Anna stood with her morning coffee cup, warming her hands, staring out the window over the kitchen sink. Late night cereal dishes were soaking under her elbows. The house was blissfully quiet. Ted had left for work, a little late because they had been up late. Talking. Arguing, really, as she packed his suitcases for yet another trip. She didn't want to think about that.
There it was again! A tiny movement amid the phlox along the back fence. She had seen it every morning for the past two weeks. An animal of some sort. She could trace its path, but she could never see the creature that made the bright pink flower heads wave gracefully. Rabbit? Too small, she thought. And it was a fluid movement of the flowers, not a jerky hop. Cat?
With a sudden need to know, she kicked off her bedroom slippers and went barefoot into the morning, still cradling her coffee cup. Across the dewy grass, cold between her toes. She moved carefully into her flower garden, wincing as grit and tiny stones dug into her tender soles.
Yes. The flowers were moving, in a circular pattern. Curious. She took a quiet step in the direction of the disturbance and it stopped. Anna waited.
She slowly sipped her coffee, watching. There! She took another step then stopped abruptly. Whatever it was, it was moving towards her. She breathed in sharply, suddenly aware that the hairs on the back of her neck had moved. It made her smile at herself. Why would she have a fright/flight reaction? She sipped the coffee again to ground herself.
The movement had stopped, right in front of her, and she was afraid to look down. But she did.
Anna blinked. The man smiled. She felt her knees turn to water and sat down precipitously in the moist earth. Even so, she towered over him. His smile was bright and friendly as he leapt nimbly out of the way of her cascading body.
"I am losing my mind," she said out loud.
"Ssaaah!" the man said again. Then she heard, or felt, his mind touch hers. No, you are not losing your mind. Good morning, Anna. It's a beautiful day.
She felt feathers in her head. She had forgotten to breathe and now she took a deep breath and let it out in a huff.
"What are you?" Her voice sounded small.
Speak to me with your thoughts. I don't know English well. My name is Darcy. And I am very glad to see you again.
Anna could not think. She swallowed hard instead. This couldn't be happening! She stared at Darcy. Then she straightened, her forehead crinkling as she tried to remember. I know you.
"I know you." She looked up from his handsome face, over her well-kept well-loved garden, over distance and years.
She was suddenly seven. Sitting in a garden, tears smearing her dirty face. She was sitting and it was night. She shook her head a little, that couldn't be right. But it was. Then she remembered what was long hidden in her secret self: she was a young girl whose heart was broken, sitting vigil at a new grave. Tuffy. Her dog. Hit by a car, dead and bloody, and buried solemnly in her mother's precious garden.
And she remembered Darcy. And others like him. Coming to sit with her. Soothing the pain. Connecting Tuffy with the stars. Her childhood's faith flooded her being and made tears leak from her eyes.
How do we lose it, Darcy? Such memories? Such important things?
He was soothing her again. She could feel his presence as a silver softness, as a wind that pushed the stray wisps of hair from her face. They are not lost. Sometimes we forget to remember. His eyes were twinkling at her.
And you have always been here?
She felt a pang of -- guilt. She had lost her touch of magic, of utter faith in the realness and oneness of all things.
There is that time, she thought, when we try so hard to leave childhood behind. Perhaps we lock too many doors.
Yes. But you kept the key. You just forgot where you put it. He chuckled and it was the sound of tiny chimes.
Anna sighed and smiled.
Look at the morning, Anna.
She looked. At the dew which had turned to diamonds in the grass; the glow of the flowers as the sun kissed them awake; the sky turning from paleness to deepening blue; the twittering handful of barn swallows scattering over the lush greening of her lawn.
"Thank you, Darcy," she whispered. Thank you.
But he was gone.
She looked back at her house. The kitchen window was a gleaming eye as the sun rose into a new and untried day.
Phoebe Wray lives in an old farmhouse in Massachusetts with a dog, two cats and a turtle. She is a published poet, has a body of non-fiction writing in environmental conservation, especially endangered species, and has had six plays produced. She teaches in the Theatre Division of The Boston Conservatory and is an adjunct at Bradford College.
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