The youthful girl walked across the street, watching a biker roll past a timid-looking store. The neon lights were off, and the curtains drawn so that no one could peek inside. She pressed on the door but they wouldn’t yield. She knocked. With the door locked tight, she checked the calendar on her phone to make sure today was the right day. Extinguishing her worries, she tried again putting in more force. This time the door swung open, but only just a little. With the door ajar a weak chime put her in a trance, lost in thought. Her hand tightened into a fist.
A brief conversation from her very early life sprung to her mind.“What is it, Elizabeth, my dear?” Her mom smiled.
“Where is dad?” The question was a frequent one.
“He is searching.”
“Rain in the woods.”
“What is that?”
The chime stopped, and she was back again in the doorway. Squeezing past the entrance, she eyed the dusty bookshelves and the spider busy building its lair. She stopped the reception desk. Empty, she rang the bell that was conveniently placed in front of her. She heard footsteps and an elderly individual strolled in front of her.
“Elizabeth, right?” His voice was hoarse and drained. He was barely walking. His very short beard was black, and so was his black robe.
“You must be impatient, so let’s start right away.”
Elizabeth didn’t reply. She was led to an adjacent room with two arm chairs. She took a seat, and sunk into the chair which made her feel uneasy.
“What is it that you want to know?” The elder inquired.
“You told me you have all the answers, I want to know why my father left. Everyone keeps telling me he’s searches for ‘rain in the woods.’ Yet, whenever I ask what that means, everybody falls silent. I need to know what that means.”
“Perhaps they don’t know themselves. Did you ever contemplate that it might have no meaning?”
“I think they just don’t want to tell me.”
“Why is that?”
“I don’t know. You’re the one with all the answers.” Her nails dug into the chair.
“Well, you see,” the elder run his gnarled hand through his bear, “the answers that I have must come from somewhere. They don’t just magically appear to me. Why don’t I ask you a few simple questions? Shall we begin? Do you think the people you’re surrounded with care about you?”
“Can you think of another time when they acted like they do now?”
“Have they ever lied to you?”
“Describe them to me in such state.”
“They look troubled, sad, worried. They put on a fake smile.”
“Now what do they look like when you ask them about ‘rain in the woods?’ ”
“They don’t really have an expression.” The girl hesitated unable to put her feeling into words. She recalled that they usually look baffled. Their eyes wander trying to find an adequate answer. Finally, she uttered, “They look lost and puzzled.”
“Perhaps they yearn for an answer as much as you, don’t you think.”
The girl looked flustered. This is not what she wanted to hear. She came here for a reason, but so far her visit had no meaning. She watched the elder retreat back into his arm chair.
“Describe your dad for me.” He took a breath
“I was young so my memory is vague.”
“Try your best.”
“Mellow, nonchalant, retreated, loving, yet reserved. He seemed to be always thinking about something.”
“Sometimes there is not a single answers, sometimes all answers are correct. Remember that an answer has meaning only when you give it one.” The elder stretched out his hand, “May I?”
She held out her arm before feeling dizzy.
Her eyes opened again to see a man rampaging through the woods. The rain soaked into his black hair as his rage took form. Air filled his lungs, as he let out a jarring scream.
Shaken by the passion of the sudden shriek, the girl woke up to a second image. She saw a man smiling, but not to her. His eyes detached almost without expression. A crowd of a hundred surrounded him. He stood up and finished a bottle of booze, before grasping another.
The girl closed her eyes. Her fists tightened.
Out of nowhere the mountainous air filled her lungs. She saw a man stoically walking through life with an answer to all questions. His face was mellow, but naturally kind. He was filled with a type of peace that is almost absent from the world. He levitated above the problems of a common man, and walked life as he saw fit. The man’s image was framed in a cloud – a mere dream. Behind it a fool chasing it.
The girl came back. She gasped for air. She couldn’t see anything, but after a few seconds her blurry vision cleared up. She maliciously stared at the elder, before she leaned away from the chair in an attempt to stand up.
“What was that?” She yearned to let out a headstrong, angry demand but her inquiry came as a faint, panic-struck question. She was ready to vomit.
“A couple of possible answers.”
“You heard me right.”
“What did you do to me? What were these images?”
“I showed you answers that you yourself came up with, you just never intended to acknowledge any of them.”
The girl tightened her fist.
“That’s right, you came up with them all. First, we have a withdrawn man hiding something. Could it be anger? Or maybe something else equally terrifying.” The elder smiled. “Second, a man running away from responsibility – a common boor. This one is a human filled with an urge for pleasure.” The elder grew more serious. “Lastly, we have a common man seeking enlightenment. This is an individual with a hundred questions who relinquishes everything in hope of achieving a rhythmical peace of mind.”
The girl was balancing somewhere on the boundary between anger and confusion. Out of nowhere came a dose of regret for seeking answers. She looked at the elder with resentment. She felt belittled, and soon the bubble burst. She jumped out of her chair running for the exit. The last words the elder said echoed in her mind.
“Bet you regret meeting a mind reader, huh?” He declared.
Outside, the girl let out a scream. She gnashed her teeth. She screamed until her throat was hurting. She tossed her bag at the wall again and again, until the anger subsided. As she was returning home, she stopped at the bar. Drinking made her feel better. She partied with friends. Drunk, she returned home. She slept in the hammock outside until morning. When she woke up, she listened to the whispers of trees. She noticed the dew on the grass. She relaxed her hands looking at the sky
“What is ‘rain in the woods?’” She asked aloud and answer. “It is a state of mind. It’s a rhythmical peace that is ever-present. It is a stoic nature. It is an endeavor of seeking enlightenment. That’s what I want to believe.”
Walking away, she saw the cloud that was in her dreams.
Running in its direction, she returned home.
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