Ersinghaus has given us Ham’s opinion of what is both metaphor and theme of his story:
(Ham on relations)
How do I know that the pool is bottomless and why would I choose a pool of water other than for the fact that water follows me or signifies emptiness and confusion but also peace. I can weave my life on storybeads by following water as a mental metaphor because roads are like water and roads and water are my common themes.
Which makes me immediately discount it and seek different meaning, Roland at my elbow hissing me on.
The roads are important; from the very moment that Ham Sandoval is let off on the side of the road and on his own, his journey starts with the carving out of his own path (why didn’t he follow the safety and sureness of the road? Why did he hyperlink to the left down into the woods instead?)
Ah, the woods. With the undeniable knowledge that this novel is written in hypertext, the reader cannot help but be aware of that likeness of journey and choice that the medium offers. The woods are a new place, sheltering yet confusing (much as Ham’s mother). I see the woods as one of the transition points in his life, and as he leaves them, spit out of their darkness just as he was made to leave his mother’s car (world), into the world of a new Ham and life with the Butlers.
The pattern of trees is subtle throughout. They make up the forest. In New York City they are a protective band of trees and Ham once again needs to leave.
Trees branch out, which limb shall he climb? There is an image that Ersinghaus provides within the text of an old barren tree against a blue sky. With roots in the earth that likewise grasp onto the memory of earth:
But what are the memory trees? They aren’t the physical specimens. They are tree ghosts.
Trees are history and history is a problem. There is the intermingling question of time and what is real in what blip of space. That fourth dimension of time is what changes the content of the cube. In a symbiotic relationship of story and hypertext, space may be considered then a container of time, much as a Storyspace textbox holds within it a reality that has become a memory. When first read, it may be original or real; the next time, a memory.
Or does it become memory when written? And whose? As narrator, it originates from Ham. But then when I stumbled upon a path that was not in line with the characters and setting it was a place that now, having read further, I now recognize the relationship and yet see it still in the future of this place where Ham is now. Future, and yet familiar to me now; a memory not yet experienced. And later, a path of past is offered, placing Ham back in the car with his mother and I have a choice: end the story, keep him safe. But I don’t.