Ok, I will tell you a little more. I had thought that I could just keep it simple, but that does not seem to be working. I have been poisoned, inside and out, and have been working relentlessly to regain something I thought I had, but which has never existed. The first time I saw the light of day I cried. After that I did not have much to say. Let me try to clarify this for you. Death came, and I was relieved. That might strike you as odd, almost counterintuitive, but it seemed perfectly natural to me at the time, and still does, lending as it does an air of finality to the whole affair that satisfies something in me that is crawling around somewhere in my interiors, without being able to announce its presence to me, except by means of the faintest of signals, which might in any case so easily be mistaken for an upset stomach, or a slight headache, that it makes their manifestation all but irrelevant.
I am filled with an almost eerie sense of peace and tranquility. Although I could try to describe it, I am not sure if it can really be outlined in any concrete way. Let me just say that calm before the storm would not be a horrible way to see things. Breathing very slowly does not hurt either. All told, there are things to do, and things that have been done. It is always difficult to see precisely where you stand in relation to these two positions. Is your best good enough? I ask myself this, knowing all too well that what you consider to be your best might not even be close. That is distressing, if only for the lack of guarantee. But the distress is hardly unendurable. It comes, I notice its arrival with a feigned indifference, then close my eyes and watch as the morning sun breaks out of its shell and lets itself speak. There are some things that are not my fault. I knew this already, but it is nice to be reminded. Then the day begins for real. I don't know how better to put it; although I am afraid that the point might get lost, it is a risk I have found no other way to negotiate. It is how I choose to begin as I watch what remains of me drift off into the slight summer haze. There will be other opportunities, other agents, but none will ever quite have my situation. This is something to keep in mind.
As the day proceeds, I begin to notice certain things, almost unembodied, but not quite. A slight hint of form reveals itself on close inspection. I cannot say anything, nor do I know what to do, or where to go. It is only a matter of impulsion – there is not, as far as I can tell, anything more to it than that. The clouds overhead scatter, then implode in on themselves. Although I have seen this a thousand times before, today there is something that catches my attention, something that was not there yesterday, and might not be there tomorrow. The lack of certainty that had up til now been gnawing at me suddenly vanishes. I know for the first time exactly how everything is going to be. I do not know how I know this, only that I do. I will reflect further on this at a later point, for now it will suffice to merely make the note. The day fades away, having finally become complete, all on its own this time around.
Because there has arisen a peculiar sense of urgency, I have come to realize that there is nothing that is not pressing. This is the model I will work from now, and in the future. It is not for nothing that we are warned so heavily against slothfulness. Then a burst of thunder smashes down from the heavens. I wince, looking up quickly to see if any lightening is coming my way, but of course even if it is it will be too late to do anything about it by the time I see it. A light rain begins to fall, growing more intense by the moment. The clouds roil over my head, churning into darker and darker shades of black, each of which seems to invite me into its embrace, in some way that seems to operate on an almost instinctual level. The words of course do not really challenge the facts in any significant way, nor do they offer hope. Only silence can do that. That and a very careful study of the coming horizon. As always great care is called for. This should go without saying, but I repeat it more as a reminder to myself than anything else.
The rain in the meantime has grown almost blinding, falling in near vertical sheets that would be terrifying if not for their complete lack of wetness. For the rain, if I can call it that, has no substance, or at least not any that I can determine. This is interesting, I have to admit, although not unprecedented, at least if you go far enough back in the history books, where you will find indirect references to such events if you know how to interpret the writings that have come down to us. As it is, I need to get moving, and so do not spend as much time reflecting on this as the event perhaps warrants. As is so often the case, I make a mental note to look into the matter at a later date.
Although the rain contains no moisture, there is something about it that nevertheless makes me pull my jacket over my head to protect me from its onslaught. While I know that I could just stop and stare up at the sky, I do not do so, for I remember a warning that came to me once, I don't remember if it was by mail, or something I read in a miscellaneous publication that arrived in my hands through the standard not quite fathomable means. Suffice it to say that it came, as has everything I have ever needed. Never more, mind you, but generally not much less. As a beginning, as a middle, and as an end, each element has so perfectly found a place to fit itself in that I find myself at risk of growing lazy, perhaps even complacent, about the situation, but a sharp peal of thunder snaps my attention back to the matter at hand.
