through a glass, darkly

Short Stories / Saturday, March 27th, 2021

The cottage was lying still and dark. Nothing stirred, aside from the moonbeam sweeping over my blanket infinitesimally slow, and the hands of the alarm clock on the strange bedside table. They showed 2:16 but I couldn’t have known, because I was asleep. But while I slept, something funny happened: I grew 10 feet tall within a single second, my arms too long and my feet dangling from my bed, my head as big as tree trunk. Before I could start to worry about becoming too tall for this room and breaking the window, or worse, getting stuck between the door and the wardrobe, I felt that I had stopped growing and was in fact reverting back in size, shrinking inwards at a steady pace, my fingers dwindling and the surplus hair on my head falling out instantaneously. I shrunk and shrunk, until I sat upright against my pillow and my feet couldn’t touch the duvet. I was cold and worried that I might fall over trying to stand up, sinking too far into the mattress if I stood on my own two feet. It all felt strange and very dreamlike but at the same time, I knew that I was not dreaming. I knew by the quality of the silver light shining upon me, by the glittering of the sea outside mirrored on the whitewashed wall, now suddenly looking like massive waves that were going to crush me soon if I did not do something to stop them. I knew it by the low rumble of the sea outside, one that could not be reproduced this accurately in a dream. Yet here I was, propped against my pillow, 4 inches tall at 2:18, wide asleep and yet undeniably awake. ‘Funny’, I said but I realized that the word coming out of my mouth was not the one I’d been wanting to say at all, and that I neither could understand nor repeat it. ‘Funny?’ I tried again, but the same sounds left my lips, and again, I could not understand myself. Here I was, not only 4 inches tall at 2:19 and propped against my pillow, but also undeniably unable to understand myself. ‘Well what else is new’, I thought to myself, knowing that I oftentimes do not understand myself even under normal circumstances, so why should this be any different, really? A wolf was howling outside – hold on, there are no wolves here, maybe it is me? Maybe it is the ocean, tides of rootlessness washing over the stony beach, the one I’d walked up and down this evening, proving to the rain that it couldn’t get to me and that it couldn’t dissuade me from enjoying my holidays in this little beachside town. Was it this cottage, maybe? Was it the cottage that had made me grow and shrink, something in the water here that was not meant to be drunk by human-beings, except for those wanting to find out things, like Alice in Wonderland had wanted to find out what was down the rabbit hole, or through the looking glass? Maybe it was something in the water, or maybe it was just me, growing tired of this old skin, of this old bag of bones and flesh that was the home I’ve been carrying around with me for years now, maybe it was just my body telling me it had had enough now, asking for a change of scenery in an obscene way. I felt the fabric of the pillow in my back, still.

Maybe it was the raven that I’d seen swooping past today, an omen of bad news, usually. Maybe my body had understood his crowing, had translated it into strings of DNA and transplanted the message into my body; that it was vital that I should shrink tonight, in order not to receive the bad news tomorrow, in order to be gone by the time the bad news will come knocking at my cottage door. Or maybe just shrunk enough so that they will not find me, the bad news, once they come a-knocking.

Maybe it was the sand I had felt between my naked toes during my walk today, sanding away at my feet and working its way up alongside my body, happily sanding away at my skin, sanding me raw and bloody, working away at me until I was diminished enough in size that I had become a grain of sand myself. Take it with a pinch of a salt; pinch me.

Maybe it was the air brought with the salty wind that I had breathed in today, standing at the shoreline and looking for a boat, or a seagull, or anything that would tell me that I am not the last person on this earth, maybe it was the air that had expanded my lungs and my torso, my legs and my arms, the wind that had ballooned me up and has now left my body all at once, leaving me a small figurine likeness of myself.

Or maybe; maybe it was just my soul, the way it had always been; through a glass, darkly, in the middle of the night, looking for a way to stop myself from imploding, evaporating from a puddle of holy wine.

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