping it would somehow cleanse my insides, clear my head, but it was too damp. I breathed out.
            Maybe the vision meant nothing.  Maybe it was just me imagining spooks around every corner of this unfamiliar place. Maybe I was just tired. That was certainly possible, especially due to the odd sleep I was getting here. It was sleeping, but at the same time not, like…
            A strange feeling swept over me, a blurred melding of senses and images. Movement, steady. My eyelids, heavy. Warm light on my skin, on glass against my cheek. Distant voices, low, slow, singing. My chin in my hand. Heavy eyelids, heavy, heavy. Then— shaking, waking.
            The wind blew around me as the memory faded.
            So it’s possible, then, I thought. Possible to remember. It was a memory, of this I was sure. Something far away inside of me recognized it, and so I clung to it, retracing it in my mind like I could etch it so deep that I could never lose it again.
            “You’re letting the draft in.” A voice from behind made me jump.
            I spun around. “Sergio.”
            “Aren’t you cold out there?” he asked. He actually sounded sincere.
            “A little,” I replied.
            He stepped down onto the doorstep beside me. I glanced at him, but he avoided my gaze, staring out into fog and blankness instead. “I don’t feel it much anymore,” he said.
            “Is that another way of saying I’ll get used to it?”
            “Not anytime soon,” he said. “You’re shivering.”
            I hadn’t noticed. Suddenly self-conscious, I crossed my arms, hunched my shoulders. “So?”
            “So why are you standing out here?” Now he turned to look at me. I thought I saw a flame dancing in his eyes. “Are you getting ready to run?”
            “You wouldn’t make it very far.”
            I straightened. “Is that a challenge?”
            “It’s a warning,” he said. His face turned cloudy, but even as it darkened, his eyes flared brighter. He turned away from me and stepped back inside. “Close the door,” he called over his shoulder, and was gone.
            I didn’t move. The door stood wide open behind me, even as I shivered harder, even though I thought my lips might be turning blue with cold. Finally I couldn’t stand it any more, and I tripped up through the doorway, my steps silenced by the carpeted hall. I pushed the door closed.
            Thrum, thrum, thrum.
            I felt weak, and I realized that it had to be near lunchtime. Where was Molly? I realized I didn’t want to face that narrow room full of strangers without her, even after her cold remark this morning, even though I wasn’t sure how much of her attitude toward me was an act.
            “Self-reliance!” I hissed to myself, but I ignored my own advice and began pacing up and down the hall in front of the door, waiting for Molly. Besides, I had no way of knowing what time it really was. Without the sunlight, inside the gloom of the house, it might have been the dead of night and I wouldn’t have known the difference.
            I thought of what Molly had said the night before about time, about not noticing its passing. And hadn’t she said that there were clocks around? Yet I was sure I hadn’t seen even one since I’d arrived.
            I stopped pacing. A soft sound came from down the hall. Footsteps, movement, a rustle of fabric.
            “Molly?” I called. No reply came.
            I watched as a figure emerged from the shadows. Pale and nearly transparent, like fog rolling in, she appeared: Charlotte.
            As she came nearer, she turned her gaze on me. I was swallowed up in her dead-coal eyes. But she seemed almost to be looking through me, as though I wasn’t even there.
            “Charlotte?” My voice trembled.
            She blinked at the sound of my voice, seemed to refocus her vision. Now I could tell that she saw me, from the way that she looked me up and down, furrowed her already creased brow. “Ellen.”
            She recognized me. Nervousness tingled through my body. I wanted to get away from her, but at the same time I was drawn in.
            She knew things, I thought. She had memories stronger than the fragment I had just experienced. She remembered her name. Where she used to live. She knew that she was Charlotte Bell of Copper Street.
            And I envied her that.  
            “What are you doing here?” she asked.
            “I… the door…” I shrank back, stepped forward, torn between two instincts, between curiosity and fear. Curiosity proved stronger. I made my voice clear as I echoed her question. “What are you doing here?”
            “I’m looking for—” She stopped, glanced back over her shoulder, distracted. “It was just there…”
            “What was?”
            She blinked again, stepped toward me. “You. I was looking for you.”
            “Me?” Fear took the upper hand now.
            Her thin lips parted, about to speak, but a different voice sounded down the hall.
            “Ellen!” Molly sang.
            Charlotte started, her eyes widening, flaring bright for a second before she turned and ran. Her frail-looking body moved faster than I would have expected, and I didn’t have time to react before she was gone, melded into the shadows of the labyrinth house.
            Molly came running toward me just as quickly. “Who was that?” she asked.
            I shrugged. “Some lady,” I said, hoping my voice was steady though my pulse was not. “She was a bit lost.”
            “I’d say,” Molly agreed. “She had strange eyes.”
            “You noticed it, too?”
            “What? Anyone could recognize that scared-crazy look.”
            “Oh,” I said, disappointed. For a moment I had thought that Molly had glimpsed the fading embers in Charlotte’s eyes.
            “Come on,” Molly said. “Let’s get a bite to eat. You look like you need it.”
            I let her lead me down the hall toward the dining room.
            “I didn’t expect you to be at your post all day,” she said as we walked.
            “I wasn’t exactly.”
            “Honestly, look at you.” She stopped walking and held me by the shoulders. “You look sickly almost. Should I take your temperature?”
            “No, it’s nothing,” I said, ducking out of her grasp. “I just stood out in the cold too long, that’s all.”
            She gave me a look, like she knew there was more to the story. But I just shrugged again and kept walking, and she didn’t question me again.
            At lunch, I watched Molly closely, thinking of this morning, the nonchalant act she’d put on in front of Sergio. Yes, she did it again, her voice bored when she asked him to pass her the salt. She didn’t even look at him as she took it from his hand, but he was watching her face, almost seeming to wait for her to react, meet his eyes. She didn’t. She simply pulled open her watercress sandwich and sprinkled the salt over its insides.
            This was all a game, I realized. Sergio knew she was faking, and he was waiting for her to crack, let her guard down for just a second. But she played this game very, very well.
            Why did they both carry on like this? It seemed to me that there was more between them than hostility. There was history. Molly had said they’d been friends once. And now they played masquerade against each other.
            More questions. More unknowns. Just what I jolly well need, I thought.


Nearly leapt out of my chair.....

I was so excited to see this up! Excellent, excellent stuff.

E | Mon, 07/18/2011

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


This just keeps on! It just keeps on with the mysteriousness and the unanswered questions! When are we going to find out what's really going on?!?!?! Please keep writing!

Mary | Mon, 07/18/2011

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!


Oh, Hannah! This is so good! I loved the last sentence and the fact that you used the word "jolly". Hannah, I am so excited for when you get published! I will devour all the books you will write!

Elizabeth | Mon, 07/18/2011


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

You're driving me insane!

 I want to know who Charlotte is. Why are you torturing us? Molly needs to be sick for a day so that Ellen can explore properly! But I did like this, and I want more!

Laura Elizabeth | Mon, 07/18/2011

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


I don't trust Sergio at all,

I don't trust Sergio at all, and not really Molly.  I wish these chapters were longer; you're bringing up so many questions!

Bridget | Tue, 07/19/2011

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya


Awesome. I liked the 'jolly well' too. And, Charlotte does creep me out.

Bernadette | Tue, 07/19/2011

Well done, Hannah! At this

Well done, Hannah! At this point, I'm not even sure if I should fully trust Ellen--you have my completely baffled! :)

Heather | Mon, 07/25/2011

And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"


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