A Falsifiable Life


The sky was the hardest azure overhead. Alli watched the faintest trails of clouds go by in the grass. The blades swayed around her head. From every which way, came the smell of new growth. A grasshopper bounded into view, and just as quickly, vanished.

A biplane puttered across the vista, made its way from one side of the sky to the other, leaving a ghostly line of exhaust. Alli lay there, with her arms stretched out on the ground. She closed her eyes. The world was alive, bustling, quaking with life in the summer – but at the same time, the land was tranquil, still, breathing.

A tiny flower touched Alli’s nose. Alli opened her eyes and saw Lara reaching over her. Lara in a white, lacy dress. Lara wearing a big, joking smile.

“Sleepyhead,” she said, reclining next to her.

“It was a very nice dream,” Alli answered.

Lara motioned for her to get up. She grabbed Alli’s hand and play-dragged her across the field. Green hills loomed in the distance, but Lara pulled her toward the forest-edge.

The forest was dark as the meadow was bright, damp and cool as the grass was dry and warm. Some yards away, they could hear the gurgle of a brook. The soil was darker, covered in wood chips. The heavy wood also breathed, enriching the air with a deep, musky scent.

Alli ran after her, the trail of Lara’s dress flying as they ran. Lara had woven more tiny white flowers into her own hair. She had long, nearly, sunburnt arms, covered with freckles. She let go of Alli’s hand and turned around, twirling her dress as she walked. “I found something,” she said.

Lara pointed at a spot near the edge of the woods, hidden in the shade. Creeping weeds and vines curled around it, but the area itself was empty and bare. No vegetation grew there, not even lichens. The ground was perfectly circumscribed by a line of mushroom caps. “A fairy ring,” Alli said.

“There’s a couple that grow around here,” Lara said, “The earth is so moist all the time. The fungi just take root.”

Alli made a wish and began to walk through the ring. She stopped in the center, staring at a skull in the ground.

“It’s a deer,” Lara explained. Near the skull, Alli could still make out some scattered ribs. “It seems to have died right here,” Alli said, peering at the bones in the gloom.

Lara walked beside the edge of the ring. One might imagine tiny fairies skipping from mushroom to mushroom. Or sitting cross-legged on them, holding a council. “The body fed this ring,” Lara said.

Alli felt a chill, and skin prickling, she looked once again to the yellow-green grass basking in the overexposed light. The wind blew the heat of the afternoon sun into the hole in the woods.

The white of the skull glinted in the dimness. Alli stepped out of the fairy circle, and followed Lara back to the vegetable farm, where her fellow graduate students were working, tilling their gardens.


– String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11: 02 Andante cantabile, Arranged for orchestra by Marriner — Tchaikovsky
– U2, “Mysterious Ways”
– Messiah, oratorio, HWV 56: “I know that my Redeemer liveth” — Handel

Related: “Nature does not know extinction” and existential flowers.

Otter, Alone

in it TO WIN IT

Rain was falling on the window. Rivulets fled down the red tile of the roof and gurgled, as water charged down the drain pipe that led to the gutter.

Jan buttered a bagel inside. Steam from the tea pot misted on the glass.

In her heart, it was summertime and she was swimming, on her back, down the river – the water, warm, leaves and twigs going by. Sunlight struck her eyelids.

The rain was filling up the cave behind the house, swirling in puddles, saturating the sand. Buried in the ground was a simple gold chain, with a silver heart.

The tree branches outside the window groaned under the weight of the wind. The shutters rocked. Jan got up and used a mitt to pick up the kettle and pour water over ginseng tea leaves.

The cave was flooding, the water picking up dirt and stones – and the forgotten necklace.

Jan drank the tea in front of the fire. She waited to hear car wheels squeal over gravel, but only endless white noise met her ears.

In the summer, they walked in the woods. They visited the cave, with its tiny shell fossils pressed into the shale and ancient air pockets in the soft rock.

The forest floor twigs and soil stuck to the bottom of their feet. They walked through the forest, to their “secret” cave. They had buried the necklace to commemorate their love.

“There’s a pool of electrons all around us,” Alli had said, “The currents of the collective unconscious will bring me back to you.”

Alli practiced meditation and psychokinesis. A Zener card “expert” had come down from New York, with an offer to be in a psychic experiment. A native New Yorker herself, Alli was haunted by her ancestors’ memories, the spirit world and time.

But, Jan suspected there was something else: this new esper, Dallas. Bending spoons and speaking of an illustrious alien inheritance, Dallas had lured Alli away, in the waning days of August. Suddenly, Alli was speaking about quantum mechanics, auras and human magnetic fields, instead of just “ravens, spirit world birds.”

“You used to have your shaman feathers,” said Jan, “Now, you’re trying to build this mythic couple!”

Alli, of course, had denied this. But, by the time of fall’s first frost, Alli had packed up and moved back up north with Dallas, to New York.

“Planetary ocean of electrons, my foot.” Tired of the fire, Jan stood with her tea, watching rain paint the bay windows.

Alli had said Jan was a “3-Sigma event,” with “real-life ESP.” It was Alli who had called them “Otter and Bear.”

Today, it was just Jan – Otter – alone. If the floorboards creaked at night, Jan imagined it was Alli’s ghost, her living spirit, an astral projection, walking around, still looking for the remote. But no, only ravens disturbed her porch now.

During some night of incredible humidity, Alli had whispered to her, “Love is a haunting,” and Jan had no idea, at the time, what Alli had been meaning to say.

peaceful home


Sam Smith, “Stay with Me”

Taylor Swift, feat. Ed Sheeran, “Everything has Changed”

Erasure, “Always”

Prior Alli story-arc: “The Vampire,” and “Island Get-Away.”