It was Monday morning. As Ben walked through the glass doors of the State Ballet building, he came across one of the older professionals of the company, a friend of many years.
“Morning, Ben,” said the man. “How’s Store Creek going?”
“Morning,” said Ben. “Fine. I suppose.”
Truth be told, two weekends had passed since Ben had seen Merlyn. More, he hadn’t even spoken to her. Nor had he messaged. Every day, if not many times a day, he checked his messages to see if she had messaged him. She hadn’t.
Seeing the look on Ben’s face, his friend said tentatively, “Look, buddy, I thought you were back together but if things aren’t going quite to plan, I have a suggestion.” He waited to see Ben’s reaction. As there was no obvious displeasure from Ben about a suggestion, he continued, “The missus and I have had our ups and downs over the years. I think most people think that we have been very fortunate with our marriage and we have been but, the thing is, everyone has their problems. God knows, we’ve had many.”
A few years ago, when Amira first returned to Waldmeer from Eraldus, she had an unfortunate experience with a Waldmeer couple, Oswald and Billy. They were domestic and business partners and owned the upmarket Hattery in the main street of Waldmeer. It wasn’t exactly in the main shopping strip. A narrow path between the brick walls of two buildings led to a plain, black door which was the entrance to the exclusive shop. It didn’t have a sign.
In Long Hill, at the entrance of the Outer Circle (interdimensional):
“When you enter the Outer Circle,” said Lan-Lan to Vera, “the most pressing problem is recall. On moving into its atmosphere, you will forget who you are and why you are there.”
“If I cannot remember who I am, I will be very vulnerable,” said Vera as she backed away from the entrance at the top of Long Hill.
“Don’t worry,” said Lan-Lan. “The loss of memory is only partial. If you can grasp onto some of it, its return will be hastened.” He stepped through the archway into the Outer Circle saying, “I will be with you.”
Vera glanced backwards to Long Hill but, instead of being inviting, it looked misty and impenetrable. She recalled Mullum-Mullum’s initial instructions,
Think not you can return on the path that leads to the fork. Taken once, it disappears as the choice lies ahead.
Since Gabriel had been living in Waldmeer, he had not seen Thomas. They no longer had their styling-shopping sessions as Gabriel was no longer in the city. In Waldmeer, their circles didn’t intersect. Thomas’s world consisted, almost entirely, of school-related people and events. Kathleen, Thomas’s ex-girlfriend, was the only person he saw who did not belong to school. This morning, Gabriel saw Thomas walking out of the supermarket. At least, he thought it was Thomas, but he had to do a double-take to be sure. Thomas looked like he had aged five years in six months and had unfortunately reverted to his old man’s dress code which aged him a further ten years.
Healing has a chance in our lives when we have exhausted all our other options.
Getting On With Life
Ide was walking along the main street of Waldmeer with her nine-month-old baby in the pram. His name was Landon. He wasn’t named after anyone. Nor did his name have a special meaning. It was, simply, the only name which neither Ide nor Farkas had said no to. Farkas wanted an “unusual, cool name” because he said he didn’t want his son to be like everybody else; something like Blaze, Hawk or Slate. Ide said, “A baby is not a fashion. A little boy grows into a man. He needs a name worthy of his future.” Ide liked names from the Bible – Peter, David or Timothy – or from other religious books. “If not from an important tradition then, a least, a name which means something of value.” Landon means long hill. Nothing particularly inspirational about that but, by default, Landon it became or Lan-Lan as he was affectionately called.
On the way to the Outer Circle (interdimensional):
Vera stood very still. She listened carefully to Mullum-Mullum. She did not want to miss any of the few words he was giving by way of instruction. In his customary style, Mullum-Mullum spoke in a meaningful but mysterious manner,
Think not you can return on the path that leads to the fork. Taken once, it disappears as the choice lies ahead. Both roads will lead to somewhere, but one will be to nowhere.
Amira was carrying the last of the art supplies from Gabriel’s car down the winding track to the bungalow. Gabriel had been driving to Waldmeer for the previous few weekends as he was keen to fix up the bungalow as a country studio.
“Thanks a lot, Maria,” said Gabriel. “Anywhere on the floor is fine.”
“Okay,” said Amira. “I’ll leave you to it. I’m sure you have lots to do.”
She turned for the door which was only two steps away. The entire length of the bungalow was no more than ten steps, probably eight of Gabriel’s. It was just enough room for a bed and a small kitchen table. One single cupboard and sink made up the kitchen. Next door was a tiny room with an old but adequate bathroom. Running along one entire wall was Gabriel’s art and sculpting equipment. As the floor was uneven, he had bits of wood underneath everything. It was a constant reshuffle of the wood to try and get the structures stable.
The past few weekends in Waldmeer, Amira had been seeing a man out of the corner of her eye. She could tell that the man was no longer an Earth resident because he was translucent. That made it easy! If she looked at him directly, he would disappear. He was about her age. Tall, blonde, broad shoulders like a footballer. Amira felt that It was not actually her that he wanted to speak to. She guessed that he wanted to speak to someone in Waldmeer who couldn’t see him. She had no idea who, but life always has a way of telling us what we need to know.