A small dancing troupe of pink twirls up the orchid spike. Their pretty unscented frocks speckled in earthy browns. Cherub faced, chubby cheeked, they peek and play between the long green shadows, untroubled by grand visions, their small alien bodies smiling at the silver sunlight. Then one stops its happy bob. Snapped alert, it holds motionless, its awkward face stares at me. I have been noticed - the stranger in their garden. Now discovered, I cannot look away. We stare at each other - we have a silent conversation full of questions without answers. How grotesque your features, how short your life, how fragile - we both think. Then the breeze calls it back to play and the link is broken. I am forgotten - just another shadow, left behind to my noisy cast of sunshine and the well explained.
With abandon the tree in our yard has dropped its round yellow leaves to paint the grass in Monet dapples. After rain and damp the wind has brought Autumn. The ground, still so smugly brown and soft, has loosed the dry life of seed and root. In chaotic joy all underfoot the green spears and jostles aside the yellow. Here, where we live long months under the heavy fist of Summer, the change is delightful. Brief, transient clear and perfect as the moment before the mirror pool ripples. The fallen leaves are already crisping brown. The Autumn light laughs between the mellow leaves, cool and light, warming itself in the bright sun. But the warm day has halted the tree’s leaf fall. Hesitant, it holds its half-shed canopy like a dressing gown on a startled bather. Is the season on the change or not?
The blade of grass was a clean soft spear between her toes. How many times had they walked this path and never noticed the fresh wonder under their feet? Shoes. What a ridiculous impediment! To never feel the velvet crush between your toes? The discomfort of sharp small stones and vicious prickles. The danger of poisonous barbs or slicing glass shards. Never jump away squealing at mystery wet squelshes against your naked arches. Never feel the anarchy joy of oozing mud over your toes. No, none of those things were possible in shoes. Black shiny shoes and bleach white socks. To feel the grass you have to take off your shoes and risk all the joy, pain, happiness and danger the grass has to offer.
In a world made of colours it was white. Like snow, like parts of clouds, like small round pebbles, like the stab of sunlight on a naked eye. In winter places where ice and snow prevail, where my beginnings lie, white is the colour of camouflage, the colour of hell and death. In the damp green heat of always-summer where life bursts from the ground and grows up walls in hued frenzy, white is a conspicuous uncoloured spot. I cupped the frayed wings against the glass, the tiny protesting feet tickling against my palm. Only for a moment I murmured. The darkness is only for a moment. Then freedom. The white wings erupted from their prison out into the singeing glare. White is made of all the colours. I let the sun pinprick my skin with all of its colours while the butterfly flashed against the deep dark greens. How could it hide its brilliant self in the safety of the shadows? Then in only seconds worth of time the little white creature vanished against the blue sky. I forgot, white is also the colour of ghosts.
She put her hand to her lips. They were warm and moist. She could feel the tip of her finger as it ran lightly over the curves. Was she smiling? It was possible. It was so long ago it was difficult to remember what smiling felt like... what breathing felt like ... what anything felt like. The light was so bright it hurt but she didn't want to close her eyes. They had been shut for so long. She was floating up, no, she was not floating ... she was being held. Someone was holding her. Warming her cold flesh, brushing her hair from her face, murmuring words she did not understand but words that felt soft and safe. She blinked the water from her eyes. Tears. They were called tears. But she was not crying. Then she saw his face. His bruised and weary face. She traced the clean path of the tears with her finger. Her warrior had come for her, as she knew he would. They would leave their story for others to tell. Let them populate it with dragons and briar forests and vengenance. A castle, a citadel, a spaceship, a cryofreezer ... It didn't matter. That was an old story. They had a new one to live. A warm breeze hugged her briefly before hurrying on to embrace the rest of the world.
Tea-drinker, writer and editor. Ecologist, environmental scientist, futurist and student of irony.