The Wrong Wall

John first noticed something was amiss when he began to hear a narrator. A narrator describing a life that wasn't his. All through his days the struggles of others plagued him. The wrong fourth wall had broken.

Somehow she knew, even before she entered the child's room. She could tell, from the quiet, the stillness, that he was dead. There in the crib he lay, so still and so blue. Looking at him, she felt nothing but empty. No sadness came, all emotion drained from her into the crushed velvet floor.

As the voice pronounced this, John sat in his kitchen, sipping coffee and preparing for work. As far as he could tell, he was no woman. As far as he remembered, he had no child. Certainly not one that was dead. He felt unnerved, but not unduly so, he hoped, with time, the voice would pass from him to its true owner.

On the bus to work, however, the narrative continued. John learned more of this woman and her ill-fated child.

Deep in the woods, she carried the wrapped still form lovingly from the cabin to a small clearing. She dug with her hands, ignoring the pain as her nails cracked and her skin broke, ignoring the blood that mixed with the dirt, becoming brackish red mud. She dug a shallow hole, lovingly placed her child into it, and covered it up again. Leaving no marker but the turned Earth.

At his office, droning over the gossip of his colleagues, roaring over the copier, buzzing in time with the fax machine. He learned more of this story, which seemed determined to become his own.

For days she sat, racked in passing by stony silence and heaving sobs, not so much for her child's loss, for the life it would never lead, but for her own. Her own empty arms, her own barren life. Why must everything be taken from me? Was her silent plea.

"John?" Marcy from down the hall looked at him, clearly concerned. "Is everything all right?"

 

“Yes, I’m fine, why do you ask?”

“Well… when I came in, you were sitting there, just staring. Then you whispered ‘Why must everything be taken from me?’”

“I said that?”

“…yeah.” Marcy was even more unsettled.

“Out loud?”

“Yeah.”

She began to look behind her, imagine she was being pursued. By the police, by the boy’s father (who undoubtedly wouldn’t have cared to learn of the child’s death) by random shadows—no doubt dark agents of karmic retribution, chasing her to seek recompense for her sins. She became paranoid, even though she was completely totally alone.

“Thank you Marcy, I’m-I’m fine.”

“Okay, but…”

“Yes?”

“If you ever need to tal-”

“Thank you, but like I said. I’m fine.”

Time passed, and she divorced completely from the world. She stopped eating, she stopped drinking. She wasted totally away.

John walked home, using the air to try and clear his head. But regardless what he cleared it of, this whole other world tumbled in.

She smiled, and giggled. Cooing her baby’s name. “Little Johnny? Little Johnny? I see you.” She cooed, staring straight through her cabin wall. “You’re okay now, you’re safe. Nothing can hurt you now.”

Stopping to sit at a bench, John stared into space, staring into a cabin where a disoriented woman began to hear these words. Two narrators of two worlds becoming one of one.

“Hello? Who’s there? Who’s talking? Oh god, it was an accident! I wasn’t even there! I didn’t mean-Oh God! Oh God!”

John stood, and walked to where she was. Where she would have been. The narrator leading the way.

They met at the crux, at the precipice of two worlds not meant to be joined. One man-

­­-­And one grieving mother.

“It’s okay,” He whispered. “I know it’s not your fault.”

“Who-who are you?” She said, still trembling in her tears.

“I’m… why I must be Johnny.”

“Yes, yes that’s right.” She blinked away her sadness, and extended her hand. “Take me with you?”

And they smiled, and arm in arm, stepped into the space between worlds. Where I could not reach, where their adventures passed beyond my sight.