Underfoot. Underground. In the silence. Not a sound. The earth, she thought, is still. The sky devoid of stars. Darkness to the left and to the right. Not a bit of hope or help in sight. A step in any direction a perilous exercise when all she knew was where she had been and the pitch of night offered no path to where she should go. She stretched out her hands in hope of something to touch, to hold her steady, to secure her spot. Fluttered her hands in a flight and fight gesture of helplessness. She had ceased to believe in manners unseen. Comforted even less by what remained of her own uncommon sense.
Her hand thwacked the back of roughened wood. She traced the outline with her fingers, thinking at first, it was the bark of a tree rasping against her skin. Slowly her hands traveled over the spines of wood, as she edged closer until her knee bumped into an arm. The arm of a chair. The pair of a chair. Adirondack chair, to be fair. Clutching it with both hands, she built the chair in her mind and slowly made her way to where she was sure the seat should be, and lowered her body into it. Her seat tilted, so that she reclined rather than sat, and her arms settled into a natural pose resting on the wooden curves. She leaned back, closed her eyes, and in that moment between eyes closed and the coming of sleep...
What she did not see, as she was so consumed with her own thoughts of fear and confusion, was the flash of a tiny pinprick of light and a pair of yellow wellies barely brushing her toes. She was not alone in the darkness. Next to her, in a matching white wooden Adirondack chair, a Yard Yeti came in for a landing, sitting patiently in the stillness, waiting just as eagerly, to be seen.
Eunice Everlasting, Yard Yeti Emeritus, settled into her chair, crossed her legs and caressed the silken petal in the palm of her hand. Slightly agitated that her perfectly perfect pompadour had let her down, she patted the petal back into place in her floral coiffure, smiling inwardly at her silliness. She had lost many things before, including her mind.
Back at the beginning. Here, in the garden, where everything begins. Eunice knew only too well how easy it is to lose everything. To disappear. To fade from living color to black and white. Unseen, at the edge of the garden, where nothing and everything may or may not be real.
Eunice Everlasting had a story to tell and beside her, a Not Yet A Yeti, eager to listen. With her face filled with wonder and the power of the earth beneath her feet, she began.
Daydreaming again. Her favorite. The vanishing into thin air fantasy. Here today. Gone tomorrow. A real life disappearing act. Eunice glanced down at her slicing hand, not the one gripping the cucumber. For a moment she thought she'd done it herself, sliced her right pinkie finger clean off. She dropped the knife and reached for the paper towels, for surely, there would be blood. Lots of it. Plus, there was a missing finger to locate. The reality of what she was staring at slowly sank in. No blood. No throbbing pain. Just no pinkie finger. Anywhere.
Eunice raised her hand up to the light streaming through the kitchen window. Thumb. Yes. Pointer. Uh huh. Index finger. Secure. Ring finger. Still ringed. Pinkie finger. Gone.
She waggled her four fingers, slid her reading glasses back up from where they had slipped down on her nose. As a final confirmation, an exclamation that felt like a scream, she raised the other hand and and pressed her palms together. This is the church. This is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people. Normally, there were ten people in the pews. Today, however, only nine.
My. Goodness. Gone.
No. Misplaced, she thought. A careless error of a forgetful mind. Left somewhere waiting to be found. Why just hours ago, she left her checkbook at the end of the check out counter. The boy bagging her groceries had muttered under his breath, "Ever heard of a debit card?" Eunice blushed and rushed her signature. She shook her head and smiled in apology for taking up so much of his time. In her rush to leave, she left her checkbook behind. Maybe her pinkie finger was just sitting there near a pile of plastic bags. Eunice felt just a touch lighter, as though a piece of her went missing, right after she heard the boy follow up with, "Maybe we need a special line for the elderly."
Well, no mind, if Eunice made a fuss, she'd probably be accused of talking to herself. Perhaps tonight at dinner, Harold would notice. She' set the cucumber salad down, just the way he liked it, cucumbers and Vidalia onions sliced paper thin with a touch of vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar.
The two ate in silence, until Eunice decided to move things along. She would tell him the story, with flashing eyes and hands waving in the air, as she was considered by him, to be a bit dramatic. A touch overly emotional. Easily ruffled. Usually riled.
Losing a pinkie finger, well that was definitely deserving of a few dramatic gestures. Eunice started her story, was just about to get to the good stuff, when Harold rolled his eyes. Her sign to stop. So she did. She folded up her nine fingers and sat quietly staring at her plate. All that was left for her to do was chew.
When it was time for bed, Eunice pulled the washcloth slowly over her face, patting at the puffiness under her eyes. Patting, not pulling, the magazine suggested. She patted her left eye, then stroked the cloth over her left eyelid. Something was not right. Her eyebrow. Her right eyebrow was gone. Every single hair. Ingrown and out. The very same eyebrow she arched so dramatically at the dinner table, right before Harold rolled his eyes. Her eyebrow must have rolled up like a window shade and disappeared into her scalp.
