Alice lay on her thin mattress, silent and still in the darkness. Staring past the bare white walls that surrounded her, her eyes saw nothing but the colorful lights streaming in through the small, barred window. Oh, the lights! They shined on her face, enthralling her as they had every night since she had come to this empty-halled place, years before. The lights, the wonderful lights, beckoned her, begged her, to come join them in their dance. They tugged at her from inside, dragging her to the window and pressing her face against the cold steel. The light played with her eyes, forming walls, buildings, cities! The city, upheld by the wavering lights, floated amidst the clouds high in the sky, showing itself to her, only her. Her soul strained to reach them, to feel them, to dance as they did. To dance as the lights! The thought lifted her up, up beyond the bars of her eternal prison to join them until the accursed day beat them down to a dull glow, and then extinguishing them in the burning sun. Only when the lights died did Alice make her way back to the mattress, her refuge from the endless torment of the daylight. Its searching tendrils reached for her, reaching to burn the memory of the lights; the lights, the lights! the beautiful lights of the city, dancing forever, just beyond the cold bars...
"Alice, it's time to go to the lake," said the nurse.
The lights! the lights! Oh, the lights!
"Come on now, let's get some sun on that face of yours," the nurse continued. Alice shuffled to the door and stepped out into the cold stone hall, unseeing. Already, several other girls were coming out of their rooms, excited.
The lights! The city of light!
Outside, the cruel sun beat down on the earth, burning the memories of the beloved scene of darkness from everyone's mind.
The dance! The dance!
The pebbly shore of the lake was the same as always; the tiny waves lapped against the sides of the docked rowboats, the shrieks of the girls as the cold of the water bit into their feet, the splashing of a water fight jumbled together with the laughter of those participating. All was peaceably the same, though Alice could not hear, nor feel; Only the lights Oh! the dancing of the lights! had place in her mind.
To dance as the lights! the lights!
To escape the formidable glare of the sun, Alice unconsciously crawled into a patch of rushes standing at the shore of the lake.
Oh, the lights! Take me to the lights! Give me them, let me feast upon them, let me dance among them! Take me to the city of the lights! Oh!
Alice woke to darkness. Surrounding her were green rushes, rustling softly in the wind.Alice stared up at small pinpricks of light hanging in the sky above. They were light, but not the light.
Crawling out of the tall reeds, she suddenly felt herself rising higher, higher, until the vast stretch of shore was far below her. Here were the lights, beautiful, rippling, dancing, closer and brighter than ever before. the colors played in her vision, everywhere she looked was the city;dancing, waving, beckoning.
Alice found herself knee deep in water, climbing into a boat bobbing up and down on the cold waves. She cast off, not once taking her eyes off the lights.
The lights! I come! I come to the dance! To dance with the light in the city of light!
She was in the middle of the lake, staring in awe at the giant lights below her. They danced on her face, arms, the boat: dancing streaks of light all around her. She stepped to the edge of the boat,
I come to you, to the dance of the lights!
I come! Oh, the lights!
and let herself fall. She hit the water with barely a splash.
I came! I dance! I dance with the light!
Icy water closed in around her. The lights still danced above, still playing and rippling in their merry way.
Oh, the lights!
Blackness closed onto the lights, swallowing them up instantly, leaving only a small flame, still dancing, waving, in the center of her eye.
Oh! The light, the light! I have reached the light! the light!
her last thought burned in her mind as the darkness swallowed her up as the light. Senseless feeling filled her, numbness stabbed her sharply. Then she was gone, gone from her empty shell left to its watery grave. She was free, shining, glowing; she was light. She rose to the city, where her fellow sisters and brothers greeted her warmly, never ceasing the dance. So she danced; danced until the night was gone, dancing again when her light came back. Dancing forever, dancing on the waves.