13 Ways: The Wonder Wall
Posted on December 22nd, 2011
“Dr. Jellicoe, I could hear the whales singing. I’ve never in my life heard whales singing, except on a recording. It was magical and beautiful beyond belief. I could feel the sun on my face, even though I knew it had set. The sand blew into my eyes, and I could feel my hair being whipped up by the sea breeze.
“And the children were laughing all the time …” Tom stopped.
Dr. Jellicoe said nothing, nor did she move.
Tom considered the man in Picasso’s painting again, and how his guitar must have meant everything to him. How the whole of his life had been reduced to this one defining moment, and this one essential instrument, rendered in the saddest shades of blue Tom had ever seen.
He took a deep breath, and then drank what remained of his water before continuing.
“Yes, the children were laughing all the time, right up until the moment that they turned away from the world, and from me. They swirled around to face the wall, and then disappeared into it.
“After that, everything stopped. There was no more music, no more whale song, no more laughter … or wind, or sun, or gulls, or swimming fish, or breathing walls. It all just … stopped.”
“And what did you do then, Tom?” The gentle voice inquired from somewhere, but Tom felt far from her now, lost in a waking dream.
“What I did was I dropped the coffees. I don’t remember doing that, but that is what Gayla said, and I am sure it’s true. Because what I do remember is that I ran to the wall and began screaming and banging on the wall, trying to find the children, trying to make it open up again.”
Dr. Jellicoe remained silent for several minutes before responding, perhaps giving Tom time to add to his story; perhaps considering what he’d said; or, perhaps performing some other inscrutable but necessary service.
“Yes, that is what Gayla said she saw, too,” she said. “Except for a few differences. Do you know what those differences are? I am sure she told you.”
“Yes, of course. She’s told me again and again.”