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Sample from my novel-to-be

Suddenly, I cannot recall my journey up to this point and I find myself lost in a forest, no, jungle---the garden of madness which I have so eagerly sought out despite having wandered herein, lost and bewildered so many times before. I know not even the names of the trees. I can neither identify them by their foliage, nor their bark. Even still, as with so many "metropolitans" of our age, having spent my life upon the sand, in the water, caged within the rules of ballet, beaten down by the mania of my mother (which she so rudely bequeathed to me, her only daughter and inheritress), imprisoned within glass and concrete, and given linoleum and planks instead of the soft grasses which would have been my birthright---I have forgotten this most ancient vocabulary, known even to the Sarmatians from whom I am descended. These monikers have fled far beyond my ken despite being cognates in every language I have yet encountered. The friends, landmarks, and providers to my most ancient and far-removed ancestors make themselves strangers to me now, offering neither direction nor aid in this fruitless and incomprehensible quest. I pass under their shadows without so much as a wave or acknowledgement, withholding these old sages the courtesy which they are due. I pass by them without the slightest modicum of respect. So is it any wonder that they be the hedges of this maze? That even now, I spite them and refer to them as their castrated simulacra which imitate their wild grace though clipped to rectangular "perfection" in our French gardens and most uncanny of labyrinths?

The soil muddies and clings to my boots as I trod through the unknown. The unmistakeable glimmer of sunlight which heralds a clearing pierces the shroud of the branches and leaves. I seek out this void out of habit---accustomed to sterility, absence, and the illusion of clarity and order as I am. Inadvertently, I destroy the home of another forgotten friend, who with her eight legs and rotund silk-spinning abdomen has in vain attempted to shield me from what lies beyond, but the modern world has blinded me such that I could not even see her homestead until---mangled and wrecked---it entangled itself in my hair and about my limbs. Ignoring this omen, my feet carry me into the clearing against the better judgement of what small spark of soul lies imprisoned within my hyle as a captive observer.

Growls and hisses to which I was ignorant now fill the air as I can see the strife between lion and tiger before me. As was common in the arenas of old, in that celebrated forerunner of the fallen nation in which I have passed the majority of my youth and whose tongue is forever impressed upon my heart, the tiger is claiming his victory, pounced upon the battered beast beneath him, bleeding and bruised by the brutal paws given graciously to his gladiatorial opponent. Yet in the moment before he gores the lion's throat, their regal and roaring countenances freeze and slowly turn to face me. Slowly they approach and then circle me in a manner which dizzies me more than frightens. Frozen I am for a moment which seems minutes and hours, until the spell is broken by the lion who speaks without opening his mouth, "As you can see, mademoiselle, we are distinct." "Do not forget this, we are distinct," echoes the tiger. Now, the ruins on the other side of the clearing come into view, appearing as the half-houses which dot the landscape and history of the Scottish Highlands. They each lie down such that the ruins separate them in my view. The lion again speaks first, "Long have I observed you, guided you, loved the image of you in my mind, which has shot its tendrils deep into my heart as you have scorned me and plunged daggers into my side as I give you naught but the fruits of my good will. Wherefore have you soiled the sanctuary in which we have battled for decades now?" "I... am in search of a door..." I respond instinctively, as if the words flowed through me from this very garden, as if my spirit was nothing but fertilizer for its madness. "A door?!" the tiger cackles in a surprised and giddy voice, "You seek a door within the bosom of the forest? Wither shall this door take you? Into or out of what temple will you travel through it? You are such a silly little marionette of a woman, your limbs sprung into life as per the vain efforts of the Great Enemy and his minions, and your spirit deluded as to your importance. Yet you play your role in fate... though you have greatly wounded my companion, I thank you, for you have assisted me to best him for the last time and put an end to our age-old struggle."

"My friend, I insist," the lion says to his rival, "that you pray for this youth on her senseless quest even still, as one last token of my devotion to her." And I awake with only the image of these great beasts split by the ruins in view, the only phrase which still rings in my quickly awakening mind: "We are distinct."



Lion and Tiger Fighting - James Ward