Day Off

“Have you heard of me?”

The trees whispered to themselves without answering. The Statue of Liberty bent down to hear them, but they hid their words in their hair, only alive through the rustling breaths the wind brought out of them. Liberty saw that their tangles were filled with birds. She had always been told that knots were meant to be undone. Her hand rose to touch her own hair; it did not move. The trees whispered again, intrigued by what they heard. “Have you heard of me?” Liberty asked again. There was no answer. She stood up and looked farther down to see a pond. She crouched by its side and squinted: it was surrounded by small rocks like a prisoner, reflecting inwards. She had to focus to see its rippling.

“Hello,” Liberty said, “have you heard of me, by any chance?”

The pond did not answer. Ponds do not talk.

Liberty reached down to touch a rock. When she lifted her finger it was only dust, fresh and white like hopeful snow. She blew it off and the sky swirled with its ashes. She felt guilty. “I hope I am not bothering you,” she said to the pond. Silence. Liberty looked at her robe and saw that it was still wet from the ocean. She felt the way one feels in the absence of feeling. You know? You don’t. “Hey,” Liberty said. The pond swirled and stirred and revolved around the same thoughts it always had, but said nothing. “Do you feel like a prisoner here?” The pond sloped to one side under Liberty’s strong breath, but merely smoothed itself out, the way one would straighten their skirt. Never making waves. “I mean, with these rocks surrounding you, trapped here where you have always been,” Liberty explained, tapping raindrops out of her hem. The pond eagerly swallowed them. Liberty looked down at her robe and frowned; thoughts always brought her trouble. “Pond,” Liberty said quietly, “what if I were to free you?” There was silence, a response in itself. “I could just keep filling you up with water until you grew big, and you could find your way to the ocean where I am and we could see each other–”

Liberty looked at the ocean and felt like a stranger to it. The ocean moved and murmured to itself, like water on the way to boiling, but did not stir. “Then you would not be you anymore, Pond,” Liberty realized. Her gaze swept over the fog like a lighthouse alone. There was nothing, nothing and nobody. Liberty looked down at the pond and brushed its surface. It bristled at her touch, but soon calmed. She sighed. “I’m sorry, Pond.” But when she lifted her hands again the pond had disappeared. Her fingers dripped with its ghost, leaving her lonely.  Liberty walked. There wasn’t much room in the park, but she feared stepping on the street cars, so she tried her best to stay in its limits. Finding no space for her feet, she stepped back into the ocean for a moment and looked back. Nothing was stirred by her arrival. She leaned forward hesitantly, looking out on the city.

“Is everything asleep?” she whispered, careful not to disturb. She waited, and did not know what she was waiting for. She watched the sun wave its arms desperately over the sky as it sank. Liberty felt tired; she lay her head on the park grass, feet still firmly planted in the water. She could feel her robe rising away from her skin, reminding her that she was someone else underneath. The grass was cool and green, still standing firmly under her cheek.

“You think that you are immortal, Grass,” Liberty said, closing her eyes. “It is fall and you are still green, and you think you can keep that up forever.” She hummed for a moment, and the ground vibrated with empty song. “I am green now, Grass, but I was not always. I was brown and smooth and new. I changed. And you will change. We all do.” Liberty opened her eyes again and saw the tiny blades fighting for her attention, scratching her cheek with small fingernails of color. “We can trade colors, Grass; I will be green, and you will be brown. You will die and be reborn again.” Liberty shivered and the ground trembled beneath her, rippling like the pond. “I have not died for a long time, Grass, but I think I’m getting closer. It might be time now.” Liberty returned to land, talking to herself as she went. “And what is time,” she thought, “but a thing that happens?” She accidentally stepped on the grass. “It is compared to other things in effort to reach understanding, but still defies reason.” She accidentally stepped on the pond. “It just keeps going, making good things short and bad things long.” She accidentally stepped on the cars, grinding their accidental bones. She ignored the sensation of glass shards underneath her and just kept destroying it, destroying it all. When she lifted her foot there was no blood, like she had never been alive. She turned and sat with a thump, making the remaining cars jump in fright.

“Go on,” Liberty sighed, “run away. I’ve seen you do it before.” She turned to the ocean she came from. It was just as quiet as before, seething and feeling yet unable to really move. “Why so hesitant, Ocean?” the Statue of Liberty asked. “You see all this happening and yet still do nothing.” Liberty heard her own voice and it sounded like God. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. The ocean rolled and moaned like a fever in her head. “You know they’re angry,” Liberty said, “all of them. The women walk.”

Above her, the sun was finally beginning to rise, clawing through clouds and frightening birds. “I am a woman too, you know.” Liberty looked down at her hands and tried to find brass in the lines. “I am a woman confused. I am American, but I am French. I am a Roman Goddess.” Liberty felt a sudden lift and her back straightened, bringing her to a godly height. “But I am still a woman, and I walk.” Behind her the buildings went off like smoking guns, light warming through the windows as the people rose to wake. The Statue of Liberty did not look at any of them. They already knew her name.

Pressing her hands against the street, Liberty pushed herself back into the water. She held her head high as she walked, dragging her fingertips through the ocean and making waves at last. Finally, finally; the pond fell from her fingers and was eagerly swallowed by the ocean, but she knew that it had become part of something more. Something big, something alive, burning and feeling and ready to move. The sun was moving steadier now, higher and higher, and Liberty let her eyes climb with it. Calmly she returned to her pedestal, rising out of the sea in a marvelous wave. She bent to pick up her discarded torch and raised it high above her. Straightening her back once more, she stood in place. The Statue of Liberty watched as the city moved around her. It was an ocean in itself, she realized; there were waves across the streets, moving and breathing and angry around the edges. She was the Statue of Liberty for them, a still, unmoving figure. A constant and a comfort. She did not die. She did not change. But she could change others. She could change them all. And time had told her that.