My longest story yet. I've had it for a long time, but didn't post it because of the subject. This was inspired by the music of Lana Del Rey--Video Games, and Radio most of all. It's that feeling, that ineffable feeling in her song, that I was trying to capture when I wrote this. If you like it, or if you don't and want to give me some constructive critcism, review! Reviews will make me publish the second part--and possibly the third part.
She woke to a global hum. That was how it felt to her; a bone-deep vibration, a beat the globe had been dancing to ever since the world was born. It was the first thing, the greatest thing, which woke her. Now, as she stood on needle-pricked legs and looked around, she saw where she was. She was standing in the belly of a concrete monster, a huge, living thing made of stone and metal. Vast concrete walls stretched around her to form a huge, empty room, bare of decoration, stairs built into the walls breaking the monotony here and there. Fluorescent lights lit all with a harsh glare. There were no windows. Beneath her feet, the stone was vibrating, a pulsation traveling up her legs and into her skull, a tangible thing, the voice of the monster. The third thing she noticed, and the most puzzling of all, was the sensation of motion. This huge concrete room was moving, steady and slow.
Where the hell am I? That was the first thought, but it was a slow question that floated into her mind, the hell included because it was better to be angry than scared. But it came with no urgency, no intent, but as the question she should have asked, given this was real. But nothing seemed real. A huge, vibrating, moving concrete room? It wasn’t possible. It had to be a dream. In that case, she was much more interested in exploring the dream than she was in waking up. She was inquisitive by nature, and the strange scene her unconscious mind had conjured intrigued her.
She started walking briskly, blood rushing back into throbbing veins. She climbed the staircase in a few minutes, discovering a corridor in the wall at the top. A golden light suffused the end, faint voices drifting down the hall. A sudden, eager anticipation almost made her break into a run. But she held herself back, for it seemed almost sacrilegious for the slapping of her feet on the concrete to break the hum. She walked quickly and sedately down the hall, the voices growing ever louder and less harmonious. The light dazzled her. When she emerged, squinting and mussed, on the other side, all fell silent.
It was a surprisingly ordinary room. She didn’t know what she had expected—more stark concrete décor, perhaps. This mundaneness was somewhat off-putting. Later, she would notice the religious pictures decorating the walls, the shabby acrylic wallpaper, the beige industrial carpet. Right now, her eyes were on the group of women seated on the floor, just as their eyes were fixed on her.
A blond, vaguely French girl said, “Oh. She’s woken.” That seemed to be a cue for the tense silence to break. The rest of the group returned to chatting loudly, as the blond girl rose gracefully and walked forward to meet her face to face. She did not shake her hand, as she half-expected her to do, but raked her eyes up and down her body, as if examining her for flaws. She sniffed, seeming to find her lacking, and only then did she speak. Even then, it was only to brusquely say, “Come over here. Elaine will fill you in.” She started walking to a door she hadn’t noticed in the heat of the moment, expecting her to follow.
Apprehensive, she did so. This seemed less and less like a dream. The door led to a small, cozy kitchen, tiled in white and blue, with a worn table and two chairs set in the middle. A girl sat there, bent over some papers on the table, a curtain of hair hiding her face. A steaming coffee kettle and two mugs were set beside her.
The French girl cleared her throat. Immediately, the seated girl straightened, pushed away her papers, and gestured for her to sit. She walked over and sat, barely noticing the French girl leaving. Her only thought was that this brown-haired girl was beautiful. Her flawless skin was cream and roses, her eyes large and expressive, her lips perfectly shaped, smooth and pink without lipstick. And brown wasn’t the right word to describe her hair. It was lustrous, sun-streaked amber, falling in sleek waves past her shoulders. Yet her beauty wasn’t unearthly and dazzling. It was candlelight rather than a torch, a gentle beauty that complemented her surroundings. She would be beautiful anywhere, in a shabby kitchen, or on a runway.
“Hello, I’m Elaine. Do you want some coffee?” The girl said, interrupting her train of thought. Her voice had a warm timbre to it she thought might be an accent. “Okay,” she said, not knowing what else to say. The other girl poured her a cup of black liquid. The steam wafted into her face, and with it, a strong, earthy scent. She realized, with a sense of vague horror, that she had never before smelled anything in a dream. Hoping that she could prove herself still dreaming, she took a small, scalding sip. She tried not to gag. The coffee was very bitter, and as she drank, caffeine raced through her veins, waking her completely and informing her that this was not, in fact, a dream. Uncertainty and fear washed over her. She never had to be truly afraid in a dream, because she knew she had to wake up sometime. But there was no waking up from real life. She really was in a traveling concrete vehicle, away everything she had ever known, for no reason she could discern. “I’m really not dreaming,” she said softly, her voice tinged with despair.
