Unbeknownst to Becca: A Short Story Part One
Listen to the new podcast Unbeknowst to Becca Part One or read the original short story below! Take a beat, take a breath, and listen in (or read it below!)
Complete and total blackness was all that Becca Gladstill could make out.
The 37-year-old mother of 4 was what she would describe as “average.”
Married too young, saved by grace, grit, and the skin of her teeth, Becca had two sons Blake and Ben with her first husband before he literally took the money and ran. Leaving her penniless, husbandless with a two-year-old and a newborn to fend for themselves. Back then, at 22 she couldn’t have imagined just five years later, she would be a college graduate, a dental hygienist, at a thriving pediatric dental practice, and remarried to a gorgeous podiatrist from the medical mall where she worked.
10 months and 9 days after their honeymoon/family vacation to Florida, something “Doc,” as Becca referred to her new husband, Nick had insisted upon, Becca gave birth to an 11 pound, 9-ounce baby girl.
The couple named their new daughter Pearl Nicolette after Becca’s late maternal grandmother and Nicollete after Doc.
The trip to Florida and Disney World had been a dual celebration of their nuptials and the days that followed. The day before they flew from Kentucky to Orlando, Nick had formally and officially adopted Blake and Ben. They had barely been a happy family of four when Becca discovered she was expecting Pearl. Doc, who loved children and had hoped they would have at least one more together, had been over the moon.
Imagine their surprise when, ten years later, Blake now 17, a senior in high school, Ben 14 and a freshman, and the fiery red-head, the comedic blessing of joy and laughter, Pearl was now 10, Becca learned she was expecting.
Bernadette Cassandra Powell, “Bernie” for short, was born 9 weeks premature. She raged onto the scene, at a whopping 3 pounds 3 ounces, via emergency C-section and fought like a wild honey badger to come home to a doting family of 5.
Those were the truths about Becca’s life that she knew, without a doubt, were real. Her current situation? That was much more unclear.
She was cold.
Her breast felt enormous, leaving her to deduct, she hadn’t breastfed Bernie or pumped her milk in too long.
Where was she?
Panic started to creep over her.
This she could not allow. Flat on her back, breasts throbbing, head pounding, Becca assessed her situation.
Carefully she ran her hands over the top of her head and down her body. Upon inspection, Becca flinched and gasped as her hand traveled over a sticky, damp spot on the top of her head. Blood? She ran her finger along her scalp and deducted, yes. Blood. Obviously, she had been knocked unconscious… but how and where? And where was she now?
She moved her hands down over her face, unable to detect any damage. Her ears, neck, and shoulders felt tender, jarred, but not wounded. As she moved her hands down her body, she met with little other discomforts, yes, engorged breasts, and a still tender c-section scar.
Becca wiggled her legs.
She lay her hands by her side and felt the ground beneath her.
Dirt. She was lying on a dirt floor.
And this, she hesitated to do but knew it had to be addressed before she confronted a nagging terror.
Becca raised her arms over her head… no barrier.
She opened and closed her arms and legs as if she were making a snow angel… no barrier.
And the last test, the test to ensure she was not in a coffin, buried alive, she raised her arms straight up to test the height of her confinement.
Relief washed over her, even if only momentarily when she met with no barrier.
“Okay,” Becca said out loud, noting no echo, which was another test, a sound test of sorts to collect her bearings.
She quickly realized that talking out loud calmed her so she decided to let her thoughts become words.
“What fresh mess have you gotten yourself into Rebecca?”
She talked herself into sitting up. “You aren’t in a coffin. Your first worst nightmare is not your current reality. You can sit up. Your second worst nightmare is that you have been kidnapped and thrown in a dungeon. Can’t rule that out yet.”
Her heart rate increased.
“Deep breaths Becca.” She encouraged herself.
Slowly she sat up, which was a conflict of emotions. On the one hand, she was relieved to see stars. The flashes of light broke up the monotony of darkness. On the other hand, her head spun, her stomach knotted and the change in position caused a trickle of blood to break loose and run down Becca’s cheek.
Snakes. Spiders… oh my goodness, her heartbeat intensified, encouraging more blood to flow from her head.
“Stop!” Becca ordered herself. “Becca. Stop. Deep Breaths.” She complied with her demands.
