Resting peacefully on a beach at night, the air was warm, the ocean surf pulsating softly, a jukebox closeby playing a smooth downtempo electronic set, a subtle twirling flanger twisting a series of twinkling notes, dipped in reverb, over thick and steady breakbeats. His head nodded in the patterns of rhythmic musical ecstasy.
Footsteps faded into his awareness, growing louder, beginning to compete with the music. They were paced officiously, authoritatively, disconcerting for the current moment. He knew who it was.
A suited woman entered his field of vision from what may as well have been the void behind him.
"Wait, no, no," he said. "Stop. Go back. I don't want it to change yet."
"You know you don't have a choice."
"Please, there's got to be."
"You've been over this with yourself so many times, Gareth. How many times did you leap up and dance in joy at the logical consistency? You had me fooled you were ready." Her speech carried a tone of patience, despite being terse.
"Please! Isn't there a way? Can't whatever forces behind you -- behind me -- behind this -- understand what I'm feeling? How much I need this to keep going? Just a bit longer, please." He knew full well how pathetic it sounded. He wasn't ever going to become ready by enjoying more of the moment, but his panic crescendoed anyway, a deeper part of himself believing otherwise. "Please, I'm not ready. Please. You can see I'm not ready." His eyes suddenly snapped from pleading to crystal courage. "There's got to be a way. There has got to be a way to extend this. I will take control. This is what passion is for, isn't it? I'm being tested if mine is deep enough."
The suited woman smiled. It offended Gareth that it was a completely genuine smile, he need not even guess it, he could feel the understanding warmth radiate from her entire figure. She wasn't even real in the traditional, external sense, and her appearance managed to affect him this way. Gareth could afford the energy to float for a turn in awe at this before his attention was forced back to the present moment by her voice.
"You know that can't happen, Gareth. You know how important movement is. What my appearance means. It's time," she said, looking at the moon shining overhead, pausing before continuing. "It's my biggest regret, you know. That it has to be this way."
"I really, really can't bring myself to believe that. That it has to."
She looked back at him. "But really, Gareth, you know it does. You forget what a moment needing to change implies. That the moment you are enjoying depends on the movement of the rest of the fabric around it. That it was always that fragile, constituted from that very fragility. That you mustn't panic when you remember that this is the case. Moments are movement. Things need to be sacrificed somewhere for this to be happening over here in this part," she gestured. Her posture seemed to implicate further, 'I'm willing to go over this again with you because it's obvious that you need it.'
Gareth wanted to cry, but the temperature was changing. It was getting colder. It distracted his emotion. He looked around him. Wind had started blowing through the curtains of the windows in the hatchet buildings around him. The trees had begun swaying.
He sighed. The music was still playing.
This was all absurd. Plus -- really, a suit? He didn't look back at the woman, but he knew that if he did, she would not be wearing one anymore, or perhaps even be the same form at all.
He looked up at the moon, its absolute clarity and brilliance neither underwhelming nor overwhelming. He considered all the time he'd spent with this thing, and began to laugh. He tried to think about what other kinds of moons he would see, when he wasn't him anymore. When the universe cast off the coat of the being that was him and tried another with the same seamless energy it's been using for all these infinite others, throughout time.
He would not know the new moons. He would not get to experience that. But the universe got to experience his experience of this moon right here. Of Luna.
He did not stop staring at the moon when he spoke to the figure, waiting. "Okay," he said, sighing once more. "Okay. I'm ready."