April 20, 2009
By Olivia Findley BRONZE, Ballwin, Missouri
Olivia Findley BRONZE, Ballwin, Missouri
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

She pushed open the heavy oak doors and walked into the evening. She felt a release as the doors thudded shut behind her, as if she were leaving one world and diving into another. All of the strains, forced politeness, and stuffy clothes were now left behind in that world of the indoors for the freedom of the outdoor world. She was alone, but not the lonely sort of alone, the delicious, secret, and free alone: no one watching, no one cautioning, no one nagging. Alone. Her hair ran loose down her back, scalp still aching from the tight hairpins. She wore a cotton night dress and no shoes. She hated shoes. Hated the way they pinched her toes, hated the way they left blisters on the backs of her heels, hated the way they squeaked. She wiggled her toes, relishing the cool of the flagstone terrace beneath her bare feet.

She surveyed the sloping grounds in front of her: the grasses rustling in the slight breeze, the perfectly formed flowers, the fish pond, the trees in the distance, all bathed in liquid silver from the full moon. To her, the night was as vibrant and full of life as the day. It seemed everything had taken shelter from the blazing heat of the June sun and only now opened up to the cooling air. She hopped the terrace stairs into the grass. She preferred walking through the grass to walking on the brick path. She felt the grass squish between her toes and tickle her calves as she landed, gazing towards the fish pond. Its still waters were a perfect reflection of the cloudless night sky. She wanted to jump head first into the water, wanted to let it wash away every trace of the indoors world. Wash away the tension, the glares, the yelling.

She placed one porcelain foot in front of the other until she was walking, then with greater speed until she was running, and then, as if nothing extraordinary at all were happening, she stepped into the air and she was flying. The warm, slightly humid air enveloped her skin like warm bath water. It rustled her night dress, tickled her feet, and plucked at her hair. Her hair flew wild behind her as she flew up and up into the endless sea of stars. The inky sky looked as soft and inviting as satin sheets. She longed to touch it.

She turned and swooped over the gardens and watched from above as the evening flowers opened their faces to the full moon. She drank in their heady perfume and smelled the faint, sweet scent of the honeysuckle that bordered the surrounding forest. It was an utterly intoxicating fragrance. The perfume… sweet and musky… just like the indoors.

Her mother’s crystal perfume bottles shimmering in the candlelight, perfectly in place on the mahogany dresser. Everything in its place. Accusations. Yelling, hot and angry. Squealing and tinkling sounds as the bottles are smashed on the dresser. Shards of glass fly everywhere and the air is sickly sweet with the overpowering scent of all those perfumes mixing together as they flood the dresser, stain the silk chair, and drip to the floor. Drip, drip, drip.

She shook her head and passed into clearer air to be away from the thick aroma of garden flowers and honeysuckle. She steered herself further and further away from the house, back towards the pond. The breeze came stronger now, making shushing noises as it blew through the leaves. It tugged at her, tossing her gently from side to side. The wind changed direction and she was surprised with a sudden warm breeze hugging her shoulders and toes. It was like the warmth of the radiator.

Her mother’s closet has always been a favorite play place. It’s cavernous size and sparkling evening gowns lends itself well to imaginary games. She has been resting there against the comfortably warm radiator. They come in screaming. She does not dare draw a breath lest she be discovered. Her mother’s voice, piercing and hysterical. Her father’s a dangerously low growl. The radiator warms her skin. She sees an unfamiliar dress hanging concealed among the lesser used dresses.

The breeze changed direction again and was cool once more. She watched the fireflies begin to light. They twinkled like stars, extending the night sky to the ground. She stretched out a long fingered hand and caught one in her cupped palm. She studied it closely as it crawled around her hand, its tiny legs tickling and sticking to her fingers. It climbed to the top of her tallest finger, spread its wings, and launched itself into the sky. She had often envied the freedom of things that flew but now she was flying, too. It was every bit as exhilarating and rejuvenating as she had hoped. So many evenings had been spent in the indoors, peering out to the wider world, wishing for a moment of fresh air. Tonight she had snuck out without any difficulty. She had not been able to stand the tension a second longer so she left. After all, it is what he always did when things became too heavy.

The heavy oak door slams. Mother locks herself in her room. No callers are accepted. The tension hangs, lingers. Servants whisper. He returns. Mother pretends he was never gone. He smells of a foreign perfume, eyes clouded.

Her eyes were wide open. She was determined to hang on to as much of the outdoors as possible to sustain her when she eventually returned to the indoors. She must always return. Yet tonight felt different. Tonight with the jewel encrusted sky, the sweet smelling air, the breeze, the flowers, the flight. Tonight was different. It had the strong feel of infinity. Maybe tonight was the night she never returned to the indoors. Maybe tonight she could stay. Maybe…

She continued towards the fish pond, its waters more tempting than ever. She soared above the perfect reflection of the night sky. She spun, round and round losing sight of which was water and which was sky. She was surrounded by the stars and the moon. She was a star herself. Round and round and round, blurring the boundaries of the horizon. The water rippled she stopped. Hovering above the edge, she stared into the mirror. The wild haired waif staring back startled her at first until she realized it was only her reflection. She leaned closer towards the water until her nose almost touched her reflection’s.

She landed. She stood at the edge, staring, contemplating, wishing. She took a few steps back. Then, with a flying leap, she plunged into the water.

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