Elaine could have laughed. But instead, she empathized. Without speaking, she reached over and gave her a hug. Momentarily surprised, she relaxed into the embrace. She could feel the warmth of the other girl’s body through her clothes, and it was oddly comforting. She had never been hugged by another girl, besides her relatives, before. Her few friends at school couldn’t really be called close. “It’s okay,” Elaine whispered into her ear. “We’re in this together.”
She closed her eyes, and despite the unknown and uncertain situation, she felt safe. Safer, perhaps, than if this encounter was in normal circumstances, the way the darkness made a circle of candlelight seem warmer and more protected than it would otherwise. Somehow, a few minutes after meeting this girl, she trusted her instinctively. “Yes,” she said.
Elaine told her she couldn’t explain everything now. “It’s not safe,” she said. “You never know when someone is watching.” That put her more on edge than ever. Had someone been watching her when she was sleeping? Had they seen Elaine hugging her, and her own trust and acceptance? “But they’re expecting me to teach you what we’re doing here, so I can at least tell you their side of things.” She wondered who “they” was. All this she whispered into her ear as she topped off her mug. Once she was sitting across from her again, Elaine launched into the history of a religious society named ‘The Order of St. James.’ “The organization was created in 1634, when the Protestant Reformation was at its height. Originally, it was created by devout followers of the Catholic Church, who wanted to make sure that the Church could come back to rightful power someday, when the world had let down its guard.” She nodded—she had learned about the Reformation in History. Elaine continued. “They made a deal with the Hapsburgs, then Britain’s greatest rival. Some of the Catholic followers were high up in the government, pretending to be Protestants, their enemies. They would get crucial information about the British military to the Habsburgs, and in return, the Hapsburgs would return the Catholic Church to power once they ruled all of Europe. That was the plan, but it failed. At the last minute, a follower turned traitor and revealed everything to the Protestants, requesting amnesty. All of the followers but that one were hung publicly, denounced as traitors and spies. However, one loyal follower escaped. He fled to Germany, and once he was there, he built an organization that would to reach that same goal from scratch. He made allies and informants out of the important figures of the time, and when he died, the organization followed his lead and built its strength gradually and invisibly, over the centuries. That man was James Aldroit, canonized St. James after the Biblical James of Zebedee. The organization is named after and dedicated to him.”
“Six months ago, the organization was finally ready to start its great coup. It had informants and allies in half the main governments of the world. With their help, it could start the Great Crusade, the war to return true religion to the world, to purify and convert to the true Christ every man, woman, and child. We, the chosen carriers of the line, were sent to a great Ark where we could be safe from the strife on land, where we could breed and wait for the day when we would be released to preach our gospel and spread his line throughout the world. Which bloodline is this, you might ask? It is the bloodline of St. James himself. His twelve children were sent to various locations all over the world, switched for the children of unsuspecting parents, in order to protect them from any conspirers against the organization. The organization watched them from the shadows, ensuring they came to no harm, and that they sired or bore many children. Only through perfect ignorance could they be completely safe. And so the bloodline of St. James was carried through the countries of the world, and his direct descendants were gathered here on the ship, to grow numerous in safety and wait for the day when the world is united under one true religion.”
Elaine looked directly at her, tensely, penetratingly. “Do you understand?” Behind her words a double meaning echoed. Do you understand how atrocious this idea is? How they have mutated the ideals of Christianity? Are you with me?
“I understand exactly how important the organization is.” She emphasized the word, trying to make clear that she didn’t consider herself to be part of it. Elaine, too, had never once referred to the organization as ‘her’ or ‘our’ organization during her spiel.
Elaine nodded. “Good.” Again, the double meaning. I’m glad.
“I can fill you in on the finer details later,” she said. When we’re alone. “For now, are you hungry?”
She realized, with some surprise, that she was. It had been a long time since her last meal—lunch back at school, when her life was normal, she reflected. “Yeah.”
