While waiting by Dorota De Cruz
Her steps appeared less graceful for the first time in her life; this time heavier, almost as if they were taken in slow motion. Her legs suddenly felt too heavy to move in her usual swift manner. All the burdens of her past and her present wrapped themselves around her legs like thick tree vines, and today, the knots that formed and held her energy captive for so long felt even tighter. Each minute becoming more mundane than the last. Adding “unemployed” to her already dreary status of fifty-five and divorced was not part of her life itinerary that she had imagined so vividly. She never feared failure until now, when it suddenly felt too close and too real. Alas, a park bench appeared even closer than she could even dream of. Despite the still damp coating of fall leaves that covered most of it, she fell onto them with no hesitation, leaned back, closed her eyes, and took the deepest breath she has ever taken. Her entire being was trying to catch all the delicate autumn sun rays as if they were the ingredients to her dreams that were yet to come true. These tiny joyous snippets of what she could still become were overpowered by reminders of her current reality. They say life flashes before your eyes during a near death experience. She was waiting.
Suddenly, she hears a series of knocks coming from right beside her. Not those of a woodpecker on a tree, but as if they were coming from an ancient wooden door nearby. “Knock, Knock,” says a voice from underneath the bench. “Who’s there?” she then comically replied. “It’s me, over here. I’m just a little, black notebook.” The woman uncertain of whether she was hallucinating, or she was in fact hearing a voice introducing themselves as a notebook, slowly raised herself up from a leaning position and started to look around. With a little help from the wind blowing away some leaves from underneath the bench and the sun shedding some light through the slats she was finally able to see whom, or rather what was behind the stoic voice and the knocking she heard. Still in disbelief of what she might have heard, she picked the notebook up and wiped the dark cover of dirt and debris. “Don’t be afraid, open me,” it said. She couldn’t help but to be just that, a little frightened. She stood up and threw the little black book on top of the bench, “Am I going crazy?” she thought to herself. Yet with a feeling of nothing to lose and a bit of curiosity, she picked it up again, hands shaking with uncertainty, and opened it only to see slightly yellow, aged and empty pages of nothing. “Would you fill my pages out? Can you make them less empty?” it asked. He explained to the woman that if she succeeds at filling out all the pages with anything she chooses to in three days and returns it back to the exact same place, something extraordinary and unexpected will come her way. In the most mysterious and magical way the notebook closed itself, still in her hands and became silent. She asked herself one question, “What am I waiting for?” and left.
The blank pages did not remain blank for long. She held her pen confidently, as if she has done this many times before. Not really knowing where to start, she quickly came to a realization that the most rational place to start would be the very beginning. The first several pages she filled were about her life long desires. Her deepest desire was the one for love. All she ever wished for is for someone to love, and that someone to love her back. The pages that followed were filled with her worries and fears; the worry of love not coming her way, the fear of growing old without someone to share all the things she was writing down. Her daydreams of having someone so close to her brought her comfort throughout the years. She always believed this someone would come one day and witness every one of her wrinkles form on her face. On the last day, on the last page, with no doubts, and a big smile on her face she wrote, “to be continued…”
The rain was heavy on the third day, and the winds were strong. As she walked out of her apartment trying to shield herself from the harsh air with her big, yellow umbrella, she pressed the little black book to her chest as if it was a newborn child, protecting it with her life. When she finally arrived at the park there was no other soul in sight. She felt rushed by the gusts of wind, so she quickly left the book underneath and covered it with some wet, sticky leaves to protect it. She stood there and looked around for another couple of minutes while the wind and rain was getting even more unpleasant, hoping to maybe hear from her unusual friend again. Disappointed, she felt as if she was walking away from her destiny.
Feeling let down and rushed by the weather, she walked back home. Her eyes struggled to stay open from the exhaustion, so she dropped her raincoat and the umbrella on the floor and fell into a deep sleep. The very next morning started with a sun ray peeking through one of the blinds that just happened to rest delicately on her cheek. It’s warmth felt like a hug, which instantly woke her up. To her surprise, her body felt free of yesterday’s troubles when she stood up. As she made her way to the bathroom she suddenly stepped into a puddle of water that was left behind by the already dry but still open umbrella. Something stuck to its yellow fabric made it look as if it was smiling at her. She smiled back. When she pulled off what appeared to be a piece of paper, which she was about to toss in the trash, but suddenly, to her surprise realized it was yesterday’s lottery ticket. With much enthusiasm, she logged on to check the numbers. “Ahh, I won! I can’t believe it! I won! I never win anything!” she screamed. She just won $20,000 thanks to someone losing their ticket. Still dancing in the puddle of water, she realized that what happened wasn’t just luck, and that it might’ve had something to do with the notebook. Without any hesitation or coffee, she quickly got dressed and ran out to go find the book to express her gratitude.
On her way to the park she realized that she forgot her coat, but her immense joy kept her from feeling any discomfort in the cold. At that moment it was impossible to put her smile to rest. The energy shift in her life was visible enough for everyone to see. She said hello and smiled at everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path, the path to the same bench that brought her so much good fortune this morning. Everything around her was lit up by the day’s sun with not one cloud in sight. When she finally arrived at the park she saw that her bench welcomed another visitor. A man sitting with his leg crossed at his ankle resting against his other knee on which upon laid a little black book. He was reading it and it looked as if he was almost done. As she walked up to get closer she noticed he was not only handsome but very much intrigued by what he was reading. “Did it speak to you too?” she asked the stranger. He smiled and replied, “Yes it did. There is some good stuff in here. Too bad we don’t know who the author is.” “You really liked it?” she asked, looking for reassurance. His eyes were honest and made her feel safe and comfortable enough to ask him, “Did you have a coffee yet?” The two strangers agreed to grab some at the nearest café
where they took a table in its front window overlooking the Park Street. The traffic of people and the surrounding noise was somehow muted. There were no awkward pauses or judgmental stares in their conversation. Instead, just a simple feeling of “right at home” that consumed them both mutually. And in between them there were no boundaries or limits, just a little black book resting on the table next to two coffees. At that moment he knew he had to ask. “So what will happen next?” As they exchanged smiles, in admiration of one another, she gracefully closed the book and replied, “Don’t wait for it, it will come.”