This boat doesn’t take anyone anywhere they don’t want to go… (Dark Doorways #22)
The map hid itself in my back right pocket, unable to endure Eliza’s presence. So there I sat in a room with no light, folded up into a corner and staring at a gorgonized Michael. Whether he had actually been turned to stone or not was difficult to tell in the darkness; his silence was not a good sign. The ropes tying my wrists to some pipe behind me were meant to prevent movement, but I was sure I had lost all strength to move anyway.
“Comfortable?” Her voice shot across the room, piercing me like a bullet. Without being able to see her, I could only imagine that she was sitting contentedly with that nefarious smile directed at me.
“Eliza,” I began. The words came out with more effort than I thought I would need. The boat was taking everything, watching me wither away. “Why?”
“So Será wants to know why she’s here.”
Her cackle fell on my ears too harshly, making me wince like a trapped animal. It was odd, really, why it was that moment that I pictured PETA freeing animals and wondered if their services extended to human life.
“Or were you asking why I invited you into that house, why Parker lives in your mom’s house, why your mother was terrified of dark doorways?”
“Leave my mom out of this.”
The cackle returned, echoing off the walls as I tried to tuck my head into my body more.
“Excuse me?” she responded, sounding surprised for the first time since I’d met her.
“You’re evil. Vile. You enjoy seeing others’ misery.”
“Now wait right there, Missy. I’m doing a service here. This boat doesn’t take anyone anywhere they don’t want to go.”
“Ha!” The laugh burst out of me as I felt the map fluttering in my pocket. “So explain why we’ve been forced onto this boat and why you’re now holding us prisoner.”
“Fine. I’ll let you go.”
With that, the ropes fell off my hands just as a the room opened up to bright sunlight pouring in, both events happening concurrently as if she could manipulate it all at her will. I had no energy to stand, so I slumped in the corner, squinting into the new light.
A silhouette formed in the light, a woman’s figure. Eliza had disappeared: lingering, but out of sight. So this woman’s figure mesmerized me, being a possible lifeline out of this place.
“Look at you. What a good daughter, coming to visit me.”
The droplets falling from my eyes were easy to wipe away, but the feeling of making Mom proud was not so easy to discard.
“And you brought your friend, Michael?”
Michael. Turning toward him and expecting the worst, I found a confused, blinking wanderer, lost. You would have thought he just woke up from oral surgery, still not seeing the world clearly after all the anesthesia. Eliza had done a number on him.
“Mom, I’m not sure what this is. I mean, how are you here? And this of all places?”
She helped me up, allowed me to lean on her like she always did.
“Oh Sarah, we have so much time. Let’s just enjoy this moment.” She extended her arms to embrace me, and I knew then that it was really her. It was her tight hug that always lasted a few seconds too long and made me feel slightly suffocated. Her soft jasmine relaxed me as I collapsed onto her frame.
I let the pain of the last two years come out, crying for the time I had lost with her. I let myself forget about the boat and Eliza, enjoying my mom again. We fell into our old patterns easily, laughing and nudging as if she had just made her disgusting spinach pasta again.
“Let’s take Michael to that boxcar,” I offered. “We can talk more there.” Why I had been tied up, why my dead mother was walking with me, arms linked, or why I still had no energy never troubled me. I just wanted my mom.
“Yes. Let’s enjoy this.”
* to be continued…