Beautiful things come together one stitch at a time.
Chapter 37: Decorating Skeletons
Amira was walking along the main street of Waldmeer, greeting the locals, and looking into the shop windows to see if any of the familiar places had changed. It was her first visit back since moving to Darnall. “Hello,” said a lady outside the Op Shop. Amira didn’t recognise the woman but, on closer inspection, realised it was Amelia.
“You look so different,” said Amira.
“Yes,” said Amelia proudly. “It’s all because of fabulous Mirko Merven. He’s magic.” Mirko had, recently, set up a hairdressing and beauty salon in Darnall. He, previously, had a well-known salon in the city but had a midlife crisis and, consequent, sea-change. He considered Waldmeer for his salon but his business sense presided and the larger, busier town of Darnall won over the prettier, seaside town of Waldmeer. He brought with him his most successful program, Makeover in the Middle with Merven the Magician.
Everything about Amelia’s appearance had been updated and improved. Gone was the frumpy, tired, and boring Amelia. She was ten kilos lighter. Her blow-dried, newly-coloured hair had a tasteful, trendy cut. Her stylish, pricey clothes were flattering to her redefined figure. Amira wondered why Amelia’s face looked so much younger but then realised that she must have opted for Mirko’s heavy duty program of Botox and cosmetic fillers. There was no doubt that Amelia looked much better on the outside. However, for all her effort, Amelia looked sad and isolated.
Amira coloured her own hair (these days, there was enough grey to warrant it) but that was the extent of her beauty regime. She felt that beauty was, predominantly, an internal affair. Once, she had visited with Mullum-Mullum, a place in the other dimensions where the residents were skeletons. They spent an inordinate amount of time and money on decorating their skeletal bodies, never realising that they were ignoring the vital, life-giving part of themselves. I suppose, thought Amira, self-love is a process. If a physical overhaul brings more freedom, creativity, and self-worth then the process will add to the person’s depth and happiness. It would be a step closer to realising one’s inestimable worth. If the overhaul doesn’t do that then it is decorating skeletons.
Chapter 38: Destiny’s Gifts
“You look great,” said Amira to Amelia. “You have changed so much that I had trouble recognising you.” Amelia looked pleased. She was easily flattered.
“My friend, Farkas, told me about Mirko,” said Amelia. “They are both worth their weight in gold.” Amelia seemed to have forgotten that Farkas had introduced Amira to her not long ago. “He has just moved house back into his old place on the hill,” said Amelia pointing up the hill behind them.
“Who?” said Amira with surprise. “Farkas?”
“Yes,” said Amelia.
Verloren must have gone ahead with the sale of her house, thought Amira. Although neither Farkas nor Amira could remember it, that house was where they had spent time together as garden spirits before coming to Waldmeer in human form. When Farkas arrived in Waldmeer as a man, he inherited the house and had, ever since, had a strong bond with it.
“With his family?” queried Amira.
“What family?” responded Amelia.
Amira had not spoken to Ide since she had finished looking after baby Lan-Lan. She assumed that Ide had been busy with her baby, work, and Farkas. Ide had been busy with the former but, as it turned out, she had not been busy with Farkas. Although Ide and Farkas had come to a workable childcare arrangement, they had not come to a workable relationship arrangement. Farkas didn’t want to return to the relationship. His heart wasn’t in it anymore. He felt bad about hurting Ide but told himself that she would have no trouble finding a suitable mate when she wasn’t quite as busy with child raising. She’ll find someone more suitable than me, Farkas thought. Ide had already done a lot of grieving about Farkas and it wouldn’t take her too long to move on. She had a sweet, trusting approach to life which had, invariably, served her well. She kept her eyes open and her heart soft to accept what was standing before her each day. That approach saved her a lot of pain.
What Ide did not foresee was that the ending of her relationship with Farkas would, also, be the ending of her closeness to Amira. It was not by either’s intentional design but, rather, by destiny. Ide and Amira’s relationship had been closely connected to Ide and Farkas’s relationship. It was Amira who first asked Farkas to move into Ide’s bungalow. It was Amira who supported their relationship when it faltered. Amira wanted it to work for both their sakes. However, the threads of interconnectedness are complex and, simultaneously, fragile and unbreakable. One must be grateful for destiny’s gifts along the way.
