Maggie went to work on the portal saying she had to “tune it up” a little before we used it. I was naturally leery, but felt I could trust her. Sophie was right—she would have turned us in first thing, not to mention, she would have to explain her treasure trove of illegal magical implements stored in her secret room to the guardians. Maggie was helping us, not leading us on.
“What time is it?” I asked Sophie coming back from my fiftieth trip to the bathroom.
“It’s exactly three minutes later from the last time you asked. You’re either getting faster about going to the bathroom or you’re slowly running out of urine.” She didn’t even look at her watch. Instead, she had a magazine shoved in her face.
“I can’t help it. I’m nervous.” I paced the floor and stopped at the window.
Outside was a vastness of openness. Big sky, big endless fields that looked like they went on for infinity made me feel insecure, almost like I was naked and vulnerable. I was used to buildings, concrete, and glass surrounding me with the constant sound of vehicles, people, trains, and life in general. Here, you were surrounded by nothingness.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Sophie asked standing beside me. I didn’t answer. “Ann and I used to go to the park every Saturday if it wasn’t raining. She liked to go there and just swing. I used to swing with her, and then we’d both tell each other stories we’d made up. We’d laugh and…” Sophie’s voice cracked. “We pretended that our swings could fly and we could go anywhere…she and I… could go wherever we wanted.” Her voice trailed off.
Sophie gazed into the big infinity of a landscape that I found way too open. But I knew she wasn’t looking at that, she was past the infinity part. She gazed at the life she could never return to.
“Ann, was that the kid you took care of?” I asked. Since all three of us agreed on going to Atlantis, we didn’t really get to know each other. It was more of a mutual feeling that we could trust one another, not get into each other’s lives.
“Yes, and she’s growing into a young lady.” Sophie took a deep breath. “She’s a beautiful young lady and not in need of a siren for a nanny.” She pushed herself away from the window and plopped in the chair.
Like a bad odor crawling from a garbage can, I could sense her sorrow and overwhelming feeling of unfairness.
“I bet you are good with kids,” I said sitting across from her.
She looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes. “You’re just being kind.”
“No, I mean…I can…well, it’s written all over you.” I looked at Sophie. “You reek with motherliness to the point that it baffles me. A siren as a nanny is a rare thing, and I can tell you were good at it.” I smiled.
Sophie returned the smile, stood up and went over to the window. I followed her.
“Do you think Atlantis resembles earth? I mean, do you think the sky is pink or maybe green? What are the inhabitants there like?” Sophie rhetorically asked before turning to me with wide eyes. “We know absolutely nothing about this place, and here we are going to it.” She defined each word in her revelation that we were really going to Atlantis—hopefully I thought.
She paced the floor before sitting back in the chair. “We are going into this blindly.”
I gazed at her. “Did you just realize that?” Her eyes darted to me. “No, we don’t know what Atlantis is exactly like, but,” I sat next to her, “look at the life we are leaving behind, and there are other sirens there. We have amnesty there from the guardianship and librarianship.”
Sophie lifted her eyes to me. “True, we do.”
I smiled at her, and I reached for her hand in an involuntary movement. I found being close to Sophie made me at ease with everything. I too wondered what Atlantis would be like for us, but at least for the first time in my life, I had the flickering light of hope at the end of my dark tunnel.
We would leave today. I was leaving Deadwood Kansas to never come back. Deep down I didn’t want to go, but my visions had been pulling me in this direction for a long time. I knew this was the something I always felt was coming, though I never actually acknowledged it to myself.
My heart ached for Nolan. I wanted to be with him, but knew I’d never be able to give him the child he and I wanted. And adoption could take who knows how long. This was the right thing to do—my senses tingled with rightness, and I knew I was headed in the direction I needed to be. My heart said otherwise.
“Mae, I want you to know that I think you made a good choice to go. Especially with the visions you’ve been having, and…” Maggie stood in front of me with glitter smeared across her nose from working on the portal. “Sometimes we need to connect to our past to move into the future.”
Maggie knew of all my dreams and visions. She said they were a message for me to follow them.
I nodded my head. “Please tell Nolan when he wakes up where I’ve gone, and,” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a tattered note that I’d written a long time ago, “give him this.” I placed the letter in her hand that I wrote on an impulse I had a year ago. It mainly said that I loved him, always would, and that I never felt so alive being with him. I told him that this was something greater than the both of us that I had to do. Even though I didn’t know what it was a year ago, my instincts and visions were guiding me. Now I know why I wrote it, and was glad I did.
