Em was in a funk. She checked her email but saw no orders for the handcrafted journals she had listed on ETSY. When the economy took a dive and Em’s teacher certificate proved worthless, she revived her interest in papermaking. Crushing bits of paper into pulp and turning the slurry back into paper was cathartic. If she couldn’t turn her expensive degree into any kind of a job, she could find a degree of satisfaction turning something worthless into something beautiful. Still, she yearned for the validation of a sale.
Every afternoon when it got too noisy, Em fled the tiny loft she had squeezed herself into alongside other down-and-outers at the art coop. Fingering the peplum hem of the corset covering her lacy blouse, she flinched at the sound the heels of her warn boots made clicking on the sidewalk. “Chin up,” she told herself as she pushed through the door of the Beanpunk Café.
“Wow, this place is getting crowded!” Em pulled a pillow off the sofa and took its place next to her friend Jaye. “I hope all these people aren’t looking for jobs.”
Jaye handed her a copy of The Press. “There are exactly two jobs listed in the want ads.” She pushed a mug of hot water in front of her friend as Em pulled a ragged tea bag from her pocket.
“I don’t know what to pay attention to these days.” Em tried to ignore the man at the condiment counter with a Bluetooth hanging off his ear who was issuing loud instructions into the air. A moms’ group showed remarkable focus on an apocalyptic bestseller they were discussing while their toddlers banged their toys on their stroller trays.
College students Skypeing study buddies raised their voices above the laughter of the early release school kids crowded around YouTube. Jaye offered her sympathy, “but you look adorable.”
Em sighed. “Putting myself together is about all I can manage these days.” She cupped the pewter ornament that snaked around her ear, piercing her lobe. “So much noise; I tune out as much as I can.”
Jaye raised her espresso to her bright purple lips. “Filters,” she sipped her drink and set down the stained cup, “so important.”
Only Beanpunk regular Pastor Jerry seemed unaffected by the din, as if an electric field of calm surrounded him. Passing by the girls, he pulled a business card out of his shirt pocket and set it on the table. “Bill Murphy at the new museum is looking for help.” He gave Jaye’s shoulder an encouraging pat. Then he looked at Em. “Check your email.”
Em found a tree in a quiet corner of the park to sit under and fired up her iPad. An odd message appeared from a sender she had never heard of, Heart’s Desire. The request was simple. Please set your spam filter to receive our message. She checked the indicated box and then opened her spam folder. Among the hundreds of unwanted messages were a few from Heart’s Desire. She opened one and read this message:
Send no money. No representative will call. We have one simple request. Think about what you treasure. That is where you will find the desires of your heart.
Em powered off her iPad. The sun warmed her and she sat still, her head whirring until she ran out of thoughts. She breathed the silence, felt the whisper. I Am. Arms of peace enfolded her in an embrace. The stress of the day drained from her body and her heart responded, “Lord, this ...whatever... is what I treasure.”
She had no words, but it didn’t matter. She felt like she’d been given a clue. It wasn’t a paper road atlas or digital coordinates but a bit of treasure to cling to, a place where the nameless desires of her heart would be fulfilled. For one still small moment, nothing blinked or beeped. The only sound she heard was Love calling her name. She would remember that sound for the rest of her life.
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