BellaOnline Literary Review
Poppy by Carol Dandrade

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A Wisp of a Friend

Marylou Mansfield

Summer in the dune is a huge awakening. The neighborhood yawns and stretches with the influx of activity and noise. It feels like swimming in a pot of bubbling soup, swirling around and around and around from one Saturday noon to the next. Faces of old friends reappear salted by new. I wonder if she will come for a visit this summer.

The afternoon turns breezy and comfortably cool; happens most often when an afternoon tide rolls into the bay. Soaking in the last warm rays of the day, I sense that familiar presence. She seems to follow the tails of the summer winds blowing from the bay through my front yard toward the back. I think she is here. I jump up and hurry to the front yard in time to see a glimpse of my old friend. I still don’t know where she comes from or how she gets here. She is a wisp in a gossamer skirt; floating, darting, laughing, all in complete silence. She never rustles or makes a sound. The only sound apart from the treetop breeze is the occasional ring of my porch wind chimes. I believe that signals her laughter. I never can find a footprint to follow or figure out which cottage she might be visiting. She is, indeed, a pleasant mystery.

I automatically reach out my hand. She flits out of reach to the top of the lilac bush; then bounces into the tendrils of the tall grasses. There she hides for a moment before charging across the deck to the backyard. I open the French doors and invite her to enter.

“Come” I say. “Join me for a cup of tea.” She looks like a lady with a sweet tooth, so I pour two cups of tea and ladle in lots of honey. She will love this.

My elusive friend hovers around the open doors, but does not venture in. I bring our tea outside and find her perched on the arm rest of the white Adirondack chair. I sit next to her. Perhaps I could be so bold as to hold her and keep her. I wish to touch her.

I notice a refreshing fragrance, strong but not overwhelming. It seems to permeate my home whenever she is around. It begins with the fresh scent of the new tide and then morphs into the aroma of roses; sweet, kind. One would think there were hundreds of rose bushes in my yard. In reality, there is only one small stunted shrub which usually yields one or two pink blossoms a season. I covet the little bush as I covet the appearance of my curl of a friend. The moment is intoxicating.

I forget myself and reach out to her. The chimes softly ring. I smile. My friend whirls and twirls leaping up the lamp post jumping onto the weather vane. Her skirt catches on the arrow pointing west to east. She wiggles to release herself and catch a ride on the wind. A small tuft of her skirt sticks to the arrow, and then she is gone. I run to the front yard to follow her. Of course, no footprints; the fragrance of roses dissipates. The chimes tinkle loudly.

I didn’t even ask her name. She must have a name. Every character has a name. Perhaps, I should name her myself. I am so good at naming friends.

I return to the deck and strain my eyes on the weather vane. There is a small white piece of something stuck there. I want it!!! I have to have it!!!! I try to get the tall ladder, but it’s too heavy for me. I guess I will have to wait until the piece loosens and falls to the ground. Hopefully, I will be there to catch it.

The sky turns pink, a precursor to the sunset. My husband pulls into the driveway after a long day at work. He greets me with a kiss and smiles. Spying two cups of tea, he asks, “So what did you do on this beautiful afternoon?” The wind chimes ring long and rhythmic. I laugh out loud. He shakes his head.

“Oh, by the way, do I have time to get out the tall ladder and straighten out that weather vane? It seems crooked for some reason.”

I take in a huge smiling breath. “Sure, Honey! And while you are up there—”

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