A Disturbing Reflection

April 29, 2009
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Legs crisscrossed on my brick patio, I am staring out into the rain. I single in on the descent of each droplet and listen for the muted soft tap that resounds as each one meets the ground. Then, I hear the drops collectively like a thousand tap dancers.

The surrounding air smells of the rain and holds a cold chill that nips at the extremities. Ivy leaves nod their dark green, heart-shaped heads in monotonous approval. Intermittently, a bird soars around frantically overhead; its sleek, fragile silhouette intensifies the contrast of the ominous character of the dense gray clouds looming above. I hug my knees and close my eyes.

Priorities drag me away from my place of contemplation and scrutiny. Armed with high lighters and gel pens, I revert back to tackling problems. I push on steadfastly to wade through the waters of intellect and drink up the profundity of their concepts. I have to do well on this one. I imagine my parents’ lips curled in disapproval in a sharp silence. I see them wanting to be comforting and supportive, but too lost in utter disbelief. Nevertheless, my energy fades and I find myself transfixed in episodes of blank starring. I cannot seem to part my eyes with the plain, continuous walls of my room; I stay locked in a focused, continuous gaze.

Almost in a trance, I get up and head for the front door. My outstretched hand grasps the chrome door knob and turns. It swings out from my slender fingers, releasing a mournful, submissive groan. This moment fixates itself into my mind so that I suspect I will recall the round, hard polished metal leaving my finger tips years later.

Step by step, I move feeling my weight shift from my heels to the balls of my feet on the solid, cracked concrete. I quicken my pace till I am running--- fast.

A clearing grows nearer and nearer and I pass through its curtains of orange red leaves. Dried dead foliage cakes the ground in a soft paste, hastening my run to a stroll. The rain lessens to a drizzle. My curiosity lures me in further to a pool of standing water in the distance. I kneel down beside the mirror-like water and slip my hand between its liquid layers. Peering through the water, I observe the distorted image in the mocking water. Immediately, my hands stiffen with shock.

Holes dominate my hands, creating windows to peer through. Despite the frightful image, I feel no pain. In fact, the holes feel --- soft and shadow-like. And, they bury into my palm, almost moving on their own.

Meditatively, they swish their triangular tails through the thin water. Protruding dark beady eyes gleam on their lopsided heads. I smile at my anxiety--- tadpoles.

Their puddle is barely sufficient; it is filled only so high as to barely skim over their heads when they lay their bellies on the murky water bottom. Despite their vulnerability, they zoom through their home, flicking their tails in fiery outbursts of energy in an awing vivacity. My chapped lips unconsciously mouth a line from Tennyson “We feel that we are greater than we know.”

A thick brown spider crawls out from the leaves and slips into the gray blue puddle. Its legs slip out from beneath it and fan out, unfamiliar with the strange sliding substance they encounter. Frantically they beat up and down feeling for something sturdy and solid to crawl onto and push themselves up to support the small centered body of their master. But they do not have much time to find a solid place, for the water beneath them is darkening to a distinct gray. Then out of the darkness a gray head simply tilts upward with a subtle smile on its gaping mouth, lulling in the graceful insect with ease. I turn away and shutter.

The rain falls faster, but the mesh of leaves canopying overhead prevents much penetration. I only hear droplets smack against the paper-thin leaves and see each leaf tremble in effect. The raw severity of nature here is strangely beautiful; it synchronizes death and life, instilling a vehement sense of energy. The little life remaining of the fall leaves fades, but never expressed such vivacity as now with star-like blotches of orange and yellow. Strange how these intense hues peak in their final screams for life only to inevitably dull.

The striking, urging curiosity I held extinguishes and zipping up my knitted jacket I walk toward the wall of leaves. I push my hands through a place where a crack of light is shining through.

In thick overlapping layers they lace on vines enclosing the space. Thin branches intertwine, twisting about one another in tangle with a mystifying beginning and end. The leaves cling on in lavish bundles. I exert my weight against the lacework of leaves, but I stand a fixture in this earthy wall. I become conscious of my lungs breathing, my heart thumping, the blood filling my veins and feel the rhythm rock me. My ankle sinks beneath me and wedges in a tangle of vines.

Every part of me tingles with anticipation. I let my mind grieve.

A loud snap cuts the silence. In one fleeting moment, a tug releases my ankle and a force pushes me out of the tangle. Picking myself up off the ground, I look up and see a concerned face staring back at me.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” I say panting.

“I come up here from time to time to sketch. And then I saw you struggling…”

“Thanks for the help… uh?”


He stretches out an open palm. It takes me a moment for the friendly gesture to register.

“Cody. What were you working on?”

“Uh, well here…” he scrambles through his bag and retrieves a spiral notebook.

He flips determinedly through various sketches of ivy leaves wound about trees, birds soaring, and people in various poses.


He finally rests on a page. Dark, dreamy silhouetted people roam in the distance under a solemn, clouded sky with bits of light bleeding through. His mastery over the lights and darks conveys an incredible depth and reality. The image pours over me. There is a strange familiarity to these gray people with their oblique, narrow frames. They move softly, quietly under the low sky just above them like shadows.

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pinksun said...
Aug. 8, 2009 at 5:24 am
thank you. I forgot to mention this but at the end the character realizes that the ppl in the picture are like tadpoles. (the hint was the low sky like the low water and their dark shapes)I used the tadpoles as a metaphor for how limited and dependent people are. hope you liked it, i'd love to hear your feedback :)
Tashan said...
May 18, 2009 at 10:28 pm
I really liked it, I have written some similiar to this, but I am not near this good at it! It was a breif glimpse into an entirely different perspective, and I truly lost myself in it.
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