The bird looked back at the fairy and answered. “Sometimes, you have to face your fear in order to let it go.”
All of this however is drowned out by the roaring motors of the traffic – big land cruisers that look like they’d never seen bush, dwarfed by the truck passing it in opposite direction with a water tank in the trailer. It is only the sound that lingers when it disappears on its way to somewhere.
This place I sit in is a place where everyone is going somewhere, even when they are not moving they are on their way somewhere. It is but one stop on their journey.
As I sit, a spider crawls across the leg of my blue jeans and my first instinct is to brush it away. I act upon this but then for a moment I wonder where it came from and where it was going. Had I just stopped it on its journey? I might have changed its path but what then? Maybe like anything stopped on its journey and forced to change directions, it was for a reason and perhaps it is on a better path. Maybe the destination changes, what then?
I haven’t seen that spider since.
As I ponder my part in a spider’s journey, more people pass, all taking determined steps down the concrete path and through the automatic doors they disappear. I wonder what they think of when the walk that path. Do they see the trees as they sway in a soft wind or hear the birds chatter away? I wonder what it all sounds like in their heads. Is there the same chatter that I hear in mine? Do their dreams and memories play as vividly in their mind’s eye as mine do?
A magpie lands on a lamp post high above the traffic, squawks his greeting, but does not stay. I wonder if it was the view he was not impressed with. Perhaps the streetlamp was a place to momentarily rest his weary wings before taking flight again to resume his journey. Then a crow flies boldly between two buildings, shifting course only slightly to avoid collision.
I reflect on the people I’ve observed, walking into the building, the dwarf like girl with the body full of scars, who proudly wears clothing that does not hide these and the old man who strolls in, casually flicking away his burnt out cigarette before disappearing, like the girl, into the building.
A rattle is heard nearby, but only I am noticing and I shift my gaze to where the sound is coming from.
A plastic subway bag is all that remains of someone’s meal and is rolling in my direction before a gust of wind changes its course. Its new path ends with a concrete block, adjacent to the one I rest my back on. I stare at it half angry that someone has neglected to dispose of it and half wanting to disconnect from it.
Like the plastic bag, it feels like everything has stopped, but the traffic and the birds. The breeze blows on and the hot October sun continues to bore down on me and there’s no relief from that. Nature and construction meet but there is no acknowledgement. People that enter the building do not exchange more than a quick glance, a nod and maybe a smile. There is no kiss likely to occur, nor can I imagine this to be the place where one would occur. There may be kisses anticipated in a time and place far from here but the kiss I see is the one in a not so distant memory, playing out in my head like it was only moments ago. I don’t ponder this for too long. An animated conversation between birds catches my attention, bringing back to reality and my long pause before I too will eventually resume my journey.
One day he played this trick on an unsuspecting little girl, who was wandering home from school one afternoon. The little girl, Cora stopped to pick up the snowman’s arm. As she did she heard a loud “BOO!” Cora screamed loudly and dropped the arm back on the ground. Bob snorted with laughter at the child’s frightened face, which made Cora very angry.
“Stop laughing, at once!” the little girl demanded, standing with her hands on her hips, but the snowman couldn’t stop. It was too funny. “I said, stop laughing!” Cora repeated. Still, Bob kept laughing. Pointing her finger at the snowman, Cora said, “You’re a very mean snowman and you should be a shamed.” The snowman laughed harder. “You’ll be sorry when spring comes. You’ll start melting and soon there will be nothing left of you.”
The snow man stopped laughing and was suddenly frightened. “Ridiculous!” Bob said, trying to cover up his fear.
You’ll see,” Cora said and walked away. The snowman began to laugh again.
A week later it was beginning to warm up, as Spring was getting closer. Bob the snowman was beginning to feel a little funny, perhaps, lighter and definitely weaker. Maybe the little girl was right, he thought, I’m going to melt! When Cora passed him with some of her friends, she saw the snowman and pointed at him, and laughed. The other children laughed too.
“That’s okay,” the little girl said. She smiled at Bob, waved and then was gone.
