Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter
Opening his eyes didn’t make the darkness disappear. It engulfed him more than ever before. A feeling of desperate loneliness would describe it accurately. There was nothing. Nothing at all. No air to breathe, no sounds to listen to, no textures to touch. Nothing.
He wondered how he had come to be here and found that he could not grasp any memory. He just was. If he even was a he. There was no way of telling in this void. He would need light in order to see. As he envisioned what he believed this to be, a globe of bright, sparkling white light appeared right in front of him. It was beautiful, pulsing with a vigor that seemed to correspond to the beat of his heart. As he looked into it more deeply he could see what looked like a countryside comprising solely of grass, as far as the eye stretched. Luscious mowed green grass, soft enough to sleep on. As he saw it, it filled him up with a longing that felt somehow familiar. He reached out to touch the globe, which exploded with a force that blinded him once more.
Before his sight returned he already felt the soft surface beneath his feet, noticed the fresh smell in his nostrils and heard the gentle breeze of the wind. Opening his eyes revealed what he had already seen, a flat grassland stretching out endlessly underneath a spotless blue sky. His body, definitely masculine, felt light and strong, completely in shape. He set it in motion, ready to travel beyond the horizon and discover the land lying beyond. As he ran, he felt the wind rush through his hair, a measure of the uncanny speed he was traveling with. He ran for what felt like hours, but never got anywhere. What he had seen in the globe was all there seemed to be in this world. This world that he had created. Created. His creation.
He stopped and noticed he did not need to catch his breath. In fact, he was not tired at all. He looked at the flat land in front of him and thought of hills, which would make the run more interesting. The moment he conceived of the idea, the land before him began rolling upwards and downwards, raising to great heights and dropping to terrifying depths, never losing its soft green texture in the process. Then the man ran again. He climbed hills and descended into valleys with no effort whatsoever, once more never getting anywhere. It bored him, so he imagined flowers, which immediately sprouted out in all colors imaginable. He imagined trees, magnificent ones that grew in front of his very eyes. He thought of water and a mighty river split the endless countryside in two. The more he created, the more he began noticing that this land was what he had dreamed of all his life. More and more memories returned from the latter, happy visions of making love and the laughing cries of young children. Visions of his family.
When the world was to his liking, he closed his eyes and imagined his wife Elise and his children, then listened for signs of their presence. None came. He opened his eyes and everything was still as lovely as he had made it, but they were absent. His second attempt lead to nothing, nor did the third and the fourth. He then thought of his dog, which also didn’t show. He tried creating birds, bees, squirrels, horses, but nothing worked. After countless attempts at creating anything with a heartbeat, it seemed that even in this paradise he was as alone as he had been in the darkness.
The knowledge dropped him to the ground. Leaves began to fall around him, turning their autumn orange instantly. Summer turned to Fall, Fall turned to harsh Winter as his despair dragged on, his Eden transforming into a barren wasteland. He was a Creator, a God, but he could not create the things that mattered. He could draw, but he could not paint. He was unable to grant his world the color it deserved.
Weeks passed. Months passed. And then, near the end of the first year, an old man plowed through the heavy sheet of snow, coming to a halt in front of the lonely creator of this world.
‘I heard you have been here for a year now. You never called for me.’ he spoke.
The creator, numbed by his despair, looked up into the face he recognized as his father’s.
‘Why are you here?’ he asked hoarsely, his eyes expressionless. ‘You’re dead.’
‘So are you.’ father answered.
The creator simply stared into the old man’s eyes, as if he did not comprehend the fact that had just been laid out before him.
‘Is Elise coming?’
‘I need to know.’
Father kept silent for a moment, then sat down next to his son.
‘There are a few things you need to understand about this place.’ he said. ‘You have been given your very own world, and you are in a way its God. It is your privilege to shape it into whatever you want it to be. During my time here, I have visited worlds that exceed my wildest imagination. Vast seas, filled with interconnected palaces of all shapes and sizes! Theme parks that stretch as far as the eye can see! But whatever you create, there is one restriction that applies to everyone. You cannot create living beings. You may be able to summon beings that have already passed life, but you will never be able to bring the living here. You will need to wait.’
Silence set in. Snow started to fall. Minutes passed. Then, finally, the son spoke in a soft voice.
‘What does your world look like?’
Father laughed. ‘It’s much, much smaller than what your imagination is capable of. But I can guarantee you it is much warmer, and your mom keeps the little tea house equipped with all the sweets you could ever want.’
The creator managed a little smile, then looked at his father.
‘I would like to go there.’
‘A wise decision.’ father said, and started back down the path he had already conquered.
The creator followed.