That night, Lily realized she would never be on Oprah. Never sit on the smooth white couch beside her favorite female icon. Never be lauded with accolades about her latest non-fiction best seller that offered the world long-awaited answers to life, the universe, and everything; and, that would spin off into the Dr. Lil show, international speaking tours, tele-seminars, videos, DVDs and cassettes, because Lily still didn’t know what in the world any of it was all about.
Oh, she tried. She read everything: A Course in Miracles, The Disappearance of
the Universe, The Bhagadva Gita, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, You are Your Belly
Button. She even meditated ‘til her body sat across the room from her. She om’d and ah’d
and twisted into contortions a pretzel would envy. She seminared herself into the Guiness
Book of Credit Debt, and still ended up where she began: doing pushups with negative self
talk and drowning in a seemingly incurable sea of loneliness. Now, half-way through the
first day of her forty-fifth year, the realization hit her so hard, tears swamped her face and
fell into the one thing she did know about – soup.
Yes, Lily Bloom knew everything there was to know about soup. She understood the importance of spring water as opposed to tap, organic poultry and meat as opposed to force fed, fresh garden vegetables as opposed to frozen, canned, and pesticized. When it came to soup, Lily was Priestess, Goddess, Master. But, like everything else, she didn’t know that she knew what she knew. People would tell her. In fact, they’d be all over her with compliments. But, Lily believed a loud voice in her head more. Fantastic soup? Are you kidding? How can soup be fantastic? A movie, maybe. A book, definitely. They’re teasing you. Making fun of you. Besides, who gives a poop about soup? Vegetables in water. A piece of beef or bird or fish. What’s the big deal? Won’t make you rich. Won’t buy you a million dollar house. Won’t get you on Oprah. Soup shmoop.
Not wanting the soup to get any saltier, Lily wiped the tears from her eyes and hung up her apron. Fifty-five today and I’ll never be on Oprah, she thought. I feel sooooo depressed.
Just then, a tiny grey mouse scampered across the floor and stopped right in front of her. “Oh, my gawd,” he said, so excitedly his tail flapped on the floor. “YOU’RE the Soup Lady! Hey, Ralph, Lester, come on out here! It’s the Soup Lady” he squealed to a round fat little mouse, and a goofy looking mouse with exceptionally large bunny-like ears.
“The Soup Lady! The Soup Lady!” they squealed.
Lily didn’t have time to think she might be losing her mind. She was so surprised and amused by the talking mice that all she could do was laugh. And oh, how good that felt. Oprah’s white couch popped right out of her head.
“Allow me to introduce myself,” Ralph said, bowing at his chubby waist. “The name’s Ralph, aka Rapido Speedo-I-can-catch-the-cheese-and-stay-free-do. And YOU, are the fabulous Soup Lady!” Again, Lily laughed.
“And Iiiiiiiiiii,” said, the bunny-eared mouse, sliding into the spotlight, doing a full twirl and ending up on one toe … “I am Lester, the big-eared Jester. I can hear all the way to Port Chester (wherever that is).
“And you?” Lily said, to the tiniest mouse who had first appeared.
“Me? Aw, gee. I’m Fred. Faster than lead, that’s why I ain’t dead.” He looked up at her. “And we all know who you are,” Fred said. “We’ve got a pin-up of you in your apron hanging right above our beds.”
“Me? But, why me? Mice don’t eat soup.”
“We’re not your ordinary mice. As you may have noticed, we talk. We dance. We can even fly.” And up in the air they went, circling the kitchen around hanging pots and dangling pans.
“Oh myyyyyy,” Lily sputtered.
Fred, Ralph and Lester were now doing figure eights. Then, Lester flew straight through a sack of flour motioning with his huge ears for the others to follow. And, so they did, all three covered in flour that spelled out the following words as they continued to fly right in front of Lily’s eyes: WE LOVE YOUR SOUP.
“Lily, Lily!” shouted a big towering man whose shoulders could barely get past the doorway he burst through. “What are you doing? They’re all waiting for you. Come, Lily. Put your apron on and get out there!” The big man didn’t see the mice. He didn’t seem to see anything but Lily, and was gone in a flash.
Three tiny grey heads popped out from behind a salt shaker, a butter dish, and a jam jar. “Soup Lady, was he real or a figment of our imagination?”
“Oh, he’s real all right. And he means well. It’s my fault. I really should be out there right now. This is a soup kitchen and there are a lot of hungry people waiting to be fed. A lot of the same people I come here and cook for every Friday. It just happens that today’s …”
“… your birthday,” Fred said. “And you’re feeling bummed out because you haven’t had your ten minutes of glory and believe you’re a big fat failure.”
“Oh my gawd, you’re psychic!”
“Why should I stop at flying? So, here’s the thing. Whatever happens today, believe it. Believe it, here,” he said, pointing to his tiny heart.”
“Not here,” Ralph and Lester said, pointing to their heads. Then Lester added, as his big ears flopped over his eyes: “Listen with your heart.”
The three amigos flew past Lily to her apron and carried it airborne tying it around her waist. Lily picked up the huge pot of soup from the stove as the big man opened the kitchen door calling to her.
Lily entered the large room of long narrow tables and saw the faces of men, women, and children she had seen on many Friday nights; but this time they were all standing, many of the men with their hats in hand … and two of the children were carrying a small cake with one burning candle down an aisle straight to Lily.
Then all at once their voices sang out: “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Lily, Happy Birthday to you!”
That’s when Lily woke up. She felt groggy and felt a gnawing pain in her chest.
“Lily, Lily,” said a grey-haired man leaning over her, wearing a pale green surgical mask. “It’s over. Your heart’s going to be like new in no time.”
Lily closed her eyes and heard Fred whisper: “This time, Lily, listen with your heart. That’s the voice to trust.”
Then Ralph and Lester hovered like hummingbirds and said in unison: “Try your own soup, Lily. It’s filled with love.”
From that day forward, Lily Bloom, bloomed. The negative voice in her head didn’t stand a chance. It went to Buffalo and was never heard of again.