Wednesday, October 14, 2009
She dreamed of water trickling from the surface of a lake. Water folding into air. Water and heat. The swirls of delicious humidity broke from the soup of molecules and flew. Below, verdant reflections glimmered in the watery mirror. Reflections of the forest crowns. Of the sky deconstructed.
Her own molecules wove amongst them. Rubbing and writhing with just enough passion, just enough potential, to shatter the urge to stay and swim. A heartbeat--just enough life to fuel the evaporation. Her heartbeat. Slow and peaceful. The air became an extension of the lake as she dissolved. She looked up and knew she was the birth of clouds. The bearer of water vapor. The great, great grandmother of rain.
Mother of the waters, she smiled. The contentment melted into the reaches of blue above her. Birds rode high. Kings of the invisible currents. A bending line of geese wheeled in their search for more exciting waters.
The clouds drank from her. Her elemental gift. But did she really want to go? Today, did she want to surrender to the great halls of wind?
Yes, she could go. She could paint moisture into great canvases of grey. She could brew thunderstorms and crumble them at the edge of the Sahara. She could seed the lush green blanketing the forests of Alaska.
She flinched at a hard touch on her face. Cold and jarring.
Her eyes snapped open to a color like mist. Impenetrable. Her hands jerked up to protect her face, tingling from the hit, but also smacked not more than an inch from her body.
Something blocked her ascent. A wall. She frowned at the mist.
Where was she? Her eyes stung and the intoxicating warmth ended.
Had she been sleeping?
Hands moved along a smooth surface. Cool and smooth.
Yes, she was dreaming of water again. But where was she? The floor?
She turned her head toward the door. At least, where the door should be. Instead, she gazed down the length of a ceiling fan blade. The pull cord dangled up toward the....
She frowned. Disoriented. She pushed off white surface to back away, or to slide her knees under her, but there was no weight. No real gravity to anchor her.
She craned her head over her shoulder and saw the dark covers of her bed six feet below. She was floating over the pulled sheets and her thickly breathing husband.
Her hands flashed up to grab hold, but slapped nothing but cobwebs and paint.
Her fingers shot backward to break the fall.
But no fall came. Instead, she rose and bumped her cheek against the ceiling.
Her eyes widened. Her lips parted. A warmth bubbled up against her back. Like spa water, but softer, a more gossamer touch. The more she centered on the sensation and deep-breathed away the fear, the stronger it pressed.
Her face flattened. Her toes turned to the side. The pressure forced her mouth in a ridiculous, clown shape.
More. She wanted more. So much power, if only she could wrap her fingers around it.
She followed the flow deep with her mind. Where the energy piped from magma oceans and a liquid iron core. She tried to tighten the focus, to bend it, to alter the fountain cresting against her back. But the jet surged and snapped, turning volatile. It slashed like a runaway fire hose, twirling the fan, billowing the curtains, and blowing a stack of laundry across the floor. She fell, ceiling to bed in one gasping plunge.
Her weight slapped the waterbed and folded in. It curved and cradled her deep.
The crater rebounded and shoved her upward.
The impact rolled through the mattress. The wave pushed her husband up and tipped him off the side of the bed.
He disappeared. Two heartbeats after the crash, he howled.
Nami couldn't breathe. She missed hitting anything hard on the way down. Even so, her ears rang, probably from her brain ramming the back of her skull.
"Owwwww!" her husband whined in a groggy voice.
Nami blinked at the ceiling. A shadow marked where her head had touched. She may have drooled.
"What the hell happened?" he said.
She cleared her throat. Tried to form words. "Did you...fall?" she managed.
"I fell," he said to himself, not hearing her.
She squeezed her eyes shut. Her heart pounded harder. Did he see her hovering at the ceiling?
"Jesus Christ," he said. "I fell."
"You scared the hell out of me!" she said, surprised at the anger out of nowhere.
"I scared you? I scared you? Oh, well, I'm dreadfully sorry."
She flushed, and her voice took a blade edge. "Why don't you be more careful?"
"I think I fractured my hip."
"You didn't fracture your hip."
"How the hell would you know?" he said.
It sounded like he rolled over. More exclamations as he tried to get up.
"Did you push me?" he said.
Her mouth fell open. Shocked. Or ashamed. "What?"
"I said, 'did you push me?'"
The anger roared bright. Too bright. "What an awful thing to say!"
"Did you?" he said.
His head rose next to the bed. His hair stuck up on one side.
"Why would you even ask that?" she said. "Why would you even think that?"
"You didn't answer."
"And I'm not going to!"
His shoulder worked up and down. He must be rubbing his hip as he knelt. "I just have this weird feeling," he said. "Like I was laying there. And something knocked me off the bed."
"And that's enough for you to accuse me?"
"I don't know...," he said. "Yes."
"You were dreaming! Too bad you didn't pick a softer landing."
"You wouldn't be giving me shit if I fractured my hip," he said.
"You did not fracture your hip!"
He eased himself up onto the mattress. Lots of grimaces and grunts.
"Just go to sleep," she said. "If you want, I'll order you a bedrail tomorrow."
"Charming," he said. "As always."
"You know, feel free to sleep downstairs. The couch is closer to the floor."
"Sweet dreams," he said, yanking the blanket over him. The sudden tension caught her neck and choked her.
She punched at the blankets to fix her side, then crossed her arms over her chest.
His back faced her. It was generally easier that way.
In a short time, he snored. She didn't stay awake because she was angry. That flame dwindled and flickered out sooner than she expected. The guilt did too. What finally lulled her was the sound of the wind. Not outside the window. Nothing stirred the silent leaves on the trees. She imagined she heard the howl of the jet stream bending from Kentucky up across the northeast. An accident to notice it at first. Like a train pounding the tracks far over the nighttime hills.
This time, she didn't feel the dripping dread on the edges of her perception. When she let her mind range far.
Now, when she caught the wind, her mind soared ahead of the Earth's spin and glimpsed an early sunrise. Her eyes closed, and her dreams remained dry, un-enchanted by the touch of water. In the hours before the sun lit her window, she sailed. She supped on the brash strength of air.
(I'm trying something I never tried before. I'm going to be sharing pieces of my new novel-in-progress, but only scenes which have merit as stand alone pieces. If you find something you particularly like in these scenes, such as a mood, style, or theme, please let me know. On the flip side, if you find something you particularly don't like in these selections, please do the same. Some scenes will feature Nami, a woman who finds herself budding with profound powers over the Earth and its elements. Other scenes will feature Ulrich, a man who embarks on a one-way hike into the rain forests of Alaska to die. Later, I'll be removing these drafts as I combine and integrate the work. I hope you enjoy these little forays!)