Flowers in the window
Paint the light like stained glass
Their soft scented fragrance
Filling the room
Calming the mind
With the deepest of memories
That trail off into sleep
The soft muzzled cough brought Alice back from being lost in her usual daydreams.
It had been months since she had walked freely about the streets. Even longer since the blind run through the dark forests of another world.
If this insane self-imposed quarantine had to continue for very much longer, Alice was going to leap back through into the brightly lit hall beyond. Once there she was more than willing to try her luck at some other random doorway.
“What then?” muttered the low voice of the sage.
Alice could tell he was talking more to himself than to her.
Alice replied anyway, “Anywhere but here.”
The look of the old mages floor length beard partially muzzled by a soft swath of mask looked ridiculous. The rope ties for the ears could not reach so Alice had helped him braid the ends into the facial hair just beneath the cheeks.
The effect gave the ancient librarian a hipster grunge look.
The ink stained hands of the sage had been hard at work rubbing his face again. Either an allergy from the ink that now tinted his nose or from the dreaded Covid virus had been making the elderly gentleman wheeze and cough. He had coughed enough times that Alice had demanded the face covering.
The sage grumpily complied just to silence her complaining.
The whole request struck him funny since it came from a woman wearing no clothes at all…
The doorman had been busy hanging invisible signs about the hall. Each had been hung so that an individual entering could see them with little effort. He was certain when the complaint department was called he would be found blameless in the spread of such ignorance. Each entry had been clearly marked with a request for a mandatory fourteen day quarantine, and each infectious destination properly marked.
The Gatekeeper had even replaced his usual Welcome mat with one that read, “Masks Required”.
“Yes”, he thought, “in a reality of inexistence the flattened curve wasn’t going to catch him in another surge, hoax or not.”
Pat sat watching the falling leaves. The peace autumn brought was a welcome change from the dry hot days of summer. Still the thought to lay naked in those golden rays made his pulse quicken with youthful memories.
“The seasons change with the turn of a word,” he whispered to the quiet room. Though there was a large crowd, no one heard him.
Pat was aware that the sentence could be thought of as political, as well as environmental.
Opinions were changing. Impatient populations desperate for a miracle.
Come November another four years of greatness would be chosen. Hopefully one that meant the destruction of a party founded in racism. If not then things weren’t going to look too good for the home front.
It had been bad enough that this man-made virus was unleashed by corrupt policies of the criminal elite in the attempt of a one-world-order coup.
To have to suffer under the heavy-handed tactics of the cosmopolitan could lead to an actual armageddon between good and evil…
Pat watched the falling leaves. The beauty was not wasted on him. The mix of yellows and reds drifting down. Sometimes in soft spirals, sometimes in a direct glide. Individual leaves and groups all randomly blowing about with a kaleidoscope of color.
None of the meaning was missed.
Everything had a purpose;
Pat just had his own preference in how things should end.
All this change from the green leaves of one tree. Nothing was ever missed…
To what value do I set the scale
With incremental movement a clock measures out moment by moment
But that has no existence
The vapor and steam of things unseen
Passively touch then dissolve
And yet you and I watch it’s coming pass us by
Left in the wake that follows
We reach out as if to hold invisible threads of thought
Something unattained in the passage of life
And burdened by our own purpose
Feel fulfilled or utterly emptied by the experience
Separated hearts by time and distance haunt
A radiant solitaire set in gold
Yet in precious metal imprisoned still be held
By as pure a word so bold
Love binds such taut a cord between the two
My thoughts become simple in the disparity
A measure betwixt paradise and the basest hell
Errant in life’s long trials
Even as spring the winter follows
Passion warms the coming summer
Then in turn sours with the fall
Yet the spirit of the season playful calls
For every ear in turn to hear
Alice sat distracted. A nuthatch was slowly making its way down the trunk of a nearby sapling. It’s funny head-first hopping reminded her of the her own first moments leaping through worlds. As nauseating an experience it had been, Alice was secretly hoping to get the opportunity to do it again. The only thing that was holding her back was the how and when.
