With the sky mirroring the ground, she leads me by the hand as we walk through a field of snow; our twisty-turny footsteps trailing far into the distance like the tiny feet of stalking birds. To our left is a vast lake frozen into a thick sheet of ice. In the summer, boats sail long into the sepia nights, yet in this instant, winter has put paid well and truly to the dance of life the warmer months so often yield. Flakes fall upon our faces, but we’re moving so fast they bounce off as if made of rubber. I’ve no idea what we’re running towards, but the faster we go, the harder our laughter cuts through the icy realm that sparkles like a memory crystalised by the weight of time.
“You know where we are, right?”
I do, and yet I don’t.
“I think so,” I rasp, out of breath and restless as my lungs burn despite the cold.
“And yet this didn’t happen, did it? This is all false.”
“Not false at all, for how else could we be here?”
“You told me it didn’t happen like this—you said we met at work on just another day?”
“Yeah, I know, but I always preferred your version of events.”
“Even if they’re not real?”
“They are real, though, aren’t they? Look around us; what is this if not real?”
Sliding my fingers tightly between hers, I breathe out a mouthful of smoke that tastes like beer.
“You always said you hated it when I lied? Said that in every situation, a truth was far more favourable than a lie.”
“You’re not lying though, are you? This place—it’s in your heart. It owns your soul. Has done from the start.”