Progress on Sandy Cape: kanariya

My head is killing me. What the hell was I up to last night?

I sit up and rub my eyes. This isn’t as easy as it ought to be — there are wires connected to my arms. Electrodes. Probes. Nor does it feel as nice as it ought to. It bloody well stings. I find my hands have been tattooed with a number. Gingerly touching around my eye, I find that there, too, I have been tattooed.

I’m on a bed or a couch of some sort. Black leather. Comfortable enough. I’d get up for a bit of a walk, to stretch my legs, to figure out what’s going on, but the room is utterly packed to the rafters with all manner of sound and music equipment. Keyboards, equalizers, spectroscopes, amplifiers, monitors, televisions. I don’t see a door in my brief visual survey of the walls, but even if there were, it would be hard as hell to get there and the door wouldn’t be openable anyway.

The TV screens are all off, so I use one to study my new ink. Just black around my left eye. A ring. I can’t tell if I’m meant to have been punched or if I’m meant to be a character in A Clockwork Orange. It hurts though.

I remember we, She and Me, were grabbed by mooks in black as I was going after her, trying to get a response from her after the encounter at the Statue on the Island. I suppose this must be where they brought us. But seriously, what the hell is this, I don’t even.

Suddenly, light from one of the walls. I guess the walls have windows in them. I see the room next to mine, it’s virtually identical. On the bed in that room sits an old woman. She is tattooed in a similar way to myself. She wears what is probably her best Sunday-go-to-meeting dress. I wave, try to attract her attention. Though she’s looking right at me, she doesn’t see. Maybe it’s one-way glass? Maybe it’s actually a video feed. I can’t really tell, to be honest.

The woman looks upset. Not hysterical but definitely wary, afraid. She slowly looks around the room. Suddenly, the head of the bed pops open, revealing a compartment with a pair of big, wooden headphones. In any other context, I’d have admired them, coveted them. Here though, not at all.

The old woman jumps at the sound of the compartment opening, then, with another furtive glance around, picks up the headphones and dons them. The look on her face only intensifies. Whatever she’s listening to is really frightening her. She’s looking around even more suspiciously now. Her eyes widen. She screams. I cannot hear it, but I know a scream when I see one. She rips the cans off her head and throws them away. She holds her head in her hands and trembles. The light goes off.

I don’t have to wait long before another wall lights up. This time, it’s a young man, no more than 22. His t-shirt and jeans and floppy hair mark him as a student, to me. He, too, bears the tattoos. Again, he’s paranoid, jumpy, and nearly leaps out of his skin when the headphones are released. He puts them on, gets a far-away look in his eyes. As I watch, he slowly devolves into a crying mess, curled up in a ball on his side on the bed. The light goes off.

Again, another wall. This time, it’s another young man, younger, probably a high school student, based on his uniform. He sits cross-legged on the bed, serene. He seems unbothered except for the way he’s rubbing the number tattooed on his hand. When the headphones are released, he turns and puts them on, as though he had been expecting them. I watch for any change in his face, but there is none for the longest time. And then, he smiles. A wide, joyous smile followed by what must be laughter. He laughs and laughs and then he starts to twitch. Soon he’s seizing at an incredible frequency. The light goes off.

I wait, but nothing happens for a very long time. I fiddle with my bed a little bit, trying to get at the headphones which I know are inside, but I can’t seem to open the compartment. Patience.

I am rewarded when the final wall of my room lights up. Again, it is a room identical to mine. But inside, on the couch, is not just anyone. Reclining there, cans on, enjoying herself, is She.

She has been tattooed like the rest of us. Her hair is long, straight, and black now, but after the encounter in the city, such physical changes don’t surprise me. She’s still wearing the dress she had been in at the statue. She has two or three rings on every finger, and she taps out a rhythm in time with whatever she’s listening to. I point at her. She cocks her head to one side and smiles, looking straight into my eyes. She, unlike the others, can see me.

There’s a pop, a pwing, and my headphones are free. I glance at her, and She nods that I should put them on. Obedient as ever, I do.

Silence. Well, a slight hiss, but silence for every intent. I look at her, raise an eyebrow. She smiles. Every television in my room turns on.

There, on the screen, is She, but not the She in the next room, no, a younger She, the She I knew in the desert, the She I jumped light cones for. Though her skin is covered in shimmering jewels of many sizes, and though her eyes are almost reptilian, it is most definitely She.

And then, Shes begin to sing.

The town is noisy, Shes sing, and people are irritating. But the birds don’t mind, as they’ve already gone to sleep.

Waking from a dream is scary, Shes sing, as we fear our hearts will be broken. We give nothing, nor do we receive anything. We are constantly searching for reason.

