For the seventh straight night, I could dream but I could not sleep. Every night, my dream was a whirl of ancient music, of bare feet striking stone ground, and of the faint chaotic ringing of bells. Every night, there was pain in the dream, sharp visceral pain and grim determination. Every night, my dream had gotten more and more urgent and chaotic. Every night, I fought exhaustion before giving up and going out on the mountainside to scramble among the oppressive ruins, looking in vain for the source of the dreams.
Tonight, for the first time I could hear the music even while awake and standing outside my tent in the dark. Up and down the slope of the mountain were boulders mixed in with broken
pillars and pieces of what must have once been a high stone wall. The pain was to be my compass. I walked, then fell and scrambled, and then got up and walked again, following the gradient of the drumbeat of bare feet. In delirium I walked, unseeing, unfeeling, like an animal following the direction in which the sound got louder. I don't know how long it took, but it was still mostly dark when failing to find my way around a large upright slab of stone, about twice my height and embedded in the slope, I had to climb over it to its top.
There you were. Dancing barefeet on a courtyard of broken stone mixed in with dry soil and hardscrabble grass. Shards of broken glass were strewn about the surface. Trails of blood from your feet followed your dancing. There you were. In a veil and long-limbed dress with an almost ankle-length skirt, all embedded with small mirrors and brilliantly colored threadwork. The swirl of blood as you teetered and danced, the sound of your ankle bracelets and chains, the sound of your bangles, the sounds of my dream.
I don't know if it is you under the veil.
I don't know if it is you inside the pain.