The car pulled up alongside an empty field, empty but for summer grasses and glowing marigolds. A soft light seemed to pour from the Arcadian setting. It was not long until twilight. The woman in the car turned off her engine.
Opening the car door, she heard the faintly strident beeping of the “key in ignition” warning. The sound intruded the peaceful quiet. She slammed the door in distaste of all warnings. Society seeks our own protection, from ourselves, but we want freedom-a freedom of soul. Even here the city would remind her against locking herself outside the car. The thought offended her.
Leaving the metal thing behind, she turned to observe a hill on the other side of the field. It rose up quickly, then dropped, leaving the impression that there was much to be discovered on the other side. To the left, the marigolds were nestled in a backdrop of baby blue-bells and daisies. Summer was fresh in the valley, still warm and moist; not yet the barren harshness of the later months. Until then, the tender flowers would exult in the gentler rays of their mother sun. There was no sign of death yet in the valley.
But a death imagined can become a death realized. She thought with disgust of the building contractors, the real estate companies-in a word, the “city-growers”: people who wanted to carry the ugly humanity of their city everywhere. They would be the harsh season that never ended-unlike the chastisements of nature which are always followed by a gentle reprieve.
She reached down to cradle a young, blue-green flower. Its petals responded to the touch in ripples of downy silk. There was color, the reflected sun-beams, and the soft, waving music of the grasses. From the west a cool breeze embraced her, and she turned to see the luxuriant sun settling into his bed of clouds. And looking at virginity of the field-free of bottles and wrappers-she threw off her shoes and sent them flying toward the car. The THUD against the exterior pleased her tremendously. It was like declaring one’s freedom.
She broke into a run, with the grasses whipping at her eager legs as she chased the image of the hill. Beneath her, the timid eyes of the squirrels and rabbits and lizards wondered at who this stranger might be. But she did not see them, nor could they see the free spirit that was now incarnate in her. Above, the clouds seemed so far out of reach, but they were under her feet as her spirit soared.
The sun beheld it all in his sleepy vision, pleased at the creatures he had given life to. She was becoming the focus, not the city or its cacophony, and all the grandeur of nature delighted in her joy. To be appreciated was their greatest hope: the sun, these clouds, and the gentle grasses. And hers was the destiny to appreciate; a unique capacity given only to man.
Now the wind was a rush, but her breathing still calm and stable. The speed welcomed her and drew her in, coaxing her spirit to become more and more manifest in its quick movements. Speed! Speed! She seemed to shed the burden of her physical self, leaping through a magic hoop to become an element of air. The summer creatures were caught in a swoon, somehow intangibly affected by the passion of this woman and her escape. Her feet tapped the ground lighter and lighter, becoming mere caresses, then suggestions, then faint memories. Finally, there was no longer the sound of feet. It was an impossible memory, a passion too great to be lived, a yearning that was more fairy tale than a possibility in “real life”.
And so the wondering creatures remembered it, the squirrels and the lizards, watching amusedly as the policemen arrived with the worrying husband. The men pondered at the car and the shoes, and spoke in their strange city-sounds which the creatures could not understand. Nor could they understand the motives of the men, or their actions, nor comprehend why there was not the same joy in them as they had felt from the woman. Only the scratching of heads and more strange sounds, and that oft repeated sound which none of them could understand, nor would they have even if they had known the city-speakers lingo: “she’s missing”. While the sound they might have uttered, if asked, would have sounded much more like “she is free”.