The Earth Mother breathes the life of a gentle summer's breeze into her latest creation, immediately knowing, just from looking upon them, that she will love and cherish the soul with all the love a mother can give. She names them her child.

A kindred spirit, beautiful and oh so full of life, her most prized work yet. She sculpts them as the face of nature, leaves sprouting into curls, a crown of woven vines, and eyes of a gleaming green. Mirth tickles the child's laugh, childish joy found in the very garden they walk, their mother's domain a living paradise.

A fountain intricately crafted with the highest of skill sets sits centre piece to it all, amidst trimmed shrubbery, decorated with life-like marble sculptures of animals and beasts all kinds of wonderful. It's as if they could spring to life any second, waltz off their platforms like some animal kingdom procession. Crystalline waters spirt from the trunk of one such great beast, cool to the touch any time the child reaches for it. They often wonder if, beyond their home, the 'elephant' looks quite so magnificent.

They long for an animal companion other than the birds that sing from a distance, hypnotic songs from a melody of disembodied voices.

The Earth Mother's garden seems endless. But a child of such curiosity manages to explore it all, clambers for more with fresh, pudgy hands.

But the mother sets them back, takes their hands with tender care in her own. She smiles down, and pulls them back into her land.

"Not yet," She insists, eyes warm, encouraging, though a little sad. As if thinking about the day when she won't be able to hold the child back. But she blinks the feeling away. For now, they are warm and safe. This is home.

The time comes sooner than either side is ready for. The child is hesitant now, grown, knows what leaving the garden will mean. Leaving the place they know hits differently when they are on the cusp of stepping over the edge.

This is it.

The mother, that feeling of home, the fountain, is the diving board to something endless and foreign. The child feels this flutter of excitement, of this daunting feeling, but the Earth mother does as she always has. Takes the child's hands in their own, and looks into those eyes. Rich and deep gazing upon young.

But this time she does not pull them back, she nods, short and bittersweet. She releases ahold and places a kiss upon the seeds in their hair, entwines her fingers through them, and watches the petals flourish under her touch.

Like the petals, the child blooms, their petals unfurl, and a smile dances upon their lips.

The Earth mother sighs, content with her work. A daughter of her soil was born of her Earth's minerals, mere rock and clay once, now a sapling, a seed, a shoot who's blossomed into her treasured flower.

She caresses their cheeks, and lets go.

The child falls, roots upturned, and reaches out, the tips of their fingers brushing empty air, no warm, strong palms reaching out towards their own.

The Earth Mother misses her flower, but she knows the time is right for the child to move upstream, spread their roots elsewhere and grow in the way they can't in their mother's garden.

As the current carries them down the winding path, the child remembers their life under watering can, her mother's tender voice as she sang. Of the controlled clear water that sprung from the fountain. Here, the water is a deep, endless uncertainty, and easy enough for one to lose themselves in. Every movement takes great strength to keep afloat, and not succumb to the force of the undercurrent that threatens to drag them below.

The life they long for is a dangerous path, plunged into the deep end of the world outside of the gardens.

But their mother's presence remains dear in their heart, a parting gift of nostalgia. It's home. And from that, the child can cling to it as a lifeline to stay afloat, bobbing in the waters. Rising with the tides.

They will look forward, as they have always done, befriend the beasts who swim the river. And someday, when the river is theirs for the taking, the child will put new roots down.

They will live.