by Grant Beedie
I felt as if my eyes were glued together. Hard to open among the other small details that bothered me at the time. Surrounding myself was this strange wetness all around, though I felt mostly numb. I think I might be inside a pool of water. Am I drowning? I don’t have the need to gasp for air so I quickly dismiss the previous thought. A steady pules vibrates around, like a beat of a heart that increased on a nice jog around a park and never missing its rhythm. After sometime, I felt myself drained out of this strange place, and finally, the same way that we cannot keep light away from our eyes despite having closed them, the darkness was lessened with a hint of a shine over-powering it.
When I opened my eyes, the first thing that caught my attention was, again, this one and only light source in the room. This light was blinding me despite its dim nature, almost as if I had only for the first time let my eyes experience light in general. I kept looking towards it because it gave me this sense of security that complete darkness would completely destroy.
It was a blurry light and I struggled to focus on the source that is no more than a few feet away. This same light reflected and distorted on a shape that I could barely make out.. it might be round, and one resembling the shape of a person. A woman, actually, and a small droplet of sweat shined as it reflected the lonely light in this room and it falls to my cheek.
She was sweating moderately and held me in her arms as she lay on a soft surface that was the bed, supported also by what was likely a good number of pillows.
“It’s a boy,” she said, looking straight to my eyes, confirming perhaps that she was speaking about me.
I then noticed another person nearby, beside the bed and silent enough that I failed to feel their presence so close by. The second person hums in agreement. I also couldn’t help but feel the strangeness that continue to reveal itself around my body as my arms were weak and so were my legs. When I turn to look at these limbs of mines properly, they are the size of a newly born child.
I moved my tongue around my mouth and realized that I had no teeth. Am I dreaming? The two women began speaking to each other, however, the curiosity of this dream was overwhelming that I couldn’t listen carefully. Like any dream we have, one way to figure if it is real or not is by pinching ourselves. I do so, but because of the lack of strength in this infant body, the pinch was practically non-existent, confirming otherwise would be impossible. Some dreams are realistic enough to trick the source, the brain, into believing it in as well.
“…” I must be dreaming then. That is my conclusion and I’ve grown too conscious of my surroundings… I should wake up soon.
…. But it doesn’t end.
* * *
In a moment a cheek is placed near mines and both our skins are tenderly rubbed together, affectionately transferring the feeling of being loved from a mother to her child. With every single touched transferred, with every detail being processed by my brain… it becomes clearer to me. This is not a dream, or at least, I’m beginning to believe in it more and more.
I cling on with disbelief.
I flung my small arms to her cheek and grabbed her with whatever strength I had in my tiny little hands. This illusion did not go away. Her face is close enough at this point for me to make out her details. Dark red hair as if from a rose that wilt after being left out for days, almost seemingly a dark shade of purple by adding a hint of blue but still with a dab of uncertainty. Pale skin, but beautiful in many ways. She is young, around her mid-twenties and with a life force that will guide her well for the coming decades. I believed that.
“Have you decided on his name?” asked the voice beside us, It’s too dark and she’s too far away, albeit a few feet for me to see the other woman in the room clearly.
“I have decided on the name–Liel,” said the one holding me warmly in her arms, giving me a name that I must wholeheartedly refuse.
I still have not accepted this as being reality, there is no way that this is possible. I’ve never once wanted to be held like a baby, let alone enough to be dreaming of it. I laugh at this situation and wait for it to end.
“Ah—I think he’s happy with the name,” said the other woman.
If this isn’t a dream, then what is it? Did I die? Is reincarnation real? I will consider those options. I should not deny what is going on around me.
Not moments ago I was walking down the street on my away to the convenience store.
What happened after that?
There’s no recollection of it, I merely blinked and ended up here. In the meantime, I’m handed off to the other woman, the one standing.
My pulse beats quicker. As an infant, a heart beats faster depending on how small a living thing is, but it isn’t the cause for mine. I have a sister, on that expects me home soon. In a while… she believes that I will be at the front door to greet her as she comes back from school. I spew out words that fail to make understood sounds. I struggle to move in all directions and try with all my might to leave this place and find my way back home.
I refuse to believe this is real.
