Breadcrumb #116

CHRISTIE DONATO

 In Paradise every day is the first day of summer. 

    It’s never cold, and there’s always a light breeze. Flowers bloom in the fields and forests, fruit is ripe on the vine, and grain is ready for harvest. The days are long, and the nights are warm and deep. The wood is dense and lush, like the day after a heavy rain, and the trees there are strange and ancient; thick-trunked and dressed in moss. It is a place well-suited for hunting parties and Midsummer festivals.

    At night, she dreamed of gold and red leaves, of tree roots and earth hard with frost, of landscapes painted white with snow. She saw the ocean rolling hard against a mist-heavy beach, or a willow tree lashed by wind and rain. These scenes were her dreams and daydreams.

    However, there were details which she could not conjure simply because she did not know them. For instance, she failed to imagine the huff of a white breath in January, or the slick, stickiness of sweat in July. She could imagine the beauty of these scenes, but not their reality. She had never experienced a day that was cold, wet, or even too windy. She had never seen nature decay, or animals disappear for months on end. 

She could imagine the beauty of these scenes, but not their reality.

    She knew nothing of Julius Caesar or Napoleon Bonaparte. She was aware that there were places called Europe and Africa, but they were little more than abstractions to her. She had no idea that there were such things as automobiles, or that, somewhere, humans were learning to fly. However, she did know that to see a light in a dark wood meant danger, to hold a torch at a crossroads was a summoning, and that a crow could be just a bird, or a spy.

    She was born in Paradise, underneath a yew tree and a full moon. She was swaddled in a torn tunic, and carried close to her mortal mother’s breast. Tight enough to feel the swell and thud of a heartbeat. Near enough to hear the persistent inhales and sighs, the whispered words meant for her ears alone. Her mother sang to her of home. Soft, simple songs of the Nile River and the desert. Lullabies colored by a fear of floods, drought, and war.

    Her father said that in the world he came from, everything must perish from the Earth in its own time. In Paradise, these rules do not hold. Time moves differently there, if it moves at all.  In her dreams she longed for the dead things of her parents’ home. She yearned in secret for what she could not have, and what she did not fully understand. 

    For at night she dreamed of gold and red leaves.

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