A large stone bars my path, filled with inscriptions I cannot quite make out, although I remember reading about the possibility of seeing such things. It is just that reading something is so different from actually experiencing it first hand that we tend to just skip over the parts we don't quite manage to get, or that we haven't yet experienced. Of course, that means that if we aren't careful we will just keep repeating ourselves over and over again, until death rips away our dried husks and we are free again to repeat the process, ad nauseam. So I make an effort to bring the words into focus. They do not cooperate, preferring it seems to swim in vague spirals that appear to have an internal order, although an order that I cannot put my finger on at the moment. I reach out, wondering if the texture corresponds to the appearance, and am relieved to find that it does, although I am at the same time somewhat disconcerted, since the surface seems to be moving in that same swirling way that I would have preferred to attribute to an incorrect interpretation of the light waves hitting my eyes. But that is always how we try to escape truth. And with great success, at least usually. The moment has come, then has gone, then the world spins sadly on, unable to help us in any way. The stone too sits there, immobile, fixed as if from the very beginnings of time. But also at the same time completely fluid. This is confusing, and I sit down to think about it, and to take a closer look at my surroundings.
Everything seems to possess that same fluid quality, as if the rain that just finished falling had simply returned everything to itself, or stripped away the words we use to fix it to the liquid, then stepped back, satisfied with its work. There is so much to see, but no longer any way to do so. As I watch, the swirls begin to form larger ripples in the material around me, then branch out, forming a spider webbish structure out of which begins to pour small animals, so small that at first I think that the surfaces around me are simply covered with some kind of dew. But the dew is moving too freely, and the sunlight seems to be animating it rather than drying it away. Satisfied with my inspection I pull off my backpack and fix myself a small meal of bread and cheese, washing it down with a big gulp of water. The stars shine above my head, oblivious to the presence of the sun, or me for that matter. The tiny animals crawl around the rocks that line the path steeply on each side, making their way I suddenly realize towards the largish rock that is still obstructing my path with an almost sentient determination. I chew my food slowly, then take another long drink of water, watching for odd flickers in the periphery of my vision, knowing that it is only where we do not expect or look that anything interesting can ever happen.
Forcing myself to remain calm, I swallow the last of my meal, then stare up at the rock again. Its surface is crawling with the tiny animals, to the degree that I can no longer make out the swirling marks. Studying the surface more closely, I notice that the animals are actually eating their way through the stone, as if it were just decaying organic matter lying on a forest floor. I wonder if I am supposed to do anything, but find that only a tiny element of the doubt that had been lingering in the recesses of my mind remains, and that itself is merely acting to sharpen my observations. Not to say that I am seeing things clearly, mind you – only perhaps more aligned, if that makes any sense. The sunlight, which had been blocked by a larger stone to my right, suddenly breaks fully on the rock in front of me, animating the rapidly growing mass of tiny animals into what looks almost like a shark's feeding frenzy, or perhaps more appropriately, the churning of a school of piranhas ripping away the flesh of their unfortunate prey. And with that the rock crumbles away. The seething mass of tiny animals begins to disperse, covering the rocks around me with a thin film, which settles into something that looks quite a bit like lichen, only it glows with an orange light, brighter even than the sunlight that is now coming from directly overhead. The last fragments of rock fall to the ground, then are consumed by the remaining creatures. I step gingerly through the gap that has been opened, not permitting myself to think, although I cannot prevent a certain marveling from manifesting itself.
The sun glows with a new sort of light; what exactly the difference is I can't say, but I can definitely spot it. Maybe it is in the realm of the invisible beams that flow around us constantly, although I really don't know, and have only to step forwards to free myself from such thoughts. The trail opens up ahead of me, the rocks that had closed in on me at all sides begin to grow more sparse, and further away from the trail. If I was so inclined I could make my way between them, to see what lay beyond. Tempting an idea as this is, I force myself to continue on in the direction I was going. There will be time to return, if I still feel the need. But something is pushing me on – I won't call it a dream, but it strikes me in that way, maybe because I simply don't have the mental tools necessary to correctly interpret the events unfolding. So I cling to the memory of the dream, hoping that in so doing I am not simply fooling myself. The subject matter will continue to pursue me, that much is sure – whether or not it is real, that does not even remain to be seen.
