Flash Fiction No. 13: "Healing"
The woman stepped off the train, a wrinkled note held tightly in her hand. There were hardly any people around, just trees as far as the eye could see, and a singular dirt path that led forward. Getting off the platform, she adjusted the scarf around her neck and headed down the path. The greenery continued on both sides, guiding and accompanying her.
There, in the distance, stood the place she was looking for—a stone cottage, with white roses crawling up the walls and the word "Healing" engraved on a wooden sign.
She walked up to the wooden door and opened it, hearing the chime of a bell announce her arrival. A man standing behind a small, wooden reception desk, wearing glasses and a polite smile, nodded his head in acknowledgement. Without saying a word, he extended a hand out, waiting.
Hesitantly, she placed her wrinkled note into his open palm. As he read it, she spared a glace around the place. A soft, unnatural light was giving the place a warm aura. A maroon sofa was centered in the middle of the area, a brown coffee table in front of it. The walls were accessorized with a clock, dried flowers, and impressionist art. She quickly turned back to the man just as he finished reading the note.
Handing it back to her, he stepped out from behind the desk and motioned with his hand to the sofa, bowing a bit to her. Eyeing him, she got his message and took a seat.
The man straightened up and headed over to some double doors, disappearing behind them. The woman looked at where he last was, wondering where the doors led to.
As time passed, she leaned back and closed her eyes. But the sound of approaching footsteps made her open them again.
The man reappeared and she stood up, watching as he pulled out a sealed envelope. When he extended the envelope to her, she looked at him, confused, before taking it.
Just then, a single ding made her look at those doors again. A small light had lit up right by the top of them. The man motioned to the double doors, and seeing as how she had gotten used to his actions, walked through them.
A large hallway greeted her, softly lit and lined with door after door. She glanced at the envelope in her hands, noting how it looked quite old. Turning it over, the wax seal caught her attention. Stamped into the wax was a single, curved letter.
She ripped the seal off, wondering if it were just coincidence that the man had given her a letter with her first name's initial on it. He didn't even know her name, she had never given it to him.
Flipping the envelope upside down, a white carnation fell onto the palm of her hand, dried yet still elegant.
A soft creak made her look up. One of the doors was now open, a soft glow emanating from the room inside. It seemed warm, comforting.
She wandered to the door, peeking her head a bit to see what was inside.
A bark caught her attention, and she swept the room with her eyes before they landed on a small, white terrier. His ears perked up and he dashed toward the woman, his little paws tapping quickly on the floor.
She stood there, frozen, eyes fixed on the dog currently jumping in joy. So many questions crossed her mind. But only one seemed important. How?
This little white dog looked exactly the same as her childhood dog, and he behaved in the same manner too.
Teddy. Teddy was right in front of her.
Tears pooled in her eyes as she crumpled to her knees, a hand tentatively reaching out to pet the dog. He came closer, licking her hand before throwing himself on the floor and rolling a bit.
A broken laugh escaped her throat as tears streamed down her face freely. Lately, she had been so stressed, so overwhelmed, so tired, to the point that she felt like she was drowning. She needed some relief, something to save her, before she was broken far beyond repair.
Opening her arms, the dog jumped into her embrace as she squeezed him and cried harder. The tears seemed endless, but with every sob she let out, her chest felt lighter, like if she could actually breathe again. Like if a burden had been lifted from her shoulders.
She pet the dog, running her fingers through his curly fur, before finally letting him go. The dog jumped back to the floor, and the patter of his paws disappeared. Drying her eyes with the back of her sleeve, she looked around her, only to find that the room was empty.
Her heart twisted a bit as she realized that Teddy was gone. No, he was never there to begin with. Somehow, the room had given her that hallucination.
But it was for her sake, to help her heal.
A small smile spread on her tear-streaked face. The fact that it was just an illusion didn't matter to her much. It helped her nonetheless.
She left the room, walking down the hallway and coming out through the double doors into the lobby. The man from before looked up at her, a small, warm smile curling his lips, his eyes becoming crescent-shaped. He could tell that the shadow looming over her shoulder had disappeared. She was a lot better compared to when she came in.
She gave him a wide smile, bowing a bit in appreciation, before heading out the front door, the chime of the bell signalling her leave.
Her hand went to her pocket, feeling the crumpled note that brought her here in the first place.
Recipe for healing: the memories from yesterday, the joy for today
By Beautiful Anemoia