The surrounding trees spread their multi-colored tapestries to soak up the warmth. Then they wove themselves together to create a living picture frame. The matt that highlighted the spectacular picture turned out to be a thick, black ring of pavement, without blemish, that ran underneath the proud trees. Living waters studded with sparkling diamonds formed the masterpiece. My mind’s eye felt every step, smelled every scent of jasmine and honeysuckle and clean-cut grass, saw every perfect leaf in every tree. I expected perfection every time I set foot in this masterpiece. Today, I was wrong. Today, adversity visited me and set me in boiling water to see what flavor tea bag my life’s made of. Today, I found my real answers.
Listen to the invitation of the soft, grassy bank. Listen to her request to come and recline in the sweet afternoon breeze, to toss all strife and stress into the friendly, water and watch them simply disappear. I visited her nearly every day. I strode boldly up to her door, yet pride forbade that I open it. The large oak conspired with the grassy knoll and pleaded that I release my burden. Still, I choose the stifling sun.
Today, a visitor chose to join me. A well-trimmed man with sandy hair, topsiders, khakis, and a blue button down shirt didn’t wait for an invitation to sit down.
I felt his brown eyes boring into my very soul. Still, I ignored him.
He sucked in a deep breath through clenched teeth and pushed it slowly out. “Don’t shut me out, brother.”
Birds called through the warm breeze of silence that followed.
“Wayland, I can’t cover for you any more.”
Sparkling gemstones dancing across the top of the pond called to me. I couldn’t refuse them. Their dancing and swaying punctuated the short bursts of breath of the man sitting besides me.
“Wayland! Hello? Did you hear me? You’re in real trouble and I can’t cover for you!”
The gemstone’s leaps were timed perfectly with the stomping of his feet as he desperately tried to get my attention.
“Wayland! The least you can do is to let me out so I don’t get into any more trouble. I can do more to help you that way.”
He did everything he could think of, short of slapping me in the face, to get me to pay attention to him. I wonder what the gemstones would do if he did slap me in the face?
Finally, he spoke. “You make sewage waste look organic.”
Words left my mouth before I could call them back. “Jeff, don’t you ever swear?”
“Really? That’s all that your silver tongue could come up with? Jerk! I got fired because of you. What did I ever do to deserve this? Well, I’m not going to let you walk out on me in the middle of the night. I’m not like all those business partners that you’ve left high and dry.”
I’d never heard complete silence here before. The gemstones stopped their dancing. Jeff’s booming voice even scared the wind. I wonder if he knows how much raw talent he has?
“Don’t bother calling me, Wayland. My new number is unlisted. And, you’re blocked everywhere else. Have the wonderfully long, depressing and lonely life that you so desperately want.”
I didn’t hear him leave.
He left behind the silence.
I filled the silence with the rhythmic pounding of words. “God hates me. God is mad at me. God hates me. God is mad at me. He hates me. He’s mad at me.” Endless words.
I stayed as long as I could muster. Finally, I left my favorite haven. Back across the finely manicured lawns, past a kaleidoscope of colors in the gardens, past the boxed hedges. I stopped at the french doors embedded in the rock walls that made up southwest corner of the west wing of my house. “I shall miss you most of all scarecrow.”
I threw off my shoes and scrunched my toes in the think beige carpet. I looked up and expected a sudden release of tension. Nothing Happened. “Unbelievable. I can’t be this stressed. Divert my attention. Try some work That’ll help.”
I ran my fingers along the built-in bookshelves until I found the paperwork that I needed. “Perkins Investments, surely that one’s still viable.”
I flipped the switch to the dual monitors. I heard the soft humming of the computer in the cabinet come to life. I keyed in the access codes and navigated to the monitoring program that kept the latest stats on Perkins. Debt to equity ratio, free cash flow, earnings per share, and pages of other numbers appeared before me. I looked at the numbers and compared them to the paperwork in front of me.
Beads of sweat dripped onto the pages on the desk.
I snatched up the thick folders of paperwork and flung them violently at the couch. Pieces of paperwork exploded into the air like a blizzard and flittered merrily onto and around the couch. “Damn it!”
A happy voice contentedly answered. “You called?”
I turned towards the door to the living room and looked at the shapely brunette. “Since when does damn it sound like Anna?”
“Oh, I don’t know. You’ve been calling me all sorts of things lately. “ Anna replied sweetly.
I stared blankly back.
“Is there something that I can help you with? Perhaps I can refresh your drink? Sun tan lotion? Perhaps a light snack?”
“I’m fine, Anna.”
“Oh, I know. I see that your work is keeping you quite busy. It looks like you’ve developed a new way to organize your client’s papers. Very new age design for the couch too. Let me know how that works for you. I’ll make sure to keep the children quiet so that they won’t disturb you.”
I rolled my eyes. “Anna, we don’t have any children.”
Anna cocked her head and replied with smooth silk. “Then it should be easy to keep them quiet, shouldn’t it?”
“You are such a wonderful wife. What would I do without you?”
Anna clasped her hands under her chin. “I’m sure that you could come up with a few things if you try. Do try my love.”
“Oooooo. I just love sharing quality time with you, but I do need to clean the house before dinner.”
“Happy cleaning my love, perhaps the maid missed something.”
Anna turned to leave, then stopped and turned back. “Oh, I almost forgot. I’m having drinks with your brother. Would you like me to bring something back for you?”
“With my brother?”
Anna’s smiled deepened, which only increased her natural beauty. “He stopped by the house before he left. He shared with me what a wonderful conversation that he had with you out in your haven. I’ll make sure to give him your love.”
“Don’t drink too much my love. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.”
“You’re so sweet. Tata my love. Don’t wait up for me, I won’t be coming back.”
I watched her walk to the front door and down the path to her car. The BMW started with ease and off she went. I stared down the driveway for a long time.