The day bleeds out of the lemon-coloured dahlias, the only trace of him remaining, and their pink tips faint just a little as the night begins to blossom. The brooding dusk inflates me, fibre by living fibre, in shades of pink, orange, lavender and gold. As this sleepy little village falls into nocturnal silence, I rise and twinkle, like a disco ball. I have tried not to twinkle as night casts itself down upon me, but then my burgeoning restlessness splits my skin wide open, scattering pieces of me across the mantle of nowhere. I feel like I’m made of glass. And I’m falling, falling, falling. Holding my breath. Waiting to shatter. But I don’t. Instead I find myself walking through quicksand. I struggle a struggle that plunges me further and further downward. Have I moved forward? Have I drowned? Am I awake? Or am I sleeping? I can barely tell the real from unreal. Such a distinction seems so very random to me, at this moment.
“Do you wonder?” A voice speaks to me in a gentle sigh. “Do you wonder how you got here?”
Again, I hear a sigh, a collective of sighs ~ a murmur. But, wait. I cannot feel certain that I do, indeed, hear these voices. Can one hear voices that speak inside the mind? Still, I have no idea how I got to this place, to this shore, a shore filled only with the whispers of a tide’s ebb and flow. I can feel the tide pulsing within my body, in that sacred space which houses the crushed wreckage of my heart and soul. I gaze out onto a sea of countless naked, formless souls calling out to shrinking swells. With each swell that strokes the shore, I see a thousand souls borne, cast out to earth through some seamless, unseen portal. And with each waning swell, I see a thousand withered souls absorbed from earth, cast back into the sea. Before my eyes, this silvery sea breathes itself into a tapestry, a tapestry into which all souls strive to sew themselves. The expansive whitewashed sky sags as it dons a steel grey hue. For a split second, I feel as if I should have to raise my arms, in an effort to keep the sky above from collapsing all around me. I watch as delicate, silvery filaments of rain fall in a sweet hush. As with all things in this dimension, I cannot tell where the rain ends or where it begins. Still, it all seems to me like the unravelling of a grand, undulating garment.
Once again I hear the beautiful sigh speak to me. “You arrived, precariously perched on the tip of a frightening, winged dream ~ a soul in dire need of repair. The most wounded of souls, shattered and jagged, come here, seeking repair and renewal. Welcome, to the Sea of Souls. Here you will receive beauty for ashes.”
I close my eyes, trying to remember. I see a heavy pool of sleep sand and dive into its deep, thick and thundering silence. A jumble of memories lurches, like unstable ruins of lose masonry. In flashes I glimpse shards of my fractured existence, spread out at my feet. My world feels stillborn, lifeless and flat. I glimpse my thoughts, like a pile of smashed glass, swept into a forgotten corner of my mind. Darkness, darkness, so much darkness, boundless and immeasurable darkness, casts itself all around me. A beautiful, mindless ache rises up from the darkness, steadily drawing me under myself. An unseen history ~ mine ~ lazily sinks ever downward. Suddenly, pure light unwinds her spiral arms and strikes out at the darkness, which violently shatters and shrinks into nothingness. The beautiful sigh speaks to me wordlessly, filling me with coloured light and undressing my soul. Minuscule filaments of rain became fat, pregnant droplets on my skin. With each drop, a glimmer of salvation. Time stands still in this dimension of edgeless and dangerous brilliance.
When I open my eyes, I find myself alone, standing at the water’s edge, the tide spilling all around my bare feet. I splay my toes into the wet, coarse sand. I can see my breath. It’s winter. I’m wearing only a nightgown. I don’t remember how I got here. Where did the Dahlias go? I stretch out my arms. I want to touch them. I cannot see them, but I know they linger, there, just beyond my reach. I catch a glint out of the corner of my eye. In my grasp, I have something sharp. It makes a thudding sound when I drop it. The tide carries it out to sea. Will it return to me? I can feel a certain warmth flowering out of me. Have I done it? Have I finally crucified myself? An immense heaviness sags within me. It leaves me feeling tired, so very tired. Lie down. I must lie down. And sleep.
I dive deep into that heavy pool of sleep sand. Thundering silence cocoons me, insulates me from the chill of missing him, from the pain of living. Through layer upon layer of infinitesimal grains of sand I can hear voices calling me, begging me to awaken. Oh please, I want to remain here, in the comfort of nothingness. I cannot speak. My lips and tongue feel thick and my vocal cords, frozen silent. Where did the Dahlias go?
“Are you there? Please, if you can hear me, please wake up!”
The voices grows louder, more shrill and desperate. As if such shrill desperation would suffice to rouse me from the depths of the sleep sands. I want to speak, to tell them that I can hear them, even though I don’t want to hear them, that I never want to awaken, that I want to remain here, where the sea will carry me home. Flashes of blurred faces, obnoxious lights, and motion intrude upon my slumber in the catacombs of the sleep sands. And then darkness, a very bright darkness. Where did the dahlias go?