Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 35
Winter Solstice, 2019

New Works

Dilon Zeres

Flowers in the Window

There are flowers in an open window.

Yulia listens to the open air. Sounds of spring. Scents of petal and pollen. Arising.

There is a quiet elegance, here. Sooner than there is a call of death. Time and its many branches uprising. Life born again.

Yulia stares at the flowers, tranquil in their potted place. She's mesmerized by them. Circular lips and dotted stems. Crowns of spores; robes of deep, curving pink. Unaffected.

There is a breeze bestowed upon them, but they don't notice—they don't notice anything. Or maybe they are just as mesmerized as she is, their attention consumed by the outside scene. Aroma of change. New water and taller grass. Other flowers—blooming.

Yulia closes her eyes. Lets herself be pleasant in dark. Birdsongs appearing like clockwork melodies in her vision. Waves of cool air surprise her face, yet still refreshing in a certain comfortable way. Life, light, liquid. Meditations.

There is a storm gathering in the distance. But distance feels like imaginable space. Infinite, yet definitive. For as long as imagination wills it, it shall be forever far away. Echoing.

Yulia swirls on her chair. Her eyes open again, looking over the flowers at a view melting in peaceful daze. If the whole world were to disintegrate in this moment, she would be none too upset about it. What a gentle and sonorous goodbye it would be. Like dissolving in a bath of angels.

And she calmly gets up—uncrinkling her dress, slipping into some sandals, blowing a kiss to the flowers in the window—before joining horizon by walking outside.

An eeriness is at work out here.

As Yulia walks along grass toward hills, she sees skies quickening in gray wind, an underbelly of secret thunder waiting to reveal itself. She wonders if she'll be back home before it rains. But then again she's always loved the rain. She wishes for it instead of worrying about it.

Between trees, she steps. Lazy, yet yearning. Adventurous but careful. She doesn't want to disrupt whatever wonderful thing was going on before she appeared. As rabbits tense up, she waves to them that she means no harm. As roots swell, she assures them she is not there to stomp on them. As everything adjusts to her presence, she quickly blends in, dispelling fears, becoming caught in the undergrowth.

"I'm on your side," she whispers.

Down beside her, she finds a river. Clear. Cerulean. Flowing as if it were asleep. But there are babies in there. Fish and frogs and flora. Floating.

Yulia kneels beside it. She seeks permission and it croaks in confirmation. She lays her hand in, a tender lure, letting invisible force push through her fingers, a serenade of stream. A school of tadpoles pass by, darting in and out of her fingers, swirling around their tips in passing curiosity. Then they disperse—on to the next leg of their lives, whatever next object of natural fascination they should find, even flat rocks endlessly beautiful in their fresh eyes.

Yulia laughs softly. Then she says, "Good luck, out there!"

And she truly means it. More than she's meant anything, ever.

"They will die, all the same..." a stroke of coarse thunder interrupts.

Yulia jumps back up, turning around only to see no one there. Perhaps the woods are speaking to her in their sylvan tongues? Nonsense.

I must be hearing things, Yulia thinks.

Don't get wrapped up in your head, she warns herself.

She continues along the riverside, stepping through mushy ground, an uneven sidewalk of moss-soaked pavement. Through crimson-capped mushrooms and lonely lilies. An unseen mist dampens her cheeks. Clouds hover above.

Yulia removes her sandals. Carrying them, she moves barefoot on the surface of this terrestrial heaven. Soft, crumbly dirt. Sinewy, silky strands of grass and vines. Things hadn't been like this for a while. Not since they let her out—but she doesn't care to concern herself with those things, now.

A flash of light. Yulia looks up. Lightning levitates. Still small, but striking all the same. Soon, it shall rain. Refresh everything. Revitalize.

As Yulia approaches the side of a gigantic hill, overlooking the remainder of wood like an Olympian cliff, she notices a stranger standing at the mouth of the river. They stare at its rippling lips, which are leaked upon by a throat of upward stone and vascular earth. A perfect place for a picnic, maybe.

Yulia leans against a tree, her hands prickled by its spongy-bark. This stranger is tall, slender, almost decrepit. They are wearing an overly-long gown, its excess length entangling their feet in muddied mounds. Their hair reaches their waist—fine as fire, sharp as stalagmite, white as winter-moon.

Yulia knows it is a somewhat morbid way to perceive a person, but she sees this stranger as a skeletal spirit, pristine and phantom. Is she hallucinating this? Is there really such a strange and serene thing that she is seeing?

