My 12th birthday started with a conversation that might have been a dream. I was standing outside my parents’ room, ready to burst in with the news that today was My Birthday when I heard their voices.
“Do you think she’ll be okay?” That was my mom.
“Shh, let’s just wait. She’ll wake up soon.” That was my dad.
The rest of the day went by in a blur. My favorite pancakes for breakfast, my party in the afternoon, balloons getting popped accidentally, the piñata exploding with candy (that was on purpose), and an ice cream cake of a delicious chocolate-strawberry-frosting-ratio. Before I knew it, I was crawling back into bed, yawning as I stared up at the ceiling with my glow-in-the-dark star stickers.
The next day, things started to go missing. The band posters on my wall, I could’ve sworn I had more. The cluttered bookshelf next to my bed, a whole shelf was bare. I flung open my closet door, and found myself staring at empty hangers.
Breathing heavily, I ran down the hallway to my parents’ room, but it was empty. Not a my-parents-weren’t-there-empty, but a nothing-in-it kind of empty. Their bed was gone. I remembered my parents had a big bed with a hard mattress. I always hated that mattress because I couldn’t bounce on it, but my parents said it was good for their backs. My mom’s dresser table with the fancy mirror and all her different perfumes that I would try on was gone. My dad’s polo shirts that he would hang on the side of the bedroom door were all gone.
Backing out of the room, I ran down the stairs, my hand sliding down the wooden railing until I reached the first floor. That was when I heard my parents’ voices again.
“What do you think is going on in her mind right now?” That was my mom’s voice, coming from the kitchen, right next to the stairs.
“I think she’s looking for us.” I heard my dad’s reply just before I pushed open the kitchen door-to nothing. The room was gone. I was staring at white nothingness. I looked behind me, and there was the black front door and the raggedy old mat and the stairs with the wide wooden steps. I turned back to the kitchen and it was gone, like this part of the house was just…erased.
My heart pounding and my head spinning, I slowly took a step back. Then another. Looking up, I saw that the stairs now led to a floor of white nothingness. Continuing to walk backwards, I turned to the other side of the stairs and saw the same thing happening to the dining room. One by one, the black cushiony chairs, the long oval-shaped dining table, and the plants in the corners were fading, getting lighter and lighter until they all became white nothingness.
My house was disappearing. I ran out through the front door and stared at what was left of the cozy two-story house I grew up in. In clusters, the red bricks faded, until I was only staring at a black door with a brass doorknob. Slowly, that too faded. My house was gone.
“It’s okay, honey, we’re right here.” My mom’s voice. I wheeled around. My mom was looking down at me, relieved.
“I knew you’d wake up. I knew you’d find your way back to us.” My dad leaned over me and I saw relief there too.
As my mind cleared, my eyes darted around me. White room. White curtains. White machines. White tubes.
“You’re in the hospital, honey, but you’re okay,” my mom said, as she brushed my hair.
“The fire, it burned everything,” my dad answered. “The house, it’s gone, but we got you out, and that’s all that matters.”
I stared up at the ceiling. No glow-in-the-dark stars.
© Jade M. Wong 2016
Credit for the beautiful photo goes to Rodion Kutsaev.