At some time in the recent past someone had decided to brighten the ancient corridors of the University by painting them, having some vague notion that Learning Should Be Fun. It hadn’t worked. It’s a fact known throughout the universes that no matter how carefully the colors are chosen, institutional decor ends up as either vomit green, unmentionable brown, nicotine yellow or surgical appliance pink. By some little-understood process of sympathetic resonance, corridors painted in those colors always smell slightly of boiled cabbage—even if no cabbage is ever cooked in the vicinity.
From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom…It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? This singing she heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep.
The bowed head, the buried face. She is silent, she will never speak, never forgive, never reach a hand, never leave this frozen present tense. All waits, suspended. Suspended the autumn trees, the autumn sky, anonymous people. A blackbird, poor fool, sings out of season from the willows by the lake. A flight of pigeons over the houses; fragments of freedom, hazard, an anagram made flesh. And somewhere the stinging smell of burning leaves.
I think we're starved for a life of the senses. We're in the garage, we're in the car, we drive to work, we're in a windowless cubicle that's gray and beige. In a way, it's funny that we consider ourselves an advanced culture, because people who live in so-called primitive environments still enjoy the richness of the smells, colors, and sounds of our world. We all crave that.
I can smell the smoke now. I can see tendrils of it comin' up between the cracks in the shrikin' floorboards. There she is, calmly taking down the framed examples of fine embroideries, samplers, and needlework from teh hallway wall and tucking them under her arm. "Mistress! Come on! You've got to leave!" She calmly turns and faces me. "Why?" she asks. "The British are coming?" "Only one, Mistress," I say