by Rebecca Eckland
She exists outside of time, outside of the definitions that align night with darkness and light with day. She clutches the ground, feeling it sink deep beneath her nails, and the dappled light from the maple tree above her shades her from the morning sun. One of her comrades cries from the laying place. The morning ritual; the afflicted tones rush through her blood and the blood of the others, uniting them as a tribe.
She resists the urge to look to the sky, to the faraway place. She focuses on the earth, the ground: the nematodes, the earth worms, the things that are near. It is a past she can’t quite remember, but that exists behind her eyes. A Jurassic past, reptilian and strange. Pterodactyls with wings; the feeling of air encircling her body and the earth far below. But, she is looking to the sky again, and she mustn’t do that. She thinks: nourishment—bugs and seeds—those are things of the earth. Carry them, gather them. Love them, she almost thinks, but cannot.
A world without language cannot carry love.
The beings are strange. She can’t conjure other images to describe them. They are legs. They are hands. They grasp and hold you close to their hot bodies, stroking your head and neck and feathers, and she can’t decide if she hates or likes this. The hands release worms onto the ground. The hands bring the yellow-sweet-snaps from the cob. She is afraid of the beings until they bring the yellow, the worms.
I need the beings, she thinks.
Then, she forgets.
She cannot remember her mother or the long darkness in the box with the others just after they were born. They smelled strange air, air without air. The way two of them stopped moving, their breath silent. She understood what it meant to die.
It flashed the way the shadows do in the sunlight, the flicker of an earthworm struggling to enter the soil. Then, she can almost remember old memories, the ones behind her eyes: the hunt, the ferocity, the jungle. The war-cries and the way the beings made themselves look like she did: the crown of royalty, of honor. She remembers the blood of the fight. She remembers it all.
She thinks she is a wild thing. She believes she can fly, and climbs to the top of a felled tree, stretching her neck and chest into the bare air around her. She jumps, flutters and for a second, air. Then, she feels the ground beneath her feet.
About Rebecca Eckland
Rebecca Eckland is an athlete, blogger and freelance writer from Reno, Nevada. Her work explores the intersection of self and the natural world and is inspired by a lifetime of exploring what it means to be an athlete: to exist within the body and mind, to push each to its limits, to fail, and to triumph. Previously, her work has appeared in TAYO: Literary Magazine, Hotel Amerika and Weber: The Contemporary West. She has co-authored a book, A Court of Refuge: Stories from the Bench of America’s First Mental Health Court, which will be released by Beacon Press in Spring 2018. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California as well as two Master of Arts degrees, in English and French Language and Literature, from the University of Nevada, Reno.