House of Rose, 9

 

As for myself, I had to stop and catch my breath, forcing a few last hacking coughs.out. I stood and breathed. The air was, indeed, very fresh and cool. The rising sun was, by now, clearing away the mist which had covered the long, tall grasses, but some still lingered. I touched a blade of grass, golden at the sharp blade, deep green at its base. condensation covered it; my hand withdrew cold and wet. It was the kind of detail that makes you feel alive. I put my fingertips to my lips and felt the coldness there.

As I followed the path winding around a small, gated, pocket garden on my left, hopping on the worn pavers and slabs of limestone that were scattered upon the mowed path, I felt suddenly that I’d been in this exact spot before. But as I tried to focus in on the feeling and cultivate more details from my mind, the feeling dissolved, and I stopped, perched on a  piece of limestone lumpy with fossils, feeling puzzled.

I approached the fence around the garden, a simple one made from a waist-high row of crooked sticks and fuzzy rope woven about them. I leaned and peered over it. Inside it was an extremely crooked-branched tree with large, floppy, emerald leaves. Suspended from the branches were blown glass orbs, a variety of sizes and colors. The risen sun sparkled on their surfaces, making them look like gleaming jewels.

There were other ornaments in the garden– a royal blue gazing ball, a crumbling, moss-covered bird bath, an arching, knee-high terra cotta sculpture. Broken bits of stone formed an irregular path, overgrown with moss and ground cover. A big spray of lavender poked tendrils through the fence on the far side.

With the faint smell of lavender, the feeling of familiarity came back, but only as a ghost, and only for a fleeting moment.

I glanced again at the spun glass orbs suspended from the tree branches. They looked so beautiful, gleaming in the sunlight. A deep emerald-colored orb a little bigger than my palm caught my eye. I could have sworn I saw something– a tiny light– just the faintest glow within. Intriuged, and totally distracted, I pushed open the balky gate made of thin slats of wood tied together with twine, and stepped into the small garden. The emerald globe was just above my eye level, and I stood on tiptoe.

The glass was very clear, but deeply green, and I peered into it for long moments. Finally, I made out tiny form at the bottom of the orb, and was trying to focus my eyes even more sharply to make out details, when the faint, green-tinged light blinked from the form, wavering.  The form was of a tiny woman. The faint light shimmered on her gossamer wings. The light died away. And a word embedded itself in my mind: trapped.

Riding a surge of panic, I thoughtlessly grabbd the orb in both hands, and with a yank, broke the string that bound it to the branch.  But there was a cool enough part of my brain that I noticed how the figure, the woman, lurched when I moved the orb so abruptly, and I stopped myself from dashing it against a stone to free her, which had been my first inclination.

I looked into the orb again, and this time I fancied I could see a tiny, scowling face. “Sorry, sorry,” I muttered, and set the orb carefully into the rich, exposed loam, and scanned the area for a rock small enough to pick up. I would have to bash it open– unless– I crouched and examined the orb again, trying to breathe normally and take my time. But I could see no opening, not even a crack in the surface.

“Look out, “ I said, and hefted the chunk of rock I’d found. I gave the orb a rather experimental tap, and I regestered fine cracks moving across the suface, and things happened rather quickly after that.

A blaze of heat and light threw me backward to land on my backside. I struggled upright to a sitting position, desperate to see what was happening. A faint glow of green illuminated everything. Hurricane winds lashed the branches of the crooked tree, sending leaves flying. A vibrating, tear-producing hum filled the air, building, until–

Every glass orb swinging in the wind shattered into bright glitter. The winds died suddenly, leaving stillness, but I hardly noticed– I screamed as tiny shards of glass shot into the side of my face, my shoulder, my hip. The sting of them doubled as they grew hot, boiling away into microscopic green streamers. It was agony–

And yet, the pain had barely begun, and it was gone, and in its place was warmth, comfort. A deep sense of well-being filled me, and the strange stillness of the garden was interrupted by small animal rustlings and the singing of birds.

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