There was a young lady who did not care for cooking or cleaning, the idea of getting married, raising children, and walking six feet behind a man. This is a radical concept, I know, but bear with me. This is a fantasy, after all.
She did, however, love plants, and birds, and would happily clean out the pond from all the muck and scum, feed the pheasants, and dig up weeds from morning until dark. How this differed from the prospect of a life as a wife could be debated at length, but the fact of the matter is, she decided that
she would rather be a gardener than a mother.
But she lived in a world that was none too tolerate of strangeness. The village elders told her that she had choices; she could be quiet and dutiful or be carried up the mountain and fed to the ferocious giant birds that lived there, as she liked birds so much. And so, not thinking that these were
really excellent choices, she practiced pitching her voice low, made herself a large, voluminous robe, shaved her head, and slipped away in the night, leaving her home,
and traveling until she climbed and crossed those selfsame mountains – the dragon mountains, so called for their resemblance to the back end of a dragon. She paused, looked back at the world she was leaving, and thought “Talk to the Tail,” and followed it with an expletive that I will not reproduce here.
And incidentally – there were no large, ferocious birds to be seen. She slogged through palm groves and struggled through vines. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for, but surely the life she had left was like being trapped with no options.
Eventually, she came to a beautiful lake, with dancing cranes
She was hungry and exhausted, and sat down beside the lake. She fell asleep, and dreamed that the cranes spoke to her.
“Stay here,” they said. “Turn this wilderness into a garden and refuge.”
When she awoke, she remembered her strange dream, and figured that it was probably the exhaustion and lack of food, but that it was as good a plan as any. There were fruit trees and edible wild plants,
and while she had no tools, the weather was mild, and she scraped with sticks and her hands and scratched and dug and cleared. She found evidence that once there has been a settlement and gardens, she found some rusty old tools, and she continued to clear and clean up. And the plants flourished and bloomed.
Exotic birds came to eat the fruit and live in the emerging garden.
And then, one bright summer day, when the garden was looking particularly fine,
A stranger came, with a scarred face.
And that person did not say a word, but stayed for a week, and helped her build a small hut, weaving the walls and thatching the roof.
Thereafter, sometimes one or two people would come, and stay for a while, digging plots of land, or planting flowers.
Sometimes, they brought needful things, like a blanket, or a woven rug, or a ceramic dish.
Mostly, they did not speak, and went away after a time, seeming lighter and calmer than when they arrived.
And she was even joined by a cat, who was very shy. For the longest time, she would just see his tail, hanging out from behind a rock.
And all in all, she no longer felt like she was a tiny, helpless bird where her life was a choice between two bad options. No longer was she trapped between a Roc and A Hard Place.
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