I had traveled a great distance without so much as a canteen of water to quench me. I had left The Woods in search of some deep and meaningful solitude. I had left no notes, no smoke signals, said no goodbyes, nor held any shards of glass up towards the sun – I wasn’t sure if I could ever, really, truly return to The Woods. I threw my hands up and embraced clouds that dissipated into nothing. My jaw tensed up and I bit myself forty-seven times. I continued my journey down to a beach where nearby trees grew beautiful and taunted the spring season, as if they were hurrying it along. My feet rummaged through hot sand as I got closer to the water’s edge.
It was an awkward way to say hello but I gave myself a pep talk and made my way over to two women chatting. The waves of the sea cascaded my limbs into an adolescent doggy-paddle and despite their noticeable laughter, I knew I had to be near them. The water was littered with letters in bottles and the current was getting stronger as my body grew weaker. I couldn’t construct a visual picture of their faces, they seemed to be floating further and further away, ever gracefully, submitting themselves to the caress of a nature that could just as easily consume them. Arms stretched out, back down, and with their legs lined up forward, they became the property of the ocean. I feared I would never catch up to them. Feverishly pushing past all the bottles and quickly disintegrating pieces of paper, I kicked my legs while I still had enough momentum. Just as I thought I was making progress, I caught a glimpse of an ornate bottle, covered in precious stones. Distracted by what I thought contained an important letter, I reached for it and drowned.
I opened my eyes to the contrary, surviving. Multiple vanity mirrored faces hovered above my now awoken body. They were people with arms and legs and torsos and genitalia but their faces became contorted reflections of mine. I screamed and backed away as abruptly as I could. I closed my eyes, begging for an eternal slumber where perhaps I could have more control over the situation. Blackness fell before me and the Mirror People all fell down into little bits and pieces, shattering their very existences.
A talkative man who looked a lot like The Magician, dancing with an unidentified woman in a red ballgown, scratched his head and made a copy of himself dancing with a copied unidentified woman in a red ballgown. They danced around in circles to a sort of trinket box kind of music, not particularly filled with glee or malice. The first version kept dancing, even as all my loved ones got stabbed in the face with forks. The second version stumbled in the darkness, stepping on toes and the second woman fell over. I stared from afar with my mouth agape as every single one of my teeth fell out. A man with a smile kept shoving bibs that read ‘Daddy’s Little Multiracial Lustchild’ in front of my face, grunting heavily, as a friend lingered close by. Somewhere in the distance a familiar face was giving birth to another demon baby. An attractive youth with a dry throat blushed every time he walked up to me, even as I continued to regrow teeth only to loose them, creating a faucet-like effect of blood, enamel, dentin, and pulp down my chin. It was all a lot of hullabaloo and I wondered where the actual love was.
I opened my eyes and eased my way up to my feet. The ocean was vast and sparkling. I took a deep breath, feeling muscles where muscles had never been felt before. I turned my back and headed back towards The Woods, I was sure I would die there but not without a fight. Besides, I had a few more lives to spare. I laughed at myself repeatedly.