After that experience, neither felt any desire or need to return again to the scene of the accident – the name they finally settled on calling it. Nathan decided that they needed something good to do, so he led them to a nearby garden which he knew and which always seemed to have something in bloom, and certainly at that time of year promised plenty.
While they walked, Mya found a question that started with her short summary of recent events. “So, the suicide bomber thought he would go straight to paradise, but he didn’t. That young man thought God owed him tons of good, but nothing happened there. The minster refused to believe that he was not already perfect, though he was still stuck on a park bench, and the burly man refused to believe in anything at all, even if his own experience proved the opposite of what he was saying. I don’t get it? Why don’t they just say, I was wrong and get on with it?”
Nathan looked at Mya and slipped his arm over her shoulder. She responded by placing hers around his waist. She looked up at him like a girl might look up to her father to explain the hard bumps and curves of life in a way that she could understand.
“I have made plenty of mistakes in my time, and I have generally admitted them, but for most people these days that is not how the world works,” Nathan began. He paused for a moment while he remembered a story. “There was a woman in church way back when Penny and I were going. I remember whenever the preacher started talking about sin; she would arch her back and give him terrible stares. I heard her once going out the door in front of us. Even as she shook the preacher’s hand she said, “Some of us don’t think of ourselves as sinners.”
“But that’s crazy,” Mya said.
“But she was absolutely sincere. You see, the world has become a very hard and fast place. If you admit doing something wrong, and especially if you apologize and say you are sorry, most people see that as a weakness, as something they can hold over your head and manipulate you with. Consequently, most people will never admit a mistake even if they know better, and they will never, ever say they are sorry. Do you follow what I’m saying?”
“Yes,” Mya said. “You are telling me the whole world has gone crazy.”
“Maybe the world is crazy.” He would not object to that description. “But it gets really bad when you think that no one can ever start over. You see, when you admit the wrong and apologize, you get over it and it gives you the chance to try something else, something different or new; but if you never admit that you were wrong, you get stuck. It’s kind of like telling a lie, and then trying to cover it up with another lie, and then another. If you don’t confess, you never get over it. It just gets worse and worse.” Then Nathan added another thought. “I think the whole problem with every one of those men is they are unwilling to admit that they were wrong.”
“What about you?” Mya asked.
Nathan leaned over and rubbed his knuckles gently, lovingly really on the top of her head. He spoke instantly. “Sorry. That was wrong of me.”
Mya pinched him in the roll he still had around his stomach and caused him to yelp. “That might have been wrong of me.’ Mya grinned. “But I’m not sorry.”
Nathan grinned right back at her.
When they arrived at the garden, Nathan was not disappointed. It was as beautiful as he remembered.
“It’s lovely,” Mya remarked. “So charming and quaint.” She was trying out the words, and then she tried something else. She got on her tip toes, steadied herself with a hand on Nathan’s arm, and she kissed Nathan right on the cheek. She smiled as she stared at him with true love and affection in her eyes. No one would have ever guessed that a day ago they were complete strangers.
Nathan coughed to bring her back to the flowers. He also took her to a bench where they sat and drew in the myriad of scents. Mya kept saying how beautiful everything was, and she got up a couple of times to take a closer look when she saw a more distant flower with a new color. Nathan could hardly bring himself to move at all. He was amazed at being able to catch all of the aromas, which were indeed beautiful, and he found he could even pull out the scent of one or more flowers independently from all the rest. Poor Nathan could hardly smell anything after the age of seventy-five or so. Now, the return of this most vital sense was positively overwhelming him with pleasure.
He was startled out of his reverie when he heard Mya let out a little shriek. He bolted to her side, his first run in more than twenty years, but he found her delighted, indeed, enchanted and not in danger as he feared.
“Look.” Mya pointed, and there was a kind of light fluttering around one of the flowers. Nathan looked again, and he noticed that there were several lights in that corner of the garden. Then he looked closer and gave his new, wonderful eyes their first real workout. He saw a little human-like figure with wings, a figure no bigger than a hummingbird hovering over a rose. He noticed, because the light was right then noticing him.
“Fairies.” Mya named them and she clasped her hands together in pure delight. Obviously her seven-year-old world view had no trouble accepting such things. But that was not fair, Nathan thought, because she was clearly now more like seventeen, and he knew it.
One part of Nathan’s mind tried to say that fairies were impossible, but it was another piece of his mind that parted the silence of his lips. “I knew it,” he said. “I always knew this universe was not the way I was taught.” Mya looked curious, so he explained. “Like the burly man. We were all taught that this earth was no more than dead matter and energy, that our minds, our consciousnesses were merely an accident of nature.” Mya shook her head as if that did not make any sense, especially in light of their experience. “But somehow, deep inside, I always knew the universe was alive, everywhere. I bet there are all sorts of things in the real world about which the living with their closed matter and energy minds have no idea.” He concluded and Mya nodded as if to say that now she understood.
The fairy flew up to Mya’s face and then Nathan’s face, and finally began to fly around them in a circle of streaming pink light. Other fairies were attracted to this and joined in adding gold, lavender and pale blue lights to the mix. Round and round they went, faster and faster so that Mya and Nathan could not keep up and began to get dizzy. The two humans drew closer to each other, and eventually held on tight. They got as close as they could lest they inadvertently bump one of the speeding fairies which they could no longer distinguish from the light. Then the circles of light began to rise and for a second, Mya and Nathan thought they were going to rise with it; but as soon as the circles got above their heads, they began to contract in size. They became smaller and smaller circles until it came to a single point and the light and the fairies vanished altogether.
Mya clapped her hands and squealed with delight. If she had been younger, like closer to actually being seven, she probably could not have resisted making the sound. Nathan stood with his mouth open in wonder. It was the most glorious sight he had ever seen! Then he remembered the angel and said to himself, the second most glorious.
Nathan started to let go of Mya, though he felt very comfortable holding her in that way. Mya also did not seem to want to let go, but they did, and Nathan had a terrific thought. He held out his hand, palm up as he spoke.
“Would my lady care to attend the symphony with me this evening?”
“Yes.” Mya spoke a bit loud and much too quickly. “A date?” She asked.
Nathan shrugged off the implication even if he could not stop smiling. “No, no,” he said. “You are supposed to say, “Yes, My Lord. I would be delighted.” And then you put your hand, palm on my palm, and give a little curtsey while I bow.
Mya laughed briefly at the idea, and it was no little girl giggle. She offered her hand and spoke as requested, and then Nathan drew her in to hold his arm again and noted that she was now as tall as his shoulder, and then just a little bit more.