The Sands of Eternity


 

 

A waking of spirit, of whimsical misnomers and silence of the new world. 

 

She could feel the warmth first, soft and almost enveloping.  It was beneath her fingers, the tips of each feeling granules like sand as she pulled them in and closed a palm over the gathered land.  It was down her bare arm as well, and though she felt it at her chest and ribs and still lower at her hips which pressed deeper into the sands, she felt a division, clothing, yes, that is what it was, something simple, but not past her thighs where the sands again welcomed her within their warm folds.  It was sand, of course, for she heard the water very near, lapping at a shore that couldn’t be but a stretch away.  But she saw nothing, save for a brightness, not color, but light, beyond the thin veils of eyelids.

Her eyes opened, her own doing.  The light that met them was bright, but subsiding.  Like the sand, it was warm, but only just.  The sands began to form in front of her, stretching far into the distance.  Above her, as she lay, grass that rose up and hung just over the border of grass and sand, an odd division, but enchanting.  She watched blades dance lightly in a soft breeze that she could now feel over her back along with tiny droplets of water, not rain, no, just a soft spray from the lapping waves.  She did not know this beach, or such as a place that could grow the richest grass next to the plant-less sands.  As she watched the blades continue to dance ever so slightly, she began to feel her heart beat gather against the world meeting it.  She did not know this place, or how she got her.

She rolled quickly, straightening arms behind her to prop up a body that had been welcomed by the land and which she reluctantly left.  The water was indeed close, as it had nearly been at her toes before she’d moved.  And it was rich, not blue as she’d seen in books or even from the oceans she’d seen before from onboard vessels crossing the great seas, but so blue they were nearly a sky of undulating movements, and as the waters met the shore and slung back out again meeting yet more currents, waves formed, crashed, and particles fell up into the sky, as indeed it was falling, for they did not come back down, rather they rose up and hung in the air almost frozen for a long moment before descending slowly, finally, back down to the waters from where they had come. But her eyes had gone past the floating droplets to the great sphere that nearly covered the wide sky.  A world, as much as any she’d ever known, rich blue seas and lush lands of the deepest green stared back at her.

Nearly the entire sky was encompassed by the great orb.  The sight of it nearly made her laugh, though she could not find joy in it, and it never left her throat.  It hung there, trapped, nearly gagged upon as her heart continued to beat more violently and the breath she had was finding itself far too busy to cater to anything other than near hyperventilation.  She was staring at another world, one that should not be there, especially not so close.  Her eyes ventured further upwards only to be greeted by the other world’s great size.  Much of it rose into the further sky above her and slowly disappeared as the circumference of the other world rolled away from view.

She wanted to lay back down, but feared she would not again allow herself to struggle from the welcoming hold of the land beneath her.  How she wanted to, to shut her eyes again, feel the sands at her fingers, and fade back to the darkness of sleep, but it hadn’t been sleep.  She knew that now.  She had been unconscious.  There was a pinch behind her eyes that told her as much.  The headache would follow soon.

“Where am I?” she said aloud hoping that the effort itself would awaken her from a dream she was certain she wasn’t having.

“Where am I?” she said again a little louder.

Only the waving rustle of grass and ebbing water greeted her.  Again she said “Where am I?!” though it shocked her how loud she’d managed to become.

She moved as if stung or suddenly alarmed, for even her own words amidst all the silence seemed to unsettle the environment around her.  She was on her toes now, hands and fingers before her digging into the soft sands.  She spun around looking over the border of grass.  There were trees in the distance.  Ones full of leaves, they swayed ever so slightly, but nothing else stirred.

“Hello?” she chanced again as she held her breath as the words faded out.  “Is there anyone out there?”

“Please say something if you’re there.”  She said again pausing before she added, “My name is Ellis.  Ellis Boon.  Please say something!”

Her voice cracked as a chilled stream of tears dripped down the sides of her face.  Her breath shuddered in her throat as her heart continued to pulse and force her to breathe at a more rapid pace.  Her eyes darted from side to side to see nothing but the widening world at both ends.  Only the grass and trees moved in front of her, and the tides behind her.  She knew she was alone, she could somehow feel it to be true, but refused to believe it.  She swiped the backs of her hands across her cheeks, took in a stuttered gust of air into her lungs, and began putting one foot in front of the other telling herself that she was not alone.  That this could all still be a dream.  Anything to keep from crying.

The grass rose up and grazed the sides of her exposed thighs.  It tickled and itched just the same, but she kept moving forward, towards the trees and the forest beyond. As she neared it, the grass grew still higher, brushing the palms of her hands as she held them out, but the dirt beneath remained moist, which she was thankful for as she’d somehow not been wearing shoes.

As the grass subsided, the trees grew. Smaller at first, yet still twice her size or more.  Every ten steps or so further she’d notice the trees rising still higher and ahead, more dense.  She marveled that none were dying, burned, decomposing husks of long ago broken trunks.  In fact, there weren’t even branches on the ground that she trod over.  No leaves either, just the light fuzz of short grass and cushioned moss.  Still further she went noticing the absence of any real noise apart from the rustling leaves above, high above, towards the tops of far reaching trees where beyond only the hint of daylight could be seen.  She looked back, expecting the sea and the sight of the other world, but it was blocked by the rising lines of trees, and a part of her was relieved not to see it.

