The world whirred in front of her as she swung around and around the marry-go-round. Finally it was slowing. Slowing. Stopped. Once it stopped she kept on spinning for several moments before the dizziness subsided.
"Now my turn! My turn!"
Her younger brother was standing with his hands on the wheel, waiting for her to get off and push him. She did just that, sprinting in a crouch until she could no longer keep up, but gave one final fierce shove and collapsed onto the woodchips of the playground. Her brother shrieked in enjoyment. After the spinny wheel, as her brother called it, they both sauntered to the monkey bars. Here he bested her, swinging easily across the whole set. She tried to follow but no longer had the gymnastic strength that younger children do; she had to drop after the third rung. Her brother laughed at her good naturedly—
PAUSE! GO BACK 3 SECONDS.
She was raising from the ground, raising her arms, grasping the monkey-bars. Her brother was watching her with anticipation. One hand was swinging back towards the previous bar—
PAUSE! INCLUDE THAT.
The whole scene, her with one hand between two bars, her brother’s expectant face, was archived, and they jumped again, at random. She was younger even than before; sitting at a plastic table designed for children while a smiling woman laid out crackers on a plate and then filled her cup with juice. It was apple juice, she could tell by the smell before she even took a sip—
—another jump. Older now, much older. Near the end in fact. She was in a bed in the hospital.
"The operation went well, Ma’am. Now you just need to focus on recovering. If everything continues looking good, we should have you out of here and back home in three days, maybe four."
She smiled weakly at the young doctor, still feeling drowsy and out of sorts—
—another jump. She sat in the passenger’s seat and looked out at magnificently tall mountains. Her husband drove and described a dream he’d had. She laughed because of the way he described a bear that he’d had to sneak up on in the dream—
They continued to jump like this to random moments, sometimes staying for only a few seconds, sometimes for hours or even a day. It seemed to go on for ever and ever. For years, until finally, suddenly—
STOP! THAT WILL BE ENOUGH.
Then the voice was speaking to her. She could feel it’s warmth.
WE HAVE DECIDED. YOU WILL BE SENT BACK. THINGS WILL BE MORE DIFFICULT THIS TIME. BUT YOU WILL DO WELL. YOU ARE VERY CLOSE.
With that the voice, its warmth, simply faded. She was in a wide void. Then she was rising or perhaps falling towards another source of warmth, vaster and more distant. She felt it like a tingling sensation. She drew closer, was falling out of cold senselessness, was rising into a wide realm of light whose warmth confused, thrilled, and frightened her. It was not uniform but utterly shifting and variable, with strange but somehow familiar currents. Then she was fully immersed, and the sense of cold, of void, was forgotten. She was in a close chamber that sheltered and embraced her. A feeling of safety enveloped her. She could hear a steady beating, like a drum.