Maggie smiled, and tucked the note inside her glittered covered jacket. Nolan was none the wiser as to what I was about to do. When Maggie came to tell me four other sirens arrived in her portal, I knew the time had come. We gave Nolan a sleeping spell, and I kept my tears at bay until I climbed into Maggie’s car. If he knew what I was doing and where I was going, he’d stop me, and I’d let him.
“Is everyone ready?” Maggie announced as if we were going to hop in the car and go shopping.
Beannca, Sophie, and Hannah all stood up and gazed at Maggie and me. I felt their anxiousness, their excitement, and their fears. Our emotions bounced back and forth like we were two mirrors facing one another. If we didn’t move, I felt the room would explode with emotions.
We stood on the platform all huddled together surrounded my hundreds of dusty cataloged implements that I didn’t know Maggie had. If anyone ever had a true guardian angel, it was me. Maggie lived here for a reason, and that reason was to help me because who else would have a decommissioned portal in Deadwood, Kansas?
All four of us sirens stood shoulder to shoulder on the circular platform. Hannah was to my right and Beannca to my left. Mae stood on the other side of Hannah. Maggie wished us safe passage as Hannah slipped her free hand into mine. Instead of fear, I felt strength run through her. She wasn’t frightened traveling through the portal like the first time she did. She latched onto my hand, lacing her fingers through mine as if we were on a ride going through the lover’s tunnel in some amusement park. I liked it, and curled my fingers through hers with a content smile.
We stood just as we did when we left in the portal in the Fisher Building. Hannah held the shell in her palm, Beannca and I placed our hands over it, and just as Mae slipped her hand over it, I felt a sudden force emit from the shell. It began to glow brighter as it slowly levitated from Hannah’s hand. I felt the pressure building as if I had placed my hand on a balloon that was being overfilled with air and would explode any minute. It was hard to concentrate as I tried to stay focused listening to the portal.
Last time was a pleasant experience, and I don’t know if it was Mae or that we were traveling to another dimension that made it nearly intolerable. Lights filled my eyes like angry flashes of lightning. Screeching metallic noises exploded all around, and the air blew upward making my hair stand straight on end. If we weren’t blown away and scattered like leaves, surely the violent lightning would burn us. But instead, everything calmed just as quickly as it had turned chaotic. I was glad when it was over with.
Salt—that was the first thing I smelled. We must be by an ocean, but was it in Atlantis? My knees wobbled as I forced my eyes open. Everything was quiet except for the gentle wind that carried the salty scent and the sound of the breeze through the slender blades of grass that grew all around the triangular stone platform we stood on. Not one of us moved as we stood there as if we were still traveling through the portal. The shell, now pale glass, sat benignly in Hannah’s palm.
“Are we…” Beannca’s voice barely whispered the question we all were thinking.
If I answered Beannca’s unfinished question, I’d have to reply; yes. The blue-green ocean, the brilliant matching sky, and the beauty of the landscape all said we were in Atlantis, and if not, a world that closely resembled it.
“Hello there,” a voice erupted behind us.
I turned nearly knocking Sophie over. I grabbed her by the arm, and steadied her. She was pale and looked like she was going to puke all over the portal platform. Hannah wrapped her arm around her protectively as I gazed up at the man that stood in front of us.
He had white-blonde hair, hazel colored eyes, and was dressed a long green robe nearly matching his eye color. He held a silver staff with a starfish on the end of it in his right hand. He gazed at each of us patiently waiting for a reply. He then said something in a foreign language that sounded like he was saying hello.
“Uh,” I said unable to speak with my tongue tied.
The man looked confused. “Alright, not familiar with that language…maybe it’s Asrai or…” He pondered talking to himself and rubbing his chin.
Evidently, Hannah, Sophie and Mae all had portal shock as much as me, but I wasn’t going to let this man think I was an idiot.
“Excuse me, yes, hello there,” I said in a friendly tone catching his attention. “Is this Atlantis?”
Bravely, I stepped off the portal and walked towards him making eye contact the whole time.
“Yes, this is.” He replied.
“Sean!” A female voice yelled in the distance. “Don’t tell me it was just some bird making a nest again.” A girl about my age with white-blonde hair crested the hill dressed in the same shade of green robe. “I’m getting really…” She stopped dead in her tracks as her amber colored eyes met mine.
I switched glances between them, and they seemed just as surprised as we were.
“Birds weren’t making a nest on the portal again, were they?” The girl stepped closer.
“Unless these are some kind of bird species we aren’t familiar with.” Sean gave her a crooked smile resting his hands casually on his staff. “By the energy they are emitting, I’d call them sirens.”