Note: This is another
one of those poem/short story things. I wrote it a while back at one of my
(numerous) online diaries. Thought it might fit here too.
Here is an invented dream.
Climb, climb, climbing. Your feet traverse parched earth on the
mountainside (remember this is a weird place, where nothing's familiar, except
the presence of a landscape, except the presence of a sun ? or two ? except a
horrible thirst for water).
You've been climbing for days, weeks maybe, although in this place an
hour can seem like thirteen days, or something like it. You keep climbing,
since there's nothing much else to do, and you are thinking only thirty
steps more and I'll crest it, and you think that every hour on the hour and
in between to keep yourself motivated.
Walk, walk, drag yourself, drag yourself up that mountainside, parched
earth beneath your dusty feet. Don't give up now, you don't want to die here,
the water's not too far now.
You pause for the briefest moment, crane your neck, frown slightly as
beads of sweat trickle down, wishing for a long soak in fresh water, where you
don't have to drink it 'cause it's seeping through your skin.
When you crane your neck you see the twin suns, and yes, again you know,
you're in a strange place, this place ain't like home, this place is alien to
you, but you've given up fearing for your life and sanity, you discarded that
bothersome practise long ago.
Head down, lips pursed, skin beaded in a sudden breeze that lasts three
seconds and disappears again as if it had never been. You climb, climb, climb
and then you're there, as quickly as that.
What a view up here, you're taking in the panorama of this crazed
landscape. You see it now, it's not a mirage, it's a lake, no, an ocean full of
crystalline magic, crystals line the edges of the shores, the shores that
stretch so far until your (our) eye can't see.
You gasp in relief, whimper as hope floods in again, and then your legs
are carrying you, faster than they ought to be able, you guessed it, everyone
puts that in their story don't they? I suppose I'm no different in a few ways.
You tumble down the hillside without ever really falling, you float and
skid and slide and melt down the parched earth's southerly twin, breathing in
the natural fumes, not by choice. You're at the bottom now and you pick
yourself up even though you never really fell. One step in front of the other,
that's right, keep it up, come on, we'll go together, no, now don't falter, come
on, keep going, just one more step, and now another, and now another, and soon
we'll be there.
Perhaps we link hands in those moments, perhaps we brush up against one
another, perhaps our expectant gazes swivel and meet and lock, for just three
seconds, and then fall away, picking out our path so that we move ahead,
leaving that mountainside behind, traversing cracked red earth like the bottom
of a strange lake, emptied so many centuries ago and left out to dry,
Perhaps I'm not there at all, and it's just you. In either case you're
there, at the edge of the crystalline lake, toes edging forward and sinking in
amongst those tiny crystals, they're not like glass, they won't harm you if
they get beneath your skin. Fall to your knees and they're cushioned anyway,
you won't be harmed here. Lean forward, your tortured body curving over, you
make a letter 'c' with your own form, though that was never your intention.
Dip your hands in, watch the dust of so many days' travel melt away,
filtering into the calm waters of this lake of ours, no wait it is an ocean,
right? (And it is yours anyway)
You're polluting it but with its comrade's skin, so it won't complain,
it'll thank you in the end and it'll offer you that sustenance for which you've
been reaching for so long.
Don't hit and miss, don't let this down again, don't let this thing die.
Your form seems to blend more and more with this strange landscape.
Perhaps the waters into which you waded are more familiar than we'd
anticipated, and what a pity that soon you won't be here to tell me all about
it, to describe the attributes of this foreign azure divide.
Why am I smiling as I wave goodbye to you? Was this the plan all along,
and was I in the dark from myself?
Questions flit through my once-empty mind as I recross the parched
bottom of the former lake, heading back to the alien mountain you scaled and
unscaled so recently. I'm putting my feet right in your footsteps, making sure
I don't miss a beat, so don't worry about me.
I'm stopping momentarily and craning my neck, and there, two suns, to
dazzling flares of light in this odd red sky. Of course that is what you saw
earlier, and what caused so much deliberation.
What will I tell our fellows when I reach them once again? What will I
tell them about how you met your end? Would they believe any lies I told?
Bending at the knee I place two fingertips on the hot earth and yank
them away as the ground begins to crumble. This is not part of the plan,
I think to myself as the black hole opens up, matter falling away at the edge
of my feet until before me sits a yawning chasm of darkness, and I'm going
This is not in the plan we drew up, you and me and our fellows all those
days ago, days? Months? What does it matter now? It's all falling apart, it's
I open my eyes and stare up at
the plaster ceiling, not red, not orange, not grey but beige. The confusion
sets in and then succumbs to thunderous reality. What a dream, what a
marvellous dream, and I like it better than reality. Reality is tedious and I
want to go back to the alien landscape in the dream, but there's no time, it's
8:39, I'm late already, have to get to work on time, I'm going to miss my bus.