Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Stuff That Sylvia’s Dreams Are Made Of

By Anne Sullivan

“I see your hole to China is getting deeper,” I said to Sylvia while she was between breakfast biscuits.
“Yes, it’s coming along nicely, isn’t it?” she replied. “A month or two and I should be there.”
“Don’t get your hopes up too soon,” I cautioned. “It’s a long long way to China.”
“That may be but the Great Hole is much cheaper than flying. And less stressful, too. No lines, no taking off shoes. No throwing away water you’ve just paid for. Why, when I finish this hole I could charge people to use it. Sort of like the tunnel from London to Paris.”
“I hope it’s better than that. People were stuck in the Eurostar for ages this winter whenever it snowed.”
“My hole will work better. There’s the gravity factor.”
“But how do you know that you won’t get halfway there and then bounce back?”
“That’s a thought,” she admitted. “But I’m sure my customers will be going so fast, they’ll crash right through the barrier. I think I’ll take a wee après breakfast nap now. Just shut my eyes for a few winks to recharge before I go back to work.”
Soon Sylvia was snoring and grunting away. And this is where she was:
Hurtling down. Down, down, her body bouncing along the sides of the long large hole going faster and faster, past the speed of sound.
Suddenly, like a champagne cork, Sylvia shot out of the hole. She landed on her back on something hard. Was it pavement? Where was she? She wasn’t sure how much time had elapsed since she’d stopped digging but there was a definite hollow feeling in her stomach.
The first thing she noticed was sound. Not sound like the wind in the ponderosa trees, this was noisy sound. The whizzing of a thousand bicycles and motorbikes, the honking of auto horns, the shrill cry of sirens from boats and everywhere the sound of people talking loudly. Very loudly.
But what were they saying?
Sylvia had no idea. She barked sharply but no one noticed her as she lay on the ground. All the people rushed by her and hurried down into their own hole. Their hole was paved with wide steps going down and all these people -- men carrying heavy baskets, women chattering on cellphones and children dressed alike in uniforms -- were rushing down it with great purpose.
Who were they? And where were they going?
Very slowly Sylvia staggered to her paws, counted her legs and was relieved to find that there were four.
That was good. She tried walking. That worked. She knew two things: she wasn’t in Datil anymore and she was definitely hungry. She longed for anything, even dull kibble. She barked again but still no one noticed.
Then she saw a dog -- a small dog on a leash trotting along, tail in air, beside its mistress.
Sylvia wandered over to this small dog and asked in her most polite voice, “Am I in
“Of course you are, silly. Where else would you be? Don’t you know anything?” the small dog replied.
“Oh,” said Sylvia. “I know quite a lot but I’m a stranger here.”
“I’m a stranger here myself but I still know I’m in China,” said the small dog with her nose in the air.
“This looks nothing like Swingle Canyon,” Sylvia said, trying to be friendly.
“Where is this Swingle Canyon?” the small dog deigned to ask.
“In Datil, of course,” Sylvia answered. And when the small dog appeared bewildered, she
added, “In Catron County. Everyone knows where that is.”
“I’m sure it’s nowhere I want to go,” the small dog said. “I’m quite satisfied here in Shanghai.”
Is that where I am, Sylvia thought as the small dog’s owner yanked it away and pulled it down the crowded street.
[To Be Continued]

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