I continued walking until I came to the next building.
It was made of wooden slats, and from the doors I could tell it was a saloon of some sort. Through the gap in the doors, I could see light beams cutting through a dark and dusty interior.
She leaned against a post, just outside. I walked up and she stood up straight, expectantly. I went to the doors and peeked through. It was silent, as graves, but I could make out fingers flickering over a black and white keyboard.
“What is this place?” I asked.
She did not answer, but stared at me, curiously.
“Can I go in – would it be ok?”
“Hruni varnulk” she said sweetly. At least, that’s what it sounded like.
“Crompellyfly garnitcla, blee?”
I nodded to her and smiled weakly. She was obviously a foreigner. I did not feel I had the right to intrude, and so I left. I kept walking, skipping a few buildings until I saw a child peering from a window, holding a flower. She had a pale blue ribbon tying back shiny golden curls.
“Pretty girl, who lives here?” I asked. The window was framed with those lacy curtains I associated with my childhood.
The little girl smiled at me and waved the flower.
“Yes it is beautiful, isn’t it?”
I gave her my best winning smile.
From inside, I could hear the sounds of kitchen utensils, running water, the opening and closing of doors.
“Please – would you say something to me? Anything at all?”
“Brushka-di!” was all she giggled, and ducked inside.
I felt tears forming in my eyes, and began my walk again.
I walked till my legs hurt and came to an old woman, white-haired, wise-wrinkled, slowly and methodically turning the handle on a well. She looked past me and through me. I waved a hand close to her face, but she did not see me. Softly so as not to frighten her, I whispered “hello?”
She did not hear me.
A wind blew from behind now as I continued walking, and looking back I could barely make out anything at all except for tree limbs swaying and waving their goodbyes. Eventually I arrived at what seemed to be a hub of activity and excitement. Men, women and children were bustling around a fountain. Hay bales were being stacked up into piles by the adults while mischievous children climbed them and tumbled them down again. It looked like a preparation for a concert, or a political rally, with the fountain forming a backdrop. I walked forward meaning to join them, when a man moved in front of me. I stopped and looked into kindly, brown eyes.
“I just want to help out – I’m a little lonely” I said to him.
He pointed to a sign in his hand which I hadn’t noticed.
It read “Goiunt Tuill Bakin!”
I turned away and kept walking.
It dawned on me that I must be dreaming of and in some foreign country, and I wondered if the words really existed in some language somewhere. As it grew dark, I found a step to sit on. I closed my eyes for a moment. Maybe longer. When he spoke to me, I realised I knew he had been there all along, shadowing me.
“What are you looking for” he said.
He had a hat and looked like the bad guy in a Western, pearly white pistol handles and all.
“I’m not looking for anything. I just want to find out where I am” I said. “Do you know me?”
“Yes, of course I know you. I’m your ahm…Holy Spirit.”
“I’m not religious – you’ll have to do better than that.”
“Ok – I’m your Subconscious”
“I don’t think so”, I answered. “Try again.”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Alright – how’s this? I’m an imaginary character in your short story”
“That makes sense to me, and I thank you for your honesty”.
We were getting somewhere.
“So now that we are on speaking terms, can you tell me what’s going on here? I can’t understand anyone. They all speak funny languages.”
“You’re on a Great Journey, friend. Just keep walking; it will make sense if you keep going.”
“But I am tired of walking. I’ve walked all my life. I want to rest now, somewhere warm and cosy, with life around me, and people that speak my language. Is that so much to ask?”
He laughed, and then grew serious.
“I have followed you, and watched you from the beginning. You refuse to understand the common language. Did you really think that everyone would suddenly change their speech to yours?”
I closed my eyes.
“Go away. You make no sense. I want to wake up. Or sleep. I am tired. Leave me”
“Ok, sleep then.”
I felt him leave.