Dreams. The stuff of dreams. Dreamlike state. All of these conjure up images, but for each of us, those images are different. Your dreams and my dreams are very different creatures. All, though, are rich sources of material.
The first thing Giselle noticed was the sound. It was everywhere. Loud, like at a concert, but nowhere near as pleasant. The stench of diesel fuel filled the sidewalk, making breathing difficult. She found herself staring, fuzzy-headed and mesmerized, at the engine grate of the bus nearest her. The paint lay thick, gooping over the openings, making the neat lines uneven. The yellow-orange wasn’t quite a natural color, more like a vivid mold than anything healthy.
She looked up at the sky, away from the bus, and found the color of the clouds matched the bus. They lay thick and low, almost close enough to touch. They loomed overhead, stationary, big and billowy like rain or thunder clouds but angry and jaundiced. She shivered. No one nearby spoke, so she sat down on the gritty sidewalk and took out a sandwich. The bologna was boring but familiar and she ate in silence, staring up.
The road made no noise. No cars drove back and forth, even though it was the middle of the afternoon. With the sky the way it was, the blacktop seemed more vivid than usual, the yellow and white lines bright and clear. She craned her neck to see around the side of the school, up the hill toward the cemetery, but no cars came from that direction. Nothing from downtown, either. Not that there was much “town” to be “down,” but it wasn’t ever this silent.
She finished her sandwich and stuffed the empty plastic bag back in her backpack. No teachers stood nearby and, when she looked, the driver’s seat of the bus nearest her was empty. No adults anywhere. She stood and brushed off her pants, removing gravel with her palms and then brushing her hands together. She slipped around the side of the building and took off across the lawn toward the hill, not looking back. No one commented, no shouts interrupted her. She glanced back once when she reached the fence, but no one saw her.
She followed the road as it wound up the hill toward the cemetery. The old Indian graveyard stood off to the side, back from the road, while the White cemetery ranged back and forth along the fence by the street. Marble monuments vied for attention among rows of flowers and manicured, small trees. The Indian grounds, by contrast, were silent. Oaks and several cottonwoods waved their branches among the Indian grounds, the graves silent and unmarked. Giselle wandered in past the small gate that proclaimed “Indian Burial Ground, No Trespassing.”
She found a spot next to a huge cottonwood, its trunk so thick she could barely fit her small arms even halfway around it. She sat down with her back to it, the tree between her and the street with its school and too-silent lack of cars. She pulled out an apple and took slow bites out of it, savoring the sweet flavor.
A sudden flash startled her. She looked over her shoulder and had to squint. The entire sky that she could see glowed argent, hurting her eyes. Her apple dropped to the mulch as she scrambled to her feet and ran toward the gate. She tripped and bounced off of something and rubbed her eyes. Nothing was there.
She took a step forward and ran into what felt like an invisible wall. She hit so hard, and was off balance, that she rebounded and landed on her butt in the leaves and bracken. She got to her feet and tried to step forward again, but she couldn’t pass the gate. When she looked up again, a wave of debris flowed toward her, borne on a wind she couldn’t feel. She gaped a moment or two and then turned to run. She fell over a bush and landed next to her backpack.
When she looked back, in terror of being buried by the wave, she watched it break in two and flow around the gate, missing the entire burial ground. She watched as it went overhead, missing the tops of the oaks and cottonwoods. She could clearly see bits of trees, garbage, even a tire. It all whirled past with no sound, no scent, nothing but the visual. She got to her feet and walked to the gate, stopping short before she reached it. The wave flowed past, unchanged.
She turned back to her pack, bemused, and rummaged. Her can of Diet Pepsi was warm now but she opened it and drank gratefully, thirsty for more than just beverage. She stared up the hill at the steady march of mounds and wondered how far back into the trees the burial ground went. She stood, heaving her pack onto her back, and set off into the trees. As the afternoon wore on, the flow of orange and yellow overhead slowed, but Giselle wasn’t interested anymore. She had a forest to explore.