The situation is more fluid than I had anticipated, I admit. My legs wobble, my knees are unsteady, the ground groans at my feet. I step back quickly, having just seen where I am. Below my feet a cavern opens up, its lowest reaches shrouded in black. By stepping back I avoided a fall into that pit; fearing more traps I look around quickly, trying to figure out how I came to be here, and, more importantly, how I can get out of this situation.
Suddenly, my legs stop shaking. I look around with a more focused gaze. The dock is oily; I am standing on a steel bridge spanning two piers. The water laps against the pilings of the piers, a gull squawks somewhere. I put a hand out and contact a thin wire handrail; even though the walkway is only about 12 inches wide I have no trouble making my way across, my hands gripped tightly on the cable the whole way. I set foot on the dock, walk quietly alongside of the warehouse that juts out over the sea, then make my way over an abandoned rail line, keeping to the darkest parts of the track right–of– way. I look behind me, to see if anyone has followed, but there is no sound at all, just the pounding of my heart in my ears.
There is no time to lose, I realize as I make my way over the rough rock of the track roadbed. I focus my hearing, trying to grasp at something that will not let itself be caught that way. My head begins to echo with voices; the stones crackle under my feet, the iron rails begin melting in front of me as I step down the wooden ties. Nervous, I step off the raised roadbed and wander into an empty street. Music comes out of a bar; I stick my head inside but see no–one I know.
Something is missing, it strikes me suddenly. My hands rush to form small objects out of the forgotten trinkets and lost parts that fill a city to the brim with places to look and lose. The object takes shape slowly, its mechanical nature revealed in the oil that gleams off of its metal surfaces. It steps out, small swiveling eye mechanisms examining the space around it. Although it is not mine I watch happily as it clicks off into another part of the room.
The mechanism switches on a little light in its body and begins sweeping the tiny beam methodically across the floor, as if it were looking for something. A dark space under a coffee table absorbs the light sent out by the little machine; it swivels the light back and forth, narrowing its arc each time, until the light is pouring into the narrow dark space. The device rolls towards the dark space, then enters into it. Nothing seems to happen; only the whirring of its gears reveals its presence, then all sound other than my breathing disappears completely. I stick my hand under the coffee table to see if the machine is still under there, but encounter nothing as I sweep my hand back and forth.
I sit on the thick pile of the carpet, wondering if I am somehow missing something. A slight breeze chills my face, bringing with it the smell of oriental food. I let myself breathe in and out several times, until my heart slows down a little, then try to make some sense of what is happening. The oriental food smell has vanished, replaced by a light, flowery fragrance. The light darkens above my head, then goes out completely. A door creaks behind me, footsteps fall lightly on the thick carpeting, a match is lit. I look up, blinded by the light. The match moves to a candle, then the candle sputters into life. After a few seconds my eyes have adjusted to the light – a girl is looking at me, her mouth turned up just slightly in a smile, her eyes shining in the candlelight.
The candle flickers; its flame grows quite small and blue, then the flame rises back, seemingly bright as day. The girl looks over the candle at me; her lips move, a low sound fills the room. I shake my head; she smiles, reaches over the candle and pats me on the shoulder. She brings out a pencil and starts writing on a pad of paper she has brought with her. I get up and walk around the candle, wondering what she is writing. Something strikes me as familiar with the whole operation, but I cannot quite place it. She has already filled out the top page of the pad when I look over her shoulder. She turns her head around and looks up at me, rips the page off, sticks it in the candle flame until it ignites, then holds it up, watching it burn in her hands.
A blue gas pours off the burning page, floating up, then hovering around the ceiling in a faint cloud. She puts the last fragment of paper in the upturned base of the candlestick. The burning paper flickers out, releasing one last puff of blue smoke. A few red embers glow for a second then vanish. She looks back up at me, smiling all the while. The blue gas gathers into a ball and enters her nostrils; her face relaxes visibly, then her eyes close. She falls back on the carpet, apparently fast asleep. I walk over to her, kneel by her side, take one of her hands in mine and feel for a pulse. Her vein beats under my fingers with a firm, steady rhythm, indicating to my amateur senses good health, if nothing more. The beats slow, until they come less than one a second. Her smile wavers across her face, her eyes flicker below her eyelids, her hand twitches, then turns, and holds mine softly. A sigh slips out of her mouth, her grip strengthens, she rolls over, towards me, then sighs again. Her eyes stop twitching under her eyelids, her breath comes slow and steady. I watch her sleeping, unsure what to do, but happy to have her hand resting in mine.