“There’s a cafeteria across the atrium. We can eat together,” she said. And for the first time, she smiled warmly at her. It was breathtaking, how it softened her face and warmed her sepia eyes. A little dazed, she followed Elaine into the corridor and across the concrete room-the atrium, she thought silently-up another staircase, and into a wide hallway, where they joined a stream of talking and laughing teenagers. They were all dressed similarly, in dull gray pants and white shirts for the boys, and long skirts and shirts for the girls. Clearly, she was the newest arrival. She supposed her clothes would be taken away, to be disposed of. The thought didn’t upset her much. She wasn’t interested in fashion anyway, had always stuck to jeans and a basic sweater. All the while, they chatted about small things: school back on land, where they lived, what the rest of the ship was like. A sense of camaraderie had developed between them, a sense of us vs. them.
A question occurred to her. “Why aren’t there any adults, if all the descendants were gathered?” She asked Elaine. Elaine smiled wryly, with a kind of dark humor, and told her that only people below eighteen and above twelve had been picked. The preachers (they served like religious teachers, Elaine had told her) told them it was to ensure fertility, but she thought there was another reason involved. “They want young, easily impressionable minds to brainwash,” she said quietly. “Adults would be too mature, too set in their ways to believe their “gospel.” She made air quotes. She found it rather endearing.
The cafeteria was airy and spacious, but starkly outfitted, with concrete walls, beat-up cafeteria tables, and a metal window at one corner where people flocked to receive meals on plastic trays. It looked similar to the cafeteria of a budget-strained public school. She asked Elaine about this as they waited with hundreds of others in the line. “If the organization has backings in world governments, can’t they afford better décor?”
Elaine shook her head. “You’re forgetting one of the main Catholic principles. ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ she quoted. We’re supposed to cast off the unimportant material aspects of life, and focus on the spiritual. Besides, most of the funds are going to the soldiers and preparations for war. Our safety is a priority, not our comfort.”
“I get what they mean,” she agreed, a faint note of sarcasm in her answer. “Is the food any good, then?”
Elaine shrugged. “Nutritionally.”
After lunch (a soggy, canned mess), there came Catholic classes, choir, then dinner, free time, prayers, and bed. She understood the need for the Catholicism classes. She knew hardly anything about Catholicism, outside the scant facts that had come pre-packaged in the media and school, along with the Reformation. That wasn’t to say she liked it, however. It consisted of a ‘preacher’ (preachers instead of teachers, ha ha,) sermoning for two hours about how Catholicism was the only true religion, all others were false, and how they all needed to follow and obey the cause of St. James as his children. It wasn’t to say the class was boring—nothing could be boring with Elaine sitting by her on the back pew, leaning in to whisper hilarious observations about the preacher when he wasn’t looking. However, the effect wasn’t to help her get through two dry hours of droning, but to break the rhythm of the preacher’s voice, to distract her from almost believing it.
The preacher’s voice was rich and deep, like the voice of God in biblical videos. “THOU ART MY SON.” A voice so confident, so commanding, it was difficult not to believe it. And it was passionate as well, devious, twisting the aspects on certain issues, rising and falling with emotion like music. It was too easy to nod along with everything he said. She looked at the rest of the class, all seated on pews like a mini-church, their eyes fixed with rapt attention on the preacher as if he was the Lord Himself. Elaine, too—when she wasn’t whispering in her ear, she sat straight and looked only at the preacher. She followed their example. Inside her head, she kept up a counterargument to keep her from falling into the trap.
As the day dragged on, she found herself growing more and more impatient for night to come. She and Elaine never had a moment alone. They were constantly surrounded by laughing, chatting, praying, singing, shouting people. It disturbed her, how happy they were. Didn’t they realize that this whole event was a farce? That they were working for a terrible cause, not a great one? She wondered if they were all completely brainwashed, or if there were other secret insurgents like Elaine and her. Anxious and impatient, she sang so poorly in Choir that the instructor, a tired-looking nun in a white habit, reprimanded her. Then they knelt on the concrete atrium floor to pray, thankfully in their thoughts. Head down, sneaking a glimpse from behind a sheet of hair, she saw the atrium floor carpeted with a mass of people, heads bowed in obeisance. They no longer looked like individuals, but one mass, one organism, united under one religion. She closed her eyes and sent up a prayer, wondering if there really someone listening in the night. God, surely you can’t want a bloody war to be started in your name. Stop them before it’s too late. But of course, she reflected, God never raised a hand to stop the Crusades.
All the girls on the ship slept in one huge dormitory, in rows of plain metal cots. Two to a bed, twenty to a row, in unending columns. They changed in silence, averting their eyes to preserve modesty, and went to bed in silence. She waited, itching with impatience, for the little rustles and murmurs of the other girls to abate. Finally, Elaine moved her head close to her ear and spoke in a soft murmur. Her warm breath caressed her cheek, and she suppressed a shiver.
