It seemed as if we had walked for miles. It was probably wasn’t nearly as long as it felt, but we did walk deep into the forest sitting just over the hill from Mara’s home. It was amazing how untouched the land was around the little village. Nothing for miles and it didn’t look like that would be changing anytime soon. The grass was so incredibly green and the moment we closed in our final location, I recognized it immediately. I found it Tilly! Rocks I had seen only once before, sprinkled the ground before the open mouth of a large gate. A gate that was hidden beyond the wall that had kept me out in my dream. I stopped for a second. Now that I was there, I wasn’t sure if I was ready. Tulipes ruffled the back of my hair. “Are you scared?”
“No. Just nervous.”
“I think you will like what you see.” Mara grinned.
Framboise, grumbled to herself. “Sure I have been asking to come here for years, but nooooo two strangers pop up and it’s lets go.”
Mara pulled a key from her pocket and unlocked the large gate. The door swung wide on its hinges, coming to stop as hit on the other side. She stepped out of the way and placed a frail hand in the small of my pack, pushing with her might to move me forward. “Blanc jardin.” She grinned.
I could already see a bit as the door opened wide, but it was hard to take in what I was actually seeing.
“Oui. Go inside. Take a closer look.”
Crystal statues, lined the perimeter in a neat circle. They were all so beautiful. The glass was so slick and clear, it looked almost like ice, it would not have surprised me to reach out only to find its icy touch reaching back.
All of the statues were in pairs.
Each carved in an incredibly moving fashion…
I wasn’t sure what they meant, but it was so lovely. It didn’t really matter. I felt honored to be in it’s presences. My breath weighing heavy at the back of my throat.
“This is incredible.”
“Mara? Did you build this?” I asked looking back over my shoulder.
“Oh no. It has been here, forever. Long before my time.”
“It’s beautiful.” A joy unlike I had ever experienced filled my entire being, there was so much love infused in the picturesque statues before me.
Some had long been grown over with the trees and shrubery, but the feelings of intensity only increased as I made my way down the line. I got a little sidetracked which was pretty normal for me, about two statues from the end. I started to make my way back to the first, when a small inscription set at it’s base caught my eye.
I knelt down to study it closer, my knees gently dropping into a tuft of bright violet colored flowers. Everything was so vibrant you could see the care that was given here, just by looking at all the beautiful colors surrounding us. To my surprise the plaque was not in french, so I was able to read without issue. At first, I read it only in my head, but then Tulipes called out as she made her way to stand beside me. “What does it say?!”
I spoke a little louder so everyone could hear. “Two hearts divided, can finally be one. Always in my heart, and never forgotten.”
Framboise and the others walked across the grass, closely inspecting the other statues. I pushed myself to standing and dusted a little dirt off of my hands. “This is truly amazing, but I don’t quite understand what it all means. Or what it has to do with us.”
A small gasp escaped Tulipes’s lips as she stepped up beside me. “Tosca? Look.”
I wasn’t sure how I missed it before, but there it was now clear as day. The statue nearest the one I had knelt down to read. It took only a moment to realize what I was seeing…
“That’s you.” I choked.
“Yes.” She grinned.
“And that’s… me.”
“How can that be? How could something that has been here for so long possibly have us here?”
A small hand reached out, gently brushing my palm with her fingertips.
“I don’t know…”
Mara trudged across the grass, her cane sinking deep into the earth below our feet. “Many years ago. Long before my time. Long before my mothers time. Eh, it was a long time ago.” She winked. “A strange man arrived on my great of many removals grandmothers door. Her name was Mara too. It is how I got my name. She was a gardener, a beautiful woman and believer in love. The man pleaded with her to make a garden. One that would symbolize love in it’s truest form. She was very taken with the man, but it took some convincing for her to finally agree. He regaled her a story, a story of lost love, devotion and heartache. It was very moving, because it brought her to tears. Sadly the story died when she died and was never told to another soul. I remember as a little girl, making up storied for each other couples. They were all happy by the end, except the first. There is a sadness there. Much sadness.”
“That still doesn’t explain how we are there.” I looked from statue to statue. Suddenly a few more faces looked a whole lot more familiar. “It’s my family…. every generation from the beginning, but how could he?” I scratched the back of my head. This was all very confusing to say the least.
“He never said. They worked on the design for several months, his coming and going, he sketched out the statues and she brought them to life. She was very talented.”
“So it would seem.”
I spent another hour or so just looking in awe. Studying every statue over and over again. There was my mother, my father, grandmother, grandfather. It seemed so surreal. Wait until Tilly sees this, I thought to myself. “Tilly!” I had to call Tilly, she had to see this. I recommended we go back to the house, but Mara held up a hand, giving her niece a forceful glare. With a huff, Framboise pulled a phone from her back pocket and handed it over to Tulipes. It took some doing, but we were able to track the pair down. Mara sent Framboise back to the house to wait for Tilly and Valencia to arrive. She wasn’t happy about it, but she did everything Mara asked of her. Though she made sure everyone knew how much she hated it.
