During the summer months, you can often find my albino family vacationing in Maine. As survivors of all types of carcinomas and melanomas, my family’s translucent skin wears better under moss-laden trees and canopied hiking trails. Despite my yearning for tropical skies, temperatures and crystal blue waters, I always find myself relaxing in hammocks next to still brown waters.
During these lazy hazy summer days, my parents fight for their right to sleep in. As a lifelong early bird, I lay awake, my skin moist from the humid air funneling in from the open window.
This summer, I have grown accustomed to a particular hammock that rests by the lake dock. I pass most of my mornings reading and swinging in the air while listening to the lapping of the water against the wood.
On this particular August day, we have been on Westport Island in Maine for three weeks. I wake up earlier than usual and admire the cotton candy sunrise. I grab Pride and Prejudice and sprint off to my floating haven.
Walking downstairs, I neglect to slip on sandals. I have always loved feeling the spongy greens against my bare skin. My feet crack after being still for so long during sleep.
Reaching the door, I grasp the brass handle and push it open, stepping into a surreal warm and sunny sanctuary. The moisture hangs in the air like a sheet. I spy a Monarch butterfly languidly resting midair. It lands on the tip of my nose, its minuscule feet kissing my sticky skin.
Abruptly, the butterfly takes off and I am consumed by it. Eyes crossed, I tail the wake of the orange flurry. It veers off to the side of the house: the side that is not near the lake. Because of this, it is new unfamiliar territory but I barely acknowledge this fact. Stepping over oak arms and elbows, my eye is still focused on my orange friend.
Suddenly, my heel slips down a clod of soil and my next step is into thin air. I am falling into the center of the earth.
Air blows from underneath me as I plummet down. I feel the warm air going up my shorts and transform them into parachutes. As I look around, I see many other items swirling around me. A writing desk with a glass of lemonade is floating mid air falling at the same rate as I am. The lemonade reads, “Drink me.” I do as told.
The lemonade feels silky on my parched tongue and I feel it cooling down my insides. Suddenly my shirt and shorts are too big. As soon as I start wondering when I will stop falling, my bare feet land on a black and white checkered tile floor. My clothes fall in a clump on the ground and I cover myself in panic.
I find a dress on a little table nearby. As I try to fasten it around me, I realize it is more like a kimono. As I finish tying it, I see the butterfly again. But this time it’s almost half of my size. It lands on a small key that is also on the table.
I pick up the iron key with some difficulty, and lug it over to a small door that is partially hidden behind some vines growing out of the brick walls.
The door swings open to an elaborate library. It is the biggest library that I have ever seen. Looking up, the tops of the stacks are lost in a mist. I spin around, lost in a bibliophile’s dream.
Kerouac. Camus. Hemingway.
Author’s names that I have read through the years stick out to me.
I realize I am not alone in the library. A dirty blonde figure in a black dress is sitting at the base of a stack next to an oven. She begins speaking to me in monosyllabic words that don’t form sentences: “Black. Moon. Blood.”
With each word, she stares into my eyes. Something about her glare hits me deep. This is Sylvia Plath. My legs sway.
Suddenly, her words form coherent sentences.
“They think I have failed,” she pauses and then continues “but I’ve won. I am not dead. I live on in the purest form: my words.”
Her voice reverberates through the silent library. Our eyes remain locked until… plink. I feel something wet land on my forehead. I shift my glance upwards and see a melting dark and dusty rainbow. The books are melting.
A wooden shelf lands gelatinously on my right cheek while Sylvia’s face smudges like a melted Crayola. Soon she is reduced to a brown oily puddle on an emerald floor. Looking around, I realize that the library is completely gone. The only remnants of my prior surroundings can be found on my hair and shoulders. The greasy puddles have disappeared.
Sylvia’s piercing eyes are replaced with a beautiful mountain range. In the distance I can see the ocean. I spy an island with a lake on it. Is it Westport Island? I feel around in my kimono, hoping that it came supplied with a map.
In my pocket, I feel a leathery worn sheet of paper. As I pull it out, I feel well-loved frayed edges. I open it up and realize it is a page of a book. The page has dialogue on it.
Just as I begin reading, I hear something in the distance. Thunder?
beep, beep, beep
I open my eyes slowly and still my surroundings are too harsh of a change from the velvety-purple haven of my eyelids. I flicker my eyes to adjust quicker. Hovering above me are my parents and my brother. Concern is painted on their faces and the unforgivingly white light hanging above them gives them a heavenly appearance. They seem to be wearing halos and descending from the light. I shut my eyes, thankful for the darkness. I hear their quivering whispers and make out the word “concussion.”