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J. D. Means

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Fun Little St. Patrick's Day Story

The Gift – for my lovely Irish Rose

By Joseph D. Means

The day was bright and sunny and the forest was covered in a mist that is deep and soundless. You had decided to take a walk on this bright spring morning to clear the cobwebs of the long winter, but looking into the fog, you have your doubts.

What the heck, you think, it will burn off soon and it might be nice to walk through the cool forest before it gets to hot. Lately, the mornings have been cool, but soon give way to the heat of early afternoon, where it lays in stillness. You have made up your mind, so you gather up your courage and start walking.

The sun is shining brightly as you walk down the path from the road through the park. The proud trees with their budding branches will soon show their full foliage as the leaves are already beginning to open. The heat of the sun feels good on your face and shoulders as you walk briskly down the path. You can feel the energy of the old trees as you pass them. “Good morning old sirs,” you whisper to the wakening trees as you pass.

You favor one tree with a fond touch as you pass. He is the oldest in the forest of younger trees. Old and stately, he stands to one side of the park, where he has watched over many generations of children playing beneath his branches. You send your love to him and you feel his love and strength and power as you press your hands against his smooth broad trunk. A shiver courses through your body as you enjoy this short passing of love to your old friend.

Glancing at the path through the forest, you can not help but feel apprehensive as you see the narrow path slowly diminishing in the gray mist that has settled in the woods. Turning toward the path, you set off for your slow discovery of the small forested area that you have traveled so many times last year. This is the first of many journeys that you will take this year, and you know the path well, but this morning it seems strange, unique, and different.

Maybe it is because it has been five months since last your feet trod these somber paths of solitude and quiet reflection. You loved the many walks that you have taken through these well worn paths and surely this year will be filled with many more such journeys of quiet discovery.

With each step you feel the dampness of the mist seeping into your clothing and you smell the rich musky smell of the dirt and the decaying leaves and branches. The silence envelopes you like a cloth, blocking out everything except the silent breathing of the forest, full of the first few hours of the day.

Walking faster, your heart beats rapidly in your chest, as you plunge toward the expectant event that you have not quite yet figured out, but know in every fiber of your being is awaiting along the trail. You are apprehensive about the impending encounter, but you can not help smiling as you walk faster and more determinedly forwardly. You are not afraid because the thought of this meeting fills you with joy and happiness, so you know that it will good.

Your feet move rapidly over the wet leaves that cover the trail. There has not been too many feet pass this way this year as the snow has only been gone a week and you are one of the first to venture into the forest this spring. The fog has completely enclosed around you and you can not see more than a few feet into the trees ahead or behind, yet you feel drawn, drawn deeper along the path toward what is awaiting for you and you alone on this cool, bright morning.

Look upward, you can only see the fog slowly whisking to the upper branches of the trees, still blocking your view of the sky. It is as if you are in a bubble of fog, completely surrounded in a small world of the forest, where only you and a few yards of your world is visible. Your heart soars with expectation and joy. Something is calling you. You are used to hearing voices of disembodied souls, speaking to you of life and love, long gone, but this is something different, something wonderful.

You are not afraid of what lies ahead as you know that it is a present, a surprise, a gift. Something. You can’t describe it. Something. What is it? Your breathing is rapid and your pace is faster now as your silent steps take you deeper into the misty forest. You are nearly running as you expand your world with each step, moving your bubble of time and fog filled reality with each step. You can almost hear the gently calling of the future reality as you rush blindly forward.

The silence is almost deafening as you move along the path. All the twists and turns of the path are known to you from past journeys through this little stand of wood behind the house, but today it all seems new. Not because of the months that have passed since your last walk, but today it seems alien, not of your world, but some place from another time, another reality, another dimension.

Anticipating your reward is near, you slow. You are aware of your rapid breathing as you slow and you concentrate on slowing it and calming yourself, but your joy is filling you so deeply. Your smile has never been so bright as you walk slower, working on calming your breathing and your racing pulse. Soon. I will find it soon. I am near. So very near, I can almost see my surprise, my gift. I can almost touch it.

The sound is so quiet that you almost don’t notice it. It is almost like a whisper over your skin, not quite a sound, but an utterance of pure, playful joy. Yet you stop instantly. It is here. I will find it soon. You see a flash of dim light just ahead on the left side of the time worn trail. Your smile is almost painful as you nearly leap forward. You stare at the spot where the flash of soft green light emanated, so that you do not lose sight of where it was. You hear a giggle. Was that in my mind or was it real? Again, you hear the giggle, followed by a series of soft rhythmic pulses. Almost like a heartbeat, the rhythm of the light flashes and the thrumming in your bones match and grow in intensity as you close on your mysterious quarry.

