Summer is almost over. The air is cooling and the days are getting shorter. Our time in this beautiful part of the world is drawing to a close. In a few days, we will be back home: back to the routine of waking up early and rushing to work. I do not look forward to the stress and the endless days that merge into one. Returning to that life does not bear thinking about. I would much rather spend time here, in these woods, listening to the sound of the birds and seeing the greenery of the dense trees.
I guess it is time to go back. I need to organise the clean-up, clear out the fridge, strip the beds. Somehow I have ended up in the mother-role among my group of friends. The result, maybe, of being the eldest child with the parental expectation that I would always be a good little helper. I look around and realise that I have no idea where I am. In my desire to escape the realities of my life, I have wandered into the thickest part of the woods. I turn around and walk back to where I think I was. Surely I will eventually get to the cottage we rented for two weeks if I continue on this path?
Walking through the trees, I come across a clearing and see a gypsy wagon. I am drawn to this old method of transport. I have heard the stories about gypsies and how dangerous they are. And yet I feel the need to move towards this home. As I near the wagon I call out: “Hello?” My only answer seems to be the chirping birds and the sound of the leaves rustling in the trees above me. “Is anybody home?”
The door to the gypsy home opens and before me stands a young woman. Her wavy black hair frames her olive-coloured skin. Her blue eyes seem to pierce deep within my soul. I have the sense she is looking deep within me. Whatever she sees must have pleased her for she smiles and holds out her hand towards me. “Come in Talia. I have been waiting for you.”
How did she know my name? Heart beating, I am drawn to enter her space. Inside the wagon, it is cool. For some reason my fear vanishes. I sense instinctively that this woman means me no harm. “Come sit down with me and we will look at what it is you wish to know.” Was she a fortuneteller, here to tall me my future?
I sit down opposite her at the small table. She smiles at me. “You have come to a crossroads Talia. You have allowed yourself to be persuaded to lead a life that you do not wish to have. You work at a job you do not enjoy, you are to be married to a man you do not love, you have shelved your dreams and forgotten what it is to be truly happy and content. You are to make a decision soon that could either let you continue with this life – or lead you away from all this.”
“You cannot tell me what is going to happen for certain?”
“Nothing is for certain Talia. In our lives we come across opportunities and we make choices. These choices impact on the type of life that we live. Soon you are going to make one such choice. I cannot see which way you will decide. I do see, however, that you feel stifled in your current life and that you desire the freedom of change.”
I look at her and remember all the frustration, stress and unhappiness that I had felt over the last two years. Her words do not surprise me.
“Would you like something to drink before I take you to where you need to be?”
“A glass of water would be good. I do admit I am a little lost. I’ve been wandering in these woods for a couple of hours.”
“The trees can be a little disorientating if you are not used to them. I will lead you out – though I do not wish for your friends to see me. Not everyone is as accepting of my lifestyle and appearance as you are.”
I enjoy my short time withe the gypsy woman. As promised she takes me to the edge of the woods and waves goodbye. As I walk up the track to where we were staying, I come across those who were walking from another part of the wooded area. Normally I would have ignored them and walked straight on. But at that moment I no longer wanted to be a city girl – I wished instead to enjoy the open friendliness of the people who lived in the countryside. Walking with them, I learn about their project to keep the woods safe from development. They tell me passionately about the loss of so many trees and ecosystems in the area. They want to make this woodland a nature reserve and, with the backing of local wealth, they intend to preserve it for many generations to enjoy. What they needed now was someone who would deal with the legal issues.
I go back to the city. But only to tidy things up. I work my notice and give the ring back to my fiance. I pack my boxes and leave behind all the trappings of corporate life. An opportunity came and I made a choice. A choice I have never regretted.
What choices have you made that you did not regret?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
(This post was inspired by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt)