Liminal Spaces

“They’re called liminal spaces,” she said. “Places that only exist to pass through.”

“You mean a hallway.”

Out of the corner of Brandon’s eye he could see her shift in the kitchen chair. How someone that tall could always get her legs tucked under her, wherever she sat, Brandon would never understand. Eunice – such an ugly name for such a beautiful woman – brushed her hair from her face and wrapped her hands around her coffee mug. It was nearly ten, he didn’t know how she could be drinking coffee.

“Hallways, sure. But there are bigger places than that.”

Eunice was always finding these curiosities. Things she found curious, anyway. Things that made no sense and didn’t matter, not that Brandon would ever say that out loud. Humor her, that had always been the plan. Eventually she would grow up. Stop trying to talk to him about space ships, witchcraft, or whatever a cryptid was. Things children talked about. Not grown women with a job and a mortgage. Things he had found cute when they were twenty. Irritating pushing thirty.

“You haven’t heard a word I’ve said,” she said.

With a barely reined-in sigh, Brandon paused the basketball game and turned to face her.

“Something about hallways.”

She sighed. “No, liminal spaces.”

Brandon pinched the bridge of his nose. “Baby, can we talk later? I’m sorry, I’ve just had a very long day at work, and all I want to do is unwind and watch the game.”

“I’m not meant to be here, Brandon.”

Ice water flushed through his veins, sinking his heart. They had been drifting, it was true, but he still saw his life with her. After all these years, who else could it be?

Eunice shivered. “This world, I mean. I can feel it. I’ve always felt it. There’s a place I do belong. I can…sense it…somehow, so it’s not far. And I think a liminal space is how I get there.”

Fear resolved into irritation that she had made him feel the fear in the first place. Of course she wasn’t talking about anything grounded in reality. She was talking about her nonsense again.

“We have a hallway,” he said. His finger itched to press play on the game, but he wasn’t sure he was in the clear yet.

She shook her head around a sip of coffee. “It’s not big enough. Not liminal enough. It needs to be a place so temporary, barriers break down. A liminal space in a liminal space.”

Brandon snapped his fingers. “Like Inception?”

He expected her to stick her tongue out, like she usually did. Maybe pick up her coffee mug and finish watching the game with him. She only stared at him, gray eyes flat like stones. Only, it didn’t seem like she was mad at him. It seemed like she hadn’t even heard him.

“Babe?”

“I’m going to bed.”

He knew something was wrong, something he should try to fix. But if she went to bed, he could safely turn the game back on and catch up over commercials. They could talk in the morning. When he wasn’t so tired and she wasn’t so weird.

“I’ll be there soon. Love you.”

Eunice muttered something back. Brandon didn’t hear it over the ref’s whistle.

He’d forgotten the conversation by the next morning, let alone a few months later as they left for their wedding. A destination wedding, Eunice had insisted, all the way down in Mexico. She had planned everything, at least. Invitations. Flowers. Flights. He really wished she’d done a better job at that. So pie in the sky, looking for the perfect day, that she had stuck them with a layover in an airport in the middle of nowhere.

“There’s nothing here,” he said as they got off the plane. The huge plate glass windows showed nothing beyond the runways besides forest. No strip malls. No highways. The biggest city was two hours away. “This place must be layovers and nothing else.”

She smiled at him. At least she was smiling. Really smiling. He’d only popped the question because he’d become sure she would leave him if she didn’t. Guess it was the right move. She’d been all sunshine and roses since they’d left that morning.

“Where’s our next flight?” he asked.

Eunice didn’t even look at the information boards. “Next terminal over. Come on.”

As he suspected, everyone getting off their first flight was looking for their second. The two of them walked down the wide hallway surrounded by a crowd that got thinner and thinner as others peeled off, alone or in groups, to wait for their next flight. No one came to this airport, only passed through.

The crowd led them to a subway train to take them to the next terminal over. Eunice pulled on his arm, away from the train. There was a long hallway that sat parallel to the train line. Brandon couldn’t see a single person in it.

“Let’s walk,” she said.

“But the train’s right here.”

“We’ve got an hour until our next flight boards, and my legs are stiff. Come on.”

Annoyed, but willing to sacrifice, he followed her.

The hallway was well lit, but it didn’t seem like it. Above their heads the fluorescent lights shone like puddles on a highway, one after the one, bright and brighter and not a one out. But the hallway still felt dark. It was a wide hallway, to allow for crowds of people, but it felt confining. Hollow. Everything seemed to reverberate back to him, sounds from the train and people on either end of the hall and cars and planes up above and everything sounded far away and tinny. Pressure in his head. Like he was already flying. He yawned hard.

Pop.

Everything was normal again. The sounds came to him like they should and the lights above were bright enough.

“Babe, did you feel that? Babe?”

Brandon was alone in the hallway.

In the next few days the cops would ask him over and over again what had happened, even though nothing had. They would sympathize with him. They would suspect him. They would release him, no evidence to be had. He would never fully remember the conversation she had tried to have with him, but when a detective casually mentioned Eunice wasn’t the first to go missing from that particular airport he would find himself strangely unsurprised.


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