Islands

There are little islands all around us. There are the kind in the sea that poke their heads above the water, but there are many other kinds of islands too. Many islands are ephemeral, like the floating icebergs that migrate through the seas, tumbling and turning as if they are living creatures. And then there are the islands that move like ghosts. As the sun moves through the sky, these islands cower under trees and rocks; buildings and gazebos. They are the islands of shadow that cows, kangaroos and seagulls seem so adept at seeking out.

Even the Saturday shopper seeks out the shade when parking their car at the mall in the middle of summer. Some even carry a little shadow with them in the form of an umbrella. Literally a “little shadow” – an island of refuge from the blistering sun.

It’s in our nature to seek out islands. Columbus, Cook and Tasman were neither the only, nor the first to seek out what existed beyond the horizon. They explored Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Cuba among others, but now the frontiers are non existent. The earth exists in a digital database in the cloud. There’s nothing left to discover.

But there is still another frontier. Sure, space is out there too, but what about the islands that are all around us that no one has bothered to investigate?

…yet.

Swimming in the river on hot day, the currents that swirl beneath licked the toes of Sally. It was like a frozen artery was pulsating beneath the simmering broth that sat on the surface. The warmer water swirled between the rocky fingers that jutted out into the river, as the cold undercurrent carried the lifeblood of the river downstream. There were islands of warmth everywhere, but sally was drawn to the less-numerous islands of cold.

Something dawned on Sally suddenly whilst she was suspended in the warmth, dangling her toes in the icy cold. The seagulls had found the island of shade under the nearby trees; Sally herself had found the islands within the stream; the clouds were forming islands in the sky. All she had to do was open her senses in order to perceive the islands that were hiding in plain sight all along.

She closed her eyes and stopped listening. She held her breath, and she began to sense the giant bubbles that were floating all around her. Each time their boundaries intersected an inaudible, but somehow tangible echo rung out and the contents from one bubble were able to freely pass into the other.

Sally waited.

She waited long enough for another bubble to intersect with the boundary of the bubble that she inhabited. The bubble that contained her own – and our own – universe. She traversed the tear in the cellular membrane that contains us all, and her friends never even noticed her disappearance. It’s as if she ceased to be. Her history gone. Memories of her dissolved.

She’d stepped onto another island universe, where the laws of physics are alien and where the nature of everything is different. Our universe forgot her, as if she’d never existed at all, but the new universe took her in like she’d been there all along. But her memories persisted. Would she ever make it home? Would she even want to?

T.

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