His words came trickling toward her through the thicket of sound that separated her from the world. His face was anxious that was clear. She had no idea why. He seemed to be very determined that she do something. She didn’t know what. She wasn’t even sure that she cared.
Actually, as she looked at him with focused effort, all that she was sure of was that she didn’t know who he was at all. The sounds that hummed and swam became brambles that swallowed her. She gave herself up to them.
In this place it is not really dark nor is it light. It is an always-twilight. Definitely not dawn. The topography is shapeless, colorless, flat. It isn’t foggy or smokey, nor like the moonscapes we all imagine. For this lone traveller (because you never meet another being in this place – each traveler is in their own world entirely) it is as if she has been placed inside a colorless map, one that is shut inside the glove box of the car. There is nothing to see and even if there was, with no vantage point, there is no perspective.
The ground is a different matter altogether. It is full of holes, like the child’s toy where you have to put the right shaped block into the right shaped hole. These are islands surrounded by rushing creeks that come up out of the ground and then as abruptly disappear. There are tiny footpaths along which you step with great care and even these are sometimes smothered by rolling dunes of sand.
It is here that you can get Lost. Lost isn’t falling into the shapes, or being carried away by the creek. Lost is when the path vanishes altogether and there is no way back for forward, and the light never changes and there are no landmarks by which to even guess your way home.
And all around you, like a vibration that comes and goes as if someone is irregularly striking a gong, are waves of sound. Sometimes, and more and more often the longer you stay there, the gong-ringer forgets to strike and there are passages of absolute silence. Not a clean, clear, ringing silence, but one that is stuffed with cotton wool so that not a single breath of air leaks through and reaches your plugged ears.
Slowly through the cotton wool, the bramble of sound returns. You can’t push it away. You have to wait for it to lift and when it does? You are back in the regular world again. Sometimes even there the topography is foreign, the shapes lack familiarity and the creeks rise with no warning.
The days that she made the little treks through the world as we know it, became fewer, shorter and more and more difficult. The thicket grew thicker, and brambles of sound more and more invasive, until one day she just didn’t come back out.
Her son tried to find her, he really did. So did the doctors, the kind ladies volunteering at the rest home and her grandchildren. But she was lost to them all, to the world and to herself.
by Kate Hawks