A jar of honey with some strawberries beside.

by Yiu-On Li
Art by Caroline Wang
Issue: Phosphene (Summer 2019)

Once there was a field. In that field was a basket.

The field was like any other field. It had grass. It had sun. It had wind. But the field would change. With a shimmer, all that once was became all that never was.

Today was a bloody war and tomorrow was a lover’s serenade and yesterday was a yard sale by a child and sometimes was a zombie apocalypse. Shifting, shifting, shifting, up and down and forwards and sideways, always and never together and forever, on and on and on. Would you have fancied a bit of tea?

The basket remained closed.

Visitors from lands afar would come to the field, at times not of their own volition, compelled by a force they could only later describe as beautiful. They saw the wars, the serenades, the yard sales, the ends of the world. But they stared, staring without passion, knowing only and seeing only. Every war inevitable, every serenade predisposed, every yard sale undisturbed, every apocalypse as it was. One by one, row by row, an end to an end.

Select visitors, had they possessed the necessary fortitude and serendipity, could on occasion break their trance. They did not stare; they felt. They felt the grass’s green, the sun’s honey, the wind’s sweetness. They said hello and fought and loved and were loved and bought and sold and died and lived again and laughed and cried and said goodbye and said goodbye and said goodbye. Wasn’t it wonderful?

The basket opened.

But the field would change. Trance or no trance, the visitors were still visitors, and whether their stay was only for a few seconds or for a few years, they could not stay forever. Grass, sun, and wind flickered this way and that way, in and out, in and out.

Some left suddenly while others would manage to cling on for a while, watching the field slowly fade from view. But all left eventually, willingly or otherwise. Then there would only be the field.

Visitors from lands afar—

You wake up and you can’t remember. But you will be back someday.