You can find the first part of this story here.
A black hole sucking me in, without hesitation I find myself on the ladder retreating straight down. The ladder goes on and on but my legs do not give up. I am wondering if I have found my family’s secret end-of-the-world bunker but even aliens wouldn’t be able to find us this far down.
On and on I go, the light above me is long gone along with the rancid old house full of chores; procrastination at its best. Panic has not yet rushed over me yet, and despite being in complete darkness, I feel comfortable. The deathly silence and pitch black harmonize with each other.
The prongs on the ladder are becoming more and more spaced apart, meaning I am almost having to allow myself to fall and then quickly search for the next step. I wonder how long I have been down here for, suddenly realising I have no chance of having any phone signal deep underground.
I look down, directly below, the ground is glowing bright with the Sun’s rays. Why can I see daylight, even I know this is impossible. The oxygen levels down here surely can’t be very high, I am almost certainly hallucinating.
With one last step and my feet collide with the soft earth beneath me, I have finally reached the end, at a destination I am unaware of. Suddenly the most peculiar feeling washes over my face and glides gently through my hair, was that a breeze I just felt?
I turn around to seek the source, expecting a air conditioning vent of some sort, only to be met with the most beautiful garden I have ever seen. It is somewhere only fairies would live. The trees reach high up into the sky, a sky that could not possibly be truly there, cherry blossoms have fallen down creating a stream of pink which glides in between the many different types of flowers available. I have never in my life seen such a magnificent landscape, yet I can’t help the strong feeling of deja vu right in the pit of my stomach.
A path opens up before me, I have fallen down the rabbit hole into a land of disbelief. Either that or if I passed out climbing down the ladder and I am lying unconscious somewhere, although the first option is much more appealing.
The leaves that line the makeshift pathway dance softly at my feet with every gust of wind. With each movement the branches of the many plants whisper softly, almost singing to me. I feel at one with this garden, with the de ja vu firmly raging.
Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, apricot yoghurt and pressed apple juice on a tartan blanket. Laughter rings meaninglessly as a pink blossom catches in your hair, you catch it in your hand and hold it close.
‘’Butterflies begin their journey through life with all odds against them, so what do you think they do?’’ You smile at me, knowingly. ‘’They don’t let that defeat them. They take their weaknesses and turn them into strengths, they evolve into the best they can be.’’ You throw your hands into the air and out flies the blossom, or is it? Your warm embrace stops me from getting a second glance.
A gush of wind sweeps across me in the direction the sweetest little house.
It’s mottled grey stone walls and rustic wooden window frames only heighten my already intense emotions. I have visited this place numerous times in my dreams, so by now I am certain I am lying somewhere fighting for my life.
Without touching it the little door, which is not much taller than myself, swings open. I feel drawn to this place, like I did the summer house, the chest, the ladder. I belong here, this is where I need to be.
Stepping over the threshold into the quaint living room, fear suddenly washes over me. It is much colder in this house, the light doesn’t seem able to fully shine through the windows, the hairs on the back of my arms are stiff.
I am also not alone here, I can feel someone’s presence but I can’t see who. I need to go, go back home, even back to the dusty bug graveyard I have escaped from.
‘’Not again!’’ A frail voice squeaks from the corner of the room. ‘‘Molly… RUN!’’
My heart skips a beat and there are already tears falling from my eyes, my Grandmother; she is alive but certainly not well. Her hair, silver with age is no longer shiny and preened, it is what can only be likened to a bird’s nest. Her face is sallow and thin, almost translucent with the lack of sun exposure and I can see why.
On the walls surrounding her are figures. Shadows that loom over her tiny frame and they are making there way towards me with arms wide open, this is one hug I do not wish to receive. Without a second thought I turn and run, past the beautiful architecture, over the precious cherry blossoms crushing and ruining the pathway that lead me here.
