Even as a child Kathleen was never an exercise fanatic. Long before the age of video games she spent her days deep in literature, dreaming of fantastic adventures in far-away lands. The most she ever traveled was to the verdant woods adjoining her home, where she would sit for hours with her favorite book or simply watching the insects toiling on the banks of the creek. She could spend whole days this way peacefully avoiding the harsh realities of life. Her favorite spot was on the south bank; facing the north with the warmth of the sun on her back. In her teen years friends would come into her life staying for a brief time; it seemed that none were as exciting as her woodland empire. While others were trying on the role of cheerleader, quarterback and class clown she was in turn, a princess, conqueror or queen. Ordinary life could not compete against the richness of her dreams. She was berated for her laziness; and as if to confirm it she shortened her name, now calling herself Kathy.
The world would not be put off any longer, high school came and went, young adulthood and jobs took over her life. On the outside she looked like she belonged in the world but inside she knew that all she wanted was to just…stop. On the heels of jobs came marriage and children. Again she shortened her name; becoming Kate (or ‘Mom’-even shorter). Other mothers taught their children how to play ball, jump rope and climb trees. Kate taught her children the joys of sitting still and reading. It looked for all the world as though she were tenderly reading to her children; she knew that once again she was escaping into her fantasy world, where movement was not required except to turn a page. She was living in the city now, her beloved woods a thing of the past. Life moved fast; soon there were grandchildren. She now became K.
Marriage became difficult, it required you to do so much. She tried holding up her end of the bargain, but sadly couldn’t (or didn’t want to) dance fast enough it seemed. Her husband couldn’t understand what was wrong with her. What was so difficult about living, getting out of bed, preparing a meal? Indeed it was simple for most of the world. Children grown and gone, eventually her husband too; seeking a younger, more energetic playmate to amuse him. Now indeed her world did stop. No longer required to fix meals, or keep house (after all the cat was fine with clutter to play in) she turned again to her books, and her dreams of woods, queens and sprites. If only she could find the wooded bliss that she enjoyed as a child. K started to seek out parks hoping to find a glimpse of childhood forests but everywhere she went were people crowding, walking, moving for heavens sake!
One day she finally found it, a park skirting her suburb with wild, unpopulated areas that she could explore at her own pace. She even found a creek! Ah, bliss! It began slowly, really an experiment on how long she could go without anyone noticing her absence from the world. Gradually she spent whole mornings there, even forgetting to bring a snack…time stretched on and on, matching the pace of the insects on the bank.
Eventually her family realized she hadn’t been seen for quite some time; when they finally found her she had begun to grow roots, traces of soft, green moss starting to appear on her north-ward facing cheeks.