The story within the story, “The Woman Who Walked Out of Walls”

 

That night she sat down in front of her bed and waited. It was the third night she had done this. Because she had seen her once on accident, she had asked for her every night since.

It was Tuesday when it started.  She woke up around 3:30 am. The over timer was going off again.  Like a screaming bell, the sound was shrill and rocking the seams of the house.  It was louder than any alarm clock and vibrating. You could not sleep through it even if you were dead tired; even if you were passed out, even if you were obdurate and cozy and in the middle of a fantastic wet dream, it’s ring would wake you. Had it not happened a few times already since she moved there, it would have scared her. Catarina was clumsy. In her haste, she often threw pots on the back burner to dry and the brush of a handle flipped the switch. The cycle took eight hours to complete so she didn’t notice it until the shrieking began. The oven was old and mysterious and temperamental. She didn’t think too much of it and always hopped up quickly enough to turn it off, but it was intrusive; unwelcome every time.  She had tried once to wait and see if it would self-regulate and shut itself off but it didn’t. It screamed. It screamed louder as the seconds passed and she couldn’t wait to see how long it took.

Tuesday was no different. The second it began, her body stirred into action without thought. She was instinct now. Throwing the blankets off, she leapt to traverse the ten feet to her kitchen with barely a step and flipped the switch from right to left. With her sleepy eyes, she peered in the living room from the kitchen doorway. They were only open about half a centimeter.  As her fingers turned the switch to align perfectly with the big black “0,” the shrieking faded and Catarina’s eyes popped open. She saw the wall move.

She stepped about an inch into the room and kept her eyes wide and on the spot she had just seen shake. The right wall was pulsing slightly; subtle but steady, like a curtain billowing in a breeze. She was not mistaken though. It was moving. Watching the same spot, a flitter of gold began to roam towards her. Catarina  froze. Along the wall slithered a constellation; a snake of tiny gold dots oscillated through the doorway and then she felt two hands behind her neck. Where there had just been no one, she felt two hands slide up her throat and cover her eyes like a blindfold.

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