The Always Book

The Always Book

A Story by Bluerealis

The first step toward the truth is often discouraged by a stinging nettle.


Such sweet fragrance sang to her senses; the blooming heads of the roses, the distant blossoms of sweet apple trees, even the sprouting of thyme and rosemary sprigs. Such a perfume glossed the newly grown smile on her weary features. Immediately the thoughts of the present war were chased away like timid hares. The anxiety that had been so heavy was lightened and she had not realized how stiffened her breaths were until she now ambled into the garden of blithe aroma and inhaled a drag.

The initial step into the narrow realm of flowers was but the initial step of life. She had lost her shoes or left them somewhere behind her, but it never occurred to her where “behind” was. The ‘where’ became subordinate to the ‘here’ and the ‘why’ became inferior to the ‘because’. With thirsty eyes and ears and tongue and nose she was led into this endlessly winding garden maze. With an unbroken gaze and eager feet she touched her hands to the hedges on either side and paused briefly at the threshold.

But she swiftly began her journey forward through the maze of life and motley flowers. Hedges studded with every species, every creation, of flower slid past her and out of sight forever, but like one organism it continued to unfold around each corner and gallop down the straight corridors. As she made passage she touched the silken faces of each flower that clung to the towering walls. They were circle buttons of periwinkle, gathered skirts of amber, draping curls of emerald, rhombus gems crimped with cinnamon, and crowns of rich mauve embroidered with threads of gold. The ivy of the bulwarks peered out from behind the thick veil of flowers like meek children while some projected casually with hands of shimmering green, waving to passersby. Decorating the pathway were fallen leaves from a distant autumn. With each step trodden minute sprits of earthy perfume were released. From beneath the quilt of crimson and tawny dyed parchment poked unknown leafy crops that adorned impossibly intricate petals too small to be known from a distant and rushed passing. These sprigs, too, exhaled exotic breaths, accenting the common fragrance of the garden with a pinch of foreign and oddly pleasing bitterness.

On and on the maze turned, though never offering alternative routes. It seemed to want her to finish in haste, to be in and gone; reserved no time. But she hesitated to run, to even walk fast. No, this garden was a haven from the present troubles, a sedative to a restless soul.

The unremitting clash of steel scoring steel, the everlasting thunder of boulders colliding with towers of stone and earth, the haunting wails of helpless wives and mothers gathering their bawling children into their arms were all muted here. Instead, like a materializing haze at the break of dawn, a chorus of every race of avian creation harmonized in their lofty nests. Fiddles, too, chimed in with the melody, erupting in curious chirps within the hedges. Even the flowers seemed to sing soft humble notes too quiet for the ear but in perfect resonance for the eye and nose. Soon she could no longer distinguish between the joyous crickets and the laughing birds. Soon she could no longer separate the winged figures of fleeting arrays of honey, milk, and wine from the still yet slightly wagging heads of ruby, sapphire, and ginger.

She meandered into the next hallway of dancing flowers and dripping birds only to discover it was not a hallway, but a chamber, an orchard of every fruit ever birthed upon a tree. The eternal radiance of light from above lanced through the loaded headdresses and pooled into puddles of silver at the bases of every tree. Littered throughout the meadow of trees were gushing fountains of fluid diamonds surging toward the skies and spitting into the winds, watering not only the leaves and fruit but the very aroma that embellished the air. Bees contributed to the orchestra now, working from chaste blossom to chaste blossom while they hummed merrily. She came to a peach tree and inhaled the intoxicating aromas. She lifted her hand and plucked a fruit, next biting into its rosy flesh.

Oh how she longed to sit and live there just like that, forever feasting upon the morsels of sweet fruit and living water. But she knew somehow she must keep her stride. And for miles it seemed she walked through the castle of greenery and shrubs clothed in color. But instead of suits of armor standing cold and immobile, columns of fruit trees grew and bobbed in the slight breeze. In place of showcases of uncongenial and heavy swords were rows of tulips that kissed the resting butterflies. No blood, no fear. Just water, just hope.

She strolled from the chamber of fountains and trees into the next channel of coiling ivy and supple blooms. With every few steps, the feathery whiskers of grass sinking beneath her feet, she drove her mouth into the peach and sucked the juice that seeped from the succulent fruit. Straggling bees lingered around her, landing upon the bosoms of flowers and licking off the pollen. The imminent sunshine spilled into the endless corridors, washing the garlands of petunias and polishing the braided wreaths of lily, even making the blushing snow peas glow with greater effervescence. Even misplaced cherry blossoms yawning overhead occasionally released a shower of blooms, issuing snow-white petals from above and blanketing selected areas with a warm winter coat. She could not restrain a smile, so for hours of tireless mileage she wandered with a mask of wholesome delight, skipping here and there, eating once and a while, but never enjoying the journey any less.

