Brenda didn’t believe there was a treasure. Aliens reading minds was something she didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t believe in, regardless how sincere Madge sounded. So, Madge packed for an excursion to the coast and set her alarm for an early start. Brenda seemed content to idle along through life and use her precious time doing little to enhance the experience. Only, time can slip away like a thief in the night and leave you old and wrinkled, wondering if your journey was joyful and meaningful. Madge wanted to do anything and everything possible and die with a bang.
The drive to the coast was beautiful as usual. Farmers tilling fields. Rows of wine grapes ripening in the sun. Birds perched on wires or flying overhead to destinations only they knew about. Madge left the radio off, rolled her window down, and breathed in the fresh air. The cathartic effect was soothing to her soul and she looked forward to the magnificence of the ocean. As she climbed into the coast range, she hummed one of her favorite tunes while reaching into her lunch bag for a double fudge chunk cookie.
When she crested the highest peak, she had to roll up the window because the coastal effect was still in charge on this side of the mountains. Her sunny day suddenly became dark and gloomy. The fog was too thick to see more than a few feet ahead on the constantly curving road. She slowed and kept her eyes glued to the fog line on the side of the highway. Like a dancer on a high wire she navigated the last few miles. By the time she got to the flats she was a nervous wreck, hoping no one came charging up behind her, not realizing how slow she was driving. When the sun finally poked its head through the fog, she breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed her death grip on the wheel.
After a potty stop, she drove down the coast toward where the aliens told her to look. Recent development raised concerns about the trail through the forest no longer existing but when she reached the small stretch of blacktop turning away from the ocean her hopes returned. Before turning onto it, she pulled into a turnout and sat watching waves crash onto the rocky shores for nearly an hour. After nibbling some crackers, she fired up the engine and waited for traffic to clear. Time to get lucky. If not, this day was a treasure to have and hold forever.
The road led to a parking area where three trails went separate ways. One looked easy to negotiate, wandering through a flower-filled meadow. Another dropped away quickly and would probably follow a small creek she could see through the underbrush. The other led straight uphill through a dense stand of trees. It was narrow, looked treacherous, and was probably precipitous. As she sat wondering which to take, the tinny voice of the alien popped into her head and told her that the easy path never leads to the treasure. Sighing, grabbing her gear, then locking the car, she took a deep breath and started to climb. Two hours of being scratched, bruised, and being sorely tested revealed a tiny clearing with water surfacing in its middle. After taking a big drink she sat and watched the water trickle down the opposite slope. Obviously, this was the beginning of what would turn into a creek that would eventually join the ocean. What now? She asked in her mind.
The tinny answer led her to a giant fir whose semi-exposed roots gripped a pile of rock as it clung to the edge. Probing into the roots required scraping away dirt and small rocks. The small garden trowel she brought wasn’t very effective, but her determination to succeed pushed her beyond her normal limits, She finally felt the trowel break through and started widening the opening with her bare hands. It took a while to drag the bag she found through the opening, and just as she freed it, rain started falling. There was no time to look inside. If she didn’t get going, she could get trapped and die if lost in the dark. When she finally got back to her car and toweled off it was time to look. Brenda was going to be jealous.
Okay Jacki….More next week