“It’s really dark in here.”
“Quiet, I thought I heard something,” we huddle close together, kneeling on a hard surface. I keep one hand on the wall, afraid to loose contact with something real, something solid in the blackness. We listen for a full minute. “It was probably just us,”
She leans against me and whispers, “things echo in here,” she affirms. She takes my free hand and pushes it away from the wall, “we should go that way.”
“I don’t want to leave the wall.”
“It’s the only bearing we have. We have no idea how big this space is. We could walk in circles.”
“Makes sense,” she doesn’t let go of my hand. “What do we look for?” she asks, knowing we cannot look for anything in this darkness.
“I’ll drag my hand along the wall. We might find a door or window or a crack of light.” We stand and we start to walk slowly, taking small steps, honoring the darkness by being as quiet as we can.
“We would see a pin point of light half a mile off in this pitch.”
“Maybe it’s nighttime outside?”
“Are we inside?”
“We must be. How could it be so completely dark? Outside there would be stars or at least a glow through the clouds. I take my hand away from the wall and put my hand in front of my face. I bring it closer. I touch my nose and still see nothing. I reach for the wall but it is no longer there. “I’ve lost the wall.”
“What do you mean? How could you lose a wall!” she sounds frantic. Only a minute ago she was willing to walk into the darkness with no concern for the wall at all.
“It’s just not there.” We walk in what we think are circles, making larger and larger imagined circles until we have lost all sense of direction.
“I’m scared,” she says in the softest whisper. Her voice fills the space, her hand and voice the only real things left in my world.
“I’ve been scared for some time now,” my remark sounds harsh to my ears. “I’m sorry, of course we’re scared.” I can hear her sniff and realize she is crying. “It’s okay, we’ll find a way out,” my words come nowhere near convincing either of us, but it’s what people say in situations like this.
“I have to sneeze,” she says and her hand pulls away from mine. There is no sneeze. In a panic I reach for her but she is gone.
“Mary,” I whisper. There is no answer. “Mary!” I shout and then scream, “Mary!” The darkness echoes her name. I collapse on the hard surface, taking breaths that are much too deep, breaths that leave me breathless. I try to slow my breathing. Tears tickle my cheeks. I rub the moisture from my face and rub it between my fingers. I lay on the ground for an unknown length of time. No thoughts. And then without reason I stand to my feet and walk. Right-handed people walk in circles to their left because their right side is stronger. Every twenty steps I make an effort to correct my path with a slight turn to the right. Plants grow faster on the side facing away from the sun. I try to remember what the sun is like but cannot; it is too foreign. I walk in twenties: twenty, forty, sixty, eighty… two thousand forty, two thousand sixty, and then I forget to count and just walk knowing I walk in a circle. The darkness has weight. The darkness becomes a fluid. When we were kids we would race each other across the pool in the summer, standing in waist high water, racing in slow motion, pushing aside the water as we ran. The sweat drips from my forehead and mixes with the tears. I hear my heart and know that I exist and then, in complete silence, all there is is the darkness.