The guys left to ride Everest.
And I felt good. Really good.. After spending weeks awash in toxic emotions threatening to drown me, I was feeling my feet on solid ground.
Now the only thing threatening to drown me was the unexpected magic, and I was good with that.
I had the guys park the wheelchair at the exit. I wanted to wander around in the aviary a bit. I moved softly through the gardens and caught glimpses of a handful of different species. Once again, there was a cast member here explaining about the birds, but this time, I was drawn into myself and didn’t want to connect with the world at large.
I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to be in a crowd and still feel alone, but as I sat on a bench near a small fountain, birds everywhere, people strolling through, taking pictures, a stillness permeated.
I knew everything there was less than fifty years old, but the design was such, with the stone, and the carved bird houses, and the plants, it felt as if that spot has existed for hundreds of years. It was as if I could feel the energy of the ancients in it, and that’s a good trick!
I looked up into the tree canopy, and for the first time since I woke up, I poked and wondered if God was out there.
I closed my eyes and felt my own breath.
God, I’m sorry I’ve been running. I’ve been so angry.
I don’t want to be angry anymore.
Rafe obliterated me. And I don’t know how to heal from that.
~ 1 ~
But I want to.
Please show me my path, my destiny. Show me, and I’ll walk down it.
Music came pushing into my prayer. It was soft and beautiful and wrapped itself around my soul, pulling me towards it. It called to me, and I knew I had to find it.
I walked outside onto the Trek again and there was a single guitarist, alone, sitting on a chair, playing a guitar made out of soft blue wood. His long dark hair was pulled away from his face and held in a band at the base of his neck, and his eyes were closed. He seemed as lost to the music as I felt.
I moved closer and stared at his hands moving along the strings. The notes washed over my skin, brushing my hair, holding me, then leaving me with a sense of depth and wholeness I had never before felt. Tears welled up from somewhere deep inside me, but I had no understanding of why. I closed my eyes, too, and listened intently to the sound.
As he played, something was happening to me, my exhaustion slipped away like it was being drawn out by each note. I drew in deep breaths in return and felt strength pouring into my cells.
Tears slipped down my cheeks, and as I opened my eyes, the guitarist was staring back at me.
My breath caught, and for a second, I felt like hiding. I felt exposed and vulnerable, and I didn’t like it.
Then I remembered he was a performer in a public place and I’d done nothing wrong.
The music, though, it had felt so intimate, so personal.
His eyes, now that they were open, they were the color of sea glass and I was close enough to see the depth in them, and also the emptiness.
He had one of the purest, most beautiful souls I’d ever experienced, and it was saturating the music he played. He was channeling the angels into each note and I wondered if he was, himself, an angel incarnate.
Then he tipped his guitar up and I couldn’t catch my gasp at the appearance of angel wings artwork on the back of the wood.
~ 2 ~
This encounter was heavenly. I looked around to see if anyone else saw this man, because I half thought the angel may be here in answer to my prayer.
But when I watched others respond to him, I had to let go of that fantasy. Still, I didn’t want this to end. My feet were rooted to the ground, and I prayed Jack and Gwil wouldn’t come back yet.
I stood for his entire set, it was crazy. I didn’t even wobble. Some of the music was happy, songs that brought joy to the people watching, a few people even letting loose to dance. Some songs were somber tunes that I saw bring tears to more than one person’s face.
He was so freaking talented and completely connected to his audience. I was sure I’d never witnessed anything like it before.
When the final song played, I was equally elated and devastated. Not once in my life had I ever felt what I was feeling now, and I’d grown up around musicians and celebrities. Musicians held no special glamour for me.
But this guy…
I politely applauded with everyone else, and as he packed up his guitar, I wanted desperately to go say hello. To say thank you. I wanted him to know what a gift he’d given all of us, in case he somehow didn’t realize.
But I chickened out.
I went back into the aviary exit to reclaim the chair. I pushed it around the corner to where the music had been moments before, but the space was empty now.
I looked both up and down the path but saw no sign of the angel musician.
I took the chair and pushed it up against a wall that doubled as a planter, and I sat down. It was unreal how that music made me feel. I wished everyone could feel what I did.
I looked down at my hands, they were literally buzzing. It seemed crazy, but also incredibly cool.
~ 3 ~
“Hey.” A deep tone that I didn’t recognize spoke from above on my right side.
I looked up… and it was sea glass.
I tried to say hi back, but my voice dried up in my throat. He brought tears to my eyes just by standing there, and I was being entirely stupid now.
