A Test

Author’s Note: While I normally use this space to write rambling,  long-form opinion pieces, lately I’ve been toying with the idea of writing fiction. I don’t think I’m especially good at it, but one can only improve by practicing. This is the first in what I hope will become a series of short stories; an introduction to whet my appetite to continue writing. I welcome any and all constructive criticism as I try to figure out just how, exactly, this is supposed to work.

A warm breeze drifted across the field, each blade of grass bending to its gentle push. The air here smelled of something sweet and undefinable. Above, a sky painted in blue unlike any she’d ever seen spread outward into eternity, melding seamlessly into the tops of distant greenery. She’d read stories, of course, of this enchanted land. All children knew the tales of times when their ancestors walked among nature and drank in its glowing beauty. One would do just as well to believe in these myths as anything else, but she’d long since outgrown them.

An impulse to run swept over her, and she allowed herself to give in. It began slowly, a smooth stride aross the sprawling grass that gradually gave way to a wild sprint. Soon, she was moving so fast that she could no longer feel the tickle on her bare feet or the way that the fresh dirt clung between her toes. With reckless joy, she swept over the land, imagining herself as one with the wind that swirled the air around her. The tug at the back of her mind that told her this could not be real soon faded, and she was lost to this moment of perfect freedom.

Far ahead, large growths reaching up to the sky loomed — trees, she recalled. She knew nothing more than a desire to be among these giants, and every ounce of doubt she’d felt just moments ago melted away under the beaming sun. Oh, the sun! A brilliant and indescribable thing that somehow hung in the world above while touching all that she could see. Everything about this place, each tiny detail and great expanse, was like the clearest picture that had ever been painted.

She rushed forward, becoming almost unaware of herself. Each stretch of a leg, each heavy breath, became a part of her world. She was an effortless existence; a piece of a puzzle now complete. It seemed as though the mere thought of walking among the forest was enough to carry her there, and soon she was lost in the tangle of greens and browns that towered over her head and splintered the light from above like a kaleidoscope. Her run had become a dance, weaving between the wood and carrying her deeper into a dream.

A sharp, screeching sound cut the air and she was suddenly keenly aware that she was not alone. Somewhere above her, a rustling betrayed the presence of a creature painted in soft browns that concealed it against the canopy of branches and leaves. The legends named it “bird”, or perhaps “hawk”. These lines were not always clear, though she knew that they once were important details. A piercing yellow eye regarded her with an alien curiosity for an instant, then another screech as the thing became a part of the sky, soaring up and away from where she stood.

In the midst of these trees, this world was far different from the open field before. Dark shadows played with her vision, and the sweet smell was somehow thicker, as though the air was liquid. She ran her fingers across the surface of the enormous plants, their rough skin a stark contrast to her softer touch. For what seemed like hours, she strolled with no destination, simply content to exist. It was not a familiar feeling, and yet she knew that it was how she was supposed to live.

In an instant, it was gone.

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