It was a truce between winter and spring, a time with a transient
sort of beauty. Winter had slowed its assaults, they raged still, but grew
weaker, like the breath of an old man winding down to death. Spring was
emerging hesitantly from deep underground, freed of its icy fetters. The
ground was soft, it squished under my footsteps, reabsorbing my prints as
soon as I moved on, erasing my existence, protecting me. The mud snatched
at my unwary ankles, and in the shadows patches of ice likewise lay in
Water flowed freely in the pond, under a thin sparkling cover, like
wine poured from a frosted carafe. Shapes emerged from the melting ice, a
phantasmagoria of cracks mimicking reaching branches and grasping fingers.
Leaves that had been trapped in ice since late fall began to escape,
leaving behind their matted imprints. The flowing water rippled gently, a
scrying glass that showed only trees, no hints of the future or insights to
the past. Eddies formed around every rock and stick, around the bridge's
supports. From the vantage of the uneven, weather worn, bridge I could see
the water escaping from its enclosed source and well out of my sight.
Everywhere the first promise of new life was about. There was no new
green to be seen, only the hoary green of aged pines, trees no stranger to
harsh winter. Mangy cattails still clothed in their longhaired winter coats
stood amongst dry brown reeds, cracking sullenly as arthritic joints in the
stubborn breeze. But shoots and small branches had grown glossy, a tender
redness glowing with life. They stood silent beside the thick dull
branches, huddled together as if to hide from cold night winds. Layers
below the skeletal canopy pussy willows poked their heads from shining
buds. Fuzzy and unsure, ungainly and sweet as newborn chicks. [The world
has been silent from the absence of the birds, but every twig and stream
was alive and waiting for them to return.]
It lay before me. A field of battle white as snow. A frozen
wasteland. Pure and clean, half begging to be left in peace and simple
splendor, half asking to be filled and improved upon. The mocking emptiness
of notebook paper, strict and stern as starched linen. Grey-blue lines
marched across its surface like steel prison bars, alternately trapping me
in and keeping me out. I cannot think of how to fill it. How to enter or
escape the dazzling questions a blank piece of paper can ask.
As darkness rose in the east the path grew solid. Cool air refreeze the
world, my footsteps were pushed up and forward, recoiling from the hard
ground, no longer having to fight the quicksand muck with every step.
Forced to move ahead I slowed my pace, aware of every noise I made. The
ground cracked, small patches shattered like glass, and twigs snapped as I
trod on them. It was a different world at night. Not the warm, welcoming
asylum I had taken it for, but something wholly foreign. The trees had
become ghastly; in the day they had looked like pale giants hibernating
away the cold, by night they looked spectral, dead things with only
stubborn roots and rigor mortis to anchor them upright.
The sky vaulted high over the pillar trees, no sunlight crept along
the horizon to light the world. Moonrise illuminated very little, a
yellowed sliver shone wanly, giving the world a waxy tone. No place to
Grey. The one word that wraps itself around this world. Dull ground,
like the melt of snow had leeched out all color, drained it like a vampire.
The trees had shed their gleaming silver as if the harsh winds had matted
their smooth bark, and the water glimmered glassy and lifeless, reflecting
the color of dead fish eyes. Rolling hills spread out in all directions,
like a soft pencil sketch on landscape perspective. Each reached back, grew
darker, varying shades of graphite closing in on the firmament, supporting
it like titanic flying buttresses. Hollow stone vaulted over everything,
echoing with the gale, threatening rain with grotesquely looming clouds.
Celestial gargoyles. Guarding something. Hiding something.
"You guys any good at moving bodies?" I looked from Mary's boyfriend,
cuddling close to her on the bed, to her best friend, stretched out on the
He replied first. "Yeah, done it before." Then her boyfriend nodded
in a noncommittal sort of way.
"Kay. Thanks guys." I started to close the door.
"What happened?" Mary started to get that neurotic twitch again.
"Nothing." I spoke in my usual slightly bewildered tone, mixing in a
touch of injured innocence. "Yet." I shut the door quietly and walked
across the hall. With a single knock I walked into Adrienne's room and
closed her door behind me. Locked it. Stifled a smirk.
Seconds later there was a furious pounding on the door. "What
happened?" Mary sounded frantic, as though my existence had knocked her
precious perfectly balanced world out of whack.
Adrienne began to sniffle, and with melodramatic tears struggled to
cry "Nothing." I dissolved into giggles, echoed her response, and tried to
concentrate my outburst into a proper evil laugh. Pathetic, but I gave it
Unsatisfied, but defeated, Mary retreated back to her room.
Bored, I looked around Adrienne's room. Butterflies lit on the walls,
candles flickered guiltily, and Winnie the Pooh smiled sheepishly from her
calendar. "So, what do we do now?"