I lay curled up like a cat and I could feel the curve of my spine, I could feel my knees against my chest and my hand underneath my cheek. Without opening my eyes, I carefully and with a sense of controlled terror extended my other hand to feel the surface of my quilt. I would know the stitching of its pattern, the softness of the filling having long since relaxed against the fabric. My fingers gently touched the surface. I hesitated. It felt grainy. Not grainy like cookie crumbles. Grainy, like sand. When I thought “sand”, I shoved my fingers deeper into the surface. They did not meet much resistance. I pushed easily into the sand like I would, aimlessly, on a beautiful day on the beach. All the while the surface underneath me was breathing. I had to open my eyes to find myself. I wondered whether I was still dreaming, and for a moment considered trying to drift back into nothingness, but I felt wide awake, too awake.
So I did. I opened my eyes. It was not dark at all as I had fully expected, yet the sun was pale, far away in the winter sky, just so illuminating the grey mists rising up from the water. I knew where I was. I was most definitely not on my bed in Summerville, NJ. I was curled up, like the sole survivor of a ship wreck, on the shore of a lake. I sat up, stunned, on the wet sand, numb with cold as much as with surprise. I knew the beach. It was small. I had spent many summers here with my family. I was sitting on the North Shore Beach of Lake Willoughby.
All things considered, it was strange that my mind accepted this truth so readily. I didn’t think: I must be dreaming. I didn’t look for an explanation.