A great long while ago, when the earth was filled with magic—but people no longer sacrificed babies— there lived a college student named Laloma who was gifted in the ways of botany. Her mother referred to it not as a green thumb, but a green soul. Laloma was on her way to the edge of town, to finish her grant proposal—which had a deadline of midnight and the promise of illuminating her future and helping the dark humus of the earth and wild flowers blossom. Her grandmother’s cabin lay on the fringe of town, where the mountains met the cedar. She’d spent many summers with her grandmother in the creek behind the cabin, scooping water with her hands just to smell, listening for the different bird songs. Fingers in the earth, experiencing the moisture that was innate and would provide the perfect balance for growth. The evenings she had daydreamed to the hoots of owls who had returned from their missions whole. Grandmother would whisper things in her ear like, “Never forget that the earth longs to feel your feet and to trust yourself. People who say moist is their least favorite word are played out at best…”
She was really tired. She put on her grandma’s cape made of feathers and lit a fire. She had not been going to bed early and working on her proposal in recent days. A man who looked like he was dripped in sunlight, with an elastic body, a penchant for speedos and took great care of livestock had come rumbling into her life through her Farmersonly.com dating profile in the last weeks of her grant deadline. The cowboy promised to show her the time of her life if she came out that evening. He could even pull some strings and she could judge the squash championship at the county fair—she would be in charge of measuring the squashes girth. They could celebrate with a late trip to the hot springs he knew of (she had only heard rumors of)—off a dirt road off a dirt road. He had a bottle of wine he’d been saving, he said that it was very fine—from a year the oak was especially hard.
Her ovaries did flips thinking about it. It wasn’t too late to go to the county fair. She watched the darkness outside—the moon was not in sight. It was no time to harvest crops. She put the fire out. She wept. And then a sound on the roof. An owl had landed. Somewhere a wolf howled as if to remind her she was already home.