I am alone on a sloop the color of the sky, gently coasting over foam-tipped waves as I follow the winds' lead. I am at that place at which the sea and the sky meet, with nothing barring their embrace except for my lone ship. I rest at the bow; today the waves are a benevolent master, and they cradle my ship lovingly. The sea and the sky have come to an agreement today and the two forces work in tandem to lead me along to a place that does not yet have a name. There is no sun and therefore no direction.
My cheeks are flushed with the mark of the sun and I can feel the humid salt of the ceaseless sea breeze embedded in my hair. Looking back I cannot remember the feel of true earth beneath my feet, only the rigid bottom of my constantly shifting ship. I have been at sea for innumerable days.
I look out, across the flat plane of sea and sky; the one comes from above and the other below, dancing with the other in eternity's tango. This is the way this planet was meant to be seen. The two bodies stretch into the distance, forming a molded blue line in the distance. That is my nameless destination. The winds guide me, to the place where the sea and the sky become one.
My soles tread over the rigid, shifting bottom as I make my way to the mast. Looking out over the ocean, I adjust the sails.
I am bundled in a cocoon of cotton sheets, silken linens beneath me. I clamber for something in the darkness, my clammy arms instinctively pushing away the sheets as my tiny body slides from my cotton prison. My mouth is dry and there is a sickness in my gut. My body knows what comes next while my mind fritters in the endless ocean. The soles of my feet touch the hardwood floor; it rocks and sways with my mind as I quietly slip into the bathroom, brushing past the paintings of beaches with water that only stretches as far as the next shore.
When sickly yellow bile escapes my throat, I am awake. My knobby knees rest uncomfortably on the tiled floor, my fingers splayed out on the sides of the porcelain bowl as my nails rake against it—anything to distract me from the awful feeling of my stomach retching again and again and… When I am empty I can rest. I sit back, the feeling of my heels pressing into my rear reminding me that I live in three dimensions, more than the broad pictures that dreams like to paint.
My stomach settles as I reach up for the silver knob. I push the seat down and use it for leverage to push my body up. I am amazed that my legs can hold my weight, shaking as they are. I steady myself, my hands coming up to my hair. It is dirty with sweat, not salt. I shower because sleep will evade me. It is better to leave the dream as it is: a fond memory. I cleanse my body in a waterfall of pure water, and it washes the salt and sweat of an endless journey away. I can still feel the burn on my cheeks and the salt in my lungs.
When I dress, the sun has barely risen. I gaze out the window, past my reflection and past the line of houses across the street, at the gray light masking the horizon. I dry my hair absentmindedly with a towel before abandoning it. The towel is dropped into a hamper, hair still damp and my skin untended to. I have the urge to set out, leaving the early morning light at my back. I have a destination, and I wake no one as I slip outside and sneak away.
It's a brief drive to his house, and it is still too early to announce myself. I quietly park my car in front and exit. I slip in through his garage, and I'm grateful that the door is malfunctioning enough for me to jimmy it open, despite the fact that it's supposed to be locked. My boyfriend is capable enough that I can overwhelm any worries with the relief of standing in his modest living room. I slip my shoes off by the door, partially to avoid leaving a trail of half footprints across his carpet and partially to enjoy the feel of that very same carpet beneath my toes. I pad across his living room and pause outside of his bedroom. I can hear the breaths coming from within. My heart expands in a captivating pang of warmth and I can't help but smile. I can feel the world swaying again and my nails dig into the wood of the door and my toes clench at the carpeting and I take a few quiet breaths. I'm grounded again.
I slowly, quietly open the door and peek in. I can see his chest rising and falling like the tides. My chest fills with an eradiating warmth once again and I slowly glide over to his bedside, closing the door behind me with a whispering creak followed by a click. I lower my body onto the cheap bed sheets, and then I lift my legs up as well. I slip under the covers, touching my hand to his body. I find him in the sea of cotton, my chest coming to rest against his back. With every breath his torso expands, coming into contact with me. Soon his breaths become mine, as my hands gently caress his body. I weakly try to fight away sleep, but in the peace of my lover's bedside it becomes impossible. Consciousness soon slips away from me.
The sheets are tangled around me like snakes, binding me to the mattress. I thrash to no avail, my mind realizing that my lover is missing from my side where he had been just moments before. Though in sleep I had no way of knowing how much time had really passed: minutes, hours, or even another eternity. He is gone and I am alone, entangled as I feel my throat constricting, tighter and tighter. And I realize it is not the snakes constricting my throat. The need to escape intensifies. In moments my body is deposited on the floor beside the bed. The carpet presses up into my hands as my knees scrape along the carpet, burning and bleeding.
I scramble into the open door before me, light winding through the crack from what I know is the bathroom into the adjacent bedroom. My actions are more animalistic than human as I bound from my kneeling position. My throat burns and I can already feel the contractions in my stomach. I know that there is no way I'm going to make it in time. My hands collide with the flimsy wooden door, pushing it open as the wood disintegrates beneath my fingers. I adjust the sails.
