To Feel, A Modern Tale (01.08.11)

CHAPTER ONE

In a small, close-knit town, there lived a young girl who wished for something. Something new, something different. Every day she wished and wished. Would she find a new job? Would the right love come along? Would she ever really know what pure happiness could be for since she could remember, it was only a life of this – safe, ordinary and pleasant. Not terrible, not terrific. “It just is,” she would say. And it was just that. She had longed for a tempestuous romance and to feel sheer exuberance. But never had she known true passion or true pain.

This young woman was called Chloe and though she liked her name, she too was never passionate about this either. “If only I had a name that triggered a stir in my heart like Penelope, Camelia or Guinevere,” she bemoaned to herself. “But instead I must settle for this name – neither horrid nor heart-pounding. It just is.”

And the village that surrounded her charming though cramped bungalow left her just as still and unaffected. The winding streets would carry travelers into CarthMoore and what she saw as a chilly, empty, lonely place. There were shops to visit but nothing interesting to buy, restaurants to stop for a bit but nothing exotic to order and people in the buildings, in their cars and along the streets, just wandering and looking as empty as she felt each time she strolled into town. Would she ever know the sensation of sweet anticipation of a spring saunter into the village? Would she ever care enough to model her best outfit hanging in the closet or make an effort to strike up a conversation with a new person at a sidewalk café? Probably not, she thought to herself. Because it is after all only a village, and everyone knows that a village cannot change. It just is.

But on this day, she decided to take a different path to the village. She wasn’t sure what had compelled her to veer off course. Call it a whiff of whimsy, a dose of dalliance, but she just felt the urge to go running down the lane that her mother had always forbidden her to go. “You mustn’t travel down there, Chloe, for you will see grave things and you don’t want horrible things to happen to you, do you?” she would caution. Yet despite the warning and her avoidance of this horrible roadway, she had experienced such boredom and such listlessness, that this sudden burst of curiosity carried her down the road despite her mother’s orders.

She practically skipped down the path, the laces of her shoes dancing from one side of the shoe to the other as the bottom of her foot hit each stone in a rhythmic tap. What had gotten into her, she wondered aloud. For what seemed like no reason, she was giggling, nearly singing and dancing, with a wry little smile sneaking out between her pursed lips as she gallivanted like a fool. What was coming over her? It was as if she had marched right into a pool of perky and floated sky high onto a cloud of kooky.

As she entered the village, which seemed even quieter and duller than usual, she sensed movement out of the corner of her eye and a sudden rush of heat came over her. It was an odd feeling, one with which she was unfamiliar. Where was everybody, she muttered to herself. Usually people were outside wiping dirt off the side of their cars (it was a dusty village after all) or wandering in and out of the café, bookstore and general store, their favorite places to spend what little money they had. The streets were empty. No one was around. Yet off in the distance, she could hear it…people laughing, cheering and some kind of music coming out of the village tavern and restaurant.

She edged closer to the tavern, and the music and crowd noise grew louder. She kicked up dust upon her sneakers. She never did pick up her feet when she walked. Her mother always told her that but she still didn’t listen. And just look at how silvery gray the white laces had become. Her mother would not be happy with this one bit either. She pulled up her chin and stopped gazing at the cloudy ground below her and peered over the outdoor café umbrellas as she passed them by. No one was at the café. It was usually the busiest time of the day there. Why was everyone at the tavern instead?

As she stepped onto the wooden deck outside the tavern, a little girl, maybe eight or nine years old ran up to her. She seemed to appear out of nowhere but Chloe believed she had come through the tavern doors still gently swinging swing back and forth. “Isn’t it just amazing?” she exclaimed to Chloe. “What do you mean?” Chloe was puzzled. “The visitor. You’ve met the visitor, haven’t you? Isn’t he just amazing?” the young girl smiled from ear to ear with a look of love and adoration painting a glowing blush across her whole face. “I think the visitor is so amazing.”

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