Alice had gathered from the many frequent visits of disembodied voices that the portal from here to there ( where something she never knew) was always opening and closing. To use it, one simply needed to be determined and fully willing to accept the next outcome. The concept of outcome being as close to exactly what the event actually meant.
Alice couldn’t quite understand that piece of information either.
She just took it to mean 1+1=2 but to get to four the possibilities increased as well as the path. Everyone understands 2+2, or 1+1+1+1, or 1+1+2, and even 1+3. But doing the possible backwards or even not at all could cause a bit of stress. 0+4, 5-1, and so on into infinite realms could get a person marooned, even completely gone from before, during, and after. As insane as that sounded, Alice was not yet willing to prove anyone’s theorem’s just yet.
Why did everything have to involve math…
Alice could bring herself to accept that it had only been three days. What she couldn’t believe in was the constant transition of the garden outside.
She vaguely remembered the first time looking out of the window. The season had been late spring. The butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering amongst the many wildflowers and well planted rows of perennials. Annuals like irises taking over where daffodil and hyacinth had earlier flowered but now becoming just green leaves and dying stalks.
With later glances outside, Alice noted the crepe myrtles had begun to bloom with deep purples and reds. Their many branched arms spreading outward casting a welcomed shadow from the hot blazing sun.
And today as she gazed upwards in a daydream daze of building castles in the sky, Alice’s distracted eyes watched as oak and maple leaves began drifting down from leaf clogged gutters. The browned yellows and crimson reds slowly sailing down, down, down carpeting the flower beds.
Alice even noticed amongst the brown blades of overgrown grasses the aster and goldenrod turning to seed. The planting of daylilies she must have confused for irises being nothing but withered yellow and brown mulch piles beside dried stalks of gladiolas.
No. Though she was not a naturalist or expert at gardening, Alice knew the changing seasons without the need of flocking geese or migrant fish swimming up stream. Without a doubt, and without need of the old sage explaining things, Alice knew she was sitting in the middle of 0+1 or something very close to it.
Across the room the sage let out a humourous chortle.
To Alice the old man always seemed to take great interest and enjoyment during her most confused moments. It’s was almost like he knew her mind, and saw all the outcomes before she did, and thought her ignorant.
Along the waters edge where sand and ocean meet
The worlds first words are spoken
By the soft and whispering breeze
It speaks of the many kingdoms
and of ageless palaces carved of stone
All the chambers filled with musical laughter far below in the surging sea
The echoing ripples flowing
Splashing playfully upon the distant shores above
Alas the people of the land no longer remember the beauty
Nor can they walk the halls
Time since it has passed deep beneath a sea foam gray
Softly the wind summons back the memory
As the crabs solemnly standing guard lament
And flying high overhead seabirds call out a sullen praise
There at the waters edge where sand and ocean meet
I’ve been here before. I’ve sat in this dust filled room watching the same spider weaving her web. Sitting slouched with the wait of eternity perched cumbersomely upon my eyelids. Through the haze of blurred vision I have been witness to a life time of war and decay. Still the day is not over.
Time wanders independent of reality. Change only the product of some other force combined, separated, absent.
After all I exist as a simple closed system. Only one has ever been able to open the door or close it when through. The one is, that’s all anyone need know.
You and I live connected. Forever entwined even during the trials where effort is wirepulling or sanguineous. From the salt of the sea, and water of the heavens, you and I are. That’s all eternities secrets told upon a gentle breeze.
Rambling on, two old souls… (Here the sage began singing in his head. A song about fish bowls and endless calendars. – the author)
Invisible hands scrawl out variations of lines. Words both cryptic and plain fill margins and footnote. The simplest thoughts hidden in the most compounding phrase. Only the distracted eye can see clearly the misspelled word while the clearest mind reads on.
A tale of two, you and I. A circle folding in often looking out. Neither seeing the end nor ever beginning the race. We chase the clouds as a dog chases it’s tail.
A rambling of time ticking out life with everything existing as fundamental interactions balanced upon a needle point tip.