The next day Cora was on her way to school with her friends and stopped to say hello to Bob, but she could not see him. All that was left was a small mound of frost. Bob was gone. Cora looked at the mound and began to cry. “Goodbye Mr Snowman,” she said and continued off to school.
I stare sadly at the peeling paint. Once upon a time it might have been vibrant but there is no evidence of that, nor evidence of what colour it might have once been. This wooden door before me now screams neglect and I feel in that moment a sense that it was not the only thing abandoned along ago. I feel compelled to run my hands down the paling and as the peeling paint chips fall away, a greying aged naked wood reveals itself.
Suddenly I feel it move with ease and I feel that what lies beyond this old wooden door is beckoning me to step through. What mystery lies beyond this old wooden door? What would I see there? Would I like what I see? I push on the door and though I know I should enter, I feel resistance. What I see, when I open the door is both over and under-whelming. I immediately want to step back through the door, close it and forget all about the sight that beholds me but I feel a pull downwards. My bare feet are rooted In the earth and I am forced to remain here in this place I don’t want to be.
All around me are weeds. They stand tall and I can barely see over them, enough to see that this field is full of them. In the distance is an old wooden barn house and I think about exploring it to see what is in there. I decide not to, not just yet. I feel stuck in this one spot. I look down and see the green viny stems weaving themselves around my ankles, cutting into my skin. I reach down, my fingers intertwining with them for a mere second before I frantically yank them away and I break out of their stronghold, kicking them roughly away from me. I care not to be stuck there any longer.
I take hold of it in clumps and begin to pull it all out.
Rip. Rip. Rip.
Masses of green lay in piles around me. Mountains of viny, leafy stems lie lifeless as if in a grave-site. I feel like those weeds, displaced and dying inside…
I don’t realise in my tirade through it all that I have ripped out a path for myself through the weeds. I feel however that I am beginning to be okay with what I see around. The urge to rip into it slowly subsides. There is too much anyway to tackle. It can all stay here for now. I glance at the old barn house in the distance. It seems to have been better cared for, and welcoming, but I still have no desire to go near it. I don’t feel like I can wade through so much weed to get there.
In my contemplation I feel a sensation, like a tingling in the middle of my bare back and I realise this feeling is familiar, like something I have known before and I allow this sensation to take over. I glance over my shoulder back towards the old door, but it is obstructed, not by the weeds but a shimmering, almost transparent wing. I cannot see the detail only the shimmer as the sun hits them. I am unsure how but they are moving and I like the way this feels. Maybe I can lift, Maybe I could hover above this place. Maybe I can even glide over the sea of weeds towards the house, but despite the newfound sense of freedom I desire to do none of these things. It’s almost as if knowing I can is enough.
I study the foliage around me and realise what I thought were weeds, may just be something else, something more beautiful and as a breeze weaves its way through it carries a scent that lightly tickles my nose. I breathe it in and feel a wonderful calm. As I exhale I look up, realising how small I really am in my surroundings. The tops of the foliage are visible at eye level, as they reach to the sun. They dance in unison with the breeze. It’s then that I see the beautiful pastel purple at the tip and I realise that the scent is coming from this beautiful foliage with the stunning lavender flower. I scan the field taking it all in yet again. No longer do I see a field of weeds, I see a sea of purple as far as the eye can see. I now realise what mystery the old door had wanted to reveal.
Maybe it’s not the barn house I’m supposed to explore, but the vastness of the field that lies between it and me. Maybe it is about remembering who I am, about remembering how small I am and being okay with that. It’s not about going back or onward but just staying put and just being one with this place. Maybe it’s about feeling my own power grow from within, or about realising that it was always there, just waiting for me to acknowledge it. Maybe it’s about all of this and more. I look at the piles of dying stems with now lifeless purple flowers wilting in the sun’s heat. I brush a lone tear from my cheek, that I hadn’t realised had snuck out of my eye. My heart, broken and heavy and my stomach sick from guilt over my carelessness and destruction compel me to whisper an apology, though I know it is not enough.
