Under the bedsheet night peppered with stars, she climbed a tower made of earth and grass. The path went around a central spire, and she had been on it for so long that she didn’t look over the edge, down at the sparkling sea and the lull that follows the passing of a whale.
She comes here every night, but the second she is here, that night becomes the one same night it has always been. A full moon like it was a precious stone sliced open, and a breeze that lied to her about how hot it was under the sheets.
It’s a private little escape. She sits on the grass sometimes, and she watched the water stretch into the horizon. A bird will venture near her raised knees, and peck on a half-eaten apple. The apple rolls ever so slightly, down the spiral path. One day, it will really pick up speed, and it will fly off of the spiral path, off and down as the laws of physics command it to.
Will the bird follow it down?
She pulls out a journal from her backpack. The earliest drawings are the most painful ones, because they’re about a reality that she believed in. The drawings you think will be real are the worst ones. She keeps skipping them, trying to find the ones she drew knowing full well that she was drawing fiction and fantasy.
Where is the line that divides them?
She places the journal down on the grass, too. This one won’t go rolling or sliding down the path. It’ll stay here, waiting for her to return and pick it up. She could go up, reach the top of the tower, and this journal will still be here waiting for her with all of her expressions locked into its pages.
It was a hard day. If there is an interminable night, there also has to be an interminable day that came before it. Maybe it also comes after the night, but she is glad that it is indeed an interminable night.
“I don’t want to go to sleep,” she says, to no one but herself.
The birds listen, dancing around the apple and burying their beaks in.
“I don’t want to do anything. I just want to be.”
And then, as if betraying her own manifesto, she picks up the journal and packs it in and starts walking back up the spiral path.
She huddles in the cold wind, and she touches the earthen walls for support. Her fingertips are stained with the colour of the dark earth, filtered through a universe of blue. She rubs her hand on her face, licks the ugly taste of the earth that hosts her. The earth of her imagination.
“I’m never going to make it to the top, am I?” she asks. “No, it’s more like there isn’t a top. I’m just going to keep coming back here, to this night that never ends, and keep climbing, until one day, when I won’t be climbing anymore.”
The bird chased after the apple as it began to roll down the spiral path.
She smiled at the bird, and she pressed on forwards and upwards.