ONE LAST MAGIC
April 9, 2003
Revised version, February 22, 2014
“There was something about the garden that invited secrecy. Unannounced in the forest glade, it opened its bowers in unexpected warmth and beauty to those who would believe in it enough to step from the cool shadows onto its pebbled path….”
She stopped and stared at the words she had written. Would anyone understand what she wanted to say? She hated the secret but her tongue froze whenever she tried to tell. She knew the garden. She knew it well and knew what no one else seemed to comprehend. The garden was hers! Built to be a sanctuary from the confines of life but not meant to live in silence. The mage turned to gaze out the window of her cliff-side home into the rising mist of the crashing waves below.
She had chosen this place for its isolation. No one dared brave the tangled rocks below so no one came near enough to discern the geometric shapes of the windows scattered among the natural shadows of jutting rock. If the sun angled too sharply to hide the windows in shadow the mist stepped up its defense with rainbow phantoms rising in wavery curtains among the spray. She’d had a lifetime to build this fortress of living stone; a lifetime of finding even living stone was cold when you walked it alone.
Her pen dropped upon the parchment leaving beads of ink to dry like tears on the page. The flowing silkiness of her robes whispered around her as she got up to pace once more, then turning abruptly she left the lighted room. Her steps, determined at first, slowed to hesitancy as she neared the door to outside. She looked out through the sheer veiling of stone into the garden.
She had almost written it. She had almost recorded the real secret the garden held but who would believe it? Who would accept the idea that what appeared to be just another wall of forest on the far-side of the garden was really a wall of living stone? To those who would listen to the magic within, a door opened into that wall. She had stepped through the door into the garden many times, sometimes to surprise, sometimes to expectancy but never had any been persuaded to walk back into the forest with her. Those who met her there remembered her. How could they forget? But it was as if she was a spectre of the place not having substance in their “real” world. With all her mageries, she was still a prisoner of this island, trapped within this paradise of her own design.
It wasn’t as if this island was isolated from humanity. There were many picnics held in the meadows along the white stretch of sand on the western shore of the island. The sound of children laughing as they picked wild flowers or rolled down the gentle slopes dipping toward the sea could often be heard. The branches at the forest edge have held tree forts of gathered branches and moss. Songs often rode on the breeze. The seas were gentle to the west and the passage to the island was swift and uneventful most of the year. Only the icy blasts of winter or the treacherous icing of the waters stilled the movement to these shores. There was a spirit on that island, they said, a feeling of peace and acceptance for those who took the time to find its shores.
There was a time she even joined them, sharing in their rivalries but the magic of the place affected their minds for when time came to go home. She would be forgotten becoming simply a warmth in the place, a fantasy they felt they had imagined on the bewitched shore.
In her loneliness, she had formed the garden weaving into its conception a spell that would let those who entered it remember her. Creating a way for them to find it, though, proved more difficult. Through the years the island had begun to absorb its own personality from the lives of those who had stepped upon its shore and she could do little to alter the frequented spaces. Only a narrow, faded trail gave a clue to something hidden within the forested wilds.
The garden took so much from her, she could no longer move far enough away from it to reach the shore. A few glimpsed her form among the trees and followed, interest sparked by the idea of a mystery to solve or a prize perhaps to gain. They felt her power on the trail and would travel a short way along its twisting path enjoying the shivers of expectancy when you know you have seen something and yet don’t believe it’s really there.
She sighed, looking out on the quiet garden, still as winter even as its branches bloomed. Her strength was so low now. She could hardly hold her reality beyond the garden’s edge. She could not remember the advent of her isolation, surely it was not meant to have been so but it had become her captor, her creator it seemed. What once she had had the power to make, now seemed to make her. She quailed at the thought and defiantly pushed her hands out through the hardening stone into the garden air. If she let it, the garden would begin to shut her out and she could not accept that. If she lost all else, this was her place of peace and she would not lose it.
She thought of the few who had come to the gardens edge. She thought of the one or two who had actually walked its path in the past few years always yearning for it when away from it but never willing to risk the belief that a magic like this might change their lives.
Would anyone ever come here, anyone who knew what she needed? Would anyone ever herald this discovery in their world? She thought of old stories from her youth. It was like in Peter Pan when fairies only lived if a child believed. “Clap twice,” she whispered sadly, “if you believe.” She raised her face to the warmth of the sun and closed her eyes so the light shown rosy through her lids.
Was it determination or desperation that led her back to this darkening spray-misted room which held the incantation? She would work this one last magic and see what it would bring. She walked resolutely to the table and picked up the pen once more. After pausing a moment to read what she had already written, she dropped her pen upon the page.
“She stopped and stared at the words she had written. Would anyone understand what she wanted to say? She hated the secret but her tongue froze whenever she tried to tell……”
Keaton raised her hands from the keyboard and stretched her neck and shoulders. Sometimes the urge to write took her like that. At those moments she could almost believe there was something to that island beyond her dreams.