The Drowning of 13
I knew what was coming and in some way maybe she did too. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t find her at first. She had always been fleeting and mercurial an ethereal creature of light and shadows. 13 was the first to arise and the first to fall and sadly she was never the phoenix I thought she might be. She became a screaming creature of ash, pallid and terrified. She knows these dim halls better than I do and although I chase her footsteps she seems to out fox me at every turn. So many doors here. So many keys to be found. I sigh and it is as if the foundation of this place exhales with me. It is a lonely sound. I let myself stop for a moment, here I let myself rest sitting on the ground then I leaned against a door and it opened.
I stood up and peered inside but my eyes only met darkness. Could she be in there? She could be anywhere. I opened the door and it squeaked on its hinges as if it had not been opened in a long time. I looked behind me but suddenly I was no longer in some strange dark room I was in a post card from the past staring at a girl with eyes so dark, eyes that had already seen so much but still held so much promise. I was looking at 13. I didn’t want to be. I had no urge to see her for longer than I had to, I didn’t want to understand I just wanted to get this over with. But 13’s will was not easily overcome and as I said in some ways this place was more hers than mine.
The 13 of the past laughs and I see in front of her an older boy. I remember him, but his name is just out of reach. His hair is naturally red, blonde, and brown flowing together beautifully. In 13’s hand there is a worn out ball cap, he tries to snatch it from her but she’s too quick. Instead she grabs his shirt and brings him close to her. Their lips barely touch in a chaste kiss and then she frees him from her grip and runs away laughing. Then everything becomes dark and dusty again and the place where I stand is just a room, a dark and forgotten room. I look around my eyes trying to adjust to the lack of light. I search trying to catch any sign of her but there is none. “13 if you can hear me. Just be still. Please. Just be still.” I rub my hands together. Has this place become colder or do I simply feel the chill within myself?
Back in the hallways, back in the twisting ever changing hallways I stand. I look at the labyrinth before me and feel tired but I carry on. That is what I do after all. Unlike 13, I carry on. Always finding the next moment, always letting the nightmares come and the demons speak but still I carry on. If only I could find her, if only I could find silence. I heard footsteps and the chase begins again.
I ran. My breathing was heavy; my chest was beginning to burn. Still she eluded me, and these halls seemed to change as I ran through them. I thought it was just a trick of my tired eyes until out of nowhere a wall appeared before me and it was too late to stop. I ran into it barely able to brace myself, I bit my lip and fell to the ground. Shaking my dazed head I looked again and a door had appeared it was the color of blood, a sick claret too close to the color of blood. To say I was not thrilled to follow her through this door was an understatement. But she lured me, I could feel her in that room, I could hear her breathing. I wiped the blood from my mouth and took a deep breath. This time when I opened the door it made no noise, someone had been coming to this room and very often.
Again I was met with only darkness; I waited for the light that would show me the next scene that 13 had forcing upon me but that light never came. I heard a frightened sound, but I could not find its source, it seemed to come from nowhere, and everywhere. I shook my head, “Forget it” I thought. I was leaving I could find her some other way. But I was frozen in place, whether that was 13’s doing or mine I will never know. I only know that suddenly I was with her, I was almost inside of her as I felt the sensation of weight upon me. There was a horrible smell of sweat and fear. Then there was movement, unspeakable movement and a scream that never escaped 13’s terrified lips. Then thankfully just as suddenly as it had appeared it was gone. I stood in the empty room feeling sick, feeling scared. I was also managing to feel both pity and hatred for 13. “She should have screamed.” I thought to myself. She should have run. But she was so frightened, like a rabbit caught by the light she was frozen. Did I dare blame her? Did I dare judge her? I turned and threw up, unable to control the sickness within me, what did it matter? After all this room was filth, nothing but filth. Oh 13 why did you bring me here? No, these were questions for another time. Across the room another door opened a door that was that indigo of twilight and with the chill growing deeper inside of me I stepped through.
The room was dim but I could see 13, her hair unkempt, her sleeves pulled up, a razor in her hand. I knew what was coming I looked away. She laughed and it was such a sad sound “Will you really look away like everyone else did?” I turned and I looked at her as blood was dripping down to her fingertips falling like macabre raindrops. I looked at my own arm and the tattoo there, the angel’s wing, the symbol that protects me now. She looked into my eyes. “I never made it that far. Should I apologize?” “No 13 I whispered no.” “One more,” She said and she was gone. I looked around and suddenly realized that I was trapped she had left no door for me to enter or exit. I stared around stupidly unsure of what to do next, and at that moment the floor beneath me collapsed and I fell, and I fell, and I fell.
As I fell I saw faces twisted by hatred anger. My siblings, my father crying tears of blood, each one their eyes closed refusing to look at me. Such pain grew in my heart, such pity, such empathy and the memory of the times that I had closed my eyes and cried those tears.
I reached the bottom with a soft thud and I groaned at the scene I saw before me. “13 why are you doing this? What’s the point?” She turned and looked at me and there was fire in her eyes. I knew that once again I had no choice. Her world. How I hated her world. I was in a plain room the walls were a dirty white the floor the same color. There was a rocking chair in the middle of the room. A rocking chair that I knew well. Sitting in that rocking chair was a mother thing. A thing that had birthed children and then left them in the darkness. Not a mother, a mother thing. 13 stood before it, her sleeves still pulled high, the blood now drying to a dark maroon. “I have nothing!” She screamed at the mother thing. She held her bloody hands out to it. “I have nothing.” Her voice was becoming wet with tears. “Why don’t you care?!” She screamed.”There is death inside if me and I am terrified.” The mother thing did not respond. 13 slapped her and still nothing. She fell to her knees and began to sob. I had never heard such pain before, such loneliness. And then we fell. But this time it was softly and there were no haunting pictures. We landed softly into a grey room. “Your favorite color.” 13 said. “The color of fog and rainy days, the color of the softness of your first kiss.” I went to her and placed my hand on her shoulder. Words escaped me. “Look.” She said. A pool had appeared in the middle of the room. Her dark eyes met mine. “Did you think I was stupid? No one has ever mistaken me for stupid before.” I gently stroked her hair, “No I don’t think you’re stupid.” I lifted her then. She weighed nothing; it was like carrying a ghost. I brought her to the pool and stepped into it with her. I laid her gently in the water. My tears fell onto her face and mixed with hers, I wiped them away. “I love you, you know. I always have.” “I know,” she replied. “I love you too. You grew up.” She raised her hand and touched my face. “And you are beautiful.” Still crying I said the only thing I could “I’m sorry.” She looked into my eyes. ‘I know.” She said and I lowered her into the water. She struggled only for a moment and then she was still. She was finally still. “I’m sorry.” I said again to a girl who couldn’t hear me. And then it was over