The rocks on either side of me continue in their advance away from both each other and the trail, until they form only vague bumps far in the distance. I take a deep breath, relishing the air, and the sight of the long, dried meadow grasses waving in the light wind that sweeps over the prairie–like landscape. I stop, and decide to try to take in as much of my surroundings as possible. The trail behind me winds its way through increasingly rocky terrain, until it vanishes into a cleft that slices through a sheer rock face. I feel myself fortunate to have not wandered around in that maze – who, after–all, knows what pitfalls might have caught me unawares? Above the rock face clouds gather, breaking against the mountains that rise high above the sheer face of the rock, then dissipating into the clear blue of the sky. Ahead of me the plain flattens out; the small rock mounds growing further and further apart, until they finally fade away altogether, leaving only the soft rolling hills, dotted with trees which look quite small from a distance, almost like little green cotton balls stuck on toothpicks.
I look down at my hands, surprised by the thoughts that are bubbling through my head, but not by the ideas behind them. Those, although I keep trying to push them aside, have a tenacity that will seemingly not allow itself to be ignored. Their substance, I suddenly realize, is exactly the substance of the dreams which nag at some part of me that I had tried to push aside, but which has no interest in anything other than itself. Which is not to say that it is egotistical or anything like that – no, it is more like air or water, you just can't live without it, no matter how much you might like to do so.
There is no sign of any kind of town, or even of an isolated house, ahead of me, although the path I am on has definite signs of recent use: the grass which lines the trail is bent and broken here and there, while a few cracked branches, with their leaves still alive, hang down from the clumps of tall, dark–green plants that obscure the trail at uneven intervals. This is encouraging, for there would not be much reason to be here if there were no there following, so to speak. I decide to walk on, sure for once that I have found the right way to go. Of course, this decision is made slightly simpler by the fact that there does not appear to be any other trail than the one I'm on.
Rather than repeat an experience that seems destined to twist around and around in an endless cycle, I begin to think of exactly where I am, not in light of finding somewhere else, but rather in a sense of utilizing whatever resources this admittedly barren countryside has to offer. What is required, I realize, is a better way to do things. A few birds appear in the sky, small black dots circling in random patterns that suggests a search for food, or simply a pleasant thermal. Rather than imitate this behavior, I resolve to follow this trail wherever it goes, even if I don't like where I seem to be headed. With this I notice a slackening, if I can call it that, of the structure of the trail. The hardened clayish soil no longer runs into canyon–like gullies, but is smoother, and perhaps a little wider, requiring less attention to determine where my next footstep will fall. This slackening is accompanied by a slight chill in the air, although the position of the sun does not seem to have changed at all. Then the thought strikes me – what if I am not here? But that would be absurd. Of course I am here. But there is that possibility. I don't know where this idea has come from, but it is most definitely there.
The sky darkens, then night has fallen, with an almost unbelievable speed. The stars, combined with the moon, give off just enough light to let me not lose sight of the trail. After crossing over a few low hills I notice some faint lights, like those that might be thrown off by an isolated farmhouse, in I am happy to say the same direction as the trail. After a few hours (the lights were farther away than I had first thought – it is after–all difficult to gauge distances at night) I reach the source of the light. A small house stands alone, surrounded by the sweeping expanses of untouched prairie, which fact would argue against it being a farmhouse, although it is difficult to make out any details in the dim light. I walk up to it slowly, unsure how to go about seeing if it is occupied, but in the end opt for the standard going–up–to–the–front–door–and–knocking, breath held in nervous anticipation. For a few moments there is no sound, then I hear the sound of footsteps on a wooden floor approaching the door. A small latch at eye level is pulled back, revealing an eye peering out at me. A muffled voice asks me what I want. I reply, speaking as loudly as politeness will allow, that I have been walking all day, having come from the mountains behind me. The latch slides shut, then the door creaks open slowly. The source of the voice is a woman, maybe 35ish, it's hard to say, since my eyes are having trouble adjusting to the glare. She looks at me, apparently unsure if she should invite me in. Without knowing why I am talking, or what I am saying, I hurriedly explain that I have no idea where I am, or how I got here, except for walking out of the mountains today. She looks at me skeptically, then asks if I really came out of the mountains, to which I say yes.
She stands there, thinking, her face twisted slightly, as if she were trying to get a hold of some necessary piece of information, then invites me in, pointing to a chair by a small table in the middle of the room. I sit down, grateful to have found life, of any sort, then promptly fall asleep, my head resting on my hands. The woman looks at me, not sure what to do, then finally puts out the light, closes (and locks – you can't be too careful, after–all) the living room door behind her. Why there was a lock on this inside door is a long story, going far back into the history of the house. Suffice it to say that she does not know why the lock is there, but is happy that it is. She walks up the stairs to her bedroom, thinking very hard, but unable to get to that exact point in her head that contains the information she realizes she needs even more now than before.