Tilly’s reaction was quite reminiscent of mine. She pulled her signature sunglasses from her face, just to fully take in the awe inspiring view around her. She totally lost it when we pointed out our statue and made an off hand joke asking where she was. “Probably in another garden.” I teased.
We stuck around until the sun went down. Paying homage to the beautiful lives and loves depicted before us. We were in for a surprise as the sun headed over the horizon, a bright orange glow brought them all to life, it almost seemed if they were slowly moving in its light. “I wish mom and dad could see this.”
“They wouldn’t beleive it.”
“Or would they.”
“You had family here once. I almost showed them.” Mara walked to my Grammy and Papa’s statue. “Here. They stayed with me for several days, but I never got the chance.”
Once the sun had gone down, a cold breeze pressed through the trees. We wanted to stay forever, but that just wasn’t possible. The photos we had taken with Tilly’s camera were going to have to do the trick. We thanked our lovely hostess and bid our goodbyes, heading back to our rental car that was still sitting in a ditch a couple miles up the road. Valencia brought with him a small canister of gas, that was just enough to get us to the station outside the city. The village disappeared into the night air, along with our adventure. Tulipes was crashed out in the seat beside me, sleeping peacefully, her head gently bobbing every time we hit a small bump. Though I had found a pretty nice souvenir. The thought of leaving her crushed my soul, but that wasn’t to happen for several weeks. Instead I enjoyed every moment we had with her. Hopefully a few more kisses to be found in between.
We arrived home about the same time, both pairs making our way to our hotel room door. It was far too awkward to have both us and our “friends” stay the night, so we both said our goodbyes and promised to meet one another first thing in the morning.
Oh berry how I wanted her to stay. In just a few days time, she had found herself a niche deep inside my heart. The fact that she felt the same, to any extent at all, still had me reeling. I wanted to say it right there, confess my undying love and devotion, but decided I wanted the moment to be a little more private and special, not with my sister and her guy beside us, it definitely wasn’t right. Still I held her close, refusing to let go. I know it would only be over night, but I wanted her with me always. As cheesy as it sounded, I could no longer imagine life without her. I wasn’t sure if she felt as strongly as I did, but only time would tell.
“Goodnight sweet Tulipes.”
“Goodnight sweet Tosca.”
“Awww aren’t you guys cute.”
“Shut up Till.”
The room seemed a bit smaller after that. Even though we had not spent much time together, it felt as if our already strong bond had been added another coat of sealant. Passing along triumphant grins every time we caught each others gazes, we settled in for the night, telling each other stories of our days adventures. Hers mostly consisted of her and Valencia, kissing in every possible location in the city, but I didn’t care. I closed my eyes and listened intently, occasionally tossing in an “awwww” or “that is so sweet” now and again.
It was a job well done, but I was most excited to see Tulipes when I woke, more than anything else. Soon I was dead asleep, waiting for my dreams to come once more.
Sunlight caught me by surprise. It filled every corner of the park, I rarely saw it in the day. Not since I was a child, it was easy to forget just how beautiful it all was, but seeing it again brought all my childhood memories back to the forefront of my mind. I smiled softly at the swing sitting alone, carelessly swaying in the breeze. Wait till I tell Orange she was right. The thought brought forth a chuckle, which spilled onto the grass.
Soft steps across the grass caught my attention, but it wasn’t until I heard my name, that I actually turned around. “Hello Tosca.”
I was greeted by four figures. Two I recognized, two I did not. The man at the front seemed to be the one addressing me. He looked familiar, but it took a moment or two, to throw it all together in my mind. He was the one in the picture. The one in the folder. The clues. “Hello.” I ventured, thoughtfully.
“I don’t know if you recognize us, but we know you very well, especially this little lady.” The man put his arm around the woman on his right bringing her forward a few steps. “Say hello darlin.”
Crystalline eyes of aqua glinted in the sunlight as she smiled. “Hello sweet baby.”
I paused for a second. Wait… “Grammy?”
“And you said he wouldn’t recognize you!”
I blinked a few times. “Orange?” I asked, pleading to the one person I knew well. Other than Grammy, but Grammy didn’t look like Grammy and I was lost in a sea of thoughts. “Who are all these people?”
The man laughed. “We are all dreamwalkers, like you. The family is chalked full of them you see. Merlot, that’s me.” He said with a wink. “Saffron, Orange, Miracle and you. Well, and your sister, but you knew that already.”
