New World Symphony: Three Wishes for Tomas, pt. 3

The wishing well heard the thrush welcome dawn with a bright song. Over the bay, clouds settled, spreading sweet whispers of mist into the meadows. Some mornings were made for benevolence.

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Tomas had wanted to surprise Redbud with his return to life. He harbored a wish to come home solid and real and embrace her in warm arms. But Cathy’s message from onezero’s thousand mothers about the power of two caused him to rethink this. Some wishes need to be shared.

So that morning, Tomas told Redbud what he hoped to accomplish through the wishing well.

“Let’s do it,” Redbud said. “Do you think it will work? I think it will! And we’ll just keep trying until it does.”

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So, early in the morning, Tomas and Redbud came to Cathy Tea’s. onezero came along. “She is my best friend, after all,” onezero said.

While Redbud and onezero sat inside with their cups of coffee, Tomas walked out to the wishing well. One look at the benevolent half-smile on the wishing well’s face, and he kept his bag of coins. Instead, he pulled out a single coin, bright with hope, and tossed it into the well.

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The light shot up white and bright.

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Rays of light arced to Tomas, lifting him and shooting through his translucent form. His fingers tingled first.

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And then a jolt shot through where his spine would be, if he had a spine.

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The pain was intense as nerve-endings formed and energy consolidated.

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But it was the type of pain that Tomas wanted to moves towards, not away from, for he knew that as he moved through that pain, he would come out the other side in his old, familiar form.

His first breath brought joy. The air was so moist–he could taste the sea! Oh, his back ached, and his pulse beat so hard his chest felt about to burst, but he was solid.

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When he held Redbud, he could feel her heart beat, he could feel her breath on his shoulder, he could feel her warmth.

“You’re so warm,” Redbud said. “I’ve missed this,” she whispered.

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Cathy busied herself in the kitchen, and onezero was upstairs at the chess board, but Florinda was fascinated by this reunion of the man who used to be a ghost with the woman who was his wife. These were Sempervirens’ grandparents, after all!

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Soon, the atmosphere became too mushy for a kid, and Florinda joined Cathy outside for a snack, leaving Tomas and Redbud alone to rediscover how they made each other feel.

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And then it was time to include the others in the celebration.

“He did it, onezero!” Redbud told her aunt.

“I knew he would,” onezero said. “Wishes are just a matter of time!”

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Cathy had baked fresh bagels and lemon bars. While Tomas carried his snack out to patio, he thought about what this new extension of life would bring. He realized that it wasn’t so much a matter of doing things as being with others.

He wanted to be with Redbud, with his grown children, with his grandchild, with old friends and new.

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“Does it feel very much different?” Redbud asked.

“Oh, yeah,” said Tomas. “I’d forgotten all of this! Hunger. That stiff crook in my neck. How hard it is to chew a bagel with these old molars!”

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“Oh, I forgot about your stiff neck,” Redbud said.

“I love it!” Tomas said. “Every single ache and pain, what my granddad used to call ‘the usual aches and pains,’ I love every one. If it means I get to feel breath in my lungs again, and to feel your warm skin, I’ll take these aches and pains!”

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“You look handsome,” Redbud said. “I mean. Wow.”

“I’m not some old bag of wrinkles?” asked Tomas.

“Oh, you’ve got wrinkles! But remember. I was there for every one. All those years I remember when I look at your face.”

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All those years! It had been a lifetime. It was easy to forget sometimes, looking at Redbud and onezero, who had chosen to remain young, that together they had lived a whole lifetime and more! That was a lot to be thankful for.

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Sparkroot joined them.

“How come you’re not a ghost anymore?” he asked Tomas.

“I wanted to breathe again,” Tomas said. “And to crunch on your mom’s bagels with these old clickers.”

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As evening fell, Tomas found himself in conversation with Florinda.

“I’m glad that Little Green gets a real grandpa,” she said. “Did you know that Sparky and I don’t have a grandpa? Or a grandma, either.”

“Well, we’re practically family, aren’t we?” Tomas said. “Why, you just live up the hill from my little grandchild. And I’ve always wanted to have a whole pack of kids to think of as grandkids. You can all me Poppa, if you want, little Flor.”

“And will you play games and tell stories?” Florinda asked.

“Of course!” said Tomas. “That’s what Poppas do!”

