Ripples in water.
A dream dipped in color.
The light shimmered and danced gently. Shapeless patterns in azure textured the brick walls in silence; slowly, lethargically. Fingers on skin. If the stones of the alley were anything other than blue it did not matter. The portal’s illumination painted everything with otherworldly sunbeams, filtered through deep waters.
It was an odd shaped triple intersection of alleyways, non-symmetrical. Four stories down, in the center of this shadowy court, hovered an elliptical egg of suspended water; a massive raindrop, un-fallen. It wobbled and jiggled in slow motion orbited by dozens of tiny liquid bubbles. Like moons, these small orbs drifted around the inter-dimensional doorway to an undersea world. The enormous droplet caused the alley to shift hue and made the walls look like the bottom of a pool. The place seemed more like a deep ocean canyon than a back alley. Wonder and water.
It smelled of the sea.
Wakefulness arrived in the soft glow and Sulter smiled. His lips looked indigo. He sat up on the bench and brushed his hair, as midnight as ever, back from his face.
“I thought you might sleep forever.”
Sulter turned and looked at the woman through half closed lids.
“But I’ve just begun to sleep.”
She wore a simple dress of her order. It was an indeterminate color in the light. It might have been green, or a light red, but the portal washed it cobalt gray. Her hair was pulled back into a pony-tail, tied up in beaded jewelry. In front of her left ear a cluster of tiny braids, also bound in beads, trickled to her shoulder. She was slim and attractive. But Sulter did not pay much heed to it. A wounded heart can blind the eyes to beauty more effectively than gouging.
She had a shoulder satchel on and had a basket she’d set on the ground beside her. It was filled with loaves of bread, small cheeses, and pears. In her left hand was a small, leather bound, book.
“No. You’ve just awoken. Are you hungry?” She crouched and took out small portions of the food she’d brought.
Sulter thought about it. He couldn’t tell very well if he felt hungry. There was a hollow feeling, most certainly. But such was to be expected from a dream. It wasn’t real. He would never feel right in it.
“I don’t know. Maybe. I’ll eat if it makes you happy.”
She passed him the food. “It’ll make you not dead. You Sleepwalkers are the most frustrating folk in my district. Even the homeless and the deranged have the sense to feed themselves when they’re able.”
He took what she offered and nibbled a small bite off the bread. “Thank you.”
“I respect your beliefs, truly, but for Petal’s sake, you people confuse me.”
Sulter let out a long sleepy yawn and put the bread down on the bench next to him so he could have a good stretch. He’d met people like this before, who believed this was real and the world he dreamed wasn’t. He knew the opposite was true. She was a figment of his imagination and he certainly didn’t need to eat in a dream.
“It’s okay. It doesn’t matter. You’re kind. Just keep being kind. It’s better than being right anyway.”
Her brow furrowed. “I’m not wrong, Sleepwalker. You are here. But you don’t have the sense to know it.”
A charity worker, a dreamer, and an old man mix in the strange light of an undersea portal. Who’s to say what’s real or not? Read the short dreamy tale with any subscription level.