I am flying, or hovering more like, drifting among buildings of a kind I have never seen before, but through their windows I can see the people I know, all of them, though they do not see me, and though there are no doors on these buildings that I can find, no way for them to come to me, even if our eyes should meet.
I am walking through a garden, held between the irregular walls of a building, tall and red-brick and formal, and the garden turns and twists with the building, as if it is a maze, but I am not lost, only adrift in the blossoms of the trees, and the fruit too, impossibly simultaneous, in the smell and the sight of it, and in the realization that I am the gardener. I approach the trees closely, touch my hands to their bark and their leaves, to the raised beds, shored up with stone walls, where they have been planted, and I begin to see that they have been planted badly, too near the building, too near the retaining walls, too near each other, and they have been pruned badly too, left to grow any which way, so there is disease in them, and the fruit is twisted and rotten, and even still, I know I am the gardener.
I am surrounded by something like a tapestry, seamless, like a fence, but floating a little off the ground, high enough that I could crawl under it if I wanted. It has many things written and figured on it, words and images of great beauty and solemnity, but it is transparent also, and I can see into the distance in every direction. Around my feet there is something piled and heavy, like snow, and I am gathering handfuls of it to rub onto the tapestry, because it is only my handfuls that will keep the tapestry clean, and if I stop, even for a moment, it will begin to grow grey and soiled, so I make my way around the circle of fabric again and again, circuit after circuit. Then, on the other side of the tapestry, I see that there is someone else also cleaning the fabric, but she is moving in the opposite direction, so we only pass each other periodically, but there is a moment on each circuit when we are in precisely the same place, and our hands meet through the fabric, and it is always enough for me to begin a new circuit once more.
I am in a vast building, a shopping mall, but built from medieval stone, massive, oppressive. The shops are all closed, barred by steel grates, but I would not know which to choose in any case, because they have no signs. They are just an endless series of metal bars set into the gaping, darkened archways of the shops, like prison cells for the beasts of some prehistoric past or some still unimagined future.
There are people here, a few, but they are timid and slinking, keeping to the edges of things, appearing and disappearing from the recesses of the shop doors, where they cling to the bars in the shadows at the bottom of the doors, looking at something I cannot quite make out, even when I go to the bars also and peer into the unlit stores, jostling now and again with the others who are coming and looking too, coming and looking and sighing and going again, to the next grate in the next door down the broad and echoing concourse.
I fear, suddenly, though I do not know what I fear, and I see a smaller grate against the floor, and it is hanging open. It leads me to a tunnel, and I follow it, though I have to crouch, and then there is a ladder downward, and then more tunnels, some tall enough to walk and some small enough that I must wriggle on my belly, and more ladders, always downward, and even the tunnels sometimes angle downward, so that I find myself at the roots and the foundations of the world, and there is a door.
The door is ajar, and there is light, warm and flickering, from behind it. When I open it, the room is smaller, much smaller than I had imagined it would be. There is only a fireplace on one side, burning strongly, and a small bed on the other. There is also a table between them, pushed against the wall. It has a single chair. On the table is a bottle of red wine, a pitcher of what I know already will be clear water, a large loaf of dark bread, a small wheel of some hard cheese, and a dozen or so books standing against the wall.
I am walking through a library, vast and silent. It is coiled and intertwined, and I know with the knowing of dreams that it is also a carefully carpentered brain. Every room is up or down a few stairs or at the end of a short hallway. One always leads to another. Some are broad and brightly lit, and others are narrow, almost passageways themselves, and they are dimly lit, full of secret things. There is no end to them, and they all are filled with books.
My feet are making no sound, and I see that there are deep rugs everywhere. I see also that there are piles of books on the floor in front of every shelf, and I know that I have been piling them, working my way through the library, shelf by shelf, according to a system that I do not recognize, even as I follow it. I am running my fingers over the spine of each book, not missing one, and I am piling on the floor each that I would bring with me, each that I would bring out of that vast library and into my own. The books in the piles number in the thousands now, I know, number in the many thousands, but I keep piling them, though I am always remembering, in the strange logic of dreams, that I have no space for them on my own shelves.
I do not often remember my dreams, not unless I am woken suddenly from a deep sleep, like last night, when some Victoria Day revelry startled me from my dream and left me drifting in its curious emotion for several minutes. The dream has been clinging to me all day, vivid and intangible as only dreams are, so I write this as a kind of exorcism. Feel free to psychoanalyse as you please.
I am descending through what must be water, but it is thicker than water, and it is divided into layers, greens and blues and greys laid atop one another. I am breathing this water, but it is thick in my lungs. I am not struggling to breath, but my breathing is full and heavy.
As I approach the bottom, I am surrounded suddenly by a forest of seaweed, leafy, with long trailing fronds. There is no animal life. I am entirely alone among the vine-like plants. They are grasping at me, not to entangle me, but to caress me, though their touch is clumsy, and I am moving slowly through them. I am feeling the sand on my feet, and it is clean. There is no muck or debris, just sand under my feet and leaves clinging to my body.
Then through the weed, a flight of golden stairs appears. Each step is broader than I can see in each direction, and each is tall enough that I am using my hands to climb them. As I climb, though, they become narrower and shorter, so that I now see their edges on either side, and I am climbing them with my feet only, as they taper to a pyramid above me.
As soon as I see the peak of the pyramid, I am standing on it, and there is a golden casket, the size of a coffin, perfectly rectangular. I open it, and I am suddenly full of the weight of the lid, as I slide it to the side.
Inside are two dolls. Their faces and hands are unpainted clay, and their cloths are tailored from plain burlap. When I pick them up, they begin moving. Their eyes open and their mouths move, as though they are speaking, but the thickness of the water keeps me from hearing them. Their small hands grasp my fingers, and they cling to me, almost in desperation, but I cannot understand what it is that they want from me.
Then I wake.