She entered the room alone. It was dark and very cluttered. Somehow it didn’t feel like her room even though she knew exactly where everything was. Maybe things look different in the dark, she thought. She fumbled for the light switch and her hand found nothing. It was strange to be a stranger in her own room. She shook her head and frowned. There was probably something blocking the switch. In any case, the room wasn’t very long and she knew her way through it in the day. Walking to the other end wouldn’t take very long.
She began to make her way through the room. The things on the floor suddenly seemed much larger than she remembered. Her hip brushed the edge of a cabinet, and she felt her apple-green merino sweater fray slightly. Her hand swept a few ornaments off a shelf and they tinkled as they fell. She thought she saw a cloud of shiny dust floating to the floor but she couldn’t be sure. It was still too dark. A few steps later, her eyes became more used to the gloom. She strained them a bit and saw something in the shape of a cello far ahead, near the door. That’s funny, I don’t remember owning a cello. She paused and took a few steps forward. Now it looked more like a large floor lamp. She didn’t have floor lamps; never liked them because they collided with her feet all the time. The fuzzy shape moved. As her eyes focused she realised that it was really a tall beast. Before she could scream or run, the beast changed shape again. Now it was a short, squat creature. Now it was furry and wide. Now it was tall again.
This must be some kind of dream. This must be some kind of dream. Her mind was running wild just thinking about the creature. She blinked, and a long time later, her lips formed words that sounded tinny and distant.
“What are you?”
There was no answer, and she didn’t expect one. Her thoughts just seemed less menacing when put into words. It was just as well for her that she finally made out the shape of the door in the distance. She inched a few steps forward. The creature was shifting shape every few seconds now. A faint light seemed to be coming from it, making its edges indistinct. Now it was a rhino. Now it was a stag. Now it was a wolf. Now it was a bear whose bulk was blocking the door. She felt colder and more tired than she had ever been. There was nothing else to be done. She stopped moving and rubbed her hands.
“Oh I give up. I don’t know what you want. I just want to get through the door. Back to my life.” Her voice sounded louder and harsher than she thought it would be. She hoped the creature would somehow read her tone and retreat.
Now it was as an ox. It was moving towards her as if it had understood her words and wanted some cruel amusement. Mid-stride, it turned into a kangaroo. It hopped towards her and crashed into a few piles of books that scattered all over the floor. One of the books fell onto her foot sharply and she backed away, stumbling over a stack of CDs that clattered onto the ground. Even at that moment, her mind was calculating the distance away from the door. The fastest route to it was past the creature, but she knew that she could not cross safely. She crept to the right, making as little noise as possible. Much to her relief, she didn’t trip on any clutter this time. The creature had stopped in the middle of the room. Now it was a snake. Her hand touched the wall and she recognised the shoddily painted rough patch close to the door. Creeping along the side of the wall, she held her breath and felt for the door. Now it was a dog. Her fingers touched the doorframe and she paused, waiting. The dog was padding softly the other way. It seemed uninterested in her imminent escape. Her hand slid down to the doorknob and she took a step forward to get a better grip. As her foot touched the ground, something crunched loudly beneath her and she let out a cry of pain, letting go of the doorknob. The now-lion spun around and leapt towards her with a deafening roar. She scrabbled violently against the wall, somehow moving to the left just in time. The lion’s heavy paw missed her and banged the light switch instead. Its other paw grazed her shoulder, claws barely catching on the threads of her sweater.
The light flickered a few times and she blinked slowly, uncomprehending. The lion had become a man. She saw that he had brown hair and was clothed in white. The man removed his hand from her shoulder and turned his face away. His voice was soft and seemed to come from within a great tunnel.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Who- what are you?”
He paused. “I am… You’ll see me again but I’ll be different.” He lowered his head and turned slightly, as though he were leaving.
“I’m not sure what you mean and I don’t know what’s going on. Please don’t hurt me. Please let me go.”
“I’m not going to hurt you. I wasn’t supposed to be here but I decided to drop by. I’m going now. If you don’t mind, could you turn off the light before you leave?”
“I guess I could. Maybe I’ll see you again but all this seems like a dream. Maybe this was just a dream.”
She opened the door and flicked the switch.
“Goodbye,” she whispered softly into the dark.
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