The lady was shorter than Anna expected. She was wearing a pair of denim shorts and a bright green t-shirt which accentuated her matronly bulges and showed off her dimpled knees and elbows. Nonetheless, Anna knew at once that it was her. Faced with the plump chin and steady eyes, Anna’s mental image of a tall, slender and stately woman dissolved rapidly, and seemed rather silly.
“Hello Anna. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Anna smiled awkwardly. She suddenly felt very tall and gawky.
“Sit next to me,” the lady suggested, patting the tree trunk.
Anna did so. The slowly decomposing wood shifted a bit under her weight, but once it settled was as comfortable as any sofa. The lady had made no impression on the wood. In common with Anna’s other companions, she had little impact on the natural world.
“The walker said it was time,” Anna said.
“And so it is. Your task awaits you.”
“He never explained...” Anna couldn’t finish the sentence. She wasn’t sure what it was that the walker hadn’t explained. She’d just known that there was something that she didn’t understand.
“Of course he didn’t. We’re not capable of understanding the pivotal points in our own lives. That privilege belongs to others.”
Anna nodded, and tried to simulate an expression of intelligent comprehension. Privately, she began to feel as if the walker’s non-explanation was a lot clearer than the lady’s explanation.
“The task develops as you do,” the lady continued. “The first step is waiting at your front door.” She stood up.
“I still don’t…”
“Good luck, Anna.” The lady was gone, leaving Anna highly bemused. Eventually, she got up, brushed the bark off her school dress and started wandering home. It was fortunate that she knew the way very well, for she was completely preoccupied.