Pear Fountain: A Starting Point

pearOne afternoon, Girl was sitting by the side of a fountain, watching her brother paddle to and fro in the clear water.  She had retied the ribbon between them short again and was enjoying the occasional tug.  They were in the midst of a small grove of pear trees, the branches heavy with fruit.  When the wind blew, the sun danced with patterns of shadow, and she could hear more fruit plop to the earth, like sneaky footsteps.  She sighed and contended against her full stomach.  She and her brother had eaten several pears together, but she thought the first one had been the sweetest.

“Okay,” said Girl.  “Time to go home.”

“Not yet,” said her brother, splashing mightily.  She watched as his reflection was caught brilliantly by every falling drop of water.  Then he stopped.

“Where is home anyway?” he asked.

“Right in front of us,” Girl answered, and stood up.

 

End

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Almost Epilogue: Save the Pear

circle-kiteGirl watched the old woman moving away, surprised to feel no need to say goodbye.  And she imagined that multicolored ribbons were streaming behind the old woman, floating in the breeze.  Then she remembered something for the first time.

“Ah!” she said, and called after the old woman, “Ma’am! Uh—ma’am?  What is your name?”

The old woman looked back, brightly.

 

Girl had decided to climb one of the changing hills.  In one hand, she clutched loops and loops of red ribbon, and in the other, she held her ripe green pear.  She felt light and clean, even as her feet sank into the earth with every step.  She felt smooth and strong, even though she was greatly tempted to eat her pear.  Girl was climbing to the top of a hill.  She thought she could see far from up there.

Flowering—or Snow-laden (Be Kind to Yourself)

circle-kiteGirl was standing next to an old woman with white hair, wearing a black dress.  Girl was facing one direction and the woman faced the opposite.  The distance between them was the measure of Girl’s height.  Girl waited, but nothing happened.  She frowned and looked more closely.  The old woman had her eyes closed and appeared to be enjoying the sun on her face!  Girl relaxed a bit.  She saw that the old woman perhaps was not so old after all.  There was dark in her hair as well as white.  And her dress—there was grey and green in her dress as well as black.  Girl saw that the old woman’s boots were covered with dust but she was also carrying a pretty red handbag, adorned with white branches.  Girl smiled at that.  She had always liked red.  Then the old woman slid open very pale eyes and looked at Girl.

“I thought I’d heard someone,” said the old woman, placing her bag down by her foot.  “I think you must be young Girl,” she continued.

“Yes, ma’am,” replied Girl, fascinated by the woman’s pale eyes.

“Ma’am,” sighed the old woman.  “I must be getting old.”

“Um,” said Girl, and the old woman laughed.

And Girl saw the youth in her face, and she saw that the old woman was lovely, like her mother was.  And she knew she had nothing to fear.  She also thought that the wrinkles would make the old woman much harder to draw than her brother.

“It’s always strange to meet someone out here,” said the old woman, patiently, half-closing her eyes.  “Why are you out here, Girl?”

“Oh,” said Girl, “I’m trying to get home, but I’m afraid.”

“Afraid? Of what?” prompted the old woman.

“I’m afraid that when I get home it’ll be different than when I left it,” said Girl.

The old woman slid open one eye, sharply, and looked very serious.

“I think that’s true for everyone, Girl,” she said gently.  “I’m trying to get home myself.”

Girl was amazed.  Then the old woman held out her hand and Girl reached to take it.  The back of her hand was very smooth and filled with strong blue veins.

“Courage,” whispered the old woman, squeezing, “And perseverance.  It’s what I’d wish for my own daughter.  And—Oh!  I have something for you, Girl.”  And she bent to rummage in her handbag with her free hand, bringing out a green pear.  She passed the pear to Girl, smiling.  It smelt ripe.

“Enjoy,” said the old woman.  “Go on, Girl,” she encouraged, and she picked up her bag and continued on her way.

Circling the World, Trailing Ribbon

circle-kiteGirl walked.  And she walked.

She walked until the playground behind her had been hidden by one of the corroding hills.  She learned to cover her eyes whenever the wind blew.  She walked until she was thirsty and her shoes were covered with dust.  She had a strange dream in which she was back in her home, drawing a picture of herself and her brother, side by side.  “That doesn’t look like me,” complained her brother, but Girl was drifting, drifting to set the picture on her mother’s bedside table.

A drop of sweat slid down the back of Girl’s neck.  She raised her free hand to touch her burning hair, and then glared up at the sun.  She wondered if the sun was climbing the sky faster than she was walking.  Girl looked around.  She was in a place of sky and earth, and that was all there was.  It was a very lonely place.  She looked at the spool of red ribbon in her hand.  She knew that the only difference between what was behind her and what was before her was the trail of ribbon, marking the way she had come.  Girl knelt down in the dust and wrapped the ribbon twice around her wrist.  She thought about time, and distance, and things she had never thought about before.  She thought about loss and love.

And Girl felt the desire to press on, to cross this barren scar.  And she felt the desire to stay forever in this harsh place.  But her heart whispered to her its terrible, heavy secret.  Girl thought of her mother and bowed her head to the hot sun.  Girl thought of her mother and lost one bitter drop to the dry earth.

Girl stood up and turned to go back the way she had come.  And then she jerked in shock, and looked again.

There was a dark figure on the land.  Someone was coming!  Girl’s heart leaped in fear and galloped in place.  When had this person arrived?  How long—she wasn’t ready!  Girl thought about hiding, but there was nowhere to hide.  Then she thought about running, but she could not run.  She would not run!  She glanced quickly at the figure, steadily approaching.  White hair, long dark dress—a woman, Girl thought.  Girl ducked her head and pressed her hands together.  Her mind was reeling and she felt faint.

Was she supposed to give a gift to the woman?  She had brought nothing but red ribbon.

Would she have to fight?

Would she be refused because of what she had done?

And then there was no more time.  A pair of boots was within her sphere of vision.

“Stand up straight and be polite,” said her mother.

Girl tripped forward a few steps, confused.  She lifted her head dutifully, and looked.