Pat sat patiently in his garden. The watcher was in no hurry to get anywhere.
The soft buzz and fiddle of insects drifted about on the sweet summer air.
There were birds singing and calling back and forth. They too appeared in no hurry to fly off to some distant place.
Here the rose and columbine flowered amongst the ironweed and goldenrod. A clash of season mixed with the pastel colors of the sweet pea vine.
Only Adam strolled these garden paths. Lost in wonder. Idling away the moments… (Here again the sages attention drifted of into another song. Something of dull days and thinking that he has something more to say. – the author)
Alice sat perched high upon a stack of books. She had been busy thumbing through a few of the older ones trying to look interested.
Ever so often she felt the need to put the book down and gaze out the one window of the sages library.
It was a beautiful day outside.
Alice had asked the old grumpy man if it would be okay to throw open the glass. With a distracted angry scowl the sage had signalled a stern no.
Alice had went to the window anyhow. After a Herculean effort she had found it impossibly stuck.
The old mage laughed quietly beneath his beard. Since the change of humidity and weather he had been unable to open the window himself. Alice probably would contrive some mystic use of magic to the sage preventing her from doing what he said no too. He laughed again a little louder.
Alice had stalked angrily back to her stack of books. Secretly cursing the old mans powers over nature and time.
With a fish eyed gaze out of the window, and a pleasant tune in his head, the sage went back into his trance. ( It was at this point I, the author, came to the conclusion the sage was going to be absolutely useless today.-the author)
And time flowed on…
The mountain folk were a completely different nation unto themselves. They were proof that a drawn line wasn’t what made a mixed group of people into a country. They were proof that it would make them enemies…
The forest underbrush had nearly completely obscured the trail. If not for the occasional bent reed or bare patch amongst the bracken a traveller could easily become lost in the half light of the bottom canopy.
Other than the man made tracks he was leaving behind there appeared no other sign that any other human had passed this way in generations. That was something very disheartening and troubling. The traveller had more than a lifetime of training in tracking and survival. He had even more memories of the countries landscape. Images of before and after floated across his vision, each step made on the internal magnet that could guide a homing pigeon or smart bomb to their final destination without error.
The only problem came with the now. The now could throw a wrench into any plan. The now could be raining or blazing dry, a flooded landscape or a burning forest fire. Only the Author knew for sure what the now would be. It was in that way He made sure the traveller would stay true to the story. At least that’s how everything usually went.
Alice nether knew where she was or when she had been there. The whole tumble from the one next into the other had left her a bit addled and confused. If it wasn’t for the sugary scent of strawberry glaze frosting that was currently drifting about the place Alice probably would have stayed in that kaleidoscope frame of mind for quite some time.
Hunger… Alice was very hungry. The first sounds to reach her ears was the growling of her own stomach. Soon after that conscious thought came the pain of the tight cramping knot of her guts slowly churning. The need to separate reality from delusion was to take second seat for now.
With a quick scan of the room Alice saw that presently no one was there. The rows of shelving and stacks of literature were present. The large ancient writing desk stocked with and ink well and piles of parchment paper was located just how she had seen it. The only thing absent was the box of pastry, the old man, and the ever increasing mess of sprinkles and jam about the floor.
“Damn”, Alice thought. “Missed out and stuck here, where ever here is.”
A almost unheard voice spoke from the dimness of the library. Alice almost mistook it as one of her own thoughts spoken out loud, then as the return of the insanity from the night before. “From where does the strawberry grow? From what does the hunger know?”
“Through what path have you vaulted? For what reasoning has time yet not come?”
Alice felt as if a door had opened and with the fresh in flux of air slammed yet another doorway closed. The sudden shift of pressure bringing a bit of nausea and the threatening kaleidoscope of confusion she had already overcome.
When the room returned to normal Alice noticed a few more lit candles burning, the box of pastry opened and set within arms reach from where she stood. The strange old man was busying himself with an even stranger white container with blue labeling. Without a single gaze back over his shoulder the sage asked,”Glass of lactaid free milk, Honey? I mean Alice… I fear we haven’t any honey at this moment.”
