“Annie! Are you listening to me?” Keri Davis placed her hands on her hips with animated exasperation.
She picked up her little girl and looked into bright blue eyes, which stared back innocently. “I really need you to mind me right now; I have so much to do.”
Keri set her darling doll back down in her chair, and looked over at Anna's twin, Amy. Neither said a word. She placed her hands over her head and spun around.
“What am I going to do with you two? You're not helping me at all!”
Annie slumped down; Amy's head sank to her chin. Keri slapped her hands against her thighs, tears pooling in the corner of her eyes. “Fine! Just sit there and don't talk to me.”
She ran from the house to the front porch, slamming the door behind her. Sitting on the steps, she wiped her eyes and stared at the trees lining the edge of the lawn. It wasn't a big forest, but it was quiet and promised consolation.
The pine trees held out their arms as she gravitated to the path just beyond the garden. Strewn with pine straw and scattered cones, it wound through the forest, mysterious, enticing. Maple and Beech trees released their leaves in a soft shower. Bright orange and red hips showed through the wild rose bushes.
Listening to the wind sing through the tops of the pines, brought a calm to her heart. She watched birds flitting through the branches, and heard squirrels scolding her for invading their private domain. This was just what she needed to help her sort through her troubled thoughts.
Life was hard these days, and she didn't know how to cope. She looked at the path, thinking how easy it would be to just keep going, and not go back to all the turmoil. Maybe if she walked a little farther, she would at least see where it led. She'd never been this far before.
Wrestling with her conscience, she strained to see through the undergrowth of seedlings and berry thickets. Was she going to be missed? Would life be better if she didn't go back? The questions returned without answers.
She scuffed over to a boulder. While she sat and weighed her actions, she spied a broken branch. Covered with mottled lichen, it held two tenacious pine cones at the end. They reminded her of Annie and Amy. Stubborn.
Keri wiped her eyes again, and looked around, alert. She thought she heard something. Turning to the sound she saw her mother coming towards her. Quickly she drew up her knees and hid her face in her arms.
Jessica Davis sat down beside her daughter and stroked her hair. “Honey, what are you doing out here alone?” When Keri didn't answer her, she sighed and thought about the way the morning had gone.
“I'm sorry I was upset with you, Keri. I didn't mean to be impatient.” She drew out a mini pack of kleenex she had been carrying around for herself, and placed her arms around the young girl, slipping the tissues into her hands.
Keri sat up and blew her nose. She leaned against her mom. “I know,” she said between sniffles. “Annie and Amy wouldn't mind me either, so I just left them and came out here.”
Jessica thought about the irony. She lifted Keri's chin and looked into her bright blue eyes. “I would never leave you, no matter how hard it gets, or how much you misbehave.”
Keri's face lit up. “Really?” Her six-year-old mind processed the declaration. “I should probably get back to my dolls, then. They might be missing me.”
“I think they just might be,” Jessica assured her. She glanced around at the simple beauty of the woods. Life was hard these days, and she didn't know how to cope. She looked at the path, thinking how easy it would be to keep going, and not go back to all the turmoil. Not yet anyway, the quiet was just what she needed to help her sort through her troubled thoughts.
She took Keri's hand. “Let's keep walking and see where this path leads first.”
It wasn't easy being a parent, but she released a prayer for herself and her daughter, knowing life was much like this path, winding around and leading back to where they started, so they could face their problems the right way.
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