I wiped the tears away and looked at him.
“I’m so sorry. I’m a wreck today.” I smiled… or tried to.
Moments before, I wanted him to play forever. Now I was just hoping he’d go away.
“The holiday does that to people.” He seemed sympathetic, but not overly so.
He was just standing there, staring at me.
I’d held my forced smile for so long that my jaw began to ache.
He was staring at me.
I rolled my eyes and fought for something to say.
“Your music is beautiful.” It wasn’t what I was going for, but it was honest.
“Thank you. You were beautiful in it.” He looked at me as if I were a puzzle to figure out.
What the hell did that even mean?
“I should go?” I meant to say that as a statement, but it came out a question.
I honestly wasn’t sure what I should do. Go, stay, tell him I think he was the answer to my prayers…
Yeah, probably not that.
“You here alone? Local?” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and glanced at it briefly before putting it away and turning to look at me again.
“Alone, no. My friends went to ride Everest.” I pointed in the general direction, as if he needed to know that information. “Uh, but local, yeah.”
~ 4 ~
This suddenly felt like a job interview.
One I was failing.
I wished we could go back to a few minutes earlier when there were no words, just music.
Not that I thought he was hitting on me or anything, I was just so over men. I know I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever get involved with another romantic entanglement as long as I ever, ever live.
I poked out at God again.
So if this is your answer to my question… you have crossed wires somewhere.
“I wasn’t supposed to play here today. I was supposed to be at Springs. I was praying, though, asking God about direction, and the phone rang. It was Mak, she’s the entertainment supervisor. Anyway, she wanted to know if I could switch. I sort of took it as a sign.” He looked at me like that would mean something.
I wanted to deny that it did.
And why is he bringing God into this anyway?
“Sure. A sign. Absolutely.” I shook my head in agreement.
“Anyway, I got this offer to play here today instead and I thought, why not. It’s Christmas Eve and being in the parks is always magical, you know?” He again looked at me as if I’d understand his meaning.
“Sure.” I again smiled.
“I probably sound dumb, looking for signs. I just think life is complicated, and we make it worse because we get our emotions involved, our feelings hurt. God just seems simpler than that, I guess. Sometimes I wish I understood him better.” He looked over his shoulder at a baby crying.
I had no clue what he was talking about, but while he was distracted, I stared at him, wondering if he really was some angel and all this weirdness was a test that I should have the answer to.
~ 5 ~
He prayed and that set him up to be here.
I prayed and end up hearing him.
But what was going on? What was the point or purpose?
“If you need to talk…” I prodded a little, enough to get him to look back at me. “I mean, sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger, you know?”
He sighed and I saw his entire body relax.
“I do know. I have a big decision to make. Someone did something really crappy and I have to decide whether or not to forgive them. I’m not sure what to do.” He was a beautifully honest soul and a broken man.
I could see it so clearly and my heart went out to him.
“Forgiveness is usually good, but the real question is what happens after. I think we all do really crappy things from time to time. I told my boyfriend once, he was afraid of hurting me.”
It was Rafe and the irony in this moment wasn’t lost on me.
“I said to him, I guarantee you we’ll hurt each other, but what matters is how we make it right. If the person who wronged you acts in integrity to fix it, then it’s probably worth trying to meet them on that path.”
I had no idea what was going on in his life. For all I knew he’d caught his wife in bed with his best friend that morning, but life was complicated and we had to just take it in tiny bites sometimes.
I watched as tears welled in his eyes, and before I could stop myself, I stood up and hugged him, hard, as if I’d known him all my life.
I was slightly appalled at my behavior, but I had no intentions of apologizing for it.
What was weird, was that he hugged me back in the same way.
“Emotions are weird.” I pulled back, shrugged, and dabbed at my eyes, wondering for the first time if my eyeliner had run halfway down my face
~ 6 ~
today with how often I’d broken down in tears.
“Indeed.” He smiled. “Okay, you’re turn. You helped me. What can I do for you?”
I waved a hand and tried to brush him off because that was just silly, but he looked me right in the eyes, deep, until I felt crippled before him.
“No, tell me.” He took my hand and held it softly.
It caught my breath. I had to look away from him to regain equilibrium.
“I tend to keep things to myself.” I shrugged one shoulder and tried to discourage him.
“Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger.” He smiled as he used my words against me. “You know?”
I laughed because it was silly, and it was comforting.
“I’ve heard that somewhere.” I looked away before I felt too deeply. “I spent the last four years in a coma.”
