I trudge a weary step down a well-trodden path. Either side an ocean of grass stirs with a memory of a breeze, stretching away to a hazy horizon where land and sky become one. As below so overhead, clouds caressed by the same wind roil in languid motion across a sky lit by a shadow of a sun.
An age I’ve walked, or so it seems. The lack of anything different lulling me into the lethargic gait of a somnambulist.
In a slow blink of a waking eye I stumble, fall, fingers stabbing deep into sand of a bone white beach. The coast of a verdant ocean, the coast of a murmuring sea.
Before me there lay the forlorn wreck of a ship partly buried in the beach, ribs of black weathered wood standing stark against the bleached sand. Without any other direction or guide I draw close, circling the wreck, devouring it with eyes starved by grass and clouds. There, within the shade, a solitary figure sat hunched, anything discernible hidden by folds of dark, damp cloth.
“No one believes.”
The voice was hollow and echoed across the beach where no sound should have.
“You do not believe.”
I open my mouth to reply but a remnant of a word perishes upon my lips.
“Open your hand.”
I do, the palm is empty, although for the briefest of a moment I see a suggestion of something there, a figment of a shine.
“You have no payment.”
The figure nods at the whispering sea, a weary nobility in that briefest of movement.
“You cannot cross.”
In the slow blink of a sleeping eye I see them, a host of people shuffling back and forth, empty eyes stuck to the next step in their own unwavering solitary paths.
“They could not cross.”
I drop my head. The sand is white beneath my feet and infinite.
“Shipwrecked, I am by them and by you.”
I take a step upon my own path.
“Welcome to eternity.”