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Coming Home
by Theodore Yves Behr

When Sandra was a little girl, she would walk home thru the woods that lead from an old one room school house to the farm where she lived. She could have taken the road but she liked the way the forest smelled after the recent rains. It had a very musty, earth smell that always seemed so unique and different from the smells in her mother's kitchen.

Through the trees she could see the light beaming through the canopy of maples and oaks. The shadows always seemed so alive and friendly. She would play hide and seek for hours among those fairy folk whom she imagined to be scurrying around, moving the shadows here and there in a type of dance that only fairy folk could understand. And Sandra of course. The sound of the birds and frogs and crickets would fill the air with music to accompany the dance. And the wind on her face seemed to feel like the touch of the angles who protected her and the fairy folk from all the ills of the world.

At the edge of the forest was the start of the pastures which her father tended. Wild flowers would grow at the edges in the strong light. Sandra would always stop to ask permission if she might take a few for her mom's kitchen and if the wind blew just right, the flowers would bow their acceptance of being added to the bouquet. Sandra would then run across the field for home, chasing the butterflies in the process, in time for dinner.

But little girls grow up eventually and even thou that was her special place other matters became more important than fairy folk. The sounds of the classroom replaced the song of the forest, and dances with boys replaced dances with fairy folk. After a time Sandra forgot all about the forest behind her family's home. High school gave way to college, work, and eventually marriage. The tall groove of trees gave way to the tall buildings of the city. The call of the robins gave way to the cry of her newborn daughter.

Far too soon everything was in a rush. Get Belinda to daycare by 7, work by 8. Office meetings and deadlines were always present. Pick up Belinda by 5 and off to Brownies. There was always something happening.

To Sandra it seemed as if there was never enough time to do anything. She was expected to do everything, even thou she knew that her husband William was equally as busy and trying as best he could to share the load. And then there was Belinda. Always having to worry about the evils of the city and wondering whether she was safe. Being concerned at every bump and scrap, cough and fever. Belinda seemed to grow from 6 months to 2 years overnight and then to 6 by the afternoon of the next day.

And then the phone rang.

It was her mother. Her father was ill and they wanted the family to come back to the farm as soon as possible.

On top of everything else, now this.

The car was packed in a blinding hurry. Appointments rearranged. Meetings cancelled. As soon as Sandra, William, and Belinda arrived at the farm, Sandra immediately took charge. Calls were made. The Doctor consulted. Schedules were set-up.

Through it all thou, nobody noticed, Belinda. Where was she?

In a panic Sandra and William started searching everywhere. The last they knew she was playing quietly in the backyard. Minutes turned to hours until finally it was approaching dust. Sandra's mother started dinner for everyone and it wasn't long before she spotted Belinda running towards the house from across the field.

"Where were you!" her mother demanded.

Tears welled up in Belinda's eyes as she knew she was in trouble and could she how mad her mother was. "I was over by the forest ... I followed the butterflies over there to play. I brought these back for you mom." At which point Belinda handed her mother a bouquet of wildflowers. "They smelled pretty and I thought you would like them."

Sandra stared blankly at her daughter, unable to utter a word before she eventually kneeled down, took the flowers and breathed in their aroma. She looked with tears at her mother. "Why don't you and Belinda go find a vase for those" her mother said. "They will need to be put into some water and I can handle everything from here.".

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