I stand on the uneven slope and breathe in, feeling the crisp air fill my lungs. Today is the day, I thought. The day of change. I am the last one this year. All day, I will stand in the meadow, breathing in and out, in and out, until my mind is filled with only the rhythm of my breath. Then I will change. My feet will go first, bare toes lengthening and hardening into roots of all sizes and shapes. Then my legs, morphing together and growing into a long trunk. After that, my torso, solidifying into maple wood. My arms will raise, leafy branches reaching up to the last rays of sun in the skies. My closed eyes become wood, hair growing into twigs and leaves. I can’t see, but that does not bother me. I am intune with Mother Nature. I feel her heartbeat. I sense her love for all the things from the earth. The world is quiet. I sleep. For how long, I don’t know. Then, sometime in February, a presence awakens me. I know the cold, I know it’s there, but I don’t feel it.
In my dream, I was running. Not the joyful running that comes at the end of a race you’re winning, but the bad kind, the kind where your legs are on fire, your lungs are in acid, you can't focus on anything else, or your deepest, darkest nightmare will catch you. Sweat poured down my face as I fought to stay ahead of the dark manifestation behind me. As it drew closer, a quiet beeping steadily grew louder until it was so loud, I quite literally could not hear myself think. The sound screamed in my ears until I thought my head would collapse. It was then that I stumbled, and dropped to my knees, hands squeezing my head in order to block out the sound. The dark manifestation behind me quickly caught up and enveloped me in a black cloud of frenzied particles. I tried to twist, to roll out of it, but the particles started landing on me. They covered me, restricting my movement until I lay in an awkward position, unable to move.
“That cookie looks really good,” I say. “It’s OK. I know I can’t have it,” I sigh. “I don’t care if it’s dry and bland; here’s the thing,” I start. “Now, if I can speak, the thing is that you’re stuffing it into your face like it’s amazing,” I say, exasperated. “But you are, even if you think you aren’t, the fact remains that you are,” I respond. “If you’re not, then why is the cookie gone, and why are there cookie crumbs sprayed across the table?” I quietly ask.
It was a beautiful morning, and nothing was wrong. The girl opened her eyes, stretched, and yawned. She rolled over and slowly sat up. She blinked, and yawned again, they stepped softly downstairs. She was the first one up. She was always the first one up. She put on some quiet piano music and made herself some breakfast. She thought about her day and smiled. First she was going to take a walk through the neighborhood, then she had a babysitting job from 11 to 2, and finally, a plan to play board games at the library with her friends. She finished her breakfast, wrote a note to her parents, and changed into her walking clothes. She stepped outside and smiled at the sun and the wind in her face. She started walking and broke into a slow jog. When she got to the playground near the elementary school, she sat on a swing and enjoyed the wind in her face. She checked her watch, enjoyed another moment of the wind, and headed back up to her house.
I like the sweet smell of maple wafting through the house
I like the bubbles, big and small, growing and shrinking I like waiting for the thermometer to hit 295° F I like watching the hot maple syrup swirl in the pan I like the molds, rounded metal concealing delicate designs I like the syrup trickling into the tiny cracks and crevices I like waiting until the syrup is thick in the mold I like pushing popsicle sticks deep into the thick liquid I like straightening the sticks until the syrup has cooled I like watching the syrup cool to a solid I like taking off the rubber bands and popping the mold halves apart I like all the perfect designs and even the not-so-perfect ones I like pulling the drips off the board I like admiring their perfectly smooth surface I like placing them on my tongue, and tasting the sweet maple flavor