Everything is black. I rest there in the stillness, focusing on my breath—each inhale, each exhale.
But then there is something else. Not all is stillness. Though my world is engulfed in black, it is far from silent. I pause my breath and listen.
I hear the crashing of the waves, steady as a heartbeat. It is accompanied by the call of not-so-distant gulls. The wind picks up strands of hair to whisper in my ear.
As the wind tickles with straying hairs, I sense the warmth of the sun on my legs, my back, my arms. I wiggle my fingers and find them stroking grains of heated sand.
I gently open my eyes. Through wind-swept wisps, my eyes find and rest upon the ocean’s frolicking surface.
I prop myself on one arm, throwing waves of hair upon my bare shoulders. I twist my body to glance away from the shoreline. Behind me is a pale blue house. A beam of warmth bursts deep within my abdomen. I pick myself up, absent-mindedly brushing the sand from my dress. As I take a step toward the house, I glance at my sand-scrubbed toes—and halt.
There, below me, is a woman. There, below me, is me. Before the terror has a chance to rise to my throat, I clench my eyes shut.
Everything is black.
“I don’t really know much about you,” he said. “Other than what you write. And there is not very much ‘happy’ in there.”
“Well, it’s just where I am right now,” I replied.
“Don’t you have some happy memories that you can tap into?”
I open my eyes. This time I am behind the house. This is how I am used to entering the scene. The blue house is perhaps fifty yards before me. I must walk up a slight hill, as the grass shifts to soft sand. As I crest the hill, I glance out to the ocean. The figure in the white dress is still lying in the sand. It is odd. I have been to this place many times, and yet this is the first time I have been able to see myself.
“Few of my memories are happy,” I explained.
As I mount the back steps and reach for the door, I pause to reflect upon the house. The pale blue building is only one story tall. I glance around the corner and catch a glimpse of the front porch. I notice that all of the windows are thrown open to the breeze, allowing the white curtains to billow freely. I smile, acknowledging its warm invitation.
This place is far from Memory; I have never been here. It is not even a picture. Though I am quite sure I have seen each and every isolated element of this scene at some point in my life, it is my creativity that has placed them together. This is my Safe Place.
I pull open the back door and step inside. The air is light.
“Try to write about something different—write about desire,” he urged.
I am in the bedroom. There used to be a Man here. He was supposed to be waiting in the bed for me. But I have never slept with him. I have never even seen him, truthfully—only felt his presence. Regardless, he is not here now. Perhaps he was killed by the Man-in-Black.
I developed Safe Place years ago. It was my first assignment as part of EMDR therapy. I began and ended every session in Safe Place. It is, therefore, still perplexing to me how the Man-in-Black ended up in my house.
I glance hesitantly at the bedroom chair. He is gone. The Man-in-Black is gone. I am blissfully—and safely—alone.
The last time I had tried to come to this house I was scared. I was being taunted by witches, and werewolves, and demons. It was always the eyes. Red eyes gleaming at me in the darkness. And so I ran. I ran to this house. I yanked open the door; dashed into this room. And then I saw him. Or, rather, I saw a black-cloaked arm and a leather-gloved hand. So I ran back out. I thought I would never be able to come back. But for some reason I awoke on the sand today.
I walk from the living room to the kitchen. There is a pot of coffee still setting. I pick up a half-emptied mug and smile. I learned to drink coffee in Safe Place long before I tried it in real life. I glance through the window over the sink and spot the woman once more. She is lying still bathed in the afternoon sun. Her hair is a winsome web of tangles falling around her face, shoulders, and back. Her head is resting on an arm. Her white sun dress is wrapped around her hips and upper legs. I glance down at myself to see the same white dress. Yes, it is exceedingly odd to encounter myself here. This has never happened before.
I step through the open front door and onto the wooden porch. I rest my arm on a similarly wooden swing, and close my eyes.
“Just try to write something giddily insane. No purpose to it—just happiness.”
“I don’t think I can do that,” I stutter. “It’s—it feels like free-falling.”
I open my eyes, and, for the first time ever, they focus on a cliff in the distance. I can see it drop off into the ocean. I smile. It’s funny how things appear purely through imagination.
I step off the porch and onto the sandy ground. I begin the trek to the cliff—the voices inside my head propelling me.
“Don’t say you can’t do it. You haven’t even tried. Think of it this way: I want to fly, but I have never jumped off anything tall in order to try. Who knows?—If I jump I might just fly. And to fly is my greatest desire. Just try for me, okay?”
Then there is another voice.
“What IS it that you desire?”
I closed my eyes—searching my heart for an answer. When I finally found it, the answer surprised me. I opened my eyes and stared at the man before me. I wondered if he would understand. “To fly,” I said.
It is intriguing, the webs of desire that tangle us together.
I am nearly to the edge of the cliff. The wind is whipping my hair around my face and causing my dress to billow as the white billowing curtains. I step to the edge of the cliff and look down.
“It’s like free falling,” I say to myself. I step off. The girl on the beach continues to bask in the sunshine. Our hair is a winsome web of tangles falling around our face.