It’s a glorious sight.
The field ripples like molten gold, rich, prosperous, joyful. A celebration of nature it is, of life triumphant. And yet, there is utter, chilling silence too.
No birds singing or crickets chirping, only the whoosh of wind dancing a merry jig with the resident ghosts. It prickles my skin as it brushes over my arms, almost as if in an open invitation to join and get swept away, and I gaze over the yellow sea, contemplating just how it came to be and what exactly am I doing here. Finding no immediate answers, my mind veers off the beaten path and snakes down to the ground beneath my feet. They are rooted to the ground now, dredging up whatever is beneath, and my pulse is quickening.
I blink and shake my head, searching for a ray of sunshine in the churning dark bowl that are now my thoughts. The wet, squelching sound I hear as I continue walking must be a byproduct of my imagination, or so I kid myself. I step on something hard and dry and it snaps under my weight, producing a sharp crack and I freeze in horror. It can’t be what I think it is, but deep down I know it must be. When I look down I see only dirt and dust, the stuff covering me up to my ankles now, and tufts of grass. Incredulous, I dig the tip of my boot in ground just to test if it’s indeed solid, kicking up even more dust. Yes, it must have been only my imagination.
I had been warned that this is not a stroll for the faint of heart, but I had dismissed the warning then. There is nothing here, is there? Too much fresh air and not a soul in sight. Not a soul that my living eyes can see, anyway. Why can’t I shake this feeling of cold dread, its finger pressing against the small of my back? And what is it trying to tell me?
My attention snaps back to the sunflowers crowding me. Somehow, I managed to walk off the path and right into their embrace, even though I don’t remember doing so. No one is left who remembers who planted this immense field, nor when, yet it must have been quite the back-breaking effort. There are tens of thousands of flowers in every direction I turn, as far as the eye can see. The details, I suppose, have eroded by now, swallowed by the earth. Perhaps it’s for the best that no one remembers.
Only one old legend remains, of an old grandma that planted sunflower seeds in the pockets of soldiers who fought here and died. I seriously question the story. Just how many soldiers must have been here, to fill an entire field? It’s mind-boggling to picture, and yet I feel the flowers turn my way, their faceless masks saying otherwise. I muscle my way through them then. Back up the ridge to the path that winds through the field and to fetch my bicycle.
I pause, just before I put my foot to the pedal. What if I shouldn’t forget? My thoughts thoroughly jumbled, I can’t make any sense of it anymore, and I speed away.
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