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That sound, the worst ever…the sound that announces the beginning of a new day in my miserable life. I open my eyes and press on the alarm to stop it from screaming. I walk to the bathroom and stare at myself in the mirror. I stare at the pale face, wide blue eyes, the round chin, small nose, and the black hair. I admit it, I’m fairly good looking, the only thing that suits me in this life. For everything else smothers me every second.
I get dressed and walk out of my apartment then to my car. Heading to work. ..To a job that doesn’t like me as much as I don’t like it.
On the way to my office, I’m thinking. When did I start feeling that way? When did I realize that I was…
“Hey, Glass!” a man said waving his hand from his office cubicle. That was Chase he’s the closest person I’ve to a friend.
I walk to him. My cubicle is right next to his. We start with greetings and a useless chat. Then I sit at my office and stare at the closed cubicle, the walls surrounding me and I remember the feeling.
I sit all day listening to angry clients on the phone trying to find solutions to their stupid problems. Until I get a call from my ex-wife for some legal issues. Her voice throws a cold shiver into my chest. After I hung up, I found Chase standing behind me.
“Are you ok?” He asks.
“No…I don’t know what happened?”
“Seriously, man you shut her out. You shut everyone out. Talking about how stuck you’re, of course she’d leave, I’d.”
He never talked to me like that before. I guess he finally broke. I just stare at him.
He sighs and says, “I’m sorry man. I don’t know why I…”
It’s not but I don’t know what to say.
I go home after the long day. In the hallway, I see Emily playing. Em is my neighbor’s daughter. She’s as cute as any six-year-old girl is. Cute blonde bony tail, cute rosy cheeks, cute wide brown eyes.
I wave at her and she smiles. She makes her doll wave at me too. Cute little girl with no worries about her life choking her slowly.
I get into the apartment, eat, check my e-mails, watch TV, and set the alarm and go to sleep. Just so I wake up to another…uh, another day.
That sound again, I reach my hand to shut it up, but I hit something solid. Right above me, I open my eyes fast; I see a fade reflection of myself. I close my eyes and open them again. I reach to touch it.
A board of glass hovering above me, I try to determine its end. It was wider than me and a few inches taller. But it is there, like a shield for my body. I try to move it, push it up, down, to one of its sides but the thing just won’t move an inch. I try to get up and my head hits it. I try to roll over but it moves with me. It’s like I grew another limb.
“I’m dreaming…this must be a dream, a nightmare.”
I scratch my eyes and pinch myself.
“Wake up…Come in.”
I can’t wake up because I’m already awake. I can tell if I’m dreaming most of the time.
I start to slide on my back to the end of the bed and slowly put my legs down. Pushing myself up like a nine months pregnant woman trying to stand up.
And the board just moved with my every step, preserving its position, a few inches away from my face.
I was on my feet and so was the board, touching the floor. I stand there for a few seconds. I turn sideways and so does it. I try to push again with both hands. It doesn’t move an inch. It just stood there staring numbly at me.
I got an idea. I rush to the kitchen. There’s a toolbox there somewhere. The board makes it hard for me to look for it, but I finally find it. I had to turn to my right to reach it, open it, and get the hammer out. I hold it tight between my fingers and swing my hand back and land on the board.
There is nothing, no sound, no broken glass, not even a crack. I let the hammer slip and fall.
Shocked and desperate for about a minute I stood still. Then I go for my cell and dial Chase.
“Chase I can’t come to work…can you tell Mr. Porter?”
“Yeah, sure…are you ok? You sound…”
“Thanks Chase.” I say and hang up. I can’t afford him asking questions. I don’t have any answers.
It took me about 2o minutes trying to get dressed. But I finally did, kicking and screaming.
I rush down to my car and I pause trying to figure out how to get in. I opened the door and that was all I did, after another 10 minutes of trying and making a ridiculous show for the passersby. Finally, I decide to walk. The hospital is only a few blocks away anyway.
“So, what seems to be the problem, Mr. Glass?” the doctor asks friendly.
“I don’t know how to…it’s very strange.”
“It’s alright. You’d be surprised of the things I hear.”
I take a deep breath and say, “I see a huge board of glass in front of me.”
