Thin, that’s how Greg would describe it. He felt stretched thin. It seemed like everything in his life had been pulling him in different directions. There were the endless deadlines that his job as an independent author had piled on his shoulders. These were self-imposed milestones for his books, marketing, and publishing. He stared at his computer screen but was unable to form any words. The Spring sunshine streamed through his office window and beckoned him outside. With a sigh of surrender, Greg left his office for the warm sunlight.
He took a walk to the park twenty minutes away. The air was dry with a slight hint of Winter still hiding in the Spring breeze. Greg began his stroll along the concrete walking path inside the park. A couple of families were taking advantage of the pleasant weather to get their young children outside. Laughter and squeals of delight wafted along the wind. Greg took in the pink, white, red, and purple flowers. Green buds were filling the once gray sticks that made up the trees surrounding the park.
Greg smiled and thought, this isn’t helping me find my story, but it’s helping me be less productive. Greg approached a fork in the path and decided to venture into the new forest pathway to see what additions had been made to the park. He rounded the first right turn and sitting there was a young woman at a picnic bench. She looked up at Greg, and he could see a tear flowing partway down her cheek. She smiled and said hello.
“Hi, are you doing okay?” Greg asked
“I’m alright,” sniffed the young woman.
Her pale blue eyes that seemed to glow and they pulled Greg in. Her thick blond hair fell just below her shoulders. Although her dress appeared dated, it fit her perfectly.
He stuck out his hand, “I’m Greg, may I sit down.”
The woman reached up and shook Greg’s hand. Her cold skin felt nice next to Greg’s warm palm. “I’m Lydia. Yes, please have a seat.”
Greg sat down next to her. He was not sure if it was the flowers or her perfume, but the fragrance had enchanted him. Greg cleared his throat and said, “I don’t normally just sit down to speak with women I don’t know, but you seem upset.”
Lydia reached over and touched Greg’s hand. Her fingers were cool to the touch, and her hand seemed to send electricity up his arm. Her glowing blue eyes stared into his, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for anyone to find me.”
Greg pulled back his hand, “Oh, please don’t be sorry. I walked up on you. I can leave.”
Before Greg could stand up, Lydia grabbed his arm. Her cold hand sent goosebumps up his bicep and down his spine. The sensation thrilled him. Greg hoped she would never let go. Lydia said, “No, please stay. I would love to chat awhile. I’ve been alone for a long time.”
“Me too,” said Greg. “Work has been killing me. It seems like the harder I work the more money I lose.”
Lydia let her hand linger and then slid it slowly away from Greg’s arm as she spoke. “Oh? What kind of work do you do?”
“I’m a writer. Well, I’m a new writer. Lately, it just seems like I’m spending money on everyone else to publish my book instead of people paying me to read the story I spent months on. It’s got me pretty discouraged.”
Lydia took his hand. The electricity returned and the self-pity that was weighing him down seemed to lighten a little. “Don’t be discouraged. We have to have hope. It’s the only thing that has kept me here for so long.”
Greg’s eyebrow lifted slightly. “I’m sorry, but you don’t look old enough to have been anywhere for very long.”
Lydia smiled, and the world seemed to glow around them. “You’re very kind.”
Greg continued, “Well, all the stress has given me writer’s block. It just seems like everyone wants my time or money and now I don’t have anything left to create my stories.”
Lydia dropped her eyes down towards the picnic bench. “I understand. That’s how Julio felt. He was always working on the farm. From dawn until dusk you could always find him in the field. He told me he needed to support us, but he worried me. Julio would be out plowing a field in the heat of late spring behind a team of horses.”
Greg sat in silence for a moment and tried to make sense of what Lydia was sharing. What does she mean by plowing with a team of horses? Greg asked, “What happened?”
Lydia looked up at Greg. Her eyes glistened, and tears began to flow. He was not sure, but her eyes almost seemed to glow brighter. “Julio collapsed in the field late in May. He was dead by the time I reached him.”
“Where did that happen?”
“Here,” said Lydia. “Right here.”
Greg was worried Lydia was mentally ill. “Do you mean here in the park?”
Lydia shook her head. “No. This land was a field before it was a park. It was our farm a long time ago. Julio died right here. So, I keep coming back, hoping he will return to me someday.”
Greg felt a chill cut through his entire body. He wondered if Lydia was dangerous, and how he could get away to notify authorities and get her some help. Greg tried to calm her down. “Perhaps he is in heaven. Maybe he’s waiting for you.”
Lydia’s renewed touch on his hand sent a wave of panic and energy through his body. “You’re sweet,” said Lydia, “but Julio promised me he would never leave this earth without me. So, I’m hoping and waiting.”
Greg nodded, unsure what to say or do. Footsteps to his left caused him to turn away to see who was coming up the pathway. A young couple walked back and nodded their heads hello to Greg. Greg nodded in return and turned to Lydia, but she had vanished. Greg stood and searched the nearby area, but Lydia was gone. He began walking back home. As he walked, he prayed Lydia would find peace because she had helped him find his inspiration once more.