“Right.” I surveyed the grounds. Speaking of my sister…
“No she isn’t here. We came to see you.” Merlot explained.
“You sent me those clues. The fountain, the garden. It was you… but why? Why so cryptic. You could have just as easily spelled it out for me. I wanted to rip my hair out at one point.”
“I could have, but that doesn’t seem like very much fun for a boy with a heart for adventure does it?”
“Well, no.” He had a point there.
“Besides, you would have missed out on meeting a certain little lady if you had taken the easy route. We wouldn’t have wanted that. Now would we?”
The thought ripped my heart to shreds. “No. But, how? How do you know all this? How is it possible to see so many lives before they happen?”
“Ah I can’t tell you that.”
I narrowed my eyebrows. “Of course you can’t”
The quartet shot glances all around, a slyness to their behavior.
“Look kiddo there is a reason we are all gathered here today before you. There is someone who is dying to meet you.”
Merlot nodded. “Oh yes, it took some doing but we pulled many a string to get her here.”
“Oh, where is she?” A small tap on my shoulder, caused me to spin full circle. A woman all in white standing before me.
“Tosca may I present your great grandmother of many many many generations. Chantilly Lace Chiffon.”
“Hello Tosca dear.”
Her loving sweet energy pulled me in immediately. She was adorable, her nose was just about the cutest thing I had ever seen. “Hello.” I smiled. Allowing myself to fall into her open arms, I was enveloped in a hug, a hug like no other. It felt like a barrage of them at once. Like my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and Tulipes all wrapped in one. It was incredible. I buried my face into her shoulder, just as I had done with my grammy, since I was a child. She smelled like vanilla and sugar, like a sugar cookie come to life.
“You have come such a long way my love.” She spoke soft and low, stroking my hair. “I am so very proud of you. You are the tenth generation in a line of a beautiful family, one that I had wished for from a very young age.” I sadly never got to meet my grandchildren, but I always envisioned them to be a lot like you, full of love and adventure. Thank you Tosca. My life’s mission seems a little more complete.”
“You are welcome, but there is so much I want to know. So much to ask.” I turned back to Merlot, but he was gone. Everyone had disappeared. Only Chantilly Lace and I remained.
“Our time is running short.”
Another voice seemed to boom from the sky. “Hey sleepy head. Wake up~” The voice was sing songy, and pulled at me quickly yanking me from my peaceful sleep.
I looked to my hands, they were slowly fading away. Fading as Orange had done so many times before. “Wait!! What’s happening!? I don’t want to go yet! I want to stay with you! Please just a little while longer! Please!”
“Please don’t forget me! Don’t forget us!” She pressed, an urgency hidden beneath the surface. “I love you.”
“I love you too! I won’t forget! I promise! I couldn’t if I tried!” Those were the last words we spoke, before I was ripped fully from my sleep, back to reality.
I opened my eyes to a brilliant white light. It looked as if someone was shining the sun directly into my eyes. The voice from before still beckoning me to wake. I blinked a few times before I closed them again completely. This time squinting slowly I allowed the sun to enter my eyes from the glaring bedroom window at a much slower rate.
For a second I didn’t recognize her. I didn’t recognize anything. The room and everything inside it felt foreign. Long forgotten. Then suddenly it all sank in. “Fairy?”
“Yes. You dork. Who else would I be.”
“I don’t know.”
“I thought you were going to sleep forever.” She teased walking to the far side of the room. Still wrapped in a towel, small droplets of water still speckled her shoulders.
“What time is it?” I asked, looking to the window again.
“Almost noon.” She informed me, opening the dresser.
I rubbed my eyes and looked to the clock. 12:05… “That’s it?
That’s it? You slept half the day away! I have to leave for work now and you aren’t even out of bed yet!
A feeling of dread stabbed me deep in my stomach, the dream was fading, everything was slowly disappearing from my thoughts. I missed it already. I wanted to grasp onto every last piece, but it slipped through the cracks, just like sand through slender fingers pale fingers. I closed my eyes, maybe I could bring it back if I just closed my eyes.
My eyes shot open again. “Yeah? I’m here.” I winced through gritted teeth.
“Yes, I know you are here, but that isn’t what I asked.”
“You asked me something?” I hadn’t heard a thing.
“Just now… Merlot, seriously. Are you even awake? Or are you sleep talking or something creepy. You are acting weird.”
I didn’t know how to answer that. I was awake, or at least I was pretty sure I was awake. I stared blankly ahead. “I had a long night. Weird dreams.”
About what… how in the berry was I going to answer that. I watched as she slipped her stockings over her feet, sliding them high up on her thigh, doing my best to keep all my attention on her. “A bunch of different things. It’s pretty hard to explain. It was a complicated. Most of it is gone now. You know how it is.”
