Bill was on an emotional high. One of the few he had experienced in a long time. Working in the city had it’s advantages, but it also had it’s drawbacks. He always felt crowded, like his life was being compacted. Pressure that left him feeling drained by the end of most days. But not today. He had decided to toss it all for a week and head up into Maine for a little R and R. He had departed Boston about eight this morning, taking the coastal route and stopping in Bar Harbor for a leisurely lunch. Bill had intentionally chosen not to have a schedule, or an itinerary, or even a destination. Those were all the things that he was trying to escape. He had even locked his cell phone in the glove compartment in case the temptation became too great.
Ultimately, he chose to drive northwest into the heart of the state, which is where he currently found himself. He enjoyed exploring the network of secondary roads so common to rural Maine. Meandering, shady strips of asphalt cutting a path through the heavily forested landscape, occasionally yielding to neatly kept farms, their fields pregnant with corn. And then there were the mountains, punctuating the horizon, demanding his attention. This was exactly what he had wanted. He could physically feel himself starting to relax, letting go of yesterday.
As he drove, he entered an area with a view worthy of a postcard. He could not just let it pass, so he slowed and pulled to a stop. Walking around the car he stepped up to an old split rail fence guarding a field of wildflowers. Shades of pink and gold and white swaying freely to the persuasion of a gentle breeze. He breathed deeply of the clean fresh air, reveling in the beauty before him.
He heard it before he saw it. The sound of a child singing as they do, with no particular words or tune, controlled only by the whim of the singer. Bill followed the sound with his eyes until he saw the movement of a young girl , sitting in the field, picking flowers. She had not seen him yet, but when she did, she stopped singing and stared at him before smiling and waving. Bill waved back just as the girl motioned for him to come join her. Vaulting the fence, Bill slowly approached the girl. She could not have been much more then seven, dressed in a tee shirt and an old pair of overalls with the cuffs rolled up, exposing her bare feet.
“Hi” he said as he approached her.
“Hello” she replied. “What’s your name”?
“I’m Bill. What’s yours “
“I’m Samantha, but you can call me Sam. Everybody does”.
“Pleased to meet you Sam. Those sure are some pretty flowers you have there”
Ignoring his comment, Sam flatly stated “You don’t live around here”.
“I don’t” he replied. “I’m just passing through. But I’ll bet you do”.
Without looking up from the flowers she said “I live right over there”, pointing in the direction of a break in the trees. “My daddy owns all this land. He says I am the princess of his kingdom”.
“And I am sure he is exactly right” Bill replied. “I can’t help admiring your flowers. What kind are they”.
“Magic” she said.
“Magic huh” Bill said, chuckling to himself. “And what makes them magic”.
‘They let you be anyone you want to be. That’s why I like them. They let me be me”.
” Well” Bill said. “I guess that would make them pretty special”.
“Are you who you want to be” Sam asked unabashedly.
“Well sure. I mean, um, yeah I guess so. Most of the time anyway”.
“How about the times you aren’t” she pressed. “Who would you like to be then”?
“Well Sam, you know, I haven’t really thought about it. I like myself. I just liked myself better before life became more complicated.”
“When did that happen” she asked?
“I’m not sure” Bill replied, captured by her questions. “But it’s been a while”.
“When did you like yourself the best” Sam continued, now looking directly at him.
Bill pondered the question for a while before answering. ” If I had to pick a time, it would probably be when I was about your age” he said. “I spent a lot of time playing with my friends, riding my bike, fishing, playing ball. Those were good times, carefree times. I can’t remember worrying any. I’d have to say I was pretty happy back then”
“Then you need some of my magic flowers” Sam said, proffering the small bouquet of flowers she had been gathering. Bill took the flowers and stared at them. “Thank you Sam” he said.
“Smell them” She said. “Go on. Smell them”
Bill looked down at the little bundle of flowers in his hand. “Go on” she urged. You will like the way they smell”.
Bill glanced once more at Sam and raised the bouquet to his nose while inhaling deeply. The scent was intoxicating. He could not remember having ever smelled another flower as fragrant. He felt all the stress begin to leave his body. Everything seemed so, so simple.
Carla set her beach bag down in the sand and looked around. The beach was virtually empty and that suited her fine. She had come here to relax and the less people running around the better. She carefully spread her blanket and grabbed her bottle of sun lotion. Sitting down she began to rub the lotion over her body while occasionally glancing out at the waves making vanilla ripples on the shore. She saw a young couple, holding hands, walking in the surf, totally absorbed in each other. And there was a little boy with a small pail walking the beach stopping every so often to pick something up.
Carla decided to take a quick dip and come back and work on her tan. She only had a couple of days before returning to her “mundane existence” as she called it. This was the end of a brief vacation that was ending too quickly. She was determined to make the most of it. Walking toward the water, she came upon the little boy with the pail and saw that he was collecting sea shells.
“You sure have a lot of shells there young man” she ventured.
“Yup” he said.
“Can I see them” she asked?
The boy hesitantly held the pail out for her to look into. “What’s you name” he asked.
I’m Carla. Who are you”?
“My name is William, but you can call me Bill. Everybody does”.
“Well Bill” Carla said. What kind of shells do you have in there”.
“Magic” he said.
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