TURNED & OPENED

BY SUZANNE MARINE

It was time for bed, and he said “lights out” even though it didn’t mean much to them.

They waited for the feel of an hour to pass before beginning. The key inserted quickly and turned, so surprisingly sure and correct. They opened the bars, the first one hesitated, felt a drop in her heart. Her hands scooped the air just beyond, circular patterns, as if it would feel any different from their cell. The second one pushed forward, knew the time might be lost forever. She had a lock on the machinations of their reality.

The first footsteps sputtered, fingers like tentacles investigating the space ahead for things that could impede. Their white, blind eyes blinked rapidly, a habit borne of fear.

Steel instruments pricked their fingertips. A wet puddle dripped off their barefoot soles.

The second one took charge, her hands deftly removing obstacles without a sound. The first one hung onto her gown, attempted to get a sense of the room.

Vinyl, swivel seats, a tightness in one. Papers in stacks that she gently swiped, leaving them askew in her wake.

Everything cold.

And that long metal table. She shuddered.

They had heard the second door open once before, the rush of humid air came from the corner. They turned to reach it. The first one held out her hand and felt bars, then bony fingers gripping them. She heard a gasp, squeezed them tight. Please keep this secret.

A steel door. The first one felt its hulking heaviness. The second one fumbled through the stolen keys. Each was tried until they felt the simple, black click. Someone in the room heard it, turned their head, thought it sounded like efficient beauty.

Hurry. The boundary blurred with cool air from the inside and warm, swamp air from there, a mixed child of sensations. They ran out, their gowns sailing in the breeze, white flags under the full moon. Grass clippings clung to their feet, their knotted, long hair soared behind them, hands reached forward towards fate.

Their toes felt the grass morph into roots and branches. Fingers trailed rough tree bark. The scent of murky water beckoned and they slipped on soft mud. The first one proposed they hide here, get some sleep. The second one feared it was too close, but knew it was good hiding. They covered themselves in mud, laid flat and let their bodies sink, the mud swallowing them slowly, leaving only mud-caked faces.

A trickle of water, silky squish through the fingers.

The pale orbs of their eyes glowed, and a reckoning settled in their chests.

“I see stars,” the first one whispered.

“How can that be? They took our sight away from us.” With bitterness.

“They’re bright with a tinge of blue. The north star is faded, but still visible.”

A pause.

 “They didn’t take away our imagination.”

A breath.

“If we can imagine it, we still have hope.”

Silence for minutes. A curve of thought turned and opened.

“Yes…”

 

© 2017, Suzanne Marine. All rights reserved.