I looked back at him to see if he showed any signs of oh god this is too much get away from me crazy lady!
But he didn’t.
So I continued.
“Now I’m lost. I don’t know which way is up. I don’t know what I want. All my friends are four years ahead of me on the timeline… I feel like every choice I make hurts them in some way, and sometimes—” I felt the tears overtake me again, but there wasn’t any stopping them. “—I wish I hadn’t woken up.”
And there it was, the absolute truth. Something I’d thought pretty much every day for weeks now but had never had the nerve to say aloud.
He pulled me into his arms and held me while I cried. We stood there on the path from the aviary, tourists walked past us, probably thinking we were
~ 7 ~
crazy. I could hear faint Christmas music playing in the background, and all I could think was that I never wanted to leave his arms. There was safety there… with a stranger.
But he wasn’t a stranger.
I knew this man, not like I came to know Rafe, or how I knew Jack or Nora, or Charlotte… there was something more here, something deeper.
It wasn’t romantic, but all I could think was how badly Rafe burned me. I wasn’t interested in any more deep emotional ties.
I pulled away from him.
“I’m so sorry.” I wiped the tears away again and searched the sky for balance, for an anchor of some sort. “Oh, God, I feel so dumb.”
“I’m glad you’re awake.”
It was the strangest thing, in those four words, I heard a lifetime of promises and commitments, of joy and comfort.
As I looked at him, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas rose to its peak on the speakers in the distance, children were laughing, and pecans were roasting somewhere.
“In this moment, I am too.” I gently touched his face. It was way too intimate, but necessary somehow.
I pulled my hand back just as quickly, and swallowed back the next batch of tears.
“God, Sabrina, I thought something had happened to you!” Jack was breathless as he came from the aviary.
He broke into the energy and caused me to pull my gaze from…
“I don’t know your name.” I knew I’d never see him again, but I wanted to know his name.
“Nic.” He reached out his hand, and I took it. It was warm and still vibrating from the music.
~ 8 ~
“I’m glad I was here today.” I pulled my hand away and gestured to my friends. “This is Jack and Gwil.”
Everyone exchanged the pleasantries and I sat back down in the chair.
“Sabrina, you’re all right?” Jack bent down to look into my eyes.
“Yeah. Nic was playing guitar, I just came over to watch. I should have texted you, I’m so sorry.”
I looked up at him. The glance we exchanged held promise of so many things that would never be.
“It was nice meeting you all, but I’ve got to get to Pandora for my next set.” Nick nodded a goodbye, then caught my gaze for a long moment.
“Merry Christmas, Nic.” I smiled at him. A silent thank you exchanged.
He had a beautiful smile, which he gave me in return.
“To you, as well, Sabrina.” He smiled at Jack and Gwil then wandered back up the path.
I watched him until he disappeared. Wondering what the hell had just happened.
“Hey, you ready for lunch? I’m starved.” Jack picked up right where we left off.
“Yeah, that sounds great.” I tried to inject enthusiasm into my words.
It wasn’t that lunch didn’t sound great, because it did, it was just that my whole being was way off now and I wasn’t sure how to recapture it.
“Onward then.” Gwil did that thing where he swept the air with his hand.
It was borderline adorable.
“So how was Everest?” I managed a lot more enthusiasm that time.
“It’s freaking awesome!” Gwil responded without hesitation. He and Jack began explaining it to me as they started pushing me down the path out of the Trek and away from Nic.
I tried to shift gears and get reacclimated with my friends, but I briefly looked back one last time, disguising it as looking at the two of them.
I wanted to see Nic one last time.
He’d already disappeared, though.
There was nothing on the path now but the memory of magic lingering in the air.
~ 9 ~
Additional chapters can be found below.
The Memory of Magic ~ Samantha Lucas
The kind of magic Sabrina experienced here is very real, but very tricky and not for the faint of heart.
Yes, we’ll see Nic again, but as I keep saying, it’s complicated.
Come with me on a year long journey with Sabrina and her friends as they reevaluate the meaning of life, discover true friendship, and soul deep love.
This story is my gift to the world, to remind us all of hope and love and that even crazy dreams come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.
If you love the story, please share it with your friends and give me a like on social. And before you leave, visit our Artisan and Shop’s Page to see the latest from our beloved friends and creators.
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Thank you for letting me share my heart with you in this story. I pray you have felt moved and that you’re right there with Sabrina as she goes through it all. ~ Samantha