Something is pulling at her, what exactly she cannot say, but she stares into the mirror above her dresser as if she could find the answer there – something she has never quite managed to pull off, at least not yet. Her past flits around uneasily, even going so far as to disturb the reflection that patiently waits for her to recombine the elements into a more familiar outline. Then it hits her – the answer, that is. Her eyes light up, her smile broadens. She knows, finally. The years spent waiting fall away as if they were nothing, mere filler to pass the time. But also so utterly crucial to the development of the whole affair. She looks around her bedroom, then begins to frantically reorganize everything, trying for a state of order that has perhaps never existed, but which nevertheless calls out to her in a way she is utterly incapable of refusing. As the night wears on, she looks up now and then at the old clock on the wall, left to her she was told by a grandfather who had been obsessed by time, hoping that it is more or less accurate. In the last few years it has had a tendency to stray, at somewhat random intervals, but then it returns to the correct time.
The room slowly begins to take on a new form, less cluttered, but not quite crossing that line that marks compulsive cleanliness. All that matters, she cannot stop thinking, is to complete the task before the night ends. She is stymied for a while by an old, but not particularly attractive, wardrobe, not sure how to deal with it. She finally decides to simply dismantle it, a task which proves to be more difficult than she had first anticipated. She finally begins to make some headway by using some of the old tools that had come with the house, and which she keeps in the top drawer of her dresser, for want of a better place. Soon she is staring at a pile of boards and legs and assorted splintered wood, not sure how to get rid of the debris. She looks over at the big window next to her bed that lets in the morning sun, opens it, then tosses all of the wood out, listening to it clatter to the ground with a satisfied look on her face. She will deal with it in the morning, she tells herself, although there is no guarantee that this will happen.
When the first rays of reddish light appear in the horizon she sits down on her bed, exhausted, but having reached her goal. Not only has she rearranged all the contents of her room, but she has actually managed to realign the walls, in a way that fortunately cannot be described here, but whose result is the removal of an annoying linearity that had always bugged her, from the very first time she entered the house. She has never been able to explain just what it is that causes this annoyance, especially given the fact that houses in general are sort of assumed to possess this linearity, almost to the degree that one might say that house–ness itself consists of this quality of linearity, along with the concordant predictability implied by this quality. Despite the difficulty of achieving this realignment, she manages to finish the job sometime around 5 a.m., about an hour before the first light of dawn cracks over the horizon. Although she does not want to dwell on it, she would be quite justified in entertaining a strong feeling of pride in her accomplishment. As it is she satisfies herself with a smile, and then lies down on her bed, hoping to get a little sleep before the day breaks into her bedroom in earnest.
But her eyes will not close; she is filled with a sense that might be called foreboding if it possessed any negative aspects, which is not the case. Without realizing it she finds herself lost, following the cracks in the ceiling as they grow out of the dim light of pre– dawn. She listens for sounds coming from downstairs, but can hear nothing. The first breeze of morning begins to rustle the dried grass in the fields outside of her opened window; a few small birds throw out their songs, a little tentatively perhaps, but still it is a good sign. Gathering her courage, she forces herself to get up after an hour's failed efforts at sleep, puts on a loose fitting dress, then gingerly opens her door, peeking out her door to see if anyone is there before opening it all the way.
She walks down the stairs slowly, avoiding the step that creaks, then goes to the locked door, unlocks it, and looks down at my sleeping form. I have not moved since my unplanned collapse last night; indeed, my dreams are following odd contortions that might have suggested some deeper meaning had I been awake enough to remark upon the events. She walks by me, to the front door, then opens it and goes outside. The air is clean and fresh, the horizon is streaked with long streamers of reds and oranges, backed by a deep scarlet which seems to suggest a great depth, or a place that might be reached if she could just find the right formula.
