Home > Uncategorized > Day One Hundred and Twenty-three: Awake

Day One Hundred and Twenty-three: Awake

The bedroom was ten paces to a side. Jenell had paced it out several times already, and that – like everything else – never changed. It had a sky-blue carpet and walls the color of old pine forests. There was a twin bed against the eastern wall, with a gray army blanket folded carefully at the foot and a soft, if worn, pillow at the head. Next to the bed was a table that wobbled slightly despite countless attempts to fix it. The bed was a little over six feet long, the table two feet high.

The walls were unadorned except for one fading photo print that hung near the door – a painting of a ship. She knew that ship better than she knew her own face, though she didn’t know what it was called. It had three tall masts that held up twenty-two sails, billowing against the wind. The ship was breaking through waves with the sun at its back, off to some unknown destination. Its bow was pointed towards the edge of the picture, far out of its reach.

Jenell liked it. The ship was going somewhere, somewhere off to the left of the frame. The people on the ship would eventually be somewhere new, if they ever managed to get out of the picture they were in. She could relate.

She ran a finger down the wall and tried to remember where she had first seen that shade of green. When she saw it, she smelled metal and leather, and she didn’t know why. She thought the paint should be smoother, but it felt rough under her fingertips. She took her hand away and smelled her fingers. They smelled of old paint and dust, which shouldn’t have surprised her. But it did.

There was a door, and she avoided looking at it. It was white and heavy, with one of those knobs in it that looked like a giant diamond. She could already feel it, cool and smooth in her hand, but she put her hands behind her back so she wouldn’t go and open it. Not yet, anyway.

There was nothing else to occupy her, though. She could spend more time looking at the picture, imagining the amazing places that ship’s crew would go, but truth be told she had forgotten where she thought they would end up. Try as she might, she couldn’t imagine that ship anywhere but where it was, much as she couldn’t remember anything but the room she was in.

It must have been some time, the time she’d been there. She remembered waking up on the firm and cool sheets of a bed that was just a little too firm. She woke up and folded the musty army blanket back and started at the ceiling. It was white, stippled with some kind of plaster, and there was a simple white light fixture in the ceiling. She had never seen a switch for it. When she got up, she felt rested, not hungry or thirsty or in desperate need of a toilet. She stood up and looked around the room, knowing that she’d seen it before, but never able to tell where or when. Her eyes would be drawn to the picture, and she’d spend time – though she couldn’t say how much time – imagining its voyages.

That brought her up to now. And the door. The only thing left in the room to do or to look at. The bed was made, the light was on, the picture had been thoroughly contemplated. It would have to be the door, with its flat white simplicity and the giant diamond doorknob.

Jenell flexed her fingers and rubbed her hands on her thighs. She could feel the muscles in her arms trying to grasp the knob, pull the door open, even from where she sat on the bed, and there was something inside her that begged and cried at her not to do it. To stay there, sit on the bed and look at the picture some more. Come up with something new, a new place for those sailors to go.

She was already on her feet. Her hand was reaching out for the knob. She saw, and knew what it was, but she couldn’t stop it. She watched herself in perfect stillness as she grasped the cool, glassy doorknob, and begged with herself not to open it, even as she did. The door swung open –

Jenell woke up with the sun streaming in the window. She slowly folded the musty army blanket back, down to her feet and lay for a little while in the bed, which was slightly too firm. The ceiling was a stippled white, and the light was on. She looked around for a switch, but couldn’t find one.

The walls were the green of moss after a rain, and reminded her of children. A picture on the wall caught her eye – it was a great ship, moving through the waves, its bow just about touching the edge of the picture. She stood, feeling awake and refreshed, and watched the picture for a while.

She wondered where they were going.

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  1. October 17, 2011 at 8:02 PM

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