I am unable to focus; the light comes in fuzzy waves which I cannot put together into a clear image, although I do have the impression of people moving around me. The light grows more and more bright, but everything remains just as blurry, if not more so. My eyesight will do me no good, I realize suddenly. I stop looking around, wondering what to do instead. What I had been looking for does not exist, like everything we look for. My stomach growls, reminding me that I have not eaten, but I ignore it, preferring instead to listen to the sounds around me.
Closing my eyes helps me focus a little bit, but the sounds prove to be as useless to me as the objects which would not come into focus when my eyes were open. Vague reverberations knock around the chamber I am sitting in, giving me just enough information to tell me that I am in a narrow hallway. The hallway has a light – a fact that I have discovered by opening my eyes and noting where the blur is brighter. I get up slowly, putting out a hand, feeling the wall's rough surface with my fingertips. Brushing the wall to maintain my direction I walk towards the brightness. After several steps the light is behind me, and seems to be responsible for something like a shadow that stretches out in front of me; or at least the space in front of me is slightly darker than the space to either side.
The wall disappears from under my hands; my hands flail wildly while I lose my balance and fall, smashing against the walls of what seems to be a steeply slanted tunnel for several seconds before I land with a loud thump. I move my hands and feet carefully – each part functions, although there is pain in my shoulder and right leg. I sit up gingerly, moving my arms, then each leg. The pain seems to be only bruised muscle. I get up slowly, testing my weight on each leg before taking a few steps. Everything seems to be in order, I note with relief.
Despite the gloom of the space I am in, I can see more or less clearly: the room I am in has a large black hole in the middle of its floor, about four feet by four feet. About six feet above my head there is another dark opening. I reach up to it – its surface is covered by some kind of slimy algae. Feeling on my clothing I note the same slimy material, and so assume I came down that way. The room itself is about fifteen feet on each side. The light seems to come from a glowing algae that covers the walls. I walk carefully over to the edge of the pit and look down inside of it, shrug my shoulders then jump in feet first.
Nothing happens, much to my surprise, although I do not seem to be in the room any longer. I have had no sensation of falling, nor of landing. But I am definitely not where I was. There is no sign of a room, nor of any building at all. The air is cool and damp; the sound of water dripping into a pool reminds me how thirsty I am. I try not to think of my empty stomach while I search for the pool, which I finally locate in–between several rocks. I kneel down and bring a handful up to my mouth – the water is cool and clear, and somehow more liquid than normal. I put my face into the water and suck in as much as I can, then rise, gasping a little as the cool water pours into my stomach.
The pool is surrounded by ferns, otherwise there is no life visible. A small spring above the pool drips out a steady trickle of water, which breaks into drops as it falls. I look around to see if there is something to eat but I can find nothing. I put my hands together, close my eyes, waiting to see if anything happens. The drops echo in my head, sounding further and further away with each passing moment, then there is silence. I do not open my eyes, preferring to see in a different way. My hands grow warm; their skin seems to melt into the flesh of the opposite hand, but I do and say nothing, waiting for a better time.
The landscape around me begins to take shape. I shake my head, rub carefully around my eyes, close my eyelids and breathe in deeply. There are steeples in the distance, indicating perhaps a small town beyond the hill in front of me. The dirt under my feet is dry and orangish brown. Small rocks pave the narrow road I'm on; by my sides are fences made of stones piled up over the centuries. Olive trees grow everywhere, but not too close together, for this appears to be a very dry climate, and so there is presumably not very much water. Or at least that's how it looks to me. She is walking ahead of me, her thighs swaying side to side, her long black curls bouncing around in the light breeze that is blowing down the valley towards the sea.
Her eyes water, her lips tremble, she turns back to me and walks up, holding a small white wildflower she has just picked in her hand. When she reaches me she gives me the flower; I take it and smell – the very lightest of fragrances wafts up, just distinguishable amongst the dry smell of dust and the aromas thrown into the night air by the sweet herbs growing along the road. The flower gleams up at me, growing brighter as the evening sun approaches the horizon.
