Dr. Sorosky pushed up his glasses and stared through Caleb. Caleb was facing away from him, but he could still feel his cold, blue eyes burning a hole into the back of his head. How long had they been in this room? Minutes? Seconds? Months? Caleb couldn’t remember, because he couldn’t remember the last time he saw the sun. All he could hear was the ticking of the clock on the wall.
“Let’s talk about your dreams, Caleb,” the doctor spoke with a soft, low tone. “Are you still having the same dream?”
Caleb lost his breath, and turned the side of his face towards Dr. Sorosky. He nodded his head.
He shook his head violently. Tears welled up in Caleb’s eyes, and he picked at his fingers.
The doctor sighed, “You will never get out of here if you do not talk to me. We can do this now or another time, but you will talk to me.”
He started to get up from his chair, when Caleb let out a quiet shriek. “Does this mean you’re ready?” Sorosky shot a cold glance at him when he spoke.
“Yes,” Caleb spoke in a quiet, defeated voice. He hung his head, while Sorosky sat back in the chair and pulled out his notebook.
“Go on, when you’re ready.”
Caleb laid back into his chair, his eyes staring at the ceiling. He focused his eyes and his mind into a small square of mold, and slowly, slowly, drifted.
He rose from the seat, and was alone in a dark hallway. Blue lights flickered. Even though the floor felt cold on his bare feet, the air was warm. He moved forward until he saw a face. It was a man, smiling. He had seen this man countless times before, but he did not recognize him. He was younger than Caleb.
The man walked over to him and gently grabbed his arm, wrapping his around it, and led Caleb down the hall. They walked quietly together for a while, until Caleb asked, “Where are we going?”
The man let out a chuckle, and replied, “We’re going back home.”
Caleb nodded his head, but he didn’t understand. He looked around as they walked, but he couldn’t see anything. The hallway was darkly lit, and the walls looked like stone. There was nothing.
“Who are you?”
The man laughed really hard at his question and stopped walking. “I’m someone you should know really well.”
“But I don’t recognize you.”
“I looked a lot different when you last saw me. But I’m surprised that you don’t remember me this way.”
Caleb tried really hard to remember. He looked harder at the man, and touched his hair. A huge clump came off when he did.
“Oh! Oh, I’m sorry…” Caleb recoiled his hand.
“That’s okay,” said the man, “it’s supposed to do that right now. Come on, let’s keep walking.”
After a while longer of walking, Caleb noticed that windows started to appear on either side of them, staggered. He saw people inside the windows, and they seemed to not take any notice of them or the hallway. He saw a woman with her baby, he saw children playing, and he saw a boy in a hospital bed. He watched their lives play out, completely silently, and it felt eerie.
“Who are all these people?” Caleb stopped to focus on a man kissing a woman. When he looked back at the man, he had aged. His hair was gone, and he looked frail.
The man smiled at the couple. “Do you remember this night?”
Caleb squinted. He thought he recognized the couple, but he couldn’t remember from where. The woman, he thought, was beautiful. He wanted to look at her forever, so he stayed at the window until they faded into darkness.
“What’s happening to you?” Caleb asked the man as he held his hand tightly.
The man smiled, “You were always strong. And happy. You were always happy, even when you were sad.”
Caleb looked into the man’s eyes, and remembered. He remembered everything. The man smiled and walked back down the hall as the young man he first encountered. Caleb turned and walked forward until he got to a door. As he opened it, the sunlight hit his face. He took a deep breath, and as he let out a sigh, he felt light and free. He heard Dr. Sorosky’s voice:
“You may go now, Caleb.”
Caleb walked through the door.
Copyright 2014 Meg Swensen