by John Ludlam
Leaning against the viewing barrier, the wind shaking the reed tops on my right, I was lost in a gaze across the lake, when I heard a great flapping of tree leaves and twisting of branches behind.
‘Why are you here again?’
I was standing on a wooden slatted platform offering a panorama of the lake enclosing a wildlife island paradise. With a quick glance over my right shoulder I saw a man in a green outdoor jacket and floppy hat against the woodland trees; I could just make out a round face against the ribbons of leaves lacing the trees at this edge of the wood. ‘Do I know you?’ I said.
‘I know you.’
Saplings on the island waved their top-most branches in the wind while wisps of milky mist sloped away across the water. A glossy black heron took off from a high perch, soared to an apex, screamed in a dive, pulling out to skim the lake surface before dipping into the water. I felt the chill of the morning breezes pulled my raincoat tighter and half-turned, ‘How?’
‘You’ve been coming once a week for a year now. Before that you both came to walk round the lake, stop here and look across,’ he said, pointing to the island, ‘and let the world go hang.’
‘You still haven’t told me who you are; how do you know so much anyway?’
‘It’s what you know,’ he said.
Was this a side-effect of the sleeping tablets, “occasional short-term delusions with a feeling of nausea”? Should I tell my doctor about this? ‘Are you even real?’ I said.
‘Not in any ordinary sense but each time you recall this experience you’ll be another step along the way. First your spirit needs release from its prison cave of ice.’
How could I break this trance; what was happening? ‘Are you something to do with my wishful thinking?’
‘Not exactly. The strength of your lost love focussed on one person – ’
I couldn’t stop myself. ‘Harry,’ I said. Ducks and geese squawked and honked in a scramble to the lakeside café where a toddler with his mum scattered crumbs on the water.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Your love overpowered your tender spirit. That’s why I am here to help.’
Under the ethereal white sky soft air currents curled about me tugging, pulling at me. ‘My doctor suggested I come here,’ I said.
‘She was right. You have two children.’
‘They live their own lives now.’
‘And have their own families, which is good. Leave behind your memories, turn towards the sun, sense the growing warmth open you up to reveal the rainbow colours of your life. Gently begin to share your love more widely and you will create memories for your grandchildren and others. Then your life will become part of their lives and their lives will be added to yours in nature’s reciprocity.’
John Ludlam: with a career from factory through IT and counselling I need reading/writing for therapy. John is a member of Didcot Writers.
Our Reader said –
I liked the humour in this, the strong sense of place, and the unusual visitor. It left me wanting more.