When the sky is smeared with dark clouds and the world looks like night at noon, who can say whether the sun is truly there? Everyone says it is, everyone says it's just hidden, and that's why you can't see it, but how can they know for sure? With all their science and their logic, they can't say for certain that it doesn't vanish entirely -- not really. The best they can do is make an educated guess.
Maybe one day I'll travel to the end of the earth, and discover it's flat. I'll just step up onto the waves and walk across the ocean to the very edge, and I'll sit with my feet dangling over the abyss and I'll laugh because they were wrong -- they who think with their minds and not with their hearts.
Her toe twitches and she wavers between her dream and reality.
I'm at the edge of the world and
no, I'm on the beach. I'm sitting on the sand. There are my children over there, playing in the water. No, Jasper! Don't go there! You're too close to the edge! You'll fall off the world!
She jumps up with a jolt, her arms outstretched, as she sees her youngest son vanish from sight. Her heart stops. Her mind reels. But then his head pops up and it's like a catalyst that sets her brain cells in motion, and slowly, slowly, the light of reality brightens and she knows for certain where she is.
Yes, I am on the beach. There is no edge of the world, it's all round and Jasper only fell into a wave, not off the face of existence. Collect yourself, breathe. Look at the dock.
The dock! It's her salvation when her mind falls away from her body. It's the one thing that keeps her tethered to this world. She feels as if she were a balloon with a long string tied from her ankle to the dock's railing, and now someone is slowly pulling her back in, inch by inch, word by word, until at last she feels her feet come down on the steady wood beams. Her husband is talking to her about something -- the new sofa, I think -- and all is right with the world because it is round and she can't walk on waves, and the sun is just hidden, not vanished.
But it's so dark, you can't even see a trace of it, so it's possible, isn't it, that it's not really there? That it took a holiday and sped off to some distant galaxy and it'll never come back. There'll be clouds for the rest of forever and they'll never clear and the scientists like Arthur will go on saying it's just hidden. They'll say that until they die, and then the world will freeze and life will cease and in all the wide world there'll only be me, alone. And I'll be quiet at last and sleep easy.
The fish sleep easy, I know. They have no science and no logic and no thoughts, only feelings. They say, I'm hungry, and they eat and they can depend on that because they felt it, their whole body felt it, It wasn't just told to them. And they don't care if the other fish are there or not, because, really, the other fish don't exist. And it's not a problem to think that because there are no scientists like Arthur telling them all the time that they're wrong, wrong, wrong.
Tomorrow I think I'll take a walk up to the top of the hill over there and jump off and I'll fly away to some other place where the sky is green and the grass is blue and everyone walks upside down, and--
No. No! The dock. Look at the dock. It's steady. It's firm. Everything in this world moves -- moves horribly fast and makes so much noise! But not the dock. It's rooted to the Earth and it's holding me and the waves can beat at it forever but it won't fall because it's rooted and it's stable and I'm tethered to that, just feel the rope.
She clasps her fingers round the rope and breathes a sigh of relief because she can see the world again. Her feet aren't floating, they're standing one beside the other on the ground. She looks at the dock with a deep gratitude and then calls her children in. A storm is gathering. It'll rain soon. Everyone inside to eat and laugh and sleep.
It's morning now and the storm is over and everything looks like it did the other day, just a little bit damper. She rises and stands at the window and overhears a conversation below her.
"You guys make it through all right?"
"Yeah, but, boy, it was a doozy. Finnegan's boat didn't make it through. A wave must've got it. Punched a hole through the side of it and dragged the thing halfway under."
"Really? Any luck he'll be able to fix it?"
but there'll be no fixing the dock."
"The old wood one out near the Fenton place."
"What? But that thing's stayed up for as long as my family's been here! It's strong as an ox!"
"Apparently it's been deteriorating for years. Termites, or something like that. They ate out the inside of it, but the outside still looked just fine. No one ever bothered to check the inside when the outside looked just fine like that. It was waiting for something big to happen, I guess, and last night's storm was it. The whole thing went down. People passing by right now probably wouldn't know it ever even existed if it weren't for all the debris sticking out of the water."
Her fingers clench. Her fists tighten. And suddenly her world reels.
I'm on the edge of the world with my feet dangling over. I'm on the top of a wave. I'm floating in a world where the sky is green and the grass is blue and everyone walks around upside down. And I'm flying, I'm flying, I'm flying, but where's the string? Where's the rope? It should be there, just around the ankle, but I can't feel it, can't see it. Where's the dock? I could steady myself, if I could just see the dock!
She floats up high above her husband and little Jasper and the other children whose names she can't remember anymore, and all she can think as she drifts away on a wind current is how foolish Arthur and all the other scientists are for ever saying she couldn't do it!
But then the sun -- the vanished sun -- comes back and blinds her and her wings are gone.
And she's falling straight off the edge of the earth into the abyss.