I awakened in deep darkness to see a beautiful woman gazing at me pensively through a window, to where I sat leaned up against a wall. Her face was porcelain, her eyes an unearthly color of blue. They seemed to look right through to the rotten core of me. It’s unnerving to wake up with someone staring at you like that. I looked away, hoping the woman would have disappeared by the time I looked back, or was perhaps a figment of my own imagination, but when I looked back there she remained.
“What are you looking at?” I asked, but she said nothing.
“Say something,” I demanded, but still she said nothing. It was beginning to give me the creeps, the way she stared without blinking. Indeed, it was almost as though she saw nothing at all. Who was this woman and why didn’t she speak?
I stood up. My legs felt weak and I was dizzy. I looked around and there were small buildings placed in a kind of circle around me, shrouded in fog, with a silence that penetrated to my bones, broken only by the occasional stirring leaves.
A feather fell from the sky, as if tossed casually from the heavens, its perfect, rapid, circular motion seeming to say that, unlike me, it knew exactly where it was going. Again, I wondered, where am I and how did I get here? What was this circle of buildings—some sort of make-shift crop circle sent by extraterrestrials to relay obscure messages we humans couldn’t begin to understand? And what was the wooden platform at the front of the circle? A landing place for spaceships? Had I unwittingly wandered onto the set of a Fellini movie? Was this woman who stared at me the Virgin Mary, or sort of celestial being sent to lead me safely home to the constellation Pleiades?
I lit a match and looked at my reflection next to the face of the ethereal woman. My face was long and thin, my blonde hair looking as though it had been chopped willy-nilly by a child, with uneven bangs and a dead rose hanging from a lavender ribbon. The smell of the match burned my nose, as a moth landed on my finger, then flew away.
“Say something,” I demanded of the woman, but her countenance remained unaltered. She seemed to regard me as an object of curiosity rather than as a person warranting concern. A dim light began to brighten the darkness as a nightingale sang its solitary song, heralding morning.
Slowly my body and spirit started to re-unite, as if after a lengthy absence from one another. I perceived a pink and lavender sign behind the standing woman and my own reflection. “FIZZ,” the sign read. “Selected items half-price.” A slow burn started at the top of my head and wove its way through my body and into my toes. I had slept in the doorway of my favorite store on Market Square, Fizz. I knew all the girls who worked there, as well as the owner Katherine, and I frequently took my dog, Mallory, there to buy matching headbands for us.
Finally, I recalled the previous night. It had been First Friday, and having had a few too many glasses of red wine, I had simply succumbed to exhaustion and sank to my knees in front of my favorite store, unwilling or unable to walk the remaining five blocks or so home.
Surely there must have been benevolent spirits watching over me, to keep me from falling, being robbed, or, worst of all, being hauled off too jail. I wondered how many people I had talked to that I wouldn’t remember, how many promises I had made that I wouldn’t keep. How many astrological charts I had read for people who had no interest.
I lit another cigarette, and though I felt the chemical remorse and sickening feeling that comes with all alcoholic binges, tried to console myself with the current saying of the day: “It’s all good.” I brushed myself off, combed my mop of shaggy hair with my fingers, and marched, head high, the long five blocks towards home.