No sooner do I post about postponing my post, and tech support (hubby) has fixed the problem. Sod’s Law, really.
Here is today’s piece, inspired by a suggestion from the kid.
Sky and clouds tumble free-fall. All around, grass rolling up into hills and meadows, stretching beyond his failing vision. The horizon a dim line of green etched across the blue of the sky. No trees anywhere – just grass and sky and clouds.
He looks up – he always looks up – his face open to the open sky. He feels the vast emptiness press down on him. Knees crumple and he falls back, onto the grass.
Hands stretched up in front of him, he screams himself to consciousness. His fingers criss-cross the sky above him, dark shadows over the blue. His breath runs out and he gasps, tries not to sob with relief when he sees that the sky is only a circle far above him. The grey walls surround him in their familiar embrace, and his world shrinks to what he knows.
He gulps and hitches. His hands drop down and cover his eyes. A ghost of the nightmare returns – blue and white – and he fights the memory. Regains himself, masters his breath. Spent, he lies limp on his back in the dirt. He lets his hands flop out to either side. For a moment, he is crucified, encircled by walls, and he is at peace.
He does not want to move. Not just yet. The dirt beneath his back warms from his own heat, reflecting it back. A faint smile crosses his face. Just a dream. Not real.
With one deep breath, he rolls over and up, and is ready to start the day. He circles the walls, checking for cracks and any structural damage. He finds the tip of a root pushing its way through the wall. With ruthless speed, he excavates a small space around it, gathering the dirt and setting it in a neat pile. He digs in a few inches deep, a small circle around the root. Satisfied that it is deep enough, he reaches in, grasps the root and pinches with his nails, clipping it through. He sets it down, sneering at its feeble attempt to destroy his home, then scoops up the displaced dirt, and repairs the hole. Though there hasn’t been an earthquake in years, he knows that the only way a home will look after you is if you look after it. That scare from – when was it? – whenever it was, with that jagged break in the wall stretching up, even past his head, taught him to take nothing for granted.
Except the basket. He hears the squeak of its journey to him and steps back from his repaired wall, and watches its descent. He squints to see its blurry grey shape against the darker grey walls. He follows it, sees how it is no longer blurry when it is just a few feet above his head. He considers this for a moment, but sees no importance in it.
The basket has stopped at his chest height, and he steps forward, looks inside. A bottle of milk, some bread – good, the last bit has gone mouldy – a few apples, two thick slices of ham. Someone must be in a good mood. He removes the small feast, arranges it on the table at one side. He shuffles the items around, weighing up how long before the basket would return again, and how much he can allow himself each day.
He turns, and blinks when he sees that the basket is still there. This is new. He approaches it again, wary now, and looks in again. Down at the bottom is something new. He prods at it, but nothing happens. Tentative, apprehensive, he reaches in and grabs it.
It is cold, but only from the food. The plastic case warms in his hand, and he stares at it, turning it over and over.
He looks into the basket again, searching for some kind of clue of what this thing is. A white square of paper sits on the bottom. He picks it up. The basket has brought him books in the past, but he didn’t like them very much. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. The paper is folded, almost like a book.
He unfolds the paper and stares at the marks on it. He does not know what they mean, but a chill runs through his heart, and a flash memory of the sky in his dream makes him sweat.
Do you want to be free?