Song of the Wind
By: Ann Yuan
“Just listen to the song of the wind.”
I was standing at the entrance of a corn maze when I heard that soft voice. Jane'd taken Terrence to have the adventure that he had a longing for. Looking around, I only saw a woman standing six feet from me. Her lips trembled, as though whispering to herself.
“Excuse me, Ma′am?” Given the fact that I was the only person within the earshot, I was obliged to say something. But I didn’t how to start a conversation.
“Did you hear it?” She asked without turning her head.
All other children and parents had rushed into the maze. A few heads bobbed up and down in the forest of corn stalks, giggling and shouting gaily on their way going down the path. A few corns, fortunately, missed by farmer’s hands, remained on the stalks to wither and die.
“Yeah, I hear it.” I grinned. “Kids can be wild inside the maze, even adults—”.
“No, not that,” she interrupted.
The woman had short silver hair, a heather cardigan, and black cropped pants. I figured she was a grandma bringing her third generation to the farm to enjoy the warm sun and fresh air. That must be it.
She turned to me and asked again, “did you hear the song of the wind?”
What kind of question was that? I couldn’t help but be alerted. Her eyes were gray-blue yet her face was blank — no amiable smile of an indulgent grandparent, no resentful expression leftover from a bitter fight with a foolish husband. Not even the weariness and tedium that often were hidden very well by people in her age.
“Ma′am, huh....are you a poet?” I faked a chuckle, trying to find some explanation.
“Why do people enter a labyrinth, even though they know, eventually, they will get lost?” She ignored me and pushed another question.
Speechless and uncomfortable, I shifted my weight from one leg to the other, hands tucked in pant pockets. The parking lot was empty, so was my head. Nothing could bring the distraction, aka the rescue, to save me from facing this woman alone, and answering her weird questions. I could simply leave and go back to my car, which was socially inappropriate, even rude. Just hang on for a few more minutes, the kids would be out soon, and this place would be swamped like a fish tank in a pet store.
“Does your child enjoy the maze?”
Finally a real question, a question that I'd begged for.
“Oh, yes! Terrence, my son, loves this place. He’s so good at it, it's amazing, sometimes his mother needs his help.”
As soon as I started talking, words just spewed out. It was like I drifted away in a river out to an unknown place, I started telling this woman my life story.
Terrence, unlike me, is a quiet boy. He likes to draw, spending hours on his sketch notebook. So my wife and I would like to bring him to play outside, as suggested by his pediatrician. We drove about an hour to get here, but it was worth it; the hayride, corn maze…I loved it too.
I grew up in a metro area. There were no farms, no cornfields or apple trees, only roads, crammed with tiny houses, and climbed up slopes like cobra raising its head. In the distance, the houses were just like matchboxes stacked on top of each other. I imagined there was a secret tunnel inside which magnetic levitation transporters convey people from one house to another.
After school, I usually went biking with my friends. The streets were curved, bending, and zigzagging, just like a maze. There was a whiff of heated asphalt, mixed with smells of over-ripened fruits, sitting in the corner, waiting to bewitch passer-by into the wrong direction. But I always find my way home. There was just one time that I was afraid I didn’t know that place anymore.
My mom and dad still live there. Three years ago, I brought Terrence to see his grandparents. After dinner, I decided to walk around. I followed the old bike route, sauntering about the neighborhood. The streets seemed narrow and murky. I thought it was altered because of the dimming light. Several blocks later, the views have changed. Houses were remodeled and put on different paintings, new neighbors glanced at me like a total stranger. Moving forward, I was unnerved. I kept looking back, trying to remember the way I came from. In the end, I knew I was lost. I couldn’t find my way back, I couldn’t find the place where I was born in.
I blurted out all the stuff to avoid the awkward situation, to ease my nervousness, or, for unknown reasons I believed I should tell this old woman about that incident which I didn’t even tell Jane. It was so natural though, like a speech that I had long prepared just for this circumstance. I wouldn’t stop myself had she not let out a long sigh, trailing with a soft chuckle.
“She walked in there and never came out,” she said.
“Who?!” I tried to control my voice. “Your child? I mean, your grandchild? It’s impossible. This is a kid-friendly place. We came here every year, it’s —”
“I waited and waited. Sometimes I thought, maybe I was the one who was lost. She’s already worked her way out from another exit. She doesn’t need to come back to me anymore,” She continued, didn’t answer any of my questions, and probably didn’t care about my existence.
My scalp tightened up, goosebumps creeping up on my arms. A breeze picked up, dry and crisp Autumn air brushing my face. Right at that moment, I heard the sound of the wind. No mistake, it’s the sound of the wind, mellow yet venomous. It was there since the first day, sitting in the corners, ready to bewitch passer-by and lure them away. I lunged into the maze, yelling out “Jane, Terrence!”
A dark shallow appeared from the back of a corn stalk. Terrence was right in my face, flailing his arms around and trying to climb on my legs.
I hugged him tight until he whined and pushed me back.
“He found the exit in a second but he just won’t come out.” Jane smiled at us.
I said nothing, slung him up to let him sit astride on my shoulders. As I pulled my car out of the parking lot. I glanced back to the corn maze. She was nowhere to be seen, all that was left was a mall of corn stalks quivering in the wind. They must have sung a melody, but inside the car, I heard nothing.