My Dreams That Night
A pre-Unification museum. This one was in a lighthouse. It was very sunny, a limpid sky, but the sea was rough that day. The sound of the waves crashing on the rocky shore wasn’t menacing, more like the stomach butterflies on a really good rollercoaster ride. I was shaking with excitement. I was looking forward to having to radically let go of everything, the way the Newcomer had told me about. A proper ending, and a proper new beginning. Things would finally make sense. Things can only make sense when they reach the end. When you can look back at them. See them as isolated happenings that came and went, just like in everyone else’s lives.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was a strong scent of chamomile. A crackling television set played the opening titles of Twilight Zone. There was also a faint song coming from somewhere: “And we all know it’s better, yesterday has past... now let’s all start living for the one that is going to last.” The walls were painted yellow. There were hundreds of candles, small candles, big candles, square, round and triangular going all the way up the stairs, exhaling all sorts of vague, charming wisps of smoke and smells. As I went up the stairs the familiar tune grew louder. The walls were covered with photographs of people in ancient-looking swimming suits, posing and smiling, at lakes, beaches, porches – there was one of people posing in swimsuits in the snow, next to a snow man – and hand-knitted socks. The song was Changes IV by Cat Stevens. That used to be my leaving-to-far-away-places song. It’s one of those songs with a good part, I liked the whole song but there was a good part. I’d look out of train windows and wait for it to kick in, mouthing along, bubbles of thrill rising in my chest when he got to the good part: “And we all know it’s better…”. I am never as happy as in long train rides to unknown places.
As I went up and up, the stairs became covered in textured rubber, and there was a strong smell of cleaning product.
I kept going up and the stairs became bare concrete, the walls bare and yellow, with little cracks here and there, spider webs. And the sun white, hot, blasting in from above. Little flocks of dust swayed in the air.
When I got to the top there was nothing but sun. I had to squeeze my eyes nearly shut, it was so bright. Little flocks of dust swayed in the air. So many of them. I inspected them closer – they were ashes.
I sat down and stayed there for a long time. There was literally nothing but huge windows, aggressive sunlight, and ashes. I could see every little pore and hair on my skin. I could feel my lips cracking under the dry heat. I couldn’t fathom going down those stairs, couldn’t bear it. But I know I did, before I woke up, and when I woke up I felt old and useless. The time of hours and days and weeks didn’t make sense, what made sense was the time of the lighthouse, going up and down.