Brain Flowers

She runs gleefully through the field. She runs the palms of her hands on the tops of the waist-high wild grass. The clouds above are dark and the village lights are blinking on one by one. It is nearly night and a cold wind is starting to blow across the moor, but inside she is flying like a bird and skimming her fingers across the tips of the great oceans.

A seagull squawks above her and joins in her flight while great whales blow fountains of water miles high in the sky. Below a shoal of fish move like a thousand diamond darts in the crystal clear water. If she flies really fast, she will follow the sunset around the world. She will be forever in that moment.

“Jenna, stop running. Ladies don’t run. And come inside, it is getting late.”

“Yes, Mom,” she answers and turns around to head back home. The field is just moor again. There are no whales and sparkling fish. Inside their home her mother’s warm cooking and her father’s funny tales are waiting for her. She smiles and, ignoring her mother’s wishes, runs back to their quaint little house.

Her mother sits her down at the dinner table with the rest of them. They hold hands and pray. Her brother sneaks a look at her and she suppresses a giggle as he pulls a funny face. Then a hot, steaming, delicious dinner is served and they all soon go from laughing and talking to refusing third-helpings and groaning contently as their stomachs are achingly full–

“Jen! Jen! Wake up, Jen!” an urgent voice penetrates her consciousness and all these beautiful thoughts evaporate as she becomes aware of her surroundings again. Hot, humid and smelling faintly of stale food, sweat and desperation; the soup kitchen is bustling in the old shelter.

“Come on, Jen, we have to get some soup before they run out again. Hurry up. You are always daydreaming and I haven’t eaten for a couple days now.”

She sighs, stands up from the corner where they were sitting and follows her brother to the line waiting for soup.

The line snakes around the room, like the prize at the end of it is really worth waiting for. It is as if they were all standing in the queue to get on a rocket to the Moon. Jenna can feel the weight of the spacesuit on her and the nervousness in the pit of her stomach. What if the launch fails? What if they can’t come back to Earth? What if there are aliens up there?

“Come, Jen, we are almost at the front of the queue,” her brother says and smiles reassuring at her. She smiles back at him and squeezes his hand.