One Step at a Time

Emily had sat on the golden pavement for a while, staring ahead blankly while she made herself miserable with fearful and pessimistic thoughts.  After what felt like hours pitying herself, a new thought occurred to her, If I'm going to die in this place anyway I might as well take a look and see the sights.

Emily started to push herself to her feet only to be brought back to her knees by another wave of nausea and lightheadedness.  She really was out of shape.  For a moment, the defeatism that had come over her since arriving at this terrible place threatened to paralyze her once again, but soon her determination to see more of this beautiful world.  Attempting to rise to her feet, Emily lamented the lack of a street lamp or something nearby with which she could brace herself against... only to find exactly such a post behind her.   Emily had been stuck in this one spot for quite a long time and never recalled seeing that lampost before.  Nevertheless, she wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth; using the post as support, Emily pulled herself off the ground and clutched it until her nausea and lightheadedness passed enough that she felt she could somewhat safely walk.

Still feeling less-than-stellar, Emily trudged down the golden path just to see where it would take her.  However, a block later, another wave of dizziness threatened to knock her off her feet, and Emily became worried that she'd pass out if she didn't get food and water in the near future.  Unfortunately, she didn't know where she could find such things in this place.  As her mind continued to consider her needs, Emily's throat started to feel dry and she found herself wishing for a glass of purified water.

That was when she noticed a random glass of water sitting on a plate that was on a park bench just up ahead.  Emily grimaced and looked around for whoever might have put that water glass there but didn't see traces of anybody.  Water glasses didn't just show up on park benches, however, despite how weirded out she was by this development, Emily was desperate enough that she was still drawn towards the glass.  Taking one last look around to ensure that she wasn't stealing from anyone, Emily sat on the bench and put down the contents of the glass, immediately feeling a little bit better.  Nonetheless, by the time she emptied the glass, she found herself desiring more, but hopefully, she could find some elsewhere...

Then she realized that the glass she was holding was full again.  Her hand trembled and the glass fell from her grip, landing on the bench and spilling its contents onto and through the slats of the bench.  Every fiber of her being screamed at her to flee from this impossible sorcery, but she was so tired.  Besides, where would she go?

Instead, she closed her eyes and took control of her breathing, and as she reflected on her experiences in this place, a pattern began to emerge.  Whatever this place was, it seemed to be conforming to her wishes and desires, or at least trying to.

Curious to test this hypothesis, Emily conjured an image of her favorite item from the bakery she and her first real flame, Jeffrey Smith, had worked at.  As she began craving that old chocolatey biscuit, she looked around, and sure enough, it had appeared on the plate that the water glass had been sitting on.  Emily apprehensively reached out and grabbed it, with even the texture of it bringing back memories.  She slowly brought it to her mouth, and as she bit into it, tears of nostalgia, joy, and sadness of times lost dripped down her face.  For a moment she found herself desiring Jeffrey's company, but she forcefully pushed the thought aside.  If Jeffrey had come but ended up being like Sara had been, it would have been more than Emily could bear.

So it looked like she could have whatever she wanted as long as she didn't want a meaningful companion.  Emily sighed and tried to suppress her longing for a friend in the fear that she'd encounter another monstrosity like Sara.  Then she took a mental step back.  She could have anything she wanted.  Her mind began to wander down a dark and dangerous road...

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