I look her over carefully, afraid that she will dematerialize, like a ghost or a holographic projection, but her form remains firm, her body moving suggestively under her loose fitting summer dress. She in turn looks out over the valley, where the first lights are beginning to appear in the villages below. She takes my hand in hers and we begin to walk down the road towards the closest village. The descent of the road steepens, the stone fences grow so tall that they begin to seem more like walls, although an occasional breach reveals only olive groves, more hills, villages, then, finally, the darkening sky.
When we get down to the flatter part of the valley we pass through an orchard of hazelnut trees, then some cultivated little patches of earth. The walls of the village loom up in the distance; the spire of the church is floodlit, and serves as a beacon to us as we make our way the last few hundred yards to the road in front of the village. We sit down under the enormous tree that forms a canopy over the town square across from the church, watching the last red of the sunset vanish behind the hills to the west.
She looks around, then stares at me, her eyes roving over my face, as if they were trying to fit in all the pieces – or find them. She begins to sketch furiously in the notepad she has just pulled out of her bag, drawing the mountains and trees with soft movements of her hands while smiling slightly. The air is still warm, as is the stone bench we are sitting on. The leaves rustle over our heads, a car drives by, a door closes solidly. Her hands are forming letters and symbols, none of which I can understand but I look on nevertheless, fascinated by the curves of the letters and the odd symmetries of the symbols.
I stare into the shapes, trying to pull some meaning out of them but they in turn only seem to pull me into themselves. The night air cools my face, the first stars begin to shine in the blackening sky. A question nags at my mind, worrying away at my brain matter, trying to disconnect the neurons while a choir of angels sings elegies for the dead. The worries begin to slip away, the creases in my forehead relax slightly. I look down at my hands, following the blue of the veins, the tendons, the bones and the crinkled skin until a complete form begins to take shape, writhing around, fingers like snakes, bones like jelly. I look up, realizing suddenly that my eyes are working.
The stone begins to cool under me, my feet ache slightly. I get up, look around, realizing that she is not here. A few second–story windows shine in the night air, a streetlamp fills the narrow street with a pool of light several houses down from me. I walk down to the road next to the town and wait at the bus stop close to the east end of town. Some small cars pass, then a little truck with a canvas covered bed rattles by, raising up a cloud of dust. I sit waiting all night, shivering although it is really not that cold. The wood of the bus–bench has no particular temperature, although towards morning it does get a sort of clammy dampness that makes me get up and pace back and forth while waiting for the bus.
The first light of morning comes; when the sky to the east has begun to glow a reddish– orange a bus drives up and comes to a stop. The driver looks down at me; I look back at the village sadly, then climb up the stairs of the bus, give the driver some money and sit down in the front of the bus. The morning brightens the sky in front of me as the bus makes its way down the highway, the floodlights illuminating the spire of the town church go out as I watch. The bus driver makes his way up a small mountain; finally a rise, combined with a sharp curve of the road, cuts off the view of the town. As we crest the mountain I am blinded by the glare of the new sun – its light warms my face and half– closed eyes, but inside I feel very cold.
The blue haze dissipates; something sits watching me by the side of a small pool of water. Its shape is hard to determine; what should have been an outline, or skin, refuses to keep its form for more than a fragment of a second. Its eyes do not blink, its mouth pulsates fluidly, its feet dance back and forth across the floor. I will call it a lizard, although I am not sure if that is what is what it is. The lizard's feet end in bulbous tips, making it almost a salamander I suppose. Its tongue darts out, seeing if it can taste my presence, while its protruding eyes spin around and around.
I can hear its thoughts, I suddenly realize. It is not using words so much as very simple concepts: heat, light, dark, movement, hard, yielding, danger, rest. With this limited palette it begins to paint a picture that I am hard pressed to put into words, but the feeling fills me anyway... warming my hands, the sun on me, wanting nothing but to stay as long as possible.
The lizard continues looking up at me, its eyes reflecting the blue sky and white clouds, its nostrils flaring ever so slightly with each breath. I am walking along the ground – a movement catches my eye, I move carefully towards it, my tongue darts out; I swallow quickly, look around again.
I shake my head, not sure if I am me or the lizard, but a downward look shows me its four legs and fat stomach. I look around, taking in the dry, rocky soil, and the burning sun overhead. A few scraggly bushes line the slope I am on; over my head a large black bird wheels around in circles. I put my hands down on the rocks around me, feeling the reassuring texture of the stone, the sandy grit that covers its surface, and the soft heat that emanates from it as if it were a radiator. The black bird comes closer, sweeps over my head, then climbs up into the sky again. Noticing a path to my left I begin to walk down it; the bird swoops down again, gliding a few feet in front of and above me. We go along like this for a few seconds, then it cuts off and flies back up to the sky. I feel as if I have just received a present so perfect that there is no way I can ever reciprocate.