A pain in my side causes me to slow my pace, the whispering plants are now shouting at me in a language I do not recognise. Realisation makes me remember I have a book shoved down my pants, exactly where the pain has begun, swiftly I turn to throw it away deep into the garden but something stops me.
I look, for the first time, at the book that was acquired from the mysterious chest. Emblazoned across the front in shiny gold writing is ‘The failed life and times of M.L.C.’
Everything stops. I stop my getaway, the plants revert back to whispering, the shadows are nowhere to be seen. The book feels heavy. It is hurting my arms to hold until I cannot bare it any longer and it falls, opening as it hits the floor soundlessly. Too many words fill the page, each letter is cramped and illegible. Only names stand out amongst the chaos, names I have erased from my memory. I close my eyes tightly, in the search of my nonexistent solitude.
‘’Are you kidding me?’’ He scowls, I gulp back the lump in my throat. ‘’So you think because I smiled at you once that automatically means I am willing to date you?’’ He laughs much too loud, it startles me. ‘’You need to find someone on your own level, sweet heart.’’
‘’Have you ever considered going back into education?’’ She asks. ‘’You know, the neighbours daughter is a doctor’’’ She looks away from me, ashamed. ‘’You don’t need to settle for second best.’’ She waves away my protests, her lips pursed. ‘’Do not start with the whole ‘childhood dream’ rubbish. Not today, not ever again.’’
‘’Molly, am I ok to call you that?’’ She smiles. ‘’I am afraid it isn’t good news. Your test results are back.’’ She leans back in her chair, her smug face smeared with fake concern. ‘’You can’t have children, Molly. It might be a good time to look at your options.’’
The screaming resumes, as does the delayed chase. I shake my head furiously. I am not good enough. I shake my head once again, the dizziness washes away my negative thoughts. My failures will one day be my strengths. As soon as I see the ladder I pick up my pace and jump up as far as I can, I am no one’s victim today.
I chuckle under my breath, who am I kidding, I am too careful. I am not ready to let go of everything, everything that has created the darkness within myself. This entire journey has been a figment of my imagination. I, an intelligent young woman, understand it is not possible to have sunlight and a garden under ground or for people to come back to life.
Quicker than before the ladder seems shorter, although I cannot see the end, I can feel the air lifting slightly as oxygen flows freely the higher up I get. My mind is blown and my heart cannot take any more stress today.
Before I know it I have reached the end, only to find someone has replaced the trunk over the hole. Hope rushes through my veins as I wonder if my parents have come to help, with the lack of communication it would not surprise me. Pressing my hands flat against my temporary ceiling I push up on something much lighter than I previously remember.
Sunlight once again streams down into my face, blinding me momentarily like I am a mole. I pull myself up out of this hell hole to find myself nowhere near the summer house I left, there’s no sign of the trunk with the letters and no more walnut bookcase.
I have just climbed out the boot of the old, abandoned camper in my Grandmothers front garden. In my hurried and terrified state I am wondering whether it is possible I climbed up the wrong ladder. I don’t remember seeing any other option, with my heart beat firmly in my throat I rush out of the garden and fall back onto the corroded metal gate; swallowing my frustration.
Confusion has rewound my day and my mind has decided I need to start again. It is all just too much for me to comprehend, my head begins to spin, I feel light headed and nauseous and I begin to fall. Falling down into nothingness, my mind blacks out with all memory of what I witnessed down the hole gone.
With my pulse slowing I wipe away the cold sweat, which has formed on the back of my neck, composing myself unaware of the state I was in thirty seconds earlier. I stare up at the battered old house in front of me and reread the note my Mother had left in my pocket earlier that day. Taking a deep breath I step forward…
Isn’t it amazing how our lives are a product of our surroundings, as infants we are tailored to be exactly how our parents wish us to. If you were to reverse and make the slightest change, be it the school we go to or the hobbies we have, it could be the difference between becoming a lawyer or the felon.
As children we only know what we are told and what we are told is all we knew.