The canaries, Shes sing, which have had their voices crushed to death do not appear to be moved to tears. I hope they never cry.

They have, Shes sing, decided, just like that, not to cry. It seems that they will never cry.

Why won’t you notice? Hurry up and notice.

They’ve only decided not to cry, I think.

If you’d only hurry up and notice, then maybe we could…

Shes stop.

I wait. That’s it? Shes wait. Shes stare at me. A raven alights on the arm of She in the room.

All is darkness.

I hear muffled shouts. What’s going on?

Light from the ceiling, sounds of something dropping. The room is filling with smoke. There are people here, but I can’t breathe. I cough and I heave. I feel hands on me, I feel a rope.

I sense nothing.

Progress on Sandy Cape: appears

I’m getting so tired of this. Positively weary. I wait, I search, and when She does finally deign to grace me with her presence, She only stays a few moments, talks in riddles, and then everything disappears. I’d be able to accept even that, maybe, but when She then, on top of that, plays a bit of wiff waff with my heart, when all I have ever shown her is love and devotion?

It sickens me how She plays me time and again.

I will find her, and She will answer.

When I awoke after our last encounter, the house and the forest had gone, and I was lying in a field. I stood up and collected my senses. I looked around, and the distant skyscrapers made it clear where I was. I had been here once, in a long ago life, in a distant universe. Why wouldn’t it be here too, I guess. Of the several iconic buildings I remember this city for, I was mildly surprised to find them all intact. I shouldn’t have been though.

And so, I began to search. I rode taxis, busses, subways and ferries from one borough to another. No matter where I went, nothing. No sign of her. But I wasn’t going to give up, not that easily. She wouldn’t slip away like this.

I thought maybe what I’d do is just wait and watch. Perhaps She’s living here, blending in, I thought. Trying to hide. Not on your life, sister.

I spent my days walking the streets, looking at faces. I spent my evenings poring over newspapers in cafes. Proper cafes. Another perk of being in this time period as opposed to the one I remember best: no chain coffee places. I’d look and I’d pore and I’d listen. I’d listen for any sort of clue. I didn’t know exactly what such a clue would be, but I did know that I’d know it when I heard it.

Months passed.

Then, one evening, while looking through my fourth newspaper, I heard a couple at the next table speaking. He had just returned from a business trip. Had taken the train. She was asking how it was. Small talk. But then:

“I saw the strangest busker at the station this afternoon, though, I’ll tell you what.”

“Strange? Busker? How is this news?”

“She sang the strangest things. It was all nonsense, to be sure, but it was compelling nonsense. It drew me in.”

“Like what? What’s something she said?”

“Well… the one thing that really caught me, made me stop, was… how did she say it now…”

“Come on, I wanna know!”

“’Perceive the light cone’ and ‘Believe the photon’, I think that’s what she said.”

“What is she, a physics major trying to make a few bucks?”

The conversation continued but I stopped listening.

She.

It could be no one else.

I folded my paper and stood. I had her now.

It was late, and the station was mostly deserted. Patience. It’s what She taught me, and I would now use it against her. I asked about, and a few staff remembered her, said She’d been there every day all week, usually showed up around 6am, always got the same spot. I thanked them, and then set about finding a place where I would be able to see her, but She probably wouldn’t see me.

And then I waited.

Hours later, as the early morning sunlight started to brighten the sky and stream between the skyscrapers, She came. She pulled out a guitar, and she began to sing. She sang familiar songs, but they were different. The messages, altered. Lacking in the depth, the substance of when She sang them to just me. I was intrigued.

She sang all morning, taking short breaks, sometimes getting a few bucks tossed at her by a businessman in a hurry. That’s his good deed done for the day, he’d surely think. Around noon, the crowds started picking up, but she gave no sign of moving. I popped outside, grabbed a bottle of water and a hot dog, and walked back in. She was still there, oblivious. I walked right up to her as she paused between songs.

“You’ve been performing all morning. You must be hungry, thirsty. Won’t you take these?” I asked, holding the items out.

She mumbled a thank you and took them, without looking up. The hot dog did not at all match the little black dress She was wearing. She still didn’t notice it was me.

“You know,” I said, “I’ve perceived the light cones.” She paused mid-bite. “I’ve sensed the resonance. And I believed in our photon. Why didn’t you?”

She looked up and finally made the connection. In that split second, I saw relief, love, desire, fear, and hate mingled in her eyes. Then in a flash, She’d grabbed her guitar and was running through the crowd, knocking down anyone who got in her way. “Unlikely,” I muttered as I chased her.

Out onto the streets I followed her. At one point I got close (She couldn’t run very well in her dress and heels), but She turned and threw the guitar at me. I caught it and dropped it, but in that moment I had lost her. Shit.

