Beneath the Surface of the Soil (experimental fiction, 1092 words)
They had grown comfortable in each other’s skins, like old friends having lived together for a very long time. They weren’t married, but in many ways they were like an older married couple. Although they had never enjoyed their silver or golden wedding anniversary, had never even lived together or gone on a date, they were right for one another. Despite their close bond, their relationship was not sensual, never sexual. It simply was, like the bond of old friends who were closer than siblings. And the strange thing was that they’d never met, not once, except in the ether of cyberspace within a private web office called Liquid Imagination.
She had heard these words many times before: Why don’t you do the things you used to? And, Why can’t it be like it was before?
She would just smile and nod her heard knowingly, then turn away to tend her garden. When asked what she’s doing, the gardener would speak of planting things not yet discovered; she would speak of things that hadn’t grown up out of the ground: invisible things, living things planted deep in the soil of this private web office.
“Why does it have to be like it was in the beginning?” she asked once. “Why can’t it be what we’ve become?”
It was true that their relationship had become comfortable, and they could both slip into brutal honesty. They could both say what they wanted, they could both reveal how they really felt. If a story needed written, she would plant the seed and it would grow. The writer would harvest what the earth produced and post it in the private web office for all the other writers to admire.
“See what I grew?” the writer would say. “See what I did?”
But the truth of the matter was that the writer had done nothing; he had merely taken a seed given him by Liquid Imagination flowing through his mind, a gift from the Gardener. The power of growth was contained in the seed, and the writer merely dropped the seed into the ground, simply posted the story within the web office. It was the power contained within the seed that wrought forth growth. The writer had to do nothing but simply deposit the seed, after crafting the seeds intricate inner-workings along with the Gardener’s inspirations.
“Why can’t it be like it was before?” the writer asked her again.
She smiled and turned away. A wave of cold enveloped him as he watched her bend, her hand reaching into the beautiful garden that she and her host of writers had cultivated. She pulled and brought up a story from their garden of dreams. Turning around, she beamed and presented the writer the beautiful story.
“This is flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood,” she told him. “Isn’t that enough?”
The writer received the story like a ring, like a promise etched in gold. The writer slipped it over his finger. Later, he took the story and sent it off without a moment’s thought. Months later, an acceptance letter came in the mail; the story would be published.
That very same day, after telling others in the private web office about his recent acceptance, he posted still-yet another question: Why can’t it be the way it was before?
She smiled and turned her back. A wave of cold washed over him the way it always did when she ignored him, and he shivered, dejected. When she finally turned around, the Gardener wasn’t facing him anymore, but instead stood before another writer, a woman. This second writer was a lover of words like him.
“Here,” the Gardener said, handing her a story. “This is flesh of my flesh, life of my life, words of my words… take and eat in remembrance of me.”
The woman took the story and began to consume it. The words tumbled down into her mind, and vine-like tendrils and shoots grafted along the framework of her soul. “Why can’t it be like it was before?” the woman asked the Gardener, just before sitting before her laptop to write out the divinely inspired tale.
“Why does it have to be like it was in the beginning?” the Gardener responded. “Why can’t it just be what we’ve become: old friends?”
The woman shook her head and began to write, while another writer—this one, an angry young man—approached the garden. “What is this?” he asked the Gardener. She laughed and said, “What does it look like?” Then she explained that it was a garden.
“I don’t like to garden.”
“This is a writing garden, young man.” She turned around and handed him a story.
He took it unappreciatively. “Seems kind of quiet, a bit dead here.”
The Gardener smiled. “It might seem dead, but you can’t see the roots and life growing deep in the soil.” She turned away and the angry, young man took his gift and left the Gardener to her work. His story was about the undertow that existed far beneath the surface waves of the ocean. The angry, young man thought his story was about a cursed cove in which swimmers and divers would be pulled down by evil forces, when in reality it was the Gardner trying to teach of the deep things, trying to reveal the invisible things growing deep in the soil—the powerful undertow that is hidden deep beneath the surface of things.
They didn’t understand, but if they could only see what SHE could see, if they only knew what SHE knew, then they would see that beneath the surface of the soil were shoots and seedlings and roots forming a tapestry unseen. And the abundance of these interwoven threads—unseen, and thus invisible—stretched out in all directions, to the north, south, east and west. This tapestry of interconnectedness and thought breached into all directions, hidden, still growing into characters that could never die, into splintered paths and dying dreams and empty promises and stories sprouting up in other gardens halfway around the world, tales sprouting up across the Atlantic.
When asked the question they always posted, the Gardener would always gently chide them with these words: You can’t see beyond the surface of things; you can’t fathom what’s growing along the splintered path; and you can’t feel the undertow deep within the earth’s belly, primal forces rippling outward.
Although none of her children could see, they still enjoyed the undertow at it pulled them along at twice the speed of light within the confines of their combined liquid-imagination.