As I burst through the
barrier that had hidden me in dreams for all my conscious existence,
I gasped, as if it were my first breath of reality. It was cold, and
I felt very much alive,
as if I had never before been aware of living.
I looked up into the sky
and it was so deep and dark, studded with a billion shining lights.
I could not believe how beautiful it was.
There was a simple symphony
of sound all around me. There was the water rising and falling, and
the wind, breathing life.
I stared out through the
net, lost in awe and wonder. Slowly I was lifted higher onto the boat,
but I felt nothing about my predicament. My mind could think but one
thought. "I am alive!"
As they lifted me into
the boat, my attention continued to fixate on the intricate details
of reality's craftsmanship. The gently rising and falling boat fascinated
me. I was amazed at how old and weathered it looked, with its peeling,
dingy, grey paint curling in strips and chunks.
My senses were ablaze
with interpretation. I felt the hardness of the wood beneath my skin.
I could sense the sensory impulses bursting through my neurons, and
I shivered with the exploding chemical messages that brought my brain
awareness. I could see each neurochemical impulse racing through my
body, and I felt like my nervous system was a new car that I was trying
for the first time; and I liked the way it felt.
Slowly, the radiant freshness
began to subside. The world seemed to tone down, as if up to that
moment everything had been bigger than life, as if I had been seeing
it in a dream or in a movie.
Although my perception
was subdued, it was all still terribly interesting. But everything
seemed a little harsher, a little dimmer, a little duller, dirtier,
smaller and most of all, I saw all the flaws in everything.
I stared up at the men.
There were three of them. One was sitting near me. The other two were
rowing. Their clothes were dirty rags that stuck to their bodies like
muddy leaves. Their faces were lined and weathered and plagued by
scars and imperfections. They were hunched forward, as if the weight
of the whole world had pressed upon them for their entire lives.
I tried to make eye contact
with them as I lay still, staring out through the net that they had
fastened down, so that I could not have moved had I so desired. Their
eyes were cold and cloudy, and only a tiny glisten of hope remained
deep within. They knew I was staring at them, but they would not look
at me. They trembled each time I looked their way.
"Please," the one closest
to me begged. "We're only doing as we've been commanded. Do not blame
us!" his grunting voice cracked.
His scab of a hand trembled
as it leaned on the handle of a dagger sheathed in his belt. The other
two rowed faster, eager to deliver me to their master so that I would
no longer be in their care. They were mumbling vague prayers and obscenities,
and they were so very afraid of me, but I could not remember why.