It is, I think, early morning. Not knowing this place, I know not which direction is which. Add to that the thin clouds which nevertheless disguise the position of the sun, and I cannot tell. It is evening. It is morning. I don’t know. Let us say it is morning.
I approach the gazebo, and therein She lies peacefully on a bed with a gauzy sheet and a thin pillow. She is asleep. In the greenery of the garden and that which has grown up and around the gazebo, there are butterflies and bees. I gently, quietly, open the door the slip inside. She stirs not. I cannot remember the last time I slept and so I, too, lie down on the bed. She shifts slightly in her sleep, but does not wake. I maintain a prudent distance from her, and I relax and I sleep.
And now I am awake, but… This is very peculiar. I am standing at bedside in the gazebo. Upon the bed lie two figures. She. And Me. I am dreaming? I have split? I do not understand but that is how it is. As I watch, rising out of the slumbering She grows a form that coalesces to stand on the opposite side of the bed. It is She. Dream-She? At any rate, we have both escaped our drowsy bodies and are free. She holds out a hand, and I take it, and we walk out the gazebo doors.
As soon as we do so, the world changes again. No longer are we on a cliff overlooking the sea, but we are on another rocky shoreline as the tide comes in. Looking out to sea, not far off the coast there sits a derelict and rusting, grounded freighter. Gulls fly around it. It is getting on noon. Despite the harsh sun, it is chilly here near the sea.
After a moment of looking about, she sets off along the rocks in her bare feet. I follow.
The going is rough. The rocks are loose in some places, large and difficult in others. As we follow the coast, we slowly climb higher and higher above the sea. After an hour or two, we have a birds-eye view of the place we arrived. Looking back the way we came, there is only sea to our right, and only rocks as far as the eye can see ahead and to the left.
But turning once again to our travel, we are nearly at the edge of a jungle or forest. Inside it looks even colder than it is out here, and dark.
Here, on a rock high above the sea, between barren stony desert and dark forbidding jungle, She sings.
To choose only the things you like, She sings, does not mean you are irresponsible. To search out only the things you want does not mean you must accept the burden of responsibility. It merely means that you hold potential.
To feel a sympathy for unnecessary things is, She sings, not very useful, is it? As for important things, they are often accompanied by pain, aren’t they? To feel isolated when alone is bad enough, but to feel isolated when with people, that’s hard to bear.
When you are visited by isolation, She sings, and when you receive pain, don’t just shut out the feelings. Even if you should lose your words, and you are called inconsequential, if you stumble on the path, catch yourself with both hands. Be a thing like that.
Ah, the day we pinky-swore, She sings, that we’d protect each other. Ah, the dreams had after talking all night. No one can speak of these things, but surely someone wants to speak of them, and that person is Special.
Here, in nowhere, She sings, I will depart on my own terms. But you, you stay there, as you are. I want you to remain you. I want you to be you forever.
She stops. I watch as She alights from the rock upon which She has been during her song. She offers her hand, and I take it, and we walk into the jungle.
I’m not sure how long we walk, but as we do the canopy grows thicker and the jungle gets darker. Now and then, I feel that we are being watched, but She gives no indication of that, and so I say nothing.
We walk for the remainder of the day, and shortly before darkness envelops us entirely, a light appears in the distance. We head for it, and as we grow closer, it’s clear that this, here, far from the sea, and deep in a jungle, is a gazebo nearly identical to that which we had left our sleeping selves in. Without hesitation, She goes to the gazebo window and peers in. Satisfied, she opens the door and beckons that I should follow. Inside the gazebo, though in poor repair, and in need of a good cleaning, it appears to be exactly the same as the one we left. The bed is clean, and she sits on the edge. I sit, too, tired from a long day of trekking.
She takes my hand again, and looks into my eyes. I am surprised as She moves in and takes a kiss from me. As She pulls back, I smile and She does too. But then a shadow passes over her expression. I hear a noise outside. The feeling of being watched that has stalked me all day returns.
The doors burst open and there, a jaguar waits, ready to pounce. But it’s not a jaguar, not really, it’s yet another She, in a black wig, cat ears, red eyes, long claws and a cat suit. I look to Jaguar-She and then back to She. The look of terror on the face of She as she scrambles away from the door is something I’ll never forget. I’ll also never forget how Jaguar-She lunged into the room, grabbed She by the shoulders and with a mocking glance my way, absconded with She into the night. The trail of blood leading out the door was bright red.
And as suddenly as that had happened, I wake up, in the bed in the gazebo. I can hear the sea, and sitting up, I realize that I’m back in the gazebo I’d fallen asleep in. Perhaps it was all a dream after all. There’s no carnage here. She remains sleeping peacefully beside me. I try to get out of bed so as not to wake her, but she soon stirs. I look to her peaceful face as she awakens. Her eyes open. They are red. The hungry glare that comes back at me makes my blood run cold and I flee from the gazebo to the edge of the garden on the cliff.
I turn, and She is stalking after me. There is no escape except…
I fall backwards off the edge of the cliff. I close my eyes, so that I do not see the red eyes leering as I descend. In my mind, I can see She, the real She (whatever that means) back on the stony beach looking at the rusty freighter in the sea.
All is aquamarine.