The blades of red grass stretched over her head. They clung wetly to her as she pressed through them, but when she checked her skin, she found no crimson stains. What little of the sky she could see was black as mold and smeared with blood. The line between day and night was arbitrary.
Warm winds always blew through the field, but the air never lost its sickly heat. The rusty summer preferred her to be uncomfortable in her skin. Its own bad habit.
The field danced and jostled against itself chaotically. Sometimes, people told her they could see patterns in its sway. They showed her these patterns however they could: sheets of music, books, poems, paintings, colors. But it never stopped being nonsense. Radio static. Another person’s thoughts.
The whole world belongs to other people.
Her house sat in a clearing at the center of the scarlet meadow. It rose from the ground like an unfortunate truth, black and twisted and meant only for her. The stalks of red withered the closer they grew to the house, like its charred bricks were held together with poison rather than mortar. Like its foundations were radioactive rather than simply cursed.
The garden remained as bare and dead as it had when she had found this home, though she had since tried to strain something green from the loamy soil. But the ground resisted her. Just as her front door never opened on the first try. The tiniest message of “you are not welcome” every time she entered her home.
Home is where the heart is.
There was never a fire burning when she returned home, no matter how high she stacked it nor how short her journey was. The air was thick with mildew and rot. The coffee was too bitter. The floors creaked too loudly. The lights were too dim. Things she had fixed a thousand times but always found wrong again.
Most nights, she kept the windows closed tight on the copper wind. Even mildew and mold were better than more blood. But on nights when the house began to suffocate her with dust like an hourglass filling with sand, she would open the windows and let the dust leave on bloody breezes.
That was when she saw them— the giants. Things that towered over the grasses without a care for the stalks tickling their skin. They were of marble and limestone, gold and silver. Their gemstone eyes sometimes lingered on her, and she dreamed that they recognized her. That they knew that she was in the wrong place.
Sometimes she tied ropes together with a plan to bind herself to one of the giants and let them carry her away from this place. But she always untied them later. The least she could do, she decided, was try to stay. Maybe things would change, maybe they wouldn’t. But her field was hers, and it wasn’t its fault that it was hell for her to live.
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