What a beautiful sunset, I've watched this sunset a million times, yet it seems different now. The sky today was an almost dark blue. As the sun shifted out of view the colors shifted with it. The blue gradually shifted to purple and quickly transitioned on to orange. The stars appeared, billions of them, scattered throughout the sky. Bright and dim stars, galaxies of their own. Then a thick cluster of stars appeared, the milky way galaxy itself. One distraction and I might have missed it. Even a million times later, I'm stunned by the sheer beauty of just being here.
I hear water, the tide closing in. A sensation comes over me, my feet are wet. I sit up straight and watch the water. It splashes against my feet. At the shallowest water, blue algae light up the sea. In the distance the water meets the sky in a haze. To my right, I see a cliff face, illuminated by the stars it stands out in shades of light and dark brown. The sharp contrast between the rocks and the night sky behind it feels as though it's an illustration, a painting, an image cut and pasted together. The sand around me glistens. The wet sand shines as though it's made of glass. The dry sand glistens like a crystalline structure, an enormous geode split open to an infinity of features hidden inside it.
The feeling comes over me that there's more to see, I get up and almost instinctively patt off the dry sand from me. I look behind me and see the grass of the dunes. They are a deep dark green, moving every so slightly. An entirely surreal movement. As the rocks feel pasted statically, the way the grass moves, it's like the world ends just beyond it. Curiosity gets the best of me. I take a first step towards the dunes as a spark catches my eye. A mason jar lies in the sand.I pick it up and looking inside, a light is floating inside it. There's a depth to it, I watch and it almost seems like there is a dust in it too, obscuring the light ever so slightly. I very gently dust off the sand from the jar and take it away to the dunes.
As I close in on the dunes, the way the tall grass dances in the night light sky becomes all the more pronounced. The sensation that we're hurtling through the universe all the more apparent and almost tangible. Instinctively I raise my hand and want to touch the stars, they seem so close, so real, so delicate. My hand waves over them, all I feel is the air. When I look at the empty palm of my hand, I can't help but feel disappointed that I can't touch them. Some distance away a path guides me up the steep dunes.
Arriving at the top of the dunes I see the ocean stretching to as far as the eye can see, effectively an infinity. The dunes continue a short bit, the tall grass growing in the loose beach sand. This transitions to shrubs and further away trees appear. The path cut in the loose sand transitions to asphalt cutting further through the dunes and turns away between the shrubs. I continue to walk, passing the shrubs and turning to the trees. Instead of the grass now the leaves of the trees obscure the night sky. They cast shades on the path. The leaves dance around the path, their movements subtle and slow, dynamic when even the slightest breeze comes by. I walk in the middle of the path, lit by the stars. Careful to tread where it's light, dancing around the patterns cast by the trees.
I progress the sand of the dunes fades and the landscape becomes increasingly wet. Trees and shrubs still grow here, spots of dry land, small standing puddles elsewhere. Various crickets and other insects provide a calming soundtrack, the sound of the ocean by now too far away to make any impression. Then I notice lights around me, fireflies looking for potential mates. I hold up the mason jar, the light in it attracts some attention. As I continue, the path goes on swirling between trees, carving through the landscape, until I finally reach the paths end. A parking lot, space for several hundred cars. The sand of the beach covers parts of the lot. I cross it and arrive at the road. A crossroads in a way. Behind me the path to the beach, to the left a sign leading me to a large city, to the right a sign leading me further away. I pause and contemplate, still gripping the light in the mason jar. I watch and see it flicker faster than before. My mind is lost in thought as I see how very gradually the stars seem to fade a bit and I notice that it's getting all the bit closer to morning. As I watch the jar, there's only one way to go.
Out of breath, I return to the beach, to the place I woke up although the indent where I was has been washed away by the tide. I'm still grasping the jar. The sky turns to a gradient from orange to dark blue. The sun is rising and my grip on the jar tightens. I turn around and over the dunes I watch the sky quickly shift from orange to yellow. Then the first ray of light hits me in the face, I feel the heat on my forehead and a moment later it shines in my eyes. I wince and look away, defensively I hold up the jar to cover my eyes. Another moment later the jar feels lighter. Puzzled by the idea that something might have happened I look and see the jar is now empty. Instead I feel a hand on my left shoulder, it radiates an usual but pleasant heat. I look around and see a face I've never seen before but one that feels familiar nonetheless. I smile and I get a smile in return, a gentle caress over my cheek.