Everything All at Once: A Short Story

I left my poetry somewhere…dropped it…didn’t even know it was missing until recently. I found it tucked inside an old book given to me when I was younger from a poet with sparkling eyes. Given to me at a time when I wouldn’t dare lose it. I took it with me everywhere in that old tattered army satchel stuffed with poetry and dreams. I found it recently while I was going for a walk in my neighborhood.

I was walking down Monroe Street and tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. I expected to hit hard cement, but my fall was cushioned. When I stood up I was standing at the top of a hill, on the edge of a pine forest. The earth was covered in pine needles, making the ground soft. I could hear the bubbling of a creek at the bottom of the hill and through the trees I could see a small wooden bridge over the creek. Feeling quite intrepid I entered the forest and the closer I got to the creek I noticed an old man with long white hair and a soft white beard hosting a tea party with a baby fox and a very old tortoise. The table, which was made of moss, was set with fine china. Scones were piled high on a silver platter next to an enormous bowl of fresh whipped cream. The song Three Days was playing from a small plastic Fischer Price radio sitting on a stump. Suddenly the music became my dad’s low deep voice singing Across the alley from the Alamo lived a pinto pony and a Navajo

Everything All at Once - Natalie WrightI felt invisible to the tea party attendees and the pine needles helped to keep my steps muffled. But then I realized the old man saw me. His eyes were very blue and they sparkled and seemed to say everything all at once, without uttering a single word. I realized I knew the old man and the tortoise grinned and lifted one eyebrow. As I got closer I could see the baby fox was not a baby fox at all, but a very old fox with silver in her fur. I felt very welcomed and I picked up my pace, walking figure eights around the enormous and ancient pine trees. As soon as I reached the bridge and stepped onto its creaky wood, well…what happened next is very difficult to explain. Everything changed. We were all gone, yet it felt like we were all still there. We were in a microscopic universe of atoms and subatomic particles, glittery like bioluminescent plankton on a dark ocean. I felt enthusiastic, sad, angry and yet extremely content and full.

A faint smell of leather, cigarette smoke and coffee filled the infinite space and as the scent grew stronger, I became more aware of my physical body falling through a rabbit hole of memories, not only my own memories, but memories of my ancestors. My body felt heavy and I felt the sting of my hands bracing my fall on the cement sidewalk on Monroe Street. In front of my hands was my old tattered army satchel, stuffed with poetry and dreams, and that old book given to me when I was younger from the poet with sparkling eyes.

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