Elaine Andres – Deakin University
Ice kissed the soft skin on my eyelids as I was submerged beneath the surface. Further I sank, til the green water merged with the blue sky, then the sky became green.
Soft grass suddenly pressed at my back; I found myself cold but dry, a gasping, flailing figure, twisted on the ground, writhing like a newborn.
Patterns fell across my face, a branched puzzle. Yet there was no sun, nor a moon to allow the shadows freedom from the tree’s still figure that loomed over me.
I searched the tree; the blurred green sky merged with the black leaves that rustled in protest against the wind. Peering closer I saw that the lithe, ebony forms were not of leaves but of a thousand crows, gathered in the tree, watching me with hunger.
Mortem! they cried, like croaky witches. Hang him from the tree til his body is limp, so we may feast on his flesh.
I wanted mercy but my throat was constricted and my cries became the gargles of a dying animal.
The crows stretched their wings, like cloaked devils, searching which part of me to devour first. None observed the two white eyes that suddenly blinked behind them in the sky.
A great gust of wind blew so hard and wickedly against the tree that the crows with their wings outstretched were carried away like black wisps of smoke.
I hadn’t the energy to scream as the two, white globes drew closer and closer, until I was engulfed in the blinding light.
When my eyes opened again, I stood in front of a man whose fingers were pointed at me. At the tip of each appendage was an eye, each watching me closely. His head was bare; not a hair, not a nose, not a mouth to speak. Just skin stretched thinly across protruding bone.
Why are your eyes on your fingertips? I asked, though no words left my mouth.
It is the logical thing, he answered. What if my head should be blown off? How shall I see then?
I could not argue with such logic; though it was maddening, it was logic just the same. A strange and wonderful kind of logic, where rules were cast aside.
I wanted to get back.
The faceless man pointed before I could ask, his toes stretched straight, to the grey hills, deep with crevices.
Climb the hill’s face, til you see its soul. When you’ve looked into the well, jump and you shall be where you belong.
I bowed my head in thanks but when I looked up, the man was gone and the hills beckoned me.
Nothing stood in my way as I bounded to that grey hill; there was no stone to catch my foot, nor a sly weed to twist around my ankle. It was as clean as the picked bones of a vulture’s meal.
Soon though, the hard plain became soft as I climbed the hills, digging my heels into its unsteady side, which sprouted only a few grey hairs.
It breathed deeply and with closer observation I saw that the hill, deep with crevices, was not a hill, nor a small mountain or a large mound.
It was an elephant, living, breathing, legs chopped off and trunk twisted around its throat, desperately trying to squeeze.
I would have been sympathetic to the poor creature’s distress but I didn’t have the time. I was growing colder and needed to find my solace before I found my own fingers bruising my throat.
The top came at last and I looked down into the hill’s soul; a wide well, wet and quivering with fear. The brown puddle was slowly being swallowed by its black centre. The trembling edges where the tufts of hair grew thick and long were slowly beginning to close in resignation and I knew that if I didn’t jump, I would be stuck here for eternity.
Without thought, without looking, I leapt into the well.
I shot down, as if my feet had torn through tissue paper; the walls that encased me were thick with creeping veins and slimy bubbles and the smell was like the fur on a dead rabbit’s carcass.
Finally I escaped the hellish hole and found myself back in the white room, cushioned with clouds as soft as a baby’s cheek.
In front of me she stood; a petite figure with pigtails on the sides of her head and eyes shut tightly. Her small mouth formed a delicate O, as she released her voice in a piercing screech that was grabbed by the walls around her.
When the old woman with the bittersweet smile entered the room, the girl slowly closed her mouth and I was swallowed up, waiting to be released once again.
Elaine Andres is currently a second year student studying in Professional and Creative Writing. One day she hopes to publish her book but for now she slaves over a cold keyboard, trying to get her erratic thoughts down before they dissolve in her mind.