This is no easy task, my attempt to re-enter the house. It sits high upon thick wooden pylons sunk deep into a body of water that stretches out toward the horizon. I stand on a squat pylon similarly anchored, but one that is far too near the water’s level for comfort. Wavelets splash against the pylon’s coarse sides, sending sprays of moisture to dampen my feet.
Extending down the house’s side, and just beyond reach, is a narrow fire escape. Standing on tip-toe, stretching till there is no space in my lungs for breath, I brush fingertips against the ladder’s lowest rung. Another breath, another attempt. Again. More length, more extension — and I am able to wrap fingers around the rung. Now, I haul myself up, inch by inch, sweating, straining, heart hammering in chest and temples, until I have exchanged the pylon’s questionable refuge for that of this fragile fire escape. The structure shudders quietly against the house.
Once I’ve caught my breath, I climb. The waters recede below with each upward step; the wind pulls and plucks. Gradually, the fire escape transforms into a series of railed gangplanks and suspension bridges that rise steadily upward about the house, switching back and forth to weave a scaffold framework around the entire structure. When, at last, I reach the top, I enter the house through a narrow window in a peaked turret.
But my climb is not over — now, I descend the house’s interior by a continuation of gangplanks and narrow floating stairs. These pass through a multitude of oddly-shaped, warmly-lit bedrooms. In one of the rooms I pause — there is a young girl here of about twelve years old. At first, she seems oblivious of my presence. But when she turns toward me, she smiles and we spend time chatting amiably. Although I know her immediately, she does not seem to recognize me. Perhaps because I am somehow in my own past, or hers, or ours. I don’t know how timeline logic works. The reality is that here and now, at this moment as we speak, she has no memory of the fact that we haven’t spoken in so many years, almost as if it never happened, or hasn’t happened yet.