Order of Nature
The following story was written for the Furious Fiction contest for March 2020.
The guidelines were as follows:
'It’s been quite a month for the planet, but Furious Fiction judging stops for no pandemic (although each entry did have to be judged two metres apart). It’s hard to believe it was only two and a half weeks ago (feels much longer, right?) that we received a bumper 1200 entries for our competition, and our criteria had a rather ‘person, place, thing’ vibe this time around:
Each story had to include a PERSON IN DISGUISE.
Each story had to take place in a PARK.
Each story had to include a MIRROR.
Entries threw us everything from amusement parks (we see you, house of mirrors!) to playgrounds and car parks; rear view mirrors, compact mirrors, mirrored sunglasses and ponds. Then of course the many hundreds of creative takes on disguises brought out a dark side in some of you, while others took the more fun, Disney-themed route. Definitely a mixed bag and an interesting month for our judges!'
Order of Nature
By S. W. Stribling
I was brooding. The vicious circle of everyday worries ran relentlessly in my mind. It was beautiful and sunny out, but here I was stuck in this dark cave of a room trying to get past my negative thoughts and ‘get some work done’.
It was no use, things were only getting worse the harder I tried to force something to happen.
I went to the bathroom to throw cold water on my face. I took a deep breath. Then another. And finally, a third and very definitive one. I needed this escape.
I withdrew to a park in a quiet residential area. Nobody was around besides a few old men sitting on benches feeding birds.
I wandered through the trees towards the middle and immediately felt unraveled by the purity of the light shining through. The rays were warm yet soft after being broken up from the branches and leaves.
I began to appreciate everything with each step forward.
The squirrels ran up tree trunks chasing tiny little birds who flittered from one branch to another.
Ants were crawling around on fallen leaves. A few steps for me, but what an adventurous undertaking it was for them!
The more open I became, the more I saw.
Vines climbed and, without eyes, somehow knew exactly where the next twig was. Flower buds unfolded towards the sun. An innate knowledge that mesmerized me in its consistency.
I kept walking and gently stepped to the side to avoid the beautiful architecture of a spider’s web glistening in the sunlight. So delicate yet strong as the wind blew through it. I appreciated how she lived outside and kept a tidier house than myself.
Everything seemed so distinct yet connected in this natural order.
I could feel this natural order in the blood pumping through my veins as assuredly as the bones holding me up. My hair grew without conscious thought just like this park.
I continued walking the path as I watched it make a turn around a vegetated area. I couldn’t see what was around this corner, but the mystery of this surprise gift to myself excited me as it would surely stimulate my spirit.
The thoughts I had before tried to creep back in. The outside world was trying to break through.
But they didn’t. They floated away with a wind that said, ‘Yes, I have issues to deal with, but they are nothing compared to this sense of life. They are nothing compared to who I truly am.’
I opened my eyes, and I saw the man in the bathroom mirror. I recognized the man, but not as myself. It was me by all outward appearances, but I saw him for who he was. He was a man in a disguise. A disguise I wore every day to hide from the world. An actor playing a role.
I smiled at him and continued my day in my cave, without my disguise.