The prairie stretches out in front of her, blocked only by the few small structures that are the only remaining indication that her house might once have been the center of some agricultural enterprise. She does not maintain, or even use, any of them, except for the woodshed, which is where she keeps her car, preferring to let them fall into the mild decay that to her sensibilities is slowly bringing them into an awkward harmony with the surrounding countryside. The same goes for the orchard that lies on the other side of her house. The trees have almost stopped bearing fruit, and the prairie grass has reclaimed the earth under the trees. But this is of little concern to her – her aim in moving here had never been to work the land. It had been more of an escape, at least that is what she told herself when she first came here. She looks out over the rippling yellowed grasses that escape into the dim light, heading towards a spot she found long ago, on the other side of the gentle rise opposite her bedroom window, down in between a cluster of valley oaks that hide a small spring from which she never tires of drinking, even in the dead of winter. Her frequent trips there have worn a vague path into the field, which gives her a sense of belonging, formless and wandering as it is.
Covered by the old oak trees she allows herself the luxury of lying down under their limbs, feeling the still invisible daylight preparing its invasion of her grove. The spring bubbles as it always does – even at the height of the previous summer, which itself had followed a spring that had had almost no rain to speak of, the spring had not diminished in any visible way. The water had been as cool and refreshing as it always was, the grasses that surrounded the small pool under the spring staying a bright green all the way through the exceptionally hot summer. She runs her hands through the grass, wondering about the man in her house, but not afraid. The slightly off–rhythm sound of the water as it trickles out of the side of the hill finally succeeds in putting her to sleep, although a sleep in which her dreams take on a life that is far more real than any world she has ever tried to run away from. As the day lightens a few large birds appear in the branches above her head, swaying to a sound that is not readily obvious. They stare down at her form, glad to see her so peaceful. They have grown accustomed to her presence here over the years, and may even consider her an honorary member of their flock, although that might be pushing it. More accurate might be to say that they think of her as a necessary part of the little grove. When she is not there they grow slightly jumpy, unsure exactly why they cannot relax, but sure also that there is most definitely something missing.
She wakes when the sunlight breaks through the branches overhead, warming her face in that incredibly convincing way that no man–made contraption can ever imitate. The large birds have long since flown off, investigating certain areas of the surrounding countryside to see if the reports of good pickings are actually true. Other than the careful approach of a few small animals, who nervously drink from the pool, then scamper back to wherever they came from, the area has remained undisturbed all morning. She goes over to the pool and takes a long drink, watching the ripples as they lap up against the pool's edges. She sits there for a while, wrapping her arms around her knees, rocking slowly back and forth, smiling all the while, for some reason that escapes her – in fact, if you told her that she was smiling, she would not believe you, although of course a quick look into the now stilled pool would immediately demonstrate the truth of your statement to her.
Sometimes she thinks that the whole reason she moved out here was just to be able to sit by this exact spot, hour after hour, sleeping if she feels like it, otherwise simply watching the shady areas under the trees for the stirrings of life that inevitably start up after she had been quiet for a while. She gets up, brushes off her dress carefully, then makes her way back to her house. The prairie grasses bend before the wind that seems to almost perpetually blow across the low–lying hills that surround her house, at least during the daytime hours. She looks up – the sky is cloudy, but not particularly threatening. Her heart beats a little bit faster than would be warranted by the very mild upgrade to her house; her thoughts have fallen back into the dreams that apparently have not yet finished while her eyes gleam with a light that has been a very long time coming.
There is something, still, undiscovered, but present, somewhere right at the edge of that place where her thoughts all come from. What it is she has never known, but it was there before she came here, and she has had to admit on several occasions that it is what brought her here in the first place – perhaps only as an effort to escape, or perhaps more of an insubstantial thing, like a ghost, if that word has any meaning to us. She has spent many long days trying to work this question out, but in the end has given up on the matter, if only to maintain the peace of mind she has so successfully brought to life, if only for the moment she finds herself in. Her eyes turn up to the now blue sky, looking for the birds that so frequently drift by as she walks around her land, but they are elsewhere, and the sky is marked only by small white clouds.
She crosses herself quickly, more out of habit than anything else. She certainly doesn't know why she does these things, nor does she care. Rather than go inside, to greet the stranger, she opens the door of the woodshed, peering into its gloom to see if her car is still there. Although she rarely uses it, she suddenly feels as if today is the right day. She gets in, cranks it over a few times, listening to its complaining wheezes, until it finally bursts into life. She smiles, relieved, puts the car in reverse, backs out of the woodshed then drives to the rear of her house, where the dirt road that runs through the old orchard ends. She, as always, drives very slowly, the road as such really being not much more than an old set of wagon tracks.