The path winds down the hill, through diagonally tilted meadows and little wooded areas, finally reaching the valley floor. I look behind me, watching the forests and meadows fade away into a vague olive drab. The girl is by my side, matching my strides, smiling her little smile while looking out over the brush. I watch her walk, afraid of saying anything that might make her disappear. To protect myself a little I bring up a memory of another day – or, rather, I glance vacantly at the ground at my feet, letting myself be guided along its contours by something that is not me. I look to one side, then the other, my feet adjusting to the uneven surface with complete ease. Her presence feels like an object so delicate that the smallest breath might crush it into little slivers which would in turn blow off in the first light breeze that swept along the hillside.
I look down, to examine my fingers and knuckles. They move about in mechanical precision, waving a little bit excessively in my opinion. I clench my hands into fists, then press them together, stopping just long enough to feel the evening air flowing into my nostrils. She is sitting down on the grassy edge of the road, weaving long green stalks into a little square. She looks up at me, puts down the woven square, then tells me that she is glad I came.
Her voice is soft and gentle, and lowers my guard immediately. Her eyes shine back at me through the shadows cast over her face by the bright light of the sun. She looks shyly down at her hands, takes her dress and smoothes it out, pulls at a little piece of thread , looks back up at me, says that she has been waiting a long time. Her voice trails off, her eyes look down, then up at the sky, where several silhouetted birds descend in long waves. The clouds roll overhead, stretching across the sky before tearing into shreds which vanish in the horizon. I do not know what to think; her voice has not startled me, quite the opposite in fact – it has calmed me down in a way that nothing else has ever managed to do. I look back at her, watching her eyes sparkle in the sun. The lizard scampers off, raising little puffs of dust as each foot leaves the ground.
I hold my hands together, analyzing the shapes of the clouds over my head for guidance, watching their changes with a fascination born deep inside of a dream I had pushed back into the furthest recesses of my head long before I had woken up. I look sideways at her, trying to see what she looks like when nobody is watching but of course she felt my gaze before it even struck her and so is the same as before. I am not sure I can make the same claim for myself.
As always, the work at hand is far more difficult than I had anticipated. Her presence, unpredictable as it is, serves to minimize the discomfort, however. I look around, wondering if there will be anything there. A vague shifting field stretches out to every side, its colors wavering around the visible spectrum, then fading away either in deep blues or reds. The remaining blackness continues to undulate, working its way into me as I stand watching the colors come and go.
A strong wind pulls me away, tumbling me down through the wavering fields, then over a faint green haze, undifferentiated but still very solid in its presence. Realizing that I will never get anywhere with my eyes open I close them, then watch the little squiggles dance around for while before fading away. It is odd to be in a situation where everything has been reduced to the complete absence of visual objects, but there you have it. I inspect the area around me carefully, running my hands over each object, then holding them up into the air, so I can feel them in the sun.
The air enters my lungs, fills my blood with its molecules, then courses through my body, cycling around and around, cleaned, polished, held up to the sky, to a god who will not come down and speak to us, but whose every breath carries us with it like twigs on a wave. I exhale, emptying out everything that has ever existed behind my eyes until there is only a faint echo of what was there remaining. I smile, and let myself float away into a world which does not exist but which is still more real than any leveraged stock transaction. The pulse around me quickens; the air stirs, whips up into eddies, vortexes, then finally, whirlwinds, tugging at my clothes, pulling any words I might have spoken out of my mouth before they have time to fully form.
The words that I so foolishly had held in dance around my head, growing as each joins its fellows already spinning around me. Each empties itself, shrugging its shoulders like someone just in from a steady snow. I open my eyes, delighted to see nothing at all, just a big blank space to each side, and up and down as well. The blank space relieves me of any obligations I might have otherwise felt myself constrained by, forming as it does such a completely insurmountable wall that all efforts must inevitably be directed elsewhere. I am not sure if this is freedom or just nothing at all, but either way I like it.
