“Who do you love?” Maggie asked. “One can never really avoid what is true, don’t you think? We always decide something… one way or the other. This path will take you there. If you let them, these keys will open the gates.”
Dallas nudged Lisa, gave her hand a soft lick, and then returned to stand by Maggie.
“You’re never alone,” Maggie promised.
Each key was engraved with a letter. An “S,” “R,” “W,” and “CC.” She slipped them into her coat pocket beside her wallet. The thought stole into her mind: Am I happy?
She traced the diamonds circling her Rolex. Her thumb twisted her wedding rings. She felt the small brown disk of leather on her key ring, embossed with flowers and “MOM.” Summer camp. Tiffany had been seven.
What did Maggie mean. . . Who do I love? My family, of course!
“Look at your calendar.”
“It’s back home,” she said crossly.
“Look closely, you can see it,” Maggie prodded. “Are you married?”
“Yes. I have a husband, Edison, and three children, Tiffany, Christian, and Mason.” Lisa saw her calendar: salon appointments, luncheons, the Bazaar, the gala, tonight’s auction.
“Is your family there?” Maggie asked. Waiting a few moments, she repeated, “What do you want, Lisa?”
“To go home,” she whispered.
“Then, you must begin.”
Lisa looked at Maggie. Her clear gray eyes returned Lisa’s hazel ones with honesty. She looked at the path. There wasn’t much to it. Almost a goat trail, easily missed if Maggie hadn’t shown her. She walked a few yards. Pausing at the first curve, she looked back to see Maggie and Dallas had returned to their campsite.
Loose pebbles tore at her sandals. She stumbled. Some path this turned out to be.
Around the next corner, a small garden lay before her. Mountain laurels, cypress, and ironwoods grew wild. A wooden gate stood within a high rock wall blocking the path. With brass hinges and lock, an ornate “S” was carved in its center. She inserted the “S” key. It didn’t budge.
Well, maybe it’s not the obvious choice. She tried each key. None opened the lock.
“I’m going back. This is taking me nowhere.” Lisa’s voice echoed in the silence of the garden. She turned around looking for the path. Soft grass surrounded by sage, primrose, and clover. But, she could see no path.
A wooden bench nestled under an ironwood tree.
I didn’t see this earlier.
“Maybe I could use that to climb over the top.” Lisa again spoke aloud. Although there was no one to hear, it felt natural, somehow. But no matter how hard she tugged and pulled on the bench, it refused to move. She gave up and plopped down on it to inspect her shoes.
“Great. Now, I’ve broken both heels and one of the straps. Only $400 shoes.” She glanced around the garden, tired of it all. The light was dimming to dusk.
With a deep sigh, she began to notice the quietness. The garden was extraordinarily silent. Like velvet. There was no sound of crickets or birds or the rustle of wind in the trees. She even heard the beating of her heart.
“Listen to the silence, dear. What do you hear?”
Lisa, startled at the sound of Maggie’s voice, looked all around, but couldn’t see her. “Are you there, Maggie?”
“You’re trapped by what you think you hear from the world.”
“What do you mean?”
“Open you heart. Listen in the silence. Can you hear the pain of others? Can you hear their joy?”
Lisa thought back to her newlywed days with Edison. They’d had no money and worked long hours at their jobs, but their time together had meant something.
Maggie spoke, “We never leave the journey of life, but sometimes we take a small step off the path. That tiny step, just off a few degrees, in time, has widened so far we’ve lost sight of our original goal.”
Lisa closed her eyes. Life had become heavy. She had so many demands. The bazaar. The luncheons. What had happened to the life she and Edison once planned?
Lisa looked around. She was alone. Was this all her imagination?
To be continued . . .
Until next time. Be sweet.