By Claudia Ricci
What else would she do? That little soggy imp -- dragging all of that hair draped like brown seaweed over her legs -- she stands up and holding the blue syringe with two hands, she squirts me full in the face and ocean water comes shooting over me head to toe, so much water floods me that I am instantly afloat, and forced to swim like crazy through wave after wave crashing over my head. Hard as I try, I am caught and slapped by the salty ocean water. The feeling though is not a bad one, I love the water, I feel like I am being purified, made ready, for what I have no idea.
As I struggle through the water, the realization hits me: what am I doing in the ocean? I was just sitting so comfortably in that theater. With that, the flood of blue water dries up and I am back in my seat in the theater, still wet from the water. The screen is blank, and the smell of stale popcorn mixes with the dank smell from the theater floor.
“Ugh, I want out of this place, now,” I mutter, "I can't take it anymore." At that moment I notice a man in a red jacket with gold braid on the cuffs and collar. He is selling tickets and I say to him, “OK, OK, I’m ready now, I will buy a damn ticket if I have to,” and he smiles that smug little smile that I have seen before.
“Yes,” he says, “I told you before, you have to buy a ticket, that is, if you want to get out.” It's crazy to think I have to shell out money to leave the theater, but I do, I pay my $9.50, big city prices, and when I take the blue ticket from him it reads only, “JUMP" in big bold letters. He points me toward the double door, but the closer I get to it, the more I wonder, is it glass, or is some kind of a panorama painted on wood? I walk up to it and take both handles in my hands and open both at once, and the view outside is lush green hills, a shimmering emerald pond, a divinely blue and gauzy sky, too many trees to describe, and all around, birds in exotic colors squawking and chirping. The birds are as big as I am, and so I know now that it is going to be OK and I am in the place I need to be. I step carefully onto the branch and I see there is a light, just like the girl said there would be, it is an odd light to be sure, an unnatural mixture of fluorescent and fire and gem-like iridescence. At first I think the light is coming from the water in the pond, or maybe it’s not from the water, but it’s just a light caught in the clouds which look like donuts dusted in mercurial powder. Or then I think the light is coming up from the grass, which is covered in a bright feathery dew, brocaded emerald hillsides, just like the tail of my mermaid.
Whatever it’s source, I’ll never know, but something in the light convinces me.
“I can do this, I can do this, I can do this!” I scream, closing my eyes and leaping from the branch. When I open my eyes again, I am skidding along on the light, the gauzy blue is like a net holding me to the ether, and I feel it streaming through my hair and rushing by my face and neck and shoulders.
I look down and there is the girl twirling, and twirling, twirling so fast she is rising up in the air to meet me, and I am not the least bit scared, I am happy, I am happy so happy, and this is as real as it can be, and that makes me even more happy. Before another minute goes by, we are flying together, her hand in mine.
Part one of Theater Dream ran in MyStory on Friday, May 11, 2012.