Rebecca lay snuggled up to the trunk of the enormous old Oak, eyes closed, her breath as smooth as a satin ribbon. It had been far too long since she’d felt such peace, or rather, since she’d allowed such peace. It was as if she were bundled neatly in a cocoon as the wind whispered soothing words in her ears. She closed her eyes and deeply inhaled the fragrant air.
The Oak was a towering giant with limbs stretching out in an all encompassing manner. His name was Your Highness. That’s what she’d named him the first time she made her way bravely through the meadow to climb into the branches and be held in his arms. She was the princess and he was Your Highness. He spoke to her as did the wind and the deep green fluttering leaves as they whipped together in the elements.
She felt warmth radiating through her bones and goodness and truth at her fingertips. The bark of Your Highness was hard and grey with deep groves and ridges. Rebecca used to love working her small fingers into the grooves, making her feel attached. She smiled at how different and difficult it was with adult fingers.
Without moving anything but an arm, she reached to gather a scattering of acorns and prepared to place them all in a little “nest” just as she used to do. Each one would represent a wish or a goal, same as it had when she was a child.
Sighing contentedly, she gave herself permission to let go of the last ten years. The first acorn entered the nest. She would let go of the blackness; acorn number two. She would let go of the unnatural hold the world had on her and she would discover who she was once again with the help of Your Highness; a third acorn. Rebecca smiled from the depths of her very being, once again safely tucked into the heart of what is real.
“I heard she was back,” the women said quietly. “I’d never have recognized her with that spiky black hair if Max hadn’t told me who it was.”
“I know,” her husband replied. “What do you think she’s doing out there? It’s been hours and I haven’t seen her moved an inch.”
“I don’t know. But did you see her? She’s scary. It’s not just her hair that’s horrible; it’s her black clothes and her make-up, too. All that eye liner. She looks like the definition of depression.”
“Maybe she is,” the man replied. “Maybe that’s what she’s doing out there, why she came back after all this time. Do you remember when she used to call it her talking tree? Marilyn said she used to go sit under that tree for hours as a little girl. Then she’d come into the house and tell her all the things she and the tree discussed, like that old Oak was her best friend. I’d forgotten about that.”
“I remember,” the woman smiled. “I’ve missed her so much, Bert. She was like a granddaughter to us.”
“Well, she still is,” Bert declared. “Come on Agnes. Let’s go out there and re-claim our girl.”
Bert was suddenly on his feet, reaching a hand out to his wife. He stood tall and proud, a look she hadn’t seen in a long time. Agnes joined him as they stepped from the porch stair and headed across the meadow, hand in hand.
Rebecca gazed around her, the meadow so familiar, the earthy smells and bird songs. Well, everyone gets a second chance, right?
She let her eyes wander back to the farm house. It had been so much larger, so much grander in her childhood. The wraparound porch seamed to sag a bit, right in the middle where the same wooden rockers, dining set, and porch swing were congregated. It had always been a great gathering place.
Her heart stopped for a moment when she saw the old couple walking her direction. She knew immediately who it was, Bert and Agnes, forever a part of her family’s life. She remembered how much love she’d felt for them all the years growing up, and how much love they had given to her.
At the urging of Your Highness, Rebecca got to her feet and began a slow tentative walk toward them. The next thing she knew she was running and throwing herself into Bert’s arms.
Rebecca burst into tears. It was a lie, she realized. You can come home again after all!