I know it’s time to go as the door, which I can now see is a gate beckons me and the path towards it is now clear. My wings now rested at my back, still tingle as I follow the path I had created back to the gate. I step through it and I turn one more time to see this place I have found. I promise to return, to just be among the lavender I had once mistaken for weeds, to bath in their beauty and maybe, just maybe visit the old barn house.
I pull the gate shut behind me and step away from it, realising that it is one with the hedge that surrounds it, of vibrant purple flower. I take note of it all, hoping I will remember where to find the door one day soon.
While this story is linked to an event in History, the characters in the story bear no resemblance to figures linked to the event.
“I can’t wait to see you.” The circulation in Angelo’s hand had cut off more than a minute before, from resting the phone between the pillow and his ear. It tingled like a thousand tiny pins had repeatedly pierced his skin, as the feeling slowly returned. He winced as he sat up and, with his free hand, re-adjusted the pillows behind his back. He reached over to the drawer of his bedside table, opened it and plucked a small red box from it.
“Me too,” she whispered. Mary’s voice was sweet, but deep and a little husky, but he could hear the fatigue in her reply. Angelo knew it had been a long week for her. “Angelo, when I get back, we need to talk.”
Her ice blue eyes lingered on the gold wrist watch he had bought her for Christmas. They had been together four and a half months when he’s asked her to accompany him to his parent’s San Francisco home, where he had grown up, and had always made a point to return to each year for the holidays. She had enjoyed the time they had spent there together and his parents had warmed to her right away.
A quarter past seven.
As the second hand approached the 12, Mary fought hard against the tears she was sure would come if she lingered on the words she knew she needed to say – the words she knew would break his heart, especially since it was their anniversary. She was yet to find out what Angelo was planning for her return – probably some high priced restaurant, so predictable, she thought to herself. A week ago she might have still thought it was sweet, but that was before she had realized she couldn’t have both the job of her dreams – and him. She knew she had to give up one and when would she ever have got another opportunity like this one. She knew she would only be returning home to pack her things, finalise her life in L.A and fly back to Boston and her new life. She would always love him, but she knew he would never fit into her world. It had to be done.
She could just see herself losing her nerve, as she sank into his arm where she would cave and stay.
It just wasn’t an option.
Fresh out of College, at her age, newspaper reporter jobs did not normally fall out of the sky as easily as this one had. This job offer was the break of her career, the one she knew she would regret turning down.
Angelo didn’t hear the sadness in her voice as she spoke – nor could Mary see the dreamy smile on his face as he traced the lid of the tiny velvet box with his thumb. He flicked open the lid and the diamond cluster shimmered under the night light. He couldn’t wait for her to find it in a slice of her favourite black-forest cake, right under the cherry. He had been busy in the lead up to this day, booking the restaurant, arranging the flowers to arrive in time for dessert, picking up his suit from the dry cleaners. He had even laid out the dress she would wear, that he had caught her eyeing longingly in a shop window only a week ago. He glanced over to the easy chair in his bedroom, where it hung in the clear plastic dress bag on top of his suit and closed his eyes to picture her in it and how her auburn locks would cascade over her bare shoulders, just as she had done when she’d seen it. He hoped she would say yes.
“Are you still there?” Mary’s voice broke into his daydream.
“I’m still here,” He answered. His tired brown eyes snapped open and he found himself focusing on the clock on his desk, the red numbers blinking at him, reminding him how long it would be until he would see her face and hold her once again.
They had been talking for half an hour, while she waited for her flight to board. “So what time will you land here?” he asked.
He heard the paper rattling through the phone and he knew she was checking her itinerary, “It says here we land at 9:51, but I’ll say 10, to be safe.”
“Well I’ll be waiting near the baggage claim.” It was like a cobra was coiled around her, squeezing her chest until she could no longer breathe.
“Are you sure you’re okay to pick me up? What about work?”
“I’ve got the day off.”
Her heart sank. There was no choice other than to go through with his plans.
Twenty-five past seven.
It was breaking her heart to know that the wonderful day she could only imagine he was planning was about to become his saddest, because of what she had to say.
