Milk, It was just like milk in here. Something reminded Mike of his mother, how she used to hold him close and tight. He was safe from the world there in his mother’s arms, warm and comfortable. He heard her name “Elaine” as he recalled those emotions. He smiled a little to himself. This was a nice place, a place he didn’t ever want to leave. This place was a safe shelter from the shit storm his life had become. He hated every second of it, and he wanted back. Back into the arms of his mother, back where it was safe and peaceful, simple. He drifted to sleep in milky haze.
When he was finally able to open his eyes again, he immediately recognized that same smooth creamy feeling from before. The only determinable difference was he felt more aware of his surroundings like a child who’s only just figured out that there’s a whole wide world out there outside of mom's arms. He started, a room! He was in a room, he knew that for sure. It wasn’t a great deal of information, but it was a start. There were no walls though, but there were; sort of. Mike couldn’t distinguish them, but he knew they were there. So there he sat knowing he was in a room that had walls. Sitting, he was also sitting. There was that understanding that as well. He must be sitting on something right, a bench? It was the same as with the walls. He knew something had to be there, he just couldn’t actually perceive it. Everything was the same milky white and without any shadows. Just a peaceful white world.
A thought broke through, like a rude uninvited neighbor. He panicked, he couldn’t be here because it was March 13th he’d taken the day off from work so he could be in court at 2:30 this afternoon! How long had he been here? He cursed, he’d missed the custody hearing, Son-Of-A-Bitc… He slept.
Upon awakening, Mike instantly hated this room, this blank nothingness room. Confused and irritated he stood and began walking in a direction, any direction. Shit! The whole flipping floor was moving like some kind of giant roller ball. He was stuck next to the invisible bench no matter which way he tried to walk. Maybe there really weren't any walls, just the opposite of outer space an endless white nothingness.
This was a depressing feeling; he was stuck here with no hope of anything. Forgotten by his family, in some unknown place that was… somewhere. This must be how it ends he thought, I died. I must have died, and this is my isolated hell. A thought dawned on him, at least if he stayed in this place the real world couldn’t get to him. This could be his escape! Yes, this dumb white universe could be where he stayed invisible to his responsibilities. He was hungry.
Mike began yelling, assuming someone was listening, someone had to be keeping tabs on him. He was hungry and wanted to eat, screw these assholes for not feeding him. The tone of his voice began to rise and he flailed his arms at the invisible someone who was withholding his basic human right to food and freedom! “Give me something to eat! Or are you starving me too”? Still there was nothing but endless silent white, out of breath and red in the face he sat back down. Defeated and resolved to pick this one sided argument back up again he began to think. He thought about Barb and the kids, how much he cherished them. He didn’t know if he had it within him to be apart from his kids. He focused his anger at the unseen whoever they were and he was unconscious almost instantly.
He broke away from the comfort of soothing sleep when a thought about the harsh reality of his divorce came like a torrent. He fought to breathe and took a moment to slow his heart and still his mind. Barb had taken the kids to her father’s while he was at work this past September.
She had always compared Mike to her father, Harry. Arguably, Harry was one hell of a guy to be compared to. He was a man’s man with a heart of gold. Mike often referred to him as a burnt marshmallow “All bitter and crispy on the outside yet warm and gooey on the inside.” Those were some big shoes to fill, and mike had tried so hard to provide for his family. He’d scratched and clawed for every dollar they had so that Barb could stay home with the kids. Often he’d work late hours and pick up overtime to pay for dance lessons, or new cleats, there was always something to buy or a bill to pay.
It was a shock to his system when he crossed the threshold that evening. Everything was gone, there was his old sofa from his college days and the old thrift store table with a folded note on it. Somehow folded notes were always worse. He swallowed hard and fought back the stinging tears as he walked across the kitchen to the ratty table. It still had dried finger paint, play-doh stuck in the seems and that spot with the missing varnish where a science project had gone wrong. The sum of his children in a table. He grasped for the note and tried comprehending what was happening. He’d never forget what that note had conveyed, he'd memorized in one read and locked it in the vault of his memories. That one was for him though, him and him alone.
He reflected on the life he’d fought tooth and nail to build feeling all of the emotions at once. How was it possible for something so beautiful to just vanish like that? It didn’t matter anymore as far as he could figure. He was here now in the white abyss and that was all there apparently was to his world. He stood and stretched good and long, he remembered that Harry had once called it “Pandiculation.” He smirked as he set off for a nice long stroll on his roller ball floor towards the infinite white of milky peace.
Mike opened his eyes once more, he was sitting in the only chair at a ratty thrift shop table stained with memories. He stared blankly at the cream white legal documents spread out before him. He looked at his wristwatch, 9:43 a.m. March 13th. He smiled a deep soul filled smile, he still had time.
© H. S. Brewer, 2018. All rights reserved.