Feedback Welcome– very early draft
I am standing in a garden. The grass under my feet is cold and wet, like the shock of the dew on my feet would never feel normal. Every new footfall had the cold contact of that water on my heels again. Behind me, where I came from, the long blades of grass laid down with the outline of my feet, thick blades of grass with their iridescent droplets of water magnifying veined stalks. They lay like drawings there, in the dark earth.
In the garden, there are trees. Huge trees, so high I can’t see the first branches, reaching up past where I knew the sky should be. Perspective forcing me to lean back, further and further, up, up, up, to see where these trunks reached, but it was just more and more green. Dark emerald green, like postcards of Irish islands, dark green velvets. Everything contained so completely within canopies and vines, all locking me in my forest-garden.
To my right, a small knoll was capped by a wall, I’m certain the wall must have been brick once, but now it’s just built of moss. The only parts of this portrait around me that aren’t some shade of green are the small flowers, speckled within the lawns ahead of me, surrounded by tiny bits of the rock and bricks that make up the earthly confines of my garden, and straight ahead, a large grey stone fountain.
On my left, huge shrubs, woven together so tightly no animal could squeeze through, let alone me. They towered over me, five and six feet high. Their front a flat screen of leaves and gnarled branches. The shrubs were one long wall, each one stood like soldiers, shoulder to shoulder, lined up all the way towards that fountain. The resevoir perfectly centered there between my soldier-shrubs and that moss wall.
I can hear a voice behind the fountain. It sounds like my grandmother, her strong German accent making it harder to hear, over the sound of the water in the fountain. It sounds like she is saying, ‘come to Oma’, ‘Oma’ is ‘grandmother’ in German, as we’ve always called her. ‘Come to Oma. I love you Oma’, and it makes me happy.
I walk towards the fountain, the air thick with cool humidity; the mist splits behind me as if I were wearing a cloak made of this garden’s atmosphere. Life surrounds me in this path; lightning bugs illuminate and flicker in the distance, yellow-green beacons beyond the towers of vegetation. Glowworms sway, pale blue and white in the darkest of far corners. They remind me of car lights from a tall building, staring out into a sea of darkness with just tiny spots in pairs moving around invisible lanes. To my left, the greenest frog in the whole world begrudgingly hops out of the way of my approaching steps.
I reach my fountain, its cool clear water should be blue, like my glow worms and the sky I can’t see from here; but in the twilight of my garden, it has the deepest black reflection I’ve ever seen, mirroring the floor of the basin the water pours into. The fountain is so large, and I am so small I have to perch up on my tippy toes to dip my hand into the pool. The water is snow-cold, impossibly cold; as soon as my skin breaks the surface, my garden is gone, and I’m awake, back at home, warm in my bed. I can’t be back in my garden again, not until I fall asleep, and only then if I wish and pray, only if I’m really lucky, maybe I’ll get to visit my garden again.
It must have been weeks; I’ve been out here. My eyes open, fluttering, slowly stretching more and more until they’re open completely, and I’m staring at a dragonfly. Slowly opening his clear stained glass wings, just like my eyelids. I focused on him and he’s staring back with huge domed eyes, resting on my hand. His name is Carson; he tells me. I know I’m back in my garden again, and it’s darker now. My hand is cold, like my dragonfly is made of the cold; his pinpoint legs on my thumb pouring ice water into my skin. Stretching up over my elbow, into my shoulder. I’m lying in a blue chair, its dark blues a harsh contrast to my garden.
I’m thirsty, my dry riverbed tongue heavy in my mouth, like paste as I try to swallow, and I see my fountain ahead. Closer now than it was before. I remember where I am, and the moisture that hung heavy before is not here anymore. I could never imagine drying out in this place, but I am paper and chalk, and all I want is that fountain.
I stand, my legs stiff and my stomach uneasy, my arm aches. All that cold makes me crumble, rusty, as I pull my elbow to my body, rubbing it warm. Still Carson stands defiantly on the back of my hand. Freezing me from the inside, and I don’t want to let him go; so I take it. I’m strong, I know I can be strong; Mom says I’ll be strong, so I will be.
As I walk for my fountain, I think ‘I can play here today’. I can be here as long as I want to be. Those other places are broken, and I don’t want to play. I want to dance in my garden where I don’t need other kids. They look, they think things about me, all I need is here, there’s always something interesting in the grasses. The air is fresh and filling. I could run forever here.
The other kids have to go to school. They have to learn math and science and how to play basketball. I get to play in my garden and they’ll never get to know about it. Mom thinks I’d be sad that the other kids don’t play with me, but I’m not. They don’t get to see what I get to see, they’ll never know a color as green as this. Where they play, dogs bite and the mosquitoes make little itchy bumps that get red during the summer. The ground is hard, and there are rocks and pebbles, and blacktop. In my garden, it’s soft, I could fall from a million miles up, and it wouldn’t hurt at all.
Here, there are flowers, and fresh little puddles. Its never too hot, or sticky, or snowy, and the bugs never bite and Carson stares from the back of my hand and the fountain is always cold.
