The Sometime Place
Move quickly, Vada, I tell myself. Sweep the sand away while you can see the separate grains. There's a need for haste if I don't intend to be buried, entombed when this last room fills, too. But I don't move, here in the place that is somewhere, I can't tell where.
It was yesterday, maybe, when he held my head in his hands, clever fingers feeling the ridges where the bones of my skull come together. Strong fingers like the pincers of a nutcracker. And inside where he can't yet reach, the sweet nutmeat of my brain.
I've been looking for someone in all the empty rooms. Looking for someone I can't remember but who I've searched for before, though I don't know when. The sand covered the floors then and lay in small drifts where the windows had been shattered. Before yesterday. Before, long before. Holes gaped in the roof and the fog slipped in tentatively, not meaning to stay.
I am a guest here, too.
"Pretty Vada," he said to me. "Lying Vada." Do I hear my name called now or is it an echo from before? The wind comes in underneath the door with the sand. The wind sometimes whispers Va-a-ada. But am I in the same place with only the time changed or is this place somewhere else?
The roof was intact when we were in the bed. It rained, the soft child-in-the-attic patter of rain on the roof. We were cozy in bed. "Water above and below and beside," he said because our room had a water bed that shifted beneath us while the rain tapped the roof, making just enough noise so the wash of the ocean was drowned. Monty liked the ocean.
I liked Monty. Or perhaps it wasn't really a liking. I had a compulsion for him. An obsession. I needed to pry into what was hidden behind his yellow eyes. Yellow. Like cat eyes. Possibly golden is the proper term. Or amber . I prefer yellow.
The sand is golden-tan. "Your hair is sand-colored," he said. "Or should it be hair-colored sand?" We were on the beach, far away from anyone, in the wrong season.
"What's wrong?" he said that night. Or one of the nights. "Why do you cry? You'll wash the rest of the color from your eyes--such pale, tearful eyes."
How could I tell him it was because all the rest of the rooms were empty and yet I could feel someone in my dreams calling, Va-a-ada?
Is it Monty I look for? Is he the one who must be found before he finds me first? All the other rooms are filled with sand and I'm alone in this last one. I can't sense Monty near me. Where has he gone?
I always knew when he was going to call. The phone hadn't yet rung when I knew. "Tonight, Vada? Can you get away?"
I couldn't always. Now the sand is underfoot, making the floor slippery. If the sand didn't come in so fast under the door I could remember better. But I have to concentrate instead on trying to sweep it away. And there's no place to put it except this room because I can no longer open the door.
We came to this place, if it was this place, one time when I was able to get away. "Three magical days, sweet Vada," he said to me. "And the nights to go with them, like dessert."
A happy time of touching. Of loving? "Making love to you is like nothing else--I can't compare it," he said.
"How can you make such a thing as love?" I asked him and he laughed.
Monty enjoyed laughing at me and I tried to phrase thoughts so he could. I wanted to please him because he gave me more pleasure than I needed, pleasure that could be stored up against his absence. But I can no longer reach in and fondle those memories. I've shored up my storehouse against the sand and I'm afraid to open it.
Monty was new and he was different. A new broom sweeps clean. Everything went when he came along. I was possessed by him. "You frighten me," he said. "Handing yourself over so completely when I might not want more than half."
Is that why he's gone? Too much more than half? Yet I don't think he went away from the sometime place. He's in one of the other rooms. Covered with sand, so he can't breathe. Entombed. Dead. Yes, that feels right. Monty lies under the sand.
Then who is it I look for if he's buried in the sand? Who do I remember seeking down the long corridors in the twilight with the fog wisps? All the doors were missing and the sand filled the rooms. Why is it I can't find a picture of Monty in my mind? Just the open rooms and the dusk and the sand.
Or was that the dreams?
In the dreams someone, not Monty, calls my name. Over and over, like the wind, Va-a-ada, echoing down the corridor leading to all the lost rooms. Danger threads dark strands among the grains of sand. In the dim light fear coils like the tendrils of fog, shaping ghosts, stretching out fingers to cup my head.
Not Monty's hands. Someone else, someone with nutcracker fingers, hurting me, cracking the bones so the sand can seep in. Hands that sifted the sand over Monty's face until it was covered. I must find the owner of those hands before he finds me. Yet how can I search when the door to this last room is locked? The key is not inside with me. But the sand is....
Ms. Jane Toombs was born in
California, raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, lived in those two states
and also Texas and New York before settling down in Nevada, in beautiful