Emily had a fondness for her wicker bag. It was overtly large, notably old-fashioned and screaming of flowering embroidery. As she wandered through the park, head lost in the darkening clouds, she felt that the bag encapsulated the essence of her soul. She pondered whether wicker was waterproof and how protected the contents of her bag (comb, manuscript, pocket xylophone, a multitude of scarves and a single glove) would be, especially given that she had forgotten to pack an umbrella.
Moss, spattered in its patterns, grew around the bark forty five degrees from where the path began. A trail had started to appear from the other side of the path, a remnant of all those who had strayed her before, the mark of countless couples on the hunt for privacy, numerous children engrossed in hide and seek, frustrated adults whose dogs had broken free from the leash. It was a good tree, a solid tree, a tree of consistency and upstanding morals. It was a tree that would tell no secrets. A tree to be trusted.
His thumb had smudged the lens as he wiped the raindrops from the glass. Realising that the rain wasn’t letting up, Alex had decided to struggle on, determined that he would not go home without at least one somewhat adequate picture. The shelter of the playground’s wooden train had quickly lost its novelty when the wind had begun pushing the rain against his back regardless. Stumbling on the increasingly narrowing path, he turned in a circle to investigate the prospects. He was looking for… He didn’t know. Anything. A brightness, a gloom, a spark. He wasn’t sure. But he had hope that he would know it when he saw it, that he wold feel it in the pit of his stomach, against the back of his arms. And from nowhere, he heard bells.
The vertebral column of the tree almost perfectly arched to fit hers as she leaned herself into the bark. She had always like this weather. Fairy weather is what it was, a time when mythical creatures held festivals and celebrations, a weather that humans looked down their noses on and yet was still habitable. This weather was inspiration, these surroundings a muse. Her pocket xylophone comprised of fourteen metal plates on a wooden frame and under no circumstances could it ever have fit into a standard pocket. Tiny rivulets sloshed against the silver surface as she lay the instrument into the grass and slowly began to hit a short and delicate motif with the mallet. As the bell-like timbre resounded through the air, she ignored the rustling of leaves behind her.
He had picked this tree because its broad leaves and thick branches had suggested ample shelter so as to re-establish what he would do. The music had only added to the intrigue. He thought that perhaps he had recognised the tune – a hark back, maybe, to his earlier days of learning the tin whistle, the days before he had replaced the instrument with his beloved Kodak. The girl, well, she was not beautiful. She looked out of place and dishevelled and wrong in the context. An anachronism. So why couldn’t he look away?