Creative Print 2021

The Mason Jar

Written by Lily Iervasi
Graphic by Laudine Cao

This piece was originally published in ‘Memento Mori’, Bossy’s 2021 print edition.

At first there was nothing. For an immeasurable amount of time, my life was cocooned by blackness, with no company but my own thoughts. I didn’t know what to make of my own existence. My days were spent pondering why I was brought here, to this vast emptiness. What did it mean for me to exist at this time, in this place? What acts of history had occurred so that I should inhabit the earth at this moment? Had one prehistoric being not ventured out of the ocean at the precise time they did, would I even be here today?

It was questions such as these that occupied my time in that void.

There was always a part of me that knew I was destined for something else. An ancient instinct, perhaps, that made its nest among the chaos of thoughts already at home within my soul. A golden light, a hope, a glimmer of something better, bigger, freer than anything I’d ever imagined. Only in dreams did I get an image of this world — and in the dark space, my life was one endless sleep. Until that fateful day, when my dreams reached out of the aether and pulled me into a new world.

One day, the walls of my prison cracked. A piercing light broke through, illuminating the cave, and providing me a pathway to my escape. I had been waiting for this moment. I had walked this path one thousand times in my dreams. Without fear, I made my way forward.

Colours and light swirled before me. The kaleidoscope focussed, and shapes began to form. A vast expanse of green became a field surrounded by a forest. On the opposite side of the field, an array of wildflowers appeared where once was a melded canvas of colour. Shafts of light poked through the canopy, blessing blades of grass and petals with their heavenly touch.

My gaze returned to the wildflowers. I wondered, were they as soft to touch as they appeared? And their scent as beguiling from up close as it was from afar? I made my way towards them, envisioning, as I had one thousand times before, laying my cheek to rest upon the pillowy loft of an out-turned petal.

I cannot tell you what those wildflowers smelled like from close up. I can’t speak for the velvety softness of their petals, as I have never known their touch. At the very moment I was to begin my life in the light, a hand from above stayed my momentum. There was a brief struggle, but this unknown presence wielded otherworldly strength.

Light. Dark. Body shaken around, out of my control. Light. Need to escape, get back to the field. An invisible barrier stops me. Dark. Jolted around again. Light. Dark. Stillness.

My new prison is made of glass. My thoughts return to an eventual escape, but I feel hopeless here. I cannot visualise my future. No instinct propels me forward. After an eternity of blind darkness, was I not deserving of freedom and light? I am now forever bathed in light, and can see freedom stretch eternally from me, but never touch it. How cruel, my tormentor, to choose such a cage.

I am growing weaker. This prison will become my tomb. My thoughts return to the existential — how I wish that my ancient forebear had stepped out of the ocean just one day later. I imagine once more the field of my dreams, and wonder if the wildflowers are as soft as they seem.

* * *

For a few weeks now, I have traced the path of a caterpillar as it made its way across the windowsill of my bedroom. Each morning I wake up, take my drawing pad and pencils, and sketch the creature as it stands. I charted its progress into its cocoon, which formed at the top corner of my window. I kept a mason jar at the ready, so that I could capture it when it turned into a butterfly. Today, that day arrived. My fairy pet lies still in her jar, so that I can capture her existence on my page.

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