Her hair falls in gentle waves down past her shoulders, covering her eyes. It’s a pale green. Her skin is a dull, textured brown and where she presses her palm against the trunk, it’s the tree’s bark that gives. Turning her head, flipping hair playfully out of her eyes, reveals mottled irises, pale lilac with –
“No, no, no, Lilac lives down the valley, silly, past Glen. You’d call me Wisteria.” She pauses, grinning softly, empty tan gums glistening. “You just strolling off the pavement or off the edge?”
So time ceases to pass around her tree, hand raised, long skinny fingers wrapping around branches in turn, toes climbing the thick vine around the trunk like a walkway, head peeking down from the foliage, hair sliding smoothly along leaves, green on green, welcoming palm on palm. She chats about the weather, that one remaining honest, truthful movement, planet’s breath, and blows kisses back to the earth. She pauses to stare down an overly inquisitive bee hovering indecisively before what might be two flowers out of season. Finally she sighs.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know how long I can shake the memory of that world from you. If you want to go on walking away from it, I won’t keep you, but if you want to stay, you’re welcome here. The Earth’s greater than you thought, and this is a nice enough corner of it, from what I hear…”
Wisteria glances out through the trees at the sun just dipping into the canopy. Where it cuts through the haze above the asphalt wasteland in the distance, the light turns a sickly, deeper orange.
“You can stay as long as you like. This isn’t an easy time, for any of us. Harder than most. The world you hate, the world you’re running from, it’s growing so much, so fast. It’s seeping into the earth, cluttering the air.” She scrapes a bit of bark off the trunk and winces. Her nail cuts deep, clean as a paper cut. “We’re not all alike, my sisters and I, you see? Some of us need to lean on others. We need… I asked a favor, keep a lookout, send you my way if you seem the type, and Di, she doesn’t mind, she doesn’t do much but look down these days, she’s getting fed up with just watching, so” She trails off, eyes dulling, downcast, as the sunlight fades. A clean breeze blows down from the foothills and she turns to inhale it, swelling, twisting, unwinding, stretching to monstrous height, feet clenching into the ground. Her voice rustles shyly.
“So I asked her to find me someone heading this way who might be on his way out. Someone I could offer a way to leave the world but stay on in memory. I need to learn, before this change poisons me unaware. I need to lean on something that’s tasted its bitterness. You’re abandoning the world and yourself. I’m only asking you to linger with me a bit longer. Let me lean on your memory while I can.”
In the golden haze of childhood half-remembrance there stands a telephone pole. Around it wrap pale green leaves on sinuous stalks, and every spring, the dead column blooms in defiance of the gray world around it, a splash of ephemeral purple cutting through stale dust.
Her kiss is soft and lazy. It’s a summer afternoon at four years of age, before the meaning of the concrete towers all around starts to choke all promise out of sunlight. Her embrace circles firm and steady, tickling imprint by imprint along the spine, wrapping securely around and around…
In childhood dreams stands a telephone pole around which an over-eager purple-eyed invader wraps tighter and heavier every year until finally the pole – snaps.
Out past the city, in the forgotten nothingness which used to be the world, just as you enter some woods blocking sight of the stone-and-glass clutter, before you dip into a valley below the stench of smog and gluttony, on the edge of life where the breath down from the hills barely reaches, there lies an oasis. During the days, green leaves smile light, drink rains, sheltering the sleeper at their roots. During the cold nights a wisp of fog plays through drowsy clusters of foliage, whispering reassurance against the world of possession and consumption, keeping the memory of the world of being alive.