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The Key to Marie’s Heart

Marie's Key

Marie sat on the wicker chair and stared out at the Atlantic Ocean.  She knew unquestionably that this beach house was home despite the fact that her residence was situated an hour away.  The vacation neared its completion, yet she was comforted to know that she’d be returning next month.  As time passed and everyday stresses worked on her nerves, she longed for the beach.  There’s something so calming and melodic while watching the waves splash against the pebbled shoreline.  The rhythm frequently lulled her to sleep while creating imaginative scenes in her mind.

Though not an artist by profession, Marie revels in art through music, theatre, and a knack for being crafty! As she gazed at the beautiful sunset, she felt a connection more powerful than any other time in her life.  The rays of light kissed the water’s surface and twinkled with every movement.  She allowed the daydream to take its course, so she closed her eyes and rested her head against the interlaced chair.

Magic.  Beauty.  Imagination.  The carnival music resonated from the pier even blocks away from where Marie stood.  She stared at her painted toenails that stuck out of the bejeweled, khaki-colored sandals.  The cotton dress that flowed from her recently larger frame could use some adjustments.  Regardless of the ample room, the dress remained one of Marie’s favorites.  An ocean-blue background with ivory trimming.  The necklace that brushed against her collarbone reminded her of how precious each moment is.  The key-shaped pendant with a fleur-de-lis center symbolized love in its truest sense – the key to unlocking your heart resides in the most mystical of places.

Marie opened her eyes and wiggled her red-painted toes.  Reaching for her wine glass, she heard the front door open and the beautiful sounds of her boys’ laughter filled the air.  She raised her glass towards the sky and toasted to the joy that filled her heart.

*I purchased the lovely pendant from jewelry artists Bob & Kristi Dengler.  They have a variety of other beautiful pieces.  Please visit their website, www.RobertKristi.com, to peruse their collection.*

In Bloom

She entered the museum, her face still wet from crying.  This was supposed to be a joyous event – her honeymoon, in fact.  Instead of lounging by the pool and touring European castles, Millie now sought solace as far away from the scene she just encountered.

 What she saw couldn’t have been real.  That’s what she kept telling herself anyway.  However, the vision remained at the forefront of her mind, plaguing her with doubts and questions.  Everything she believed to be real now shattered in the span of just seconds. 

 “Can I help you, ma’am?” asked the lanky man with a strong Jamaican accent.

 Though her legs wobbled she remained steady and smiled.  “The hotel clerk told me about a painting here, and I wonder if you’d know which one it might be.”  It wasn’t entirely a lie, she had been wondering about the image when its existence was mentioned this morning.  “It’s a single flower, orange in color and in bloom.”

 “Ah, yes,” the gentlemen replied with excitement.  “I know just the one.”

 She chuckled at his jovial nature and followed behind her guide.  She perused the artwork adorning each wall as they ventured through corridors of white.  The vivid colors nearly jumped out of the frame, piercing her eyes and mesmerizing her senses.  As they entered the next room, Millie noticed the bronze nameplate at the top of the doorway: EN FLEUR.  “In bloom,” she murmured. 

 “Oui, Madame,” her guide responded.  “Vous parlez Francais?”

 She laughed and shook her head.  “I speak very little French.  I’m surprised I knew that much.”

 “Sometimes, Madame, we recall what we need to.”

 His reassuring smile reminded her of why she had been so adamant that they vacation here.  She just had a feeling, a very strong feeling, that it would be the perfect start to their new life together.  She didn’t understand why she felt so strongly, but Ian always agreed to her requests, so she wasn’t surprised when he relented rather easily.

 The gentlemen who led her in, swept his arm toward the opposing wall, and she followed her gaze accordingly.  It was even more beautiful than she’d imagined.  Walking as delicately as the flower depicted before her, Millie soaked in every detail.  The midnight blue background twinkled with the stars spaced across the canvas.  Despite its beauty, the setting paled in comparison to the coral-hued flower that blended with the evening sky behind it.  Directly in the center of the five-petal design, a silver moon glowed with brilliance.

 Millie could all but stare at the sight in front of her.  How can one person be responsible for so much beauty?  How did they know at the start that the finished product would turn out as expected?  She closed her eyes, rubbed her hand over her slightly bulged belly and wondered what kind of mother she was going to be.  The only other question that remained was, “Who was the father?”

Flower pendant with pearl, coral-colored beads and silver accents

Flower pendant with pearl, coral-colored beads and silver accents

Patrice’s Garden

Cameo pendant with accents of ivory, maroon, and chocolate brown.

Cameo pendant with accents of ivory, maroon, and chocolate-brown.

Patrice loved this garden more than any other location. That includes the library and music room.

Living in a household full of staff, butlers, and maids, Patrice didn’t know quite where she fit.  It never felt right to her, this idea that someone else made her bed, cooked her meals, and drove her anywhere she needed to go.  Her privacy was nearly nonexistent, except for when she went to the garden.

Seated on the cold, stone bench, she gazed out across the landscape.  Her mother lived just over that hill, yet they haven’t seen one another in years.  “You have a better chance if you reside with your grandparents,” her mother reasoned.  “You are our oldest, the one who stands to gain entrance into society.  Listen to all that your grandmother has to teach you.”  She can still recall the sorrow in her mother’s voice when they said good-bye.

Four years hence and Patrice’s cotillion nears.  The gown selected, her lessons complete, and her independence stifled, the fifteen year-old sat at the cusp of a new beginning.  Suitors would be sought while her life was planned for her.  She could only hope that her new home, once married, would have a garden as stunning as this one.