“He’s not happy to leave his mother’s side,” said the the other woman, now holding me. The rustling sound of cloth is heard. The same cloth is placed to cover me and I try again to wiggle my way out from this woman’s strong but gentle hold. The woman laying on the bed laughs at the scene that is playing before her and I can’t help but believe she isn’t the cause for this misfortune. If that it is the case, then I can’t get mad at her, or either of them. They simply don’t know. Just like me… probably.
* * *
A week passes.
“One moment,” said Alice. She walks to the door and opens it for the guest that had waited outside my room. Both now made their way back to me as I can tell by the sound of their footsteps, and I am correct to believe so once their faces pop from above me as I lay down on the soft sheets and pillows of the cradle I lay on. Alice is the second person I was unable to see on my first day here, and she appears to be the maid of this home. The ‘guest’ is my mother.
My ‘mother,’ whom I will now refer to her by name, Glinn, really is my mother.. but she really isn’t. She is but she isn’t. Indeed, I would have thought it impossible since she is not more than a year or two older than I am, and so is Alice.
Our humble maid takes her job seriously. Even as my mother is away most of the time, Alice does everything from dusting the book shelves, airing out the carpet and really just maintaining anything that needs attention, which includes myself. She has black hair, and it doesn’t shine under any light, which is strange. Yellow bright eyes, too. My only guess is that there is that kind of shampoo somewhere that could only be found in a woman’s magazine that could give it that kind of color.
Since the first day all I have been able to do is collect information. As much as possible, carefully trying to ascertain my location, and planning my escape when I’m more capable. My first days here and I couldn’t help but cry.
Alice moves her hand toward my cheek and gently holds it in place with her thumb making its way to my left eye and removes the salty water that are shed for the moment.
I want to go home..
I kept thinking of every possibility that my little sister must be okay, despite me being gone away. I promised her I would never leave her, and to her I already broke that promise. Did she call the police? I have no relatives, and no one to come by to check up on her. The day I was gone from her life was a school day. She should go to someone from her school about me being gone or someone should have noticed my disappearance.
My saliva drips to my chin and is wiped and collected as if it were nectar that need be cherished, but that part is all in my head. Alice wipes off the secretion, a fluid I am incapable of stopping from seeping out of my mouth as it becomes more abundant. I can’t walk, I can’t talk, and I can barely see with my own eyes. By all means, I’m an infant. There are no signs that they believe differently either.
The walls, the ceiling, and even the floor are made from stone. Strange, but not unlikely for people with exotic tastes. This room is also quite large. The one source of light, now that it’s around noon–is the window. It’s always nice and bright in this room at noon. A single window in this large room, but a window also large and fitting for such a large space. The curtains are almost certainty made of silk, as should the sheets of my own bed be the same.
The first thing on my list is find out my location. The sooner I leave, the sooner I can return home, to where my sister is. By the looks of it, I can’t make out where this place is located. My only guess is that, while they can also speak English, nothing really sticks out as being near where I live. I could be on the opposite side of the world, knowing the language they speak does not help me. The window itself only lends me a blurry view of the sky. No trees, no grass, not even the sound of running water like a river or fountain. The wind is strong, however, and it enters the room giving off this gently breeze.
I look up a the ceiling and wonder why I am left with nothing of my former self but my memories. I have no teeth to make the sounds of my lips moving and enabling me to speak the words ‘hello.”
For now I should just act while I am here to be a child of this house that I am in their eyes. Seven numbers and an area code, is what really matters. Wait until I can speak, and wait until I am older. Perhaps I call my sister over the phone and tell her that… tell her… that… tell her what? In tone and pitch that doesn’t resemble the old me and tell her that I am her brother. I will sound like a child, and she will likely be an adult by then. She might not even live in the same place anymore. She might even hate me. If we meet, will she hear me out as I tell her of this strange journey?
Could I convince her to believe that we were once related? These are the things I can’t help but wonder in these short moments. I toss and turn the whole day thinking about these ‘what if’ scenarios, and about things that won’t be accessible to me even in the next few years.
* * *
“Still not asleep, I see,” said Alice. It is dark out and Glinn is long gone.
Alice finished her daily tasks and has been by my side ever since. Just like an infant, I grow tired between intervals, today, however, I have made it past falling in deep slumber hours after the sun has set. My eyes definitely tire as I can only stay awake for a few hours at a time, but again, this is a first. It is for the fact that I have accepted my situation that I cannot sleep.
