I know nothing.
Who am I? Why am I here now, in this place? Did I come freely, or was I sent? What is my purpose?
I know nothing but my name. Carrie Anne. The name has a pretty sound that rolls around my tongue. I like it.
I sit on a grassy bluff. I am barefoot and clad in a knee-length sky-blue dress. I have been here a long time—I cannot remember a time when I was not here. The sun has risen and set many times. I have grown weary and succumbed to the darkness, yet when I awake, I am always here, on the cliff overlooking a vast sea.
Thunderheads embrace the sun. Wind buffets my cheeks, and fat raindrops splash against my forehead. I open my mouth wide to catch them, feeling their coolness slide down my throat.
All too soon, the sun burns away the upstart clouds, caressing my face and drying my dress. It casts off a robe of red, orange, and gold before slipping offstage beneath the horizon. Stars shine in silent applause. My eyelids grow heavy once more.
Some days, I wander the clifftop. Soft, wet grass sneaks between my toes, and spongy moss cushions my steps. On a rocky promontory, I stretch my arms out wide like a statue and close my eyes, revelling in the cool onshore breeze and the scent of salt. I watch the breakers turn to white foam as they rush up the beach before dashing back to the sea as if shocked by their audacity. My breathing slows to the rhythm of the waves until I am one with the sea.
Time—the space between one wave and the next or one sunrise and the next. I hear the words in my mind, but I am a circle. I always come back to where I was. Where I am now is where I shall be. If this thing called time exists, then it is meaningless.
I see them! Crawling out of the sea, with heads shaped like hourglasses and bodies like whips, six grey-green creatures gaze up at me with baleful eyes. My heart dances as I lean over the cliff edge, but they squirm back into the surf, and a wave washes them from view.
Part of me wants to descend the cliff and go after them, but I cannot because… because I am waiting for something. I blink at the revelation. What is it that I am waiting for? I hug my knees and frown with concentration but cannot squeeze out the memory.
I shake my head, brushing the auburn tresses from my cheeks. I find myself hoping the whiplike creatures will return. Either way, I now know one more thing: I am not alone in the world. An ember glows in my heart, and I smile for the first time.
Soon after sunrise, I spot a new pair of creatures near the crest of a hill. They are four-legged and graceful. One has a dainty pointed face, the other a crown of spreading antlers. They munch the sparse vegetation, seemingly oblivious to my presence.
A word enters my mind. Hunger. I try to fathom the meaning. All living creatures must consume food. That can’t be right. I have no such urge. Am I living? The voice within me answers a resounding Yes. Another conundrum, then. Another unsolved puzzle to toss on the growing pile.
My heart dances with the notion that they might descend to the clifftop and make my acquaintance, but they turn slowly and disappear over the hill as if disappointed.
I watch the sea in all its moods. Sunrise—golden, with sprites dancing on the wave caps. Morning—grey, reflecting clouds pregnant with rain. Afternoon—green swells whipped up by gales and hurled at the shoreline. And evening—red, with gentle ripples embracing one another, warm and satisfied.
I am content to wait until my purpose becomes clear. And if it does not become clear, I am still content.
Last night, images filled my head. The sea, growing greedy, came in and covered the land. I saw things floating in the water: broken pieces of wood, torn cloth, and stick figures face down, unmoving, and splayed out, reduced to mere objects.
It is called a dream, the voice in my mind says.
But what does it mean?
It is the end of all things.
The images haunt me. Is the dream a mirror of what is to come? If so, am I responsible for what I saw or merely powerless to prevent it?
Why am I here? What is my purpose? Am I destined to become like the things in the water?
The voice does not answer.
Each night, the dream returns. Each morning, I awake before dawn, shivering and in a cold sweat. I hug my body in a futile effort to still my sobbing and ward off the chills and the terror.
I have not seen the four-legged beasts or the whiplike creatures in many days. Are they floating somewhere, still and silent?
Desperately, I scour the sea and the land with salt-laden eyes, waiting for a sign. Something to show me the direction in which I must go. Something that will begin my story.