Uninterrupted darkness. Another endless black abyss.
Ended abruptly by a flash of blinding light, and a sudden saturation of ice cold water. Stunned and gasping Beatrice screamed, shot up, and began shaking uncontrollably. Her little room and antiquated quilt were the same, but the light filling the room had the intensity of the sun, the air combined with the ice cold water chilled her to the core. Cousins filled her small prison. Gerald Jr. stood snickering with an empty bucket. Every second generation cousin was screaming their heads off. Despite the pale pink nighty being soaked through, her throat was drier than a Christmas tree on Christmas after not having been watered since Thanksgiving. Her head was spinning as she turned and turned trying to account for all the people in this tiny, brilliantly lit space. She sniffed in search for the tiniest remnant of her mother’s perfume, and the loathed – though welcome – smell of Pepe after rolling his way through the dog park.
She gawked at the cousins. All just as she remembered them, unlike her sickly looking self, but even louder. Head still spinning she tried to speak, “Where’s my mother?” her voice croaked. No one answered, no one even seemed to register the sound of her voice. Beatrice’s eyes refused to focus. They swept back and forth looking for signs of her mother; when everyone else’s’ heads stopped spinning (though the yelling and screaming proceeded as if on loop), she concluded her mother was absent from this “revival,” as was Arthur. She could only hope her mother was safe and Arthur gone forever.
Gradually, Beatrice began to focus on what she could see, trying her best to ignore what she could hear, and push aside the now howling grumble of her stomach. She started by focusing on Janelle’s youngest. He appeared the same, maybe a bit bigger than she remembered, but screaming at the top of his lungs with unhinged glee. From him, she shifted her gaze to Janelle, who stood unblinking, baby on her popped hip, and a quizzical, yet not unfriendly look. For an instant, Beatrice recalled the photo, Gerald Sr. and toddler Janelle, oddly reminiscent of how Janelle and her son looked now. She scanned the room to find the unknown figure from the photo, but he was not there. Coming back to Janelle, she sighed; Janelle had not stopped watching her for a moment.
They gazed at each other for what felt like an eternity. Janelle slowly tilted her head, never shifting her intent stare. Raising her hand, everyone in the room stood immobilized and silent. The silence was almost as overwhelming as the uninterrupted screaming in its stark and unsettling contrast. Everyone looked at her expectantly. Janelle quietly announced, “I believe it is time you and I have a chat.” Cousins began filing out the single door; Janelle’s handed her son to his father, but never broke her stare. “Oh,” she said playfully, “and send him in.”