There is no slowing of your freight train heartbeat as the fog wisps away from the ground where your gift lies. You bend closer to inspect the object. There is a soft fuzzy field of green surrounding it, but other than that, it appears to be a simple box. Small, maybe four inches on a side. Made of some shiny metallic substance. It is smooth with no apparent seams. Just a small cube. Yet it almost seems to have an intelligence. Sitting on the rotting leaves of last falls defoliation of the surrounding trees, it is an ornament like the bright colors that will soon appear in the forest. With the surround trees and the glowing fog it has a beauty that defies the starkness of the rich dark colors that surround it.

The color of the simple cube is rich beyond description as it is like nothing that you have ever seen before. It appears to have a depth that is unworldly with shifting movements subtly welling up continuously beneath the surface. It radiates warmth that blends with the coolness of the damp fog that weighs down over the quiet forest.

“Yeah! You found me.” Jumping, you almost fall over as you straighten up with surprise. Did I just hear that? Or is it my mind playing tricks on me? Yes, I heard it. It was a light Irish lilt that you have heard before. It is a small bubbly female voice that is filled with fun and amusement and love. Placing your hands on your hips, you smile and lean forward, “Good morning,” you reply, unsure but expecting some kind of rapport with this unusual object. “And exactly what or who are you?”

“Well, I am your surprise, silly!” Returns the precocious little voice, like it should be obvious to you that this had all been planned and this adventure was something that you knew about.

Undaunted but all the eeriness of this unplanned and utterly mysterious encounter, you continue unfazed as if this type of thing happened all the time, “Well thank you very much. To say that I am totally surprised would be an understatement. So you have accomplished your mission, little missy. I am perplexed as to what you are and what it is that I am supposed to do now.”

“Well, isn’t it quite obvious?” came the wee voice, “You are to open me. Isn’t that what presents are for?”

Frowning, you draw closer, kneeling over the little green box. You stare intently at it. The amazing colors, if it can be considered colors, [plural] as there is only really one. Continually shifting over the surfaces of the pretty little object, are green and more green. But it seems to be welling up from the center of the object like waves from a green ocean lapping against the shore.

The intensity of your thoughts knit your brows together in concentration.

You start again as the bubbling giggle that wells up from seemingly endless depths of the box, surprises you from your deep study of what to make of this enigma. You are not afraid for it seems to wrap you in its infectious fun filled aura as its simple design and deeply engrossing patterns engulf you.

You sit back on your haunches and place your hands on your hips and you smile, “Well may I be so presumptuous as to ask you how I may do that? There are no seams, no latch of even a door which I can open.”

“Aw, you are not getting into the game. You are no fun! Comes the little voice. You hear a tint of disappointment in the small voice.

“Okay,” you reply, wanting to appease the child. You smile at the {game} you intuit is afoot. “Hmmm? I am willing to play along with you. But let me begin by introducing myself and that way we can begin. I am Rose.”

{Giggling} “And you may call me, ‘Forty Shades of Green,’ Miss Rose.”

Laughing out loud, the allusion to your homeland is not lost on you. “Well, Miss Forty Shades of Green, your name is apt as the intensity and your amazing beauty is beyond description. But in earthly terms, I suppose that will have to do.”

“Why, thank you on your nice appraisal of me.” The box shimmers and rises slowly. The glow intensifies as it rises.

Sitting up straighter as the small object rises up to eye level, you marvel at this new trick. But then you admonish yourself for being surprised at this new display of magical powers. “You seem to be full of surprises, little miss.”

“And you seem to be stalling. Come on, Open Me.”

You hear the mirth in the little voice, even though it is meant to be an admonishment. “Okay, just give me a minute to figure you out as I admire your exquisite beauty please.”

“Flattery will get you no where, Miss Rose. Your legendary gift for gab will not get your surprise delivered.” At this, the little floating box beginning to rotate. It moves along all axis’s as it rotates slowly before your eyes. Pulsing rapid with a green aura that grows as it rotates. The flashing becomes faster as does its rotational speed. You concentrate on opening the object mentally. Daring not to close your eyes or divert your stare you begin to feel that you are correctly answering the riddle that is presented.

Laughter erupts from the spinning multidimensional cube. “Hurray! You did it!” Comes the loud burst of childlike glee.

Instantly a burst of green light causes you to fall over on your back.

You are staring up at the fog covered sky. Up through the trees the fog is awash with an intense green light that almost hurts your eyes. Within the green light, the box expands in all directions. Starbursts of bright colored green light drip from the box as it expands to fill the field of your vision. You are the center of a green orb of light that shimmers and cascades down from several objects that you notice before you. As you read the two foot letters of shining light before you, you hear the words simultaneously hear the voice musically spoken in your ear,

“Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!”

       Web Site: Millie and Honey

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