The words sit still, floating like a thousand little satellites. I breathe in and out several times, to see if that will result in any change, but do not recognize the events that follow in any way, even as they pass by right in front of me.
You see, matters are unstable, almost volatile. The earth shivers at my feet, the clouds open and release a burst of light that is almost solid in its brilliance. The ground cracks in front of me, revealing boiling seas of flames. I do not move, preferring to find that the sight before my eyes fix itself somewhat before I take any further action. The air pulses around me, I sit back and watch the skies spewing forth their seas of swirling colors, clouds bursting against clouds and spitting out oceans of burgundy and chartreuse. The vision is too much however; I turn my head and look down at the ground, but that too is boiling: the earth writhes and arches up, only to fall in on itself while trees skyrocket up towards the sky, flashing crowns full of translucent bright green leaves.
The leaves part, the hills around me shake visibly, the sky closes with huge rolling waves of thunderclaps. The earth stills, the tremors fade away, even the soil grows solid. I look to both sides, to make sure that there is no hidden crevasse or ravine to pull me in but the ground is firm and unbroken on all sides. A small road leads between two cultivated fields; some farmhouses stand in various stages of collapse in the distance. The clouds gather threateningly but as of yet no rain has fallen.
Something flashes by my side, then again, to my left this time. The air grows into a form, hard to describe, then fleshes out into something almost human. Fearing what I know is there I turn my head away, looking out over the fields, at the peas and tomatoes that fill the air with a thick green scent. Light clouds are scattered overhead, the sky is a deep, brilliant blue. I hold my hands out, feeling suddenly the light patter of rain, only the sky is blue as before, clouds like stretched out cotton balls.
I look around, up, down, trying to get some grasp of where it is I am at, but the sky merely burns a steady burgundy–streaked orange, completely uncaring about my predicament. I stare down at my hands, wondering how I could have let everything slip so drastically. Because everything has fallen so far out of place I do not raise my hands to the sky as I might have done on some other day, but clutch them to my breast, not wanting to admit the full extent of my error, which, unfortunately, I have had to live out to its full degree. But that is hardly unusual. My hands drop down, by my sides, my eyes, my eyes finally get the strength to look up to the sun, which burns happily away, content to do its daily work.
Now the real question comes: seeing everything around me as empty and almost deflated in character, what exactly do I do about it? Behind that question stands a small army of others, but they all depend on this one, and this one hides itself so cleverly that I almost do not recognize it, but finally its face is just so unmistakably itself that I have to invite it into the small room where I have gathered myself for a brief time, unsure as always if that had been the right thing to do with the time. The question blows away in the hands of a soft breeze that has just sprung up, then disperses its elements into the air around me. Each enters me through its own special little funnel or crevasse in my skin, some so small that they can actually use my pores, others so large that they find their way in through my nose and mouth, when of course I am not looking.
What is required is a really thorough investigation, something so in–depth that each element will be exposed to the light, or thrown back into the darkness, depending on the most desirable course of action in each case. But since fear governs the lives of all of the elements, to capture them will involve some trickstering – movements, that is, of a highly unorthodox nature, whose exact character will have to go unspoken in any explicit sense, although I will work around each in its turn, following the trail one lays to the foot of the next, until each corpse has been piled high to the ceiling, and my work will be done for another day. But that day is so far off that there is simply no reason to think about it.
I look down at my hands again, unsure if they are up to the task, but then again, not really having much of any other option. They twitch, jumping out of their shapes just slightly, blurring more than anything else. The days twist and turn into each other, passing by in a daze that does not ever resolve itself, or come back once it's passed. That is the key in the end, and that sits gleaming in my hands, glinting in the light of the sun while grey clouds roll overhead. The twitches become more regular, the shapes formed begin to remind me of something, what I cannot say exactly, although its shape is familiar. Then it hits me – the shape is so familiar that I no longer recognize myself in it, almost as if I had become it, or if I were it, or however that might happen. The shape, in short, has seized me, and does not want to let go. The fears, having found their entry, fill me with their insipid chatterings, while what passes for life drifts by in an extremely unsatisfying grey blur, the corners of which chip away at me day after day, hoping in that way to finally get rid of me altogether.