The steering wheel feels reassuring in her hands, the road, bumpy as it is, also seems to welcome her. Beyond that she does not permit herself to think. The dirt road eventually runs into a little highway; where she stops, carefully looking to her left and right before turning onto the main road. It is only once she has driven a few miles down the highway that she lets herself relax. At the crossroads, about 20 miles from where her dirt road meets the highway, she stops at the little gas–station, exchanging a few words with the old man who has run the place since long before she moved here. He checks her oil, makes a few comments about the weather, and about a few of the other residents who are scattered so widely around this part of the county that his station is virtually the only common ground any of them ever share, fills her tank, then wipes off her windshield, which, as usual, is covered with a thick layer of dust, more from its prolonged storage in the old woodshed than from actual driving. She pays him, then drives off, still filled with that odd sense of satisfaction that has possessed her since the arrival of the stranger.
Then the world explodes. She had been waiting for this to happen, without knowing it. There had been something too perfect, too harmonious, and it could not have kept up. Of course she keeps driving, since she knows of nothing else to do. It is not as if the circumstance was new either; no, now she remembers that she fled this exact same event, in the beginning, before she had settled here. And now the world has collapsed again. She groans, more to remind herself that she is still alive than anything, then looks up at the sun, which has mercifully not vanished.
The terrain retains a certain familiarity, but is also at once textured oddly, as if some of the keys that enable us to function in our world had been subtly altered, while leaving the bulk of their form intact. The extreme subtlety involved here explains why she alone notices these events when they happen, and why she is always forced into some perhaps excessively strong reaction. But today there is nothing to react to. The road stretches out in front of her, the gas station passes by on her left, the small dirt road to her house appears as usual, only there is this time nothing usual. The sky gives small hints of what is happening, small flickers around its periphery, little bursts of light that are close to, but not quite, the right color, and which are far too bright to be a part of the day's sky in the first place. She looks up, knowing what she will see, but needing to know that she is not wrong. Her house appears in the distance, faded paint melting into the surrounding prairie, outbuildings sagging slightly, a few pieces of decayed farm equipment scattered around. She pulls into the woodshed, turns off her engine, and looks up into the far corner of the shed, where the light barely reaches, hoping against hope that she will see something that will show her once and for all that it is not happening again, but this is of course not the case. It never is.
She gets out of the car, testing the ground carefully with each step, not quite believing in the apparent firmness of the earth, and not out of any misplaced paranoia, but rather out of an unfortunately long experience with this exact event. Fortunately she is spared the memory of it until it happens again, although she does have those vague tuggings at the corners of her brain that never let her quite relax. Although the large birds who watch her in her little grove have noticed this, they of course do not have the words to explain what is happening, either to themselves or to her. But she does not need an explanation. The ground vibrates slightly under her feet with every step, which is yet another indicator of what is going on, then the day's light fades away, exposing the stars once again. The house too fades away, having existed this time only as an appendage of the light. She hopes that the stranger will be alright – it is unusual that anyone else is around when these events happen, so she is not exactly sure what will happen to anyone who is unfortunate enough to be present.
The grasses themselves get pulled back into the ground by some mechanism she cannot quite make out, then her eyes open in wonder, for right in the middle of the blackness she sees the stranger, still asleep, only without the support of the chair or table. He is crumpled up on the ground, and, while there is not enough light to make out any finer details, it is easy to see that it is him. She smiles, relieved to find that for once things are not evolving in the same pattern that they always seem to. She leans over and shakes the stranger, hoping to wake him. His eyes open slowly, blinking rapidly, then he looks around, very confused. Although she would like to explain what is going on, she feels inside that this is not a good idea, although she cannot say why this is. His eyes rove around, then look up at her, blank except for a small point of curiosity that reveals something that is not a part of the general dissolution. And with that she has to take his hand in hers, to feel his humanness perhaps, or to calm him – the reason remains hazy, but his eyes do not.
She says a few words, to help him get a general sense of what is going on. He nods, seeming to be acquainted with the general situation. Perhaps he too has fallen into this situation without ever being able to get a grip on any external factors that could explain the truth of what is happening.
I slowly begin to wake, realizing that in my hovering around this scene I had not realized that the stranger was me. I look through his eyes, trying to adjust to the faint light, trying to remember the finer points of the girl's face, but unable to really get a grip on anything that is not present to me at this precise moment. I look around to see where the house is, but there is only a faint, clay–like soil, unbroken by grass or building, with a color that is hard to make out in the starlight.
