I closed my eyes and exhaled slowly, calming my nerves to steady the dizziness. The vibrating ground did nothing to help and I cursed my subconscious. Dreams aren't supposed to make you sick to your stomach, I thought bitterly.
A smaller rustling began, much closer, and I turned to look. From the other side of the tree trunk scrambled a figure, frightened, crouched low as its panicked face followed the approaching giant. As I watched, a bit tense now — I may as well admit, I was startled, and the way this thing was behaving was a bit desperate and primal for my taste — it backed into my legs and yelped, turning quickly and throwing itself against the tree.
It was not an it. It was a girl from school.
Why on earth my sleeping mind had conjured up an image of this particular girl, one I'd never so much as heard hello from, puzzled me, and I scrunched up my face to tell her so.
She was silent and stared up at me in terror. It was more than a little pitiful. "You're, er, Cindy, aren't you?" I offered.
"Ella," she muttered.
"Ella," I repeated. I reached a hand down to help her up. She recoiled, then flickered and vanished completely.
No sooner had she gone than the giant Edward reached out and smashed the tree stump into the ground. "Stop being awful, Edward!" I shouted. "Can't we have a moment's peace and—"
And then we did.
The forest was gone. Instead of looking up at a giant, I found I was looking through a ceiling of beautiful colored sea glass, built into a sort of igloo. Smaller pieces of glass dangled from above, and as a warm and gentle breeze blew in through the door, they swayed and bumped together with a soothing and joyous tinkling sound.
Outside, I could see Ella standing at the ocean's edge, facing the setting sun.
The little glass igloo was calming, and I stood still and sighed for a moment before stepping out and trotting toward this odd girl. She didn't look at me as I approached, and I stood beside her, the waves swirling around my naked ankles.
"It's not right here," she said quietly.
"You're mad," I replied. "It's lovely here. It's loads better than that horrible forest." She continued to stare into the ocean. It was awkward. I hurried to fill her silence. "It's like a resort. All we're missing is a five-star hotel to go and stay at."
I turned and smiled at her, but she was gone again. Behind the glass igloo was now a towering luxury hotel. This could hardly be a coincidence.
I spent the late afternoon on the beach. My dream had become a bit dull, admittedly, but I had no reason to complain. It was a strange feeling, being aware of a dream, and as I gazed up at the cloudless sky, I decided I was happy to get used to it.
As night fell, the beach became less welcoming, and the hotel gradually came alive in a wash of warm light and sparkles. I left the beach and wandered inside.
The concierge was very familiar, but I was a lot less surprised this time. "Do I have a reservation for tonight, Ella?" I said.