THE KEY. Winner of the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust Unpublished Manuscript Award 2006!
A single bright light within a circle of bright lights, all hovering in endless indigo space.
What did it mean?
A fist pounding on the front door woke me from the dream.
Stumbling out of bed I tripped and landed hard on forehead and palms, making a resounding thud on the wooden floor. “Bugger, bugger, bugger!” I cursed as I got to my feet.
Groaning, sleep-in disturbed, palms stinging, head throbbing, and irritation at the pounding on the door rising, I staggered down the hallway to the door.
Slipping the latch off and unlocking the door I swung it open with understandable early Saturday morning fury.
“What?” I shouted.
“Are you okay?” asked some guy who I couldn’t see because I was still holding my throbbing head.
“No I’m not bloody well okay. I landed on my head when I fell out of bed trying to answer the bloody door!”
The ‘guy’ is Joe, future lodger and confidant, but also the beginning of a threat which brings fear and uncertainly into Padre’s life.
The Circle of Souls introduces her to Quan Yin and the Council of Teachers. When Padre asks who the Soul in the centre of the circle is she is told it could be her if she chose it to be, but she says ‘no’. She does, however, accept the role of ‘seeker of truth’.
Padre is told that it is her task to find the key that will unite the world’s religions and belief systems. She begins by examing the major religious texts of the world, and whilst she finds truths and confusions within each, she does not find the key.
The shadow, a darkness, begins to invade her life, terrorizing her nights. When she and Joe adopt two kittens, Mystery and Marvel, she has no idea that the kittens have been sent by the Council, to protect her and Joe. Mystery, many a night, wakes Padre as she shadow is about to engulf her and swallow her whole, into an endless torment or death. She is a stubborn woman, and the more the shadow tells her what to do, the more she wants to do the opposite. This leads her further into danger, with car accidents and nightly attacks. She is protected by the Archangel Raphael, who has become a friend as well as a teacher and protector.
Jesus, Buddha, Krishna and Quan Yin meet with her and teach her, but most of her communication is with the Council as a whole.
In the final battle with the shadow Padre she is told that Joe works for the shadow. It is a battle for her to choose a side, and she almost chooses the shadow as her friend and guide. When she survives the battle she evicts Joe without explanation.
It is only through her eventual confession to the Council that she learns why the shadow undermined her relationship with Joe. He is the very person she should be trusting.
She goes to see Joe, apologizes, and invites him to move back in. When she explains everything to him he tells her that he had the same dream about the Circle of Souls. They meet with the Council and Padre is stunned to learn that Joe accepted the role of teacher. They have swapped roles many times, but now it is time to work together.
As Padre and Joe discuss what they have learnt their hands touch, over the last piece of cake, and in a flash of understanding she discovers the key.