“I was born in Olathe, Kansas. My mother was a waitress, my father was a plumber. We were a strictly blue-collar family. My parents worked long hours to keep me and my sister in school, or that was what I thought when I was little. It was only later that I realized they always came home only when the other person was gone. Neither my mother nor my father ever showed much affection. They were always busy, tired, or both. My little sister, Carla, was the closest thing I had to family. We would do everything together, playing dress-up when we were little, going shopping when she was thirteen. Of all the things from my old life, she’s the one I miss most.” A sigh. She listened intently, waiting for her to continue. “I was sixteen when I was taken. I think I’m about seventeen now. It was after a normal day at school, and I was looking forward to getting home because I had promised to take Carla to the park. I was taking a shortcut through a alley because I was late, hurrying because there was no one to see if I got mugged or worse.” She paused. “I never saw it coming. At first I thought a bee stung me, but before I knew it, I was falling. I don’t remember hitting the ground… I woke up in the atrium, just like you did, and the rest is history. I’ve been searching for ages for someone else against this crazy mission, but I couldn’t just ask any of the people already there. So I talked my way into becoming an entrance counselor, and I waited for someone I could trust to come along. And I met you.”
She didn’t know to say. There was a pregnant silence. Elaine prompted softly, “You know, you still haven’t told me your name.” She hesitated, still wavering. And she spoke.
“My name is Ruth. I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. I always thought I was lucky to live in a city with such a pretty name. I was lucky in everything else, too. Nice house, nice school, nice neighborhood, nice grades, nice friends. Everything was nice.” A pause. An intake of breath. She whispered fiercely, “Sometimes it was so nice that I wanted to puke. I had dreams sometimes, of doing crazy, irresponsible things, things I would never do in real life, because it would jeopardize my nice reputation and my nice life. I think that’s why I wanted to do them, actually. That sounds selfish, doesn’t it? I had everything, but I just wanted to escape from it all. Sometimes my parents with their good intents, and my friends with their bland chatter, and my neighborhood full of civilized, orderly people—it all seemed so cloying. I wanted to go somewhere else, be someone else. So I wrote, and I longed, and I dreamed. It’s kind of sad. Right now, I’m trapped in a concrete ship at sea, while the world falls into war. But in some ways, I’m freer than I’ve ever been.”
She had been staring into the darkness, full of the small sounds and hushed breaths of hundreds of girls. Now, she closed her eyes. Darkness when she opened her eyes, darkness when they closed—what was the difference? She shut her eyes, and waited for Elaine’s judgment. She had been like this her whole life. Always trying to reach the standards of others; the good girl, the straight-A student, the perfect child. Now she waited for the judgement of the girl she had met this morning, and it was more agonizing than ever. Because for the first time, she truly and acutely cared.
“I understand.” Elaine murmured. And the breath sighed out of her, the air she hadn’t realized she had been holding. Just that: I understand. No pity, no judgment, no premeditation. Understanding. Within that, empathy. She reached into the dark and found Elaine’s slender hand.
“Thank you,” she said.
The dark and the constant fear were the guardians of their friendship. It grew in the night, a wild rose, watered by the secrets they whispered in the night. The secrecy and the danger made their friendship a constant thing, the one thing they could rely on in a fickle world. She watched Elaine daily, walked and breathed and talked and slept at her side. She saw her in a hundred moods, smiling, melancholy, carefree, furious, grieving, humorous, coy, confused, disappointed, joyful. Even aroused, one night when she believed the other girl asleep, breathing harshly, moaning softly as her hands performed a dance of skill below the sheets. Fascinated, she gazed at the little crease between her brows, the open mouth, innocent even in lewdness. She memorized the small details, and in her heart grew an emotion she could not describe.
The dark was the only place they could be truly free. In the middle of the night, as mercurial waves washed around the concrete ship and the moon drifted remote in the distant sky. They held each other in the rustling dark and whispered secrets, found comfort in an embrace while the world burned. It was a dream, because their circumstances were too impossible to believe. It was a dream, and she couldn’t help but feel that it was a dream come true. The world burned, but what was the world? Merely a distant shore, a memory long resigned to the recesses of her mind. The world was but an afterthought. Here was Elaine’s arms, the fragrance of cheap soap softened and made alluring by the scent of her skin. Now was a soft brushing of breath across her cheek, Elaine’s voice sultry in her ear. What did she care for the world? She was happy, for the first time in her life.