The girl looks down at me again, having noticed that my eyes have grown slightly more clear, and begins to speak. Her words remind me again of days spent wandering blindly, always with the hope that a point will rise to make it all make sense, and always falling back and landing in a place that very much resembles where I am. I can see a slow comprehension rising in her eyes, then her hand reaches out and takes mine. We have understood something finally, and see that this exact understanding is precisely what we had been looking for. It had never been anything more than this, but also never anything less. Her words continue, forming a carpet upon which my thoughts can finally find something that is not quite peace, although the word hints strongly at what is actually being referred to.
A faint light grows in the horizon, not red or orange or blue or green, but just light, as if blackness could illuminate somehow. We look up at the sky, marveling at its tones – all the very richest blacks, all utterly unique, but all unified at the same time. The faded ground at our feet grows slightly more supple, losing that hard clay echo that she had noted on her way out of the woodshed. We get up, wondering exactly how to deal with this situation, then look around again: small rolling hills, as barren as the soil at our feet, stretch out in all directions. To the east (at least I assume it's the east, since that is where the blackness is most bright) a mountain range juts above the low hills, while to the west the low hills appear to flatten into a uniform plain, although it is hard to be sure, since there is not really enough light to make out even the most general features of the landscape. She has been explaining our situation steadily, not wanting to take advantage of my weakened position, but also very glad to find me at her side.
Her words begin to fill in the picture slowly, painting a picture that I am at a complete loss to reproduce, but which makes sense in such a complete way that I find myself unable to interject even a single word for fear of breaking her concentration, and thus her recitation. The sky, the ground, the prairie grasses, the house – these were all simple tools, whose time had come, and has now gone. She does not understand where these tools come from, or who supplies them, or even if anyone in fact actually does. All she is able to recognize is the general outline of the situation. And that never changes. Except for this time. She looks down at me significantly, seeing if I am getting the importance of her words, then looks back up at the sky, checking for a certain series of small signs that generally indicates that the next phase of the proceedings is about to begin.
Satisfied with her observations, she pulls out a little notebook from her pocket, and, using the pen that she keeps in its spine, makes a few notes. This notebook is the way she has managed to find the pattern in the seemingly unrelated events that sweep her away from everything she considers real at what always strikes her as just the wrong time. The notebook's presence is never something she is aware of until this precise moment, during which she frantically pores over the small formulas she has inserted at non–random points throughout the notebook. Her ability to connect the last 3 entries is what brought her here in the first place, she once again discovers. There is no helping the fact that she has no ability whatsoever to make head or tail of the contents of the notebook except at these moments, which come only once each time, and which must be used to full profit, or else be lost for all time. She had suffered this loss the first few times, the exact number of which of course she will never be able to ascertain. It could have been an infinite sum, as far as she can ever know, and she might have been engaged in this cycle since the very beginnings of time, and perhaps even before that. Certain tendencies of the heavens had suggested to her that this might in fact be the case during previous episodes, although she can never prove any of this. But she does not need to – no, it is more than adequate that she has begun to take notice, and notes, perhaps more importantly.
She looks over at me, noticing that I am watching her frenetic scribbling with open curiosity, then, somewhat reluctantly, but also realizing that there can be no other way, shows me her latest entry. She points out the nature of the formula, outlining its basic functioning, then shows me how it connects to other entries, which in turn connect to other ones. The process is quite tedious to explain, but she finds herself filled with a renewed patience, a patience which does not call out for attention, but rather simply demands explanation, and sharing. She is tired of working out the incredibly intricate connections on her own, and needs my help to get to the bottom of the matter, if such a bottom can in fact be found. Or perhaps she just needs to find a way to unravel the threads with a little bit more dexterity. Whatever the case is, she looks up at me expectantly once she has explained everything as well as she is able, waiting for me to say something.
I begin to speak, finding that the oddly drawn lines and slightly convoluted grammars have drawn me into her argument so thoroughly that I am no longer feel that my words are my own. She smiles, and explains that this happened to her as well, at least in the first stages. Later of course, as she began to learn more, the threads began to form coherent statements, inside of which little pictures began to evolve, none so clear as to admit of reproduction, but still able to maintain a presence which had not existed previously, which would seem to argue against the whole notion of the impossibility of making something out of nothing.