Living On Oxygen for Life
Let me preface this story with a little background information about me. Years ago, during the wars of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I was working as a telemarketer for AT&T. Please don’t hate me for that! It was a job that provided me with Health Insurance. Anyway, the management announced that, if we would like to write to soldiers overseas, they would mail them off for us. So I did. I didn’t know who the two letters were going to whether or not the person was a man or woman.. I didn’t know. So I told them where I lived, what job I had, that I had 3 cats and that I’m married. But most of all, that I was so proud of the service they gave to our country. It took a while but I received 2 letters back.
And then the World Wide Web (what we call the internet now) grew and the next war came along. I jumped at the chance to write to soldiers again. During this time, a story was born. It’s a short story that I wrote for a soldier. It has a story within the story. I sent it as 3 parts. I’d love to turn it into a book but I have continued to have writers block with it. In this story, it will show you bits and pieces of my actual childhood. I hope you like it. Tell me what you think.
Here’s Part One:
You are standing there within the limits of the forest among tall, old trees. You feel the gentle breeze blow across your face, feeling cool to the touch of your skin. You look upwards to the sky and see only the leaves of the trees; once green but now have slowly changed into its beautiful fall red color. You guess that they are maple trees that stand around you. As the breeze blows past you again, one of the leaves breaks free from above and you watch it float down in a spiral dance. You reach your hand out and catch it safely within your palms. Looking at it, you see that it is a maple tree leaf. You are stunned that it feels so real. You place the leaf on the ground so that it can continue its cycle through life, adding its nutrients back into the ground once again.
You see that you are on a narrow dirt path, worn with age and use. So, you follow it for a short while. It’s so quiet and peaceful here. It’s easy to relax and enjoy the forest’s beauty. In the distance, you see a very large, very tall tree with a split trunk. When you walk up to it, you notice small boards nailed to its trunk. Further up the trunk of the tree there is a somewhat of a crude, makeshift plywood flooring for a tree house. It looks quite old. You test the strength of the boards and they still seem stable. On the ground next to the tree, you see dirt that looks as if it was dug into. There are little popsicle sticks marking each row with words of “sunflower, watermelon, and corn,” written on them in scribbled writing. Still, you wonder where you are. You swear that you had just closed your eyes briefly while laying down on your cot.
Even though you are an adult, you are not able to resist climbing up those little steps on the trunk and swing yourself upon the floor of the tree house. You scoot yourself back against one of the split trunk limbs and enjoy the feeling of being a kid again. You take your helmet off and enjoy the cool air that sweeps through the trees. Birds call to each other. You take a deep relaxing breath like you haven’t done in a long while. You see a smile growing in your mind and then you realize you’re actually smiling for real.
After a few minutes of relaxing, the wind carries a noise to your ears. Your brow crinkles with concern, wondering what it could be. So, you listen further as the noise becomes louder. You pick up your helmet and begin your climb down the little steps to the ground. That’s when you hear it. A peel of laughter. It rings out amongst the trees and carries far upon the breeze.
Slowly you make your way closer to the sounds you hear. Then a voice calls out with laughter, “Look! I’ve got purple fingers!” As you come to a break in the forest, you stand in the shadows, and look into a clearing. It’s an open field between two sections of the forest. What you see is comical. Three little girls. One of which is showing the others her purple fingers and now is showing her purple tongue. All three of them compare their fingers and tongues with each other.
You see a long-haired blond child who looks about nine years old, carrying a plastic colander. Another younger child, about seven years old, carrying a green plastic tupperware bowl. The youngest child, six years old, was carrying nothing. And they are all looking at the ground now. You are very curious. So, you stay very quiet, not wanting to scare the girls. The girls are walking around and then one of them reaches down to pick something up when you hear her saying “I found some strawberries!!!” Another peel of laughter rings through the air. It’s a beautiful sound to your ears. The girls run to each other to picking up strawberries to go with their wild raspberries. Althhough, they are eating more than what they save in their bowls.
After a short time, you realize you feel happy from watching such cute kids doing something so normal. You see that the girls are slowly making their way towards you. So, you sink further into the forest. As they begin to pass you, the seven year old stops near you. She tilts her head and asks the others if they feel something. She shrugs and moves on with her sisters. You give them a few minutes and then follow because you don’t know your way out of the forest. As you near the edge of the forest, you take a step further and everything beyond the forest fades. You find yourself back on your cot with a whisper going through your head… “Indiana is where you’ve been and we shall be your friends…” It was the voice of the seven year old and you begin to wonder if you were really there as you wake up. When you reached in your pocket, you find the maple leaf you thought you put down on the ground.