It was exactly like the nightmare. That one where your mouth is wide open and you’re emptying your lungs, giving it everything you’ve got, but nothing comes out, no sound, not a peep. It feels like there’s no air inside of you and however much noise you think is about to come out, there’s just… silence.
You see these stories all the time, it’s almost common for this to happen to somebody else, but not to you. You just read about them, you’ll never be the subject of the drama, the main character.
Each day I would wait, staring at the still, un-moving walls, the sadness growing inside me like a heavy ball of despicable phlegm, stuck in my chest – one that never came to anything, just more sadness. I watched the slimmest sliver of light seeping through a gap in the wooden walls and I watched the occasional dance of shadows from passers-by, disturbing the dust that glistened in the tiny stream of sunshine. The ray of light passed me by, just missing me where I lay and it touched the wall behind me, but not close enough for me to cast a shadow onto the dusty wall where it settled. Apart from this, blackness.
Some days the world outside sounded more alive, and I knew there was a chance I could be found, someone may stumble across me, finally. But there were some days when there seemed to be no movement at all. These were the days that I wondered if the silence was a signal of the end – if the silence would just lead into an eternity of nothingness.
Some days I tried everything to get the attention of people outside, but to no avail. Other days, I just lay there, watching the occasional shadow of a passing figure in that familiar crack of light, which, coupled with the dust in its path, had become my only friend.
I regularly dreamed of my discovery – it was the only way to pass such long days. In some dreams it was a total stranger who stumbled across my dark, wooden prison, unaware of my presence at first, but rushing to my aid when they spotted me there, heaped in a corner, half covered in old rags and faded paper receipts from who knows what or when. Other days I would dream that it could have been a rescue mission, all hands on deck, that somebody out there had noticed my absence and had gone to the effort to put together a search party. Fat chance.
In some dreams it was my mother. I would lay there, hollowly observing one lonely speck of dust, lingering in the pale light and then, unexpectedly, the crack of light would dance and then expand into an open doorway, and there she would stand, happy, grateful, crying tears of joy and relief.
On a cold Wednesday afternoon, I’d say maybe 4pm from the positioning of my yellow friend on the wall, my moment came. I had planned it for so many months that the shock of being found rendered me paralysed. I imagined it, just as I always did, the dance of the light on the wall, the expanding doorway, but this time it was not my imagination, this was real, this was happening, I was being saved!
The light directly hitting me was blinding after so long in the darkness, but there she was, she really had come for me. Mother.
I could barely even tell it was her from just her silhouette in the bright afternoon light, but the colourful aura where the light shone through the wisps of her hair was unmistakable. She made no sound, but simply reached out her hand to almost touch me. But instead, she lay her hand down just next to me, and picked up her bank statement.
The drawer closed, it was dark again. But this time, my friend, my little stream of hopeful light, was gone. I was alone.
I guess it just isn’t my time. She’ll find me when she needs me. I know it.
The Missing Passport
A contribution to the series “Observations of an Inanimate Object”