You could almost hear the sun that day. When I say that, I mean you could hear everything cooking under its light. The rocks hissed when a drop of sweat hit them. Unfortunately, the time we spent indoors was little thanks to the farm owners. The owners watched from the shade of the house as we walked hard, cracked earth towards the plants that thrived.
It was the harvesting, which meant special flowers had to be pried from the succulents and then the leaves were to be cut. We did this with methodical movements, placing the flowers in baskets and carrying them quickly towards the storage depot. The leaves took time and were heavy all bunched up. We used a dolly for transporting them by the case.
The leaves were to be processed, used for various products, but mostly medicinal. One product is a cream that we all had in your pockets to spread over our skin. With this in mind, we could be doing a lot worse. I couldn’t imagine harvesting chillies in this heat. It would be more than damaging.
However, it is in this burning garden that I soon realized I was more damaged than most. I started removing the bright, gentle flower from one of the succulents, lifting it from the plant and placing it into the basket. When I turned back to the succulent to work the leaves, I found the flower had returned.
My mind is a strong one, I believe a lot stronger than forgetfulness. There was no doubt within me that I had already plucked the flower, so I wondered why it still sat in the plants centre. I raised my eyes and looked to the other workers. However, I found no friendly face.
Instead, I saw the rows of succulents extend across a flat, endless plain towards the horizon in every direction. I stood in a world that I felt was my own, but at the same time, I shouldn’t have been there. With this in mind, I collected my thoughts and bobbed in the heat.
The distance blurred by heat offered a reflected haze which absorbed my very being. I couldn’t take my eyes away, but even if I did, where would I look? The waving lines slowly created a shape of an approaching figure. The first thing I noticed was the cream dress, the same warm colour of the pale earth. That dried clay colour, which I had known all my life.
In this dress was a woman unlike any other. Beautiful from head to toe, as she wore now hat nor shoes. Only a dress wrapped around her perfect figure. The only vividly dark colour about her was her raven hair. With the smallest gesture beckoning me, I approached the woman. My steps were slow. but with purpose.
I stopped myself.
I couldn’t go so easily, I couldn’t leave it all behind. I may not be so young, but I am not so old. The woman stared at me and I could see in her eyes a mixture of sadness. She was waiting for me, but I couldn’t so easily be taken. It wouldn’t be right for me and it wouldn’t be right for her.
The beauty nodded slowly and turned her back on my everso dramatically. A wind picked up and I felt the cold air gracing my skin. Eyes fluttering open, they adjusted to the room I was laying in. Above me was a roof and around me were several recognizable faces.
“He is waking up, fetch more water,” I heard a delicate voice call.
The faces around me belonged to my closest brother, my daughter and a concerned farm owner. The delicate voice of a doctor faded and the four of us were alone. My brother sighed, my daughter squeezed my hand and I could see the farm owner already deciding which way to leave.
“You gave everyone a scare, papa,” my daughter told me, holding my rough, right hand between both of her tiny, smooth palms. “Mr. Alvez...he...he isn’t happy, but we can talk about that later. Everyone at the farm wishes you well.”
The farm owner nodded, patted me on the shoulder and left the room. My brother watched the man with cold eyes. He was furious, but lacked the power to do anything about it. I wouldn’t want him to anyway.
I talked with my family and soon their own responsibilities caught up with them. My daughter left to join her growing family, then my brother follower later to his favourite drinking spot. I was alone in a cool hospital which sought to get me out of the room as soon as possible.
“Here is your water,” a nurse told me, placing a warm bottle on the table. “How are you feeling?”
I simply ignored her, rolling onto my side and felt my heart fall. The thoughts I had circling my mind were far too concerning. My lips remained glued together and with an empathetic expression, the nurse left me to gather myself.
It was a difficult process. The face of the raven-haired beauty stuck in my mind. It had been so long since I had seen her face, but to be reminded of her was inescapable. However, without pictures, her face soon faded from my mind. Now, I had that picture so clearly painted across my vision and I didn’t want to lose it.
“Papa, wake up,” I heard a voice call.
I woke up to the same hospital, but a day later. My daughter helped me out of the bed and escorted me towards the door. She kept asking if I was alright, but I was more than alright. I felt joy within me, a strength I lost.
“Do you still see her?” I asked, my voice like sand-paper.
“Who?” my daughter asked, looking at me curiously. I looked at her meaningfully. “Oh...no...just a vague image.”
“I saw her.”
“When you collapsed?”
I smiled and let a let a small laugh escape my lips.
“Yes, child and it felt amazing. She looked much like you, but with piercing eyes, a delicate nose and thin, sly lips. She was a beautiful woman.”
“I...can recall as much. You will have to draw her.”
“I’m afraid to. If I make a mistake, her image will distort and I will lose that sight too soon. Don’t worry, she is there, waiting for us.”
My daughter looked at me with a small measure of concern, but it faded when I gave her a comforting smile. I would be more than fine for the rest of my days.
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