Ela woke to a very cold autumn Morning. Not wanting to leave the warmth and comfort of her bed, however, thinking she shouldn't let the day go to waste she forced her self to get up and sluggishly walked into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. Ela turned the cold water knob of the faucet and began filling the coffee pot full of water. Looking out the window she took a deep breath, then exhaled, "Must be the first frost of the season," she muttered while noticing a shimmer of white glistening over what used to be a lush green field of grass outside her kitchen window; the last leaf had fallen to its final resting place on the frozen ground from the maple tree off in the distance. The water almost overflowing from the coffee pot, she looked down and caught it just in time. She turned off the water and finished making her coffee.
While getting dressed Ela decided she was going to go for a walk through the park near her house. Being as cold outside as it was she chose a warm pair of leggings and a winter jacket lined with wool and soft fur like material lining the hood. After getting dressed she drank the last of her coffee and headed for the door.
Ela arrived at the park just after a few minutes walk from her house. The park was mostly vacant with the exception of an older gentleman on the far side of the park and a mother pushing a stroller around the playground with what Ela could only assume was an infant inside the stroller while an older, yet still very young child climbed the jungle gym that was framed in the center of the playground.
Thoroughly enjoying the fresh air and the calmness, Ela began her walk on the path around the park. It was bitterly cold, but not unbearably so. Her mind was empty of any thought not allowing for anything of importance to interrupt her peaceful morning. Her focus turned to her breath that plumed around her in a haze of condensation as she continued her stroll down the cobbled path.
The scenery was nature at its finest; exactly what she needed on this fine autumn morning. The sun finally broke through the clouds and allowed for rays of light to reflect off of the now melting frost on the grass. The birds in the trees and the sky were widely awake swooping and diving around the park donning their blue feather's and red underbellies, then landing back at their perch in the trees. Squirrels with disheveled grey fir and big bushy tails were running frantically from tree to tree in search for food to store before winter set in. The sight of the already fattened squirrels caused Ela to laugh.
Still smiling and filled with a bout of encouragement from the sights of the birds and squirrels Ela decided to leave the beaten path and wander deeper into the park. She headed away from the playground and through a field towards a grove of tall oak trees less than a football fields length away.
The leaves rustled under her feet with the trees cascading over head as she entered the grove. Stunned by the intricacy of the woven patterns of the limbs and the rough and rustic knots protruding from the trunks of the trees that are so unique to the oak itself. Something only Mother Nature and Father Time could create.
Wondering to herself, being so close to home, why she had never visited this very patch of trees or how she had never noticed their artistic presence before. Ela continued to walk at a much more somber pace, wanting to remain in the grove for a while longer to fully appreciate her surroundings. As she neared the center of the grove there was one tree that stood out to her among all of the others. She became particularly drawn to this one for a reason she couldn't explain. What ever the reason was she decided to go to it. After a few paces she reached the tree placing a hand on the outer bark of the trunk, looking high up into the canopy where the barren branches loomed over her; feeling the jagged grooves and valleys of the bark underneath her finger tips. It left her feeling a discernable connection with nature. Almost falling into a trance like state Ela pulled herself from the ethereal hold that the tree had on her and removed her hand from the trunk of the tree.
She looked around, then to the ground. Bending over to pickup one of the tall oak's leaves. Twirling the stem of the leaf between her fingers causing the fans of the leaf to twirl with it. Returning the leaf to the place where she picked it Ela spotted an object in the exact spot where the leaf was resting before it was moved.
Sitting there was a tiny glass marble no bigger than the size of Ela's thumb. Setting the leaf to the side Ela reached for the marble wanting to get a closer look. The marble was perfectly clear and round in shape. There wasn't a single imperfection. Wondering where it came from, the only reasonable explanation she could come up with was that a child or group of children must have dropped it while playing under this very same tree. The marble was absent of any dirt or weathered sign from being outside. It couldn't have been out here long. Doubting that anyone would come looking for it Ela wanted to keep it for a souvenir as a reminder of what has already been a very pleasurable morning. Instead she chose to return it to the spot she found it, in hopes that who ever lost the marble would find it again.
Ela moved to place the marble back on the ground, this time without the leaf covering it, in case someone actually came looking for it. When she did, something inside the marble started to take shape. Ela stopped for a moment, then brought the marble closer to her face and held it up to the light so she could get a better look.
Like a miniature crystal ball, the marble began to fill with what looked like smoke, forming a grey cloud that ebbed and flowed from within the glass. Suddenly, the cloud started to change colors and dance whimsically as though it was being driven by an orchestrated symphony composed by the likes of Beethoven or Bach.
It was then that Ela realized that this marble wasn't some kids play toy, but something completely different. It was unlike anything she had ever seen before. Where did it come from? Was it magic? Should she hold on to it for safe keeping? Ela didn't have an answer for any of these questions, so she focused back on the marble.
The elegantly moving cloud inside the marble started taking on another shape altogether. This time changing into a galaxy with planets and stars stuck in slow rotation perfectly suspended from within. Twinkling and shining, it resembled something you could only find in pictures of outer space or looking through a very powerful telescope.
Fixated on the little sphere in the palm of her hand another change was in affect. The galaxy gained momentum spinning faster and faster until the plants and stars blurred together in a magnificent show of yellow and white cycling lights. Spiraling upwards towards the sky, almost as instantaneously as the tornado of planets and stars started, it stopped; transforming into what appeared to be the body of a tiny green chrysalis hanging from the inside of the marble.
In awe of the powerful images that were coming to life inside the tiny glass marble Ela still could not comprehend what she was holding. She didn't think it was possible that an object like this could be created by man. Was it possible that this was what had drawn her and not the tree. Was she meant to find it or is it just pure coincidence?
Ela did not know what to make of this. Even though the seemingly magical object was miniscule in size, she got the feeling that it was monumental in its purpose. She could not explain the importance of it, or why, but she felt compelled to sit and watch over the marble as its protector; like a hen waiting for her egg to hatch. Following the instinct to do so, she sat under the old oak, watching and waiting to see what could possibly become of this tiny cocoon she was now guarding.
Minutes passed and nothing happened. The chrysalis hanging still; waiting for the next evolutionary step in its life. Ela's patience unwavering, she held her breath in anticipation and had to remind herself to breathe. Maintaining focus not allowing her eyes to wander from the sphere. Ela felt as though her surroundings had completely disappeared. Alone, just her and the marble in an empty chasm of space hovering above the grove, above the park with the playground, above the city she lived in, and above the Earth. In that brief moment of suspended animation the chrysalis hatched, but nothing came out inside the glass of the marble. Instead, materializing out of thin air, an all white butterfly drifted past Ela. She watched as it circled around her, admiring its elegance.
She looked back at her hand for the marble. It was gone. She found herself sitting in the grove next to the oak tree, inside the park with the playground, in the city in which she lives. And next to her was the butterfly that hatched from the chrysalis that was inside the marble she held in her hands moments ago. The butterfly floated next to her for a second as if to say thank you, then gracefully fluttered away toward the city.