“Must have been a doozy, you have been at it for hours.”
“Well, it is late, I am going to be super late if I don’t get out the door, this instant.”
Fully dressed she came over by me to give a quick hug and kiss before she was out the door. I pulled her closely into my arms. It seemed like centuries since I had been there. “You sure everything is alright?” She asked, throwing me a disconcerting frown.
“I’ll be fine.”
“Now don’t you go back to bed. You have things to do today!”
She blew me a kiss from the bedroom door, before she was clipping carefully down the stairs in her work heels. I watched from the window till I saw her step onto the walk, she was headed safely to our car, so I decided to throw on some clothes. I had a little “honey do” list I was supposed to be working on, so there was no need for a shower. I had barely slipped my pants on when I heard the doorbell ring.
“That was quick.” I chided. “I gave you two weeks at least.”
I rushed from the bedroom door tugging at my shirt as I went. The dream still continuing to fade with each heavy step I took towards the front landing. Not really paying attention, I reached for the handle and began to teasingly berate my wife through its locked but obviously transparent surface. “Lock yourself out again. How many times is this now. I think we might have to-
But the next few words froze in my throat. My mouth gaped open at the realization it wasn’t Fairy who was now standing patiently on the other side of the glass. The door was wide open now and the pale figure standing before me came into clearer focus. Bundled in her arms was a tiny baby. My hastiness to rip open the door had caught the young woman by surprise and immediately her eyes shot up and met with mine. In that same instant my dream came flooding back, only it no longer felt like a dream. No, it was more like a distant memory. Each line of her face felt like home, but all I was able to cultivate in my state of shock was a mystified “Hello?”
“Hi there.” She smiled adjusting the tiny bundle in her arms. “I hope we aren’t intruding. I was just taking Roz here for a walk, and decided this would be a good time to meet the neighbors. Probably shouldn’t have waited this long.” She chuckled brightly. “But that is besides the point isn’t it? Hi. I’m Lacey, it’s nice to meet you.”
She grinned reaching out her delicate hand for me to take. Warily I wrapped my rather large hand, by comparison, around hers and gave it a small shake. I must have looked like a total loon, but my mind was swirling in about three hundred different directions.
Could it be? The elegant figure from my dreams in the flesh? I felt my cheeks flush with excitement and shame. It was obvious she had no recollection of who I was, but even so, I found myself fighting every instinct, to throw my arms around and hold her yearningly close. So carelessly I wanted to kiss those cheeks, that adorable nose I had hopelessly fallen in love with, to greet her like the old dear friend she had been.
Oh Berry, she was beautiful. Perhaps even more so in person, than she had been in my mind.
I smiled again in my attempt to keep a safe distance, but there was no changing the inevitable. This day, this moment, it had all been done before. This was the moment my existence would forever alter countless futures if I allowed it to.
I had one hell of a decision to make, one that could change everything, for better or for worse, depending on who you were speaking to. My life had always been one of fatalistic proportions, but this…this only drove that nail in harder. Was my only reason for being, so that the cruel fates had someone to do their sinister bidding? Given the chance to learn where my decisions would lead me and others that I cherished…Would I be able to make the needed sacrifices that were now so apparent in their calling? Would I be willing to withstand the hardships I would undoubtedly endure to see them come to fruition? I looked deep into her luminous eyes, and felt myself crumble under the weight of my own breath, just the way it had before. I knew my answer, but what right really did I have to refuse? Was it fair for me to be selfish? Refuse to play my part? So many lives affected, all those amazing and inspired souls, the world would be deprived of knowing.
Would Fairy the woman I had so fiercely fought to have and keep, win out? Or would it be the woman I would unwittingly fall for in a moment of passion, one who was destined to bear my child and bring with her generations of light and love? Lacey…What of poor Lacey? I had seen her agony as well as my own. My conscience ripped at the very fibers of my heart, the thought of knowingly deceiving her, a woman one who would teach me more in our brief, yet poignant encounters, than I had learned in all my thirty one years of living. Lessons, I already knew, but if decided upon would have to learn yet again. Undoubtedly doubling all of the pain, all of the hurt, but there was something, something that trumped all the suffering I envisioned in my mind. The love that we would share, the moments I would have to hold her, as short as they were, it all seemed worth it, and after seeing the world through ten very different pairs of eyes, it was all clear to me. My life was merely a stepping stone to bigger and better things. My happiness was and always would be inconsequential. Guess that was part of my curse, but being near her, knowing what I would have the chance to experience, even if only for those few fleeting moments. I knew I would be inviting her not only into my home, but into my heart as well. There by ensuring the rest of my days would be spent, begging for her unknowing forgiveness.
“I was just about to put on some tea, would you like to come in?”