Hopes and Memories
Edited by Laurine Heerema
Somewhere, there was a crossroads near the border, in a child's smoky face with round eyes. Low blue and yellow brick houses and dark green pine trees surrounded it, and, in summer, the purple statices opened in the garden, in spring, the hot sunlight stretched across the forest canopy. The first memory of these round eyes was of this landscape, where years of warm embraces and happy barks were repeated over and over again. They called this place -‘ Life’; it was as they imagined in the world of fairy tales. Until now.
Figure 1: Martin Widenka, Unsplash
Something shook the earth. It shuddered, deep and angry, as if the gray sky had fallen. Now, morning dew covers the blades of grass, and a thick mist has descended on the cool ground; even the air is swirling backwards, and the birds are flying far away. They run out of the brick house and stare at the Thursday shadows. The button eyes watch as the spring, summer, autumn, and winter gather into two grey canvas bags, as the faltering zipper is pulled on the resin-scented warm wool sweaters and the smiling stuffed elephants, as Mother and Father pray in whispers, as they lock the door of Life without a key. Lacking a vehicle, they walk away from the crossroads, the low blue and yellow brick houses, the dark green pines, the purple statices, and the memory of warm embraces and happy barks. The child's round face fills with hot tears, with the helpless sorrow of incomprehension and lack. She doesn't know where the touch of silky grey dog tails and the fresh scent of the short-cut lawn has gone; before her and behind her lies an endless sea of concrete surrounded by barren trees. All around her, words she had never heard before, harder-sounding names of unfamiliar places are repeated with terrified powerlessness in harsh voices.
Meanwhile, as time's arrow marches on, the wind picks up, and the horizon bends to a dark blue. The Mother takes a brown bun from her canvas bag, caresses the child's cold face, and then holds the tiny body close to her, cradling it and humming the song she used to sing when the family was ill. The melody rings sweetly, filling the lonely night and drowning out the deafening noise of strangeness. Twilight and dawn meet; the dust is heavier on the feet, and the eyes look wearily into the bare winter. Farther lies Life than the darkening child's face and the shrinking round eyes could possibly look back to.
Figure 2: Suvin Vengilat, Unsplash.
They can only guess where they are going as they leave fading footprints on the edge of towns, hoping to cross something larger soon. They dare only believe that the sun will come out the next day, that there will be night, and that the clear sky stars will shine with the same piercing light.