This story begins with Globe Without Goodbye – The Shore (1). To access installments in narrative sequence, click on an entry title, then click on “Next” at the end of that installment.
Jeffrey looked up. His headache eased, and he saw that the doll stood outside of the cave’s entrance. It faced him, blocky hands on stone hips. It had gotten there under its own power, somehow. Its face held the same expression: two eyes of clear glass, no nose, mouth ajar to pantomime those who need to breathe. The doll had no eyebrows, no facial muscles. Its hands could not hold tools or weapons. How had it gotten out of the cave? It freaked him out, but surprisingly, only a little bit.
As he looked at the bizarre doll, a wind blew around him for the first time since he had arrived. The light, lonely wind breezed through his long hair. When it reached the doll, the doll tottered.
Somehow, Jeffrey knew that the doll would not harm him. The doll, in fact, could not harm him. Its threatening tone was empty. It needed all of its power to animate its body. It counted on its unnaturalness to intimidate him into leaving the book behind. The doll probably felt very scared, behind its solid glass eyes. He decided to try to talk to it a little bit more. “Who are you?”
The doll’s mouth clicked shut.
Jeffrey remembered it had taken the doll some time to formulate an answer previously, so he tried to be patient.
The doll did not answer.
He phrased the question differently. “Who were you?”
The doll’s mouth clicked open right away. “When I came to this world between worlds, I was twenty-five. I was a beautiful woman with many lovers and suitors. I didn’t intend to come but I had no choice, as I’m sure you had no choice yourself. In time, I came to call this world my home. I stayed where no one is meant to stay. I loved every grain of sand on the shore, every tree in the forest. I grew old here. I died here, but I loved this place so much that still I stay, still I love. This is where I belong. I will never listen to the vortex. I will never leave!” The doll sounded defiant.
He wondered what she had meant by ‘the vortex’, but decided to ask another question first: “What was your name?”
Her mouth had never closed, so it had no need to open again. But it took her a long time to answer him. “In my old life, I came from a land called Russia. My name was Nadja there. Here I have no need of a name. Here I left all names behind. That is the best part of the world between worlds. The ones who are native to this world fear the vortex and keep far away from its domain. Most exiles from your world do not stay long. But you are here now. Frog man, what is your name?”
He felt pride that, unlike her, he still thought of his own name as his own. Clearly, spending so much time in solitude had affected her mind. He answered her slowly: “Jeffrey Hamen.”
“Jeffrey Hamen, I do not like you. Go back to the world you came from, or go on to your next one. Make your choice. Put my book back, and leave my home!”
He felt certain that her blustering threat was empty. Hell, she hadn’t even said the infinitely stupid words “or else” yet. Who did she think she was, ordering him around? Clearly not Nadja anymore.
Thank you for reading! Coming up next week: Jeffrey discovers that he can use magical powers instinctively in this mysterious “world between worlds.”
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