The golden sun light fell upon the hilly fields of dry grass through the thick white clouds above. Looking like fluffy snow mounds weightless in the sky, the clouds drifted towards the open waters to her left. Laying comfortably upon his back, John rested with his eyes closed but was not asleep; while, Jenn rested upon her elbows and shoulders hunched looking out across the open ocean of grass and wild flowers dancing in the slow wind. The flannel blanket below them laid flat upon the ground, pushed up above the ground through the pressed grass below. Ants, spiders, and other insects ran under their laying bodies and sheet exploring the early night in their homes.
Below the shade of the cherry tree they laid near, the couple enjoyed the peace and quiet that was rarely found in their lives anymore. Getting their careers in full swing, having children, and being the only members of both sides of their families to be having children made their privacy and peaceful moments alone or together nonexistent. Watching as the tall grass blades waved in the wind, Jenn breathed in a full inhale and felt her body sink further into the Earth.
The wind gracing her face, she felt refreshed. The sounds of nature, the soft light of the high sun, and the lack of others gave freedom to the couple. Pulling herself up from the floor, she sat in a cross legged position. Turning to John, she rested her hand upon John’s mountain peaked leg she asked, “Sweetie… do you worry about laying on the ground and having an insect crawl into your ear?”
Pulling his arm over his eyes and attempting to block his ears from the tiny explorers, he exhaled in a deep sigh and said, “Well, I didn’t until now…” Laughing lightly, he stayed plastered to the floor and did not move further.
“Sweetie?” Jenn said in a soft questioning voice.
“Yes, Honey?” he replied.
Inhaling, Jenn relaxed and asked, “Is it terrible of me, as a mother, if… I just wish we could stay here and never see anyone again? It is so… peaceful here. No screaming, not visitors; it is just us. …I just feel awful.”
Pulling his arm from his sight, he looked at the back of his wife and half frowned, “Why do you feel awful? If it makes you feel better, I have been laying here thinking the same exact thing.” Giggling, he rested his arm back over his eyes.
Feeling nervous about her answer, she pulled her legs to her chest and rested upon the knees, her chin pressed deep into her arms. “It is just…” she muttered, “that I feel we should not want to have this. We have children, and shouldn’t they be the reason why we suffer through the lack of our freedoms. Like, the sacrifices we make to support them gives them a chance for better than we had when we were young… right?”
Without hesitation, John answered, “No, I don’t think either of us are bad for wanting our freedoms back. Also, you carried each of the little boogers for a little over nine months. Hell, that is nine months in your body!” Snickering he expanded, “Also, in the end, by the time they reach college they will have a whole load of friends to support them in their needs and listen to how terrible their parents were to them when they were young. All of them will collectively agree that they too will do better for their children. Honey, just remember, we will always be a failure to our children like our parents were for us.”
While his advice had always been blunt and dripping in sarcasm, Jenn understood his meaning. After being with each other since they met in high school, she learned to adapt to his unique way of providing perspective on life. Usually metaphorical, most found his advice to be aggressive and confusing; though, usually John was right. He just had very little patience, so he tried to provide perspective in a way that reduced his time needed to talk to you, or how he said it “I am trying to make them think… so I don’t have to for them.”
With a slight curl to her question, Jenn asked, “Do you ever wonder what our lives would be like if we never got together?”
Pulling his neck up, he curled his smile with knitted eyebrows. “Like… alternate realities, kind of question?”
Her chin rubbed against the bones in her forearms as she nodded, “Yes, exactly. What if we never met, where would we be? Have you ever thought about that? Like, would I still have had children? Would I have graduated college; been as distant to my family as I am now? Or!, moved out of the country and became a great CEO of some large company?”
Falling back into his bed of pressed grass, he looked through the shaded side of the cherry leaves above him where the sun was blocked from getting fully to the ground below. With a sigh, he rolled his bent arm back over his eyes and said, “Honey, I am not sure what you ‘would’ have become but I do know who you have become right now. It is hard to try and connect such questions to a definitive reality, but I do feel that if you hadn’t of met me I would not have been the person I am, which, for me, is an existence I have enjoyed and am happy to have had thus far. I hope you would feel the same too,” ending his point with an edge to questioning in his voice.
Looking back at his resting body in the shade of the large cherry tree blossoming above them, she felt a pull against her throat. She did not want to hurt him, but secretly she had always hoped to of had a different and more adventurous life. In her younger early teen years, she held the ambition to travel to ever continent and visit the various other world cultures. Most nights, she would fantasize about leaving a footprint of hers on every shoreline in the world. While likely an impossible task, now the obligations of their family and career lives made such travels near impossible.
The wind picked up across the hilly landscape. Flowing with the motion, the fluffy white clouds merged and overlapped one another shading more of the tall grassy and wild flower fields. Changing the entire landscape to duller colors, Jen felt the sinking feeling that she would be returning to her modern life soon; in only a few days, her liberation would be shown temporary.
As John laid there with his knees peaked like tiny mountains above the ground rattled with life scurrying all around them, his chest felt pressed in with each breath. Though his eyes ached, he held back his pain. Knowing Jen for so many years, they had talked many times about the exciting opportunities that laid for them in the world; though, all those hopes and wishes had been removed for her now. Settling down with careers and then children, the doors to those adventures had now been shut and locked for them. They had shared their observations with their friends and family but most were unsympathetic. Worse, even some thought they were trying to get the approval to put their children in foster care so they could go enjoy immature lifestyles of travel and leisure!
Rubbing her hunched back, he felt her soft cotton shirt against his palm. Her body was warm and her inhales were heavy. Sighing, Jen pressed her chin further into her forearms and grasped her knees tighter. Questioning, she asked, “Why is it that we are considered odd or monster like when we talk about these feelings to others?”
“It is because, Honey, most others give up on dreams at an early age; we just… simply, we just never grew out of the idea that we could still explore, learn, and be creative.” Rising to sit next to her, he leaned in and pressed his firm lips against the side of her head. Playfully pressing his forehead against her soft hair he said, “Come on, let’s go for a walk. We can’t just lay here all day, can we? Because of you, I am scared of having an ant call into my ear now…” Chuckling, John rose to his feet and extended an open hand to her.
Looking up into his long jawed smile and shaded face, Jen felt her heart sink. Though she had thought some nights about simply packing a few things and fleeing from her personally made sentenced life, her loyal obligations to John were more important than her own desires. Lying to herself during the hardest moments, she would repeat to herself that her and John would travel one day… when they were old, hopefully.
Together they walked down the matted down grass path that had a few large patches that no grass could birth threw; just dry tannish brown dirt. The clouds detaching again, allowed for the sun to stretch down again and help guide their path back to the adults only bed and breakfast. The weather was pleasant and dry, but Jen held hope that the chance for a light rain would still produce later that day. As a small chipmunk scurried just a few steps in front of them, he turned to face them and then darted back to the shelter of the tall blade of grass that waved at the couple as they left the hilly cherry tree orchard.
As the stones crunched beneath their shoes, she focused her mental thoughts to make memories of the sounds; remembering the last time she was at peace before returning home to chaos. A short moment in life that her and John were back to a place of peace.
Back where they laid and pressed the grass down the insects made their way along on their many legs, the spiders pursued them, and the grass blades bent their bodies back to the sky. The clouds drifted and the sun pushed through further. Everything was simple in the hilly valley of the cherry tree fields. Without sounds but for nature, everything was at peace.