I scanned the crowd, but I couldn’t see her. People were all looking me, as though I were the crazy one. Well, I suppose if they’d seen what I’ve seen, they may be crazy. I am not.

There, at the edge of the crowd, someone in a cowboy hat, long hair. Walking away from the crowd while everyone else is walking to it. But She was wearing different clothes, her hair wasn’t that long. But She is She.

I push my way through and start to chase the cowboy-hatted woman. She glances back and sees me, and I know that I am right, that it is She. She dodges down an alley and I give chase. Alley connects to alley, down this back street, into another alley. She jumps and starts to climb the fire escape. I’m not far behind. We climb, higher, higher. I see her go over the top, to the roof. I hurry so as not to lose her again.

Gaining the roof, I look around. No one. Don’t play with me, I know you’re here

Stepping out from behind a cooling unit, there She is, now in a red ball gown and a fur stole.

“Why are you running? What did I do? I deserve an explanation if nothing else.”

She smiles demurely, turns, and walks from me.

“Answer me! What did I do? I’ve followed you across space and time!”

As she reaches the edge of the roof, She steps up on the edge. She turns, and smiles. “Tonight. On the island.” Then, as I watch, She falls backwards over the edge.

Screaming, I run to where She fell, horrified at the thought of what I might find. But, as I ought to have suspected, there is nothing. There is no way She could have escaped, but neither are there her twisted, broken remains. I sigh.

In this city, saying, “on the island,” isn’t necessarily a very good clue, but I feel we both understand how the other thinks well enough that there can be no mistake. And so I waited at the base of that godawful statue with the towers-that-mustn’t-be marring the skyline. And after a time, She arrived. She wore the little black dress She had had at the train station.

“You need to explain things to me,” I said.

She smiled, as She does, and shook her head. And then She began.

Lovers look happy, don’t they? She sings, walking hand in hand. They look like they can do anything, but I can only think that — I’d never say it. Only they know if they can or not.

When one receives their first phone call from a new lover, She sings, of course, one’s hand trembles. It creeps into the voice. There’s no disguising the nervousness one feels. The second phone call, She sings, it’s fine to send it to the answering machine. The seventh, She continues, is mundane, and unspecial, and normal.

The tenth call, She sings, suggests we go on a trip far away, just the two of us. Let’s walk hand in hand, She sings, and let the days pass happily. After however long, on the way home, we share a kiss in the car. I feel a chill and look up to see that is snowing, here in the middle of summer. I look back to She.

I love the shiny white snow, She sings. Last year, I was alone in winter. This year, She continues, will we be together, come wintertime? Will we spend winter together? Can you say?

YES, I scream in my head, I can say but you won’t listen, you won’t let me speak, you accuse me of all these things when it’s you and only You that keeps us apart.

I suppose if you can’t say, I’ll just tell you Merry Christmas now, She sings. This ring on my finger, it sparkles… how many rings from how many men have I had? Why don’t you give me a ring? No one knows anything, I guess.

I reach for her hand, but she turns to walk away.

“Wait!” I call after her. She turns. Just then, men in black jump out of the shadows, throw a bag over her head and haul her away. I try to give chase, but I find a bag over my head, and struggle though I might, I cannot stop them from picking me up and taking me away too.

Progress on Sandy Cape: Boys & Girls

I don’t sleep. Never properly at any rate. Spread as I am in an infinite number of bits scattered throughout the lands of this entire world, the sun never sets on me. I rest, and I wait, and I am patient, but I do not sleep. For several million years, I am like this. She, too, must be like this, but somehow, despite the ubiquity of both of us, we do not have contact. I worry not, for in this form, it is very difficult to retain the fear and insecurities that are the seeds of worry.

I suppose I am aware of every part of me, but even like this, my mind does not have the power to keep track of every part of me at every moment. I am not omniscient, not even over my own constituent bits. But over the millennia, slowly, I become aware that the pieces of me are converging on a single point. Some are blown on the wind to this place; some are brought by animals; some are taken up by trees and plants and then set free in their seeds or pollen or fruits. And slowly, geologically slowly, I am returned to being whole.

And thus it was, on a certain day, in this cave, I stood up. It wasn’t until I’d been walking about the cave for a few moments that I realized that I was whole again, it was that subtle and glacial of a transition. I hooted with glee and jumped about when it dawned on me. Surely, I frightened away some of the local animals who I owe a debt of gratitude to for bringing this to me.

I stopped. Something wasn’t right. Something was missing.

I was mostly whole, but not completely. Something inside me was gone. A part of my soul. And now that I noticed it was gone, it ached. It hurt so badly. I looked around the cave, I rummaged in the leaves and dirt on the floor, but to no avail. It’s not a large piece. It is no bigger than a grain of sand, but it is mine, it is Me, and I need it. Would I sense it if it were here?

