The cool breeze braids my hair, drying the beads of sweat tattooed on my neck. My eyes begin to relax as the sun cowers behind the tall oak tree where I reside. I rub my fingers across the blanket where I lay, tracing over the intricate patterns of white and violet swirls. It feels like an optical illusion, where the swirls change patterns every now and then. I can’t take my eyes away from the beautiful design until the smell of freshly baked cookies enters the air. I know I brought food to this picnic, but cookies that smell that delicious are beyond my area of expertise.
Before I can return to the swirling patterns, I’m standing up and walking towards the scent. It’s almost as if I’ve lost control of my body, for even though my mind isn’t telling my legs to move, they are doing all of this work on their own. I can see the scent in the air. I can feel it on my newly tanned skin. It’s getting dark, and I should probably turn back and pack up my stuff, but I must find these delectable treats, and I’ve gone too far now to turn back.
These machines at the bottom of my body continue to do the work, and each flower we pass catches my eye. Lilac, Fuschia, Tiffany, any color you could imagine come to life in front of me. Each blossom tells a story, and as I pass, it seems like they are calling to me, telling me not to continue. I continue, though, making a mental note to revisit these flowers on my way back.
The sky has begun to calm down, and the blend of orange, pink, and yellow has molded into a beautiful navy blue. The roads have closed for those with poor eyesight, but it seems as if my eyes have adjusted quite nicely, and I can see everything with newfound clarity. Finally, a small cottage makes its way into my view, and the worn-down cobblestone invites me closer. I’m almost certain I can hear the whirring of my brain as my legs step a little farther from my body than normal. The overwhelming stench of these cookies floods my nose, and before reaching the door, I am stopped by a small jingle in the cottage’s garden.
I quickly turn to see a small ball of light, constantly afloat and bouncing back and forth. My hand reaches out, and it feels as if I become one with the orb. It slides up my arm and onto my shoulder, resting there. The blue ball of energy gives off a cooling sensation, which sends a chill down my spine. Almost instantly the orb is gone. I feel an unexplainable difference within me, but the door is only a few steps away, so I continue my trek.
I place my hand on the wooden handle, and the door swings open with ease. I have found the culprit to my robotic change. A golden, bubbling liquid being held captive in a large glass jar emits a feeling and scent that one can only describe as pure bliss. My curiosity gets the better of me and I dip my hand in the liquid. Just one taste will satisfy, a voice rings in my head. I don’t recognize that voice, but I can’t deny that I do want to try this concoction. As my hand is coated in the liquid, I realize that it is way too hot for contact with skin. My skin burns, more than ever, but it isn’t painful. Even if it is uncomfortable, it’s as if I can’t pull away.
I notice a wooden spoon next to me, and a message is engraved along the handle. To those who enter, welcome. One sip of this liquid will liven your soul, and show you the true world around you. True world? What “true world”? I’ve been in these fields for as long as I can remember, having picnics and appreciating the wildlife. There have been no other signs of civilization for as long as I know. Every once in a while, while I’m dreaming, I feel myself slipping away to a place much darker and colder than what I know now. But that’s dreaming, and obviously not a realistic place to live. Fine, I think to myself, bring on the “true world”! What could be so bad about it? I pick up the spoon and dip it into the potion. I bring the soaked spoon to my lips and sip the gorgeous liquid. To my surprise, it doesn’t taste nearly as good as it looks.
My mouth is filled with the foul taste of shame, pride, and greed, sugar-coated with an artificial berry fragrance. I try to spit it out when the voice in my head speaks. It’s no use, it says, the drink is already starting to take effect. I try running, but my legs have been glued down by some invisible force. A warm scream fills my mouth, and the cottage around me begins to melt into the ground. The trees I once spent my days sitting under fold over, like a child closing a picture book. Flowers and grass disintegrate, and the sweet scent of cookies turns into the stale smell of tissues. I catch a final glimpse of the beautiful stars, as my world goes black for good.
I wake up with a chill inside of me. I don’t know who has put it there, but it most certainly wasn’t there before. In fact, everything is cold, not just my body. The room I’m in is a light shade of blue, and the sun doesn’t appear to be anywhere in sight. Speaking of my room, I attempt to look around as much as I can. The stiff blanket on top of me doesn’t leave much space for movement. The room is boring and dull, with a constant beep in the background. Suddenly, something familiar catches my eye.
The flowers from the field. It’s so much sadder seeing them here, they’ve been chopped and stuck into a decorated glass cage as if that helps the fact that they will die within a few weeks. Even the shades, although recognizable, are extremely muted. The tiffany blue looks more like a gray, and I can’t help but feel bad for the flowers, as they were so vibrant before. There’s one other thing that’s familiar too: the golden liquid. Although here it’s in a syringe, looking much less friendly and much more forceful. I miss my home. I miss the fields. I haven’t even been here more than five minutes and I’m already sick of it. Where am I, anyway?
I go to get up but am stopped by an immense scream. It’s not a scream of fear, but a scream of joy. Suddenly, tons of people are surrounding me and giving me hugs and kisses. I’m not sure who any of them are, and I don’t think I’ve ever received this much affection from anyone. To be fair, I don’t remember any human interactions I’ve ever had. I’ve only met the animals and flowers, although they are quite friendly. These people are all kissing me, giving me pats on the back, and showing their obvious affection in other, obnoxious ways. I manage to croak out, “What’s happening? Who are you guys?”.
They all look stunned as if I’m supposed to know who they are. Or maybe they’re just shocked at the negative tone in which I’m speaking. It’s not my fault I was just mobbed by a random group of people! Whispers push the love out of the room, and I get dirty glances from every which way. A lady with tear-stained cheeks quietly makes her way towards me and says, “Don’t you remember? You were hit on the head with a tree branch while we were picnicking one day. The doctors weren’t sure if you were going to make it, but this new medicine they tried has woken you up.” I stare at her blankly. The words don’t really sink in, they just bounce off of my skin like raindrops. Noticing my nod of confusion, the woman receives the signal and continues. “Aria”, she solemnly speaks, “you’ve been in a coma for 3 years.”