Is it magic or madness the keeps the voices trapped on the other side?
Coming to Get You
By Amber Fernie
I’m sitting in my kitchen, sipping coffee with an old creased picture clutched in my hand. It’s faded now, after years of being tucked away in a shoebox full of little mementos, the only thing I’ve brought with me to every place I’ve lived.
About three feet in front of me, the air is shimmering, and I’ve been watching it shimmer for about two hours now. I can’t see it unless I look really closely. Along with the shimmering, there are voices, which I’m sure now are calling to me. That’s been happening for a few weeks now. Perhaps I am hallucinating, but I rather hope not.
The first time I heard the voices, I was in a bathroom stall at work. It seemed at the time to be huddled gossip of the kind some of my coworkers might exchange, but the language was foreign to me. I might not have paid any heed at all, but for hearing my name. Except that it wasn’t exactly my name. Instead of “Misty”, it sounded almost like “Mushty”, as though Sean Connery were saying it.
I’m not in the way of caring what is said about me. Being raised the perennial new kid mostly in foster homes, I became used to ignoring whispers. So I waited a few moments, hoping they would move along. When they didn’t, I resigned myself to the thought of having to come out of my private little cubicle to the embarrassment of whoever was talking about me. There would be an awkward silence as I washed my hands, and then I’d have to listen to the sound of tittering as the door closed. Instead I emerged to an empty bathroom, yet the voices persisted. They have persisted ever since.
It’s fair to say that I’ve never fit in anywhere. Strong and solid with a heavy brow, the bone structure in my face is just exaggerated in ways that aren’t accepted. There’s also the matter of my skin, which has an unusual pallor. It can look almost greenish in some lights. I always thought it was pretty, but I think people have the impression that I’m sickly. They tend to keep their distance.
Truthfully, I never minded my looks; it always perplexed me when others did. I grew up seeing the girls around me drowning themselves in envy over what seemed to me to be gaunt, alien looking models on the covers of magazines. I couldn’t understand it then, and I still can’t.
But back to the voices.
After the incident in the bathroom, I began hearing them all the time, as though someone were calling to me. I felt sure that this wasn’t a language I’d heard before, yet some of the words sounded almost familiar. As the volume and frequency increased, so did my understanding.
“Mushty, wiz bin lurkin fraya. Mushty, harng inder. Mushty, wiz crummin. Mushty, wiz brackin true surn.”
Strangely, I was never afraid. On the contrary, I found the voices inspiring in me a sense of hope which I hadn’t felt in a very long time. I gravitated to the spot where they sounded the clearest, here in my kitchen, where I discovered the shimmering.
I would talk to someone about all of this, but I’ve learned over the years that my perspective is a bit different than others. I remember in elementary school, our teacher reading to us from a picture book of monsters. I suppose she thought reading about them would render them less frightening for the children. When she got to one page in particular, she held it up, asking, “What do you guys think of this ugly fella?”
I couldn’t understand the statement. What I saw before me was a powerful man with the bold features of a warrior, his skin a deep rich green I imagined to have an iridescent quality which perhaps the illustrator simply could not capture. Mesmerized by his snarl and his strength, I said aloud the first thing to come to mind, which was, “He’s beautiful.”
The uproarious laughter which followed, along with a disapproving look from my teacher shut me right up, but after class I sneaked back in and tore that picture right out of the book. I kept it folded and tucked under my pillow at night. It comforted me, made me feel less alone. That was the only thing I ever stole.
I understand now that there’s something about this language which speaks to me in the same way that picture did. I’m starting to understand it more and more.
“Mushty, wiz crummin. Mushty harng inder.”
They’re coming. They want me to hang in there.
So, here I sit at my kitchen table, with that very same picture clutched in my hand as I watch the thin air shimmer before me, hoping this is no hallucination, hoping that these are my people, breaking through whatever gulf has separated us to come get me and take me home where I belong.