Within me is a running brook. Flowing between where I’ve been, and where I will be. And in the middle stand me and you.
The trees are filled with wild birds. Expressive. Curious, spontaneous. Free to move. The overgrowth is luscious and vivid green, bearing fruit. The forest floor is carpeted in soft moss padding, supportive. The sunlight filters between the trees and the air moves. I take your hand and we move gently; the forest is timeless. There is fruit to eat and soft floor to rest on and time to explore. Don’t worry about the bugs. There are fish in the stream and we can sleep in the trees, together.
I blink in shock. This cannot be. The forest jitters before my eyes, like a television with rolling reception. It is gone.
The trees are cleared, by man or otherwise. Section by section until I stand on bare earth. It is still damp from the life it bore; I sink into it. Flat back, I stare up into a hot and relentless sun, as the ground dries. My lips become parched. I dig for water and establish feeble streams, the brook is no more and they evaporate. The wind picks up and whips red dust in my eyes. I call to you over the wind. We battle for survival in inhospitable land.
What now? Perhaps both landscapes are illusions, and I trade one for another. In any case, I’m not going to die out here. Pretty sure there was a place for me before, before I came here with you. (I don’t know where you will go). Retreat, and return there. To an armchair in a quiet house. Familiar. Comfortable. Secure. To stare into a crackling fire and remember the touch of your hand on my face in a colourful forest.
Inside again, for now.