She turned around the bend, a quite natural happening by now, and beamed up at the cerulean archway laden in chiming bluebells. But as she passed below the common archway she knew that this time it was different in two ways.

This was the first dead end she had encountered.

At the end of the passage some hundred feet away were the most beautiful blossoms that her eyes had ever indulged.

It was this new burning curiosity, this searing passion to harvest these inconceivably gorgeous jewels that seduced her toward the end and away from what she once never wished to leave. She stumbled forward down the path toward the impeding concluding wall of the maze, throwing her peach to the ground where she didn’t realize laid many others that lay rotting in age. With outstretched hands and cantering feet she grasped toward the flowers—anything to reach them in the quickest manner.

She halted when she stood before the wall, her hair mangled from the rush, her ribs expanding and shoulders rising and falling as she sucked the air in gasps.

Each blossom was an opaque crystal, their petals the children of rainbows. They were like elegant yet giddy faces come to congratulate her finish. They seemed to glow in the caress of the sunlight, and each time they seemed to giggle, light skipped everywhere in wild manner. They glinted in every shade and every hint of every color, curtsying their flowing robes to each approaching breeze.

She was mesmerized, so loved by the flowers she thought, that she had never realized that she hadn’t breathed from these flowers any fragrance whether bitter or sweet. Their beauty, their magic, was what she longed to gather; no longer the perfume. She wanted them. She needed them!

Impatience possessed her eager hands and she saw her pale fingers climb, climb, climb up to the first perfect blossom and wrapping them behind its head, almost to pluck—

Agony bit into her hands and her blood slid down her pale arms. She opened her mouth to scream but no sound emitted. Though she yanked her hands from the blossom, though the head tumbled to the ground, the stinging did not cease but instead grew ravenous. She crumpled to her knees clutching the sting that ate at her flesh, progressing like claws around her body. Behind blurred eyes she cried up to where the blossom had previously nestled. Scarlet nettles protruded from the exact place of their fancy maiden. A black fog shrouded her vision and the garden, the light, the fragrance, and the sneering nettle that so poisoned her cringing skin, all faded from her. The garden disappeared.

But she slowly came back to familiarity. Reality. A reality she dreaded.

Distant chimes of swords bashing armor rang to the skies from the stretch of east to west. Pulses of fire light as monstrous as clouds lit the heavens from beyond the hills. Villagers screamed and shouted, babies wailed like sirens. Fear slapped her, stinging her heart and tripping her to the floor. Terror clenched her lungs and the sting of that fear chained her in a paralyzed and physical pain. Darkness of night and fright clung to her and forced itself upon her from her place on the floor. The odor of blood filled the room, sweat wafted in stench around her head. The garden had mutated into an abyss of despair.

“Quick! I tell you, woman, quick!”

She glanced up from the floor, afraid of anyone and anything now. She half expected the sting of a double-edged sword driving into her waist as her eyes fell upward to the speaker. But he was not wielding a double-edged sword, nor any sort of weapon or object of any kind. He was robed in white garb, a hood hovering over his head and a veil masking his mouth so naught but his eyes peered out. She propelled herself without delay backwards toward the wall, the flashes of passing torchlight mirroring in her wide eyes. She reached the wall, pressing her spine into the wattle and daub wall, thrusting her body in distance from him. But he knelt to her level, his eyes so warm with peace regardless of the chaos just beyond that she exploded in petrified hysteria, unbelief bringing her aching hands to her face as though to hide. As though to die. But he gently touched her hands to peel them from her face. A quivering face of horror lay beneath.

“Woman, do not be afraid. I’m here to help you!”

Her eyes were squeezed shut, her lips trembling, and her body quaking. Slowly, as though awaiting instant death again, as though this man of peace was not to be trusted among the neighboring turmoil, she unclenched her eyelids and examined him from behind her shield of utter dread.

His eyes blossomed with a smile.

Instantly she weakened and lunged longingly into his arms with no second thought, lay there clutching onto the hems of his robe as though now suddenly clutching onto her very life.

Lightning forked with fire emblazoned against the black night. Fierce calls of war roared with the thunder of marches and collisions with villages. A clean sheet of rain began to drown the torches and civilian pleads for life. The heavens cried, too. She held tighter to the stranger.

“Please take this. Take it.”

