A Brief Respite
rating: +10+x

The needles of the tree shine silver in the light of the moon. Dead ones that have collected on the soft dirt around its base are colored similarly gray but without the luminescence. Blue apples hang from the branches, similarly vibrant.

There is a snake in the garden. At first, it looks completely black — devoid of any color at all— against the knee high grass, but when you look closer, you see that it too shines. One scale might be midnight blue, the next might be dark violet and the next might be a subdued scarlet, but together, they are one beautiful beast. Its eyes are the same shade of silver as the needles of the tree, and when it hisses, you see the outline of a blue tongue. It watches you, curious. Unafraid. There’s no intent to attack in its movements, though if anyone asked, you wouldn't be able to explain how you know it’s just there to watch you.

You run your fingers up and down the bark. It is soft, with rivets flowing like water across its surface. The tiny bugs that’ve made this unearthly garden their home scatter at your touch. You withdraw, and they return.

The sky above you is like none you’ve ever seen before. The moon whose light refracts off these silver pines so gracefully is far too close to the earth you stand on, if it is still Earth you stand on. There are so many stars. Even in the most distant of forests and at the peak of the furthest hidden mountains where light pollution is nothing more than a memory, there wouldn’t be this many stars. They form infinite constellations that you can’t even begin to trace with your plain hazel eyes.

Fireflies dance between translucent clouds, forming ever so complex patterns that change when you blink.

It’s beautiful.

There’s a small pool here too, surrounded by pale and cold gray stones with crystals scattered in a loosely spiral shape beneath the surface. When you touch the perfectly clear water, the ripples form rainbows, and when you withdraw a crystal, it grows dull. You toss it back with an understanding that what is here must stay here. You are but a guest.

The air is sweet. Not too hot, not too cold. The wind rustles through your long black hair, and you hear the chime of playful laughter. There is a word on your lips, but you don’t need to articulate it for them to hear. They feel your gratitude for this moment of respite from the storm, and they ask you to stay.

The water laps up against the stone sides of the pool. The branches lean towards you, offering you an apple. The snake curls around your ankle, its weight almost not unfamiliar. If you sip from the water, it will be cold and refreshing on your parched throat, and if you eat from the apple, it will be crisp and filling. You will know of this world, and you will belong here.

It would be your home.

You cannot.

This place is beautiful and perfect. Everything you could ever want. It’s peaceful. There is no one coming to destroy you or to hide you away for things about yourself that you cannot control, but… you cannot stay. There are people that will miss you, some of whom you haven’t met yet.

There are books to be read and stories to be told.

You run your fingers across the scales of the snake, hearing its raspy hiss. It’s a beautiful melody that you know you could listen to forever. It stays in your memory, even as you knock on the Way home.

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