The Feeling Of Being Watched

A few years later I went to visit one of the last original cypress swamps in the middle of Florida. A curious looking stand of ficus trees attracted me, all growing in the tops of the other trees, their roots twisting and intertwining themselves into basket weave patterns, some hung down from the lofty heights giving me the impression of being in a cathedral.

It happened to be a very humid day in early June. The bullfrogs strummed their sonorous announcements, dapples of sun light danced through the foliage. A few water moccasins scurried away, baby alligators sunned themselves while perching on an old water logged tree trunk lying half submerged in the water, many turtles splashed into the water on hearing my steps.

The feeling of being watched unsettled me. But I could not see anything. I looked around, slowly walking towards the mass of ficus trees, my steps silent. Now and then the sun blinked hot white through the leaves to briefly blind me and make the world vivid blue all around me. The surrounding became eery. But I walked on, getting deeper and deeper into the unfamiliar swamp. The Trees drew me toward them, I walked through the shallow water, clear, but brownish from the decaying leaves floating in it.

Blinding sun shining through foliage

— Blinding sun shining through foliage —

The knees of the cyprus trees got in my way and walking around them made me lose my sense of direction. I found myself surrounded by the long roots of the ficus, on solid ground again. There also grew a huge Gumbo Limbo tree with branches as thick and long as huge boa constrictor snakes. This area seemed to be cut off from all the world that I knew. I walked on carefully for what seemed like hours. The soil beneath my feet became sandy and suddenly bright light hit me, at the same time a soft voice called my name.

I Felt Soft Feathers

“Feather, Feather, come on over here into this beautiful shade, have a cool drink with us”.

And since my name is Feather, puzzled I aimed my steps toward the dense darkness on my left side, just to find out whom that voice might belong to. The sand felt soft and familiar under my bare feet, warmed by the bright sun. I had to take off my sunglasses, the darkness of the shade was too deep to see anything with them in front of my eyes. As I brushed my cheek in this movement, I felt soft feathers where skin should have been. Was I hallucinating ?

Two masks sitting in a Gumbo Limbo Tree

— Two masks sitting in a Gumbo Limbo Tree —

I looked up. There, on the snake like branches of the huge Gumbo Limbo Tree sat the most beautiful masks, they had no bodies. I looked down to see my body slowly losing its solid appearance and turning ghost like and then vanishing alltogether to look just as the beings of the masks sitting above me.

Was I one of them? I had for a long time the feeling that I did not fit in with the humans all around me. My way of writing seemed always odd to people. I can do it the other way, but it just feels better this way. But I never had doubts that I was a human. I thought about joining the masks in the tree, but I did not know how. I looked up again into the smiling faces, and without thinking about it or attempting it, I began to slowly float upward, not flying, just ascending. I settled in between the two very friendly looking masks, surprised at how light I felt.

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