The Other Side of Sadness, part 2

The children are captured by the sparkle of the garland, they simply cannot look beyond it. It's a technicolor oasis to the vast green expanse of the hillside, like Dorothy emerging into Oz, except here, Oz would be one tiny little roadside memorial and the inhabitants even more tucked away and out of site than the munchkins in their hovels. The shiny silver garland wrapped once, twice, and then three times around the evergreen trunk, its tail emerged just out the back above a bifurcated root. The root dove in and out of the needles and soil, serpentine and searching, til finally, it took a final plunge just above where the sloped side of the ravine evolved from soft mulch to river rock, and there the tip of the root remained buried, seeking the last of the creek that had dried up so long ago but still bore geographic memory.

And if one could peek just below the soil there to find the tip of that meandering root, they'd find its final tendril grasping around the splintered point of a tent stake. And if one could then climb up that tent stake and break again through the surface of the creek bed, they'd find a rugged rope, weathered but strong. Follow the rope further still and they'd find it looped through a grommet on a canvas tent, the color of stoneground mustard, the front flaps zipped up tight. Nearby they'd find a berry-stained apron fluttering in the West Side breeze, a knitting basket on an embroidered footstool just a yard away with sunshine yellow yarn spilling out, and hanging from a branch just slightly above it all a knotted length of fishing line, strung up with dead trout, and hung to dry in the spattering of sun that filtered through the dense branches.

And one would hear a subtle snore. And a tinny whine. And a disinterested and melodic giggle coming from inside the tent.

And if one were particularly astute, and were not so distracted by the roadside memorial just a few yards up the hillside, they would be more than slightly alarmed at the sight of three mermaid tails draped on top of a patina'd gold mirror on the east side of the tent. One the aquamarine of lore, one the crimson color of a campfire ember, and one dazzling in silver and gold plates and trinkets.

And so, as most early mornings just beyond the other side of sadness, there'd be a break in the subtle snore, the tinny whine, and the disinterested and melodic giggle. The tent zipper would wiggle, stuck once again with the canvas in its rusted teeth. The mouth of the tent would open in a sleepy yawn, stretching at the ropes, creaking at the stakes. And two slender and fair and mossy limbs would poke out, green-tinged toes seeking a scrap of warmth in the early light. A throat would clear. Knuckles would crack. A great bellowing rawwwwwr would billow the taut tent sides as a lumbering body found its most perfect stretch inside.

Up in the canopy the woodpeckers attacked the tree trunks with fervor, signaling the start of breakfast.

"Well fellas. I'm going fishin'." And the mossy limbs would scoot forward to the lip of the front of the tent, and equally mossy arms would reach out into the sun, and finally, the soft and sallow face of Wasula poked through, scanning the trees, the dry creek bed, and faintly just above her, the Subarus and Civics as they blurred on by.


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