This is part one of the short story “Where the Wind Blows,” which will appear in three parts.
(The excerpt which previously appeared is included in the middle.)
Where the Wind Blows: Part I
It was the night that Isea decided that she could not hope to ever have a dream. ‘I have been trying to remember what I did the night before for years,’ Isea thought pityingly, as she stared at the cracks in the ceiling above her bed. She could not understand how someone could do anything while unconscious. When she complained to her mother about never remembering a single dream, her mother said dismissively, “It’s not important to remember dreams,” and closed the front door firmly, to go off to her job. And yet, it was scientifically proven that nearly everyone dreamed. Dreaming served a function. Feeling that an essential part of her was non-existent, Isea reasoned tragically, ‘If I do not have any memory of these dreams, I must have none.’
Isea did not say, “I will remember my dream,” nor did she bang her head against her pillow while saying this three times. She merely lay back dejectedly in her bed, pulling her covers up to her nose. The rather faint light from a car that was cast through her window made all of the furniture have a shadow that turned. ‘I am half sick with shadows,’ Isea thought woefully, ‘of things that only hint that they might be there—of left-over feelings.” Isea knew that she was no good at poetry. She capitulated in self-doubt, and closed her eyes, to wait to suddenly open them again in the morning.
She waited. The dark shades of blue and purple behind her eyelids swirled, curling intricately around each other. She waited. As if she were just noticing for the first time that it was there, in the midst of the blue and purple, a stark white mask appeared, its edges sharpening as she looked at it. In her view, beyond the mask, were a pair of doors, and through them vibrated a rhythm without a tune, and pulsated blue and purple light. Isea breathlessly looked at the two socks in her hands that did not match. The white mask loomed threateningly over her. She busied herself with putting on the socks.
There was a giggle and a soft chiming of bells. Isea glanced across to the doors, just as they closed behind a grinning girl with long white hair that stood straight on her head. The girl winked. Her feet in oddly-matched green and purple socks pattered on the floor as she pranced by.
‘Dancing socks,’ Isea decided. She looked again at the red and purple dancing socks on her feet. Bewilderedly, she looked up at the white mask. This time she noticed that behind the mask were a pair of dark eyes.
“Should we go in there to slither about in our dancing socks with the rest?” a boy’s voice suggested behind the mask.
“Why?” was all that Isea could say.
The boy took off the mask and dropped it on the floor. He thrust a scarlet-sleeved arm towards the pulsating doors. Then he lowered it uncertainly as he looked at Isea’s face. She knew that it was astonished.
“Have you never slithered before?” he asked kindly, in a silvery voice.
“No-o-o?” Isea answered weakly, as she studied his face. It looked pixieish, with a mouth that pointed up at the corners into a slightly mischievous smile. There was a sparkle in his eyes that looked like the glinting stars that fairy-dust is made of. Ears pointed out of untidy chestnut-brown hair.
He picked up his mask and put it back on his face. He sat on the bench beside Isea with quiet consideration. There seemed to be understanding in the mere air between them. After a while of silence, he said knowingly, “It is rather pointless, all of this slithering.”
Isea could not think what else to say. She merely smiled, dazedly watching the light dance across the floor. Finally, she looked back at the boy, and found that he was gone.
“Oh,” said Isea. Isea stood and pattered to the doors. People dressed in bright clashing colours were indeed slithering in their socks. They twirled, they pranced. Some ran, and then stopped, bracing their feet and slithering rapidly from one end of the room to the other. Isea wondered whether she ought to go in to slither after all—when abruptly something rather heavy was standing on her stomach in four jabbing places.
“Wha—?” Isea murmured as she opened her eyes to meet a pair of brilliant green ones. “Sooty.” Sooty slowly blinked and began to purr. She rubbed her chin against Isea’s contentedly. Pale morning light filled Isea’s pastel blue attic room. But time had not passed so suddenly after she had closed her eyes. “Sooty I had a dream!” Isea shouted as she sprang out of bed, and Sooty simultaneously leapt away. Isea ran around the room and Sooty frisked enthusiastically ahead of her.
“I had a dream,” Isea murmured ecstatically to herself as she got ready to go out. She twirled around in the patch of sunlight. ‘I must go to my favourite thinking spot,’ she decided as she grabbed her little black purse. Isea went down the stairs in a great wild rush, as if she were flying. She kept replaying the dream in her mind—marvelling at how it was so much like any movie that she had seen. She barely noticed marching down the hill. It was just at the bottom of it, before she went in among the trees of the dark forest, that she looked back at the house, blazing with sunlight, that she realised how far that she had come.
Isea wandered through the quietly chirping forest in a trance that made everything around her quite ethereal. She was sensitive to everything that moved; she felt as light as air. When she replayed the bit when she saw the people slithering in their dancing socks, she sat on a tree stump and laughed softly.
She turned into the clearing where her big dark thinking rock was, outstretched like a giant’s hand, washed in a circle of watery sunlight. There was a shadowy thing perching on the giant’s thumb. She stared, trying to see it, gripped with shock that stopped her breath. She concentrated until the blurry thing turned into a boy, looking back at her. The boy looked at her with intense wakefulness. His black eyes clearly had stars in them, like the night sky: the same as those from her dream.
“You,” Isea whispered. She did not know what to think. She would have said more. She was about to ask if this was another dream, but she could not bring herself to. She merely stood there, her arms laying floppily at her sides, like a scarecrow, swaying forlornly in the wind.
The boy did not say a word. He merely smiled impishly, and vanished.