The dormitory was cool, on the verge of wintry. But Elaine’s arms caressed her, and in the scant protection of thin cloth and cheap wool, she found warmth that penetrated her to the very heart. When they had talked and sighed and laughed themselves to exhaustion, when Elaine slept like a virgin in a tale upon the white sheets, she raised herself on her elbows and admired her in the dark. She could not see her, but she could do better than that. She could feel her skin like living silk beneath her hands, breathe in her aroma; trace her hair with her lips when she was asleep. She could almost make out a faint form of white, her purity piercing the absolute dark. When she closed her eyes she could see her every nuance and detail, the silk of her hair, the white of her skin, her lips soft as petals, her eyes like large amber moons. In the nights she memorized Elaine, warmed herself with her presence like a beggar before the hearth. When the lights came on with a click and the warm soul beside her was thrown into harsh relief, it was the stripping of the dream, the return from tranquil night to the harsh, artificial day. And Elaine stirred and woke, and she, who often spent the precious nights without a wink of sleep, pretended to wake also.
The announcement was made in daily prayers. The Bishop, a corpulent, purple-faced man bursting out of his robes, informed them that they would be stopping at a beach to resupply. They would be allowed to enjoy the sunlight for a few scant minutes, while the restocking took place. The news spread through the crowd in ripples of awareness. Friends murmured in delight to each other—they would see the sunlight for the first time in months. She and Elaine shared a look. Elaine was eager, excited, hoping to find a chance to escape. She felt a twinge of guilt. She had forgotten that to Elaine, this vast concrete ship was a cage. To her, it was a sanctuary, where they could live together in content. Where else would she be free to spend the nights sleeping beside Elaine? Where else could she stay with her without repercussion? If they were freed, Elaine would undoubtedly go back to her family, to be with her sister. Where would she go? Certainly not to her mundane, meaningless existence as of before. That was a distant memory. She would follow Elaine, and try to stay beside her however she could. She was not so selfish as to keep Elaine here against her will, caged in a concrete ship, even if she could. The thought repulsed her, though it also had a dark attraction.
They would dock on a private beach, owned by allies of the organization. They would be allowed to come out and enjoy the sunlight for a few scant minutes while the restocking took place. She noticed how the preachers stressed this point, made it sound like a privilege they should be grateful for. She supposed she was. If nothing else, she could see Elaine lit golden by the sun, watch her smile at the glimmering sea.
They walked out onto a beach shimmering with evening, into a rich and golden light that was both alien and familiar. For the first time, she saw the ship from the outside. It was smaller than she expected. She had thought it to be a vast concrete monster, its long, winding corridors without end, but it was almost disappointingly finite. Little more than half a mile in length, a bit wider than an aircraft carrier. Then she looked to the side, and saw Elaine.
Her head was thrown joyfully back, hair hanging free, eyes closed in bliss, arms wide as if embracing the world. The sight of her, ivory skin lent warmth by the setting sun, took her breath away like that first moment all over again. It wasn’t the looks, the slender white arms, the curved, sensual physique, so much as it was the expression on her face, the grace with which she flung open her arms, the casual confidence with which she held her body. She was so beautiful that her heart ached in her chest, so utterly open and free that the strength of her emotion was a physical thing. Elaine faced the horizon and the setting sun, and in her posture and in her face was a wistful longing, a yearning for freedom. Here was everything she wanted, spread out for the taking, and she was just so close. For the guards standing casually as tourists, she might as well have been miles away.
It was then that she knew she loved her. Like a jewel buried beneath the ground, gradually exposed by the elements and the rain, finally revealing its clarity and color to the open sky, the truth came to her. A realization that had always been there, waiting as a possibility, then a factor, and now a fact. She loved Elaine. The insight was as clear and as obvious as if it had always been there. She would go anywhere for this girl, do anything, just to stay by her side and have the privilege of watching her face open with pure joy, to see her eyes turned to liquid gold by the sun. Her feelings must have been clear on her face, for when Elaine turned her head and looked at her, her expression changed to one of confusion, then understanding, and then wonder. Elaine had always been able to understand her better than herself. She could read her soul like a book, see the flaws and the assets for what they were, and understand, and love her as she loved herself. It was one of the things she loved about her.
“Ruth?” Elaine asked, and she was shaken from her reverie. She looked at her and smiled, reached for her hand. Elaine took it. They looked into the sunset. And then they walked back into the ship.
