Stella could feel the bright light of the room before she opened her eyes. She rolled over and lifted herself out of bed the way Betsy taught her all those years ago. “Don't get right up!” she’d say, “It isn't healthy, roll over onto your side and use your hand to push yourself up. Trust me, it will change your whole day." So she did. She pulled the curtain open and looked at the tree lined street. Everything was waking up too. “Good morning, Kaunas! I can't wait to meet you.” She did the morning ritual that she tried to practice every day, but often forgot: Five deep breaths, five reasons why you're grateful. “That's easy. 1. This beautiful cozy bed. 2. My long-awaited vacation 3. Perfect health. 4. The recent windfall of money that has come to me. 5. My freedom. Now one thing to forgive myself for: Adamantly taking this trip alone. Why do I always forget that I enjoy experiencing things so much more with other people? Next, a big smile and setting my intention for the day: Today I will soak up all of the beauty and bring some joy to myself and this delightful city. ”

 

She dangled her feet off the bed and hopped down onto the soft sky-blue carpet. Clouds decorated the ceiling and the floor. She looked in her fancy hotel armoire and decided to wear her white dress. It seemed like the kind of city to get dressed up for. It was a long linen dress that fit her perfectly. She let her hair down and loose waves fell over her shoulders. She put some blush on her cheeks and headed out the door. She decided to set off without a plan. No rushing, no directions, just touring the city. She walked towards the river and stumbled upon a fruit seller on the way who was playing Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah out of the speaker on his cart. “Interesting,” she thought, “What are the chances?” She smiled and he greeted her in Lithuanian. She replied with her very practiced, “Labas rytas!” He responded with “beautiful morning to you” in perfect English. She smiled, paid for her apple and continued on her way.

 

 

She looked at the river as it sparkled, the sun dancing with it. She couldn't help but do a little twirl herself. She walked over to the forest and looked up at the towering oak trees around her. She could feel them looking at her, wondering if she knew that she was in the presence of royalty. She bowed to them, put her hand on one of their trunks and said, “It is an honor to meet you.” The trees seemed to stand up a little straighter. She went further into the forest and felt as though she was time traveling. The forest floor was supporting each step, guiding her along the way. She came to a clearing and the light was a blue that she had never seen before. It was turquoise with yellow and cerulean. Impossible to describe. She wished that she could put it in a bottle and take it home with her. There in the clearing was a meadow filled with wildflowers. Every color of spring. She pulled off her light blue scarf and laid it out for a picnic. She took out her apple and some walnuts that she saved from her plane ride and feasted on this perfect afternoon. As she sat down and looked up, she noticed all of the pictures that the clouds drew for her; a rabbit, a whale, a rose, all dancing in the sky. Suddenly, she saw a yellow kite doing spins in the air. She couldn't figure out where it was coming from. So she walked over to the edge of the forest and there sitting in a tree was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. Her hair was long and red, curls falling down to her waist. She was wearing a dark green dress. When the woman realized that she wasn't alone, she just laughed quietly to herself. Without speaking, she climbed down, walked over and took Stella’s hand. She held it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She pulled her kite down slowly as they walked. As if in a dream, they walked through the forest together hand-in-hand. It felt like the definition of enchantment. As they headed into the city, Stella introduced herself and asked her new friend for her name. She gently put Stella's hand on her heart and didn't say anything. Stella was confused and asked her again, “What should I call you?” The woman just smiled and pointed at her heart. Stella wasn't sure if she couldn't actually speak or if she was just playing a game so she called her Heart. She said, “Okay, Heart, it's very nice to meet you. I wish I knew more Lithuanian.” She looked in her dictionary for the word heart and discovered that it was called “Širdis”. So, Stella closed her book, pointed at Heart and said, “Širdis?” The woman clapped happily and took Stella's hand.

 

 

They walked down the old stone street and Širdis stopped at a flower shop. She smiled and opened the door. They walked inside and it felt like a warm greenhouse. Flowers filled the entire room. Red bougainvilleas and geraniums, daisies and dahlias, rosebuds, lilacs and tulips. Every color overflowed from the shop. Širdis walked over to the lady behind the counter carrying one single blossom. The woman winked at her and said “a lucky flower for a very lucky friend.” Širdis nodded, paid for the purple flower and gave it to Stella. The woman wished them a beautiful day. Stella wondered if she looked American or if most people spoke English. Regardless, she was very grateful for their kindness.

 

They continued to walk hand-in-hand almost skipping down the street until Širdis pulled her into a restaurant. It was entirely lit by candles. The sun was just going down and the restaurant glowed. They sat down and the waiter visited their table with a pitcher of kompot filled with strawberries. He winked at Širdis and returned with two beautiful plates of food. It was all so perfect and delicious. Stella and Širdis just stared at each other and smiled. Stella tried writing her a note, hoping Širdis would write her back but instead she touched each word and then touched her heart and smiled. Širdis’ eyes were a deep green, and her cheeks were a perfect winter flush. They finished their apple cake and walked outside.

 

 

The moon was out and there were strings of twinkle lights lining the street. You couldn't tell where the stars began. Once Stella reached her hotel, Širdis twirled her. Somehow every move they made was synchronized, it was as if they already knew the dance. Stella didn't want the day to end. She stood there looking at Širdis, her beauty seemed to blend in with the day. Širdis placed her hand on Stella's heart and whispered, “I hope you will always remember.” Stella wasn't sure if she imagined it and then suddenly the sky opened and rain poured down on them. When she looked back, Širdis was gone, but in her place was a small wooden heart. Stella picked it up and carried it into her hotel. Her purple flower was drenched but the heart was dry. She set it on her nightstand and laid awake replaying the day. She stared at the heart as she touched her own. Then she fell into the most peaceful sleep, dreaming of oak trees.

 

Thank you our lovely Rachel for this story. You can check her website on www.ourlightstories.com for more! 

 

If you also enjoy writing, you are more than welcome to let us know and we would be glad to share it with the rest of our community! 

March 19, 2021
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