Chapter 1 of Alice in the Jungle
Cardiff, South Wales, Spring 2012
In the back garden of the flats stood a large apple tree. The mother told me it was diseased, its fruit inedible. I would often sit outside, perched high up, on the top step of the fire escape smoking skinny rolled cigarettes, contemplating that tree. I watched it bear fruit, only to see them decay and fall. Over time, I began to feel like that tree, seemingly strong but sick to the core, producing in the end my own poisoned apple; the truth. The fruits of our labour couldn´t be eaten or enjoyed.
Something had snapped in me. I was brittle as the branches that jutted out from its trunk. No matter how high I had climbed; I would eventually have to come down.
The Mother nature´s son strummed his guitar and sang “Cry baby cry, Make your mother sigh. She’s old enough to know better, so, cry baby cry”. We both cried, embraced and walked down the garden path for the last time together. The gates opened, I picked up my suitcase and looked back. The rains had lifted and water trickled down the tree trunk resembling tears.
My mother would say, ´You can´t put a butterfly back into a cocoon,’ but I´d always return, eventually. It was over. Spring was on the wane. I squeezed all my life’s belongings into my friend’s Ford. As we began the journey back to my mum´s farm, I wound down my window and said my goodbyes to every street corner, every park and every building I had ever known until I couldn´t recognise anything anymore and it was replaced by endless green. U2 Beautiful Day came on the radio and every line of the song resonated with me. We joined in. It was indeed a beautiful day and a bitter sweet new beginning.
Written and illustrated by Lucy Lilley
Copyright. © 2021 Lucy Jane Lilley