I am sitting on the steps of the little blue house, staring out at the ocean. All is silent. No wind. No waves. No gulls. Only my breathing. And my thoughts.
I glance over and see her lying there. The woman in the white dress is lying on the sandy shore. Why was she still there? I glance down at my own white dress, reminding myself that she is me and I am her; still two distinct ones. Why am I still here?
I glance back at the beach and see him kneeling beside her. I am not shocked. It is as if I have been expecting him. Or perhaps I had sensed his presence.
I watch him kneeling over her. He is stroking her hair. My stomach tightens in hunger. Why doesn’t he come to me? Something appears in his hands; something round and red. He lays it upon her head. She does not stir. Then the object slowly, steadily sinks into her temple. The tightening in my stomach travels to my neck and then flushes my face. I clench my eyes shut, enclosing myself in lonely darkness.
“Lots of fruit in this one.” A woman’s disembodied voice. “Lots and lots of fruit.”
I open my eyes. I am no longer on the steps. I am in the entryway of my old high school. There, in front of me, is me. She is no longer the woman on the beach; she is a girl, still in the white dress, but pale and innocent when away from the sun and sand. As before, all is silent; other students pour around us, but there is no noise. I watch as students acknowledge the me in front of me. With each new acknowledgment she smiles and waves. I stop following her, nauseated by her lightheartedness. My gaze is involuntarily drawn to the space on the floor between us. Purple footprints dot the way behind her feet. I bend down to examine one and find grapes; deep, reddish purple grapes. I quickly snap erect and run after myself.
By the time I catch up with her, she has turned down an abandoned hallway; abandoned by all except one other person: another girl, her face blotchy and her cheeks stained with salty tears. The two girls are huddled together next to the wall. I approach. Still plunged in silence, I can only watch them. The white-gowned girl is stroking her companion’s arm. Whenever she lifts her hand, a strawberry remains upon her companion’s skin. Then I watch as she opens her mouth to speak, and instead of hearing words, I see a crimson apple fall from her mouth and roll to the floor. I stare at it, rolling toward my feet, in silent consternation. It comes to rest before me, and I look up, wide-eyed, at the girls. Neither of them has noticed the apple, nor the strawberries, nor the grapes that are still painting the floor. The once-tearful girl is now embracing my other me, a weak smile upon her face. The two detach, and the recovered girl walks away. My eyes follow her in bewilderment: multiple strawberries bejewel her back and sleeves, each mildly resembling a hand print. I spin around to glare at my mysterious self, but my anger fizzles as I find her huddled on the floor.
I cannot hear her crying, but I can see round, plump blueberries falling from her eyes into her lap. I retreat from her until my back hits the opposite wall. Even in her agony she is beautiful. I slide to the ground, my eyes never diverting from the creature in front of me. My hunger returns. But it is more than hunger; it is gnawing emptiness. Coldness begins to seep through my body. Shivers crawl upon my skin. I pull my knees into my arms and tuck my head inside. Water brims my eyelids. As I close my eyes, I feel a droplet form on my lashes. And then it falls.
The sensations come rushing upon me. I feel the sun upon my arms and the crown of my head. I smell the salt of the sea. I hear the crash of the waves and the calls of the gulls. I feel the wind tug at my wispy hair. And I feel a hand brush my cheek.
My eyes fly open. The first thing I see is a blueberry lying on my lap, its hue contrasting with my white dress. I feel a hand holding my arm, and my eyes immediately seek to behold it. Then I am conscious again of the hand on my face because it is being withdrawn. I look up and into his eyes. Those eyes—colorless and yet colored without exception—draw me into themselves. He glances down, and my eyes hungrily follow. I see the withdrawn hand. Its palm is exposed, and resting singly upon it is a crimson apple.
“But I don’t underst—”
“Shhhhh,” he says, placing a finger to my lips. He looks to the beach, and my eyes obediently follow. The woman in the white dress is gone.
He gently pulls my chin so that I am again gazing into him. “You are right here,” he says.
I feel him place the apple into my hands. "Eat."