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Ezra the Dream Traveller Chapter 8: In the Eye of the Storm

April 22, 2013

The first thing I noticed when I drew myself to standing on that red stone was that I was barefoot.  Why didn’t I dream myself  into my hiking boots? Note to myself: if I have to come back here, remember to fall asleep with boots on. So I felt the smooth, cold surface of the stepping-stone, and spread out my toes for better grip. I gripped the front of the stone with my left foot, and placed my right foot on the next stone before I transferred my weight. It worked! So I did it again. I brought my left foot just to the edge of the stone, and lifted up my right foot. Something darkened behind me. It was the stone I just left. I turned my head slowly. On a moonless night, you can’t always tell darkness-no reflection from darkness-nothing-there. I was still halfway scared out of my mind.  

Out of my mind. I get it. I really looked around like my eyeballs were attached to my head with antennae. Each step brought an awareness that I never could have imagined. I was able to tell the difference between the rush of blood through my eardrums and the soft chirping of crickets back in the forest. I was acutely aware that Orion’s belt was emerging over the northern horizon – a sure sign of the oncoming winter – even though my focus was on staying upright on the blood-red stepping-stone.

Left toes. Right leg up. Right foot down. Shift my weight. Left leg up. Left leg down. Shuffle left foot forward. Repeat. Another thing Aba taught me when rock-climbing. Make sure that the step is true before you shift your weight. It’s not a step at a time; it’s a motion at a time. Check the eyelid; that’s your target. Glance back down.  Repeat. Almost there. One more step. There you go. Up and over the eyelid – wait! I can’t see my right foot! Pull it out. Look back. The boat’s gone! Didn’t Caesar do that – burn the boats on the shore of Gaul? I guess it was the message that I had to do this. For Aba. Forward. I was in.

Now I can see myself again. That’s a relief. The rest of the eye was almost black now, no longer red. There was no light source here; how could I see myself? The ground, or eyelid, or uveal fluid, or God-knows-whatever-I-was-standing-on, was cool and spongy, like a tumbling mat at Ru’s gym. Just a little softer. It was comforting, after all that I had been through to get in here. Now I just imagined my candle in front of me, so that I could let the terror drain out my feet into the soft, cool whatever. And there it was – my candle!

I. Just. Looked. And. Stared. And. Stared.

Have you ever seen a moth get drawn in to a light source, especially a flame? You see the dance of attraction and escape, like the bug has a will to live and to fight, but it’s an addict and it can’t break free. Finally it gets sucked in and Zzzzt! Evaporated moth guts. I started this very dance. Forward. Shift. Sidestep. Stop. Breathe. Repeat. What was I looking at? Was this the Burning Bush – the candle wasn’t going down. Like a bolt of electricity between my temples, the realization hit me that the candle wasn’t illuminating anything, either. Seven scrawny cows. Ate the fat ones and you couldn’t tell; they were just as scrawny as when they started their cannibalism.

Did I mention my dad was a cantor?

So here I was, closing in on a flame that wasn’t a flame, on a mat that wasn’t a mat, in angry red eyes that were black, having crossed blood-red stepping-stones that were invisible, in a boat that disappeared as soon as I looked back at it. I reached my hand out to the flame. You guessed it. no heat.

“EZRA!! YOU’RE LATE AGAIN – GET DOWN HERE NOW!!!!”

I shuddered and pushed myself to standing. The hardwood floor creaked under my sudden weight. Despairing, I opened my eyes.

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