“Well, that’s sexy…” he thought as drool slipped down his chin. He was only just coming back into consciousness, and it was a slow process. Curiosity and amusement danced equally in his brain, even as he registered he was bound to a chair in someplace dark. His vision began to clear, and in the flickering light, he could make out a table before him, the stone walls, and an impressive fireplace at the end of the room. This was definitely not the bar he had walked into earlier this evening.
The ground was bruised. Battered by the last of the winter storms, it squished under his feet. These woods always underwent a painful rebirth every spring. Soon fresh green shoots would rise through the forest floor and transform this soggy brown mat he walked on. The creek he followed ran quickly, swollen from the melted snow. He let its sparkling musical sounds take him back years, to when he first explored this plot.
Into the dark
I have no memory before this exact moment. My eyes wince at the intense brightness and attempt to adjust. I feel the sensation of cold and look down. Bare feet stand on the tiled floor. Before me is a brushed metal counter, no, more like a long shallow trough. A series of faucets are set above it. Above that is a mirror that runs the length of this room. I look into it and see nothing I recognize looking back at me. A stranger’s face, a stranger’s eyes, reflect someone gaunt, tired, miserable. Those eyes are bloodshot and red-rimmed. I raise a thin hand to feel hot swollen cheeks damp from tears, I think. My body is wearing some loose coarse woven long shift. It is plain, off-white, and shapeless. Upon my head is lightly pinned some near-transparent pale iridescent scarf. It’s so insubstantial that the pins seem to barely hold it to my hair. It might float away on its own if not anchored. This scrutiny does not help me understand who I am or why I am here.
In her hands, there was a little black book. It had scars etched into its cover. The corners were worn. Its pages were unruly, yellow, and curled against each other as if in conflict. The woman could relate. She had been twisted out of shape by those pages. What this book had done might be quantifiable by some, but its full significance would not be known until both she and it had long since become dust.
Waking was akin to clawing his way through a tunnel of cobwebs only to break through a soggy layer of mildewed cardboard. That is to say; it was grossly unpleasant. His eyes were closed still, but he let the night seep into his ears. There were no sounds of cars on the nearby street, no late-night flights skimmed the roof. It must have been that mysterious time between bar close and when the city resumes its relentless hamster wheel cycle of a new day.