The Carriage Driver³ - Debbie
Debbie sat in her living room with her grief. The lights were low, in the background an old LP played softly. Her head was bowed low, both from grief and age. She thought she heard a voice from a distance.
“Momma, I’m scared. Momma, can you hear me?”
With her head still bowed, she thought, “I’m coming Darling, Momma will be right there.” The corners of her mouth turned up ever so slightly, and she closed her eyes for the very last time.
At first, the path was too dim. She took a step with caution. In a moment her vision was as crisp and clear as it had been when she was a teenager. The path was smooth and tree lined. “Darling,” she called softly. “I’m here. Darling.”
“Here Momma, you came. This way Momma.” She hugged her Mother tightly. “This way.”
The two walked hand in hand for a short while. The path narrowed as they made their progress. Soon they came to a fork in the path. “This way Momma. Look at those bright lights on the horizon. Momma, I just knew there would be bright lights waiting for me. I spent most of my life in the glare of the bright lights. I guess I don't have to tell you that.”
“That way, Darling? Are you sure? Those bright lights never treated you well. They enticed you. Seduced by them. When taken away, you did everything you could to maintain that rush of excitement. That red carpet, to tell the truth, never did agree with you.”
“Momma, I had the fastest cars, the most handsome men, the world at my feet.” She stared off in the direction of the shining horizon. This way Momma.” She held out her hand.
“Darling, I know what is down that path. I spent my whole life on that road. So, I am not sure that is the right direction for you or me.”
“Well, can you walk with me awhile?”
Griffin used his newly made bellows to stoke the fire. He decided that the carriage needed new rims. This gave him an excuse to be in the barn near Nuelle on this cold winter’s night. With his shirt off, and a blacksmith’s metal hammer he pounded the metal into the size and shape necessary.
Debbie wandered along the path. “Do you hear that?”
“I am listening to the sound of music coming from the direction of the lighted horizon. I feel the heartbeat of a great party. Momma, do you think they threw me a party? Do you think they are waiting for my arrival? For years I was pursued by so many men and some women also made passes. So, many wanted a piece of me for almost a decade; I had it all. I had the best alcohol, and my pick of men. Imagine that Momma, my pick of men; I just hooked my finger, and they came running. I know you were not always proud of me. The best drugs available were tough to turn down. A life of sex, drugs, and the Hollywood myth is the dream of so many young people.”
Debbie paused and turned. She turned her head trying to determine the direction of the ringing that reached her ears. “You don’t hear that?” She asked her daughter.
“No, Momma. I am afraid, I only hear what I want to hear. You know that. You have always known that. You know, you always balanced your life better than I. You were unlucky with husbands. But, so are many women leading ordinary lives far beyond the spotlight. You could not have wanted that. To be a happy nobody. No movie credits. No leading men. No star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Momma?”
The clanking of Griffin’s hammer against the glowing red metal had the sound of church bells to Debbie’s ears. She had stopped. Her daughter had also stopped. Debbie looked at her young hands and was amazed. The aching in her legs was gone, as were thirty-five pounds and sixty years. The notes of the bells swirled around her soul.
Debbie took a step and embraced her daughter. “I am going to find out where that music is coming from. Are you sure you can’t hear it? Do you want to follow me and see where that path takes us?”
“Momma, I called to you. Momma, you came and found me. To me, those lights in the distance feel right. They seem warm and inviting. Look around; there is nothing out there but the light on the horizon.”
Debbie again hugged her daughter. This time tighter, she held on tighter, like it was the last time. She kissed her one last time. Like so many times in the past, she let her daughter do what she felt was right for her.
“I am going this way.” She turned back toward where the road split.
“Goodbye, Momma. I love you. I wanted to say that.” Then a little louder, “I love you.”
“I love you, Darling. The two women again were parted as they were so many times along the way.
Griffin, satisfied with the first rim, fit it onto the wooden wheel. With metal rivets, he affixed the two pieces together. He found an apple placed there for the occasion and split it into four pieces. He fed two to Nuelle and ate the other two.
Debbie stopped, the music had stopped, and she wondered, if again, like so many other times in life, she was going in the right direction. Then the bells again began to ring. Reassured, she found her way back to the fork and followed what she was sure was the right way.
She thought about the things her daughter had told her. Her daughter witnessed the life she had led. The husband, failed marriages, near bankruptcies. So many disappointments. Debbie could not criticize her daughter for making many of the mistakes she had made.
In a very short distance from the fork in the road, a small glow through the trees reached Debbie. Soon she found herself in a clearing. With her new found eyesight, she watched a large man standing in his shirt sleeves in the glow of the most inviting fire she had ever seen. Behind him, a beautiful white horse stared at her.
Griffin looked up and saw her. He sat the hammer down and bellowed, “Welcome.” He found a rag and wiped his face. He put on and buttoned his jacket. He took Nuelle’s harness and placed it over her head. Both Griffin and Nuelle went out to greet their arrival. “So glad you found us. Follow us into the barn. I’ll get the carriage ready. You will find there is no longer a need to hurry. Most people spend much of their time rushing.”
Debbie pat Nuelle on her cheek. “Hello, Beautiful. You look magnificent.”
Griffin wiped down the carriage. He brought Nuelle to the carriage then noticed one wheel was still waiting. “Oh, would you look at that? I won’t be long.” He removed his jacket and stoked the bellow to get the heat up where necessary. He picked up the hammer and began pounding.
Now, farther along the other path, Debbie’s daughter stopped and turned her head as the sound of bells reached her.
Happy New Year
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Debbie Reynolds - With You I Shall Walk
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