Lily gazed out at the clear blue, placid water. A light ring of trees encompassed the lake. Creation seemed to pause. She was alone.
She was settled in the shadowy embrace of a willow tree. Lily had always loved willow trees; the way their branches seemed to flow out like a green waterfall pouring into the lake, and the way they seemed to dance in the breeze. Most of all, she loved how the tree's branches would make a little enclosing, a microcosm of sorts. Her own personal world to escape the pressures and worries of reality, and protecting her from the dangers that lie just outside of this little nook.
Nobody knew about this hidden place. She had journeyed here once, in good humor and ambition. Today though, she sat, silent under the tree, with glazed eyes and a single drop of anguish rolling down her left cheek. Nothing catastrophic had happened that day. Nothing that would end the world, but it was rather as if someone had added a small final drop of water into Lily's glass, already full to the brim, causing it to overflow. She tried to direct her thoughts elsewhere and to think of happier things, but as she gazed into the lake, it transformed into a screen, mocking her by replaying all of the events that had led her to this moment . . .
It was a serene Sunday afternoon in mid-March. The was a slight amount of snow remaining on the ground, lining the streets and hiding under the pine trees, but it was warm. The sun was out, brightening up the town with the first signs of spring. Lily and her friends, Susanna and Emmeline, were wandering the town, enjoying the warm weather that had so long eluded them.
"What an absolutely perfect day!" Lily exclaimed. Her friends smiled, giggling in agreement. Lily was in high spirits, the whole world was theirs to explore. She skipped around, her light blonde hair flowing down her back, dancing along wherever its owner would go. The girls were headed to the park that day, the perfect place to go after a long, ugly winter.
Upon their arrival, Emmeline asked, "What should we do?. The park was crowded, everybody had sprung at the chance to enjoy the nice weather.
"Let's just go for a walk," Susanna suggested.
So the girls did just that. Along the way they threw some rocks into the river, chased the geese, and took some pictures to remember this lovely spring afternoon. After a while, they ventured their way over to a more secluded spot near the edge of the park. There stood a wall of trees, standing tall and firm, almost as if they were guarding a precious treasure, or an ugly secret. As they drew nearer, something strange caught Lily's eye near a patch of weeds behind the trees, and she walked over to scrutinize it. She brushed back the branches of the surrounding plants and crouched down to look at it.
"Hey guys, come here! Look at this!" she exclaimed.
Susanna and Emmeline ran over to their friend, who was wide-eyed in wonder. They too took a look, and were amazed at what they saw. It was a small golden flower with heart shaped petals. It was shining, ever so bright, although it was hidden in the shadows with no sunlight for it to catch. This particular flower seemed to almost be encrusted with diamonds, something they had never seen before or even thought possible. The three girls were in amazement.
"What do you think it is?" Emmeline asked, in a whispered breathy voice.
"I don't know," Susanna said, "Maybe we can show it to some scientists and become rich!" Her mind began to wander at the possibilities.
Lily didn't hear a word they had said, she saw something greater farther up. She anxiously fought her way through more plants and weeds, and came across a dazzling sight.
"Lily! Where are you going?" Emmeline called, as she and Susanna followed their friend through the branches and weeds. They stopped right there, and marveled at the sight in front of them. It was a trail, lined with these golden flowers, leading up a hill into a patch of sunlight.
"Let's go see what's up there," Lily said with determination.
*To be continued*