I brushed grass off of my face, spitting some out. I reached back to comb it out of my tangly red hair. If only I'd brushed it before I went for toast. Now I'd have no time to fix it before school. I flicked a few stray strands out of my face, pushing my hair behind my shoulders. I'd have to think about it later. As I straightened up, I plucked some blades from between my toes, tossing them to the wind....
I was still in my pajamas. My too small, lavender, unicorn pajamas.
Most people would be embarrassed or irritated. I was simply amused. At least I hadn't slept in my underwear last night.
I began to stroll through the meadow, looking around idly. There were no exits in sight. That was inconvenient. Couldn't someone have at least put up a sign? The whole having no idea where I was thing was beginning to annoy.
I went through possible explanations. I could be dreaming; this seemed most likely. I could be hallucinating; if so, I must be on some powerful drugs to not feel myself running into things. I could be dead; that would make this heaven.
In some corner of my mind, I recognized that there was a fourth possibility. I didn't acknowledge it at the time.
Trekking up to the top of a small knoll, I sat down, contemplating. I didn't think I was dead, and I doubted someone had pumped me full of drugs without me noticing. Dreaming seemed the obvious answer. I reached up and pinched my cheek, softly at first, then harder and harder until a droplet of blood appeared on my fingertips. Pain wasn't waking me up. Maybe a falling sensation would. Standing, I threw myself forward, rolling down the hill. I tumbled for a few seconds, stomach churning, until I wound up in a heap at the foot of the hill. I looked around.
Definitely still in the meadow.
I could try killing myself; that usually woke me up pretty fast. However, a nagging doubt in my mind told me that if pain and falling didn't wake me up, I might not be dreaming. That would make suicide a bad idea. So I began to wonder if I was already dead. Why would I be in heaven, or hell, or purgatory, or wherever I was, fully clothed with a memory of going into my kitchen? Death also seemed unlikely. And my hallucination theory had little ground either; there was no such thing as a time delay on hallucinogens, was there? I couldn't spontaneously feel a drug's effects halfway into my morning.
This place had me stumped.
Frustrated now, I looked around again, searching for clues. This meadow seemed to stretch forever in front of me, all swaying green grass and blue sky. I turned around without much hope.
It appeared that my attention had been misplaced. Directly opposite those infinite fields was a natural ride of grassy hills, each one stories tall. I looked left and right; the ridge continued both ways, forming a single green wall.
Mastery comes from repetition; knowledge comes from the unexplored.
My father's voice sounded softly in my head. One of his favorite sayings. He thought himself a highly quotable man, spouting nonsense half the time and profundity the other half. For once, I was glad to have been subjected to his ramblings. Only the unexplored was going to give me answers.
I scrambled back up the knoll, then cautiously descended. Scramble, descend, scramble, descend. My mind began to tune out the monotonous physical work that scaling the hills required, my eyes focused only on that wall in front of me. After several minutes, I stumbled, sweating, to the foot of the wall.
Looking at it up close, I was astonished to find that it was not a small mountain, like I had expected. There was no dirt or stone beneath the grass. I ripped some of the outer layer away, only to find more grass, more densely packed. I attempted to tear through this layer as well, but it may as well have been rock. Bemused, I stepped back, looking down the wall, looking for a clue.
There. In the distance. A few hundred yards away, if that. A small brown speck against the green. My heart pounded. This could be my way home!
I began to run, the stalks whispering beneath my bare feet. I skidded to a stop in front of the brown rectangle, set into the green wall. I touched it reverently. It was smooth, lacquered wood, with three words set into the center of it.
"Up and out."
Confused, I looked up. Nothing but a softly rounded peak at the top of this hill, covered in green. I looked back at the sign.
It was gone.
In its place was an arch cut into the grass. Just beyond the arch, I could make out the shape of a wooden staircase.
There was no way this message could be clearer.
I stepped through the arch, onto the first step. It was warm beneath my bare feet, a comforting, familiar texture. I took the next few with gusto, then looked up. I could still see the sky, the sun. I could still feel the breeze. The grass on either side of me formed a half-tunnel, restricting my view to the sides. The stairs continued steeply upwards, almost forming a ladder. I took them two at a time, my breath coming in gasps as I worked both my arms and my legs, moving as fast as I could. Sweat ran down my face; my throat burned. I ignored both, still pumping my legs, pushing myself up.
Another arch in the grass welcomed me at the top of the staircase. This one continued on, covering the sky. I walked slowly, catching my breath, enjoying the cool darkness. There, at the end of the tunnel, was an old-fashioned wooden door, just my height. A sign like the one from before...no, the same sign, adorned it.
I debated for the merest fraction of a second. Then I made my decision.
I tugged open the door, letting light flood my tunnel. A small, grassy platform extended outwards from the door, and I stepped back into the breeze, into the sunlight. I looked down.
Thousands upon thousands of soft orange, pink, and yellow flowers bloomed in the field below me. Their hues blended together, swaying in the breeze. It was as though someone had taken the sunset and grown it in a garden. I took another step towards the edge, inhaling deeply. The sweetest, most luscious scent I'd ever experienced filled my nose. It was like inhaling a peach cobbler. I breathed in until I had nothing left, then let it all out in a great sigh. A tear came to my eye as I mourned the loss of that scent. That would be my last first time smelling it; never again would I experience the wonder of that original sniff.
It was those flowers that made me decide to stay in that strange place for a while.