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Lullaby


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#1 jodihopper

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 12:40 AM

Lullaby


       She sat on her cot. Watching him. They had been here for four months. It was hard to tell day and night from inside the cave. This was her latest journey--another dead rock. How many times? She had lost count. There had been companions on all of her walks. All except the first one. She didn't want to think of that one. A dead rock. She had only herself and her memories. No food. No clue. She survived. And learned. The next journey, she had a companion. She only remembered a few of the companions. Specifics about them anyway. They had all been very similar. This last one was different.

     She knew him from home. The others were strangers. They all wanted to know where they were. She didn't know. Sometimes they were on dead rocks like this one. Others were where civilization had been disseminated. Others were worlds where life was not developing completely. A vicious cycle of ravaged feeding by the fauna, stripping all of the flora and then starvation. No balance. And more where things were collapsing. They all wanted to know why them. She couldn't answer that one either. She had been asking that question herself. Why this one? Why a companion at all? But, she found that a companion could help the vine grow faster. Why do this; to what purpose? Maybe someday she would find the answer. So many questions and no answers. This one didn't ask any of the questions. He simply did what she asked of him. Helped when she was doing the menial tasks of spreading the vine without being asked.

      They: she was here to spread the vine. The mother vine she called it. When it encompassed the entire rock, it quickened and collapsed. The rock became a living planet. Life only arises from life. The feeling was ecstasy beyond words. She was always alone when this happened. The companions had faded away home long before. Such a loss for them. She wondered if this one would last.

      She was still watching him. This time she stole quick looks. More than a furtive glance, but not the long study of earlier. He was close now. Helping with the harvest. She gathered berries, from the mother (seeded in the tender air roots that had emerged two weeks past). She also cut tender stems, seedling leaflets and the climbing tendrils from the vine itself. Their flavors were different. The stems—meaty, almost an organic veal. The leaflets—a garlicky, onion starch. The tendrils--green beans. Sauteed together it was a satisfying meal. In the future the true leafs and their petioles would be a bitter green and asparagus. And the older stems would be venison.

      They finished gathering. The meal cooked, they had prepared their plates to return to their corners. Her observation had be come a study again. This one was different. Smaller than the others the space suit she had bought with her was too large and did not seal properly. There were several stops. Each stop a death. Adjustments made, the suit finally fitted. Their search for shelter had begun. He had said nothing about the corrupted flesh left behind.
       She had recently moved into a hotel. It was rundown but not quite a slum area. The people here were invisible to most people. They had problems with real life—the American Dream. Hold down a job , buy a house, have credit, two cars and a dog. Most were recovering addicts. Borderline schizophrenics. Some who were a little slow. They could function on their own to some extent. All of them received assistance of some kind. Not quite homeless, a step to the side. There was a diner nearby where she ate regularly. He worked in the diner, a waiter, but, he couldn't cook. Apparently his youth had taught him that blackened everything was good. She didn't agree with that. They spoke to him. Asked him how he was. Trying to get him to linger a while longer. Hungry for his time. They were visible to him, real people. Not something to be avoided. They all wanted that. So did she. She knew he would be trouble for her from the first. All of her defenses engaged. He moved with a  precision that was almost too delicate to be military. Always a smile for everyone. She was one of these. She supplemented her meager assistance with quick sketches at a local mall. She drew pictures in her mind of the other regulars. She wanted to do more. But never could get the images out of her head onto paper. She constantly studied faces and drawing them in her mind. She still found herself drawing pictures of him in her mind. The first thing that she drew were his hands. He was placing her meal, She was fascinated by the precise movement and the fine lines of well formed hands. She found herself drawing lines in her mind that copied the lines of his hands. And now he was starting to know how much of an outsider she really was. He still did not ask questions, and she did not volunteer her lack of knowledge.

       She watched him eating, movements measured. Practically by “The Numbers”. Yet so delicate. A hot house flower. An Orchid. Strange thing about orchids. They appeared delicate but once they bloom the flowers lasted for months. Over water them. Forget to water them. Too much light, not enough. The flowers may develop some blemishes but they still be beautiful. And then after the flowers fade, put the dried root in a box and forget about it for years. Remember it. Take the root out of the box. Plant it in the right medium. Water it. Place it in the right environment. Ignore it for a while. And one day walk past to see it was blooming. Funny thing orchid came from the Greek word for testicles, which the roots resemble. Tenacious and male, glorious in bloom She wondered how long it would take for this flower to bloom.

