Have you ever loved before?
The man in the top hat and tails enquired.
Alice wondered if she had spoken out loud, or had she engaged with the peculiar looking man who had just caught her eye as his reflection shimmered across the blue lake to her left. But she was pretty sure she hadn’t.
He posed his question to her quickly and bluntly as if asking her what she had eaten for lunch. Alice looked at him a mix of amusement and confusion causing her brown eyes to do that frowning thing she does a lot these days.
“I only ask as you seem certain it’s not for you but if you haven’t tried it how exactly do you know. It’s not for you, I mean, how do you know?”
“I always make it my mission to try things before discarding them to the never again pile behind me.” As if by magic, in a little puff of silver smoke, a pile marked discarded appeared to the right behind the eccentric looking man wearing the top hat.
Alice looked him square in the eyes as he stood there oblivious to the assortment of unwanted items and ideas that were growing precariously around him by the second.
The pile was edging precariously close to the side of the river bank as it continued to grow in the very spot where she had happened to see him a little while ago. On her journey to somewhere yet unable to move past the oddly dressed gentleman who was hovering atop of the pile of pebbles stacked as if someone was playing a daring game of Jenga. All a while he looked deep in thought as if he was solving a puzzling predicament of some sort. His lips moving ever so slightly on one side as he released his words from his mouth.
Alice had been captivated by the running river that day as it danced across the stones as if it was magically choreographing its own little dance. Punctuated every so often by a flipping fish showing off his talents to those watching above the surface. It was quite the sight as the water swirled and sparkled, seemingly in all the colours of the rainbow as the rays of sunlight from the yellow sun above cast its rays across its glistening surface. Like a mirror reflecting its subject, the river oozed all the goodness it had to offer from deep below. The serenity and beauty at odds with the power it possessed as it forged ahead on its journey just like Alice.
And that’s why she had stopped. Distracted by the beauty of the river. Now entangled in the top hat and tails wearing pointy-nosed man’s riddle. Who was he exactly and why was he sitting here?
He asked his question again, this time projecting it to all around her yet no one at all. The pebbles his stage and he was speaking to a crowd only his own eyes saw. But still, Alice looked as if someone should be behind her to answer the question for her. But no one except her stood in the lush green grass that sparkled with the wet morning dew that was now resting on her pretty black shoes.
“But what if I can’t?” She answered back timidly as if unsure of her voice. Her words echoing back to her. Each syllable bouncing of each pebble and encompassing the curious pair in this odd exchange. Her, little Alice with her blonde pigtails plaited, one each side of her head. A short, slight girl she was. The man with the top hat sat above her to her left. Slightly out of the morning suns rays as if seeking shelter before the day truly broke around him.
“But is a dangerous word” he spoke softly.
“But is barrier laced with limitations, my young friend. Why on earth would you want to have that in your life?” She started to speak before clamping her brightly painted lips together keeping another b-word locked up.
“What if love just isn’t for me and my hands are destined to not be held and my heart not filled with the wonder of love. What if my lips never feel the taste of a kiss and my arms the joy of another’s embrace?”
“What if’s are for those afraid of their life. Afraid of things that go bump in the night. You, my dear, so precious and brave, for who else would stop to speak to man deep in the woods, on a river trail North, wearing a top hat and tails.”
You my dear, you need to love. No what ifs. No buts and no doubts from here on out.
She looked up and for the first time in their exchange she caught his eyes and held onto his gaze. His words spoken with passion and conviction, his eyes committed to each word that left his tongue.
“Have I loved?” she pondered once more “and if not then why not?” She turned away from the man and lifted her head. Love she mused I wonder which path will take me there?
He watched as she left, with a nod of his head. The girl though she’s lost, will find her way he was sure as he closed his eyes before disappearing once more.