His boss had not been happy with him for it, but he understood, when Angelo told him why he needed the day off. He had even congratulated him, saying he hoped it would go well.
Angelo stifled a yawn – he didn’t want Mary to think she was boring him to sleep. It was quite the opposite. He had slept lightly until she had called, knowing that any minute she would. Maybe, she thought, she could just let him have one last beautiful memory of their time together…. No! That would be cruel.
She could hear his inevitable failed attempt to hold back the yawn.
“You should just stay in bed, sleep. I’ll see you at my apartment later on.”
How sweet, he thought, how she didn’t want to put him out, how she always put others before herself. He loved that about her.
“No. I’ll be fine.” The cobra tightened its hold and she found herself gasping for air.
She hated herself feeling that way. It was not that she had stopped loving him, she always would, but his love overwhelmed her and at times, especially now felt like it was smothering her.
She fiddled with the 24 caret gold wrist band of her watch, and the pearl face caught a fluorescent light from overhead. The second hand was approaching the 6.
Twenty-nine past seven.
They talked for another minute, before he heard the announcement over airport’s P.A. system through the phone.
“THIS IS THE FINAL CALL FOR AMERICAN AIRLINES: FLIGHT 11 TO LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS. PASSENGERS PLEASE MAKE YOUR WAY TO GATE B32, SCHEDULED TO DEPART 7:45 AM.”
The cobra released its grip and she let out a sigh.
“That’s my flight I have to go. I’ll see you soon.”
“Okay. I –” Click! “love you.”
He hung up and placed his cell on the nightstand, with the tiny velvet box, making a mental note to remember to pick it up with his wallet, phone and car keys.
Mary strolled up the isle of the plane and checked her itinerary once again. Just as it had said the previous time she checked, Business Class, seat 10A. As she settled into the seat next to an olive skinned gentleman, he caught her eye and smiled. His brown eyes were so intense and she detected a hint of sadness.
She half returned the smile before turning towards the window.
“Everything will be okay,” he whispered, in broken English. She found his words strange. Had he noticed the dread in her eyes? Was her own sadness that transparent? What had prompted his kind words? Perhaps it was the tear that had snuck its way down her cheek and dripped onto her watch blurring its face.
Twenty minutes to eight.
She quickly brushed it away. She had to think of the bigger picture – of the brilliant start she was about to make to her career. Finally she would achieve something her folks could be proud of.
Angelo snuggled deeper under his feather doona, hoping he could catch enough sleep before he had to get everything ready and negotiate the traffic to the airport.
It felt like he had only just begun to drift off to sleep, when he heard the message tone. He reached over to the night stand to pick it up and glanced at the words on the small screen.
“I U.” He smiled as he glanced over at the clock.
He closed his eyes again, not realizing he was still cradling the cell phone in his hand, until its ring broke into the silence.
He looked at the name, blinking at him on the phone and groaned.
He barely took a minute to glance at the time.
He deliberated whether or not to answer it, but knew if he did, his boss would just keep calling. Reluctantly he pushed the green button and held the phone up to his ear.
“Angelo. It’s Bruce. You need to turn on the television.”
“Just do it.”
Without another word he climbed out of bed and threw on the first shirt he could find and with his phone still in his hand he made his way to the living room of his apartment.
After several minutes of searching for the remote control, he found it and clicked the power button.
As the television came to life, he could hear the sounds of people screaming as they ran from the direction of a burning building.
“Great movie Bruce, but why did you want me to watch it for. I could’ve just hired it to watch later.”
“That’s no movie. That’s the Twin Towers.”
Just as he said it, there was an explosion and the second tower was beginning to crumble as a jet flew into it. He remained, stunned in the middle of the lounge room, his feet rooted to the polished timber floor, his eyes glued to the screen in disbelief at the horrifying images playing out on the screen like a B grade Hollywood film. He could barely register what took place, on screen, nor could he focus on Bruce’s voice on the other end of the phone as he rubbed away the sleep from his bloodshot eyes.