Elaine, ever the actor, showed none of the distress she must have been feeling. She talked, laughed, made gestures in the air with swanlike hands. She knew the act was for the preachers, not for her. Yet she couldn’t help but be saddened by the glint of despair in the eyes she loved so well, the tinge of hysteria in her beautiful laugh. How could she have been so stupid, so selfish, as to think they could be content here? She could be happy just being with Elaine. But Elaine was as a bird caged; she needed to breathe the fresh air, feel the sun on her face, walk on solid land once more. Elaine needed the world. She had no need for it, because to her Elaine was the world.
The resupplying had taken most of the evening. To distract her, she pulled them both to a corner and whispered in her ear, “Tonight I’ll tell you a dream I had.” Elaine stilled, nodded. The despair in her eyes was partly replaced with a spark of eagerness. She smiled, pleased. She knew how Elaine loved to hear her dreams. Elaine herself could never remember a one, so she dreamed vicariously through her, claiming that her dreams were more interesting than hers would ever be, anyway. She doubted it. But she went along with it, for the sake of Elaine’s smile.
Two more tedious hours of propaganda, honeyed lies they were told to swallow. Two more hours of meticulous brainwashing disguised as truth. Swallow, and pretend to swallow, they did. They had no other choice. While no one had ever informed them on exactly what would happen to a non-conformer, they had no doubt the consequences would not be pleasant. This concrete prison would have been unbearable without Elaine. With her, the prison became a sanctuary, the day merely a prelude to the night. Together they talked of mundane things, ate without tasting, saw without believing. They waited for night, the sun outside the walls sinking to meet the endless waves, darkness climbing the sky, quenching the torch colors with an infinity of black. The moon took her solitary perch in the sky, drifting radiant past the ephemeral shadows of clouds. Freedom in the night.
“Tell me,” Elaine whispered, at an hour when the dormitory was silent but for the rustles of cloth and secrets. She closed her eyes and waited for the words to come, like breath.
“Strangely enough, I knew that beach. From a memory of a dream I had long ago, when I was thirteen. My parents had driven there to play beach volleyball, a sport they loved. It was almost evening, and I was chilly in my scant jacket and jeans. But I loved it. The briny breeze off the sea infused me like a shot of adrenaline, quickening my blood. The sunset vista was stunning, a harmony of gold-shot, restless water, a bank of cliffs stretching into the distance, and the lazuli sky, crowned with rosy clouds. It seemed almost too exquisite to believe.
I set down my book on dry sand, a few meters away from the waterline, and sat down to read by the light of the setting sun. A few moments later, I looked up to admire the sunset, and noticed something strange. The water was receding from the beach, leaving a bare expanse of wet sand and gravel behind. The shore was growing by the second. I stood and looked at the incandescent horizon, shading my eyes with my hand. There, in the distance but approaching rapidly, I saw a thin blue line. A wave. Small, but growing impossibly fast.” Elaine listened intently, curled by her side like a child for a bedtime story.
“It was I who remembered the protagonist’s observations in Wave, I who first sent up the cry: “Tsunami!” The other beachgoers heard and trekked madly for land. I followed, watching the line of blue over my shoulder as I climbed. In ten minutes we were near the top of the cliff, at the parking lot: safe, we hoped. Some, thinking it was better to be safe than sorry, were packing their things and driving off. Others were calling family and police on their cell phones. I watched as the line approached, a thousand yards away; a hundred yards away; fifty. An irresistible impulse overtook me, and before anyone could stop me, I jumped.”
“The water was a few feet deep, the sand soft, and I landed well. I stood, my toes just reaching the ground, buffeted by the rapidly increasing current, and watched the tsunami swell as the frantic cries of my parents echoed behind me. I felt no fear, only a thrill of exhilaration, as the wave approached. It was beautiful, breathtaking in its immensity, a swelling of clear blue, golden where the sun could be seen behind it. As it rushed over my head, I looked up.”
“I was in a curved room it seemed; a vast cathedral of vividly blue glass. The sun burned like a pale flower at the crest of the wave, blurred by the water. For a moment, it was silent; for a moment, it was eternity. It was the most exquisite sight I had ever seen, the most beautiful thing I could ever hope to do or be. I took the memory and seared it into my soul. Then, as the walls shook, wavered, and crashed down on me, I took a last gulp of the briny air.”
“And I woke up.”
Elaine sighed. “Why is it that you always end it at the best part?”
I shrugged. “That’s the worst part about dreams,” I said quietly.
“Eventually, I have to wake up.”