There she is, lying in her bed. Contemplating, she dozes away. Her mind wanders randomly before she escapes into her beloved home, her safe haven, the Temple Forest. She dreamed this place into reality over the years to find solace. She created every single detail in there. No one else knows about it, nor is it anywhere to be found on a map. It is hers and hers only.

The earth is plush there, with soft moss spread out like a glorious green carpet. She decorated it delicately with wild flowers, just enough to stay colorful year round. She handpicked magical herbs to thrive in her garden. She planted every single tree in there, some of them young and subtle, others middle-aged and she put there also some really old wise ancients. She shows respect to all of them and knows their names. She scattered bunches of fern thicket among them to provide hares and pine martens with enough places to lodge. She populated crowns of the trees with her trilling feathered friends. The squirrels perform their acrobatic circus up in the sky-high branches. Not afar, the trees give way to a tiny clearing. It’s a secret place that only she and her trusted deer know about. Bubbling of a cool brook skipping over smooth pebbles. She made a barrier there to create a small pond to collect water and have it warm up in the midday sun. She delighted in choosing the colorful stones for her water cascade. Now she enjoys reflections of rays on their wet faces. A faint rainbow trembles in the vapor. A group of tiny flies basks in the sunlight. They create ever-changing formations of spins, twists and turns, as if an elegant dance under command of a conductor. A woodpecker, the forest doctor,  sets the tempo with his endless search for bugs in the tree barks. Game of hide-and-seek with the mushrooms scattered around, some camouflaged under layer of needles, leaves and humid dirt, others proudly showing their poisonous beauty.

This is her paradise. This is her creation that she gifted to herself.

As she sits down and leans against an old tree, with creaky sound it embraces her gently, moss cushions make a comfortable padded seating, the grass caress her feet. She savours the purity of the moment, listens to the perfect symphony of the nature.. when she starts to remember.. It was dark when she browsed the path and only the Moon shined her way through. She remembers seeing owls flying low in a busy search for stray mice. The herbs.. Yes, that’s right, she used to collect herbs. Many kinds of them. She knew how to work them. Those were her treasures. She kept them dried in pouches. They were powerful, her little sisters. When was it.. When? Echoes in her head. Those memories are far but she is sure they did happen.

She feels a bright light dancing on her face. She opens her eyes and for a moment is caught up in a confused limbo: Where is she? She looks up to find the source of light but finds only a white ceiling above her. Then she realizes it is the sun reflecting from the glass facade of the highrise across the street piercing her eyes. The vision of lush nature is gone. She would swear an owl hooted but now she realized it was  just a howling siren of an ambulance. The chirping of the birds disappeared in a nervous honking of taxis outside.

It’s morning. Time to get up. She gets dressed. She leaves home pushing her cap into her face deeper than usually, trying to avoid the stares of passersby.

This is not her home. These are not her people. Trying to hold on to the vision of her Forest Temple, she braves another day in NYC.

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