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The Mind (A Metaphor)
It seemed pointless to wonder how I had gotten here, and even more so to wonder where I had been before. Why think of such things when I found myself in such an unearthly place as this? The enclosure was brimming with oddities of all sorts and wonderments to baffle the sharpest of minds.
In the middle of the room was a garden unlike any I’d ever seen before. Stepping forward, I saw flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors. Strange fruits hung from closely intertwined vines so thick I couldn’t see the ground beneath them. A small tree no taller than my waist shivered in a nonexistent breeze, its bare branches the color of fresh orange peels.
Through all of this, one flower in particular caught my eye and I stepped over to examine it more closely. It had petals the size of my palm and was a gorgeous ruby red color. A thimbleful of a faintly glowing, milky substance sat in its center, and as I looked at it I found that I could see the outlines of two people, moving on its surface. They walked up a winding gravel road together, heading towards a house mostly obscured by trees.
But as I watched the figures, I was surprised to see that the flower was wilting. The softly shimmering liquid and the story it held began to dim. The flower’s petals slowly closed up again, as the deep red petals were gradually drained of their color. Within minutes the flower had receded, paled to a pasty grey.
With a tinge of regret I turned my back on the dying flower, seeking something more pleasant to observe. Unfortunately, what I saw next was even more disturbing.
From a shadowed corner crept several shriveled vines covered in vicious thorns. Gnarled tendrils the color of ash reached out into the room, withering the nearby foliage.
Shivering slightly, I turned my back on the wretched sight, looking upward instead. I was astonished to see what looked like a thousand dreams writing their stories above the garden. Spiders wove webs inside of soap bubbles as huge, three – legged mosquitoes buzzed ominously near the ceiling. Pixies and fireflies danced giddily through the air, leaving a trail of high-pitched giggles sparkling like jewels in their wake.
I turned in circles, overwhelmed by the hubbub, trying to make sense of it all. Suddenly, one of the huge insects dove straight at my face. I gasped in surprise, stumbling back and accidentally stepping on one of the red flowers. A sharp pain exploded in my head and I fell to the floor, crushing a patch of buttercups. The pain doubled and stars obscured my vision. I scrambled away from the flowers to sit on a bare patch of ground, trying to stop the world from spinning.
I didn’t move for a long time. The incident had unnerved me, and I was beginning to consider the possibility that not everything here was harmless. I wanted to get out, if just for a moment, but couldn’t see any means of escape. There were not doors or windows, and I couldn’t help but feel trapped.
Sighing quietly, I leaned back against the wall behind me. Staring upwards, I couldn’t help but notice a mouse, sitting casually on the ceiling.
The little creature didn’t seem to notice that he was upside-down, defying gravity. After sniffing cautiously at a cluster of sickly grey cocoons, the mouse skittered across the ceiling towards the wall opposite me. He paused outside of a mouse hole, also upside-down, and knocked on its door.
“A mouse hole with a door,” I thought absently. “What a strange idea…”
The little wooden door opened and the mouse entered, disappearing from sight.
“He left,” I thought amazed. It seemed escape was not an impossibility after all.
I stood up and began to make my way over to the other side of the room. It was difficult work, trying not to tread on any of the plants while dodging the apparitions flying through the air. I was out of breath by the time I reached the other side.
Panting slightly, I looked up to see the mouse hole directly above me, upside-down as though the ceiling was the floor. But, of course, I couldn’t reach it. I needed something to stand on. I surveyed the wall on either side of me and spotted a shelf a few feet away, covered in the blackened vines I’d seen before. I stepped over to begin clearing it off with the intent of using it to boost myself up. However, I was slightly horrified to find that upon touching the vines my hands turned cold and numb. I felt something wet on my cheek and realized it was tears.
I was scared. But I refused to let the fear overcome my determination. I continued to shove aside withered tendrils, ignoring the numbness now creeping up my arms.
The shelf was finally clear. Hands shaking, I hoisted myself up onto it. I stood, very slowly, pretending not to hear the ominous creaking coming from beneath my feet. Shuffling carefully to the edge of the shelf, I found that I could reach the mouse hole by balancing unsteadily on the tips of my toes. Struggling to reach it, I knocked on the door with my index finger and waited, trying not to fall. After a pause, the door swung open with a small squeak.
Leaning against the wall and craning my neck, I struggled to see where the door lead. I was disappointed to see that a room quite like the one I was in lay on the other side. Strange mosquitoes droned in midair while a pixie and a firefly danced together, singing something that sounded very similar to ‘Greensleeves’.
Suddenly I slipped. Catching myself before I fell, I was bewildered to discover that it had become very dark in just a few moments. A breeze stirred the air and I shivered, feeling wary.
I took a deep breath and looked down at where the ground should have been. I was horrified to see nothing more than an endless black abyss beneath me, and shut my eyes, clutching the wall even more tightly than before.
Somehow, I had gotten out of the room. It seemed ironic that now all I wanted was to get back in.
Forcing my eyes open, I looked up, trying to find somewhere to go. My arms were tiring quickly, and I had no desire to see what lay behind the darkness below. I was relieved to see that the wall ended about a foot above my hands, and I scrambled upwards to pull myself onto the roof of the room I’d just been in.
For a few moments I was still, trying to erase the blind panic from my mind. But after a time I began to get the feeling that I was being watched. I opened my eyes and sat up, looking around.
The first thing I saw was the little mouse. He sat a few feet away, watching me carefully with a gaze that seemed much more intelligent than that of the average rodent. But I was immediately distracted from this by the brilliance of the stars above. They seemed closer than usual, and if I stared long enough I thought I could see the fire burning on their surfaces. I could even see the miniscule planets circling them reverently.
I was so mesmerized by the night sky that I didn’t notice the mouse coming closer until he had settled on my knee, also looking up at the stars. There we both sat, staring at the heavens, delighted yet unsurprised when the sun never rose.