The weather was warm as Rowan and Gareth strolled side by side down the alley behind the pub. The stars were just starting to appear in the sky, and as they crossed the boulevard and stepped onto the grass of the park, more and more of the night sky was revealed to them. Looking west across the grassy plain, Gareth could see the lake. More of a large pond really. They had tried many times to make it something people could use, but the cost of keeping it fit for human use was something politicians and neighborhood groups had been arguing about for years. Occasionally Gareth would spend a quite afternoon on its banks. Oddly enough the beaver never did.
“So it’s a deal,” Rowan said as they started down towards the walking path.
“Yes, I think it is. I can’t think of anything wrong with it, and as long as it’s good with you…” Gareth looked inquiringly at his companion.
“Then it’s a deal,” Rowan repeated.
One door closes and another opens, Gareth thought to himself. Trite but true. And, as it often did, his mind began to wander. I wonder who first said that? Is it one of those phrases that has just organically come in to being or is it out a book or something? Gareth had done a lot of reading over a short time in high school and sometimes the school facts, the Wikipedia surfing and the common knowledge of his parents’ pre-Internet generation just melded together.
Gareth resisted the urge to grab his phone and turned his attention back to his companion. It was too bad, really, because by the time he’d made it back to his apartment, he would forget that he ever wondered and thus never learn that it was Alexander Graham Bell who said “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” He also wouldn’t discover that Helen Keller said something similar: “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” And all the googling and research and time well wasted that could come of such an important apparent discrepancy would never occur. Truly a first-world tragedy.
Still, Gareth would remember that walk for the rest of his life, so that at least was a reasonable trade-off.
The path curved around the lake and the light standards were fewer, adding a sense of both darkness and mystery, but also revealing more and more of what was obviously becoming one of the more glorious night skies of the year. The shadows of the two walkers grew and diminished as they crossed the park. The sounds of traffic and the hustle of people about their lives were muted by the trees and shrubs, occasionally bouncing oddly off the lake but overall simply existing in the background and adding to the odd experience of being alone with someone else. Eventually they turned left off the path and started up the hill among the tall pines.
“Watch the roots,” Gareth murmured. The two wound their way to the edge of that copse and stood looking over the recreational fields where kids and adults spent warm summer afternoons chasing balls and each other. Empty now, it had a lonelier quality with the edges well lit but the center areas tending towards gloom and isolation. It struck Gareth that the field was a lot like the cycles of his life. Dark and light, empty and full; always the light within reach if only one would reach for it. He smiled to himself and mentally shook his head. Wandering again, I see, he lectured himself. This night of all nights and you can’t seem to live in the now. It’s really going to be the ruin of you. He chuckled out loud at the inanity of his inner dialogue.
“What’s up?” Rowan inquired boldly. “Share.”
“Nothing, really. I just get going around in circles in my head sometimes, and then come to a full stop just before going off the crazy cliff. It always makes me laugh to think I’ve got some inner driving instructor with his foot mashed down on that extra brake they have, desperately trying to stop me and never succeeding until the last minute. Gotta be a stressful job, don’t ya think?”
Rowan stopped and looked him in the eye. “Wow. Got a way with the words, doncha? Maybe you should be writing a novel, or a song instead of screwing with this shit.” Rowan gestured ahead with a bow and added, ”But we’ve got things to do, so, as Picard always says, let’s ‘make it so’ and get this dog-and-pony show on the road. Meet me tomorrow?”
“Then I’m off and runnin’ like a hoid o’ toitles. Later, gator.”
Gareth watched Rowan for a moment and turned back down hill. Time to get home and check that the beaver hadn’t done something crazy like the flood the place. He rolled his eyes at the mental gymnastics that produced that image, and started planning what he needed to do before tomorrow.