“I don’t know where I was before, but it wasn’t here” she thought, placidly.
Well, that’s not true.
She didn’t think that. Not in so many words, but that’s how it happened. And she was probably at least a little aware of it. One second she was away, or sleeping, or just not quite…conscious, and the next thing she knew she was there.
I guess that’s what happens when you start paying attention after you haven’t for a while.
Whatever it was, she was awake in some capacity now.
It was bright. Not blindingly, and come to think of it she didn’t actually see light coming from any particular direction, but somehow or other there was a clearness to her surroundings.
She began to wander.
There seemed to be paintings and photos and poems and great works of art (and works of art the were considerably less great) just about everywhere, though nothing seemed particularly cramped or out of place.
It was like a museum only no one was whispering—no one was doing anything, to be frank, because no one but she was there—and there wasn’t a sign or brochure anywhere to be found.
Every piece she saw had a nice little description nearby, on plaques or stands, or even post-it notes just stuck up a little unevenly.
She loved the descriptions.
“It’s not art until you’ve read the descriptions.”
That one she did actually think.
Anyway, she wandered for quite a while, though she could be sure how long. It felt like hours, but she didn’t feel even the slightest bit tired.
She saw a painting done all in little blobs and swirls that looks like nothing until you backed up, and when she read the wall-sign next to it learned that the artist had been studying components of larger images, as well as the harmonization of color and light.
“Well done” she thought.
She saw quotes from famous actors and actresses, all of which were described in further detail, explained, analyzed, and some even had short bio’s and fun facts about the quoted celebrity.
Eventually, through a pair of big white arches, on the other side of a beautiful indoor courtyard, she saw black, neatly types words printed right onto a wall. She couldn’t quite make out what they said so she walked over, a spring in her step with the excitement of more to learn.
When she got to the wall, she read aloud:
“Everyone who terrifies you is sixty five percent water, and everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes you cannot even breathe deeply, and the night sky is no home, and you have cried yourself to sleep enough times, that you are down to your last two percent, but nothing is infinite, not even loss. You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day you are going to find yourself again.”
There was a small description plate mounted on the wall beside the words, but all it said was
”- F. Butler”
That was it.
She looked around for more, but found nothing. The rest of the room was empty. There was nothing to see but the arches leading back to where she had come from.
There were not plaques, or stands, or post-it notes.
She was in utter disbelief.
“Not even a full name!” She thought, indignantly.
“How am I supposed to appreciate this beautiful scrap of thought when I don’t even know about the person who wrote it?
Or the context?
Or whether or not this is the whole thing, or just an excerpt?”
Just then she heard footsteps behind her and whirled around hopefully.
“Thank God, it’s someone come to explain. Or replace the sign. Maybe they took it away for a moment to be polished.”
But the only thing she saw was a shuffling old man, wearing a brownish suit with a red tie. His hair was whiter than wind (because even though you can’t see wind, it always feels cool, like white probably would; like clouds, or snow, or milk, or rain in the movies, which is also actually just milk), and he looked like he might be muttering to himself.
It sounds better if you say whispering, less crotchety.
She watched him shuffle closer and closer, and then watched him as he gazed up at the words.
She assumed he was reading, but it took him forever.
“Maybe his vision’s not so great”
After a prolonged silence, uncomfortable on her end but, it seemed, perfectly comfortable for him, the old man spoke.
He turned to her and said
“Well that’s certainly something to think about, eh?”
She didn’t say anything.
The old man continued:
“I’ve stood here and read that a couple of times—always leaves me feelin’ a little lighter. But a little sad, too. You know? Its sad. Kinda pretty, and hopeful, but sad because you know some people probably need to hear stuff like that and don’t too often. Or if they do, they forget. That’s kinda sad.”
She was quiet still, and they stood thoughtfully for a few more moments until the man spoke again.
“I printed it up there a while back so people could see it more, maybe remember more. Who knows if they do though, hard to tell.”
She looked shocked now, and blurted out
“You put that up there?”
“Well sure,” he said “I put all this’ he gestured behind him in the direction of the rest of the exhibits ‘up myself bit by bit. Just stuff I found, things I learned. Thought people might be interested.”
“Who wrote this?” She asked in a small voice, but her eyes belied a fervent eagerness.
He looked at her with an unreadable expression.
“Don’t know,’ her said ‘F. Butler.”
“Who is that?”
“Don’t know” he said again.
She looked beyond perplexed.
“How could you put this up here, hang it up and show it to people, to me, and know nothing about it? How could you share it with the world when you don’t even know what it is or where it came from?”
He just looked at her again, and suddenly she felt sort of embarrassed, but she couldn’t decide why. She ignored it the feeling and asked
“Where did you find this?”
And the man just said
“Don’t really remember, to be honest. I read it somewhere, or heard it from a friend years ago and it stuck with me. Sometimes things just stick. Doesn’t matter what they are or where they came from. It means something for whatever reason and you just hold onto that.”
She looked, if not convinced, then at least slightly less bewildered.
They stood there a while longer before she said
“It is kind of sad, in a way. But I like it”
And with that she turned back and continued wandering.