When my mother was still newly married she climbed to the top of a hill and turned into a seagull. She flew over box houses, a grey harbour, purple mountains, and a wild shore, higher and higher until howling rivers of wind carried her across the ocean to another land. She soared over mountains of ice and circled over vast grasslands, until she reached a farmhouse surrounded by a veranda. Inside, a white-haired woman was writing a letter on thin blue paper. The seagull waited on the veranda for the woman, but the woman did not recognise her. So the seagull flew back across the wide ocean to the town with box houses, to wait for the letter from her mother.
The great forgetting (Ðøœ190195)
I had been warned. Still, I wasn’t impressed when it started. Wave upon wave crushed my body, forcing my head hard against a spongy ceiling. As the storm reached its peak, a circle opened up. I was pushed through an impossibly narrow tunnel into blinding light and harsh noise. I was alone among giants who did not pick up my thought-wave frequency. I found another channel, a voice which cried. They wrapped me and passed me to her, my only one. I turned to her soft belly in sweet relief. The great forgetting had begun.
The machine sounded like small waves lapping on a stony shore, in and out, in and out. I was floating on a warm sea, gazing at the Milky Way. Stars shone like love and I rose gratefully towards them. The peace was shattered by clanging and shouting. Creatures far below caught me with ropes and pulled me back down. They electric-shocked my heart and stabbed me with needles, brought me back to this worn-out husk. I woke to see faces staring. We nearly lost you there, one said.
My grandmother never read me the authorised bedtime texts. She pointed through the porthole to the blue dot shining in the sky, with its faint white twin at its side.
Is it true you could walk out of your pods with no protection? I asked.
The light was green and cool under the trees, she whispered. Small creatures lived under every rock and fallen leaf. When it rained, silver circles danced on the dark water.
Will you take me there, Granny?
She stroked my forehead.
Time to sleep, little one.
I dreamt of the marvellous flying animals called birds.