In her mind, she walks through woods of long ago. The ground is littered with the debris of fall, and she kicks it into the air as she moves; small veined bits of remnanted life swing eagerly into the air one last time before settling into the task of decay. The leaves crunch beneath her feet, garrulous in their final protests of surrender.
Long ago, she walks to walk away, but as her fears walk with her, there is no escape. Her nightmares pulse within her chest, beating out a stomping standstill of eternity. The beat of her heart is the life of nightmare; one requires the other, always. The bones within her flesh are mere kindling before the heated rage of blood pushed and pulled by the fire-breathing chimera within.
Long ago, she swings into a final eager dance and settles into the long slow process of decay.
She sits in a small cool room and waits, dragging air in and then forcing it out, pressing it past the fleshy swells of unspoken cysted secrets. She grows lightheaded with the effort, and her vision shatters and swirls and funnels her awareness — the floor is burgundy, a dusky matte burgundy. She sinks her head between her knees and reaches for the certainty of the floor, pressing her palms hard against its resistance.
Straining with the effort of pressing up and away from the floor, she is calmed; she can rely upon the floor to hold its place and hold her weight. A moment later, however, as she relaxes her brace against certainty, the floor wavers and shimmers and undulates, ready to accept her if she yields. Against resistance, the floor is solid; against surrender, the floor is liquid.
There is a choice to be made, and the floor’s viscosity relies upon her intent.
Vigilant resistance is now required to move upon the surfaces of the world.
She breathes in and out of this new truth, working to coalesce the room and reality into something she might share, a space into which another might step. By the time he arrives, she is exhausted with the effort, and her heart pounds the life of nightmares through her veins. Her being vibrates against the pulsating assault, and it occurs to her that perhaps another battle against changing viscosity is being fought – has perhaps long been fought — within. The kindling of her snaps and singes against the rush of heated blood; her bones are mere fuel for the fire.
“I hear the pounding of hooves.”
She startles for a moment into this moment . . . he can hear the pounding of her heart?
He smiles, “I don’t think we’re dealing with a zebra.”
She has no idea what he is talking about, but having found her way to this moment with him, she wants desperately to stay in this moment. Does he hear the beating of her heart? She pulls the corners of her mouth up into what she hopes is a smile and says, “No?”
He shakes his head, “No. I want you to imagine that you and I stand together at a window and together we hear the beat of hooves outside on the street. Now, as we turn to look out the window, yes . . . there might be a zebra . . . but the much more likely explanation is a horse. Do you understand what I am saying?”
How to speak to him of the pounding clawed feet of fire-breathing chimeras if the worst he can imagine is a zebra? The situation is impossible, but she tries anyway, pressing with all her might against the surfaces of the world so that she might linger for the moment required to whisperingly confide, “I wish for a zebra.”
His brow furrows, and he leans toward her, “That’s not an average sort of wish.”
She nods her head and sinks . . .
Through the floor.