It was as terrifying as standing at the open door of an airplane getting ready to jump. Or at least I imagined it would feel the same way even though I had never experienced that myself. Leaning forward and seeing the ground thousands of feet away, not knowing where the wind would blow you. Not knowing what you will find when you land.
At least people jumping out of planes got to practice, and they could see the ground. Besides they have parachutes for heaven’s sake.
What I was doing was completely different. No practice. No parachute. Can’t see where I’m going. Just step into a void. Leaping into the unknown. No visual clues. Nothing to stop me from smashing myself to bits somewhere.
Suzanne’s voice was whispering in my ear telling me to go, go, go. She was getting annoyed. She hissed at me which she had never done before. She said I was being melodramatic and it didn’t suit me at all. Just go!
I understood that she was rushing me for a reason. The portal was designed to stay open only for a few brief moments. The short time frame was necessary. It was to keep the monsters that lived in each dimension from leaping into another one.
Yes, there are monsters. Aren’t there always monsters? Sometimes they look like people, and sometimes they don’t. But letting a monster travel to a new dimension would introduce a danger to the inhabitants of that dimension, and there was a strong chance that they wouldn’t be able to defend themselves against it. It could mean the end of that world somehow.
It was like all the trees that were dying in my world. Dying because a bug, or parasite, traveled from one country to the next where there were no natural predators to stop them. One species after another of our beloved trees were leaving our earth. It was heartbreaking, but at the moment I couldn’t do anything about that problem. There were too many present ones to deal with, like leaping into a portal to someplace else.
Maybe when I came back, I could help. Suzanne told me that there might be something they would find where we were going that could stop the killing of our trees. After all, her people lived in what she described as a magnificent old growth forest.
I couldn’t wait to see it. I wanted it more than anything else in the world. Still, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t bring myself to step into the destiny that was waiting for me. Once the portal closed, it would not open again for me for a long time, if at all. Or at least that was what they told me. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if anyone was telling me the whole truth about anything.
The only thing I really knew was that I was more afraid than I had ever been. All my powers were useless. They couldn’t help me now. I was just an ordinary girl going on an adventure like no other, and if I didn’t leap soon, I might never get to go.
I had been dreaming about doing this very thing from the moment I learned about dimension traveling. I knew it was for me. I had to go. Had to. Had to. It called me. It was in my genes. It was mine to do.
And yet, I was paralyzed.
The longer I hesitated, the harder it became. It was embarrassing. For years I had been begging to be the one that went with Suzanne to her dimension. Now she was giving me a chance, and I couldn’t move.
Seconds ticked by. I felt as if I was shaking so hard that both dimensions would be experiencing an earthquake. What I was finding out was that when you are thinking about the unknown, it isn’t nearly as scary as when you are actually living it. The unknown is a mysterious, and probably a dangerous, place.
Besides, what if the portal didn’t work? I had heard whispered rumors that sometimes the gateway closes midstream, or diverts the traveler to somewhere they didn’t mean to go. Sometimes people disappear forever. Perhaps they vanished into one of the hundreds of unexplored dimensions. Or maybe they disappeared altogether because what if there were empty places? No dimensions at all? The point is, no one knows. Or at least no one was telling me.
Those whispers happened at night when everyone thought that I was asleep. Instead, I was listening at the crack of the door to every conversation.
I never slept when there were people other than my parents and brother in the house. Sometimes I listened because I had an idea that it was my job to keep guard, even though no one had ever asked me to. Besides, guard against what? It was that unknown thing again. I wasn’t afraid of monsters under the bed, or in the closet, as much as I was of what I knew to be there. I couldn’t see them. I felt them.
Sometimes I wondered if I was crazy. After all, didn’t crazy people see and feel things that others couldn’t? Or was it what Suzanne had told me, that knowing that there are things most people are not aware of did not make one crazy. It was a matter of who believes you and what you do with the knowledge.
When she uses the word knowledge, I get all goose pimply. I love knowing things, Things people already know and things most people don’t know.
That’s the other reason I listen at the crack of doors. I can’t stand people knowing things that I don’t know. It’s arrogant of me to be this way I realize. Who am I to have to know? But the fact is, I have to know.
How do things happen? How do they work? Why are they built that way? Perhaps my mom should have named me Curiosity because there is nothing I don’t want to know. Even bad stuff. I have to find out. Which is why I have to be a dimension traveler. I have to find out what is on the other side.
“You only have seconds left, Hannah, it’s now or maybe never,” whispered Suzanne in my ear. It dawned on me that perhaps I was afraid because I didn’t know how they put the portal together.
But I would never know unless I went there and found out for myself. Anyway, Suzanne is an experienced dimension traveler, and she was going with me. Wherever we went, we would be going together. There was a kind of safety in that. Or at least I pretended that there was. Sometimes pretending is the only way through a problem.
I took a deep breath and stepped in, and then I was gone.