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Archive for January, 2013

…continued from “The Squire in the Road”

Knowing he was far ahead of her, she wasted no time in pushing through the thick brush at the entrance of the woods.  Fighting against her own mental resistance and that of strong armed, seldom-disturbed pines and maples, she made her way to a narrow path in the center.  She picked up the pace as to not lose sight of her guide, who continued to turn from several feet ahead to double-handedly wave her onward.

In what was turning into a long jaunt through a deceptively deep and dark wood, she couldn’t help but wonder if she’d hit her head and stumbled into a Lewis Carroll story.  Instead of a white rabbit with a waistcoat, she was following a mysterious nine-year-old who looked like he escaped from a Renaissance festival.  Did Alice ever question why she was compelled to follow a time-obsessed rodent in the first place, she wondered?  Did Alice wonder how she would explain her psychotic break to family and friends?

“Come quickly,” the boy urged.  She was quite far behind him now, but not far enough to miss his first words to her.  There was insistence in his demand, but no impatience.  It was like he knew she was questioning everything and wanted to keep her from retreating.  He then stopped and waited with encouraging eyes locked on hers.  Looking past him, she saw a wall of sorts.  Suddenly feeling trapped in what she realized was a tunnel, she glanced back towards the entrance and saw nothing but a long, unlit tube formed by abundant trees.  It looked oddly like the insides of a giant snake formed by nature with branches for bones.  She was about to make a break for it when she unconsciously arrived at the end.

“Kathryn,” he said in a relieved tone, “I’m so glad you made it.”
Panting from the hurried walk, she exhaustedly replied, “and what, exactly, have I made it to?”
“Your entrance of course!” he answered with a burst of joy.
My entrance?”
“Of course!  You didn’t think I was leading you to a dead end, did you?”
“Um, I didn’t really think about it.  I don’t make a habit of following strange kids in medieval clothing.”
“Fair enough, but enough talk.  It’s time to go in.”
“In?  In where?” she asked, digging for more detail.
“In your door, silly.  I thought we covered this,” he joked mischievously.

She was about to ask, “what door?” when she noticed the curious structure of the final trees in the tunnel.  Two large, elderly oaks leaned to meet each other, forming a rustic archway.  Beneath the archway, a wide wooden door stared back at her.  The ancient material spoke of wisdom somehow.  The cryptic carvings ornately and silently told of enchantment.   Her heart filled with equal parts fear, intrigue, and excitement as she placed her hand on a particular Celtic design.  This was her door.  She could feel it.

She moved her hand gingerly to the large iron handle and began to push.   She remembered her young guide and turned to thank him.  She smiled as her eyes were met by nothing but the dark innards of the tunnel.  “Figures,” she mused as she leaned into the door.  Her heart quickened with anticipation, almost unbearably, with each exasperated groan of the ancient hinges as they labored to reveal what was behind them.  With all of her might, she gave one last push that gave way to a breathtaking sight.  Enraptured by the beauty before her, she bravely took her first step from familiar reality to the then-unknown world of unbelievable mystery, magic, and adventure that would change her life forever.

 

To be continued…

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That morning, the sun brought little joy as it beamed through the dusty, vertical blinds in her bedroom.  It mostly acted as a blinding reminder of yet another day to muddle through.  She peeled herself from the one place she desired to be, lazily pulled up the quilt to give the illusion of a tidy bed, and began her typical morning routine.

After dawdling (or subconsciously procrastinating) with soggy cereal, she scowled at the clock which scolded her for her lateness once again.  As she rushed out the door, she was smacked in the face by horrid heat and dense humidity.  It was the kind of weather that makes one miss being overtaken by woolen scarves and puffy layers along with the other Midwestern marshmallow people trying to keep their nose hairs from freezing.  Instead, she cursed at the broken air conditioner in her car and braced herself for another ride to work drenched in sweat and disdain.

It wasn’t always this way, she thought wistfully as she sailed down the side roads.  She used to be a dreamer.  Her dreams were so grand and lovely that she lived blissfully on the fine line between vision and madness.  Fueled by relentless passion that gave her the hope needed to face any obstacle, she believed that she was made for something wonderful.  She believed she could do anything—be anything—with the help of God.

So, what happened, she wondered?  How did her paradigm shift so severely?  How did a seemingly promising young woman become so jaded?  Cynics might have said that she grew up, as we all must.  Die-hard optimists may have claimed that she just wasn’t positive enough.  Some Christians—the unfortunate kind that are proficient in pointing fingers—might have ruled that she obviously had unresolved sin or didn’t pray hard enough.  All these theories found a way into her thoughts, but what was the truth?  This question haunted her mind unyieldingly like an eerily translucent poltergeist occupies a condemned turn-of-the-century mansion.

It was this dizzying thought that she was lost in when, all of a sudden, she came to a screeching halt.  She snapped out of absent-minded autopilot just in time to stop herself from hitting a young, oddly dressed boy standing in the crosswalk.  Shaking violently and struggling with her heart that now beat wildly within her stomach, she pulled her car safely into a nearby parking spot and closed her eyes.  As reactive tears fell, she took a deep breath and looked up towards the park to her right.  To her great surprise, the boy, donning a tunic and boots akin to a young squire’s of Arthurian tales, stood near her window, eagerly beckoning her with to follow him into a wooded area nearby.  Perhaps it was guilt over the near-tragedy, or a spark of childlike curiosity, but something moved her to leave the confinement of her vehicle and follow the young lad into the trees.

To be continued…

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