“Is it not time for you to be getting prepared?”

Patrice turned in response to the inquiry and smiled as Augustus walked towards her.

“My presence is not required until after noon,” she replied.  Wanting desperately to maintain composure in his company, Patrice linked her fingers and rested them on her lap.

“May I,” he asked, pointing to the empty space next to her.

She nodded and attempted to quell her nervousness.  “You are here much earlier than expected,” she finally managed to squeak out.

“My father wanted to speak with yours before the other guests arrived.  Mother was quite exhausted from our travels, an early rest before the evening’s festivities a necessity.

“Is she well,” Patrice inquired, her voice brimming with concern.

“Simply tired.”

Patrice couldn’t tell whether her nerves were due to the impending celebration or in response to the boy she loved seated beside her.  She stared at the abundance of daisies off in the distance and yearned in that moment to be but a flower.  To simply exist, catch the sun’s rays, and drink in every second.  To not have the responsibilities or expectations that awaited her.

“Patrice, are you well?  Your hands are shaking.”

His hand touched hers but only briefly, yet it was enough to send waves of emotion through her body.  If she lingered any longer, she would not be able to complete the task expected of her tonight.  She had to face what was to come, for there was no other solution.

“I must go,” she spoke with haste.  She stood, bowed, and continued,  “I hope you enjoy yourself this evening, Augustus.”

Before he could reply, she left the garden and returned to the life that held everything but that which she desired – marriage to the boy that was promised to another.

Maria and the Lilac Roses

Floral pendant with colorful accents.

Floral pendant with colorful accents.

The summer breeze helped cool Maria’s temper, but the heat only aggravated her plight.  Stuck on a ferry with her grandmother and mother, she wanted desperately to be elsewhere.

Ten years have gone by since her grandfather and father drowned. She didn’t care that it was the anniversary of their death; spending the day between her mother and her father’s mother was not a situation that ever ended well.

The ferry docked, and Maria took her sweet time debarking.  Another year, another day of mourning.  She never understood why these two stubborn, smart, and pigheaded women chose to look back instead of moving forward.  She missed the guys as much as they did, but there was so much more that she could be doing today instead of going on a tour.

“Let’s go, Maria,” her mother yelled.  “We’re going to be late, and they’ll leave without us.”

“Helen, don’t shout at her,” my grandmother interjected.

Maria rolled her eyes as the women continued to bicker, sheepishly smiling at the interested passengers.  “This is going to be a long day,” she murmured and followed behind her female companions.

 ***

“And over here you’ll notice that the roses are just starting to bloom…”

Maria tuned out the monotone voice of the tour guide and pulled out her cell phone.  A full 24 hours and no text from Hank.  She wasn’t one of those clingy women who obsessed over a guy after one date, even though it was an amazing first date, or was she?  She shook the thought away and grimaced when she noticed no new messages.  She stuck the smart phone back in her pocket and politely nodded at the middle-aged guide, despite his obvious displeasure.

“He’ll show up.” Her grandmother loved to volunteer advice, and it rarely bothered Maria because she was frequently right.

“I doubt it. He hasn’t replied yet.”  Maria rested her head on her Gran’s shoulders.

“Hush, Maria,” Gran scolded.  “Must I remind you how I met your grandfather?”

Maria chuckled and though she could recite the story verbatim, she loved hearing her Gran’s version.

“Well, I’m not telling it now,” Gran whispered.  “You’ve been rude enough for all three of us.”

Gran kissed the top of Maria’s head and strolled back towards the crowd.  Maria sighed and pulled out her phone once again.  Though she intended only at checking the time, what would it hurt to see if there were any new texts?  At seeing the hourglass spin, she scoffed at her teenage-like behavior and slid the phone back in its placeholder.

Yet, in her pocket it did not land.  Onto the ground, nestled in the midst of lilac-colored roses, Maria’s entire life lay hidden.

Calipea and the Falling Snow

Peacock pendant with colorful accent beads.

Peacock pendant with colorful accent beads.

Calipea nestled in the snow, her small frame cocooned in layers of protective apparel.  As the snowflakes tickled her nose and kissed her rosy cheeks, she stared up at the beautiful dance of the falling snow.  The sunlight intermixed with the snowflakes, creating a prism of sparkling light above.

“I’m going to miss this place,” she whispered.

Tomorrow, Calipea will settle in at her new home.  A land much different from her current one.  A home where the sun’s always shining, the temperature is just perfect, and the atmosphere warm and pleasant.  She hadn’t expected to fall in love with the weather, the people, and the beach.  A lifetime of rugged mountains, frigid temperatures and snow-covered roads had been enough for her growing up.  This was her home.  She knew no different and didn’t want to.

All of her friends couldn’t wait to “escape” the chilling boundaries that enclosed them.  To get as far away as their skis could take them.  Not her.  Calipea yearned for the chilled air against her face as she raced down the snow-capped mountain.  The freedom.  The allure.  The independence.  Nothing else calmed her like strapping on a pair of skis and hitting the slopes.  The power in her hands, she zipped passed trees and sped towards her destination.

At thirty-three years of age, this lifelong snow bunny watched the flakes trickle through her fingers and readied herself to say goodbye.  She brushed off the snow from her thermal jacket, wrapped the knit scarf tight around her neck, and headed back to the cabin.  She still had plenty of packing to do before tonight’s Bon Voyage bonfire.  As sure as she was that she’d get homesick for this winter wonderland, she also knew that if she didn’t move to California now then she never would.