He sits back and says “You feel you’re looking through glass…We should check your eyes…”
“No, my eyes are fine…I mean there’s an actual board in front of me.”
I put my hands on it and move it around the board.
“That’s impressive…miming artist.”
“No, I’m…it’s there.” I say, upset.
“It’s must be a hallucination…do you have any dizziness or headaches…”
“No, I don’t feel anything wrong.”
I ended up spending the rest of the day in the hospital. Scanning my head and testing for everything. But they found nothing. The board is still here. And it didn’t seem to stop them. No one else saw it. At the end the doctor gave me a psychiatrist card. I went there immediately. I took the bus; it was the only semi convenient way for me and my board.
“So, what seems to be the problem, Mr. Glass?” the doctor asks.
Who is a forty something year old man, wearing glasses and holding a pen.
By that time, I was upset, desperate, and angry.
“There’s a glass wall in front of me.”
“In front of you” he thought for a few seconds “A barrier. You feel that it’s separating you from the world.”
“No, I don’t feel…it’s there.” I shout.
“Where? What’s it like?”
I clinch my fists. Then I touch the board. Showing him its width.
“And no I’m not a miming prodigy. I’ve never even tried it before.”
The doctor writes something in the notebook in front of him. I try to see but that stupid board…
“You seem very stressed. Try to relax.”
“I can’t relax while that thing hinders my every movement. I can’t get into my own car. It took me forever trying to get dressed.”
The doctor writes something else.
“What are you writing?”
“Just some notes for myself.”
He thinks I’m crazy.
“Well, have you ever seen something like this?”
“I haven’t. But Mr. Glass it’s only you who sees the board and it’s only you who can do something about it.”
I thought for a few seconds. I don’t have time for this. I wanted it to disappear. I just walk out and head home.
Em was playing in the hallway. She pauses when she sees me. She gives me a bewildered look.
“Hello…you look upset.”
“That’s because I’m.”
She says after a few seconds “How do you do that?”
“Get sick? I don’t eat enough vegetables.” I paused for a second, “Where’s your mom? It’s late and cold for you out here.”
“There was an emergency at work.”
I walk closer to her.
“And she left you alone!”
“The babysitter was supposed to come.”
That Natalie…is always so careless with her daughter. This wasn’t the first time. She pisses me off acting this way.
“Well, come on in. we’ll watch TV and eat popcorn till your mom comes back.”
She nods and follows me inside. She laughs as I try to open the door because I had to turn right so my hand could reach it. We walk inside.
“What is that?”
“I asked you before…there’s a shimmer in your eyes.”
A shimmer…is it possible? She sees the board. No, only a side effect… I have an idea.
I look around until I find the hammer. I give to her.
“Em, I need you to hit me as hard as you can with that hammer.”
She stares at me, confused.
“But, It’ll hurt you.”
“No, it won’t…it’s a magic trick.”
She smiles and takes the hammer. I knelt down.
She swings her hand back and lands on….AW, AH.
The hammer hits my forehead right above my left eye. She drops the hammer. And I fall back shrieking.
“You passed right through, damn it.”
“That’s not a good trick.”
Hot blood is pouring down my face.
I look at Em. She was terrified. I wipe the blood fast trying not to scare her, and I stand up. The room spins a little then stops. The glass board is still there of course.
“It’s alright Em, I just need more practice.”
We hear a nervous voice calling outside.
“That must be your mom.” I say and head to the door.
I meet a terrified face who gets more scared as she sees the blood on my face.
“She’s here.” I say trying to put some blame into it.
Em walks to her mom.
“Hey, kiddo…what happened? Where’s Len?”
“Your babysitter didn’t show Natalie.”
“Oh my God!” She scratches her forehead and I sense the guilt in her voice besides the throbbing in my head.
She stares at my face, “What happened there?”
“I fell.” I say fast before Em spills what happened to her mom.
“Well, come on…I can fix that.”
Did I mention that Natalie is a doctor? I guess not. Anyways we go into her house.
She examines my cut and says, “You may need a stitch.”
She started working on my head. And I’m watching how her hands go right through the glass and back.
“You can’t leave Emily like that.”
She sighs and says without looking at me “There was an emergency and I called Len.”
“Well, Len didn’t come…anything can happen.”
