1. A Walk In The Park
A Document Extracted From The Portal. Possibly The First Chapter Of A Book.
The morning air was thick with fog. I could smell the odors that would typically be absent in their rise or fall as they hung in the wetness. Neither good nor bad, they were just present. The sun had began to rise. Blocked by the surrounding steel structures, it was only made evident in the peaking rays of light that began converting total darkness to scattered shadows.
Today, the world looked different. Fresh. Crisp. Clean. I had an appreciation for things that before would have probably gone unnoticed. I walked through the city with absolutely no destination. Enjoying the journey.
Focused on the moment, I knew where I was. “I’m right here.” By any standard definition of the word “where,” I had no clue. I had never seen this city before. At least not from this angle.
I had woke in a house full of things. My house, I guessed. When I went to the dresser in the corner of the room, I found an identification card. “CITIZEN,” it read in bold letters across the top. I looked in the mirror and then looked at the card. “That looks like me,” I thought.
I could read all of the information on the card, yet it seemed foreign. The language was mine. I could understand that. The collection of names, numbers and locations printed on the card had no significance to me though. No attachment whatsoever. I left it on the dresser and took to the street.
As I continued my walk, I noticed a park about a block down the road. Lush trees, green grass and a small pond, it was an oasis in an otherwise manufactured city. As I made my way into the park, the sun had begun slicing through shadows, illuminating the world more and more, little by little. The fog was still thick though, so it was difficult to fully grasp the vastness of the park. Sun, fog and shadows dancing in unison in the mystic wooded wonderland, all in the heart of the concrete jungle. It was quite the scene.
After about ten minutes of strolling and absorbing, I came across a garden. Unlike the standard urban garden: tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, parsley all laid out in meticulously over planned orderly rows, this garden looked to have been designed by nature. Rather than the human imposed segregation design, which I’ve always found to be humorously similar to the grouped and sorted aisles of a grocery store, or of anything human for that matter, this garden appeared to be growing in harmony.
Tall trees with gorgeous yellow fruit, so bright they appeared glowing, grew small branches out of their trunks, which served as a trellis for berry baring vines. Leafy lettuce like plants surrounded the trees base, all composed of various rainbow like colors. Small sprouts stuck out of the ground, so young and fresh that dirt still lay on their leaves from their recent push through the soil. Surrounding these fletching plants were the most vibrant and thriving rose bushes I had ever seen. We all know about the thorny nature of rose bushes, but these were different. The thorns were more than ten times larger than any thorn I had ever seen on any plant. They all pointed outwards, in what appeared to be an effort to protect the still young plants from any type of creature anxious to try a bite before the fruitful future.
The vibrant forest garden spoke, “Feed yourself.”
“Are you sure?” I questioned
“We’re here for you. For your nourishment. One yellow fruit is all you need. Don’t take more than you need and for you we will be forever abundant.”
“Thank you,” I whispered as I so gently plucked the fruit. At the same time, the tree let out a slight exhale signifying the sacrifice it had made.
Eyes closed, I pushed my teeth through the fibrous flesh of the fruit. A spritz of the most magical juice landed on my tongue.
The fruit fell to the ground.
“What are you doing man?” A voice gasped. I looked to my right to see a man. Blue polo, khaki pants, brown shoes, leather belt, glasses, white skin, brown hair, not in shape, not out of shape, 40 in human years maybe.
“Huh?” I had a hard time focusing on him initially as my mind transformed from blissful peace to a state of confused disturbance.
“What are you doing? You some type of crazy guy?” His tone seemed alarmed and concerned.
“What?” I responded.
“Are you ok man? Look at you. You must be starving. What’s going on?” He nodded his head towards my feet. In my blissful engagement, I had slipped off my shoes. I was standing in a garden oasis in the park shoeless eating a piece of fruit. Other than my shoeless feet, I was fully clothed and appeared tidy and well kept by any standard I was aware of.
“I was just eating a piece of fruit. The tree said it was ok.” In my confusion, my statement trailed off as if I was asking a question.
“O no man. That trees wild. You can’t eat that.”
“Why not? What is it?”
“I don’t know man. Do you just go around eating things in the wild?
“I. I don’t know.” One of us was absolutely mad. I knew this but which one.
I observed the man. Finger tip to brim of glasses. Adjustment. Nose wiggle like a rabbit. Little click chirp gesture with mouth. Head shake. “Ok. It’s him. He’s snapped out of it.” I thought.
“We need to get you some help guy,” he said. His sound of genuine concern was now an overly friendly tone. Like I was a child.
Thoughts formulated again, “He HAS NOT snapped out of it. What is going on?” I stood in silence.
“You must be in rough shape to be out here like this.” He dug his hand around in his pocket before pulling out a crumbled wad of dollars and loose change. “There’s a convenience store down on the corner. Go get yourself a donut. A candy bar maybe.” Still fidgeting he pulled out another dollar. “Here you go pal. Get yourself a soda too. You can’t be doing this. Out here in the wild eating stuff. It’s crazy.”
He handed me the money. Caught off guard by the unexpected show of generosity, coupled with my realization that, at the very least, to him I was the mad one, I extended my hand to shake his. “Thank you,” I said.
“O. Uh. Yeah. Ha. Ha,” He nervously uttered while waving his hands in front of his chest as if trying to decode what to do with my extended hand before choosing to ever so gently and quickly pat me on my shoulder with the tips of his middle three fingers.
“You just take care of yourself guy. Ok? It’ll be ok,” he remarked as he slowly backed away from me, creating enough distance to assure himself I wouldn’t attack, then turning and walking into the mist.
I glanced down at the fruit and kicked it towards the rose bush and out of sight. I glanced up at the tree. It let out a long, heavy, sorrowful sigh much more pained than when I had plucked the fruit from its body.
I turned and left the park.