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Saturday, 2 January 2016

Nature: An Escape from the Urban Environment

Fiction | Moose

As he approached the end of the pavement to cross the road at the intersection, he let out an audible sigh. It was not a sigh of frustration at forgetting to bring his umbrella on this dark, gloomy and wet evening, as he did not mind the rain dripping from his hair to his cheeks, and in fact welcomed the ticklish feeling of the water rolling down his face. Neither was it a sigh of having just missed his opportunity to cross the road before the traffic lights prevented him, as he was not in a rush. His sigh was at the acceptance of another long day doing the same, repetitive work, with familiar faces and a goal that revolved around an invisible ladder.

Standing at such an angle on the pavement, he was able to see the traffic signals transition from the red and amber to the green, and as soon as it had, without a break of even a second, an impatient driver, perched in his large grey van, which had presumably been white before the dirt of the winter enveloped it, beeped on his horn impatiently, to make the driver ahead of him aware that he was in a rush on this wet evening. As people started to crowd at the lights with their umbrellas keeping them dry from the gentle rain, they were startled by this loud noise, and looked in the direction of the man now shouting abuse out of his window, as though this would hurry the older woman in front of him. Cars in other lanes had already started to move, and the mechanical sounds of the cars masked the tirade of this vile man enough to make it a distant murmur, and the whistle of the engines driving past added to the unnatural ambience that was created in this dark rush hour.

The man, with droplets of rain falling from his brow, looked ahead of him, past the rushing cars, to notice a group of people huddled on the other side of the road, waiting to cross in the opposite direction under the yellow light emanating from the street lamps above them. They were hiding underneath umbrellas with their vacant faces, looking towards the next part of their journey. Feeling uncomfortable at the emotionless faces of the characters opposite, he looked beyond them at the buildings and began to scale the tall, grey concrete buildings with his eyes: buildings that steal the Sky in daylight, but which, in the early darkness of this winter, the night took back in a struggle that led to nature fighting for the city that it had lost to the dull, grey buildings, unnatural lights and smell of the car engines. His eyes remained in the darkness above him, inviting the raindrops to gently slap him in the face, and at once he felt a bond with nature in this mechanical setting known as the city.

He sighed once more, and as he released the warm breath from his throat he closed his eyes.

Suddenly, it was quiet. No longer were the sounds of cars obstructing the peace, and there was stillness as the wind blew gently across his cheeks, and the raindrops fell onto his exposed face.

He began to hear the sound of water flowing gently to his left. With his eyes still closed he looked towards the direction of the sound, and he saw the flow of a small stream, and he had been transported to a new world where he was surrounded by an open forest.

The barks of the trees were a dark brown colour where the rain trickled down from the full branches of the trees above him, and a soft squishing noise was produced by the wet ground beneath him layered with fallen leaves ranging from brown to a light green, offering an array of subtle colours, to this artful setting.

He looked to his right and saw his girlfriend walking beside him, holding his hand. He first noticed her glowing red cheeks, and immediately felt the cold wind manoeuvring through the trees onto his face, and his own cheeks suddenly felt very delicate. He enjoyed the sight of his partner’s seductively red lips smiling as her deep blue eyes were searching the path in front of them, and he realised that she was in awe of this world that they were embracing. She must have noticed that he was staring at her, because she turned towards him, returning his smile, before she lowered her eyes towards the ground as though out of embarrassment. He felt her hand squeeze his own before she pulled herself closer to him and clutched his right arm. He rested his head on hers as they continued to walk onwards, taking in the serene beauty that the world presented to them. The sounds of the rain falling on the leaves and then to the ground, the gentle trickling of the stream to their left, the cold wind coming at them from all angles and the soft touch of his girlfriend pressed against him continued to develop the peaceful world that embraced them, and they were comfortable in the gentle world of nature. They walked on ever so delicately…

The image was swiftly destroyed by a rude push of someone speeding past him, and he opened his eyes. He had returned to a world that now seemed so superficial.

The green man had reappeared on the traffic lights and the pedestrians were now crossing the road. He moved forward as people rushed past selfishly. The group from the other side of the road were already crossing, and their emotionless expressions only became more intimidating. Their movements were robotic, and many held umbrellas at a height that meant people had to move out of their way to avoid a nasty poke to the eye. They were all walking into each other, and an insistent tut was the only form of coherent communication in this selfish interaction.

The man finished his journey across the road, and where he knew the rest of the way to the station without thought, he was able to let his mind wander back to the nature where he belonged, back to that world that man is inherently connected to.

The trickle of the stream became audible.

His young dog burst out of the trees, and he noticed that the pup was happily chasing a butterfly fluttering along the path, as it was wagging its tail and jumping with a bite before doing a full 360 turn to find the insect and chase it again. The butterfly, caught in the rain, appeared to be teasing the dog by floating just out of its reach before flying higher and landing on a tree, hoping to blend out of existence.

He squeezed his girlfriend’s hand tighter, as he let the natural world overtake him.

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