Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Inbetween.

The Inbetween.

There’s a place between the counter and the fridge. A gap where the granite ledge of the counter doesn’t quite reach the aluminum surface of the subzero fridge. 3 ½’ tall by ½’ wide channel of darkness where things fall unnoticed quite often. Katy tells me that it’s where things disappear. Car keys, crystal pepper shakers, last notice bills, and mostly all odds n ends. And occasionally Katy’s homework manages to vanish in the void wedged against the nook in the wall. Every morning before school she sits next to the fridge and watches the space. According to Katy, once a mouse ran in and never came out. Into the black slice of emptiness and then nothing. “Kory, how come the mouse didn’t come out?” She asks me everyday. “Will he ever come back out?” I don’t have an answer for her. I’ve never witnessed the eclipsing powers of the space inbetween. My understanding is that nothing ever comes out. One way into the shadow. Until something came out…

The morning was like any other. Getting together everything before we head off to school. Katy neatly tucked away in her small corner next to the pantry watching the fridge. “Kory, Kory! Come quick!” Katy’s small voice yells from another room. “Look what came out. You have to see it!” Walking toward the kitchen I can see her excitement over this small Easter egg of a surprise. Hopping back and forth on her tiny little feet. Two little Mary Jane’s bouncy in delight over an unexpected revelation. “KORY! What is it?” Beneath her tiny frame looked like a crumpled up piece of paper. As I approach Katy grabs at the sleeve of my sweater. “Pick it up! Quick, see what it is!” Calmly I reach down for the wad of paper. Unwrapping the small ball I’m surprised to find a message. The words ‘HELP ME!’ are scrawled in a black waxy substance over a piece of Katy’s math homework.

“Quit fooling around.” Looking down at the culprit, I hand over the note. “This is your homework.”

“KORY! I didn’t do it. This came from in there,” Katy motions and points toward the black hole. “Look, this is my homework” Out springs the small hand waving a white piece of paper.

“Enough Katy. Get ready for school. You’re gonna miss the bus.” I turn and start to walk back toward the bathroom to finish my hair. I get nearly five feet away before she starts in.

“I’m not making this up. This paper came from the inbetween. I can prove it. I can… KORY!” Out comes a blood curdling scream. Before I can finish a full spin around there it is. Five fingers and a palm. Open. Reaching. Stopping short of Katy’s shiny Mary Jane’s. “MAKE IT STOP!” Until that moment, I’d spent most of the time ignoring the childish notions of my kid sister. Truly nothing can appear from no where. But there I am face to face with this hand extended out of nothingness. Pulling back her shoulder I attempt to move Katy backwards. “AAAAEEEEEEIIII! It has my foot. HELP!” Sure enough the five fingers had wrapped themselves around the small right foot. Forward it pulls. In retreats the palm. Backwards I pull. Outward a wrist is revealed. Despite my efforts to win this tug of war, nothing helps. “DO SOMETHING!” Katy is frantic and shaking her foot to free from the grip. Quickly without thinking I wrap my hands around her waist and jerk backwards. Down she falls along with me. “I’m free! Thank you Kory.” A wave of relief passes over me as she jumps up and all over the floor with excitement. “I told you things went in there and I wasn’t making it up! See…”

“Shhh…” as I motion my hands to silence the babe. Across from us lays part of an arm neatly upon the kitchen floor. Still without movement the phantom forearm extends from the darkness. Suspiciously I approach the motionless intruder. “Hand me a straw.” Small fingers lay open. Dead? Poke here and there with the straw to determine if it’s still alive. A jump. Thumb and index finger twitch and fall silent. Reflex. “At least we know it’s not dead.”

“Kory, I’m scared.” With that thought up jumps the arm to full movement. Grabbing. Searching. Cautiously keeping myself and Katy out of its reach. Further the arm pulls from the darkness behind it. Nearly the hilt of it reaches out and beyond. Fingers dance up and down the custom cabinets and across the linoleum. Silently we watch until the fingers take hold and pull. “My backpack! KORY!” Stomps the little feet in protest. Palm sandwiches inward to meet fingers as it trails the pink Hello Kitty backpack across the floor into its lair. The oversized bag disappears without effort into the small slit of nothingness.

“Katy, please calm down. Be happy it was your backpack and not you.” Carefully I move inward to study the hole. There doesn’t seem to be another opening on the other side. Light never permeates the surface. Just a deep slit of emptiness behind the fridge. “Get me the piece of paper.” Tossing it in and wait. Within a matter of minutes out appears the hand. In an instant I pounce upon the intruder and pin it down. “NOW KATY! GET ME THE BUTCHER KNIFE!” In a flash I’m armed and the knife tears clean through the flesh. Back slides the wrist and movement in the hand stops. Fling in the dead intruder and wait. Nothing. An hour. Nothing. A day. Nothing. A week. Nothing.

Things still fall into the inbetween now and again. Homework, car keys and past due bills definitely manage to get lost from time to time. Katy doesn’t sit and watch it with the same enthusiasm. Well at least without taking precautions. To my knowledge nothing has ever come back out. Then again her Hello Kitty backpack did happen to turn up.

This particular was supposed to be up three days back but I couldn’t get the story right. In case you’re curious this was originally my first stab at a children’s story. Which was quite a challenge and sort of became something else in the end. The Inbetween? The idea manifested a couple days ago after talking with a friend and in response to my own personal journey. 

Stop fighting yourself. This is harder than it sounds. Bad habits run deep rooted in past experiences. But people can change. So how much can you change without losing yourself? A conundrum so many others have faced before. Taking a new philosophy and finding a way to integrate it into your life. It’s finding the balance between Buddha and the extreme of Fight Club. This is a process and it’s necessary to give in and connect with those situations and feelings that arise from dealing with it. It’s all the same as long as you don’t cut off from it. Even Buddha agrees, stay with it. It will pass. However, you aren’t supposed to completely change yourself to get rid of bad habits. Especially when you know yourself. “To thine own self be true.” You can still like the same people, same things, and care for them all the same cause they weren’t for selfish reasons. That in itself is undertaking to figure out, but so very important to do. Go about business of life as long as it’s not self-destructive or harmful to others. But if meditating everyday for eight hours isn’t you, then you must seek an alternative. As long as it’s constructive and allows for open minded thoughts. Digressed… Enjoy the story. kisses. m.

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