Looking out over the ocean, I adjust the sails. The rope burns against my hands as I put the finishing touches on a knot. I stand, the ship rocking beneath me. The motions are more violent, as if the sea is no longer blessing us and is instead… Before I can look to that nameless destination the burning in my hands spreads to my throat. I collapse on all fours on the deck of my ship, the carpet burning my knees. There is no carpet and the ship thrashes on the open water, sending my limp body tumbling into the side. It is a miracle that I don't go overboard.
I retch, my back arching with the fervor of the convulsions in my gut. A white sticky fluid escapes my mouth, splattering onto the deck. Lorelai. I am empty, more than empty, and I am certain that is all I have to vomit. But my body disagrees and continues convulsing. My limbs go rigid, as if I am in the throes of death. It crosses my mind for a moment that I just might be, as my spine coils and uncoils itself of its own volition. Blood splatters on the deck between my braced hands. The ship lurches again at the whim of the waves and I am sent sliding to the other side, making bloody skid marks through my own bodily fluids.
As I connect with the other side, blood escapes my throat again. My body is not empty. Lorelai. With the next convulsions I can feel something solid moving up my throat. Every convulsion inches it slightly more along its path. Its path is an agonizingly slow one and its presence would cause me to vomit more if I was not already. With each convulsion comes more blood as I wait for this tumor to escape my throat. I grow fainter as time passes and I begin to think my first instinct was right; I am going to die. Lorelai.
Too much time passes before the tumor falls onto the deck. It is a red, pulpy mass. It pulses, as if there is somehow life instilled in it. Lorelai. I think of the organs I had viewed in biology textbooks in another reality. My hands explore my skin, thinking that I can somehow feel the loss of an organ. I can't and all I can do is stare in horror at the wriggling thing in front of me.
Waves pound against the hull of the ship. Lorelai. The ship moans in protest, as it wasn't built to weather storms such as these. The storm rages with an unrelenting rhythm, and the boat has no choice but to sway to its whims. The boat dips, letting itself be consumed by the waves. One final push is all it takes for the ship to capsize, and it does. The bow rises up to the peak of a wave before tumbling over the edge. I am engulfed by the red sea. Lorelai.
Lorelai. A voice is calling me from a reality away.
He brushes my hair from my face. The feel of his calloused fingers on my skin is the first thing that comes to me. I choose not to tell him about the dream. It deeply unsettles me for reasons I can't explain. The light that filters into the bedroom is laced with an orange glow. I have slept until late afternoon, and even so I am still exhausted. I pull him into bed with me and he obliges willingly, my body finding his beneath the sea of cotton.
We make love. Afterwards I lay with him, my breaths becoming his as the warmth of his body burns my cheeks. I kiss him, my lips never tiring of the feel of his rough skin. Hours pass and our time together is too short. I could have an eternity with him and it would still fail to be enough. As much as I long to spend the night with him I cannot. I press a farewell kiss to his lips before I gather my clothes and return home.
There are no images. I am suspended in a colorless void. There is no sun and therefore there is no direction. I cannot tell if I am falling or rising or simply existing. I suspect that it hardly matters. While there are no images, the sounds are aplenty. I can hear the ocean and it is no longer raging; instead it has calmed. I imagined that there was a clear sky above it, but in the void the images do not appear. Along with the sea, I can hear wails. The sea and the wails blend together in such a way that it is hard to separate the sounds and if I lapse in focus for a second I lose the latter sound. I need to separate the sounds again. Deprived of my sight like this, it is possible. If I was back on my sloop, no doubt the wails would have gone unnoticed. A tingle goes down my spine at the thought that the cries had been lying beneath my notice for an eternity.
In the cadence of the two sounds, I can almost make out words. I can almost make out…
Lorelai. Lorelai. Lorelai. Lorelai. Lorelai. Lorelai. Lorelai.
I retch again, panicking for a moment before I see that I am safely on the tiled floor of my bathroom, vomiting into a toilet. Uneasiness still lurks in my veins and I rest for a moment, thinking as I let the nausea pass. It's the third day in a row that I have found myself in this position. I've kept it a secret from my lover, thinking nothing of it for the most part. I consider calling him now, to let him now I've been sick. But I know that sick isn't the right word for it, the uneasiness tells me that much. I think back to the sex from two days before. It was passionate and pleasant as always. It plants an idea in my head, one that sends an icy chill down my spine and makes my bones shake.
The weight of the thought is heavy, and I don't imagine that my frail body can carry it. To remain curled in the corner of the warm bathroom for the remainder of the day is an inviting thought. It is not one I can entertain for very long. I don't know where I find the strength in me to stand, but I manage. I exit the safety of the bathroom and take a deep breath, hoping to breathe in the courage that I don't naturally hold in my body. It is midmorning when I leave the house.
