“Took you long enough!” the voice says. He sounds angry or maybe just impatient. I can’t tell, the voice is still without a source.
What I take to be anger makes me lose it: “What? What do you need? Why are you rushing me?”
“Take my hand …”
“I would if I could see you.” Then I wish I’d kept my mouth shut. Suddenly, breaking through the air, a disembodied hand reaches for me. I pull myself back briefly before I remember I know the voice. I put my hand in his, “Where are we going?”
“Over the river and through the woods –”
“—to grandmother’s house we go,” I finish the old Christmas Carol.
My grandmother doesn’t live anywhere near this place. “I don’t get it, Teacher. You are Teacher, right?” I ask the voice.
“You don’t need to get it,” he says, ignoring my question. “Just come along.”
We go through the field and past the huge tree of life. In my head, as if I was plugged into my MP3 player, the scattered words of a song play, as if prodding itself into the worst kind of ear worm — the kind where you can’t remember the words:
“There’s got to be another way out. I’m ready for you now. Break me out from the prison of my own mind. I was never meant to fight on my own. I don’t want to fight alone anymore. I need to let go.” … Really?
I don’t understand this. Is this Teacher talking to me? I mean, I guess I have been feeling alone lately.
We break through the trees and that damned squirrel meets me again. “Really, you?”
His little shoulders shrug toward his ears before he drops back down on all fours and scurries off, calling out, “Come.”
Then he takes me someplace new. I mean, I’ve seen this bridge before. Its brilliant violet body started peeking through the shedding branches of the oaks and elms in the forest a little over a week ago, but I’ve never actually stepped onto the covered bridge that spans the river to the other side of this school’s campus.
Squirrel chirps angrily at me when I finally reach him. I guess I’m too slow.
“Dude,” I say. “Take it easy. I’m coming.”
“She won’t wait,” he says.
The voice, Teacher’s voice, blows my mind.
“What do you mean? Who won’t wait?”
“You humans think you need to do it all alone,” he says, then he’s a blur. I move with my ears, following the light snaps and crackling leaves until I get to the bridge.
Squirrel is standing just this side of the opening onto the bridge — it’s rounded and just big enough for one horse and buggy, or a small pick-up truck. The early morning throws shadows under the covered bridge’s roof, but there are glimpses of the sky blue walls inside.
Squirrel waits for me to approach him.
“What are you talking about?” I say. He doesn’t wait to answer. His little feet click over the wooden bridge and he waits for me from the other side. First, it’s the little squirrel with the tan fur and the blue eyes, then it twists itself like a wet towel and suddenly becomes my teacher. In the shadows, his blue eyes are beacons.
“Humans are very willing to volunteer their desire to help each other, and I understand their need to work alone. I get that. The Collective Consciousness of Home can get pretty annoying to those who can’t appreciate the beauty of a family – everyone working for each other.”
“What’s going on, Teacher?”
“You don’t have to go it alone, Writer. None of you do. Why do you rarely get together with your classmates to try to work out your questions?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’d rather figure it out on my own.”
“I think better when I’m alone.” It’s true. When I’m with my friends, I find our meetings tend to get a little long-winded and off-kilter. I get more done alone.
“That’s because you don’t know the beauty of working together as a family unit – all the pieces working together to make one dream come true. It’s a pretty awesome thing to witness.”
“I don’t get why this is so important, Teacher. Where are you taking me?”
He reaches for me from his end of the bridge. I step slowly, cautiously, not knowing where it’s going to get me or if I’ll be able to come back to the safety of my side of the bridge. When I’m at his side, he takes my hand, more to keep me from leaving than for any kind of guidance of affection!
And, as we cross to the other side, a sea of long, purple grass waves to us to the tune of the song that had been in my head earlier, and as we approach the field I realize that in the purple grass are beings holding hands. People I don’t know and people I recognize from earlier times in my life.
Making a crop circle in the middle of the field, the notes and bars of a music sheet float around my grandmother sitting and playing at a great white piano. She’s laughing as her fingers bounce over the keys.
Teacher stands behind me then, pushing me gently toward the grandmother who fed my love of music as I grew up. “What you need to understand, dear Writer, is that you are never alone. It is no sin to ask and accept help. A family is what we are meant to be. To not accept that help is to deny the existence of all of those who love you.”
And, as I take a seat on the bench next to my grandmother and she envelops me in her arms, I understand.
Namaste, dear friends,
The Dragonfly’s Student