Places I will go when I die, if I’ve done well:
1. A smoky, hazy, noir-dense city where the urban autumn chill never dissipates and dusk hovers and lingers for half the day into night. Even mornings are cool, foggy and dim, and strange, twisted mysteries await solving around every corner. The headlights of cars like fleeting ghosts in the dark and the soft glow of dying street lamps illuminate the cityscape in honor of the moon. There is an intense and soft-spoken young medical examiner with sad eyes and a survivor’s steel in their voice who works the overnight shift and texts me with clues and information and new cases of interest. They could lose their job for doing it, but we’ve been quietly in love for a while now.
2. A moderately-sized log cabin out in the middle of some Vermontian woods, where the temperature never rises above 65 degrees and there is a pottery wheel in my basement. Spiderwebs adorn every corner, and I’ve taken to making my own sauces and jellies. I read constantly, and it rains violently all the time. Every night, the howling winds and rolling thunder lull me to sleep, and I often find traveling folk musicians and storytellers knocking on my door for a place to stay on their way into town. A song or story is all I ever ask. Things are soft here, and I am never so tired and sad as I am now.
3. A huge, bustling New Yorkian city with short days and sprawling, glittering nights, where I am a world-renowned violinist. My records sell like magic with every one I release, and my concerts are always sold out. I have an entire wardrobe of scarves that I wear unironically, and sometimes small crowds will gather outside of my penthouse loft in the hopes of catching a glimpse of me practicing through my picture windows. The ones whose eyes and stances betray an understanding or genuine love for the music, I will sometimes invite up for wine and discussion. I am pretentious and fitful and generous, and I travel everywhere to play but I always leave my heart in my beautiful, elegant penthouse where my well-loved practice violin waits.
4. A space station hundreds of years into the future. I am a scientist, working on a classified new project with the potential to ensure the survival of humanity post-colonization of space, but lately I have been struggling with the question of whether or not we should survive. The station is all lights and beeps and classically retrofuturistic, and I spend long nights watching the stars through a viewport and analyzing my data. The endless thrum of the station soothes me to sleep, and it turns out that an extremely wealthy benefactor has been secretly funding most of my research, along with my team’s. I don’t know why, but I intend to find out.
5. The small, sleepy town where dream-me grew up, where harvest fairs and community-wide secrets prevail. The coffee they serve at the local cafe gives you prophetic dreams, but you have to interpret them yourself. Something on the library’s highest floor doesn’t want anyone up there - it flicks the lights and groans and flings books around until you leave. The local “church” has invite-only midnight sermons to which Mama never let me go. I’m back now, because my old childhood friend emailed me to let me know she was visiting family and wanted to know if I’d be back for the holidays, but then she disappeared. No one has seen her in a week. The high school chess club knows something. No one is talking.