(originally published in The Odd)
The children disembarked the bus on a cold autumn day, carrying permission slips on a field trip to the aquarium. As they marched along, they could feel energy rising up in steam from the ground. Nearby was the site of a sunshine be-in festival from long ago. Some of the children veered away from the field trip and headed toward the festival site, soaking up vibrations, happy little tie-dyed organic molecules gliding into their pores. At the end of the day, all of the children got back onto the bus. One of the children, Juliana, found some seeds on the ground under an apple tree, and put them away in her lunch box. Along with the seeds was a piece of paper, upon which were written the words, ‘Find the medicine man in the windmill forests’.
Years later, throughout her professional life, Juliana had not fit in. She worked as an office administrator, but her soul was not in tune with it. “Juliana, I need this memo processed immediately,” said her manager in the lunch room, but Juliana was staring at the coffee pot, seeing fluorescent apples cascading down a hill towards an office park. In her vision, the avalanche of gravensteins exploded onto the corporate landscape, through the open door of an office building, crashing against the light brown imitation wood-grain cabinets in the cafeteria, rattling the green Formica countertops, where the twisting tendrils crawl along the ancient Mayan mask. “Juliana, straighten up, or this will be a matter for Human Resources,” said her manager. Juliana recognized the vision of tumbling apples as a dream she’d had the previous night.
After work that day, while looking through her closet, she discovered her lunch box from the childhood field trip of long ago, still containing the seeds and the instructions to search for the medicine man. Grabbing the seeds, Juliana hopped into her Toyota Camry, and sped onto the Great Highway, along the waves of the ocean, past the cliffs and sand dunes populated by the sunshine ghosts, heading east toward the windmill forests.
She drove all night until reaching the woods, the rattling Toyota Camry knowing instinctively where to find the medicine man’s rustic cabin. He was busy supervising the shampooing of his carpets, but managed to give Juliana instructions on how to dispatch the seeds. Soon she was back in the car, leaving the forest, and approaching the dry brown hills where the massive windmills stood. Under the hot sunlight, Juliana trudged up the dirt road in her rubber-soled sandals, and buried the seeds exactly 9 feet due west of the third windmill, per the medicine man’s instructions.
After planting the last seed, Juliana walked back down the dirt road. Hearing a rumbling, she looked up the hill, seeing green apples slowly tumbling down towards her. As the apples passed by, she picked one up. Juliana saw her 7-year old face on the apple peel, looking back at her. In fact, all of the apples had her face, as it looked when she had been on that field trip to the aquarium years ago. A hazy figure in an ancient Mayan mask appeared. Juliana recognized the figure as one of the sunshine ghosts, and said, while staring at the face on the apple peel, “I’ve lost this person, can you help me find her?”
“Let me show you,” said the sunshine ghost, oozing with maternal bliss.
Within weeks, large beautiful tie-dyed flowers and apple trees were growing by the windmills, where the seeds had been planted. Juliana stopped working administrative office jobs, and went back to school to get a teaching credential. Soon she was teaching 2nd graders, arranging field trips to the aquarium and other haunts of the sunshine ghosts.