The young woman stared out at the immense landscape before her, a vast expanse of opalescent, milky-white cloud, lit up by soft and silent lightning. The fluctuating light reflected in her blurred, feather-covered eyes, healing them. She had never seen such scintillating flashes of opalescent gold, tamed fire caught on endless cloud, and she watched the quick tongues of flame diving in and out of the vast iridescent sky – or was it the sea? It was difficult to put a metaphor to the very pulse of dreams.
Still, all rhythm shared some common numerical heartbeat, and just as the waves of the sea washed up repeatedly against your bare ankles, returning pieces of yourself to you, so the wind’s whispering question crested once again in her mind: Could she live again, exactly the way she had? It was not the first time she had ever considered this question, of course, but she had never considered it as seriously as she did now. She thought back over the many years of her life for, though she looked young, she had actually lived many years on this earth. It was only when she began walking to this singular cliff, the very edge of the world, where all souls come to pass, that the years began to drop off of her body, the way one naturally sheds layer after layer of winter clothing when the glittering frost begins to thaw.
She was growing younger yet – or was she simply being healed? It was difficult to tell whether it was landscape of time or the soul inhabiting that landscape which was the constant reality. Now, with trembling fingers, the young girl removed the glasses on her face. For the first time in many years, she saw better without them. With her glasses off, she suddenly realized that it was not the wind that was speaking to her, but a pearl-silver, nearly translucent swallowtail butterfly, batting its gauzy wings mere inches from her face. She stared at the butterfly, pretending to think over its question, but the answer was already clear on her bright and hopeful face.
Hope – but for what? A future, always a future.
“Yes, so I thought,” the butterfly sighed softly. “That’s why human beings only live once in this world.” The butterfly began to say, “Step off - ” but she was already gone, nothing more than a startling flash of gold lightning, running jagged, wild, and free, along the endless dreamscape of the beyond.