Melinda takes my hand and leads me to the same place we found her. I look back to Gus, who gives me an incredulous look. I shrug with my eyes as best as I can.
Melinda motions for me to lay down, just like she did.
“Don’t people usually sit with their legs crossed when they meditate?” I ask.
“What’s that matter? Lay down, Sally.”
I lay down on the sand. It’s more comfortable than I expected. Like a dusty pillow. Melinda circles around me a few times, judging the situation.
“This looks good,” she says.
Melinda then moves around me again, this time making lines in the sand. I turn my head to look for Gus, who still has the same incredulous look on his face. I feel a wave of embarrassment pass over me, but push it down and let the scene play out.
“Okay, it’s time to think,” she says, “Think of this place, think of your map, and think of where the portal goes.”
“Shouldn’t there be like, some incantations or something? Some sort of ritual?”
“Do you want there to be a ritual?” she asks.
I think about it for a second. “No, I suppose not.”
“Then you simply need to think. I find it best to close my eyes, but it’s not necessary.”
I stare up at the sky. A few clouds hover overhead, but it’s generally a clear day. This feels stupid. But I’ve come this far, I might as well see it through. I decide to close my eyes.
I think of my map. Not the map Melinda has, but the map I drew in the hotel room. The more detailed version of this very scenario. I think of the small footpath that lead here. I let the memory of our walk combine with the trail marked on the map. Mixing together the reality with the fiction, picking the best from each to create exactly what I wanted. I think of this place, both as we found it, devoid of meaning, and as I created it, as One Long Panel of Stones. It is mostly the same, but more cinematic. The nearby rocks are just a little more perfect. The footpath has a better view. I can feel the ground vibrate with power now. We decide the meaning of places, meaning is not implicit.
When I’m comfortable with my recreation of the present, I open up the portal. I initially thought it would twist and twirl, like an effect from the Twilight Zone, but instead it unravels, as though I pulled a thread from a ball of yarn. The unraveling doesn’t stop. Bit by bit, the entire world falls away, revealing a darker, quieter version of itself.
I decide to open my eyes, but realize they’re already open.