For the first time in weeks, she felt safe and secure. She felt calm as she sat on a thick carpet of dry pine needles. Deep in the heart of the small cluster of trees, she was hidden from prying eyes, protected from the world about her. No one knew she came there to think, to read and now to write, well, journal, to be more precise. She was finally alone for the first time in weeks.
She had discovered this small quiet sanctuary by chance. Or had something guided her towards it? How many times had she walked past that stand of trees without a second thought? Something had caught her attention though and, on a whim one sunny summer day, she had strayed from the path to take a closer look. The second she had stepped into the hidden clearing deep with the circle of pine trees, a tranquil silence had enveloped her. She immediately felt as if she belonged there. Was something from the past, from another lifetime, reaching out to tell her she was supposed to be there?
Over the months she had visited the small clearing regularly. After several idyllic afternoons spent hidden there, she realised that she wasn’t the only one spending time in the space. Someone had hung some wind chimes high up on one of the branches. Their gentle tinkling notes were soothing as she hid beneath them, sheltered from the outside world, recharging the batteries of her soul.
Now though, as she settled herself on the thick layer of dried pine needles, her heart and soul were troubled. Time was running out. Sitting cross-legged, she stared down at the journal resting in her lap. It was slightly larger than a desk diary with a silvery pink cover decorated with multi-coloured butterflies. Its lined pages were blank. She had bought it on a whim over a year before, attracted by the bright butterflies. She never could resist a butterfly.
With a trembling hand, she opened the small, hardbacked journal at the first blank page and began to write. Time lost all meaning as she poured her hopes and fears into the pages. Now that she had opened the lid on the well of emotions that had been bubbling inside her since mid-winter, the words flooded the pages. Safe in the freedom of her journaling, she wrote about feelings and emotions that she had barely consciously acknowledged. She wrote about love. As her spidery writing covered page after page, the pain in her heart and her soul lessened. Her fears of rejection and of failure and of loss and regret gradually began to melt away. Seeing her own words written down in front of her for the first time, she recognised that she had never been the one at fault. Her only fault was to care too deeply about life and some of the people in it.
If she had known then what she knew now, would she have lived her life any differently?
Turning to the last blank page, she smiled to herself and silently acknowledged that she wouldn’t change a second of it. Reliving some of those memories had made her smile, something she had had little cause to do of late.
Staring at the final blank page, she paused. Over the course of the spring afternoon, she had filled the journal with her innermost thoughts. This last blank page was her final chance to have her say, to say how she really felt. The only opportunity left to write a long overdue letter. It was a chance to say goodbye.
Keeping her handwriting small, she swiftly filled the page with words written straight from the heart.
A warm red glowing light was swathing the clearing. It was the colours of sunset. Time was almost up.
Closing the journal over, its magnetic cover snapping into position, she let out a sigh. A little unsteadily, she got to her feet, brushed the pine needles from her jeans and slipped the journal and her green pen into her tote bag. Glancing round for one last time, she whispered, “Thank you.” then ducked down low as she stepped out of the sanctuary into the late afternoon sunshine.
The sun was low in the sky, almost touching the hills across the river to the north. It was casting streaks of red and gold across the virtually cloudless sky, promising a stunning sunset when the golden orb finally dipped below the horizon.
Slowly she made her way along the path then down onto the deserted stretch of beach. Breathing in the salty air, she smiled. Listening to the waves gently lapping ashore, she smiled. Feeling the damp sand under her unsteady feet, she smiled. Feeling the last of the sun’s warmth on her pale cheeks, she smiled.
It sapped the last of her strength but she made it to her favourite spot at the far end of the beach just as the sun began to disappear. The view was perfect. Unable to resist, she reached into her bag for her phone, ignoring all the alerts about missed calls and messages, and photographed one last spectacular sunset.
The bag fell open and, unseen, the butterfly journal dropped out onto the sand. The magnetic cover sprung open.
“There you are!” came an exasperated cry. “Where the hell have you been? Everyone is out looking for you!”
Long after the sun had set, a gentle breeze blew in from the west. It caught the pages of the journal flicking them over, setting her emotional confession free.