The Silver Berries

A strange dream I had, half nightmare, half...beautiful. I woke up feeling happier than I remembered feeling in days...

I had a dream last night

of a thorn bush, its roots deeply buried,

and grasping the earth like the fist of a man in agony or rage.

Its branches were a deep, lovely black

it's fruit the kind of silver

that I cannot quite grasp in my waking

brilliant and pure and yet cold as a last breath.

I picked the fruit, and though the thorns cut my fingers

I did not notice.

 

The fruit, it was beautiful.  The most beautiful berries

I've ever seen.  It was tiny and almost weightless in my hand

silver and frozen and soft

I lifted my hand to my mouth and touched it to my tongue

lightly; at first I tasted nothing, but then a sweetness filled my mouth

with a flavor so lovely I almost cried.

I tasted again, still wary of putting the whole thing in my mouth

but though the second taste was different from the first,

it was still sweet.

 

I put the berry in m mouth at last

and chewed slowly.  The flavor did not strike me all at once.

The sweetness crept on gradually, and with it, other flavors

flavors that I could not describe, but which I can still taste now

flavors that dimmed all else in comparison.

I would search the world for that combination of tastes

and never find it again.

It tasted like music.  There was the sweetness that lead all

but also there was a rhythm beneath it all, and strands that wove throughout.

 

I chewed the berry for many moments before swallowing.

That was the strangest feeling of all; it slipped down the throat

with an odd chilling, sick sensation

as though I had swallowed cold mercury.  I felt it all the way down my throat

freezing me, even though it wasn't cold.

The flavor's lingered, and then began to recede,

slowly as they had come.

I stood motionless,

rooted to the ground,

not wishing to do anything but only feeling.

Something strange was happening inside of me.

I could feel the berry working in me, a frozen chip of ice, buried inside of me.

It was hard to move.

 

I took a step towards the thorn bush

and the branches rippled towards me

I watched it, and the silver fruit on its branches gleamed

like tiny eyes winking at me

its roots writhed in the ground like fingers

readjusting their grip on something

I began to shiver convulsively

and my body felt clumsy; I do not know if I could have run at that point

but I could walk.  I walked away from the thorn bush

my steps heavy, dragging

as though I was being dragged down

as though my insides were made of metal and ice.

 

I do not know how far I walked before I came to a well.

I knew it was a well instantly, though how I knew, I don't know

because it was only the great, hollow, cut off trunk of a tree.

It must have been enormous when it was alive.  I crept up to its edge,

leaned heavily upon the dried bark and peered inside.

It looked like it went down for miles.  Someone had dug through the tree

and boring through the ancient dried roots

and yet the water rose high, all the way to the surface

so that I could have leaned down to drink, had I wanted to.

My throat felt thick

I could not swallow

My breaths were coming in great heaves

I think that I was dying.

I think I was poisoned and dying.

I considered drowning myself in the well coldly,

wondered how terrible the pain would get before I died

thinking that drowning was better,

but something stopped me from letting myself fall forward into the water.

Instead, I leaned my face forward

until my chin and lips were submerged

and drank.

 

I do not know how long I drank

but swallowing the water was as strange a feeling as swallowing the berry had been

it was cool, and yet not cold.

It was softer, and heavy, and soothing.

I only paused for breath, to pant for a moment before drinking desperately once more

I drank more than was possible

but it was possible in my dream

I when I finally lifted my head

the weight had fallen from my limbs

and my gut was no longer frozen.

 

I stood up, moving unsteadily at first, and then finding my balance.

My legs felt weak, and I was tired.

I looked around myself for the first time, and I realized that I was at the edge of a forest

surrounded by many trees, some almost as big as the well-tree had once been.

It seemed to stretch on forever, lovely

and endlessly dark.

I slid to the ground beside the well that had saved me

leaned my head back against the wood

listened to the sounds of things living around me.

There were birds above me, flapping their gray wings.

A strange fox-like animal with tiny stag's horns crept by

without taking any notice of me other than a brief glance

I felt my eyes closing

I felt...peaceful

I felt like I could sleep for hours

with my back against the well.

My head slumped against the wood...

I felt my body become weightless...

 

And when I opened my eyes

I was staring at the ceiling of my room.

But still, the feeling of peace lingered, and when I sat up

I imagined I could feel,

very faintly, like a tiny needle in the gut

a tiny, final chip of the berry's ice

breaking and melting away.

The End

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