Yulia leans forward, attempting a closer view, accidentally snapping a fallen branch. She gasps.

It rings out in the silence in dispossessed discordance. But things are still together. And even though Yulia's heart pulsates, most of nature seems nescient.

Except for the strange skeleton, whose head turns so efficiently, so without wither, in a bolt of motion. No emotions. Just acknowledgment.

Yulia mumbles something but cannot speak for herself. She wants to say sorry or something similar. But she just stares, silent, in a stone trance. Embarrassed. Enfeebled.

"If you are trying to hide," the mysterious spirit proclaims, "you should hide from yourself, first."

By now, Yulia realizes there's no sense in pretending she isn't there. She slowly walks over to the stranger, beside a basin of dark, oozing aqueous-essence.

And she's too nervous to look them in the eyes, so she lets herself be swallowed by the shadowy swamp, instead.

"Sorry if I scared you," Yulia grumbles, "but you scared me, if I'm being honest."

"Honesty is a noble thing," the Spirit says. "If you are not a thief then there is nothing to be afraid of."

Yulia isn't quite sure what the spirit means, by this. Is it possible to be a thief, here? What could you possibly steal? What plant here is so precious as to be valuable enough to be victim to thievery? There are pretty flowers around, but—

A sudden stampede, overhead. Hooves of an unseen overture, trampling across the stilted sky, latticed by trembling leaves. Followed by a return to normal landscape—trees creaking, songbirds performing, rabbits munching on root.

Whether it was the spooky dip of sound or just nerves settling within, Yulia finally looks at the spirit, seeing their ebon-eyes solidified in alabaster cream. Almost glowing, dripping. Full of soul. Too much soul.

Yulia can't say why but she feels like crying.

Am I going crazy? She wonders to herself. Just stay normal.

"It's gonna rain," Yulia says.

Spirit nods. Then gazes at an arborous ceiling.

"All the world will be washed away," Spirit says, "but if you leave now, you can avoid drowning."

Their tone is absolute, insolvable. Yulia considers what they said. She's doubting herself—did I hear that right? Who's drowning, here?

"What do you mean?" Yulia asks.

Spirit replies, "What I have always meant."

For a second—only a second—there are low flames in their eyes. Simmering and shimmering. Like an afternoon smolder; two lovers post-coital, lounging in the languid aftereffect of pleasure. Then it disappears.

Memory is a sticky thing. And Yulia, carving out her assurances in confused coercion, truly becomes startled by her own unreliable retention.

"Are you—are you real?" she poses her question, somewhat staggering through it. She can't believe she'd ask such an inappropriate, impolite question to an unknown stranger!

"Sorry, I didn't mean—I didn't mean to say that."

Yulia laughs at herself, nervously, flinching. But when she recovers, there is no longer a spirit, there. No one is around. Just whirling woods. Unbothered.

And it starts raining.

Flirtatious drops at first. Then a splatter of tempest tears. All at once like a tide released from glass. But she doesn't move.

Yulia, sad and soggy, just whimpers, fading to a nearby boulder. She sits upon it, haunted. A ghost in her heart. A hand from beyond the veil scraping on her brain. She's shivering.

"But I thought—I really thought..." she mutters to herself. "I thought you were here..."

After an hour, Yulia returns home.

Inside, she drops her clothes to the floor in a splash. There is a towel knitted with sea-shells, hanging from a pole nearby. But she doesn't reach for it. Room is like a forgotten name now. All she has is a face of where things are, grimacing.

Over by the window, there are her flowers. Damp. Spotted in rain. Dreaming. Wistful in misty youth.

Someday, they'll be withering. Rusting; rotting. In ruin. Forever let down. She'll have to empty the pot. Pour them out, dirt and all, into the trash. Bag up her little death. Take it somewhere far from the window—as far as she's capable of. Only there can she abandon it. Only there can she part with her life.

Until then—she takes to her chair. Nude and wet. Shaking. She looks at the flowers in the window, their pink petals tugging on air.

Wait—weren't they blue, before? she wonders.

Don't get wrapped up in your head, she thinks.

Renewal. Restoration. Rebirth.

Drums beat in slow, slumbering metronome. Always proceeded by strings of lightning. Always meaning the same thing. Never breaking rhythm. So much so, Yulia doesn't even observe it. There's no reason to.

When the storm passes, she barely recognizes it. It's not something she's prone to know. Not something she'll ever know again.

Just a window with flowers in it.

Dilon Zeres is a new writer. Enjoys daydreaming and stargazing. You can follow them on twitter @dilozeers or look at their prose blog (linked).