Here’s something I remember: looking at a moon with my feet planted firmly in the soil. I forget if I am remembering or doing. Doing? I’ve been here, I am here in this moment. I feel startled at the thought, but part of me is also resigned, like this has happened before. I tilt my head up; a moon casts a faint coat of light on my surroundings. There’s a sense that everything is suspended; dust hangs in the air, anti-gravity. Nothing moves. Everything has stopped. I gaze at this glowing white spheroid that sits simultaneously in my peripheral and central vision, enveloping the sky. It’s no moon I know of. From what I can see, it is pockmarked with large, dark craters, although I can’t be sure; perhaps they are great cavernous lakes.
I think it’s a waxing gibbous. Not quite whole, and imperfectly circular.
It reminds me of a dream I have, in which I am surrounded by people I loved, my people. It is all I could have ever asked for. Nothing dark here, only light, a sheen of tranquility suspended over a happy scene. I’m at a table, eating with these people I love. As I go to pick up a fork and a knife, I notice my hands are fading, until they simply aren’t there anymore. A void has replaced them. They have ceased to be, at least in my vision. If I peer into them, into the chasm of milky nothingness, I start to feel like I am being sucked in, like I am losing myself. I try to move my hands, what I think are my hands, but I can’t feel where they are anymore. There’s no way in which I can pick up this knife and fork. Everyone notices, stops laughing and smiling; these people I love or loved are ferocious now. I have failed in working with the group, perpetuating the perfect circle. It’s my fault. I’m the one that’s broken the chain.
I remember this dream, as I stand with my feet planted in the soil. It’s cushiony substance shifts under the weight of my boots. I am slipping in and out of reality and a dream state, a dreaming amnesiac loop. I feel like crying or yelling but when I try to do either nothing happens. Everything has stopped, I know that from before. I know i’m alone here. Very few of my people know of this place, and it’s a land that very few have had the misfortune of seeing. Maybe that makes me special, maybe not. In this place i’d like to think there’s no such thing. There’s just the soil and the moon.
But I forget; I have surroundings. There’s also the dust, hovering in the air, reminiscent of lost ghosts. I turn my head to see further, spotting vast dunes that rise almost to meet the glowing ball that dominates my field of vision. I can see that the sands on these great dunes are shifting, although nothing moves them that I can detect. I imagine great beasts moving below the surface, untouched by invasive species. There doesn’t appear to be any wind, nothing to indicate movement, apart from those shifting dunes. They are like an entity in themselves. I selfishly want to go towards them and be engulfed by their sands, caught in a never-ending push and pull of perpetual motion, but part of me knows I can’t. I have to stay here and wait.
What am I waiting for again? I think I remember. A meeting, a person. Your people. It must be, otherwise I would be the one walking, moving forwards. Instead there is someone moving towards me. It’s not only the dunes that are shifting now.
“Hello,” you say.
“Hello,” I say.
We nod our heads to each other. If I hadn’t been so distracted by the dunes I would have seen you coming. You extend your hand in a way that suggests I take it, but I don’t reach for it. It isn’t the way my people do things. You rescind your hand, looking what i’d call confused. I am unsure if my idea of what confused looks like is the same as yours. Perhaps it’s anger, resentment. I can’t be sure.
“I can’t move,” I say.
“You get used to it, it’ll come to you eventually,” you say.
I am affronted, but I try not to show it.
“I seem to not remember how I came to be here,” I say.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Your memory will also come back to you eventually,” you say, with what seems to be a slight smile. I am uneasy.
I appraise your appearance. Your head is covered in the light fabric, but your face is visible. I can see your features in the sharp contrast of darkness and moonlight; they are gentle and imperfect. The expression is open but distant, cautious. It makes me hesitant to communicate. It is not an unkind face, but it is not warm either. There is no light there. It makes me feel cold, hostile, like a shadow has fallen over me.
“Did none of your people come with you?” you say.
“No. I am alone,” I say. I broke the chain, and I must come alone.
You reach your hands out and take mine. I am startled by this sudden contact, disturbed, so much so that I move away slightly. You were right; I am getting used to this strange place. I want to withdraw my hands, but somehow I am unable to. You weave your fingers through mine. I hear the dunes shift; I look over to them, see them snaking in circular golden motions, an infinite loop, the particles of sand clashing and whirling in the moonlight. I fight the urge to run to them, away from this person clasping my hands in theirs. They are warm, rough hands that remind me of mountainous crags and glacier tops.
“Don’t be frightened,” you say.
I look back at you, hesitantly returning your gaze. There is a change in light; a star is awakening on the horizon, and the darkness of night is shifting into a hazy pearlescent dawn. The light casts a faint warm glow on your face, different to the harshness of the moonlight before. I can see the orbs dancing in dark, excited eyes, sparkling, speckled with a little gold. I am frightened, but there is nothing hostile here. Perhaps what I mistook for darkness earlier was simply my own shadow. I look down, and see that my hands are not gone, not lost in the milky chasm. They are here, in yours.
MEREDITH STEWART has just graduated from the University of Glasgow, and, looking for something to fill the void, has resorted to writing fiction and making art. She lives in a green medieval place surrounded by hay bales and seemingly otherworldly creatures. Most of her art can be found on mezdraws.tumblr.com.