(This is the next section of my WIP 'Death and Politics at the End of the World'. The first chapter can now be found at the top of the page under it's own page it you want to catch up. It might be helpful to know that you are entering an otherworldly realm as you journey with my character. It is not fantasy nor is it magical realism although perhaps that might be a helpful touchstone... things happen that are out of the extraordinary so be prepared)Relative State
The house gapes at me in surprise as though a stranger were climbing out of the rental and starting up the walk rather than the woman from child who once magic carpet rode down the stairs and swung on grinning screen doors. I launch myself up the wooden stairs and through the front door, silence wrapping around me in smothering folds. The contentment and tranquility of homecoming that bolstered me as I drove onto the island has been achingly stripped away and I stand alone in a sarcophagus of destitution.
I pause, straining for the creak of a floorboard or water meandering through pipes. “Hel--lo?” The vowels rice crispy crackle in my throat. A rushing stillness swarms into the room in reply and I glance around, claustrophobic. I back toward the door anxious to escape suffocation, frightened of the flesh-eating feeling that runs up and down my arms.
Interminable seconds later, a mattress spring groans reply and a rhythmic thump marks time as someone makes their way toward the stairs. The familiar scuffle of tattered Cookie Monster slippers make their way to the the landing until they slip finally into view; a long, audible breath escapes the confines of my lungs. The quantum dose of relief that has begun to trickle down my spine quickly evaporates as our eyes lock on the reality of sorrow between us and a tidal wave of emotion floods the room. His lips contort into familiar patterns but the customary syllables echo and bounce around the room as he stumbles forward and collapses onto my shoulder. He slides into a mournful skiffle that caroms with unintelligible lyrics. The scattered words I comprehend are lost in an echo chamber of confusion. The room swirls into turmoil, walls sway, floors arc, chairs waltz in a dizzying maelstrom of mayhem. A trio steps out from amidst the undulating drywall to accompany the lament, repeating the descant “she’s gone” in a low, solemn murmur.
“There must be a mistake,” refusing the rain of anguish, I interject evasion. “I just talked-- she was on the phone, I told her I was coming. Everything seem- was fine. Don’t you think-”
“NO!” His response coagulates into intelligible words but snatch at me with disconnected tendrils “missing…days… jumped… no body.”
“No mistake! She’s go-o-o-ne, oh why? She’s gone” the chorus repeats contrapuntally as their arms extend in Temptationesque choreography. My gaze narrows on the ethereal centerfold and she backs off timorously, gripping her fellow crooner’s arms, quietly receding back and out of focus. The bizarre aria fades and the singers dissolve into the floorboards. The walls slink toward me, leaning silently inward anticipating my collapse.