A Bigger Window
Tanya had been in the strange, grey world for what seemed like days. She had no way to track time – the pool of light in the center of total blackness never changed – but her bladder and stomach told her it had been at least three days.
At first she had felt … awkward … peeing on the floor, but finally she accepted that she had no choice. The grey featureless floor didn’t seem to mind particularly, and it wasn’t like anyone could see her. There was no one here. She knew because she kept shouting for them – for anyone – and was greeted by the same dead silence that had followed her since she had arrived here.
She remembered better now; she had heard something in the trunk of her car, and had pulled over to see what it was. But when she opened the trunk, something had grabbed her and dragged her inside – dragged her down through the suddenly bottomless trunk and into a pitch-dark void. Somewhere during this abrupt and airless journey, she had passed out … only to wake up in this empty twilight world.
She had walked and walked for hours; she had called out until she was hoarse. She had found the one little window, hovering in the center of the air like an optical illusion, but the girl on the other side was too scared to help her – if the girl could even hear her. She had realized after the girl ran away that the “window” was a mirror, the passenger mirror of a car parked on a quiet street. It was only a few inches across, so Tanya would never have been able to fit through it, but when she saw the girl she had hoped that at least someone would know she was stuck here.
But the girl was terrified at the talking image in the mirror, and didn’t wait to listen or lend aid. She ran quickly away from the parked car, leaving Tanya alone. Tanya had spent a long time crying about this, and staring out the little window at the night sky; it was hours before she could summon the courage to leave the little window behind, but it was too small to crawl through anyway, and anyone walking by would be as frightened as the girl had been.
What would they do anyway? If she walked by a car, and the passenger mirror started talking to her, she would scream and run away; she certainly wouldn’t know how to get that mirror-person out.
She walked and walked some more, her stomach growling. She needed food, but more particularly water, but even more particularly she needed to find a way out. If one mirror was a window into this weird place, then another might be – one that was big enough for her to climb through. She walked, and walked, and walked.
Nothing showed up.
She sat for a while and cried, struggling with everything in her not to panic. It was getting harder not to panic. But if she freaked out, or started running, she would need water sooner. Finally she stood again and went on, hoping that she was going in a straight line. It was impossible to tell in here.
She decided that she couldn’t go any further, and that she would need to lie down on the cold floor and sleep, but just as she thought this, she saw something glinting in the distance. It wasn’t much, and it didn’t immediately repeat itself, but she knew she had seen it – a gleam of reflected light.
She sprinted toward it, and was rewarded by another floating window. This one was much bigger than the first – it was big enough, she thought, for her to fit through. “Thank God!” she said, panting heavily. She could get out of here. She didn’t even care what was waiting on the other side of the floating window, as long as it wasn’t this place. She had always found so much wrong with the world … but now all she wanted was to be back in it, enjoying every single thing about it.
She stood directly under the window, looking up through it at a bright light fixture hanging from a white ceiling. White, she thought, surprised how delightful the colour white had become after being surrounded by so much grey. She could see children on the other side too – a boy and a girl, who were playing with toys she couldn’t see.
“Tom,” the girl said plaintively. “I don’t think we should have taken it out without asking Mom.”
“I just wanted to look,” the boy said. “We’re not hurting it. Besides, I wanted to see what it would do.”
“It doesn’t do anything!” the girl protested. “It’s been sitting here for half an hour!” She folded her arms across her chest. “I want to go play video games!”
“Help!” Tanya shouted, waving her arms over her head. She stretched up as high as she could, but her fingers were several inches from the window. “Help me!”
Tom’s head spun around to look at her – he had heard her! “Help!” she shouted again, waving with bigger gestures. “Help! I’m down here!”
The girl had heard her too. She and Tom stared wide-eyed down at Tanya, and then the girl gave a blood-curdling scream. Tom didn’t scream, but his face had turned completely pale, and he grabbed frantically for the little girl’s hand. “Come on!” he shouted, and pulled the little girl away from the window.
“No!” Tanya shrieked in despair. The panic she had been trying so hard to quell rushed over her now in waves. “Come back! Come back!” She yelled until her voice was hoarse; she yelled until her energy drained, and she sank down to her knees underneath the window. “Why?” she asked. “Why is this happening to me?” She looked up at the window, at the white ceiling on the other side of it, and at the light fixture that shed yellow light onto her face. “Please come back,” she whispered.
This time, she vowed, she would not move from this spot. She would stay right here until someone came to help her, or until she figured out a way to help herself. She wouldn’t get up, or go anywhere, or even go to sleep.
She would wait forever if she had to.