Chapter 30

She was sitting in a clean, empty room on a nondescript sofa with several throw pillows, in shades of beige. The hardwood floor was full of neatly stacked cardboard boxes that weren't labelled. Some weren't even closed properly. She became aware of a familiar smell, smoke from fire. There was a fireplace directly in front of her but it looked immaculate. Getting up to inspect it was when she felt the pain. Everywhere. As if she had run a marathon or had done too much exercise the day before.

She sat back down, confused. Where am I? What's with the boxes and the smell of fire smoke and...then she noticed her shoes were charred. Red sneakers, Keds, like when she was a kid. They weren't on her feet, but placed off to her left on top of a manila envelope that wasn't even singed. At least the envelope wasn't beige. Ordinarily, she would have just pushed the sneakers aside and opened the envelope, but her desire to move again or do anything other than observe her surroundings was non-existent.

Without moving her head, she looked toward a large window to see if it was perhaps night and this a dream. Beige curtains, closed. And it was the beige that stirred a slight memory, not clear but more like a few blurred photographs, bits of dreams or nightmares. The first fuzzy scene was of a shelf filled with board games-- Clue, MouseTrap, several boxes of Scrabble...they were deciding whether to play Parcheesi, three dimensional Checkers or chess.

The second blur was her sitting at the back of an ambulance. Yellow tape, blue and red flashing lights. Too much noise, too many people in one place. In some private darkness, she felt the heat while someone wearing beige, or possibly white, gave her an injection, "for the pain", he said.

The last blur was her home, only it wasn't her house on a normal day or night. Flames and black smoke were screaming to the sky. Out of every window, door, even the roof. She closed her eyes, drifting back into semi-unconsciousness until someone was reading one of her favorite Pop-up picture books: I heard voices calling my name and found to my delight that the sailors from the broken raft were on board. Happily we sailed home. And so..." said Sinbad the Sailor to Sinbad the porter, "from that day to this I have lived here, content to be a merchant on land. I have had enough of the sea."

Her eyelids fluttered, and briefly opened to see the cardboard boxes. So this is real, she thought. Falling back to sleep, she dreamt of red things.

The End

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