I closed my eyes…
And when I opened them once more, I had become a slightly different person. In an 8-hour span of time, I had become more of traveler; I had seen more of the world and experienced more of the lands that stretch out beyond my horizons – those horizons that seemed to stretch out like a child straining against the sky to catch the moon. I had tasted the salt of the ocean and felt the warmth of the sun as it licked against my face.
My husband and I had traveled to Rome by boat. No, it was not just a simple boat; it was a ship of extraordinary size. The mast seemed to be able to puncture the atmospheric layer, it was so large. It had not been our intention to land on any particular soil or arrive at any particular destination, and yet, that is where we had been led. Where exactly we had landed was unknown to our conscious minds. As our ship pulled up steadily to the sandy beaches, the waves and sand parted, as if accepting our arrival – as if they had been waiting for us all this time. Perhaps we were late, or perhaps we were perfectly on time. Gingerly, I stepped down onto the hot sand, clutched my shawl at the base of my neck, and allowed my eyes to sketch a line from the tips of my toes, to the sand that had bunched up slightly around my feet, all the way to the view directly in front of me.
We had arrived at a large white house directly on the coast. In fact, this was all there was on this island – all that existed. Or, perhaps there was far more than we could ever realize, and yet, this was what existed in front of us. Like an entrance to a new world, this house stood towering, spanning out for miles with very few windows. Nothing could be seen beyond, nothing could be seen from side to side – we could only address what had been directly placed in front of our eyes, our feet, our bodies. And so, my husband beside me, we entered the house.
What happened after we arrived in the house and how much time we spent there, I do not know. I don’t have any memories of it. Time seems to enjoy playing hopscotch on squares without boundaries, and the only memories I have are waking up in a room with stuffed animals, doilies, and lace. With sleep still in my eyes, I attempted to separated myself from the mountainous bed, wriggling to the side, curling my legs so they supported me once more, and stretched out my toes to find where the earth began again. Finding footing, I stood up and observed my surroundings. In the corner of the room was a small door; opening the door, I found an elaborately decorated bathroom and small hand towels that had Roman symbols sewn into the fabric with blue thread.
Taking one of the hand towels, I left the bathroom and handed it to my husband. “So we have arrived in Rome,” he muttered under his breath.
“How did we get here?” I questioned him. “Is it even possible to arrive here by ship? Only just two days earlier, we were flying in the air by balloon. Only just a day ago, we were in the little gas station buying food; we were traveling by truck and curled up together in the back seat. How did we get here in the first place?”
“That isn’t the point,” he said. “We are running out of time.”
“Running out of time?” I asked, puzzled, trying to grasp a hold of any sort of clues that my mind was willing to offer me. None was supplied. My mind was a traitor once again.
“Yes. You are forgetting already… it is time to go.”
Time leapt once more with perfect grace. From under the concrete canopy outside the house, I wrapped my shawl around my head slightly tighter, as if believing that the moment I stepped into the sun’s path, I would be swallowed whole and my thin shawl was the only thing protecting me from being eaten. My toes inched closer to the where light met the darkness on the sand; the light bouncing off of the pebbles, practically puncturing my eyes, and causing me to turn my gaze back to the darkened land right in front of it. I felt my husband’s hand on the small of my back and his warmth close to my left shoulder.
“It is time,” he said. I nodded, a mixture of panic, excitement, pain, anxiety, and joy quickly flooded through my body at an alarming rate, catching right at the base of my throat – as if it was not quite ready to exist through my mouth, as if it too was not ready to go out into the world. It sat there, resting, tasting like peppermint. And then, I swallowed.
Grasping his hand, we stepped out into the light.
“Where will we go this time?” I asked him, partially out of breath, as if the sun itself was stealing the air in my lungs.
“That isn’t the point,” he stated, throwing his hand to the ground as if to mimic him discarding the question.
“But we’ll be together, right?”
He turned to me with bright eyes, and giving use to his hands once again, he grasped a hold of my hand as he helped me onto the ship.
“That… is what I am fighting for.”
And we boarded the ship once more.