She was awakened by the single chirp of a speckled hen gracefully approaching the bouncing sprig of an evergreen. One decibel at a time, the music grew as more families took flight to provide for their young. The striking sun burst through the dark clouds. She instinctively deflected the attack, with both hands covering her face. Frozen, she listened. A warm breeze cuddled her like a blanket. Tentatively, she began lowering her arms. The volume of nature increased the more she relaxed her body. 

The old woman took a cane-balanced step and heard the crackle of the gravel below. The shade of darkness on the grassy hillside slowly rose, revealing the brilliant green of the new growth no longer hidden in cold loneliness. She noticed the crunching beneath her feet create a tune of revelry and delight. The beat harmonized with her musical step. When she reached the grassy hill, she removed her heavy shoes and felt the cool softness through the soles of her feet. Pushed up the hill by the wind on her back, she reached the top and saw the endless expanse of hills, valleys, powerful trees and delicate flowers. She lay on her side and released her body down the hill to the endless beauty below. Her laughter covered all natural sounds. 

Martha opened her eyes and looked over at her snoring husband. The light was just starting to peek around the blinds. She rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling sparkling above her. It was always the same. The dream was coming more frequently now. But it never changed. And at the end of the dream, she was always rolling down the plush green grassy hillside. It felt so good. In the dream, she was as giddy as a child. Her heart filled her chest with warmth she hadn’t felt since childhood. She and her sister frequently rolled like logs down the lawn, catching themselves at the bottom before they reached the paved street. But in the dream she was left wondering what happened next. What fate awaited her at the bottom of the hill? 

The bed bounced her like a ball and she heard grumbling and groaning from the other side. Her smile now erased, she glanced at her husband as he slowly and painfully rose to his feet.  – from “Darkness Behind the Door” Copyright 2009 – Teresa Ann Perner