She was asleep.
Dreaming of gardens and streams.. and a beautiful yet strong music reached her ears. It was as if someone was sofly, agonisingly, rubbing certain weeds togather.. She followed the music, in search of it’s source and out of nowhere, she saw a man.
She walked upto him and as she tried to look up to his face, he hid her eyes and she felt his touch on her face.
His fingers burned her lips,
and slowly the burn reached her heart.
The moment it reached the cardiac fibers, they suddenly caught her heart in a tight grip.
Burning, painful grip.
Seconds went by, sore seconds.
When her eyes felt conscious, she looked up to find there was no one.
It was only his ghost.
She stood up.
The valleys of the forest of present.
Longing to hear that music again. To feel that burning warmth.
Took her several days.
But she found him.
In the bayou, on the east of the forest.
In a cubicle made of wooden mesh work.
The woods came branching from the tree of life.
Her eyes gasped.
In joy, in pain, in wonder,
in desire, in piercing need.
He was asleep.
Expressions flowing on his beautiful scarred face.
Expressions, that would change.
One moment agony,
the other peace,
the other nostalgia,
the other hope..
And so on..
She broke open the cubicle from where it was the weakest, and sat by him.
His head burned hot in fever.
His heart growing cold by the hour.
She took off her robe, whispered the words taught to her by the Gardener-of the tree of life-, and let the essence of the words absorb into her robe.
She covered his heart with the robe.
She took it as her abode.
The now broken cubicle.
Every evening she’d leave to learn more from the Gardner,
Every night she’d weave more threads into the robe
and every morning she’d whisper those new words into the robe.
It didn’t help make the heart warm.
But it stopped it from growing more cold.
The irony was, if she missed even a day of this work, the heart would go back into the ever growing rhythm of ice.
It had been an year now.
Months she’d done as she was told by the Gardner.
In times, when she wasn’t doing so, she’d spend hours learning the curious expressions of his face.
Her careful observance did not go in vain.
For she had in fact, learnt to interpret stories from his expressions.
Now, she could tell what he was going through in the unknown parallel land where his consciousness was.
An year, that seemed only as if it were a day to her, did not seem so to her caravan.
Her caravan never stayed long in the bayou.
And an year was too much for them.
They called out to her, to come back and travel to the other side of the forest, where they could find more resources, and live in a better way for a while before they moved elsewhere.
The thought of civilized people, man-made sweets, and her caravan’s joyful company attracted her,
but for a moment.
Because in the next, she felt the cold heart beside her again.
Remembered how it would catch the rhythm of ice again the day she left it unattended.
She was distressed.
In this state, she visited the Gardner again.
For advice for *herself this time.
The Gardner said a strange thing.
that it was a good thing for her if she went on with her caravan.
Because her stay with the being, was affecting her. She had gained dark marks on the hands she used to weave for him, and the lips she used to whisper spells for him.
The longer she stayed, the more she’d become isolated, affected and until he doesn’t gain back consciousness and by his own will, let’s her heal through him, she will eventually deteriorate into something similar to what the being is now.
But if she chose to risk it all on the belief that he would heal her eventually, that was her own choice to make. .
On the way back, she looked at herself in the river.
She saw the marks the Gardner was talking about.
She suddenly felt a fear. A reluctance to go back to him.
“It was useless” , a voice told her, ” even if he gained consciousness, he would never help you heal. For, child, he doesn’t even know you exist! He’s in a different place. He has no idea what you’re helping him with”
“You like his scars. You’re falling in love with his essence. Aren’t you?” said another voice.
I’ve always loved the bayou the most, she thought to herself. And this, this isolation, it doesn’t affect me in a bad way. It allows me to think freely. Justly. Unlike the biased thoughts of most of my caravan and the civilised people.
And I’ve got the Gardner here? Haven’t I? He will always help me, no matter what.
Why is this fear then bothering me? Keeping me away from this … This Enchanted being.
She slowly walked back to the being, and for the first time, instead of covering his heart with more robes, she uncovered it.. Completely.
The expression on his face suddenly started to fluctuate. She let her hand wander onto his face, trail the scars.
She leaned in, and the being drew a warm breath.