A few months ago, when Edgars Lake had resigned itself to winter and the six cygnets had grown and flown, Merlyn had a lucid dream. It was as real as reality, at least, until normal life had a chance to claim the day.
In the dream, Merlyn lived in a female hermitage. The inhabitants wore long gowns, although clothes were neither here nor there because everyone was translucent and shining. Whatever needed communicating was done telepathically. Strange as it sounds, Merlyn spent nearly all her time in one room. Seven years passed in this way. One would assume that one would get very bored being stuck in a room with nothing to do for seven years. Yet, that was far from the case. It was exquisitely beautiful, but not in a way that can be explained in words. At the end of the dream, Merlyn was told that although there were no similar places on Earth, there were many watered-down versions taking numerous forms.
Although there were nicer shops a suburb or two closer to the city, Merlyn made a point of shopping at the Pittown ones. It seemed to her disloyal not to use them. Besides, she found the people interesting. Not infrequently, someone walked past her and turned their head to give her a second look. They looked like they thought they knew her, but then decided that they didn’t. Sometimes, they looked at her quizzically as if they were thinking that she didn’t belong in Pittown.
Although the Pittown cafe owner had misjudged Merlyn’s friend to be her husband, she actually did have a husband. An estranged husband, anyway. The estrangement was how she came to be living in Pittown. Merlyn and Benjamin had only been married for three years. It wasn’t long but, as it turned out, long enough. They had known each other for two years previous to getting married. Merlyn wasn’t a big fan of getting married but Benjamin had fallen in love with her and very much wanted the marriage to work. For her part, Merlyn both loved and was in love with Benjamin in return. However, unlike Benjamin, she knew that he was ill-prepared for the reality of a committed relationship. She also knew that love is the most powerful force in the universe, so she gave Benjamin and the marriage her best shot and put her faith in his love to get him through.
Before her eyes opened, Merlyn sensed the soft, red glow behind the makeshift curtain which hung unevenly over the window. The unit was relatively modern and clean, and had heating and cooling that worked. Pittown, as a suburb, was ordinary but she could afford the rent on her own. Remakably ordinary, thought Merlyn as she walked a couple of doors to the only decent cafe.