Tobi uprighted herself before the city gates, enjoying the warmth that saluted her bare feet as they touched the ground. Aside from this place, she had never tread upon any piece of earth that knew her personally. There was no sun, but the temperature was always pleasant, the city lit to calming perfection. Through Vawndila, Tobi had learned that this place adjusted to the preferences of each of its occupants. She had explained to Tobi that, unlike the consensual experience within the Scohthice, this realm did not adhere to any natural laws. “Here” was free of the confines of the universal mind of Saturnine’s reality. The girl had explained that when she was within the boundaries of The Spired City, a fine mist kept her body cool and the light around her was dim to accommodate her nocturnal vision.
Tobi knew that there was no formal need to pass through the city entrance. Preferring to do so, she made it a point to enter this way each time she visited; experiencing the beauty of the gates was like nothing she had ever known. If there was a place like heaven, and it surpassed the beauty of this place, Tobi didn’t know how one could possibly survive seeing it, even in a spiritual form. Then there was the smell… it seemed to be unnecessary to draw the aroma in. It permeated her skin, lived inside her… made up her body, was her lungs.
The only way to picture the gates was to think of an apple orchid comprised of hybrid trees that stretched to the sky as if reaching for some cosmic hand. They bore fruit and foliage in colors that defied even the awe-inducing prism of a rainbow. As the visitor to the city passed through the gates, they could go on for as long as they pleased or could pass through as quickly as the blink of an eye. The gates knew the desire of each who passed through and tailored the experience to those unspoken yearnings of the heart. As one emerged on the other side, they always found that they had a piece of the immaculate fruit in one hand with exactly one bite missing.
Anxious to search for Vawndila, Tobi passed through the gates quickly. Her desperation to gaze into the swirling eyes of the girl grew, nourished by concern that poured into her in immeasurable quantities. Once inside the city, she broke into a sprint, steering her body toward their usual meeting place.
Her anxiety and hope grew in equal proportion as she neared her destination: a stone stairway that led down to a small field blanketed in oversize Dandelions and buzzed with lazy, fat bumblebees. She and Vawndila had created this place together on their first visit to The Spired City. From that time forward, they had always met here and kept a pact with one another that they would continue to do so forever. They had promised to one another that each time, they would lie flat among the flowers and stare up into the Mandajia- they swore it.
Just before Tobi came to the stairs, she glimpsed something that caused her to halt so quickly that she nearly pitched forward onto her face. She steadied herself and stood as still as a rabbit hiding from a predator. What she saw made her question the safety of The Spired City as she never anticipated she might: a newspaper. She had never seen such an earthly thing in this realm. Her insides trembled. It lay to her right on the ground. The front page displayed huge, bold letters declaring “BREAKING NEWS”. After deciding she had no choice but to investigate, she approached the paper, reaching toward it with as much caution as she might had it been on fire.
Aside from the headlines, there was nothing on the face of the paper. She began to flip through its crisp pages. As she did, fear and tension strained her muscles. The pages were blank. Just as she was ready to tear the paper into tiny shreds, she noticed writing so small on the last page that she almost missed it. She had to bring it close to her eyes in order to read it.
It was a poem…
today I read that the butterfly is Ahhz – that it isn’t that I’ve been here before, but that I’m just now here – I learned that I remember that I already know what I am beginning to understand – that it isn’t that we’re going forward, but that we’re in the past – I couldn’t sleep because I had energy – what I discovered I knew was fire – ultimately, the volcano hungers – historically, fed to capacity – so then I wrote this – and – I pictured you there now and me here now – and as you read this – I’m speaking it in your head, in your voice – in my words – I’ve reached through to illustrate chaos – the cycle that eats its own end
To be continued…