The greenest, most picture perfect meadow imaginable stretched out before her beneath an endless blue sky. She ached to just run through the layers of sweetgrass and clover and wildflowers, rolling on them and breathing in the sweet fragrance, but that would have to wait. Her people were coming.
Instead, she eased off her shoes without looking down and let the ground caress her bare feet as a promissory note for later. Maybe she could come back and roll naked on the clover, would that be too scandalous? More to the point, did she care? Thousands of tiny leaves tickling her skin… Maybe later, in the moonlight, when the grass was even cooler and no one would see her. Mayors have an image to uphold, after all.
They began arriving then, individually and in family groups. She stepped reluctantly back into her shoes; the first few people noticed and grinned at her for it. She touched their hands as they approached. More people gathered, walking up the hill from the picturesque town below, laughing and holding hands. Children ran and played as they came. Songbirds flew around them to nestle in the trees. Lovers held each other. The meadow quickly filled with people and still they came until finally she looked out over a sea of smiling faces. For one crazy second she thought about jumping up into their arms and rolling over and over on top of their heads, and she chuckled when it occurred to her that they’d probably let her do it.
She knew them all, every one. She’d counseled them and cried with them, married them and refereed their games, worked shoulder to shoulder with them, loved with them. And when most of her people were standing in the meadow – and she knew just which ones would be rushing up late, the scamps – she spoke to them. “I want to thank you all,” she said loudly, tugging her foot away from a few blades of grass that had wrapped around it, “for wasting such a beautiful day to come listen to me yap.” They laughed, relaxed, and shook their heads to indicate that this was the best possible way to spend their time. She basked in their love and respect for just a moment before continuing.
“But today marks the first anniversary of the town of Venture, and I wanted to thank you all for the best year of my life. Production is miles ahead of where we planned, we’re well ahead of schedule with our crops, we’ve had no divorces or fights, we have several new marriages, and we now boast six of the cutest babies in the universe. And it’s all thanks to you!”
They cheered her then, and her heart swelled with pride. Her husband stood in the front row with his arms around their daughter. Beyond the crowd she could see the town shining in the sun like a precious jewel, and she raised her arms to encircle them all. There’s both art and craft to running a town, she knew, and damn but she was good at it.
Her foot had gotten wrapped in the long grass again. She pulled at it while trying to make it look casual. “And this year will be even better! Now that we know what we can do, it’s time to surpass ourselves and make Venture the best place to live in the whole–” She stumbled slightly, breaking her rhythm. Stupid grass. The rows of beaming faces waited patiently for her to go on. “The best place to live… son of a…”
This time she was pulled to one knee. She looked down, finally, to see thick grass wrapped tightly around her foot and reaching halfway up her leg. “Sorry,” she called out, with a very believable laugh, as she pulled at it with both hands. “Looks like I can’t quite control everythi– yeeouch!” The grass was pulling harder now, painfully, and she realized with a shock that she could see it wrapping around her like hundreds of tiny green snakes, circling her waist, coiling around her chest, squeezing her ribs. She clutched at it frantically as she felt her feet being pulled into the cold, dark ground.
“Guys? Somebody wanna… help! Help!”