I am walking into a building, leaving the warm, fall sunlight behind me. Down the stairs into this cellar like auditorium. My mother is beside me, my sister is behind us, Chris is in front with Caitlin and my brother Patrick is angry with me for some unknown reason.
We are dressed up in suits and dresses as we take seats in the very back row, my father is sitting on the stage while my brother Steven walks around the room, giving an introduction.
In front of us are two men I graduated high school with. Why they are there, I do not understand. Because it’s my father? Because they are interested in this announcement we are here for? They recognize my brothers and speak to them as if they are old friends.
My brothers were graduated long before the introduction of these two gentlemen in my life and they were never anything more than classmates. Kinley is sitting in my lap and Caitlin is now in her own seat, enjoying her freedom.
Steven walks behind us and talks and finally introduces my father. He smiles eagerly as my dad walks to the podium, returning his smile. He knows this secret, he knows why we are all there.
I don’t understand what my dad is talking about, his voice is muffled by the amplification of the speakers. But even if I could hear him clearly, I wouldn’t know what he’s talking about, but the implication is clear. A military advancement, he and my brother created a bomb.*
My body tenses as water begins to fill the room, flowing from the sides around us, quickly bubbling up towards us. No one seems to notice but me.
Suddenly, the room is filled with water and I run towards the exit, plugging Kinley’s nose, rushing with my family. I hold him out as far in front of me as I can, getting him to air as quickly as possible.
I unplug and hold him outside the building until I push my way through. My mom is next to me. My sister is behind us. I don’t see Chris. I don’t see Caitlin.
I begin to scream at my mom, “Why didn’t you grab her?? Why did you just run out?”
She just looks at me, calmly, telling me it was a security precaution. Everything is okay.
“I don’t CARE if it was for security. WHY DIDN’T YOU GRAB HER AND RUN? WHY DID YOU LEAVE HER THERE?” I’m angry. I have never been so angry at my mom. My sister. Or Chris, who is still missing. I’m so angry I am shaking. Furious. I’m crying. “WHY?”
My mom continues to just look at me somberly. She begins to speak, slowly, as if it will help me understand. “What difference would it have made if I grabbed her? What is stopping her from dying?”
I don’t understand and it’s making me even more angry. I’m flabbergasted at what she is telling me, and I want to scream at her to stop trying to be deep. To stop trying to excuse why she didn’t grab her grand-daughter and to just apologize. But she is talking and her words just blend into my ears and are no longer comprehensible.
“And don’t think I’m not angry at Chris. Because I AM. I AM SO ANGRY.” At that, I storm back inside, to find Chris standing there while Caitlin is sitting in her seat, soaking wet and scared.
I pick her up, wipe the water from her face and breath into her, just for good measure. I’m sobbing. I am angry. I am FURIOUS. I don’t understand. I do not understand why these people who claim they love me, love my daughter, their daughter, their niece, grand-daughter, wouldn’t grab her and bring her to safety. It didn’t matter if there was any real danger, we didn’t know that until it was over, and she was in trouble. She’s not even two.
I am so angry I am shaking and sobbing. I hold her tight, I hold Kinley tight. They are both breathing and safe, albeit wet. I start to scream at Chris, but the words are jumbled in my head. I’m questioning what the FUCK is wrong with him and what was he thinking?? The anger is bubbling in my heart, hatred. He just stares at me calmly. I don’t hear what I’m saying, my words are muffled and raging on.
And suddenly, just like that? I am in a strange place, like a gas station or a sandwich shop, with my parents. We are searching for something, desperately looking for a piece of paper. I see pictures on the walls of little girls wearing purple tutus and I smile at how adorable Caitlin would look in one of those tutus, at how beautiful she is…
And then I wake up. Kinley is staring at me and smiles when he sees me looking at him. Linux is laying at my feet, the weight of his body is comforting to me. I hear Caitlin talking in her crib, she is using her “singing” voice, but I can’t pick out the tune. I am awake. They are alive. We are safe. We are home.
I go and bring Caitlin into the bedroom and the three of us lay together and share smiles. I am strangely calm, at peace with the nightmare my mind created, so we get up and go about our day as if nothing happened.
Because nothing did.
*My brother and father don’t make bombs. All three of my brothers and my dad were Marines, but no military arsenal advancement making for them. Figment of my imagination.