Tuesday, February 19, 2008
“I’m sorry, excuse me, can you tell me please where we are.” I looked down to see the young girl, perhaps 9 or 10, who was addressing me. “Ma’am can you tell me please where we are?”
I looked around, but for the life of me, I didn’t know where we were. I looked again trying to catch some landmark but there was nothing that seemed familiar. Nothing at all.
“I can’t I’m sorry. I really have no idea where we are,” I answered her. It was true I didn’t know.
“Well then can you tell me how I came to be here?” She asked.
I thought for a moment. “No, can’t tell you that either. I don’t even know how I came to be here.”
“Well then,” she asked, although I think she had pretty much given up on getting any answers from me. “Do you know how long we’ve been here?” Sighing, I shook my head.
We were standing on the corner of two streets, but there was no street sign to indicate where we might be. We both looked one way and then the other. There were nondescript brick buildings lining the road. We looked again trying to decide which way to go but I suppose it really doesn’t matter which way you go if you don’t know which way you’ve come.
There weren’t any people around. We saw a milky white cat cleaning its whiskers, a few common sparrows and at the far corner we saw a yellow dog trotting across the street. We walked up the road in silence. It all felt a bit like Alice Through the Looking Glass and I wondered if perhaps the White Rabbit or the Cheshire Cat would appear.
When we got to the end of the road she looked up at me expectantly, but clearly I had no idea which way to go. “Perhaps we should go in the direction the dog was walking.” She said, and so we did. After about 10 minutes we came to another corner and there to the right we saw a large park. We turned and walked towards the park and then through the gates and down the path. At the end of the path we found a beautiful garden and play yard. It was gated with a sign indicating that only adults accompanied by children could enter.
“I guess you’re in luck,” she said to me and took my hand in hers. I opened the gate and we walked through. She got on a swing almost immediately. “Come on,” she said to me.
We soared on those swings for who knows how long, pumping our legs, reaching for the sky, laughing. Then for no reason at all we stopped. We walked further up the path and came to a lovely table set for tea. Though I checked there was no Mad Hatter to be found, nor anyone else for that matter. Since it was certain the butterflies wouldn’t be partaking of it all we sat down. The little girl poured the tea, “I’ll play Mum,” she said.
It was all very delightful, cucumber sandwiches, scones with raspberry jam and lemon cake. The butterflies landed near us and then flitted away. The birds sang softly. Just as we were finishing the yellow dog came walking past.
We got up and followed down a path towards the pond and we saw mothers with strollers and babies and toddlers. They all smiled and murmured hello as we walked by. Down through the center of the park and out the back gate we saw some teenagers laughing together. They had school books and were teasing each other as we walked by. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Williams.” They said together as if greeting their teacher in class. I smiled and waved and wondered about the name for a moment but walked on.
We came to a street light and the young girl took my hand. As I looked down at her it seemed she had gotten taller since the play yard. “Which way would you like to go?” She asked.
As the light changed we crossed over and she let me lead us up a narrow street. At the top of the street was a pretty little white, Cape Cod style home and we walked up the porch and without knocking went into the house. There was something a bit familiar about the furnishings and I wandered over to the piano and sat down.
“Are you going to play?” She asked. Without answering I picked at a key here and there but nothing much seemed to want to come of it so I moved away from the piano and headed out of the front room.
“I think I’d like a nap,” I said. “I’m a bit tired.”
“Are you sure darling? It’s still quite early in the day.” When I turned the young girl had become a beautiful young woman. The front door opened and the yellow dog came in, walked over to me and licked my hand. I nodded and walked down the hall to the first bedroom. I slipped off my shoes and lay down on the quilt. Closing my eyes, I begin to drift off to sleep but I could hear voices from the other room.
“How is she today?”
“Not so well. The Alzheimers is getting worse. I don’t think she remembers much of anything at all.” I smile tasting the lemon cake, feeling the breeze from riding the swings, hearing the teenagers’ laughter, I drift off to sleep.