“Wha… where are you?” Maarit’s words burst from her throat in crystal bubbles of confusion.
Brass trumpets accompanied by the percussion of sheet metal hi-hats and splash, a calliope of rattletrap crowing and thin tin-bells ringing. Indeed, it was time…time to wake up.
And there was Marrit’s alarm clock turning gears, the mainspring unwinding, the arbor rotating and the little red ballerina dancing across the rough surface of her bedside table. As the clock continued its jig, Maarit lay there fatigued and confused, unable to focus her eyes. Tucked dry in her bed.
The time of her journey slipped by in the night, passed her glass of water and then off her nightstand and onto the floor where it continued its dance. Maarit, finding it difficult to rise, the sun was there first. She remained under the deep sea of blue blankets, weighty on top of her bed.
Good morning. Words to herself with a sigh, words in her head. Stretching out a bare arm and reaching for the floor to stifle the new day’s reminder, as it continued to waltz. Maarit stared at the pale skin of her hand. There were no scales or webbed fingers, no nails, and no hooks. Just the look of skin spending too much time in the bathtub.
Early morning sunshine has a reach of its own. The rays knowing the way to the gaps in her blinds and the fingers of sunshine pried the slats open a moment at a time. With the room illuminated, Maarit knew for sure, she was home. It had all been a dream, a trick of the night, a play of her mind. The curtains had closed, but now they were rising.
From the bookshelves and shadow boxes mounted on the bedroom walls, a little girl’s toys remained frozen, caught in the act, caught in the light, caught in an alarm clock dance of their own. A wild horse with its tail braided, balancing on its back legs, kicking the sky. Books of adventure, and books of great lost islands and caves.
Books of sea-creatures, stories her mother read to her, over and over, the stuff of her imagination. And a picture of her grandmother holding her warmly, Maarit turning three, a grandmother’s delight. Several dolls long forgotten, that had played well in their day, now living in the margins of yesterday’s fancy, keeping their doll eyes locked on the horse. If the dolls could speak, they would have told Maarit that the horse was alive. A wooden sailboat, lateen puffed out full and proud as this little girl’s dreams.
But it was the droplets of water tracing the line of the keel that caught Maarit’s eye, and the puddle of water that was accumulating on the wooden planks of the bedroom floor. Outlined by a ring of fine ice. And if the dolls could speak, they would have told Maarit they had been for a ride.
“Good morning Maa…” This time the sunshine was splashing from the opening of Maarit’s bedroom door. Her mother went silent, head and neck cocked in query, observing the wet patch that was spreading across the floor. A wet patch where no wet patch should be. Ice where no ice should be.
“Now Maarit that’s the last…” Tone a warning, that caught in her throat, as she considered the contents of the glass on the side table. The glass was still there, still there where she placed it the previous night. The glass filled with water and filled to the brim and reflecting the light.
Maarit’s mother was kneeling to examine the puddle when she felt the first breeze. The breeze wrapping around her bare ankles and ruffling the frills of her housecoat. A frosty chill filled the room, the scent of the sea catching her nose. And with the tips of her fingers, she broke the surface tension of the tiny pool, finding it ice-cold, and she shivered.
“It wasn’t me I didn’t do it,” whispered Maarit.
Salt. Removing her wet fingers from the pink of her lips, and she tested again with the tip of her tongue. Knowing, now believing Maarit was telling the truth.
“Where did you say he is from?”
Maarit’s dreamy eyes drifted to the paper stars she had taped to her ceiling. But the next words from Maarit startled and frightened them both.
“Help me, please help me, I’m caught in their net.”
To be continued…