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The Calling

The Calling

– Fiction by Michaela DeGier –

She stands beneath the ebony sky, peppered with tiny, twinkling lights. Their faint glimmer dancing upon her pale skin. The damp breeze caresses her cheeks, kindly pushing her long, greying hair out of her eyes. She is forced to take in a deep breath, filling her lungs with the mossy scent of spring. Vivid images of mature trees, newly painted with green leaves, appear in her mind. The wind making them sway back and forth to create a rhythmic motion that sooths her. Quiet calmness travels throughout her body. She basks in it a few remaining moments before she opens her eyes and leaves the inner serenity of her mind behind.

Slowly, the calm recedes from the tip of fingers to the centre of her heart. She is left frozen, poignant of her sudden awareness to her surroundings. She finds herself facing the front of a Floridian styled, coastal mansion that is lavish and classic. A red, well used cobblestone drive borders fresh budding gardens that have begun sprouting from the moist soil. The white backdrop of the cool, stuccoed bungalow brightens the rainbowed bouquet of flowers fronting the home. On each side of the house, there are mature trees, resembling the ones she envisioned moments ago. She wonders if the forest circles the home, spanning out into a vast wilderness. She imagines this house as a jewel tucked away and hidden, its secret only known to its creator. Its magnificent beauty is like a beacon, calling her to enter.

Where am I? she ponders, as her eyes flutter towards the front porch. A set of stairs lead to a tiled landing, encased in a pair of strong, wooden pillars. Beyond, is the entrance to the home, twin double doors with traditional levered handles.

She glides forward, boldly ascending the steps and placing her deceivingly shaking hand on the golden lever. Her curiosity propels her forward, squashing any inner apprehension. Like prey following the lure of a hunter’s trap, she hesitantly follows the allure and uses her weight to push open the door. It easily slides forward, opening to an elegantly decorated foyer. She anxiously shuffles into the house and the door automatically shuts behind her.

Why am I here? she wonders, as she takes in the high ceilings that cultivate an open concept living room, clad in distinguished, traditional décor. Classic, white walls give way to panoramic, floor to ceiling windows that lengthen the room and act as a backdrop for a grand piano that sits center stage.

It beckons her forward, its familiarity strange and daunting. Rounding the piano’s belly, she places herself upon the bench that is already drawn out from under the keys. As she takes a comforting seat, she carefully places her fingertips upon the ivory and onyx keys. They glisten under the stream of moonlight that enters through the windows. It acts as a stage light, setting into motion a set of practiced movements. Remembrance, teased with delight sparks from her centre and carries through to her fingertips as she lightly pushes the pads of her fingers into the keys. She begins to play a deep melodic tune, that flows from the piano’s strings, quietly circling the space.

Her rapid heart beats rhythmically, acting as a metronome to keep her in time as she plays. Her eyes shut tight and her body transforms, becoming part of the instrument. Her forearms move in slight, vertical alignment as her fingers slide up and down the keys. The melody gains speed, gradually climbing to reach a heightened peak. As the melody crescendos, her emotions follow suite, creating a beautiful harmony between sound and soul. She feels her purpose flow through her as the last, passional note is played and the sound reverberates proudly throughout the house. Contentment pouring from her centre slowly fades to nostalgia and doubt.

How did I do that? she wonders.

Abruptly, she stands from the piano bench, hastily exiting the piano’s aura. Not being able to contemplate the magnitude of meaning expressed through this experience, she shoves down any uncertainty and continues forward, following the allure of the home.

She travels along the panoramic windows that outline the remaining length of the living room. As she walks, she urges the confidence she felt while playing to return, but a fear of the unknown has already taken root deep in her gut. Thoughts of separation and feelings of loneliness threaten to feed the uncomfortable fear. Her heartbeat picks up speed and her brows dampen with sweat.

What am I doing here? she questions herself, more forcefully this time. Still without answer she progresses onward, her attention drawn to an arched entryway a few paces to her right. Interested in its appeal, she turns to study the arch and is captured by its ability to sustain such a heavy overhead load. Underneath the weighted curve, sits a large, painted portrait of a middle-aged woman and young child.

Another instrument, she suspects.

The image is captured by intricate brush strokes. It’s dramatic size and focal placement suggest it’s importance to the owner. The painting looks to have been replicated from an old photograph, based on the couple’s style and manner of dress.

A mother and child, she determines, based on their similar high cheek bones and auburn hair.

The mother’s hand rests steadily on the girl’s shoulder, seeming to offer assurance and strength. The girl appears timid and meek under her mother’s touch, her smile understated and shy. The girl’s eyes are what draw her attention. Their emerald, green colour holds understated flecks of gold that are hard to see in the shadowed light of the moon. As she struggles to clearly see the intricate detail, frustration sets in

Anticipating anger, she tightly shuts her eyes, readily searching for a seed of comfort among the dense foliage of uncomfortable emotions.

