One of my recent writing prompts, which I took from a chapter title in Twyla Tharp’s creativity book, was I walk into a white room. This freewrite cobbles together bits and pieces of dreams and things I’ve seen.


I walk into a white room. It’s huge, empty, but off on the opposite side there seems to be a window cut out of the wall. It’s a big window and the light that streams through it brightens the entire space. I walk toward it, thinking as I do that this room looks like the entry room of the afterlife in all the movies I’ve ever seen, or even like film depictions of Heaven itself. I can’t tell what the walls are made of, nor the floor, and I forget to look up at the ceiling. It doesn’t occur to me that I might be dead. I’m not thinking at all, actually. If I were, I might recognize that I’m dreaming.

I take the last few steps toward the window, and stop right at the wall. A breeze lifts my hair. I place my hands upon the thick cutout sill; the surface feels just exactly between smooth and rough, and it’s warm from the sun. I look out, then duck my head and lean out with the whole top half of my body. I see a vast, limitless blue sky, no clouds anywhere. Far below me is a settlement, an intricate patchwork of red roofs, golden walls, little scrubs of olive green trees. It looks like photos I’ve seen of Italy, Greece, or Turkey; I can’t tell from the architecture. From somewhere within the community, a man’s voice calls out. A meandering, wailing instrument joins him and their tunes rise up toward my ears. The sound is familiar and yet unknown, like a favorite song of childhood plucked into being by foreign instruments of a people halfway across the globe.

I want to ride that melody. I raise a foot and find the windowsill has lowered toward the floor. I step up with both feet, balance myself there on the ledge, and then leap out into the air. I hang there for a moment, suspended in the clear blue. Then I hear notes swirling toward me and I’m caught in the music, rising up, soaring over the rooftops and away to… I don’t know what.