FREE AND AS FRAGILE AS I AM

I am, sadly, almost as common as muck. I wasn’t always common. Oh no. I come from somewhere much further up market. Now that I’m no longer in pristine condition or cool to be seen with, I’m reluctantly resigned to being matched with the hoi polloi of my ilk, much to my own disdain.

I’m homeless, but thanks to the wind and the whims of mankind I can share a window of my experiences, with you, the human creature of many whims.

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I saw it only out of the corner of my eye.

Up until then, it was just a blissful day in the countryside, the sun shining and the breeze cooling my thin, pale skin. I hadn’t a clue where I was. I had no map or means of navigation, for I was at the mercy of nature and my friend and foe, the wind.

I had danced my way to where I sat, amongst many trees, a stream and an abundance of nature.

I’d been watching a blue dragonfly as it danced over a brook. For a moment, it hovered in my face, as if to interrogate me for being there, or maybe to warn me, that while this place was beautiful, it was also deadly.

Had I also been a dragonfly, perhaps I would have understood. But I wasn’t, I was yet another species, a thing, oblivious to the dangers of this new paradise I found myself in.

I don’t live like other creatures. In fact, I don’t think I am a creature, yet I have the faintest of a heart and I can see and hear, although maybe not quite the same as you!

The wind carries me from place to place, often without my permission and often when I want to stay put. I am one of the millions that circle the earth, ride the seas and the rivers and worse still, I am an endangered species. The creature of many whims wants to eliminate me to extinction.

I’m one of the luckier ones, so far. Some live for only minutes while others survive for centuries, given luck and the thickness of our skin and fate, which often teases the threads of my fragile life.

But now I stood frozen to the spot, my eyes fixed on something moving on the shrub. It emerged, it’s feline back low as if to stalk me. The hugeness of this rusty coloured cat with black streaks stayed motionless. Its eyes focused on me and me alone.

The dragonfly still danced around me. The hum of its delicate wings singing with glee ‘I told you so I told you so’.

Cats were no stranger to me, for I had encountered many on my travels. I knew they were a danger and I also knew they were a strange beast. I had my enemies, dogs being worse than cats and others who either wanted to use me, torture me, try to eat me or just play with me.

Cats were inclined to do the latter and up to now, I had survived such encounters. But this feline monster was giving me the shits even though I don’t poop. I could sense behind its natural beauty lay untold power and strength. The cat’s eyes went deep into its soul, like puddles of clear honey that one might want to die for. I didn’t. If honey touched my skin I would be doomed.

As our eyeballs met I was mesmerised. My will to fantasise gave me false hope that this was also the purest moment, a bond between two creatures that needs no words for it to be special.

I had encountered a similar feeling once before. I had hooked onto a stone crop, surveying the land laid out below and the lake of trees beyond. I had dozed and when I woke, I sensed an impending doom like no other. Then, an enormous snake reared its ugly head from the depths below, a few inches from my face.

It too had looked deep into my eyes and slowly I felt hypnotised by its presence. The feeling of doom evaporated into a sweet feeling of euphoria and I wondered if this was how it felt when one died.

But I guess the snake was only curious, or maybe it too was only pondering my presence in its backyard, for it gave a hiss and then disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, leaving me somewhat shaky and excited together.

 

Or maybe on that occasion, it chose not to partake of a substance that might do it harm. A moment on the lips for the snake would have indeed been a lifetime on the hips, if snakes had such things.

The yellow and black beast of a feline moved.

I came towards me, a slow deliberate motion with its body close to the ground. I knew this meant eating mode and all I could do was freeze and smile sweetly.

Here I had nothing to help me, except a passing draft. The Dragonfly, who I think was hoping for some drama in it’s life, was likely to be neither use nor ornament.

The feline came close to me, it’s cold nose almost touching my skin. I could smell its warm breath, a strong odour of devoured food enveloped me as it sniffed my frail and shaking carcass.

As it touched my skin, the cat jumped back with a start. It came at me again, sniffing cautiously as it did. If I were to become its plaything, this feline’s jaws would shred me to bits in seconds.

But then it sat, very much like a well-trained puppy dog. It looked me in the eye and almost smiled. It licked its paw and started to wash its whiskers. I know from past experiences with cats that washing usually means they’re cool and calm, or just pretending before they attack.

This beast of the wild, a beautiful creation of nature now asked me many questions, not by talking (I don’t speak cat) but by body language.

I had never mastered the art of body language. My body was commanded by the environment around me and in response, all I could do was smile and flutter my eyelids, enough to tell the cat of what and who I was.

My eyes and my heart were part of my unique design, for once I was stylish and had grace and poise in the human world. Sadly, that had been many moons ago and once discarded by those whimsical humans, I was left to fester amongst the garbage they generate.

I had indeed experienced the route of all garbage. I wish it not on my worst enemy, for it is demeaning to be carried as waste through the streets and to be dumped as useless and forgotten. Only for the grace of powers that be am I free today to dance with the wind.

Now my features were very much faded, just barely serving a purpose for communication and for an awareness of the world I travelled. Had I not been unique, I would be blind to how beautiful this world is, or even my lost place in the pecking order of human retail.

There are those in this world that want to banish me. They claim I and my ilk can do untold harm to the environment. Unintentionally yes, maybe we can. But we are man-made, a brilliant invention of humans that will never die.

Come the day humans themselves become extinct, we will still ride the ferocity of the wind and the flow of the oceans and we will still tell such stories that humans rarely read about.

And on that point, a gust of a breeze catches me again and whisks me high into the air. On to my next adventure, maybe a new encounter, new friends to make, or a journey to my demise. In my head I wave farewell to my friends Tiger and Dragonfly, now etched as memory in my thin and naked being.

Next time you shop, please spare a thought for me and where I might be in the world.

There’s more to carrier bags than you might dare to think!

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