Blink

He opened his eyes. To a world of flowers. Standing in a meadow seeded so thickly he couldn’t see the ground; his bare feet damp with dew. Petals of all colors fell like rain, the air in bloom. He choked on pollen, yellow powder thronged the wind, his eyes watering and desperate for relief. Looking up through grey irises swimming in reddened sclera, his cheeks stained with tears, he gasped at the floral rainbow that filled the sky. There, plants flew on wings of leaf, singing from their stamens a beautiful song. Here, on this world, flowers were part flora, part fauna. In the absence of all else, plants evolved towards consciousness.

It was beautiful, and he tried futilely not to blink. Desperate to remain here for more than a few indelible moments. Alas, allergies got the best of him, he blinked his eyes shut and after a split second opened them, as always, on another world. Now lost in a desert of ice and dust. This world was dark, its sun a distant star providing too little warmth for life. The young man could tell by the lightness of his feet, and the thin atmosphere cracking his chest, this world was little bigger than a moon. His ears rang in the wind, the planet’s dirge for itself. After a moment to look around, to see all the nothing there was to see, he gladly closed his eyes to escape.

...and opened them deep beneath the ocean. His lungs clamored for release, aquatic creatures surrounded him, small lights in the black depths. The darted towards him and back, dancing between intrigue and fright at the intruder in their midst. The pressure of miles of water overhead pushed against him, and the monsters hemmed closer, closer as curiosity overcame their doubt. This small things, bulbous heads on lean bodies, surrounded him, opening their mouths to reveal row after row of black teeth, glinting against their flashlight eyes.

He blinked and blinked, each time spending a brief moments on a new world. Was this a dream? A nightmare? The last gasp of death, the soothing fantasy to ease his body from shock into death? Or something else? Did these worlds exist beyond his imagining? Did they remain after he departed? Or exist before he arrived? There were no answers, only world after diverse world, with biospheres ranging from those thick with life, to the desert, to the atmosphere-less void. His body was crushed, frozen and burned, torn to shreds by impossible storms, crushed beneath the feet (or hooves or… proboscis?) of impossible creatures. Yet, no matter how close he crawled to death, he was able to close his eyes, and open them, whole on another world.

He opened his eyes to light, to darkness, to flame, to life, to death, again and again and again. In some worlds he fell through nothingness, others so scalding he felt his skin and flesh slough from his bones. Yet he never died, always escaping in the moment between one blink and the next. To the next world, always to the next world, having long forgotten which was his own. He opened his eyes, a hundred, a thousand, a million times…

…Until in the midst of a blink, he stops at a kiss on his cheek, and opens them one more time to a familiar face. One he cannot name, from a distant world. His own? It is kind, and smiles at him with love in its eyes.

"Hey," It says. He sits up, memories already fading.

“Hey,” He says, “Was I-?”

“Asleep? Yes,” It answers with a laugh. “Dreaming? Clearly. Was it a good dream?”

Were they? He was unsure how to answer. “I… don’t know. Maybe. Some of them. It’s hard to say.”

It bends over, plants a peck on his cheek. “Well there are a few hours until sunrise yet. Go back to sleep, and if you remember your dreams in the morning, tell me about them.”

Crying but unsure why, he rests his head back on the pillow and closes his eyes, drifting back into slumber. The darkness turns to light, a bright red behind shut eyelids. He smells the air, the heady sent of pollen. Familiar, absorbing, dangerous.

He opens his eyes, and sees flowers float through the air.