Eunice held her four fingered hand at brow level. First a missing appendage. Now an off kilter visage. She grabbed the sink to keep from wobbling. Miraculously, she teeter-tottered her way to their bed. She laid her head on the pillow and rested her hands on her stomach. She waited until she heard the snoring symphony erupt beside her. Once Harold fell into his normal sonorous rhythm, Eunice began her informal sweep of the premises. From head to toe, eyes squeezed tight to help heighten her senses. Eyebrow. Pinkie. Gone. The rest undisturbed.
Her rest was not. Undisturbed. Eunice lay so still, afraid of slumber. Under the cover of the night, a body part might slip out from under the covers and escape. The shrill ring of the bedside phone startled her. She almost knocked over the alarm clock as she fumbled with her four fingered hand for the receiver. She breathed heavily into the phone. Yes?
It was her son Ewald. Eunice straightened up in bed and launched immediately into "Oh hello dear, you'll never believe what happened to me today..." as she heard him clear his throat and gruffly ask, "Is Dad there?" She nudged the snoring lump beside her and passed him the phone. Suddenly very weary after a particularly wearisome day, she fell back on her pillow and slept.
In the shower the next morning, her eyes stinging with soap, she fumbled for the faucet. She felt the spray sluicing over her face and dripping off her chin. The water was hot. Too hot. Eunice thought the word "Oh". When it didn't exit her mouth, she thought "Oh no". A drop of water dripped onto her chin missing her mouth entirely. For truly, it was her mouth that was entirely missing. As she stepped out of the shower, she caught her reflection in the mirror. No eyebrow. No pinkie. No mouth.
Makeup, she resolved. I need makeup. I need to redefine the boundaries. A slash of bright red lipstick, a dark sable arching eyebrow. Dressed in five, tucked behind the wheel of her car, Eunice headed to the grocery store, setting her sights on the beauty aisle. However, halfway there, a car packed with teenagers passed her, giving her the finger she wished she still had. Eunice was so angry, she lost her head.
She put the car in park, left it by the curb and trudged the remaining few blocks to the grocery store. Eunice was angry now, fed up to what would have been her solitary eyebrow. She was returning to the scene of the crime and planned to give the check out boy a piece of her mind. Wherever that was.
She only needed a paisley scarf to toss jauntily over her shoulders to distract attention. This time she was armed for battle. Eunice had cash in her pocket.
As she strode confidently into the 10 items or less line, a woman with a loud face and an even louder voice shoved past her and slammed her basket on the conveyor belt. Eunice would have raised an eyebrow if she had one. She would have thrown back her head in disgust if she knew where it was. Instead, all Eunice remembered as her body melted to the floor, was the man behind her yelling "Woman, have you no spine?"
Eunice dissolved into a neat and tidy puddle of sinew and skin on top of her shoes. The man stepped over the puddle and claimed her space as his own.
For one cataclysmic moment, it seemed all was lost. Literally and figuratively. Eunice realized she had become her own favorite fantasy. Not a leg to stand on. Neither head nor hair. No show of hands.
Eunice felt her spirit rise and float through spaces and places she'd never been before. No excuses. No pardon me. No waiting and tapping her foot. She would never again have to be "just a minute" or "we'll be with you shortly".
She felt light. Not a care in the world.
When the wind picked her up, Eunice let herself, her true and very visible self, get carried away.
She alit in the midst of a vast and magnificent garden. Bountiful blooming buds, soaring trees, abundant foliage. She stood, equally magnificent in gardening gloves, yellow wellies and upon her head, a preposterous pompadour of Everlasting curls framing her face.
Intact. Eunice was not only physically intact, but so overcome with the joy of hearing her own voice, she puckered up her lips and whispered that once elusive "o".
That tiny little "o" drifted far and wide, to be heard only by other women, Yard Yetis To Be, standing on the canyon rim, between Here and There.
Eunice Everlasting, hysterical headdress framing her tiny "o" shaped mouth, folded her ten fingers into her lap, and solemnly nodded at the faces surrounding her with rapt attention.
"Here", she whispered, "Here in the garden, is where I go to remind myself that there is in the earth, Hope. Wear your floral coiffure with flair. Believe the "o" in wonder. Strut proudly in your yellow wellies.
For here, in the garden, live the Yard Yeti Women.
Seasoned and reasoned and ready to grow.
Eunice lifted her pinkie, raised an eyebrow, nodded her head, straightened her spine...and giggled...rising into the night sky like a fiery ball of light. Visible to all the women below.
The once ordinary...now extraordinary...Yard Yetis of Lore.