Her thoughts drifted to the worlds she had seen. The faded civilizations, their art, their buildings, the memories. The stars. She fell asleep wondering what the worlds she had yet to see would look like through the dark pools that were his eyes. Would he want to see?




* * *

#2 MikeJaffa

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 12:01 PM

Nice mood piece.

#3 jodihopper

jodihopper

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 01:27 AM

thank you

#4 jodihopper

jodihopper

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 12:52 AM

Lullaby


She sat on her cot. Watching him. They had been here four months. It was hard to tell day and night from inside the cave. This was her latest walk, another dead rock. How many walks? She had lost count. There had been companions on all of her walks. All except the first one. She didn't want to think of that one. A dead rock. She had only herself and her memories. No food. No clue. She survived and learned. On the next journey, she had a companion. She only remembered a few of the companions. Specifics about them anyway. They had all been very similar blurring together into one. This last one was different.
She knew him from home. The others were strangers. Physically he was different. Smaller wiry to their tall muscular frames. All were handsome even this one. They all had questions. They all demanded answers. She had none. They all wanted to know where they were. She didn't know. They all wanted to know why them. She couldn't answer that one either. She had been asking that question herself. Why this one? How were they chosen? Why a companion at all? As much in the dark as them she did discover a companion could help the vine grow faster. Why do this; to what purpose? The only thing she could think of was because she could. Maybe someday she would find a more complete answer. So many questions and no answers. This one didn't ask any of the questions. He simply did what she asked of him. Helped when she was doing the menial tasks of spreading the vine without being asked. More questions of her own had developed with him.
They; she were here to spread the vine. He could help. The mother vine she called it. When it encompassed the entire rock, it quickened and collapsed. The rock became a living planet. Life only arises from life. The feeling was ecstasy beyond words. She was always alone when this happened. The companions had faded away home long before. Such a loss for them. She wondered if this one would last.
She was still watching him. This time she stole quick looks. More than a furtive glance, but not the long study of earlier. He was close now. Helping with the harvest. She had discovered that the vine cold provide all that was needed. They gathered berries and herbs. Seeds punched into the tender air roots of the vine that had emerged two weeks past. The vine grew rapidly. Any seeds planted in the vine shared that growth rate. Cut tender stems, seedling leaflets and the climbing tendrils from the vine itself. Their flavors were different. The stems—meaty, almost an organic veal. The leaflets—a garlicky, onion starch. The tendrils--green beans. Sauteed together over a fire fueled by dried air roots,. It was a satisfying meal. In the future the true leafs and their petioles would be a bitter green and asparagus. The older stems would be venison.
They finished gathering. The meal cooked, they had prepared their plates to return to their corners. Her observation had be come a study again. This one was different. Being smaller than the others the space suit she had bought with her was too large and did not seal properly. There were several stops. Each stop a death. Adjustments made, the suit finally fitted. Their search for shelter had begun. He had said nothing about the corrupted flesh left behind.
She had recently moved into a residence hotel. A new neighborhood for her in a new city. It was rundown, not quite a slum area. Well suited to her reclusive nature. She had chosen this place. Most of the locals were here by circumstance. They were invisible to most people. They had problems with real life—the American Dream. Hold down a job, get married, buy a house, have credit, two cars and a dog. Most were recovering addicts. Borderline schizophrenics. Some were a little slow. They could function on their own to some extent. All of them received assistance of some kind. She differed from the majority there were others. They paid their bills with cash earned from cash paid day jobs and odd jobs. She paid her bills with money earned from quick sketches at a local mall and temporary jobs. Like them she wanted to stay off the grid. An outsider among outsiders. Her name was Ester.
There was a diner nearby where she ate regularly. Most of the guests of the hotel were regulars here. Others came from the neighboring businesses. Primarily tradesmen and mechanics. Blue-collar types. He (this latest companion) worked in the diner, a waiter. Sometimes he covered the grill. He couldn't cook though. Apparently his youth had taught him that blackened everything was good. She didn't agree with that. They spoke to him. Asked him how he was. Trying to get him to linger a while longer. Hungry for his time. They were visible to him, real people. Not something to be avoided. They all wanted that. So did she. She knew he would be trouble for her from the first. All of her defenses engaged. Needing to keep him at a distance. Still she found herself studying him. He moved with a precision that was almost delicate. Military. Always a smile for everyone
She drew pictures in her mind of the other regulars. Sometimes actually drawing on paper: napkins, envelops, paper bags. Whatever was at hand. She wanted to do more, but found getting the images out of her head onto paper to be nearly impossible. She constantly studied faces and drawing them in her mind. She found herself drawing pictures of him in her mind. The first thing were his hands. Beautiful, long fingers having a well balanced palm. He was placing her meal, she was fascinated by the precise movement and the fine lines of well formed hands. She found herself tracing the lines in her mind. An outsider. An observer all of her life. This action only emphasized that feeling. And now he was starting to know how much of an outsider she really was.
Now she watched him eating, movements measured. Practically by “The Numbers”. Yet so delicate. A hot house flower. An Orchid. Strange thing about orchids. They appeared delicate but once they bloom the flowers lasted for months. Over water them. Forget to water them. Too much light, not enough. The flowers may develop some blemishes but they still be beautiful. And then after the flowers fade, put the dried root in a box and forget about it for years. Remember it. Take the root out of the box. Plant it in the right medium. Water it. Place it in the right environment. Ignore it for a while. And one day walk past to see it was blooming. Funny thing orchid came from the Greek word for testicles, which the roots resemble. Tenacious and male, glorious in bloom She wondered how long it would take for this flower to bloom.
Her thoughts drifted to the worlds she had seen. So many. Some were dead rocks. Some were living where life was developing out of kilter. Out of balance. Huge swarms of insects with no predators would strip all the vegetation. Then starve themselves. The plants would return slowly and the cycle would begin again. Worlds where civilization have failed. Their art, their buildings, their memories recorded in her mind. The stars. She fell asleep wondering what the worlds she had yet to see would look like through the dark pools that were his eyes. Would he want to see?


* * *


They were outside of the cave. The first time they were back in their space suits. He hyperventilated a little at first. The air roots had grown to a size that they could be spread over the ground outside of the cave. The air roots once scarred and set in the ground would send up shoots and start to normalize the air to earth standards. Earth was their home. She remembered the way he looked at the beginning. He was of slight build around 5' 9”the others had been well muscled and over 6 feet. That was why the suit was too big for him. Light skinned, black hair bronzed, black eyes, a wide clear brow, he was younger also. His lower legs were prostheses. A curiosity, since usually the soft shell that eventually became another living body had always formed with all parts intact—living flesh. Perhaps he identified himself with his fake legs. She kept that in mind. It could be important later.
She didn't have the suits with her first companions. The first walk with a companion had no protection. Not for herself or for him. She had put her first experience down as anomaly. Never to happen again. She was not expecting it. She was not prepared. No space suits. No food. It would be many more walks before she expected it to come. Before she started preparing. And many failures before space suits were tried. She couldn't count how many times they had died and were reconstituted. She thought of the process as a crab shedding an outgrown hard shell. There was a soft shell beneath that hardened and became real flesh again. That flesh was vulnerable to the harsh atmosphere of a dead rock. The soft shell was not. Quite the opposite of the crab. A crab shedding nonetheless. It was so different from death on earth. She had volunteered at hospices and had witnessed several deaths. She saw the spirits arise from the dead, whole and free of infirmities. Depart the body. They simply left in a burst of light. Sometimes they lingered. But they did not to solidify into another new body.
The first time she didn't even have the mother vine. It had taken thousands of deaths before she finally found the vine seeds within the not yet solid flesh of her abdomen. And more deaths before she discovered the vine could be eaten. This time with Jimmy she did have the vine. Jimmy, that was his name. All he did at first was scream. She had to drag him with her. It was unnerving to feel yourself die and to feel the flesh re-form, especially if you had never experienced it before. It was unnerving even if you had. Death hurts. Suffocation really hurts.
Once she and Jimmy had found a cave, she had tried to seal the cave as much as possible. Before her flesh had solidified again, the seed was extracted and thrown into a pool of angry red mud. It took a while for the air to become breathable. Jimmy stopped screaming and between deaths he cowered in a corner. When the air was breathable, she curled up to sleep. Jimmy huddled down nest to her like a child in his parents bed. Afraid of the thunder. Tension gave way to exhaustion. He soon fell to sleep. She soon followed. Dying over and over was exhausting.
She awoke to find Jimmy wrapped around her like a python. One fist locked tightly in her hair. It took some time to extricate herself. Breakfast to prepare for two, she set about harvesting the vine. He watched her. He ate. In time the mud would be filtered into drinking water by the vine, until then they drank sap drawn from the main truck of the vine. His throat soothed. His belly full and no more dying. He began asking questions. Questions to which she did not have answers. Why were they there? With only one previous experience, her only answer was that she went home when the vine was spread over the surface of the rock. Why him? She didn’t know. She didn't know why he was there in the first place. The last time she was alone. Later she would discover that a companion could help the vine grow faster. She still didn't know what criteria was used to select the companions. Who brought them here? Another “I don't know”, all she knew was a door appeared. She had tried to avoid it this second time. Ran from it in terror. The door simply followed her and then engulfed her. The first time, curiosity had gotten the better of her. She went through on her own. The old saying about the cat and curiosity became true many times over. Why do this at all? Why? Because she found the vine within her and it something someone thought should be done.