I could feel anger rising through her. She got harder on my wound. I moan.
“I don’t need advice from you. You’re only a stranger.”
I fall into silence and look at Em who is sitting across the room watching TV.
“I’m done.” She says and I fast grab her hand and let her pull it, hoping that she’ll pull my hand outside the glass along with hers. But mine hits it and hers gets out.
She looks at me in confusion “What are you doing?”
“Sorry…thanks, Natalie.” I say and walk back to my place.
I throw myself on my bed and I notice something. At the corner of my board there was ‘I’ carved. I feel it with my finger and wonder what it means or whether it was there all day.
I don’t know how I fell asleep. But thank God, I did.
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There is no sound…the alarm, maybe in a few minutes. Ahhh, my head… So, it wasn’t a dream.
Maybe this is the first time I wish I were awoken by the alarm. Instead, it’s the throbbing pain in my head. I open my eyes and the board is there. My eyes glimpse the corner. I see ‘II’. So, it’s counting the days…great.
I get up the way I did the last day, go to the bathroom turn to get some water in my hands and rinse my face with it. I stare at the mirror and feel a sore heat rising up. I start punching the board, screaming. I’m chocking. I rush out of the bathroom, scouting the room like crazy searching for anything…anything…I can’t.
My cell rings. I pick it up and don’t say a word.
“Will, where are you man? I called three times before. It’s 3 p.m.”
“I can’t come.”
“Are you sick?”
My voice is trembling and my hand is shaking.
“I’m stuck …I can’t get out”
“Damn it Will, not that crap again.” He seems upset.
“You know what Will. You put yourself in that place; every choice you made brought you this life.”
“You don’t understand…”
“No, I do… Everyone has a choice. You made some, so you live with the consequences of your actions like an adult man and don’t tell me all that shit about not having a choice and there’s no other way. There’s always a way out and you’re not stuck if you have a way out.”
He hung up. And I…don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do. Because this time, I really am stuck.
I sat there for a long time. I know that because it was dark outside now. During that time I discovered that the board besides indestructible, un-burnable, un-writable, un-scratchable.
It’s a curse. I’m cursed.
It was about 11p.m. and I hear a knocking on the door.
I open it and find Em standing there in her nightgown.
“I had a bad dream.”
“Where’s your mom?”
“I woke and she was gone.”
I sigh in anger and smile for the girl.
“Well, come in.”
She sits on my couch, scratching her sleepy eyes.
“Are you hungry?”
“Do you want some milk?”
I walk to the kitchen, open the fridge facing my right side, she laughs.
“I suppose I’m.”
I gave her the milk and she takes a small sip.
“You want to see something cool?”
“Another magic trick?” she asks worried.
I grin “No…something else. It’s called miming. I’ve been told that I’m really good at it.”
I get up and start touching the board, placing my hands on it while making funny faces. I start pushing it with my hands and my shoulder. She laughs. I lean on it and knock. I pretend to carry it and walk with it. She seems to be enjoying it.
“You’re really good.” She says as I try to take a bow and my head hits the board. She laughs again.
I say as I rub my newest injury, “You want to know my secret?”
She nods excitedly.
“That’s not a good thing.”
“I know…” I’m only able to force half a smile on my face.
The phone rings. I answer. It’s Nat.
“Hi, Will. Listen I have an emergency at work and I’m going to be late. Emily is asleep in the…”
“She’s not anymore.”
“She woke up and came here.”
“I’ll look after her till you come.” I don’t want to hear her excuses. I hang up.
“It’s your mom.”
She looks down. I can see sadness in her face. And my heart aches for her.
“She said she’ll be a little late.”
“A little!” she says in disbelieve.
She continues “It’s ok…I’m used to it. She has been very busy since my dad left…very sad too.”
I feel even worse now.
“Why don’t you finish your milk?”
She nods and drinks the whole glass.
I look at the board and watch a third ‘I’ being carved. I look at the clock. It was 12. Day Three
Another day, still stuck…more than ever.
After a couple of hours, Em was asleep on the coach. I try to carry her to the bed. I turn, pull, and push with no success. And she wakes up.
“Is my mom here?”
“No, I was trying to carry you to bed.”
