So that’s what blood looked like. Seriah had always heard it in her ears when she ran hard, or when she laughed hard. Blood meant a time of joy. The blood sang with her heart, sang praises to the One who planted the garden for them to enjoy. She had heard it many times before. And of course she had seen something like blood at the turning of every moon, but her mother had told her it was not really blood.
This was the first time she had ever seen her blood. It was meant to rejoice in her veins, but now her hands seeped blood from so many small cuts. She regarded her hand, studying the blackness seeping out. She was told it was red, but perhaps the moonlight changed the color it appeared.
“Truth is worth the price you pay, daughter,” the shadow called from its perch on the tree inside the garden.
Seriah frowned as she turned toward her new friend. “I see no predators from atop the wall.”
“Of course you don’t. It is difficult to see a myth.”
The young woman leaned against the stonework. It had taken all her strength to climb the wall, but she had finally done it, at a price.
The wall mourned for this one. It was designed to protect; why would one of its charges hurt itself to climb? Didn’t she know that the wall wanted only what was best for her, only to keep her safe? That’s what the wall had been created for, and now this woman wouldn’t allow it to be what it was. And anytime that happened, it meant the end was not far behind. To deny the reason for something else would always lead to denying the reason for one’s self.
Seriah ventured across the stone walkway to peer beyond the garden for the first time. “What are those things in the distance?” So far away shadows loomed, great shadows that could devour the garden whole. If the wall kept them out — !
“Daughter, those are called mountains. They are regal. Magnificent. And this wall has kept you from their beauty all these years.”
The wall struggled. It wanted to reach out with stone fingers and snap the little thing’s neck. Didn’t it know? Was it that evil?
“I want to see them.” Seriah felt herself smile. The gardens knew beauty, yes, but she had lived here all her years. What would it be like to see something like this? Something that had been denied her?
“Oh, daughter, I do not know. It is a long journey, and you do not know the way.”
“I see some footsteps,” Seriah pointed. “In the ground, there. The dirt looks very fine.”
“It’s called sand.”
“Yes. In the sand. I can follow them. I’m sure they’ll help me! And maybe the wall didn’t keep everyone in, I guess, if someone’s walking around out there.”
“Go then, daughter. I will stay here in the garden. I have been kept out for so long. But you! Go. Explore. See what is out there. Enjoy all I created, and not this tiny little portion.”
Seriah spun back to the shadow. “Thank you! Thank you for showing me this.” She placed her hand against the stone of the wall in her excitement.
The wall wanted to cry out. Blood! Why would she want to shed her blood for this? There was no reason.
Seriah ran along the wall until she found a rope ladder hung over the edge near some sort of shelter built right atop the wall. She smiled. Yes, this would be an adventure. To see beyond the wall! And there were no predators.
Time to explore!
This is the thirteenth chapter of Summers’ End.