I take the call in the garden – not by choice but by necessity. Turns out, my apartment is a dead zone now. No phone signals pierce the walls. I admit I get infrequent calls, sometimes I forget people want to talk to me at all; so I do not really catch on when it happens.
I have been in the garden already and thinking about the cherry tree. Yesterday it has been flowering, and today the flowers are hiding in their buds, not ready to stretch towards the sunlight. It can be a time whim, the cherry tree’s quirk, or me only misremembering.
The ringing interrupts the mental eenie-meenie-miney-moe I’m doing and answer. It is mom, with questions about something or the other and advice about eating and my social life. Like moms do, she has had an ominous feeling of something-is-wrong and wanted to check in.
I go inside and if crossing an invisible wall, the call drops but not entirely. The line crackles, hums, and clicks. There is distant talking, just traces of consonants, but a melody in the words. That is no language I know. A man talks to someone he likes, I can hear him smile, his tone is sweet and warm. He laughs.
Suddenly there is the scent of rain and wet soil. Between the clicks, the man’s words fade to static, and whatever has been going on, is lost in a blink. I look back over my shoulder and the cherry tree is blooming again. Son of a-
Then I check out this theory that the fluffy flowering tree is playing peek-a-boo with me. I go back out, of course, the dark buds are back again, I slip back into the house, and flowers it is. The tree has a bit of fun, and I play along. Sneaking around the open terrace door and the garden window, I bob up and down, trying to catch the tree midway in sucking the flowers in.
My phone vibrates but doesn’t fully ring. The display says an unknown number. It actually says it’s a bunch of zeroes, not that I know any kind of phone number like that. I pick up the call and it’s the static noise on low volume and somebody far away shouting. It is equally unintelligible as well as imperative. The voice repeats itself to no avail. I don’t understand. The is an urgency in the tone, I can’t even determine if the voice is male or female.
“Rose,” it crackles. That is not my name and I know no Rose or Rosa. “Virrrrridarrrrrium,” the voice worbles then whispers as if I know the secret too. “Umbrisssss.” Huh. There is a book I am researching, a book of meaningful plants hidden lore. The phone goes dead, drained of all energy.
I look out into the garden, past the white cherry tree. There is a patch of Fata Morgana swirling in a neglected corner. There it slides towards a wild rose briar I let grow freely. It gives me goosebumps rushing down my nape to my arms. The pit of my stomach sends tremors through my bones. As if what I see electrifies me to my core it pierces everything I feel and perceive. I don’t know if I should be scared or not. Me, a weird moth, pinned down with a needle to be fixed into place, caught by something that is interested in humans, mammals, or just me. The alien feeling of misplacement spreads a blanket in my mind, dulling this sense of wrongness, of being examined by curious cold eyes. Something tells me it would be very reasonable to freak out, but I’m not rude. So I don’t freak out. But I will not go out again as long as the thing is there, hovering anywhere in the garden.