Published on 2013/05/26

Tangibility

Cara Rosalie Olsen

Tiny earthquakes shook Leopold Proud’s wee, chubby hands; his excitement peaked as Leopold’s mother, Claudette led him out the front door of their sugar-white cottage, and down the brick pathway that, today, wound hard to the right.

Leopold smelled the honeysuckle and hyacinth bushes seconds before Claudette saw them. It reminded him of peach applesauce, sprinkled with powdered sugar. His stomach heard this and gave a lion’s growl.

They soon came upon the opening of the garden’s gate and stepped through. There was a patch of sun beneath their Olive Tree where Leopold liked to begin this time of day.

Claudette took Leopold’s hand and said to him, “I’ll be back in a bit. Don’t go too far.”

Leopold laughed.

~

Filmy gray windows receded backward to let in blood oranges. The sun was fire, Leopold thought, turning his head left, right, and left once more. A rainbow appeared, touching the silken skin of his eyelids. Reciting the colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo—he delighted in how they danced in prism pirouettes, spinning their skirts of tulle and lace.

Leopold stuck out his tongue; it was a map, and every hue needed sampling. Mild or bold, the flavors lapsed there on his tongue, flowing like rivers into each zealous tasting bud.

The introduction ended.

~

Leopold lifted his chin and found himself standing beneath a Tree adorned with calico branches. Feathery fronds of onyx, copper, and pearl swayed in the breeze perfumed with banana. He walked forward, stretching out his hand. The branches responded in unison: bending low, arching their backs, purring as Leopold petted them.

“Good morning, Callie. Feeling better than yesterday, I hope?”

Callie flicked a feline branch, gently noosing Leopold’s neck, beckoning him forward.

“Are you sure?” Leopold asked. “All right, then.” He climbed and climbed until he was at the very top of Callie, safely nestled between two bow-shaped limbs. After some time had passed, Leopold reluctantly made his way back down. “I must be going now. Mother will soon retrieve me for lunch.”

He walked on, the ground becoming quite warm beneath his bare feet. Leopold saw her at precisely the same moment she saw him.

Gem quivered with alacrity as Leopold approached. Her leaves rustled all at once, her thick cedar frame bustling. She looked like a voluptuous woman shimmying out of a dress. In her enthusiasm, however, she became a little reckless. Sharp emeralds flung in every direction, lighting the sky with verdant constellations.

One emerald went awry, hitting Leopold (the third time this week) straight in the nose.

He winced. “Oh, ouch! Gem—that really hurt!” Cautiously, he began patting his nose, testing the pain. It stung badly. “I trust you’re not aiming for me, Gem, but sometimes I do wonder,” he said sorely. “You simply must be more careful. I’ll end up with a gaping hole in my face.”

Gem curled her shoulders diffidently, shrinking in sorrow.

“There, there,” Leopold told her, wrapping his arms around her trunk. “I shouldn’t have been cross with you. Of course it was only an accident.” They held one another closely for a moment. Then Leopold pulled back slightly, smirking. Now that he thought about it, it was sort of hilarious. “Hm, perhaps I should bring my helmet with me when I come to see you?” he quipped.

Gem shuddered with laughter. She brushed a leafy finger through Leopold’s long, wavy hair, tucking it behind his ear.

“Did you know you’re sparkling today? You’re as pretty as a pear-drop, Gem. The most beautiful of all Trees.”

Renewed by his favor, Gem released a feminine flourish, and all at once she bloomed six perfect emeralds.

Gently, Leopold plucked one, exploring the edges with his hands. He found his reflection divided by twelve, and gave a great, jubilant laugh. “What a trick! That will never grow tiresome.”

Some time later, Leopold bid Gem adieu and meandered onward. He soon felt a pleasant chill caress the back of his neck. And then a melodic sonnet rang out, calling his name.

Leopold was running so fast his legs nearly gave out. “Windy!” he shouted, bounding into the gauzy field. “I hoped it was you!” Panting, Leopold walked toward the undulating Willow Tree, while fizzy mist swirled around him, refreshing his hot skin with cool musical blankets.

Windy’s chiming boughs dipped low to embrace—

The sudden change in the air’s timbre yanked on Leopold’s attention. It wasn’t Windy calling his name after all.

~

Sensing footsteps, Leopold turned his head, a little disappointed by the abrupt departure. These visits, they always ended much too soon, in Leopold’s opinion. Still, he smiled, offering a hand to his mother. There was always tomorrow.

Now, Leopold wondered, thinking of Gem, if I can only remember where I’ve left my helmet . . .


Cara Rosalie Olsen believes she would have made a fine hummingbird, as she struggles with sitting still (except when writing, of course), and enjoys inordinate amounts of sugar. If she wasn't a full-time writer, she would have liked to join the cast of Saturday Night Live, or, taken over as CEO of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Her debut novel, Awakening Foster Kelly, is soon to be released this coming summer.