Freshman Oliva Gardner wrote this fictional short story. Enjoy!
I stepped from the hard asphalt onto the soft ground, feeling the rush of adrenaline and excitement fill my veins, running a chill down my back. I breathed in, taking in the delicious air that filled my greedy lungs. I opened my eyes slowly, taking in the scene around me with a hungry fascination, I was pleased with what I found.
Colour. It swirled and twisted in indescribable ways. Textures and patterns appeared in every crevasse of this world. I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of brightness that assaulted my eyes.
There was a hill, fairly tall, with grass swaying in ways I had never seen it sway before, it twirled in an elaborately choreographed dance with the wind, each blade swayed elegantly. As I walked, I felt the soft dirt sink beneath my shoes, which I immediately kicked off.
The hill had trees, low branches and leaves of iridescent rainbows shimmering in the dim light, I was enraptured, I barely noticed my feet moving as I was drawn to the forest that reached out to me. As I walked, shimmering lines trailed along my arms, up the length of my body, twirling up into vines of azure and violet. The forest was throbbing with unseen life, lights blinked and flashed, sparkling into existence then dying without hesitation. Music of the wild assaulted my ears with the calls of unknown beasts.
I followed a trail of ruby stones, each lighting up sporadically, leading me up, deeper into the shadowed forest, I walked willingly, curiously, excitedly.
I came along a fork in the path, one with gravel filled with exotic reds and oranges, where the other was paved with the twirling grass. I followed with grassy path, enjoying the feel of the ever-moving wisps as they swirled under my bare feet. I came upon a cave, it throbbed with light, like the coming and drawing of a tide; it swayed.
I ducked into the small entrance, lifting my eyes to a most miraculous sight. There was a man, crafted beautifully into the centre of a large oak tree. The roots of the tree stretched around the cave, buried in and out of the ground like great brown snakes.
I made my footsteps silent as I passed in front of the tree-man, his eyes were closed and he made no sound.
There was a fire sitting a few feet away from the man, each tongue of flame danced a different colour.
I settled in front of that fire, watching the fire as it twisted, unrestrained.
“What is this place?” I asked, and the man remained silent.
“Why am I here?” I asked again, and slowly, very slowly, the sound of breaking wood overpowered the calls of wild beats of the forest.
I cringed at the sound, it creaked and splintered, unpleasant in the beautiful atmosphere; I hated it.
Slowly, the eyes of the man opened, revealing two multicoloured depths.
The creaking didn’t stop, I covered my ears harshly and stepped away, the man’s stoic face creaked into a smile.
The sound abruptly stopped, yet the smile remained, bearing down on me patronizingly. I glared back, feeling my annoyance like the coming tide. I turned away, clenching my purple stained hands.
I stepped away from the man, only to have the strangled creaking slam into my ears once again, I spun to see the tree-man reach into a brown withered bag, each movement drawing another sickening snap. Like the cracking of bones.
Quicker than I could blink, the man’s hand flew from the bag, the wrist flicking towards me sharply. Liquid splashed against my face and body, dripping down, as everything went quiet.
I spun on my heel and stalked out of the cave, uncaring to the world that swirled with movement and colour.
I paced down the ruby speckled trails swiping at the low hanging branches and kicking up the turf. It wasn’t fair, why send me to a place with no reason. How could I survive in a place without boundaries and understanding?
I passed the fork in the road, the other side no longer looked appealing. I passed boulders and rhinestones the size of boulders, they shined tauntingly now; they drew questions without answers.
The water thrown at me dripped heavily, and as I made my way down the mountain, out of the forest, the purple vines that had decorated my arms began to recede the thickness the held shrank with every step I took.
A cold feeling started at my toes and fingers, spreading up my arms and I shivered. The man’s damn water started to move on my body, making me squirm. I stopped, unable to handle the discomfort the water brought.
When I stopped, the water stopped with it, only to start again standing up from my skin and floating in front of me in a liquid ball of iridescent colours.
As I watched, the ball began to manipulate itself, distorting in ways that made my stomach lurch. The anger came back fully; why would the tree-man give this to me? What was its purpose?
The water twisted and spun, jutting out in different directions, and suddenly I saw what it was doing.
All movement stopped, and I reached out for the finished product, letting the cool liquid pass over my fingers.
It looked like a rose; it hung in the air serenely, as if waiting for me to take it away. I was captured by it, like I was with so many of the things in this majestic place.
I drew the flower to me, reveling in the soft texture of the rose as it drifted over my fingertips; I drew it to my breast and held it there. I couldn’t believe I had been angry at such a pure thing.
My anger seemed foolish; I felt tainted.
I began to walk again; the purple vines resumed their withdrawal. The rose, unbeknownst to me, began to wither.
As the coldness reached my core I knew I was at the place from which I came. One step and I would be back to the world of concrete and banal greyness. My flower was one step from dying.
I closed my eyes, and let the coldness sweep over me.