I have accepted this situation, but that doesn’t mean I like it. It is a conflict fighting within myself to adjust to. Soon after, I have come to terms with it and fall fast asleep with the candle having been extinguished minutes before I lose myself in deep sleep while I heard Alice whisper me ‘goodnight.’
* * *
My sister stands looking at the front door, just a few feet away. She looks at the clock pointing half past three, probably having come from school just a while ago. She waits by the door and nothing happens. She walks steadily towards it, finally. Proceeds to open it slowly and lets the natural light force its way into the house. She looks at the time again and it’s already four o’clock. Again, she looks at the time and it’s already five o’clock. She looks around with just her eyes towards the lamp post that lit up a moment ago far off into the streets. It’s dark out now. She grabs hold of the door knob tightly and slams it shut with all her strength waking me in the process.
* * *
It was a just dream. I feel my heart beat quicker and try to calm it down that much sooner. I hadn’t noticed but Alice has me in her arms swaying back and forth. She must have kept her eyes on me while I was dreaming. She’s genuinely kind. I appreciate what she’s doing, even if it is her job. Once again I fall asleep.
When I wake up, it’s morning, Alice sits by the cradle as she always does since the very first day. Glinn did, too, but only for the first day. I wouldn’t care about questioning why only once, since she is technically my ‘mother,’ but it’s not like I’m obligated to care. No offence to her, but we are mentally the same age. One person is indeed enough to care for my necessities as I can’t do them myself, not for a long while anyway.
Alice makes it a routine to wash me early in the morning with just towels. Soft towels, wet and dry. She carefully cleans every part with gentle hands as one would toward an infant. One thing that can help me speed up the process of getting home is by becoming independent, or at least capable of being left alone. I would have grabbed the towel and proceeded with cleaning myself, showing that I can do so without help. However, that would prove much too soon. I’m only a week old after all.
“Now lift your other leg,” she said.
There is no expectation on her part for my reaction, that is, beyond the weird look I give her for talking to a baby. Of course, she understand this and simply lifts my little leg herself. It wouldn’t be a strange sight at all from a mother to her child, but it’s the fact that Alice gives me verbal instructions every time that led me to give her such a strange look. I’m not married, nor am I a woman, so I wouldn’t know if mothers are like this. Probably, they are. To each his own.
The next routine on her list is to breastfeed me. She is also a wet nurse, a maid, and my caregiver, or is she my nanny? It was on the first day she fed her nipple to my mouth, following the example after Glinn. It was a huge shock, but it’s not like I didn’t see it coming. I was expecting something like that, but it was something I didn’t want to have become a reality.
Have they never heard of using formulas? We are around same age, Alice and I, so I am not comfortable in these instances. In this case I kept refusing her but she tends to also be a forceful nanny. I can’t help that I have such weak limbs. Fighting and pushing her off again without any tangible results. She would just force it back in with little resistance on my part.
At some point I’ll feel an obligation to marry her. Alice is very pretty in fact, so I wouldn’t be so opposed to a ceremony. Her hair is a very dark black with her eyes diverging from pattern and are instead a light yellow. Beautiful to look at. She uses no make up, and so all her small features and details are for me to see. But I know it’s not right to take advantage in these situations, but there really is nothing I can do. She takes her job seriously. She would feed me her nipple to fall me to sleep. It doesn’t work, but she’ll keep it in there for as long as my eyes are open. It’s her way of telling me it’s bed time.
She would clean the room while in the meantime I would just lay in my cradle, again, pretending to be asleep, pretending that her milk was effective. From morning, to noon, and night. I’ve never left the room, and Alice only gives me her full attention when she is done cleaning, which doesn’t take her long to finish. She would give me a toy to play with, differently every given day. These are just toys for babies after all. Basic rattles and blocks. Toys all made sure to be large and not too small to fit in my mouth for safety. Surprisingly, none of which hint a make or model from China, or any country for that matter.
I’ll play with them for show and they only serve as a reminder that my days will continue on like this for a good long time. If I had a book, I’d most certainly read it. I would ask for one, but again, I’m too young to speak as my teeth have yet to grown in.
Normal days like these were becoming common… and they feel like they would go on forever.