Pat sat once again in his garden. The summer heat had came earlier than expected but not so early that it would ruin the plantings. He’d have to run the drip hose more than usual until everything had set down good root.
The sky was filled with white cotton candy clouds; Each set drifting on a sea of pastel blue.
Many years ago Pat had hung many small wind chimes about the wood that surrounded his home. He had set so many so long ago that the watcher couldn’t remember where they were exactly. All Pat knew was on beautiful days like today the effort had been worth it. The native songbirds with a musical accompaniment by the wind softly off set the rustle of the trees in the cool summer breeze. “I know that reads as a horrible sentence, each word exactly accurate and the moment perfect.”
Pat was for the moment at peace with the world.
The traveller gazed up at the midday sky. Overhead two blazing suns burned down to earth. This was the first time he had ever seen such an event in his lengthy lifetime. For the traveller to acknowledge that fact was a scary thing. He had thought he’d seen it all. Now here he was stranded in a reality of time that quite honestly looked to be the end for his career and the rest of creation.
The only intelligent voice in his head was uttering the word fuck, fuck, fuck. At the moment all the other voices seemed in agreement.
After an eternity of quietly contemplating the situation one of the voices pointed out that as the earth rotated only the larger of the two orbs seemed to move in the arc. The other seemed to become more of an oddly formed orb which reflected more than it seemed to be burning. A few other voices began to chime in with agreement, and after a lengthy discussion it was agreed that fact was true.
“So we’re good then?”asked the traveller.
“No.”said the leading authoritative voice. “It’s probably a massive meteoroid. Even the fact that there still isn’t a visible smoke trail may mean it’s further above the stratosphere than it looks. We are screwed.”
The sound of sneakers running away on smooth concrete and then the loud slamming of a metal door was what Pat heard first.
It was a familiar but funny sound to hear over the speaker system. It reminded him of his high school days and the loud racket one could hear over the public announcement system will the principal was going over the days events. Those were the glory years for sure.
On this occasion though, Pat was a good twenty years older, and working in a tower miles away from the originator of the sound. As a joke Pat was buzzed up on the speaker. A familiar voice on the other end began a rant that unless privy to the joke itself would sound very offensive to the receiving party. The joke would have been hilarious to Pat, but as fate often intervenes it was not Pat that first answered the call… It was Pat’s boss
After a three sentence rant of blasphemy and expletives Pat’s boss began shouting expletives back and yelling “Who is this!” back over the speaker.
The only reply was “If you don’t know mother-fucker”, and the sounds of tennis shoes running on concrete right before the slamming of a door.
Pat tried not to laugh. He knew that the anger would soon enough be turned towards him.
“Do you know who that asshole was?” the boss asked.
With the straightest face Pat could muster, “No sir. I’ve never heard that voice before.”
Alice slowly slide through the small sized opening. At first what she thought to be only a thin gap she had discovered to be a hinged door. With a little coaxing the portal could easily be made to open out wider.
Alice thought how odd to have a door hidden inside a tree. Even odder was the fact she knew it couldn’t have been there before. The door opened into an immense room with vaulted ceilings that the tree she had sheltered in could not have held.
Cautiously Alice looked out into the room. Fully aware of the funny old man that even at this moment was busy wolfing down strawberry treats and having some sort of discussion with the thin air about him. Perhaps if she kept in the shadows and used the massive stacks of books between the two of them as cover the old man wouldn’t realize she was in the room. By the way the food was being consumed Alice knew speed was going to be of the utter most importance.
The doorman was partially surprised. It wasn’t a frequent thing to see the sage away from his writing. It was even less frequent that the sage would share a tasty strawberry glazed donut. Later the gatekeeper would blame those events and the sudden sugar rush as the reason he was surprised for a third time.
Even as Alice stretched out into the room she realized something wasn’t right. Where shelves of books and piles of scrolls should have been there was suddenly nothing.
Nothing was actually not quite right. There was a brilliant white, a worn mat, and a strangely uniformed man eating a pink colored pastry that at the moment was shedding rainbow colored sprinkles about the area.