“It’s ok…I’ll walk.”
She clings to my hand and we walk to the bedroom. She lies in and I pull the cover over her. She’s immediately asleep again. I walk and sit on a chair next to the bed. I’m so tired…
I don’t know what’s happening. There’s a loud noise, a crash. Em wakes up screaming. And part of the ceiling falls down. I try to get up but it’s hard. Another part of the ceiling collapses on me.
I feel hot blood on my arm and head. Everything is fuzzy, but I know I see fire everywhere. I hear its flames eating all that’s in their way mixed with the cries of Em.
I’m on the floor. Everything hurts.
“Em.” I whisper, my throat hurts. I stay in this state for a few minutes. Now I can see. I can see her; Em crawled up to a corner in my room. There’s blood on her leg.
“Emily.” I shout. She looks at me crying. The door is blocked by burning wood.
“Emily, it’s ok…it’s ok. I’m coming.”
I discover falling boards of wood are at both my sides. The wall was behind me and the glass board in front of me. I try to move the boards, but my arm hurts. I fail. I can’t even stand up. I was stuck, really, very, physically stuck. I shout in despair.
“Emily, listen to me…can you stand up.”
She shakes her head “My leg hurts.”
I push again and start punching and kicking the walls of my prison. I can’t…no, there’s nothing, no way, no choice.
Despair and fear start to tighten their clutches around
I stare at Em crying, helpless, that cute little girl is also stuck in her worst nightmare.
I look at the board and see the reflection of my own hopeless face…scared, useless face. And I see other faces of different people. Their reflections form in front of me. A man who was drowning, a woman choking on her own blood, a man shooting his head, their blood spill on the board. I look at the carving and I see it change numbers
with every face. It counted the days those people had lasted for. Three, three marks for me. I turn to Em again.
No…please. I can’t watch her die. Something inside me clicks. A voice echoes in my head.
“There’s a way out…there’s always a way out. I won’t be stuck…not anymore. I’M NOT STUCK.”
I hit the board as hard as I can.
“Hold on Em…I’m not going to let you get hurt.”
I hit the board again, harder and harder. My blood stains the board and it absorbs it in. My blood fades inside it. And with one last hit, the board shatters, it makes a unique ringing sound, it feels like it is crashing inside of me not in front of me. Then it turns into ashes. I rush out of my trap to Em. I carry her between my arms and jump through the fire.
Struggling, I get to the door of my apartment. All my body aches and burns. Two firefighters meet us in the hallway, one tries to take Em but I don’t let him. I keep holding her and she keeps hanging to my neck. They help us get out of the building.
I see Natalie, standing among the crowd crying, two women holding her. She gets free and sprints towards us,
grabs Em tight. Only now, I realize the extent of my injuries and I collapse.
I see men around me, people putting me on a gurney. Em is calling my name. Then total darkness. Day Four
No alarm sound, I stretch my arm but I can’t. I open my eyes fast. White and bright…It takes a few seconds for my eyes to adjust. A hospital room, that much I figure out.
My arm is wrapped, that’s why I can’t stretch it. I can see the ceiling, there’s no glass, no barrier. I see Chase standing next to my bed. He smiles.
I smile too “Chase…there’s no glass.” my voice is hoarse.
“What?” he looks confused.
“I’m not stuck anymore.”
“Ok, that’s great, also you’re alive.”
“Yeah…would you tell Mr. Porter I quit.” I’m getting out, crashing all the boards in my life. I won’t get stuck again. I won’t put myself through that again…I’ve reached my limits.
“Actually, you were fired yesterday.” Chase says.
I raise my thump up and he grins.
After a few minutes, Em and Nat walk in. Em’s leg is wrapped and she limps a little. She still looks cute.
“Hey there.” I say.
She stands next to my bed and stares at me. Then she whispers in my ear “The shimmer is gone”
Nat approaches me and says “Thank you, Will. You saved my daughter’s life; I’ll be always in debt to you.”
“Just take good care of her.”
“Yeah, now that I almost lost her. I’m never letting her out of my sight again.”
I rub Em’s head and say “Plus, she was the one who saved me…broke my curse.”
I know they don’t understand what I’m saying but at least I know and understand, hopefully you do too. The End