Chapter 39: Return of the Birds
One sunlit morning in Darnall, Amira made an interesting discovery. Behind the bushes in their apartment’s courtyard was a dilapidated fence backing onto the grounds of the original estate. In the middle of the fence was a broken gate. It led Amira into a forgotten back garden. Although the garden was neglected, Amira instantly liked it. The winter sun seemed to shine more brightly as she made her way along the paths, tangled with all manner of abandoned plants. There must have been hundreds of roses. The climbing ones had clambered, unrestrained over and through everything. None of the roses had blooms but Amira could see innumerable buds waiting for their time to perform. The undisturbed garden oasis, also, had a great collection of birds living within its safe walls. A majestic bird of prey perched on the uppermost branch of the grandest tree. It was Aquilla, Mullum-Mullum’s wedge-tailed eagle. On a rustic garden bench, Mullum-Mullum sat quietly waiting for Amira to become aware of his presence.
“How are you enjoying your new residence, Amira?” asked Mullum-Mullum.
“How lovely to see you,” said Amira. “We have only been here a little while but everything is going well. Gabriel is happy.”
Mullum-Mullum smiled. “Do you like your great aunt’s roses?” he asked.
“I love them,” said Amira. “Which of my great aunts looked after the garden?”
“Rose, of course,” said Mullum-Mullum. Rose had left her Eraldus house to Amira, some years ago. Erdo, the forest mystic, had told Amira that Rose was a spiritually powerful woman. Amira had realised that, herself, as Rose had, often, visited the Eraldus house, in spirit form, when she was there. Since selling that house, Amira had not felt her great aunt around again.
“We have a different plan for you now that you are in Darnall,” said Mullum-Mullum. Amira looked at him quizzically. “We do not want you to continue your professional healing practice here.”
“Oh, I assumed I would be,” said Amira.
“No,” said Mullum-Mullum. “We want you to come to the rose garden every morning and I will tell you what we would like you to do each day.”
“Really?” said Amira thinking that gave a very undefined structure to the day.
“You are advanced enough, by now,” said Mullum-Mullum, “to not need the normal structures that humans find helpful.”
“What will I tell Gabriel that I am doing?” asked Amira. “He will worry if he thinks I am doing nothing.” Amira half-smiled and said, “Or, at least, nothing that is reasonably conventional.”
“No, he won’t,” said Mullum-Mullum, “Every time the thought enters his mind of what you are doing, he will listen to another thought which will tell him that you know what you are doing and that he needn’t be concerned about it.”
“Okay,” said Amira. “If you say so.”
“You do not want to burden Gabriel by telling him things that would serve no beneficial purpose,” said Mullum-Mullum. “He trusts you. That’s all that is needed.” In the same way that Lucy and Lenny, Maria’s parents, had had a grounding effect on her, Gabriel had a grounding effect on Amira. Perhaps, that was why Amira never saw him in the other worlds. Gabriel valued this world and felt that this was where the action was. He liked food and sex and going places and interacting with people! He was a man of Earth, albeit, a good one. He reminded Amira to be a human.
“While you are coming to see me in the rose garden,” said Mullum-Mullum, “you will not be travelling anywhere else at night. So, sleep well,” he added with a smile. Aquilla gave a loud squawk indicating that his master was about to leave. “One last thing,” said Mullum-Mullum. “You may have noticed that you are being called Amira, not Vera or Lady Faith as you were called in Long Hill and the Outer Circle. That is because Amira is your Earth name and the Middle Circle (which is where we currently are) is Earth.
Chapter 40: One Stitch at a Time
It took quite a lot of organising and reorganising but, finally, Thomas had a full stable of shop tenants in the Darnall Arcade. He wanted to use one of the shops, himself, but all of the four healing and alternative health businesses wished to stay put and had substantial leases. As Thomas soon discovered, the rent was very low in order to accommodate the ageing Arcade and the low income businesses. In fact, the rent was so low that the Curiosity Shop which, somehow, had a life-long lease was still there even though it had been closed for years. Thomas discovered that the will of the sisters who owned it, expressly said that only a family member was to take it over. Of course, Thomas immediately thought of Amira as it was her great aunts. After consultation with Mullum-Mullum and then Teresa, Amira came back to Thomas with a proposal.