“I know you are afraid, but keep it together girl.” A lump rose in her throat. “Figure out where you are.” She moved from her seated position to all fours and decided to assess the space. She crawled as far as her containment would allow.
“Okay,” she crooned herself, “This space is only about 6 feet by 6 feet. You need to stand up.”
Becca used her hands to feel her way up what felt like a concrete block wall. Once on her feet, she reached her hands over her head.
“So you are in a concrete room with no doors or windows and a dirt floor.”
She inhaled through her nose and slowly let the musty air percolate out of her mouth.
“Maybe a cellar?” She said.
“NO!” She answered herself. “Don’t worry about the location Becca… how did you get here?”
Unable to tolerate her pounding headache, Becca carefully moved her body to the floor and curled into a fetal position.
“Becca, recount what you can.” She prodded herself.
She searched her pained mind.
“You got up and fixed french toast and bacon. I remember packing lunches. Blake took Ben to school. Doc took Pearl to the orthodontist… yes, she was getting spacers today for her braces next week. Then what Becca?”
A chill assaulted her. “Then what?” She whimpered and began to doze off.
“Do not go to sleep Becca!”
She loudly warned herself. “Okay, what else? You got Bernie dressed and fed. You packed the diaper bag. Got dressed in your scrubs.” She ran her hand over her leg and was 99% sure she was in her favorite after-work jeans and… a non-descript, long-sleeve, henley top. Probably her sage-colored one, as it was freshly clean and hung in the closet. “But you’re not in scrubs anymore? When did you change clothes?”
Her eyes were heavy, her heartbeat rang in her ears.
“Think.” She demanded. “Okay, you took Bernie to the sitter’s house and went to the office. I remember cleaning teeth… Mrs. Dennis, the Powell children, Frank Osborne… lunch with Doc in the courtyard at the Medical Complex. After lunch, I had a phone meeting with Blake’s Senior advisor and then I filled in for another hygienist assisting on a root canal.”
In spite of her efforts, Becca slipped into a deep sleep for an undisclosed amount of time.
She woke to a painful thirst and the welcomed comfort of a tiny stream of daylight coming through a crack in what could be called a crudely thatched ceiling. Immediately she gave thanks she hadn’t slipped into a coma. She followed that with the dreadful recollection, she was in a cinderblock box, with no recollection of how she got there and no idea how to get out.
Tears collected in her eyes.
“Don’t cry, Becca.” she hummed. “You are okay. You helped with the root canal. After that, you left the office and went to the grocery store to get things to make Italian Wedding soup for dinner. Pearl was already very uncomfortable and would need easy-to-eat foods while her spacers settled. Then what… what happened after that?”
Suddenly Becca heard something.
She could hear someone calling her in the distance. Next, she heard barking dogs and what sounded like a helicopter?
“Okay… they are looking for you. Someone is looking for you. Yell back.”
Taking precautions, Becca stood and began to yell back, “I’m down here!”
But the voices never responded and soon faded.
She sat back down to wait for her rescue from… she wasn’t sure what.
Becca went back to the practice of recounting her steps.
“That’s when you changed clothes. You made Italian Wedding soup. Pearl couldn’t eat it. You gave her Tylenol and she went to bed. You gave Bernie a bath. The boys were late getting home from baseball practice. Doc and I sat with them while they ate. Blake played with Bernie while Doc helped Ben with his chemistry assignment and I loaded the dishwasher.”
Becca began to struggle. The memories seemed to immediately grow foggy after the image of Doc and Ben adding salts to a beaker. After that, it was a blur.
Becca fell asleep again.
When she woke this time the little beam of light was gone. She listened in the darkness and heard the faint sound of an owl.
Her present situation unknown, her future uncertain, she decided to forgo the meditative breaths and happy place mentality and succumb to her fears and the ultimate case of limbo and let loose and cried.
To be continued…
Well, I have never been a fan of cliffhangers. Still, this week’s quality question insisted upon one.
Limbo is the worst. Waiting on the outcome, in the bowels of the unknown, messes with the mind and lays way to disillusionment and discouragement.
So, how do you cope with limbo? What do you do to get through seasons of the unknown? We’d love to hear your answer! You can connect with us at email@example.com or at any of the links in our podcast show note. Come back next week and find out how Becca copes when all else is unbeknownst to her.
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