What Matters by Diana Elarde

It is the mornings I love most, when I can feel hopeful. My best days start when I slip from the shelter early, walking to one of the many ethnic parts of the city, waiting for the shop owners to start their day. It is a practice I started while I was stationed in Europe. Loving the moment the shops would spring to life; owners turning on light after light, and the sound of the broom on the concrete as the doorways were spruced up for the advent of customers.

Today I watch the German bakery start to stir, but I am careful before I approach. When it is the woman who manages the morning, I know I will be greeted. She may not say anything to me, but she won’t shoo me away like the man does. Perhaps they are married, but I hope not. I can’t imagine her happy spirit being met every day by the anger of that man.

She is moving trays now, making room for the fresh items baked this morning. As I cross the quiet street, she sees me approaching and starts selecting some baked goods. Today, as always, she hands me the bag, a muttered thank you from me, and her body turns back into the store. The ring of the small bell and the turn of the lock are all I hear.

She never gives me eye contact or speaks. Never! I wish I could look into her eyes, woman to woman, and have her feel how much I appreciate her gesture. How do you explain how an early morning treat brings such deep gratitude?

I walk the block over to the park, scanning the area before I choose my seat, wanting to make sure it is clear of the night people who prey on someone like me. This is a special time to me, early in the morning, when the park is abandoned by all leaving me in peace.

Dropping my small pack by the side of the bench, I try to contain my excitement, while looking into the bag. There it is! My favorite; an éclair, with thick chocolate across the top and the richest cream within the middle. I force myself to eat slowly, if nothing more than to relish each bite, each taste.

It reminds me of my Germany days, days when the army gave my life structure and purpose. Times before I was sent to Afghanistan, the dark days of my spirit. What now is my purpose? I struggle to find it, not knowing any more what is best for me.

I grow angry with myself, for allowing dark thoughts to interrupt my morning. Standing, I start pacing back and forth. Not wanting to eat while my aggravation lasts, I place the éclair down. I take deep breaths trying to slow myself down, just like they taught me at the VA.

I stop pacing, coming face to face with my angel of the morning, the giver of my beloved bakery treat. On her face I see fear, her not sure if I’m safe to approach. She extends out to me a small bottle of milk.

“I forgot this,” she says, placing the milk on the bench.

No words come from me. After months of hoping, of wanting her to speak, I say nothing. I nod at her, drifting my eyes downward towards the bottle. She turns, quickly walking out of the park.

I listen to her steps until the distance quiets them. Picking up the bottle a smile spreads across my face. And in the light of the early morning, I sit, pick up my éclair and eat peacefully knowing today I mattered.

Lost Dreams…what happens to them…

By Diana Elarde

It was close to dawn when I came across him. Quiet, dedicated he swept the floor, not looking up. He definitely was not acknowledging me as I approached. It was hard not to be curious, after all how often do you see swept dust turning before your eyes into well, fairy dust. I didn’t know how else to describe what I have never seen before. It challenged normal perspectives and took on the surreal.

I hesitated to talk to him, not wanting to disturb his work, more likely not wanting the magic to stop. My mind conflicted with my emotions. Wanting to be logically but wanting to dance in delight. Neither seemed the way to go.

I would have like to back away, watch from afar and despite that thought, my feet brought me closer. What command had I given my feet that allowed them to do this? Why with each breath did closer become the reality?

“Leave the logic,” he quietly said to me, without looking up.

Leave the logic? I thought. I am not about to do that.

“You can’t be logically in a dream,” he tells me.

Ah, a dream, I acknowledge to myself. No wonder my body won’t obey. That’s the reason the dust is fairy in nature. So if it is a dream I can change it. Or I can play in it. After all there is nothing here that would hurt me.

“Stay out of the pile,” he tells me firmly, eye finally up to catch mine.

“But it looks like it is to play with,” I protest wanting to run through it like I use to with fall leaves.

“Looks can be deceiving,” he adds and turns his back on me while he continues his sweeping.

He wants them for himself I say to myself. So greedy doesn’t want to share even the delight of the fairy dust.

“Not so fast,” I tell him in my executive, command voice. That voice which needs to be listened to, no matter what. “There is no reason I can’t enjoy the dust cloud and colors. Especially the sparkles that you seem so determined to sweep away.”

I move around to his side, determined to wedge myself in his awareness.

“Not fairy dust,” he mumbles. “You can’t tell the difference can you?” He turns again blocking my movement around him.

This is a dream! I tell myself. I command my body to take over my dream, to operate how I want it to. Move to his other side I command, take charge of this situation.

Is that laughter I hear from him, faint as it seems? He is laughing at me and my efforts!

I will not be disparaged I think. This is a dream! My dream!

But he is crafty and I need to think about my next approach. And as I do great piles of dust continue to gather in his sweeping effort. I love the blues, the shades of green that are so light they are translucence. They call to me over riding his presence and his determination to stop me.

Now! I tell my dream held body, move it now. I make a leap, a dream like leap trying to land my body in the middle of the collected flow. He is faster and turns it away making a growling noise as he turned to discourage again my futile attempt.

“This is my dream!” I demand of him. Stomping my foot making my point.

“Lost dreams!” he says to me, stopping me from my move forward.

“My lost dreams?” I question. “Do you have the right to them if they were mine?”

His shoulder shrug, “Does it matter he says?”

“Well if they are my dreams, then I should I have a right to them.”

“LOST DREAMS!” he yells back. “Get it?” he demands, taking his index finger and taping the side of his head in a gesture to make me connect.

“Ok, lost dreams,” I say, moving my arms out wide and then dropping them to my side. “I get it! Now are they mine or not!”

He smiles at me and shakes his head. “Doesn’t matter,” he says. “They are lost, never to be. Once past upon they need to leave. You needed to make them leave so you hire me to do it.”

“What?” I question back. “I don’t remember you…hiring you…?”

“Of course not,” he replies, while on with his work. “No one ever does.”

DElarde, copyright 2014