During the course of the next few days I begin to realize that there is something that is pulling at me, grabbing my hair, my eyes, my chin, my ears, even my toes. I am surrounded by spinning globes of light, while inside of the darkness surrounding my eyes I begin to see tiny shapes evolving, each so perfect in its definition that I am sure they must be some kind of representation, but there does not seem to be anything other than what is there there, if that makes any sense. The shapes do their dancing thing, then go on about their business, spinning and shifting about with great energy. While I am fully able to admit that the globes of light are really around me, the strange little shapes in front of my eyes, along with the pools of darkness surrounding them, make actually seeing these things fairly difficult. But difficulty is no reason to step back, and the worries that explode around my head like fourth–of–july fireworks can do no more than deafen me, which they set out to accomplish with renewed vigor.
The night comes finally, relieving my eyes of their search, letting the little globes flutter around my head with almost lunatic abandon. The only calming agent is a voice that has grown so distant that I no longer even want to believe that it is there, and as far as hope goes, well, that is another matter altogether: the hope that grows even more faint than the light of the setting sun carries with it a very pale bluish fluorescent glow, just enough to remind me of its presence when I am not looking at a brighter object. But that hope is exactly what has carried me this far, that and a very strange appetite for a taste of heaven that some might consider unhealthy.
The flavor of the dark air has grown so strong that I can no longer keep my mouth shut, and stand drinking it in like water in a desert. The thick substance fills me slowly, almost subconsciously, but I sense the expansion even if I can sense nothing else, and so walk around in a daze while the darkness grows and grows. I am, I suddenly realize, very fortunate, much more than most, and this should not be tossed away so casually – in fact, this fortune might be the very key I am looking for in between the days and nights that have grown so large and unwieldy. The thought makes me pause, and, although I do not look around, it being simply too dark to see anything, at least try to reflect a little. The death that had faced me is still there, only now I do not care, and so have made a significant jump. I hear it shuffling in the distance, worrying at its flesh, tearing away piece after piece until suddenly a dull thud suggests it has ripped its own insides out. But I will never know, nor do I need to, since that can no longer be considered the source of any real problem.
The wind picks up, the night air reflects a just rising moon over the horizon, the pale light illuminates the banks of clouds that scurry overhead. The frost has already begun to fall, while all around there is a certain feeling of relief, as if I had suddenly let something go which had stopped being relevant. I pull off a thin gold ring and place a small notch on it with my knife, to commemorate the time, even if I eventually forget the date, but at least the fact of the event will remain etched there. I look at the ring, turning it around, watching it catch the faint moonlight, wondering what to do with the thing. Its material is cold, but not so much as to stick to my fingers as I handle it, perhaps because I am warming it with my body heat.
I look at it for a while longer, then stick it back on my finger, for want of a more convenient place. I see a flash out of the corner of my eye – the ring bursts into a golden metallic fog, which drifts off into the grey of night, blending into the air while a very quiet song echoes against the rocks surrounding me. My finger, the one that the ring had been on that is, aches slightly, numbed by the sudden dissolution of the gold band. I stare hard at the whitened skin that had been under the ring, trying to convince myself that what I just saw actually has not happened, but there seems to be no doubt about the matter. I bend my finger back and forth, trying to feel if I am simply hallucinating, but there is nothing on my finger, no resistance, no slight tugging at the skin, no cold hardness, nothing at all, just a feeling that is neither lightness nor release, but rather absence in a sort of pure way that is simply empty, nothing more or less.
I do not smile, nor cry, nor anything at all – the numbness that had started where the ring had been spreads until it fills every pore of my body, reaching such a surplus that I can no longer keep it in. It slips out of my mouth with every exhalation, falling slowly to the ground in a delicate rain of crystallized fog, landing with a light patter on the ground around my feet. I stand staring up at the moon, unsure if I need to do anything at all, but convinced that I need to move somewhere soon. This feeling grows, my feet begin to twitch, my hands open and close rapidly, my breath fogs out raggedly into the now pre– dawn air, rasping over my stiff lips before snowing down to the ground.
The dawn's first red glow streaks across the horizon, so dark as to not change noticeably the amount of light thrown by the moon, although the directions of the faint shadows begins to shift slightly, aligning themselves now with the rising sun. I smile to myself, relieved more than anything else, the night having begun to grow a little too cold for comfort. The sun rises slowly, filling the eastern sky with long bands of red and orange, then the entire horizon glows softly before the first yellow of the sun shows itself over the curve of the horizon. I put my hands out against the onrushing light, examining the silhouettes of my fingers while staring directly into the face of the sun.