Paradise of the Mind by Kathy Mayes

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I gaze out upon a sparkling sea as huge waves wind their way to the shore. It is a beautiful, sunny day at the beach. I sit out on the patio of a grand resort, basking in the sun for a few moments while I wait for my love, my husband to come back from his swim. I hear him, and then at last I see him, coming out of the surf, coaxing me with a smile to join him in the waves. I do, and we laugh and swim.

A few moments later, I am back on the deck. But now, things seem out of place. First, I am already dry. I shrug it off, dismissing the thought, because after all, it is a warm day. I gaze toward the horizon, so that I can view the crystalline blue sky, but it now seems to have changed, taking on a strange uneasiness and flatness about it. I look around, casting my gaze up and down the seashore, and other things here aren't quite right. There are other people out here, but very few are in the water. The beach should be crowded on a day like today. The waves, that a few moments ago were quite large, breaking dozens of feet away, seem to be breaking only a few feet in front of me, seemingly crashing against a transparent wall. My head starts to spin, as my perspective becomes a skewed. About then, movement to the North catches my eye. About 50 feet or so away, from the beach out into the ocean, there's a tiled walkway, leading to a set of double doors with an emergency exit sign over top. The doors open and a dark figure walks through them. My focus is clearer now and the brilliant blue sky is now merely a painted wall. Thoroughly confused, I look around. A matching walkway and door is about the same distance away is to my other side, and people are occasionally passing thru in wheelchairs pushed by bored looking attendants. Looking up, I see that the warm sunlight basking my body is really a combination of sunlamps and skylights. The sparkling sea in front of me is a blue floor and paint on a cold block wall. My swimsuit and wrap seem to now be loose pajamas and robe. Other vacationers on the deck with me appear to be dressed in similar apparel as myself, and all are gazing, stupefied forward, engulfed seemingly in a dream. The courteous resort attendants look to be doctors, nurses and attendants moving people about and keeping an eye on the patients sitting on the deck. My confused state gets the attention of a nearby aide, and he speaks to me. However, I cannot comprehend his words. Blackness sweeps over me as I feel myself falling back in my chair.

I awaken what seems like a short time later, and it is morning, and I am in what seems to be a hospital room. I slowly sit upright, and then stand, to get a better look at my surroundings. Above a short dresser, I look at myself in a plain, non-descript mirror. My hair is a mess; it had been roughly cut very short. My head begins to spin and images shift, and suddenly my clothes change, to loose shorts and shirt. My hair is just now back in a long ponytail. I'm in my resort room, complete with a tropical plant in a corner, and a sunny balcony.

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