The darkness at the end of the white path called to her. She hadn't been to this spot in over 15 years.
The train ride into town was spent chatting on her cellphone to her partner, Jonathan. He was keeping her abreast of how their business, Fuel Stop Coffee Shop was fairing. He was pure giddy. He hadn't seen his shop doing this well, since he opened it 15 years before. It wasn't surprising to Lucy though. The shop had just obtained a top rating in the Zagat. Last week for example, Angelina Jolie came in and ordered a Caramel Macchiato, and an Oatmeal for lunch. The teenagers, sipping their Frappuccino’s in the corner, were so shocked that one of them spit her mouthful of chocolaty frostiness into her friend’s face just seeing Ms. Jolie. Her life was just like that Frappuccino— sweet and she was loving it.
Unfortunately, that sweet life was taking an unplanned bitter turn at the moment, standing at the forgotten spot. How did she get here? She remembered getting mad at her uncle while sitting watching TV at the house. She had hastily grabbed her coat off the coat rack, as she bounded out the door and headed for the leafless Willow tree sitting in the front yard. Usually hidden underneath long green limbs sat a bright pink swing. When Lucy was mad she had to swing. Even as a child she sat on that swing for hours; pumping her tiny legs as fast as she could, praying that it would take her into the sky, far away from her aunt and uncle. The only saving grace to living with them was their daughter, Jacque. Jacque was her best friend. Today, though, Jacque was not around. She was still in Germany at a conference.
Shaking her head, she tried to clear out the cobwebs. She didn't remember getting out of the swing and walking away from the yard. She realized she had walked for miles, yet, never noticed the direction she headed or the fact that she had even left the main lane. Turning away from the darkness she saw the staggering foot marks left in the snow. “Blind. Just great, I haven’t been in a blind rage for years, what is it about this place?”
Lucy stood on the top bend of a bridge, clenching the cold red rails. Her arms felt as if they would fail her at any moment and she would drop to the Snow covered ground. Her shaking wasn't caused by the cold; she was clad in a Green Plaid Sherpa coat. Her ear muffs, finger-less glove/mittens and hat matched the rails she was hanging onto. It was her nerve. Could she walk over the rest of the bridge and enter into the darkness? It wasn't hard, all she needed to do was put one foot in front of the other, so that she could face the demons that called from within that darkness. She just couldn't do it right that moment. She needed more time.
Time. Did all the people she loved when she was younger have that same option? No.
Gathering her nerve, she started across. Sliding her feet as if she were ice skating, she crossed over the down slope of the bridge. Hitting the deepest drop, the skating movements failed her. Tumbling down into the deep powder she landed on her backside onto the snow covered wooden planks. “Great, it just keeps getting better.” She whined to herself. “I can’t afford to get sick. I've got to get out of this cold.” She knew somewhere she could go get out of the wet clothes and warm up. “Crap.” Scrambling up on her feet with the help of the lower rails, she gathered herself, brushed off the sticky snow from her arms, legs and butt with her now freezing fingers and headed towards the end of the bridge. Standing at the cusp of the darkness, her breathing quickened, she moved forward.
Following the Path at the top of the darkness, she traveled deeper in to her fear. Looking Left, right, then left again she walked faster to reach her destination without confronting anything living in the forest. Whump. Damn that hurt! Her knees had connected with something sharp and cold. There, hidden in the bramble stood a small rusted, yet familiar gate. Under her breath she repeated, this can’t hurt you, this can’t hurt you… no one is there.
To Be Continued...