She kept on through the forest which did not feel cold or empty.  She wished that the noise of some life would ring out, calling to one another, but as she would think this, she found joy in its absence as she had never been one to enjoy the woods and all of its many sounds.  To her, they were the sounds of warning to all the creatures hidden and unseen behind trees, and over the sides of rocks and hills awaiting their chance to remove the unwelcome from their world. So she kept feet treading forward, unhindered by thought of fear, by the stark sudden breaking of branches or falling stones, and soon the thick of trees began to show breaks of light until finally they fell away into a field that dropped down into a great wide valley extending for many many miles to the bases of distant hills and beyond, mountains.

For a moment she forgot the world the hovered above her.  The empty world around her.  The grass was a green that was nearly yellow, flowing in streams from passing currents of wind.  Structures of rock, nearly a hue of purple rose out here and there, some curved, holed, nothing purposeful.  She could feel the tug at the sides  of her mouth, she was smiling.  She hadn’t meant to, but the air smelled of something she’d only recalled just now, a memory as a child of when she’d lain in the soft dirt in the garden of her mother.  Fragrant flowers of white all around her as insects floated neatly from opened petal to petal ignoring her beneath the stems of flowers.  The smell had been one of her fondest memories as a child.  Before the madness of her father, the depression of her mother, and the insanity of the world.  She thought now to that world, the one that only cultivated fear, one she’d only ever learned to fear, and as she did she sat.  The lapping touch of bending grass and petals touching at her arms and filling her lungs with a most calming feeling, one she’d not felt in far too long.

She lay back, her eyes feeling weighed by the sense of calm, and even as she saw the curving of the other world just beyond the one she lay upon, it no longer frightened her.  She welcomed it and the empty world for which was around her that she’d never known, that she’d never fathomed, and soon darkness surrounded her as warmth covered her body and the thoughts that had kept her from sleep for far too many years were discarded, and all that was left was the fine sound of a kind wind as it soothed her to sleep.

***

If time had passed she did not notice.  Her eyes opened and to her relief it was to the same sight she’d closed them to.  The other world above still hung there, its land looking nearly as green and lush as the one she was laying upon.  She leaned up to look out over the field again, and as a smile broached her lips once more, she fell to her side and rolled down the hill before her, the sound of laughter breaking through the vacant noise of wind and shuffling plant life.   Soon she came to a slowed stop as she entered the valley.  The grass was high here as were the stems of light yellow flowers.

She arose to her feet again, her shoulders cresting just over the height of growth there.  She turned to see the world around her.  Where she’d come from above, past the tops of trees sat the world still baring down upon this one, and she wondered if she looked hard enough if she could see another like herself staring back. The world at her sides were rolling hills where beyond she could hardly see but for the tops of distant trees.  So it was left to what was before her of the rising lilac rocks and distant hills and mountains.  She spied a nearby promontory, one that rose neatly from the ground and upward at a manageable angle.  She thought to walk up its spine to the top where she believed she could catch a more telling lay of the land, maybe even spot a nearby city or anything for that matter, though a part of her didn’t want to find anyone else to be around.

Against her bare feet the rock was course and made her skin crawl as it sent a shudder up her spine.  It reminded her of a time, only once, when she had still been but a child wading out into the dark of the ocean, the porous rocks that had been just beneath her feet.  How they’d felt fragile yet could feel like glass ready to cut at her tender skin.  Still she climbed, finding small holds for her fingers just in case a foot happened to slip.  She was slowly rising from the ground.  Eight feet now, perhaps ten.  She wasn’t so great with telling distances.  To her it was just high enough she’d absolutely hurt herself or worse if she fell and the thought made her skin feel hot and dampened with the thinnest layer of sweat.

At the top she shakily let go of the rock and stood atop it to look out over the vast land.  The fields rolled under her in small nearly-silent waves that looked as if great wings of birds were wiping across their surfaces.  In the distance the fields continued, as did rocks of rising shapes and sizes and wrapped in forests of the deepest green.  It seemed to go on in both directions, her left and right, leaving the mountains and rolling hills before her.  She saw no sign of life, no sight of movement except the wind’s interaction with the grass and distant trees.

She wondered which way she ought to go, and seeing as behind is where she’d come from, the paths to her sides looking both alike to one another, the distance before her seemed the best option.  Perhaps over some of the rolling hills, below in another valley like this that she could not yet see was a town of sorts, someone to perhaps tell her where she was.  For as much peaceful excitement she was feeling, she was starting to feel a lessening to her smile at the thought of forever being here alone.  Wherever here was.

She looked above her, and the silent planet stared back.  Its waters looked peaceful as did its land full of vibrant green.  But what was it? Where did it come from?  And more importantly, where was she?  The sky was so vast, and the loaming planet as much so that she felt small, immensely small.  That the entire planet she now stood on would be as empty as what was around her.  She felt her balance waning at looking at the planet.  Indeed, it was moving.  Ever so slowly, but it was definitely moving.  Either the planet itself or just a rotation on its axis.  Either way it was too close.  She knew that much.  But her attention did not last upon the sky, for a noise had breached the silence.  Something familiar until finally, her attention pulled from the other world, she heard it clearly.

“Ellis Boone? Miss Ellis?  Miss Boone?” Came a voice from below her.  “I’m afraid you can’t stand upon the Tolsis’, Miss.”

She turned quickly to see a boy at the bottom of the rock she’d climbed, one with thin boxy ears that protruded from the sides of his face and dropped some at their own weight. He wore a simple garment, a dark earthen color like Ellis had never seen on another before.  She may have remarked on it for he looked oddly like he was wearing a coat that was too large for him, or perhaps responded to the boy to ask what it was that a Tolsis was, if she had not spun so quickly, lost her footing, and slipped from the rock.

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