I arrive at the convenience store just as it is opening. I am immensely thankful that I will be the only one there. I sheepishly enter, shuffling my feet and casting my eyes downwards as I wander about. The sole cashier behind the counter is no doubt watching me, as I am the only thing worth watching in the entire store. Minutes pass and the air around me offers no more courage. I approach the counter, taking a deep, shuddering breath as I ask for one of the boxes behind the counter. I have to tell her my age first. I briefly consider lying before the truth leaves my lips. I feel undoubtedly ashamed and I cower even more into my body. I can't help but eye the door, fearing that every second I spend in here is another one in which someone else could walk in. The lady fetches my item and rings me up. I pay her quickly, taking the bag and retreating to the bathroom.
The path seems so much longer now that I have the plastic bag weighing down my wrist. With each step my ankles grow heavier, the items on each side of the aisle grow taller and taller, dwarfing my tiny body. Each stride of my own seems to lengthen the path by two. My destination looms so far ahead and yet I dread getting there. The thought crosses my mind to turn and leave. The bag cuts into my wrist. Before I can reach the door, my wrist closes around the handle. The space of an eternity closes within an instant.
I discover that I have been rising. I break the surface of the pond with a loud gasp, breaking the silence and startling the birds overhead into flight. I find myself in an endless garden. I step out of the water as small fish nip at my ankles. Apple trees dot the edges of the pond, and in the distance rose bushes gather. My limbs feel the onset of weariness; I walk a few steps before I gently lower myself to the ground, careful not to trample any of the budding violets.
The garden is lush with greenery; even so there are few true blooms visible. The apples on the trees are green and unripe. Most of the flowers that surround me are simply buds, and the ones that have already taken the chance to bloom are very young and tentative. I reach out to caress a delicate petal before releasing it. I do not pick the flower as it has not yet had its chance to live.
I lay back, my limbs spreading in the tall grasses. The garden is soft. The grass does not prickle and protest against my back as it normally would have. Instead it welcomes my weary body against it, enveloping me in a warmth that I was unaware nature possessed. In the heat of the sun, soon the pond water on my skin dries. As the songs of the trees and wildlife harmonize, I realize how much I wish to share this with another person.
For the first time in an eternity, I feel utterly alone. At the whim of the humming crickets, tears come to my eyes. The exhaustion in my limbs leaves me vulnerable to the whims of my emotions. I have no energy to fight off the weakness. Minutes pass as I weep, the symphony around me pitching into a melancholy sonnet that does nothing to abate my tears. All I can do is lay on the bed of grass and wait for the emotion to pass. Eventually the tears stop, as no human can cry endlessly. I am no less alone.
A lone voice rises out of the music surrounding me. The bleating of a lamb breaks through the fold. I cannot tell whether it is a sour note or the beginning of a new song. A minute passes, and then another, before the lamb bleats again. I rise up, realizing that the lamb is not a part of the music at all. The lamb is calling me. There is no lamb in sight, but the cries continue. I do not pause, knowing I am supposed to follow. I stand, the weariness in my body left behind on my bed of grass. I rely on my ears to follow the voice, cresting over a small hill dotted with rosebushes.
On the other side of the hill, I can see the lamb at the bottom, in a grove of chrysanthemums. The creature is curled in on itself. I carefully tread down the hill, not wanting to scare the poor creature. Halfway towards the lamb I realize its bleating, as well as nature's symphony, has stopped. I continue. When I am only a few strides away from the tiny creature I realize it's not a lamb at all.
It's a small white bundle abandoned in the middle of the garden. My breath halts as I tentatively continue, my limbs shaking as I near the bundle. I am approaching it with the same trepidation that I would have with a lion. To me the bundle is just as frightening. When I am beside it, I gently fall to my knees. I am unsure whether this is to diminish the height difference or because my legs can no longer support my body.
My shaking hands reach out, gently taking a hold of the soft blankets that surround the little being inside. I can't think. I have no choice. I pull the bundle closer to my chest, feeling it wriggling inside its cocoon of blankets and I almost begin to weep again. I cradle the creature gently in the crook of my arms, a light mist clouding my vision as I gaze at it. I know what it is and I don't at the same time. My shaking fingers gently reach up to pull back the blankets covering its face.
When I leave the convenience store, I have no plans of seeing my lover that day. I hardly trust myself to get my body safely home, but I manage somehow. As I enter my home I find that it is not my feet that walk across the carpet, and my hands are not the ones turning the key in the door. I am gliding through my house inside someone else's body. This house exists in three dimensions that I have condensed into two. My room lies at the end of a line; I am at the opposite end. It is the only line that exists. When I reach my room, I am myself again. The only thing I can feel is a pervading sickness in my stomach. I lie down, knowing that in time, it will pass.
My hands find themselves cradling my stomach. I am not empty. I adjust the sails.
Looking out over the ocean, I adjust the sails. I close my eyes for a moment, breathing deep the salty, humid air. My destination has a name. I direct the ship East, towards the rising sun.