Review Summary: You are dreaming, you are dreaming, you are always dreaming
A piano plays a strangely familiar tune. A child’s voice is protesting. Then a man is muttering. He seems distraught, but I’m not sure what he is saying. I can’t remember anything about myself but I feel a vague sense that I did something really bad, and that’s why I’m here. I get the sense that things haven’t been okay in for a very long time. Black sand crunches beneath my feet as I stand up but it makes no sound. My ears feel waterlogged. I can’t tell at first if my head is full of fog or if it’s the landscape. The dense murk swallows me like a colossal cotton ball, a layered world of white that is stifling me and choking out a stark path of black sand before me. I follow this path in a numb daze. The mist is cool on my skin and it smells of rain. A spectral silence follows me along the trail for what feels like a week, a year, a lifetime. It is a lonely walk. I have no company but the kiss of mist, an echo of waves lapping on a bay, a piano playing somewhere, someone mumbling. My limbs feel heavy. I’m at a loss…
As I cross the hushed boundary between the East and West shores, dark figures begin lurking out of the corners of my eyes, slipping through the mist like black tendrils, observing me cautiously. This is their domain and I am trespassing upon holy ground. I feel their presence, their eyes upon me as I stumble onward like a blind man, pulled by invisible strings.
Jagged mountains loom like titans out of the ether before me as I trudge through the black sand. I can’t hear the murmur of running water any longer. The space around me feels vast and empty; I have entered the Central Shore. The fog that has dogged me thus far enfolds me until I can’t see my own feet. The shadows that have been watching me are closer than ever before. I can just barely see them out of the corners of my eyes. I can practically feel their ageless breaths on the back of my neck. I don’t know where I am, or even what I am, but I am starting to understand the living things I’m trailing in my wake. They’re everyone I’ve ever left behind, everyone who’s ever left me behind. I stagger on, sleepwalking through this dense fog of disappointment and loose ends, and a vague sense of regret that I can’t quite grasp yet. If only I could remember who I am, where and why…
I wander blindly through the labyrinthian fog of my own ghosts, from dead end to impasse, until I finally somehow reach the North shore that has beckoned me all this way. I cross the abstract line where the black sand becomes white, and the sounds of waves are no longer echoing in my head but in my actual ears, only a stone’s throw away now.
And so I reach the sea. Red waves take turns bleeding into the shore. The sun is a blood clot on the horizon. A vast sea of crosses stretches out before me. They jut out of the waves like solemn grave marks, pulsating pillars of light, impossible geometric anomalies. The fog at last begins to crawl away and I can finally see the scope of my surroundings; The vast landscape is rent and torn asunder, buildings torn and melted into crooked spires of twisted steel, unrecognizable… green limbs of vegetation prying their way through their crumbled carcasses and clambering over them, reclaiming them. A great clash took place here, angels smiting the earth down and the earth rising up in a terrible fury to defend itself. A severed head has washed up on the shore. It resembles a beautiful woman gazing skyward, though it’s the size of a collapsed building. I finally find another human being somewhere on the beach. She’s lying in the sand bleeding, catatonic, her chest rising and falling with each laboured breath. There is an eye-patch over one eye, while the other lies open, staring blindly into a violet-black sky.
I spend an immeasurable amount of time trying to resuscitate the girl on the beach to no avail. Her presence feels familiar… laced with love, lust, spite, grief, familiarity, mistakes and questions without answers. Though she’s right there next to me she is worlds away. The sea mutters a multitude of unspoken sentiments. I lay next to that sighing corpse for what feels like a very long time, until the deaf silence becomes a tight grip around my throat forcing me to scream because the world had failed.
A black sun is now forming, opening up before me like a blind man’s eye and I willingly step through that yawning cataract into anywhere but here, anytime but now, anything but this. I need something real, the truth or oblivion, either will suffice. I black out. A piano plays a strangely familiar tune. I’m having an out of body experience, looking at a man sitting down at a piano in a smoky, dimly lit bar, and the man is me:
The man at the piano plays a song he didn’t write, sings words that aren’t his, upon a piano he doesn’t own, while people at tables eat, drink, and talk. The man at the piano finishes to no applause, then begins to play a new song he didn’t write, begins to sing words that aren’t his, upon a piano that isn’t his, as the people continue to eat, drink, and talk. When he finishes to no applause, he announces over the mike that he is going to take a ten minute break. He goes back to the men’s room, enters a toilet booth, bolts the door, sits down, pulls out a joint, lights up. He’s glad he’s not at the piano, and the people at the tables, eating, drinking, and talking are glad he isn’t there either. This is the way it goes, almost everywhere with everybody and everything. As fiercely in the hinterlands, the black swan burns…
…I awakened to dryness, and the ferns were dead, the potted plants yellow as corn. My woman was gone, and the empty bottles like bled corpses surrounded me with their uselessness. Sending me to hell.