Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Bruce Levine

Photo by Kelly Sikkema 

Jenny spoke. It was a language only she understood because she’d made it up herself. Actually she wasn’t the only one who understood it, her dog, an Australian Shepherd named Daisy, seemed to understand her as well and, through some sort of telepathic means, the two carried on extensive conversations that only they understood. Her parents found it funny and long ago decided to simply ignore the fact that Jenny and Daisy seemed periodically deep in conversation and oblivious to anyone else.

Friday afternoons seemed to be the most intense days for these conversations. As soon as Jenny got home from school she ran to her room, followed closely by Daisy, closed the door and entered into what her parents realized was sometimes more than simple chatter, but seemed to be almost an executive planning session encompassing the weekend’s entire itinerary. They knew this partially by hearing bits and pieces of the conversation through the door and from Jenny’s detailed description of the plan once she opened her door and returned to what her parents said was the real world; of course they only said that behind Jenny’s back for fear that they might be misconstrued and upset the balance of linguistic anomalies taking place under their roof.

On this particular Friday Jenny arrived home and promptly proceeded, as usual, to run to her room, closely followed by Daisy. This time, however, there seemed to be no sound coming from within the room and Jenny’s mother wondered if there was something wrong.

An hour passed and Jenny’s door remained sealed. Two hours. Three hours.

As the sun began to set Jenny’s father arrived home from work, but still no sign of Jenny’s reappearance.

Her mother knocked. Daisy barked a response. At least, her mother thought, they’re still in there. As she walked away she noted that there seemed to be a rather odd something about the air, but nothing untoward so she thought that it was simply her imagination and decided to let Jenny have her time alone for a while longer.

Dinner time approached and Jenny and Daisy had not yet reappeared. Now it was time for her father to approach and ask her to join the dinner table.

As he approached Jenny’s bedroom door slowly swung open, as if by a magical force which beckoned him to enter. He was nearly overcome by the power that seemed to be permeating the atmosphere.

Slowly he approached and, as if to further prove the power, Jenny’s mother suddenly appeared next to her husband and they moved slowly into Jenny’s room. But it wasn’t actually Jenny’s room. There seemed to be a glow coming from an unseen light force somewhere. And there was a forest of some sort of trees completely unknown to them. As they moved further into the room the forest seemed to be enlarging and at the same time opening a path for them to follow, almost as if the trees were somehow moving to allow them in and at the same time drawing them forward. Now the something in the air that Jenny’s mother had sensed earlier became more and more pungent, not in a bad way, but rather almost intoxicating.

Jenny and Daisy were obviously nowhere within sight and her parents’ efforts to call them not only went unheeded, but seemed to dissipate into silence as they were spoken.

Slowly they continued walking forward, further and further into the forest. They knew that there was only so much space in Jenny’s room so how, they wondered, did it seem that that space kept multiplying and how did a forest suddenly exist and be populated by trees that moved to create a pathway?

Fifteen minutes had gone by. Then thirty, and still there seemed to be no end to the ever-increasing forest.

After an hour of their slow progress a clearing suddenly appeared. Jenny’s parents looked at each other and at their surroundings in the hope of discovering the secret of the forest and the appearance of their daughter and her dog, but none of their quandaries were satisfied.

As they looked around they discovered what appeared to be a log table and log seats in a manner, as if to invite them to sit. Their confusion increased as, each time they looked somewhere new, another something seemed to appear. They were certain each thing had not been in view just moments before, but saw no evidence of the appearance, everything was suddenly there. Their only hope was that this was some sort of dream that they were both dreaming simultaneously.

But how? And what was going on?

The only logical thing they could think of doing was to simply sit on the log seats at the log table and wait. A further sense of logic suggested that Jenny and Daisy would appear as magically as everything else sooner or later and that the magical transformation would be explained by a simple explanation.

Another hour went by with no sign of Jenny, Daisy or anything to indicate what was happening.

Finally, after a further hour of waiting they heard a faint sound. It wasn’t Jenny’s voice, but rather the sound that Daisy often made as if she was trying to talk, somewhere between a growl and a moan. This time, however, it wasn’t just a sound, but rather words. But not any words in English or any other language they recognized. This time it sounded like Jenny’s language only it was Daisy’s voice.

Jenny’s parents looked at each other in total disbelief of what they were hearing. How, they asked, could any of this be happening? And what was happening?

Finally, after still another hour, Jenny and Daisy appeared in the clearing. Jenny was dressed in clothes that her parents had never seen and had not gotten for her; Daisy remained herself, and yet there was something different, just beyond description.

Jenny and Daisy took places on log seats at the log table and began conversing in Jenny’s language, completely ignoring her parents, as if they were not even present.

Then, as suddenly as they’d appeared, Jenny and Daisy left the table and walked off into the woods leaving her parents exactly as they’d been.

Now, again as if directed by some unknown force, Jenny’s parents were guided out of their seats and, as the forest seemed to retreat around them, retraced their path back through the forest toward the bedroom door. And, as they stepped through the entry, they found themselves back in the hall of their house.

They’d both read Alice in Wonderland and, like most people, knew the story, but never believed that they’d be living through anything even similar. In their mind and heart they simply, like everyone else, enjoyed the story and found the political satire great fun.

As Jenny’s door returned to its closed position they chose to go back to the dining room to discuss the experience and to decide what to do next to find Jenny and Daisy.

To their relief, and amazement, both Jenny and Daisy were in their places in the dining room, happily eating. It was now Jenny’s turn to ask what had happened to them, but the only excuse they could come up with for their delay to dinner was that they had something to do and they were glad Jenny had started eating rather than waiting.

“They’re all okay,” the EMS crew reported as the three stretchers were wheeled out of the collapsed building. “Even the dog seems to be fine,” he added over the walkie-talkie to the waiting rescue team.

The sink-hole that had swallowed Jenny’s house suddenly appeared at exactly six o’clock. The amazing thing was that it was almost exactly the size of the house and the surrounding area was totally intact.

The news crews and neighbors gathered around, staring in amazement. There had been a number of sink-holes forming in the area recently, but none in any of the residential areas and, certainly, none of this magnitude. Everyone seemed grateful that the family was alright and, once they were relieved of any anxiety that their house might be next, they all retreated home.

Jenny looked over at Daisy from her bed in a nearby motel where the family had taken refuge after being released from the hospital as okay. Daisy looked back at Jenny. The two seemed to be lost in some extensive conversation that only they understood. It was almost as if they had a language all of their own.

The End


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