– How do you feel? – Mom said, putting a hand on her forefront.
– Yes. –
– What do you mean by that? – Temperature seemed not too bad.
– Yes, ok, I can sleep. –
– Good girl. Come here! – And hugged her tightly, taking her time. She always did like that lately. – I’ll switch off the light now. – Printing a kiss on her left cheek.
– Mom –
– Yes? – Pulling the switch up again
– Did you ever have shower with dad? –
– What? Why you ask? – Unexpected topics and questions had become the norm more than the exception with her. Still, being prepared to anything was not something easy to get used to.
– I don’t know. But did you? – She was unsure about the best answer, but just for one moment. Then she was still unsure, but gave up building an artificial answer.
– Yes. –
– I see. It is good to shower with him, isn’t it? –
– Yes, it was good. –
– Will you shower with me someday? – She laughed loudly, with a mixture of embarrassment, tenderness and genuine fun.
– Yes, why not. When you want. I can help you with your back. –
– Ok, I can help you with your back too. Night. – And she lied on her back, pulling the light cover with a peaceful smile, and closing her eyes. The switch would stay down this time.
– Night, sweetie. – “One last look, then close the door. My baby” and she went away.
In the pulse of night, a descending trail of fast wing’s beats brought a moth’s woody legs from the dark ceiling to the dark head of a child. But that moth had no fruit’s greed to appease there, over her mind; rather, she had come to give.
He woke up, and the winds were not blowing. The ring of roots centered there was not swinging over the land and the pool of water close by was calm and still. They were still shielded, even during the sleep. One of the most majestic was just behind him, mirroring on the water surface, defining and decorating that place with its distinctive leaves.
Not knowing what was going on, he felt driven by pure chance. In that moment, absolute terror and the pleasure of absolute freedom were indistinguishable at least in the native part of his mind. “Let them” he said quietly, then he looked out onto the pool, where a child’s diaphanous outline was waiting for him floating on the waters’ surface. He plunged his hands in the shape of a bowl, grabbed behind the neck and the hairless head, and gently pulled. A bubble in the shape of her body followed, emerging slowly, until she was completely out, and walked over the water to the land, where she had a faint and was collected in his arms before touching the ground.
He put his palm on her forehead and could feel the fingers tingle as she was getting back consciousness. He couldn’t stop looking at her, as if he was getting nourishment by exposing his eyes to an emitting source. “So it’s you, you are my mirror on the other side”. It was a warm, sweet breath of surprise. “And then, I am yours”.
She held onto the song’s tail, scampering all around the small room with the double bed, where she could recognize her own sleeping body scattered over and hear it snoring lightly.
That annoyingly and forcedly happy song had no intention to stop anytime soon and she felt a bit like grabbing a comet’s tail, or a dragon’s, just in smaller scale. Fast, then slow, then fast again, rapid turns, touching here, touching there: it was hitting everywhere, getting longer, shorter, sticking around and bouncing, like a fast, gummy snail. And its singing was enriching all the time with new chants about any smallest corner and detail of the room, changing direction, action and story accordingly, with the same notes but a different singing mood. She had never imagined that one small room could turn into a full-blown world: parquet floor could become an elastic carpet and the bed a cloud of cotton candy, and a golden gate to a green field at mid-day could easily replace the door.
She hit her own body and lost her grip on the song’s tail, which collapsed into the smartphone. According to the display, it was 6 in the morning. Ducks outside were talking about some matter, more or less with the same rhythm they were doing during the day. Maybe they didn’t need to sleep. Maybe if she lived with them for a whole day, she could unveil that mystery and even a few more.
The big birch on the closest lake shore was not there anymore.
That tree was somewhat special to her: a living flag near the garden, it gave a visible body to the wind through the myriad moving leaves. Not the biggest nor the smallest of its fellowship, It stood unmoving and lonely on that side of the lake, in a silent talk of gazes with a corresponding twin on the opposite side. It was part of that orchestra, a specific organ of that land with a specific role.
Its place was not left empty though; a bigger plant had taken over overnight, with no traces of human labor. The log looked like a giant blade of grass, with very subtle green branches all on the same side, ending in beautiful leaves, similar to macramè embroideries shaped like snowflakes. Both the log, the branches and the leaves were bent and moving at unison under some strong wind pointing to the center of the lake, except there was no wind at all. Or maybe the wind was somewhere else, and the plant was following it nevertheless.
She slowly lowered her eyes towards the pool, realizing that the plant was not reflecting on it and a glaring cloud was replacing its mirrored image.
She started to feel not at ease at all; her mind went blank and suddenly, without any forewarn, she was taken by a strong panic feeling.
– Goood moorniiing!!! – She could almost see herself jumping in the air because of an explosion right underneath her feet, but she actually just startled. The blonde and talkative small girl of the neighbors was smiling happily at her, hand in hand with her mother and waving with the free one. Always beautiful and joyful as an angel, she felt guilty about reacting that way and made a gigantic effort to smile back to her. Then looked at the mother, pale and terrified, hoping to see at least some sign of understanding, but there was none. She felt like she was the only one seeing that unreal, sudden change in scenery, or the only one thinking it was unreal.
When she turned again her eyes, nothing had changed.
Usually she would park underground and walk the stairs directly up to the flat’s door at ground floor. During summer it was a good way to keep the car’s temperature compatible with life and it was the shortest way home, too.
That night though, she found herself still anguished about the morning’s findings. On one hand she was tempted of avoiding the issue altogether through the stairs path, maybe even covering her view through the external door while getting in. On the other hand a perverse curiosity, mixed to fear, was not leaving her any choice. She knew she was not going to sleep unless she had figured out the status of things out there, no matter if it had changed or was still the same. Actually she was starting to consider having lost her mind, so looking out would have meant peeping in some dark corner of her spirit, and she was quite sure those were places to be best left unexplored, until they hopefully dissolved spontaneously. But she needed sleep, more than ever, and because of that the choice had already been made.
Peacefully waving in a virtual wind towards the center, that macramè creature was still there, under a full moon less shiny than the glowing cloud on the water, and yet making it stronger in the dark, as if they were exchanging their respective light rays. Staggering as nothing, like a galaxy center in the night glove, she started feeling admired and moved, while at the same time first desperation and then resignation were dethroning fear.
She sat on the bench of the common lawn and stood in contemplation, emptied of any thoughts. If she was mad and hallucinating, as it was likely the case, then she should consider herself lucky that her sick imagination was building such amazingly beautiful things. Such a strange and intense beauty, in fact, that she couldn’t believe her imagination would suffice; and still it was not a good reason to decline filling her eyes and her heart with it.
Before going back, she walked towards the gate to the lake and opened it. Then she got closer to the water and touched the unusual wood that made up the trunk. It was a completely different feeling, still as real as any other tree’s. She sat down and looked at the pool, wondering if her image would be mirrored in that shiny cloud. – Oh my… It’s you – she whispered, pressing her left hand on the chest to squeeze some courage and to slow down heart beats.