“Angelo, Buddy, they’re saying the two planes were coming from Boston…”
Bruce did not need to say anything more.
Angelo let the phone crash to the floor as he sank into a black leather armchair. He could no longer speak and he could barely breathe. As the first tear fell, he wondered if he’d ever breathe properly again.
He blinked it away and focused on the phone on the floor. He tried to find strength enough to stand and reach for it, but his knees buckled until he was in a heap on the floor beside it. With clumsy hands he picked it up and rested it against his ear.
“Bruce, I have to go,” but Bruce had already hung up.
He fumbled with the menu button until he found Mary’s number and pressed the green button. There was no ring tone only an automated message.
“THE NUMBER YOU HAVE DIALED IS SWITCH OFF OR UN-AVAILABLE. PLEASE TRY AGAIN.”
He hit the red button to disconnect the call and tried again, hoping she was just on another call and that she would hang up again soon. The same message burned his ear and the pain shot to his heart. He felt like the room was closing in around him as he tried a third time, still no more successful than the first two attempts.
Then before he realized what he’d done, he was staring at the little heart symbol in her last text message. He closed his eyes and prayed he would never open them. His tears flowed freely, the only thing that escaped him.
A cool gust of wind brushed his arm and he thought for a minute he could feel her hand on his shoulder.
A tiny shiver ran down his spine, just enough to remind him he was still alive.
“I love you,” he was sure he could hear her sweet voice in the wind.
Wrote this a few years ago as part of a 3 perspective series:
So here I am, in my favourite spot on the lounge. I’ve sole control of the T.V. remote (between my teeth) and watching Harry’s Practice. My eyelids have drooped and I’m almost in sleep mode. What can I say I have the life.
Well I would have if I didn’t have this chip in my head.
Oh oh! Here comes Master with the T.V. Guide. He’s flipping through the pages. He looks up from the page he is reading and I brace myself for the inevitable.
“BRUIZER! OFF! NOW!” What does he expect, that because I’m suddenly super intelligent, that I’m going to obey him more. Pu-lease! I just know better how to get around him.
Trying to bide time, I begin to work my charm on Master, who put this thing in me. Why am I always the guinea pig for his stupid experiments?
I’d have thought he’d give up after the last experiment. Trying to turn me, a proud rotty in my own right, into a Chihuahua. Why bother!
I’m looking at Master with feigned sad pathetic eyes. He’s still not convinced, so I give a tiny wine and drop my chin on the couch on top of the remote control which is now perched between my paws.
Master snatches the remote from under my chin, and flips the Channel over to Fox 8 and I’m bombarded with bright coloured images of the Simpsons. The one plus about this chip – I can now see things in colour.
“Come on, Bruizer,” Master says a little softer. “You know you’re not allowed on the furniture.
Bugga! My plan backfired.
So I play deaf and pretend I didn’t hear him. I’m looking out the corner of my eye to see if Master is watching. He’s not impressed.
Bugga! He’s pointing at the floor and is looking quite stern. It’s not going to work this time.
I slowly rise from my comfy spot on the couch and made one last attempt with my eyes to convince Master to let me stay.
He’s rolling up the T.V. Guide. Oh oh, I know what’s coming. I crouch down as I practically fall to the floor.
Master unrolls the T.V. Guide and continues to flick through the channels. With I small wine I beg him telepathically to put it back to Harry’s Practice, but Master doesn’t seem to understand.
“Good boy,” Master praises me. I smile and wag my stumpy tail.
“John!” Who’s that? I raise my floppy black ear to listen. “Dinner’s ready!”
That’s Mistress! I wag my tiny tail again?
“Can you, bring it in here Darl? Theres a thing on the National Geographic Channel that I want to watch.”
“Can’t you tape it, love?” Mistress calls from the kitchen.
“Alright, Dear” Master sighs and hunts around the lounge room for the VCR remote. “Give me a second, Dear.” Master pushes a button on the remote control and leaves.
I snatch up the remote control and resume my lying on the couch.
Sweet! Now if I could just find Harry’s Practice again.