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Soon, it was time to head home. Redbud sought out Cathy before she, onez, and Tomas left for Cradle Rock.

“Thank you,” she said.

“I’m so happy!” said Cathy.

“Me, too,” said Redbud.

“Me, too!” said Sparkroot.

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For Cathy, at that moment, the old wishing well seemed to have brought everything good! She forgot about her confused feelings for Brennan, the man she loved who could bring such pain, along with such joy, and she remembered only her love for Brennan, the joy their two kids brought into this wide world, and now, this gift for Redbud and Tomas and all who loved them.

That wishing well–it brought life, and with it, the complex brew of feeling and emotion that living brings.

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New World Symphony: Iron and Clay

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For a quiet spirit like Tomas’s, having fewer people at Cradle Rock meant that there was now more space for him to roam.

Seeing the long line of tombstones shining in the sunlight at the edge of the property reminded Tomas of the tethers spirits feel to the spots where their bones lie.

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His widow came to him.

“Cheer up, dear-heart,” she said. “Stay with us now, will you? We’ve got room. And I’ve never fallen for anyone else. You’re the love of my life–even beyond.”

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As Tomas freed himself from the binds of  his headstone, something opened–a small fissure, just large enough to allow a little bit of magic to escape into the world.

Nathanael noticed it first, when he spied an unusual passerby.

“You from around here?” Nathanael asked. “I haven’t seen you before.”

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They struck up a conversation, but the strange man revealed nothing about where he was from or how it was that he suddenly appeared here on the road before Cradle Rock.

Rummaging through the storage room, Nathanael found an old set of knight’s armor.

It looked good out there, he thought, as he contemplated it guarding the long line of tombstones.

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Later that night, by funny coincidence, his granddaughter, Cypress, called to see if wanted to meet her at Rattlesnake, where it was Knight Night.

“Night-night?” Nathanael asked. “Like time for bed?”

“No!” Cypress replied. “As in wearing suits of armor!”

Nathanael looked over the armor he’d pulled out of storage. Alas, he didn’t think his girth would fit inside it.

“You can wear civvies,” Cypress said. “Just come. It will be fun!”

So he went, joined by Tomas’s spirit. When they arrived, they recognized the first knight they saw, not by appearance, but by her music. No one else but Sugar Maple has played that seamlessly since Heifitz.

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“Dad!” Cypress said when Tomas wrapped her in a big hug. “You’re free to leave the lot!”

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The surreal quality of the evening increased Nathanael’s enjoyment of it. He’d always had a taste for the mystical and mythical.

At the end of the evening, Tomas felt fully his new freedom. With a spirit that can roam and mingle freely with family and friends, perhaps this new state of being has something to offer.

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For those remaining at Cradle Rock, each day brought a new sweet pleasure.

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Redbud discovered the joys of a mid-morning nap in the sun on the garden bench.

“This is new!” she told her dad and aunt, when they carried their meals into the music room. “I don’t think we’ve ever eaten in here before!”

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Family was still such an integral part of daily life.

J.P. stopped by each afternoon.

“You should come see me at my house sometime,” he told onezero.

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“Why’s that,” she asked, “when you can come here?”

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“Oh, just to see the place!” he replied. “It’s got a nice view of the riverboat.”

“You can tell me about,” she said, “and I’ll see it that way.”

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While onezero enjoyed being a homebody, Redbud relished being free to head to the nightclub to join a friend at a dance party.

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Finding her daughter there made the outing all the more fun.

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“Everything feels a little sparkly, don’t you think?” Redbud asked her daughter.

“It feels different, that’s for sure!” Cypress said. Cypress had been talking with Grim that night.

“Things are changing!” he said. “Can you feel it? Don’t fear death anymore–something has shifted!”

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Cypress could feel a shift. It was as if the buzz of the universe had been raised a few octaves.

When she ordered a drink, she noticed that the bartender didn’t seem to be from around here.

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She’d never seen anyone like her before. Surely, she wasn’t an alien, like Aunt onezero.

But she clearly wasn’t like them, either. What was that light in her eyes?

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Redbud was thinking, too, of these shifts they were all feeling. At home that night, as she drifted off to sleep, she said to Tomas, “Did you bring the magic with you?”

Tomas laughed, feeling the happiness of inspiration.

Yes, there’s definitely some infusion of magic, he thought.

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