“At the still point, there the dance is.” –T.S. Eliot
When life is at its most full, with more happening in two days than has happened in months, that’s when the still point beckons. Redbud rested there and let all the changes swirl around her while she remained unmoved–not fixed–in the center of it all.
Happiness can be an unsettling feeling, and her life has been infused with happiness.
She found that she could watch the sensations of happiness, the same way that she could watch any other sensation.
And then, while she remained at the still point, she felt happiness settle into something more substantial: joy.
Tomas became her boyfriend, and then, her lover.
“I think I’ll stay young,” Red said. “You don’t need an older girlfriend, do you?”
“Baby,” he replied, “I need you. Any age, any stage.”
She pulled the youth potion out of her inventory and drank it, watching him dance in youth’s glow.
After he left that evening, she sat alone in the room, near the bed with its covers still warm–that family’s second-best bed where nearly every generation of Boughs has been conceived–and she read. It was just a book of fairy tales, but she found in their symbols all she needed to be able to understand this transition she was going through, this walk through the woods where she would emerge into a new clearing, with verdant fields on either side.
This alteration in her life would bring a change to the entire family.
In the morning, Aunt Sugar decided to host a house party at Manzanita’s mansion. The house did belong to the family, after all, and it didn’t hurt to visit it every few generations.
Standing before the mansion, waiting for the guests to arrive, Sugar pulled the youth potion from her inventory. Her birthday was just around the corner–might as well take advantage of this party to forestall having to throw the other.
“Oh, we’re drinking up, are we?” Nathanael asked. And while the guests filed into the house, he remained outside and drank from his own white cup.
“You know, I haven’t been here since that time when I was a little girl!” onezero said. “Do remember that party? It was so traumatizing! But my one mom took me upstairs and we sat alone on this narrow little bed, and she talked to me about how it would all be ok. And then we went home.”
“Salix always knew how to put us at ease, didn’t she, onez?” Sugar replied.
While they sat together in the afternoon sun, onezero pulled out her own white cup. She closed her eyes and remembered all the time that had passed since the last time their family had visited this house across the street.
Jamie joined them, feeling confident and happy.
Redbud was glad to see that he had no hard feelings now that she and Tomas were together. In fact, he seemed relieved!
The party lasted well into the afternoon, and Alder, who’d stayed up dancing and painting all night, grumbled in his sleepiness.
“If I lived here, I’d be home by now,” he said.
“Well, you could live here,” Sugar said. “It belongs to you as much as any of us.”
At sunset, Tomas came over, racing across the property to join Red.
Resting in stillness, Red let herself remember all the events of the day before. She recognized that what seemed sudden wasn’t really sudden at all. She could trace everything back to that afternoon when she’d first met Tomas as a teen walking past their house.
She knew that day what it was that she wanted, for herself, for him, for the family.
The evening before, she had drawn upon that knowledge. She checked in with herself. Was she sure?
Yes! Of course. She had always known. It was Tomas, and no other.
He laughed. He accepted her proposal, and he laughed and laughed.
“I just never dared dream!” he said. “I was just a kid! You were a published author! What could you possibly see in me? I made it my goal then to be everything I could be. But I never even dared to dream.”
“I’m glad you didn’t dream,” she said. “Because then, we’d always be comparing our life to your dream! And now, we can just let our life be what it is!”
“It’s going to be amazing, babe,” he said.
Red wondered what to do about the wedding. She felt nervous for Clarence. He’d dropped by during one of her home-dates with Tomas the day before. His fists were clenched. His face revealed a confident smirk, but she still worried about the tension in his fists and shoulders.
If they held a wedding, she would want to invite him, of course. She couldn’t leave her oldest friend off the guest list. But it also seemed heartless to invite him. How could she ask him to watch her marry Tomas?
“Let’s just get married now,” she said. “Scrap a wedding, exchange our vows right here, right now. Just the two of us!”
“I would love to do that,” Tomas said. “It feels more special to me to share this with you, alone, with only the moon as our witness.”
“The moon and about a hundred crickets,” Red answered.
She closed her eyes and tuned in to that center of feeling within her, where all her true words germinated.
“I knew,” she said, “when I first saw you. And when you spoke, I knew for sure. I didn’t know if you’d stay in town, or if your family might move. I didn’t know how you felt about me. But one thing I knew for sure. If I could be with anybody, it would be you. If it meant waiting for you to grow up, I’d wait. If it meant rolling back time, so our times would align, I would roll it back. I’m not much of a romantic, but I’ve been sold on you from that very first day. I promise you, Tomas, our life will be more than you could ever dare dream. From my true self, vadish.”
“I’ve had this ring for so long,” said Tomas, “it’s worn a circle in my back pocket. I bought it that day, and I never even told myself what I was buying it for, who I was buying it for. Every dream I was afraid to dream, I sent into this ring. You can feel how it’s got power in it, magic. That’s the magic of all I’ve felt that I never let myself feel. It’s all real. As you wear this ring, you’ll find that it grows a powerful shine, for all my dreams, as they become real, they’re filling it. And, baby, you make every dream real for me. Wear my ring, will you? And with it, you’ve got me. For all your days.”
The vows exchanged, Red suddenly realized she was famished.
“Make yourself at home!” she cried to Tomas, and off she ran to grab a piece of Sugar’s fruitcake.
Tomas found himself in the room where Red had written all of her books, surrounded by inspiration.
“I’ve got other dreams, too,” he said, “and maybe they can also come true!”
Right then, he called Rainy Days Entertainment and quit his job in the tech career. “I’ve got other plans,” he said.
And he headed out to begin learning to play the violin.
That had been yesterday. Red sat still and let the changes catch up with her, for she had already moved into this moment years before, on that day when she had seen a skinny boy walk down the street, and it was only just now, when the thread spun from that moment was being stitched into her life, only now when she could say that what she had dreamed then came true.