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Banished

The water sits stagnant in the birdbath as the sun penetrates the clouds, and I can nearly sense the plants absorbing its light, growing, thriving as it shines. But I am scorched in the process, oppressed by the lush greenery of this place, sickened by the overly vivid colors and silence that fill it. In my stillness, I fear I might blend into the garden, that I might sprout roots that engrain themselves deep within its soil. But I still sit waiting, waiting for the water to move. I’m waiting for an impossible thunderstorm. A snake slithers somewhere in the garden. I watch and wait as planes cross the sky. I hold my breath as the flyers pass through the clouds, and wonder if they will emerge. I pray that they will. I wonder if they know that some little speck is watching them, willing them not to fear the abyss of uncertainty that is the sky, that is reality; that some little speck is praying for them. I wonder, if I took to flight, would someone pray for me? Would some stranger hold her breath and wonder, wonder if I was afraid to fall? Because the broken cannot break a fall, and I would leave this world shattered. But I need someone, anyone down here, to catch me.

I’ve been an adult for less than four hours, but my jovial disposition has already been replaced by something more sinister; something passionate and longing; something restless in its pursuit of I don’t know what, of something I haven’t yet identified. All I know is that my heart calls out to those people in the sky, longs to sit among them, and brave the clouds of adversity and winds of chaos with them. My parents rejoiced at this blue sky, but I will it to turn stormy gray. They gave me a silver chain-link anklet for my birthday. It suddenly feels so heavy, and senselessly, I wonder if it is made of iron. I contemplate rising, but as I try to do so, I notice that the chain has gotten tangled in the plants beneath it. I assume any struggle to break free would be in vain. So I remain where I am, watching as a Venus fly trap captures its winged prey.

A bird descends from the sky, and I watch in dismay as he approaches the rim of the birdbath. Don’t you see little bird? You’re going to drown in these placid waters. But I know that my thoughts will do little to stop him. I’ve watched far too many trade their freedom for the promise of safety, imprisoned by the confines of this “haven”, bound to the earth by a dependence on its inherent protection. They fly only to return. I’m suddenly filled with an impatient desperation, and I know that my face is contorting with the sort of ire that can arise only from confusion. My hand takes a rock, the hinge of my elbow bends, and my arm sends it speeding towards the bird like a comet. It misses the bird by a mere inch, but with the sharp, dissonant sound of cracking stone, the bath is shattered into a million pieces, and the bird’s sanctuary is destroyed. I need to take away its haven of safety, to coerce it to the border of reality, and hope that it makes the final jump itself. I turn its utopia into a dystopia.

Sure enough, the bird flies away, soaring until it reaches the confines of our apple tree. My formidable, over-protective father’s voice reverberates in my head. Do not consume the apples on this tree, they will cause you severe illness. They’re not ripe, they’re not safe. This sentiment was a type typical of my father: always indicative of danger, warning me of potential consequences, and protecting me from everything that, to me, seemed innocuous. He was trying to protect me from an apple. And in the same manner, he refused to pay for a flight to Mexico today, basing his decision upon no reason other than that it “wasn’t a safe place”. According to him, the world isn’t like our quaint suburban town, our little sheltered home with its white picket fence and garden. He won’t expose me to the kind of harsh, brutal reality that looms on the periphery of my peaceful garden, of my life, but never even attempts to infiltrate. He wants to preserve this so-called sanctuary that is nothing more than a shield to my own ignorance. And what exactly is he protecting me from, anyway?

I reach into my pocket, and I hold a pack of matches between my thumb and forefinger, contemplating what I am about to do. I rise, taking in the sound of crunching grass and uprooting plants as I violently thrust my ankle away from the plants that bind it to the ground. In one, neat stroke, the match is flickering and then the green grass is suddenly a blazing fire and I’m running to the tree. I grab the closest apple I can find, and begin to ascend. It’s not ripe yet, but my patience has been compromised, and I’m tired of waiting and the delicious prospect of reality is truly tempting. I take one giant bite out of sweet, sweet rebellion, and the juice of reality begins to flow through me. As I reach the top of the tree, I notice that the blue sky is tinted gray, and I prepare to face the vehement winds, the turmoil, with alacrity. I see a flash of lightning, then hear a distant crack of thunder, and know that the storm must be approaching. I take one look back at this supposed heaven, burning in the flames of hell, content with the fact that if I fall, there will be nothing left here to catch me. I’ve banished myself from Eden. I lean from the branch of my arboreal savior, preparing myself to jump head-first over the gates of a heavenly hell and into the outside world. And though I’m plummeting to the ground beneath me, I’m soaring.



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