I’m in a car. A limo, I guess, but not a stretch one. It’s not prom.
This time, it’s different.
In the past, I’ve always been trapped or isolated. Even though, in the end, I wasn’t actually trapped in that bar, and it was my own lack of thought that kept me there so long, I thought I was trapped, and so I was. But this time, I have free roam. I can go where I want, do what I want. There’s nothing strange or odd or unusual. For all I know, this is the world I left behind, and whatever series of crazy dreams I had been having is over and I’m back.
But I don’t think that’s the case. It can’t be.
I still have the journal. If that was a dream and this is reality, how can I still have the journal?
Besides, the people here aren’t full. They aren’t complete. I don’t mean in some poetic, “everybody’s searching for something,” mid-80s Annie Lennox lyrical sense. I mean, they’re missing something. They’re half-people. They’re like shadows.
So no, I think that the journey I began however long ago, the journey that introduced me to She, I think that continues.
It means I have to continue. I can’t be complacent, I can’t rest, I can’t relax. I must search for She.
I don’t… know where to search though.
As we drive through the night, the city lights whiz by, other cars, bikes, pedestrians. It’s autumn, and the sky is clear and the moon is nearly full. I can only catch peeks of it through the very tall buildings. Soon I’ll be able to see it well. We’re heading for the bay.
Every time before, I’ve not really had to search for She, not really. She was just sort of there. Oftentimes, the simple act of deciding to find She would make She manifest. It doesn’t work this time though. I’ve been everywhere. I’ve concentrated on a place She ought to be, hoping to create She in that place, but I’ve failed every time.
Just when I thought I understood the world, the rules changed.
Approaching the bridge now. The towers, white and nondescript in daytime, are illuminated in all the colours of the rainbow. I’ve crossed this bridge so many times since awakening here. Busses, taxis, transport trucks, monorails. It’s a good bridge. And I was right, I can see the moon perfectly here. I can see the spread of the city on the other side of the bay, and I wonder if tonight, there, She’s waiting.
When last I saw She, I had failed. I had disappointed. Perhaps… was it a test? And because I failed, I’m destined to never see She again? But that can’t be. Not after what we’ve been through. Not after all the things She’s told me. I remember, She said that She had been searching for company, to end loneliness, and that I was the one She had searched for. She said that She needed my strength. She said that the past was a burden that needed to be destroyed. She said to hold on to happiness for the times when there is none. She said I must communicate my dreams to another.
She said that belief in oneself would set one free.
Perceive the light cone.
Believe the photon.
“Driver,” I begin, trying to sound confident despite my trepidation, “Do you know where we are going?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You have not sensed the resonance. When you do, I will know, and I will take you there.”
“Pull over here, if you can.”
Say what you see. Nothing is as complicated or as convoluted as it may seem at first glance.
“Driver, while we wait, can we talk? I’ve been having these dreams, you see…” I tell him all about my recent encounters. I show him the journal, and with only the occasional head nod or grunt, he flips through it as I tell him everything.
“That’s quite the tale you have there. But why tell me?”
“I need to find She. That is why I am in your car. I’ve told you so that maybe you can help me.”
He smirks. “You have sensed the resonance.” He turns back to the wheel and we drive away.
Half an hour or so later, I find myself in an elevator with the driver. This is an office building of some sort, and we’ve parked in the underground garage with it’s strange orange lighting. He’s not said anything since, just gestured. I can’t but follow, as this seems to be the way.
Perceive the light cone.
Believe the photon.
Sense the resonance.
The elevator dings for the 50th floor, and the driver nods that I should get out first. He steps out after me and as the doors close, he waves me down the hall to the right. At the seventh door, he stops. Knocks. Gestures that I should enter. I nod, and turn the knob.
Pushing the door slowly open, I find a small dressing room. There’s a sitting area with chairs and a low table. The lighting is low, amber, warm. At the far end is a door, probably to a washroom or a kitchenette or something. On one wall is a large mirror with a counter, for make-up and last minute costume checks, I guess. On the counter are six television monitors, small, dark. I hear the door click shut behind me. I am alone in this room.
At a loss, I remember She said that rewards come to those who patiently search. I have searched, and I shall be patient. I sit.
One of the televisions sputters to life. There’s no sound, just the image. It’s familiar. A desert, a tree, televisions in the tree. She.
Another monitor. The house with brightly coloured rooms and apples that fell from the ceiling. She.
The next monitor. The blue tank. The convertible. She.
Again. The bar. The yakitori cart. The broken washing machine. The desert. She.
It continues. The mountains. The lake. The spheres. She.
The final television lights up. The room. The trickling water. The angel. Her broken wings. The sadness. The disappointment. She.
As I gaze upon all these screens replaying the key moments in my journey, I feel tears welling up. Relief, in a way, that there is proof, somehow, of the things I’ve experienced. I’m not crazy. Happiness, a little bit, at seeing She, even as an image on a small screen. Exhaustion, I’ve been through this city so many times and, as always, the answer to the riddle was right in front of me. I blink a couple of times, then reach up to wipe the tears away, clear my vision.
And when I have done so, I am not alone. She is here. She sits at the counter, writing on a notepad. Every few moments she’ll stop and think for a moment, and then continue writing. There’s an air of quiet intensity about her, and so I leave her be. She is here and near Me, and for now that is fine.
At last, She nods, lays down her pencil, and, holding the notepad, turns to me. She smiles, and then She begins.
Until eternity, She sings, is a long time, and is something no one can promise. I wonder when I noticed that. If I promised you eternity, She sings, I’d be called a liar by all but the most naive. And You are not naive. The length of our time together, it may be different from how you imagine it.
If We just met and fell in love, She sings, it wouldn’t last, and We’d be at odds before long. Why must this be so difficult?
Without You, this cannot happen, She sings, the entire endeavour will be for nought. So I want You beside me. If you can grant me that modest request, I’ll be so happy, She sings. I smile, and I slowly nod. I wish we could speak in an everyday way — our words would still have deep meaning.
It’s good that We didn’t just meet and fall in love, She sings, because We’d hate each other forevermore.
Don’t turn your eyes from truth, She sings. Neither turn your eyes from reality, She sings. Prove that You are alive. Prove that You exist. She grasps my hand gently, stroking the back.
If We just met and fell in love, She sings, We’d never ever meet again.
I won’t forget. We’ll never forget.
I smile, and reach for her, to hold her close. But there’s nothing there. She is gone.
The televisions are gone.
The mirror is gone.
Eyes wide, I stand and turn for the door. The driver, surely he can help. I bang on the door, “Hey, let me out! She’s gone!”
I turn back and the kitchenette and the sitting area is gone. I look towards the door, and it, too, has gone.
I am in a beige room.
Just when you think you understand something, everything changes. I collapse, head in my hands, and wait for my inevitable awakening in an unknown place.