It was getting late. The rain had stopped a few hours ago and the grass now glistened strangely. Occasionally drops of water would fall from the shiny leaves of nearby oaks. It was not warm, and the air was damp and unpleasantly expectant. Two sisters walked unhurriedly to and fro about the yard. The elder sister, Amelie, though outwardly fresh and lively looking, (and quite pretty), nevertheless betrayed a slow-rising boredom in the way she talked, in the movements of her springing step, and even in the way some stray chestnut locks slid from her tied-up hair. Marie, who was only a year or so younger than Amelie, shuffled tentatively near Amelie, in a state of semi-abstraction. "You know, they say its going to rain the whole next week," said Amelie in a sprightly tone, that, despite its quickness, sounded more like a monotonous drawl. Marie looked up, and quickly lowering her eyes responded only, it seemed, in order that Amelie wouldn't think her deaf and terribly dull, "yes, I heard that too, only its supposed to be much warmer than now aswell." Amelie seemed to be waiting for this and eagerly put in "it has to be warmer next week! Its the end of may and look how cold it is! I think I should shoot the weather." And she smiled, her expression one of good natured indignition that was mostly feigned. Marie couldn't think of any suitable response that was not utterly banal, but then, she wasn't really trying. She then said, her earnestness recovering from it's recent plummet and soaring through the sky, "don't you think there is something strange about this day, this scene?" Amelie was slightly put off, but only let herself take the question in the most literal fashion, "you mean that its really cold, and shouldn't be at the end of May?" Marie fell silent, understanding that it was useless to pursue the topic in this way.
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But what did she mean by this decidedly vague question? She was, to put it bluntly, intoxicated, (and not a little terrified), by her surroundings. the trees, with their newly green leaves whispering softly amid the dampness and evening breeze, the grass, dotted with pine needles and twigs, all but staring at her with their newly sharpened glance, all this enveloped her and aroused in her at the same time an almost despairing sadness, a quiet terror, and the faint embers of a joy long slumb'ring in the depths. She imagined, almost giddily, how all of this magic scene around her could be poured into a crystal cup, and then, she lost herself in contemplation of how she would drink from this cup and expire frpm madness and bliss. Amelie said she would go in, and with a lively step sent the red boards of the porch creaking, before disappearing into the house. Marie stayed outside and was glad Amelie had gone.
She looked up at the clouds, and hastily looked down again, for unfortunately, at the same moment, they had looked down at her. Their glance, I am sorry to say, was anything but polite and restrained.They were gathering for the impending rain storm, and it seemed to Marie, hollowly chanting. "what are they saying?" she said to herself, not without a shiver. She listened more intently, but still it was a confused drone, and no definate meaning (let alone words) could be made out. "I will say then, what I think they might be saying." and she chanted to herself softly:
"The gates of nothing loom coldly,
but subtle must one be,
for those who enter, enter not,
and chained, think they are free."
Immediately there was a groaning and thundering below the earth, and in a flash Marie was transported to a mooonlit forest. this is not to be taken poetically, but literally. The forest was completely washed in quivering silver, and one felt that if a trinket were lowered into the shallow lake (near which Marie found herself), it would come out silver-plaited. Marie had never seen a forest like this before, and wondered how the trees could be so completely filled with silver moonlight and still be green and flowering. She looked about her and noticed a wooden cottage quite near her. She went up to it and knocked on the curiously carved door,where many inscribed symbols seemed to take up much more space than they possibly could, and protrude from the door in uncanny fashion (although the door was, neverthless, completely flat.) A clear voice answered, "come in," but although it was unremarkable and almost thin, it sounded like the melody of an enormous chorus that, even if one hears it sung seperately, without all of the harmony and depths of the chorus, still has a strange deepness, and only half-percieved mystery.
Marie opened the door, and beheld a well-lighted room, with a blazing fire in the hearth. A strange lady, very young, but with eyes older thatn the earth, was seated in an armchair, calmly sewing grayish looking mittens. Her dress was all of silver, and her hair, black as midnight, flowed like a rushing cataract. "Please sit down Marie," she said, and Marie sat down in a low chair next to her."The gates of nothing, of the abyss-deep void, that is where you want to go?" Marie nodded in assent, but added timidly, "they must be very far from here?," The lady smiled slightly, "no. Just outside the cottage, in the next clearing, are the gates." Marie sprang up in surprise and joy,"well then, I will be..." "not now Marie, please sit down." and the lady, with her glance, made sure that she did this. "It was the rainclouds who told you, I presume?" Marie nodded silently. Without any haste the lady again addressed Marie "you may go if you like, I will not stop you, but do you remember still these lines-'those who enter, enter not'?" Marie responded with some annoyance, "yes, but those words can't mean anything really, that is, if you enter, then of-course you enter." The lady looked more serious,"Marie, you are not ready for nothing yet.The solitary moments cooly flitting past are like daggers in your flesh,the innocent doorknob frightens you with it's stare, and you think the innocuous noise of creaking stairs will swallow you whole. You may enter into nothing, but you cannot see, so you you will not be able to drown in it, and then it will be of very little use to you. I speak the truth, yes?" Marie lowered her head and wept. The lady whispered comforting words, took Marie's hand, and began to sing:
"Amid the lispng of the rain,
the leaves, the flow'rs,
they call your name,
they call, they call, in vain, in vain.
Amid the dusky evening glow,
the trees, the wind,
they call your name,
they call, they call, in vain, in vain."
Her voice melted into echoes faintly ringing in vast, far-off halls, as Marie woke up, like from a dream, in the familiar suroundings of her backyard.