I saw their faces watching me, solemn, not smiling. They were holding hands, except with him. They were here to watch. And I was here to prove myself to them.
We were to go through the obstacle course three times, it consisted of climbing, swimming, and some elements that would confuse us. I didn’t know why the other people were there, or who I was racing against, but they seemed to be looking toward the big glass window the way I was. What were they trying to prove in this sick game? But we all seemed to be proving that we were good enough, better, exactly what these people wanted in order to be apart of their life.
Was it worth it? I knew it was.
The gun shot went off and I ran as fast as I could, I clambered up the ropes, and was surprised my strength. I moved fluidly from one level to the next with the expertise of a mountain climber. A usually clumsy fool, I seemed to have found my groove in this race. I continued to bound my way to the top of the structure that reminded me of something my two parented kids would love to play in.
Once I reached the very top, I took a deep breath and looked to my other participants. They were still struggling at the very bottom of the structure unable to pass even the first obstacle. I found that odd. Knowing it made no matter, since I was winning now, I picked a slide to go down which would plunge me into rushing waters and I would have to find my way out of the deep pool with little or no help.
Darkness surrounded me and within sheer seconds I was shooting out in the water, soaking wet. I swam with the strength of an olympic swimmer to the edge of the pool and pulled myself out. Quickly I looked to the glass window and saw them still standing there, faces stoic, holding hands. He’d moved further away from them. I wondered why as I ran toward the the beginning of the obstacle course to start the second part of the race.
By this time, I was faster, and knew what to expect, except when I came to the very top, instead of being able to choose, I was trapped into a small chamber and pushed down a dark slide, that dropped fast and furiously until it released me into the rushing water, still within the chamber. I panicked as I tried to find my way out of the chamber, feeling it sinking to the bottom of the deep pool. I shoved my body against the glass, tears falling down my eyes, until I noticed a simple release lock. I maneuvered it with ease, and the door burst open, and I swam out, shaking with anxiety.
There was a girl on the side, yelling my name, and pointing. I couldn’t hear her over the chaotic rush of water, so I followed her finger. She was pointing to the window.
They were no longer there. Neither of them. My heart stopped, and I thrashed in the water as I tried to find away to get out. The girl reached out to me, and pulled me out, whispering urgently, “They are backing out of the deal, go!”.
With my clothing soaked and reeking of too much chlorine, I ran down the halls, barefoot. Door after door slammed behind me until I found the exit. Gasping for air, I continued the race up the stairs, eager to find them, eager to demand an explanation for why they had left, even when I was winning. I had lived up to my part of the deal, or I had, why couldn’t they?
I finally made it to the top level of the facility, and I raced to a desk, with an old smiling lady with curly grey hair sat. The lady was waiting for me it seemed. She said, “They changed their minds, and there is nothing you can do.” She handed me a sheet of paper with their names on it, saying that they had relinquished me permanently and that I was to never speak to any of them again.
Forget them, forever.
I fell to the floor, the paper feeling as though it was made of lead. I read the words over and over again. They didn’t think I would win. But I had, almost. It was too close for them. Too close for them to give me what I have always wanted.
A moment with him. Time with him. A relationship. With them all.
But in the end, they would always win. No matter what tricks I performed, or how perfect I was.
They would always win.
The floor felt cold against my skin, and I pushed myself to sit up.
Then suddenly, I was awake. Sitting in my own bed. There was no obstacle course. There was no gigantic glass window, just a small window where the morning sun was beginning to peak through. Sweat was soaking me through and through. My pillow was stained with tears, and my face was damp, my eyes puffy.
I grabbed my pillow and screamed into it, mostly out of frustration.
Even sleep doesn’t give me the reprieve from the heartache of just not knowing him, and the next night, this very dream would replay, as if I had it been recorded.
These are the haunted hallways of birthmothers in the future. Minds of those of us who are just not the same any longer.
And I wait to finally be allowed to have some access. Anything. Something. Until then, the nightmares continue.