Her mind came back to the current walk, she realized she didn't even know his name yet. It was never used at the diner. He answered to several names. Hey Joe, Mac, hey waiter, what ever the customers chose. They had finished for the day and were eating the evening meal,. Inside again, he was the first to ask her: What is your name? The first question he had asked since they had arrived. Ester she replied. His was Jacob.
An tiring day of work completed they retired. There would be more days spent outside. Again she wondered if the worlds that were yet to come for her would ever be seen by him. This had become her lullaby.
The second day of spreading the vine outside of the cave started, the quietness had returned. Her thoughts drifted again to Jimmy. Her first walk she couldn't leave the cave to spread the vine. At least not at first, the vine grew to such a size that it broke down a wall of the cave. When it started sending air roots through the walls they simply displaced the material of the wall leaving the cave still sealed. Afraid that she would be dying again, she didn’t move from a distant corner of the cave. Finally venturing outside. The air close to the ground was breathable, the atmosphere above the orange and green swirls of all the air when she arrived. A thermal inversion. She would learn about the phenomena later back on earth. She had landed in a valley near some rock outcroppings that had caves. All of her landings were started in similar places. The place that she and Jimmy had landed was like this. The same with Micah.
When the vine broke down a wall of the cave shared with Jimmy his reaction was more of curiosity. A total change from the terror of their landing. He went out and looked around. A look of amazement on his face. Something new after being locked up in a small cave for what seemed like years. Truth—it had been years. During her first walk, she was equally amazed. Boredom sat in after a while though. She didn't have any thing to draw with. No knowledge to prepare for the trip. She began to train the vines into shapes to satisfy her urge to create. She had started showing Jimmy how to do this almost immediately. The act of creating art caused the vine to grow faster.
It wasn't the only thing that would increase growth in the vine. Simply having another person with her had increased the growth. They had been closed in for over one year. Boredom had pretty much stripped all drive from Jimmy. Having the vine to play with and being outside of the cave had revitalized him.
Jimmy was tall, around six four. He was slender but with signs of becoming well muscled. A youthful body. He was older by three years. She was only sixteen then. Fourteen at the time of her first walk. Blonde hair and blue eyed. Jimmy was an all American boy. Ester tended to think of herself as a “plain Jane”. Her body was average but firm. Smooth skin. Brown hair. Green eyed. They were young. They had endured hardship together. Seeing each other in a different light, in near nakedness. They began to explore each other. They were awkward and inexperienced. Gradually, they would become comfortable. They never reached the levels of ecstasy that some later companions could bring. The levels necessary for the blossoms. But Jimmy and Ester never really connected. Everything was shallow for them. And it wasn't much longer after that Jimmy began taking chances. He was dying frequently. Each death took longer for him to come back. Each time the soft shell was a little less solid in appearance. Gradually the soft shell was so faint. It looked like the spirits she had seen back on earth. And he was gone. Ester finished this walk alone as she had the first.
She would see Jimmy later in her life back of earth and wonder if he remembered. But he had become a celebrity. Approaching him discreetly to ask would be next to impossible. Then again since there were other worlds maybe it wasn't even the same Jimmy.

#5 jodihopper

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 07:21 PM

Hello

Can I ask who is reading and if you would like to read more and which version you liked best
and
and
and

Thank you,
Jo


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