Why am I here? she shouts inside, it’s echo bouncing off her restricted mental walls.

Her hand rises above her head as she places her forehead against the silent portrait. She strikes its hard surface, pleading for answers it cannot articulate. Soundless, angry tears stream down her face begging for clarity and understanding.

Taking a deep breath, she backs away from the portrait, again looking up into the girl’s emerald, green eyes. But this time, they are not hidden beneath the light of the shadowed moon. The moon’s light now shines freely. The golden flecks, once hidden in her eyes, shimmer and dance, enlightening the emerald green surrounding them. Strength radiates from the girl’s gaze, beaming its assurance straight towards her.

“Thank you,” she whispers to the girl.

Slowly she rises to her full height, holding her shoulders back and head high. This time as the rooted fear begins to blossom, she bravely decides to endure it. She rides the wave of uncomfortable sensations, allowing it to swell, crash and wash away. Being vulnerable to the current situation makes it possible for her to gain acceptance and release. She uses this as motivation to spur herself forward.

She walks several paces towards the end of the hall. There, she finds herself in a large master bedroom. The room displays as a white canvas. Its walls are bare, and décor understated compared to the rest of the house. A massive four poster, wooden bed, an antique oak dresser and nightstand and two settee lounges are the only items furnishing the room. Their simplicity adding to its class. The white settee lounges sit inside a circular panoramic set of windows. Each window covered by a sheer, milky curtain.

Curious to what she will find beyond them, she walks over and pulls back one of the sheer panels. The moon, still shining bright, reflects off a small fishing pond in the distance. The pond harbours a small boat and dock. Leading from the dock are several stone paths that head in different directions. Her eyes follow each one, all disappearing into the dense, wild forest that does circle the home. The scene set before her stands still and motionless, its picturesque beauty singing to her.

“Beautiful,” she breaths, a deep longing settling within her heart.

A gruff, gargled slur draws her attention to one of the settee lounges behind her. Turning, she finds a greying, elderly man upon it. Startled by his missed presence, she observes him from her position against the window. He has little hair upon his head and age spots speckle his face. His dark, grey eyebrows are turned down, eyes tightly shut. His mouth is moving slightly, but she cannot hear what he is trying to say.

Taking several steps forward, she crouches down in front of the man. She timidly grasps his hands that are lying still in his lap.

“Are you okay?” she asks as she looks him over.

With no response, she leans in closer to the man. She notices a deep cut on his right temple. From the wound, crimson red blood steadily flows down over his cheek bone, drips off his angular chin and pools in his lap on his black, cotton slacks. The blood has soaked through to the white furniture beneath him, leaving a dark red stain. With her eyes now downcast towards the floor, she sees a sprinkled trail of red dots leading from the entrance of the bedroom.

Swiveling her head back towards the man, her eyes catch on a medic alert necklace sitting on the nightstand beside him. She glances from the alert necklace to the man, eyes drawn in confusion, as she gages the distance between them. On his right, she sees a rotary telephone, the handset firmly hooked on the switch.

Suddenly, the old man’s breath starts to slow, becoming shallow and laboured. A familiar fear starts to set in. She frantically begins to search for a first aid kit or anything she can use to help him. She decides her best option is to get to the telephone and call for help. As she begins to rip her hands out of the man’s grip, he instantly tightens his hands around hers, locking her in place.

“Joy,” the man mumbles.

Unmoving, she gapes at him.

“Joyce,” he says, a little stronger this time.

Shaking her head in disbelieve, she struggles to comprehend how she knows that is her name.

“I heard the piano calling,” he continues.

Forcibly she stands up straight, mentally running through all the information she has gathered since setting foot in this house.

The moon now streams in through the translucent window she left bare. It cascades around her frame, shadowing her form to the man. Raising her contemplating gaze from the old man, she meets her own in the mirror located on the wall behind him. In it, she sees herself alongside the moon, its rays not shadowing but reflecting off the mirror, to illuminate her face. She stares directly into a familiar set of emerald, green eyes that hold flecks of gold, clarity finally setting in, confirming her suspicions.

She gently puts her hand on the old man’s shoulder, offering him assurance and strength before whispering in his ear, “I’m here my love. I heard you calling and I’m here to take you home.”

About the Author – Michaela DeGier

Michaela	DeGier

Michaela is the proud wife and mother to three wonderful children.  She was a shy and quiet child, who found it difficult to vocalize her feelings.  Taking to her journal at 11, she found the powerful expression her words could create.  Twenty-seven years later, she still uses words to form a path to healing.
Michaela’s personal essay was published with the Canadian Mental Health Association in 2022.  If you want to read more from Michaela, please visit her website,   

Did you like this story by Michaela DeGier? Then you might also like: 

Someone to Watch My Back
Pieces of You


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