My first clue is the sound of the ocean, swoosh,crash, swoosh in steady time; distant cries of seagulls swirling around overhead like the last dizzy notes of of a song just ended and already half-forgotten. Now I smell the salt water. Some part of me feels a cool breeze mixed with a steady warmth of sun.
Nose . Good.
After a darkness of indeterminate length, I grow eyes.
I use my new eyes to look around.
Alright. It's not the wide, flat beach I was expecting, but that's fine. I'm at the top of a very tall, rocky cliff. There's no sand, just rocks and some scrub brush growing in the scant soil trapped between stones. In front and far below, I see a cove maybe a half-mile across and a like distance in, scooped out of the craggy coast like the side pocket on an enormous billiard table; beyond that lies a vast, dark ocean.
Cut into the stone to my left is the first in what I know to be a long set of stairs, a cutback trail leading down to a small but wonderfully secluded beach of pure white sand ringed with monolithic stones. You can't see it from here, but it's there. Take my word for it. I've been here before-lots of times.
There's usually someone here to meet me. Someone I know, someone from TV, a stranger- could be anybody, really. Not this visit. This isn't a big deal though, I know my way around pretty well by now. I decide to head down to the beach. I left something there the last time I was here and I'd like to check on it.
I almost trip over my fucking cat. What's she doing here?
"Gittaway!" I command the chubby orange beast underfoot, stepping on it's tail. I'm barefoot.
"Fuck off", says my cat.
This is not as strange as it sounds. In this place, almost everything- animal, vegetable, mineral- can talk if you stop to listen long enough, and if my cat could speak in places away from here I'm certain "fuck off" would be one of her pet sayings.
"Jeez, sorry. I didn't see you. Don't you know there's a cliff here?"
She licks a paw and wipes the top of her head. I wonder if she's going to reply. Doesn't seem likely, so I start down the path.
"Follow me if you want" I call back over my shoulder.
"Hold up. I know a short-cut".
I wait as the cat saunters over .
We descend without talking for some time. Going down is easy- it looks scary, but it's really more like an escalator or conveyer belt. You move even if you don't walk, but you can stop if you want to. It's cool.
We descend until the cat says wait -she walks over to a large blue rectangular stone set into the grey cliffside. She walks into it and disappears . I hear a muffled sound from behind the stone. Meow?
I follow. The stone has no substance- it's just shadowlightness; serving to conceal a dimly glowing green tunnel leading almost straight down. Gravity here is unpredictable but it's always harmless, so I jump in. Whee!
I land gently on familiar white sand. Nearby , the cat sits next to a number of carefully arranged coin-sized stones. The roundish pebbles spell out a name.
The cat idly swats at a vowel without actually hitting it.
"C'mere," she says. I go.
"See these pebbles? Remember putting them here?"
"Uh, yeah. I do."
I'm blushing. The last time I was here, it was with a young woman I met once in New Orleans .I can't recall her name . That beach visit wasn't exactly a sexual situation, it was more like a therapy session. She listened to my melancholy song of longing for a while and then she advised me to spell a certain name on the beach. That would be all I needed- the rest was fate. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but right now it's pretty embarrassing to think about.
"I can't believe you were dumb enough to do that" says the cat, who has suddenly become New Orleans Girl. NOG is a stunning mulatto woman with carefully unkempt knotty dreadlocks and mocha skin so perfect it looks airbrushed. She has the same impossible witching eyes that she had when we met in 1980-something. Her left eye is deep blue, her right is dark green. There's not much difference visible unless you stare into them. Then you see it. She is two worlds.
I am a little bit afraid of NOG, but I don't have time to think about her now.Three shiny green submarines have broken the surface of our little inlet and they seem to be heading this way. They look like giant floating kazoos until they get closer.
I see that they are some sort of finless fish; gleaming, tapered cigar-shaped bodies visible above the water, each with one hemispherical eye pointed skyward like the canopy of an old jet plane. It's very difficult to look at the eyes.
Their giant, iridescent scales change color from blue to green and back as I watch them. They are some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
The creatures stop a mere 20 feet from shore. They aren't as large as I thought, but they're still impressive.
"What are they?", I ask NOG.
"Two of them are you, one of them is not."
"How can I tell which is which?"
She gestures at the name on the sand.
Oh. I get it.
I grab a few rocks from a middle letter. They're a lot heavier than they look. I throw one at the leftmost creature. The stone barely goes four feet. I keep trying, switching targets and throwing so hard it hurts, but I can barely reach the water, much less the glimmering beings on it.
Finally I only have one stone left. It was the first stone in the first letter of the name- now it's just a single pebble. It's part of nothing. I throw it away.
It hits the center animal directly in it's eye and the world explodes and goes dark forever. A short forever.
I grow eyes. With my new eyes I look into the oldest eyes anyone can ever see.
One blue, one green.