by Maggie Scout

If people knew the story of their lives how many would then elect to live them? People speak about what is in store. But there is nothing in store. The day is made of what has come before. The world itself must be surprised at the shape of that which appears. Perhaps even God.~Cormac McCarthy,  The Crossing

Sally sat down on the hand-made bench; a special gift from her nearest neighbour on opening day.  She’d grown quite fond of the neighbour and the bench and did a lot of thinking sitting here.  The neighbour had carefully placed the bench in Golly Gosh’s small garden, maximising the view.  There was something about it that reassured her.  It seemed like a wise old bench and she thought of the carpenter, the craftsmanship, hard work, dedication and love, that had gone into producing it and wondered why and who’d sat on it before her.

A time to ponder.

Sally  looked out across the sea and fixed her gaze on the horizon.  Staring.  It was calm today. She liked the stillness of it and shut her eyes for a moment listening for sounds. There was a dull drone of town activity in the distance. It was the end of market day and she imagined people browsing stalls looking for a bargain and, in her imagination, she selected at random some of her precious Golly Gosh regulars having fun.   And children and grandparents eating candy floss, healthy diet plans giving way to freshly made sugar doughnuts, dogs chasing flying insects and pulling on leads, prams and summer sandals, umbrellas in bags just in cases.

Then, intervals of silence. Almost.  She could hear the waves gently lapping and appreciated the warmth of the sun on her face and a saltiness in the air. There was the hum of bees attracted by the fragrance of flowers in the window box and she pictured them now and gave thanks for this spot; perfect for her adventure into teashop ownership.

This, this venture, was only supposed to be for a short time but it had turned into something other than simply providing tea and cakes for people even if they were Alice’s and unimaginably wonderful. It had become a shelter, a place of rest, a meeting place, a quiet and rowdy place, a hiding place, a nurturing place, a place of creativity and laughter, of strength and wisdom. A safe place; enigmatic and graceful.

She realised the role she played in providing a place for people to ‘be’ and felt hugely humbled but herein lay a responsibility that she wasn’t sure she could honour.

Her breathing had finally, slowly, fallen into a rhythm and she felt relaxed; her finely tuned senses enjoying the stimulus around her.

Sally opened her eyes and noticed someone running on the beach with a dog in tow and recognised the stranger as the man who helped Noah with his kite.  She made a mental note must ask about him.

In the meantime, the closed sign awaited, and she had a decision to make.