• Alisha Emerald

The Cactus and the Warrior (excerpt from my book in progress)

A long time ago, I used to fill my blog with stories and rambling poetic prose. And I loved it. Lately I haven't been writing as many stories, instead pondering them in my heart. Stories take more time to process these days, and what I am ready to write I've been pouring into my book. But I also miss the feeling of giving you all a sneak peek into my creative world. So here's a sneak peek of what I've been writing, something I'm hoping will one day end up in your hands in the form of my book.

The scar stretched before me like a giant cactus. Pink, prickly, the bottom had the hard shell of a rock while the top appeared to be something similar to jello. It was much taller than my mere five-foot frame and placed in the middle of a field beside rolling hills and fluorescent colors it seemed like something out of a nonsensical Dr. Suess story.

“The key,” the wise warrior said, “is to watch the clouds.” I only became aware of the man’s presence when he spoke. He sat on the hill, shielding his eyes from the sun, his long, black hair flowing out behind him in the gentle breeze. He didn’t seem confused by this land of bizarre. In fact, it was quite the opposite; he seemed quite at home here.

“How is cloud watching going to help me?” I muttered to myself, taking a seat beside the man on the hillside while a black crow screeched happily, flying in circles above our heads in a sky the color of jelly beans.

“You’ve got to be like a melon lord,” He continued on, making no obvious adjustments to my arrival, “The rock surrounding the bottom, that’s the broken part. Not the gelatinous mess that is at the top of the cacti. For a scar to earn its strength, the walls surrounding it must first be broken down. The rock exterior must fall away. It will be liquid, soupy, messy. This is the part where most people want to run. They think the mess made by the dissolution of the old thing is too much to bear. But like a wound when exposed to the elements, it’s only when the crustaceous surface disintegrates can the vulnerable, exposed area inside begin to heal. And the rock can’t be moved by sheer force. Moving the rock happens by remembering what’s inside you.”

The warrior leaned back on his forearms, sighing as he gazed at the sunset clouds dancing across the sky. I sat with him, waiting for divine inspiration to strike and the wisdom of how to break through the crust and expose what lay inside the scar. But maybe he was right. Maybe, I let myself entertain the thought, it isn’t possible to rush that which needs time to heal, and chunks of the old thing will fall away when it is ready and the surface underneath is less disintegrating and more jello. Seemingly fragile but also shock resistant, adaptable, not easily broken.

Cloud watching wasn’t as much about the clouds as it was about me. Remembering my place in this cotton candy world, in the hard exterior and the not easily broken, and how I was both, and how I was healing. How I was both the cactus and the hill, the clouds, and the crow. And just when I thought I’d forgotten my place in all of it, there I am again. Shapeshifter. Alchemy.

I sat on the hill a while longer, closing my eyes in the heat of the noonday sun. I had the power within me all along. I could heal myself but I couldn’t rush my healing.

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