In dream, however many leagues may still be the distance between one thought and the next. Swift as an idea, Na soared north, watching below as great swathes of corn and wheat shivered in the white moonlight. The fields swept by, wind-chopped in fast motion, until they gave way to sprawling wetlands, and then dense thickets of jungle. In places, the jungle was fire. Beyond, dunes led to a coast that reached like a crooked finger far out into a bay that reflected the first red and orange light of dawn. Na glided north like the shadow of a racing cloud, fast and far above the surf. In a moment, it left the night behind, to find silver morning over an open sea. Perhaps a day passed, with no land but the scarcest sandy keys. Perhaps. In dream, time is as inconsequential as distance. The color of the water changed, teal-green to navy to a grey-white that chopped against hidden rocks. This far north, Na thought, the sun is bright but the wind cuts. Ahead, Na saw rocky islands jut up from the cold water. Further, again, through treacherous straights, and Na saw a new continent reach across the horizon.
Bleached white cliffs. From far below, surf roared. Gulls called. Na rose, until it looked out over a city perched upon a rounded, grass-covered plateau. It rose again, above the city, above the cliff’s edge which overlooked the sea. Na took in the antique, winding, cobblestone streets, the scattered colors of streetside markets. To the east, it saw the world’s first few factories breathe out plumes of industrial smoke. To the west, the cliffs rose again. Na followed them, higher, as they narrowed to a peak. Above the city, the cliffs shaped themselves into a citadel framed by the stark light of a bright morning sky. The wind here blows strong, Na thought. The sun was bright but cold against the cliffs. The citadel was carved from the rock itself. Na passed through.
A sprawling courtyard garden. It took in the vine-covered trellises and fruit trees, the footpaths mortared from the same white stone. It was a pristine contrast to the smell of newborn industry that rose from the city below. But industry will spread, thought Na. The seeds we plant, in time, will grow. It moved through the garden, and lost itself among the vines. Here, yes, it thought, and waited. In waiting, Na became less than a thought.
An old man, the chief gardener, wandered here. He picked a cucumber near the ground while humming to himself, something without tune or rhythm. As he reached for another cucumber, color caught his eye. It was a flower, not two feet away, drifting across the path in the cool breeze. It was exotic, purple and green, with a curling yellow stamen and black speckles like a henna tatoo.
“I don’t recognize you,” the old man addressed the listless orchid, “which is to say, you don’t belong here. I’d know if you did. But you’re very beautiful.” He stopped his gathering, and braced his back to bend towards the flower. He reached for it, but stopped with his fingers centimeters away.
“You’d just get me into trouble, wouldn’t you?” the gardener asked it. “Just what I need, for them to think I’d be taking lady-blossoms for myself.” With effort, he straightened, and nodded once more to the flower. “So, good day to you, then. You’re on your own.” He moved on.
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