It’s so strange here, in this place- between realities. No today, no tomorrow, just an almost-endless span of time. Technically, I’m immortal while I’m here, and except for the fact that this place is unstable, so it can’t last forever, it would be a nice place to live. But that’s fine. I’ve never wanted to live in one place forever. That’s why I’m writing everything down- so that I can come back to places like this one that I’ll never be able to come back to, and remember all of the little things about them that I may have forgotten, like the ivy on the outside of this little cottage that disguises it among the trees, or the sink that’s the only source of running water.
My concentration on recording the details of this place is broken by a high-pitched noise coming from above me. I glance up, noticing a strange shadow near the ceiling that I don’t remember being there before.
I climb up to the top bunk so I can get a better look and realize that one of the firefly jars that provides me with light has gone out. There’s not a whole lot I can do about that, so I decide to leave it be. I’m still too tense from that strange sound to return to writing, so I take a moment to try and settle my thoughts. I’m reminded of when I was a kid and both one of my close friends and my cousin that was my age had bunk beds. I always wanted to sleep on the top bunk, but that was where they slept, so then I wanted my own bunk bed so I would be able to sleep on the top every night. Now I have the bed, but there’s no one else here with me to sleep on the bottom. I think the part I liked most about bunk beds was staying up late and talking to whoever slept on top in whispers, even though their parents would still be able to hear us. Screech.
I head outside to investigate further and realize that a branch from one of the many nearby trees is blowing in the wind, rubbing against the roof of the cottage and producing that unsettling noise. Sunlight streams through the branches, causing an intricate pattern of light and dark to form on the ground. It’s a lot cooler in the shade of the trees than in the stuffy cabin, so I decide to explore for a bit. Every time I come out here, I find something new that I haven’t noticed before. Maybe they’re hints about what reality I’ll be a part of next, or maybe it’s because I’m learning to observe more. It’s not like there’s a whole lot else to do here.
There’s a trail that loops through the trees, so I decide to walk through there first. I wince as the tree branch scrapes against the roof of the cottage again. When I turn around, I notice a fountain that looks to be a bit faded, but is otherwise in good shape. I think of Makenna– I bet she would have a lot of fun trying to solve this puzzle. I’ll have to get some water to test it later.
At the next bend in the path, I’ve strung up a hammock between a couple of trees. I feel compelled to lie in it even though I’m not tired. It almost feels like there’s some sort of presence with me. I glance around to make sure that Captain Marvin Tuttle or someone hasn’t appeared. Since this is between realities, he could appear out of nowhere. As far as I know, there aren’t any laws governing who comes and goes- it’s more a thing of “it’s your time; now you can leave and go somewhere else”.
Eventually I get up and continue on. A previously-discovered overgrown wishing well greets me, but I know today isn’t the day to try and make it functional again. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow, or maybe I’ll use tomorrow to write some more and do it the day after. I’d really like to make it useable for the next person who’s here. Will there ever be anyone else here? I have no idea- maybe places like these are only stable for the time that an occupant needs to use them, then becomes unstable. That would actually make sense. Maybe they come into existence in a form that’s calming and comfortable specifically for that occupant, so a child might have a playroom or a frog might have an endless pond.
There’s a boat dock on the beach, but I’ve never seen a boat docked there before. I see them on the horizon all the time, but they’re never headed this way. Today one of them is close enough that if I squint, I can just barely make out a name. Carewren. Huh. That’s interesting. Maybe it’s showing her some sort of new opportunity. I’m reminded of a song that I listen to a lot:
I hope that fate will forgive us//For tempting the seas//I hope that they won’t forget us// But we cannot go back//To the way it used to be
At least there’s boats out there. It gives me hope that one day, one of them will come for me.
I take off my clothes and dive into the water. It’s not like anyone can see me out there, and since there’s no shower this is the best way to get clean. Little sparkles on the surface catch my eye and pull me under. I’m surprised that opening my eyes in this water doesn’t sting. As I glance around, I notice all sorts of rocks under the surface, few of which extend above. There’s always more to see, always another world, always another divide that someone’s trying to unite. This is just one of them.
When it starts to get chilly I come out and put my clothes back on. The weight of my heart-shaped necklace thuds against my chest in time with a heartbeat of my own. I place my palm on top of the cold metal. This isn’t the only part of my heart– just the part that puts aside human connection in exchange for personal fulfillment. Like Renee, I am ambitious– but my dreams are not the only important thing in my life. Like Alexia, I am creative– but sometimes the creative part of my mind needs a break. Like C, I am family-oriented– but I’m learning that sometimes I have to put family aside to do what’s best for me.
After lighting a fire to warm up by, I pull a bowl of granola and fruit out of the cooler that sits outside the cottage. Somehow, there’s always food in there when I’m hungry, but when I’m not, it’s empty. I feel like I’m on some great camping adventure, even though my bed’s less than ten feet from where I currently sit. It could be a romantic comedy adventure if I had someone else here with me.
When the bowl is empty, I pick up a guitar and start playing. I’d never seriously tried to play guitar before I came here, but it’s not like there’s a whole lot else to do. I start singing:
“I am alive, just as I was before
I never expected death knocking on my door.
And even if one of us is not entirely here
in our hearts.”
I put out the fire and confirm that the fountain I discovered earlier does, in fact, work. I come back inside for the night and happen to catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. It reminds me of a concept for a story that I’ve always to write, based on the fact that a mirror shows your opposite. I came close to writing that story one time, but I didn’t really have inspiration for the plot. Instead, I ended up writing Moment of Calm.
I take out the deck of cards that I always carry in my backpack. I’m not sure why I have them in there, considering that I’ve never actually used them to play with anyone. I usually just shuffle them as something to do while I’m lost in thought like I am right now. I start thinking of people- Ami, Matias, Annabeth, Mary Anne, Mindy, Emory, Meagan, Rebekah. My mind even wanders to people from my own past. They’ve all shown or taught me something, whether it’s how to swear or a part of my identity, and I’m thankful for all of them.
I think of one person in particular who’s taught me a lot, especially about letting go, and through the short story challenges she organized I was able to explore so many more topics and plotlines than I would have been able to otherwise.
Carewren, this is for you.
Author’s Note: This was written for the short story challenge on The Sims Forums, in the “Just for Fun” category. The theme for this month was “So Spooky”. As the last line states, this is meant as a tribute for Carewren123, who started up the challenges and has organized them for over a year. Thank you so much.
The song lyrics used after the first time I mention Carewren’s name are from “Used to Be” by Arrows to Athens.