A book was conjured from somewhere within the layers of his robe. She pushed slightly from him, fearing to part from even the fabrics he was dressed in. So she sat in the white pond of sinuous linen, cleaner and purer than any she had sat in before. Cautiously she took the offered gift. Black. Leather-bound. Ordinary. Like any other book she’d seen or heard about. Like a child asking permission she looked at the man, then down to the book that lay anew in her hands, then back to his blossoms of eyes.

“Read it. You will love it. Do you love gardens?”

She nodded and smiled, the pleasant dream reminiscing yet in the clouds of her mind. She then hesitated, her lips straightening and eyes dulling. She recalled the nettles. The pain. The subterfuge offered from the rainbow blossom. Her head bent to her chest, sadness commencing to suffocate her hope. The man’s chuckle was rosy and reminded her of the vibrant gazania garnishes that arced over the orchard archways. She gazed up into his face again, gripping the book harder.

“That was only the beginning of the garden, woman, don’t worry!” He touched his hand to her cheek so gently it was like a butterfly landing on the most delicate petal. “The rest is in here.” His palm descended like a falling leaf to the cover of the book.

“Read it. You’ll understand what I’m talking about. You might understand your garden adventure a little better, too.” He winked and stars seemed to gleam for a second. He gazed lovingly at the book in her hands and nodded slowly at it. “But I must go now.”

She stood to release her burden from his robes and went to the wall as before, afraid for him to exit yet more afraid to plead with him any longer. She had the book now, and how grateful she was at this kind gesture! He came before her one last time as though sensing her deep dread.

“The Always Book. You will Always find hope there and Always discover a familiar battle. You will Always find answers. You will Always have questions but it will Always contain the truth. Always read it, hm? The author tells me that he’s sorry about the stinging nettle. He says to be careful next time, to Always be wary of deception. Also that he will Always love you.”

She nodded tentatively, uncertain. The man smiled one last time, his eyes withholding something more than he could now share but that which shone like the light in the garden. One fluent pivot and a sway of gleaming robes and the stranger exited her cottage and disappeared into the rainy abyss like a flower dropping into a grave.

She looked down at the book. Her fingers held the cover between their fleshy faces. She pushed the cover back, and touched the proceeding page. Carefully she flipped to the first chapter in a quiet rustle of paper and let her eyes try the inky arrays.

The words were like the blossoms in the orchard, the pages as precious as a petal.

© 2008 Bluerealis

Author's Note

I wrote this for a writing contest on a forum but it went from an impersonal writing exercise to something I've grown quite close to. I wrote it in a 3 1/2 hour sitting.

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Featured Review

Wow. This was surprisingly great. At first, I was bored with it; nothing was happening. Then the moment the twist with the nettle came in, I was intrigued. The dream definitely seemed dreamy, and almost the rest of it did too. Perhaps I am interpreting wrong, but I was thinking that the Always Book symbolized the Bible? Hope, answers, truth. It sounds to me quite like the Bible, but maybe I am mistaken. Either way, this was excellent. I loved it.

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


So many colors! You my friend are almost a master of description!

Posted 10 Years Ago

I liked it. It was a big surprise and it got more interesting as I went.

Posted 10 Years Ago

A truly beautiful story. Much like life. We begin our journey and all seems well. We appear to be on the right path and enjoy the fruits of our journey. But something beckons us to change courses. Then we realize that what seemed so beautiful has turned into an utter nightmare. So many others before us had ran down this same path. We had no navigational system for our life and became one of the lost. An angel, maybe Jesus, provided us with the best book of survival and instructions available to mankind, the Bible. It does not matter if that is the correct interpretation of your beautifully metaphoric story, it is a tale that could provide hope to someone that is in dire need of it. A very well written work of word art.

Posted 10 Years Ago

I simply loved reading this! Your wording is both beautiful and eloquent, "md". Thankyou kindly, for sharing this with us!

Posted 10 Years Ago

Very good read. I enjoyed it and the twist there in the middle made it very nice.

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow. This was surprisingly great. At first, I was bored with it; nothing was happening. Then the moment the twist with the nettle came in, I was intrigued. The dream definitely seemed dreamy, and almost the rest of it did too. Perhaps I am interpreting wrong, but I was thinking that the Always Book symbolized the Bible? Hope, answers, truth. It sounds to me quite like the Bible, but maybe I am mistaken. Either way, this was excellent. I loved it.

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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6 Reviews
Added on November 23, 2008



Mequon, WI

I'm a writer, a listener, a people-watcher, and I stick to myself mostly. Although I can be harsh at times, my hope is to live for Christ, and to learn more of the Word each day. Jude 22,23 more..

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