With that thought, I did sense something. But it wasn’t me. Leaving the cave, I found myself in a temperate forest. Tall trees. It is summer. It is early morning. It is cloudy though, and the wind is very strong. I walk into the wind, following what I sense as a voice leading me on. Ever on.

Turning a corner around a boulder, there in the middle of the path was a single white ibis. I stopped, for I did not want to disturb the large bird, but rather admire it while it allowed me to watch. The ibis, however, approached me, nudged my hand with its head. I opened my hand, palm upwards, and thereupon the ibis dropped from its beak a small red grain. Like a fleck of ruby or garnet. A brief break in the clouds allowed a shaft of light into the forest, and it sparkled. I looked at the ibis, and he looked at me, and then he turned and took to the air. I studied the red grain.

There was a throbbing in my mind. My pulse quickened and my muscles tensed.

She.

The fleck is a part of She, a part missing, like I am incomplete so is She.

Patience.

I continue walking through the forest, content in the knowledge that I’d find her soon, and that I’d find the missing part of myself when I did. The weather continued to be poor, with heavy winds, occasional rain, but never very heavy. Though it was summer, it was cool in the forest, and the wind was starting to chill me.

And then I saw a small house.

I approached it, and knocked on the door, but it cracked open under my knuckles. I entered.

Inside, all the rooms were warmly lit. Not bright, but warm. It was a comfortable house that was completely unfurnished. I wandered from room to room, and as I did, the weather outside took a turn for the worse. Though only mid-afternoon it was soon dark as night, and the wind was howling and the rain was bucketing down. I was glad to be here, warm and safe inside.

I sat in the middle of the largest room. I relaxed. I cleared my mind. I waited.

Presently, I heard softly padding feet coming up the corridor, and I opened my eyes and it was as I expected.

She is here.

I stand, and she approaches me. I notice that her eyes are noticeably larger than they used to be. I’ve not looked in a mirror for the entire age of this universe, so I’m sure I look different than I used to, too. She smiles, and reaches into a pocket of her black pants. When She opens her palm in front of me, therein lies a tiny fleck of something blue. It sparkles in the warm light like sapphire. It is the part of me that is missing. I show her the ruby the ibis gave to me, and we both smile.

The flecks raise from our palms and, hovering just a moment in front of us, plunge into our respective chests and We are whole again. Whole and together. We hug, and we stand there, embracing, for a long time.

The storm has not yet abated. It seems to be getting stronger. A huge gust of wind blows open a door at the end of the corridor, and soon wind and leaves are blowing in through the house. I try to close the door, but She shakes her head and walks out into the storm. As I watch her from the doorway, she stands on the deck, twirling in the wind and the rain and getting utterly soaked. She beckons me out, and I obediently follow.

In the corner of the deck is a hot tub. It’s on, it’s warm, and the jets are running. She steps in and stands there, up past the knees in hot bubbly water. And there, as the tempest rages around us, She begins.

Can anyone stop us from shining like the stars? She sings. Do those fluttering fools have the right?

We often say it, we often dream it, we often speak it to each other, She sings, that we want to be happy. We’ve seen each other countless times. But what on earth do we want? What on earth are we dissatisfied with? Where on earth should we be headed?

These questions, these answers, She sings, I don’t have anything to say to them. Do you?

I don’t.

Don’t forget, She sings, the way I touched your back when we hugged. Don’t forget the promise we make this summer afternoon.

We are the sparkling ones, She sings, but I wonder when we’ll be able to seize tomorrow and move on?

Will those fluttering fools ever be able to?

I really expect, She sings, that we’ll be able to but you, She sings, really doubt that we will. What, are you just anyone, now?

No, what? Stop it.

I’ve said you were a good person, She sings, but I see you’re just an inconsequential speck.

By now there are tears in my eyes. I’ve waited to see you for billions of years, I’ve perceived the light cone and jumped into a new one for you; I believed in our photon and followed it here; I sensed the resonance and completed you as you have completed me. What is going on? Why are you doing this?

… is what I think as loud as I can in my head, but I say nothing, as tears stream down my face. Not that she would notice — the rain disguises my tears admirably.

The dawn, She sings, is frightfully bright and it pierces my eyes. She collapses to her knees in the hot tub.

My chest hurts, She whispers. What’s happening? I’m bewildered by all that I have seen.

The rain stops.

The clouds part.

The sky is so bright, it dazzles me. I shield my eyes and look back to the hot tub.

She is gone.

A bittersweet smile plays on my lips. I lay down on the deck, and stare into the bright sky, unblinking. I wait.

I am patient.

All is become gold.