Both Alice and the doorman stared blankly at each other. Neither seemed to know exactly what to do at that moment.
Alice was the first to take action. In a dead run Alice leaped past the uniformed man and on into the doorway behind him.
As quickly as she had come the trespasser disappeared into the next. In all his lifetime the gatekeeper never had this happen to him. He was pretty positive the Author would already know. What that meant wouldn’t become clear for a great while.
“Oh well”, he thought.
The gatekeeper scarffed down the last of his donut. There was going to be a long wait until the next one…
noun: revenant; plural noun: revenants
a person who has returned, especially supposedly from the dead.
Pat awoke into a word of skyscrapers and high-rise apartments. The new realities landscape was a random mix of Italian Renaissance and a modern art deco. Here and there Pat’s will could change some of the architecture into a more attractive Parisian nouveau but only the structures that felt sympathetic towards him.
The sidewalks were full of people out for a leisurely paseo before dinner and bar hopping.
Pat drifted back and forth through the crowd listening to the chatter. He could hear stories of how their day went, plans for after dinner, and on a few occasions the pleasant words of couples in love.
Nothing he heard helped him understand his current presence in such a peaceful setting. By default Pat was always a storm bringer, a gore crow, and the toxic side effect of a beneficial medication. Finding himself comfortablely walking the promenade was a bit unnerving. The only satisfying thing about it was the ability to redesign this world about him as he walked.
Pat did go out of his way not to make physical contact with the others strolling about. Practice had given him the delicate like a glimpse of shadow caught from the corner of the eye. By the time his movement was detected he made sure to be clear with their only view being of his back. When the path seemed too crowded everyone would become suddenly distracted by the amazing transformation of the surrounding buildings.
Pat slipped down the first side alley he found loosing himself into the comforting arms of darkness.
Amongst the discarded boxes and battered garbage cans Pat felt comfortable. Here was a place that served his purpose. Here was somewhere he belonged and from every dark corner draw out energy.
Without concern the dreamer sank back against old mortar and brick. Knees bent and elbows resting crossed upon his chest he listened quietly lost in thought. In all his travelling he had never had time to be at peace. It was not a good sign.
A large cat ran past his left leg. Seconds later Pat could make out the same cat with rat in mouth slowly tearing it apart. The soft crunching of bone chewing and a cats pur drifted out of the alley to mix amongst the sounds of laughter…
I’ve been here before…
Same tired chair, mildewed and stained…
The same ancient cobwebs drifting lazily in a draft.
Even the sounds creeping in beneath the crack of the door.
Everything is familiar, even you.
On the end table sits an empty glass, white chalk stained, with a half decayed bowl of something once edible but now rotten beyond recognition. The passage of time doing us all the favor of removing the stench.
It’s been awhile since the mold gnats and bottle flies maggots paid their visit to such a meal. By the way the dried remains peel and crack away from the glazing of the bowl a considerable amount of time has passed. Other than the ever increasing volumes of books and stories, one of the few signs that things here do change.
Infinity can be found between zero and one, and only understood by those that seem to never make sense.
The old sage sat silently in prayer. He often did. Head bowed, eyes closed, hands folded or left resting motionless upon his lap, palms together.
Unlike most people, the sage would often have his replies by the end of each sentence. If any curious onlookers were able to ease drop they would find the whole moment more of a discussion between a teacher and pupil. Which was which was easy enough to discern. The sage was ever the career student. To know is not enough; understanding is the true gift.
During his lifetime of service the only true peace he ever felt was when in talking to the Author. The serenity and calm making his responsibility to maintaining the library a worthwhile sacrifice.
A quiet voice spoke out from the nothingness of empty air,
“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Minds innocent and quiet take
As if in reply the sage spoke back, “These heavy walls to me had grown A hermitage—and all my own! And half I felt as they were come to tear me from a second home: With spiders I had friendship made and watch’d them in their sullen trade, had seen the mice by moonlight play, and why should I feel less than they?