Nasha had a dream last night. We got to experience it with her, for the first time, and it was wonderful. I tried to capture some of it in prose. I hope you enjoy it.
Someone is shaking me, waking me up, telling me it's time to get in the car. We're heading to a friend's house, a long drive away. I can sleep in the car, which I do, glad for the warmth and the closeness for a while.
Loud, crowded city streets give way to fast, steady highway traffic. We've left the suburbs, left the outlet malls, left the constant, grinding cacophony. Tiny towns wash past the windows like ocean waves. Whitecaps of fluorescent lights and gas station signs, drifting between black power lines and gray asphalt.
The road rises into the undulating hills. Forests fill the view, black as night, no matter how high the sun shines. I wonder what's inside them, and how long it has been since anyone has set foot in there, but we twist to follow the smooth ribbon cut through the trees and I'm asleep, again.
A sharp bend and the sizzle of gravel bring me back to the world as we break into a sunlit clearing on a hilltop. The sounds of machinery and music are replaced by a vast silence, punctuated by doors and shifting weight. Bags are dislodged and carried. I'm most helpful out of the way, so I wander off to see what's on the other side of the hill. A log-sided house nestles into the bank. I remember this place from a memory? No, the recollection of a memory. Comfortable people live here.
Broad doors open to a cold, stone room, dimmed by sawdust-choked windows. Abstract shapes of wood and metal clog the floor with their presence. There's an open space at the back, falling away into a floor below, but ticking pipes and an acrid, oily smell aren't comfortable. Maybe there's somewhere else I can stay out of the way.
A girl rounds a corner. Bushy hair matched in shape by the hands on her hips. She raises her eyebrows and grins, happy to finally meet me. I certainly don't recognize her, but she seems friendly enough. Escorting me around, pointing out the tools and half-finished projects, I try to remember any of them but know it's less for purpose than politeness.
Noticing my cautious eye at the dark, recessed area, she cranes her neck and snorts. The cellars. A creaking sound on the stairs from the darkness turns out to be another girl, much older than the first. She has shape to her, a defined style. This style says I don't have time for you. Casting an evaluating look over me, she turns and disappears into a room to our left.
The younger girl's sister, she explains. They have another, but she lives far away. Maybe I'll see her tonight. My chaperone walks to the door, and I follow, lacking anything else to do, but interested despite myself.
The older sister appraises me again from a bench in the window, as the younger drops me off to help outside. I stop at the doorway, glancing at it and shifting my weight nervously. A twitch on my new host's lips. A smirk? A dismissal? I can't tell in the shadows. She looks disinterested, better things to do than entertain me. But I come in as I'm told.
There is a sleeping bag in the middle of the floor. From her "camping" on the floor with a book and a flashlight? She can still be a child, sometimes. Age is unimportant to that. The slippery material startled me, but it was fun to slide around, so I spun in little circles, enjoying the swish of nylon under my feet. It's definitely a smile, this time. A happy one. She pats the bench and I scamper over, the sleeping bag piling up behind me, which gets a sigh, but the beautiful smile remains. The wood is well-worn, softened over decades, easy to rest on. I habitually nuzzle her arm, and freeze. This isn't my home. These aren't the people I've known. Surely I've gone too far.
No? Her arms are circled. A ring for me to crawl into. Her fingers touch my hair and the world disappears. She's saying something, speaking softly to me, smiling, but it is lost in the static consuming me. I nuzzle into her waist as she skims fingers across my back. A twist and shuffle, and I'm facing the ceiling, looking into her kind eyes. She touches her hand to my stomach, and everything goes black. These are comfortable people.