Part 2 of “Painting Dream,” Chapter Nine of Green Music
He showed her to a table, pulling out a chair for her with a courtliness that seemed either European or otherworldly. He went to the bar and came back with beer as he’d promised; two hand-blown green glass bottles, like all the windows she’d seen here, slightly uneven and more memorable because of it, with pretty hand-screened labels that read “Green Turtle Ale.” The beer tasted so good and was so cold she laughed out loud, forgetting one can’t taste in dreams. He raised his eyebrows, questioning.
“It’s excellent. The bottles are so beautiful. And the labels, who drew these turtles? Everything here seems made with such care, such attention to detail, love even.” Susan had never talked so much in a dream before; so many words felt odd, clunky, in spite of having spilled out as easily as life. She expected this pretty, cosy world to shatter before her eyes as if she’d broken a glass vase by singing too high a note, but it didn’t and she was grateful. Smoothed the table with her hands; it felt wooden, hefty, dense, mostly comforting. The speedy vertiginous sensation receded, a little.
“Have you got a lot of breweries in the hills?” Stiv asked.
“The hills?” Back outside she’d seen them, climbing behind the town, densely forested, white runnels of waterfalls marking them here and there. He thought that was where she was from and she didn’t know how to answer. Afraid to lose him, the moment, a room full of excruciatingly beautiful handmade things, from a world so long lost she’d never find it again, or perhaps it never existed, ever, in her world. “It’s cool in here,” she deflected, “which is nice, but couldn’t we sit outside somewhere? You don’t think I’m being rude, do you?”
“Of course we’ll go outside if you prefer,” Stiv said, and pulled her chair out for her again. As they walked she stopped to look at framed drawings on the walls. There was a toaster, a hair-dryer, a lawn-mower and a four door family sedan. Each was done in what appeared to be felt pen, in red and blue and green.
“Who did these?” she asked. Exploded diagrams of electric motors from the gods.
“Grandfather,” Stiv said a little wearily, as if he’d seen them once too often. “This way,” he said, gently propelling her, his words still like bells or water over stones.
She smelled his breath on her cheek, was willingly swept up again into the strangeness. She glanced at the far wall and then out the window again by way of checking; once more the world clouded a little, filled with fog.
And then they pushed through the back door, a rusty screen door on squeaking hinges; like so many things here it was made of dark, heavily polished wood. The blinding sunlight. Her eyes hurt.
“In the shade,” he said.