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literature

Three to Ten Feet Per Year

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By miistical
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There is something to nature that humans lack, you find. Something in the breeze that humans try to catch, to hold, to keep—you know humans are good at keeping things that are not theirs.

You don't like humans that much. You don't like yourself that much, either.

Glazed eyes blink. Your chest expands with your deep inhale, the smell of the dirt and grass almost something you could taste. You're dead center in the largest circle you've ever seen; surely the most perfect one ever, too. You know grandmama will be looking for you any minute now, her beat up truck clamoring noisily down the worn dirt paths.

You hope the aliens find you before she does. At least with the aliens you can cling to your already too fragile hope - the moment grandmama finds you out in the fields again, she'll for sure whip you.

A comet flashes by and you wonder when pain became a child's measurement.

You blink, again. And again. And again and again and again as you try to move and find that you can't. The ground has claimed you as its own and you think once more about how you'd prefer the aliens. The Earth beneath you ripples as if in opposition to your wandering thoughts. You take a deep breath and the air you blow out tastes of the apologizes hiding between your teeth.

The Earth accepts them and settles, taking you down an inch with it. You blink, slowly, your eyes focusing in and out at their leisure. By the time you finally feel like existing again, it is with the knowledge that the aliens have, in fact, come for you.

You just hadn't expected them to come from the very soil.

As you lay in that perfect circle, 40 feet across and 40 miles from home, you let yourself be swallowed whole. Your fingers grow and thin into flower vines, their sprawling white buds blooming under your watchful gaze as if the entire world had been set on fast forward. You entirely miss how your arms and legs split as if you were created with seams; they bleed honey and sap, gold and red. In place of skin grows thick roots of sepia bark, digging and weaving into the ground as they grow.

But it was the wings that truly captivated you. You could not see them at first, just felt the skeleton of them sprout from your shoulder blades. You could hear them rip through your jacket, your shirt, your flesh—but it was not flesh anymore, you thought, staring at your arms while your humanity dripped into your shadow.

Honey tears slid down rosy cheeks. The bones of your wings rose into the corners of your eyes (if you could call them eyes anymore). Your wings reminded you more of a wolf's claws or of a fox's smiling mouth; there was nothing heavenly in them, but you wouldn't dare claim them from hell, either.

No, they were from the Earth, just as humans were. You blinked and shifted and frowned.

'Damn,' you thought, 'I had high hopes for those aliens, too.'

By the time grandmama came for you, belt at the ready, she was both too early and too late. The crop circle you had lied in had grown back its wheat, and you were not you any more. 

You, now, were the packed dirt beneath your grandmama's boots. Your breath was the wind, just as your eyes were the many fireflies that littered the air - strangely enough, they had grouped together in a single spot. To the human eye, such as the old human woman who you felt nothing for (not now, not again, not ever), it appeared random.

But to the aliens? To the Earth this mortal woman stood upon? To all those who wished among the stars and sunk into fields? They would know those fireflies danced among the middle of a giant, perfect circle 40 feet across.

The ground rumbled, the old woman fell, and you laughed.
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