I’m thirsty, I pull away from that chair. As I walk towards that fountain, it feels like Carson is pulling me back. He sits heavy on my hand and wants met to stay in my chair. I don’t want blue today, I only want that cold water. The air around me is stirring as I stand and try to reach. I’m sitting in the grass now, my dragonfly anchoring me to that ugly chair. I hate that chair, and how far it keeps me from my fountain. This is my garden, who is this little bug to keep me from going where I want? He’s stinging my hand now, his cold toes biting into me, wings pulling at my skin, and I hate him.
I pull myself back into my chair, and my hand hurts less. He’s still staring at me, those big stained glass wings making fun of my tired eyes, open-close-open-close as I sit back down. I notice warm hands holding my left hand, rubbing my palm. I can smell my mother’s perfume as she tells me it will be Ok. This will pass. She must be right. She knows better than Carson does, she’ll give me water and make me warm again. She’s talking to someone else too, I’m not sure who, but they’re talking about Oma. Oma wont take someone, but I can’t hear, and it isn’t water anyway.
There are other voices too. Sounds, tones, clicks, and words like a foreign language. They are addressing people that aren’t me. I can’t see them, just hear them noisying up my garden. Just Mom’s voice, my dragonfly and my fountain in my garden; these are the things I hear, and see, and smell, and that’s fine by me. I’m tired, and I’m cold, and I’m still thirsty, and Mom is quietly crying. These voices are upsetting her, and I want her to come to my garden; then she wouldn’t have to listen to them anymore, and people wouldn’t have to look at us anymore, and she could sit on the grass with me and talk about ice cream and icicles and dragonflies.
I’m in my bedroom now. I can hear Mom in the kitchen. I’m still cold, but now it’s all over me. I look for Carson, but there’s only a bit of tape where he sat. A heavy bit of white tape and cotton where he was perched, and there’s the red outline where his stained glass wings touched my hand. My forehead is cold, so I nuzzle into my pillow and pull my blankets up high and think about my garden. What I’ll do next time I’m there. That silly dragonfly won’t hold me back anymore, and that fountain won’t wake me up. I’ll try to find the sky next time. There must be some break in the trees where I can see a little clouds or rain, and Oma will help me find them, while we walk over the buttercups and daisies.
I’m lying in a bed. It’s not my bed, not my comfy cloud bed from home with the pillows that smell like me, and the four walls I know. This bed is all white, and the room is all white, and the metal is all silver, and I’m cold. My bed has arms like a chair, tall bars that stand above the edges where I lay. When I touch it, its always chilly; I reach out and wrap my fingers around the bars next to me.
It’s never quiet here. There are rhythmic beeps and clicks, like a space movie, there’s always someone else coming in, and they’re always writing things or talking to people when I’m trying to get back to my garden. I close my eyes and things go all shiny and I’m almost asleep, but someone always says something in a funny language and it wakes me up.
They know about my garden. They talk about Carson when they talk in their complicated speak. I’m sure I’m starting to understand them now, but I wont tell them.
It’s dark. So dark, a thick soupy dark that I could mold in front of me, if there were only contrast around it, but there isn’t. Just dark. I can hear my mother, out there in all that dark. I know I’m in my garden but I don’t know what told me this. I just know I must be.
The other voices are out in the darkness too, talking about me, they tell each other times and dates, something with Oma. Something is wrong, the words they use are long and complicated, and they don’t know I can still hear them, but I can.
They’re talking about time, my time; all I care about is my time in my garden, but it’s so dark, I can’t see the fountain, or my soldier-shrubs or my frogs or anything. One of them says I’m strong, I fight, but I don’t remember fighting. The ground is soft, so I sit down. I just want to see them, I don’t want to keep secrets from them, and I want Mom to see my garden. She’d love my garden, and how I built it. But I’m alone, and I cry.
They keep talking about Carson, and Oma, that they’re taking me somewhere, I hear their names over and over, so many people talking about Carson, Oma, and when I’ll be going; It’s like these people are right with me, but its so black, I can’t find them. I feel like waking, feeling the grass on my feet again, but I don’t feel anything anymore.
Then, in the darkness, I hear my mother. She’s talking to the voices, asking them questions, about my garden. She knows! I knew she was there, holding my hand, and warming my skin. I try to speak, but its like the darkness has filled my mouth and my lungs and I can’t form words. They reason with her, they tell her that some people see things, that it can affect the brain, they give it a name, in their long, complicated language, what happens to the mind, the chemicals they use to fight with me, to fight the thyroid carson-oma. But its like they’re a million miles away, past the fountain, and the wall, and the glowworms. They couldn’t hear me anymore, even if I could tell them about my garden.
It’s bright now. So bright and warm and quiet, I have to struggle to open my eyes, the light warm, but making it hard for me to focus. When they do open, I can see the impossible rays of white sunlight breaking the canopy over my fountain. I can see over my wall now, there’s a huge field I’ve never taken notice of before, it stretches forever, out and away from the forest, away from the thick trees and away from that cold fountain.
I stand; it feels so effortless now, standing in that warm sunlight. Raising my face and my arms up, I’m not tired anymore. Checking my hand slowly, I look for Carson, but he’s not here either. The little red outlines of his wings are gone, and I’m free to walk, to feel that grass under my feet again, not wet or stinging, it stands now, dry and soft.
As I reach the fountain, the water is cool, not the sharp cold awakening as before, I take a long sip from my cupped palm, and look out, over the wall and into the vast open sea of flowers. I think I’ll visit them today.