by Maggie Scout

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. ~ Mother Theresa

It was a stunning day and she was glad she’d made the effort to get out of the cottage and take the short walk along the beach that brought her predictably to her beloved Golly Gosh with its heart shaped pebbles.

She sat in her usual spot watching Sally and Alice bustle about making everyone feel welcome.  She’d come to recognise that people became friends here.

My it was bright; almost too warm and she wished she’d ordered a cool drink instead of her usual Earl Grey.  There was always time.  This was progress.

She squinted her eyes as the glare bounced off the big wide open shuttered windows and streamed into the room.  She followed it as it came to rest on the silver heads of two older ladies out for their regular Sunday afternoon tea. After church perhaps?  She’d seen them often and they’d always been kind enough to acknowledged her but intentionally didn’t pursue conversation, somehow sensing her awkwardness.  As one shielded her eyes the other relaxed as the warmth spread over her back; maybe today she’d take her cardi off.  They listened intently to one another the way only old friends can before throwing their heads back and roaring with laughter; glasses off and wiping sparkly eyes.   It warmed her heart to watch and one couldn’t  help but wonder what their younger versions were like.  They reminded her of her mother.

Suddenly the presence of happier times flooded her memory: sunshine and laughter and driving in the car with the hood down listening to favourite tunes and sunglasses and summer dresses and a light tan; mum and learning to ride a bike and the endless school summer holidays and winters with White Fang and Secret Seven adventures.  Life with purpose; relaxing and free.

Right from the start she’d thought of this place as her shelter.  How she’d needed the peace and quiet.  She liked Sally and Alice and had come to enjoy their gentle company over the months.  She’d never felt like a stranger and it was Sally’s special gift.  People always left feeling better; talking, listening, being.  And Alice, lovely Alice, baked the best cakes in the world!

Her thoughts were interrupted as colourful bags burst through the door and like breaking glass the laughter of shopping girls shattered the calm of the place. But it wasn’t disturbing, rather it was refreshingly curious. She admitted a renewed sense of nosiness and that was a good thing; an indicator that her mood was lifting. Who couldn’t be drawn into their world of fun and hope. Well that’s what it appeared.  At once she was envious of their knack of happiness.  And wondered if she could catch it.