“Teresa and I will take over the old Curiosity Shop as business partners,” said Amira. “She has recently employed a local boy, Dayne, to help her in the Waldmeer bookshop and will be able to come to Darnall a few days, each week.”
“Will you run a healing practice from it?” asked Thomas.
“No,” said Amira. “It will remain a book and curiosity shop. There are enough healers in the Arcade already. Teresa and I want to let something grow organically from what is already in my great aunts’ shop. We need time to do that.” Amira raised her eyebrows slightly and said, “As the rent is so cheap, we have time on our side.”
Thomas felt that time wasn’t on his side. He wanted to get his educational business up and running but was unsure how or what to do. In the end, he and Grace jointly took over the sewing school which was the only available shop. All it had was one huge table in the middle and a poster on the wall saying,
Beautiful things come together one stitch at a time.
Thomas said he would use the table for meetings and sessions when he was ready. In the meantime, Grace was going to run some sewing and craft classes for income. She, also, had her own budding plans for using the space in a healing and restorative manner. She would start simply; offering delicious, homemade cakes and tea and a sympathetic, listening ear. When we are personally transforming into a whole, healthy, and soulful being, we automatically want to help others to do the same thing as it strengthens and accelerates our own transformation.
It wasn’t a particularly easy partnership between Grace and Thomas. Truth be told, Thomas thought Grace was kind but weak and Grace thought Thomas was delusional from too many years of being the Principal. What they did not realise, and would not have wanted to know, was that the future success of their healing and business venture was intimately connected with their achieving an authentic bond with each other. When Amira told Mullum-Mullum about Grace and Thomas, he said, “Perfect. Grace spent too many years obliging her ex-husband. Now, she is ready to learn what it means to value her own abilities and talents. Thomas does not realise the strength of Grace’s growing inspiration. He thinks it is only him with the ability and talent to turn the shop into what he dreams. Grace must learn that everything truly worthwhile requires courage and Thomas must learn who he really is.”
Chapter 41: Right Now
Amira spent most afternoons rummaging through the great jumble of books and paraphernalia in the Curiosity Shop. As there was no hurry, she would sit on the floor with a pile of dusty books and read. Sometimes, she would feel her Great Aunt Rose directing her to certain books. When Teresa was there, Amira got into business gear and started cleaning and doing whatever else Teresa instructed. Amira let Teresa be the boss. Teresa was a business woman. Amira wasn’t.
One afternoon, through the dirty shop window, Teresa saw Bryan walking arm-in-arm with his new girlfriend, Leanne. Bryan didn’t, yet, realise who had taken over the shop. Amira saw him too and looked at Teresa with concern.
“It’s alright,” said Teresa somewhat resigned. “I already know about her. She’s a nice woman.” In fact, Leanne was everything that one would ever saw about a “nice” person. She was pretty and fashionably dressed in a quiet, understated way. She had an equally pleasant and attractive nature, again, in a quiet, understated way. There was nothing about her that was offensive or objectionable in the slightest. “He doesn’t love her,” Teresa said suddenly. “He never will.”
“I know,” said Amira.
“I hear that he is drinking a lot,” said Teresa with a frown.
“It’s pain relief,” said Amira
“I don’t feel jealous of Leanne,” said Teresa, “even though you would think that I would. Who would want to be falling in love with someone who loves someone else?”
“People will, often, take whatever they can get,” said Amira, “in the hope that it will become more.”
“It’s sad,” said Teresa, “and it’s infuriating. Can’t he just say sorry?”
“Bryan has two voices inside him,” said Amira. “One is the better one – stable, amiable, trustworthy, honest, and warm. The other is the one that he is listening to now. The one that gets drunk, refuses to apologise, disregards the position he is putting another person in, proud, and intractable. We all have two voices, perhaps, many more. Every day, if not every minute, we have to choose which one will get our attention. If we choose the higher one, our suffering will lessen and, quite often, completely disappear but it takes humility and trust. The longer we keep listening to the lower voice, the harder it seems to drag ourselves away from it. Nevertheless, all it takes is one second. If we chose something else last week or yesterday or a minute ago, it doesn’t matter. We just need to make another choice right now.”