Ever since Farkas had stormed out of the cafe, not to return, Maria had felt ill. She was even finding some of the cafe customers annoying. Mrs. Reisenden was one of them. Maria’s mother liked her and enjoyed talking with her whenever she was visiting Waldmeer.
“You have returned,” said Maria’s mother with obvious delight. “Do tell me how life has been in the city since you have last been here on holidays.” Mrs. Reisenden would often bring Maria’s mother a little present from the city and she would tell her all about the cultural events she had been attending.
“Maria, dear, please bring Verloren’s coffee over,” said Maria’s mother. “I will sit a while and chat with her as we haven’t had the pleasure of her company for a while.” She turned to Verloren. “This morning I walked past the old cottage on the hill. I was recalling that several summers ago you did some gardening work there. They were so lucky to have you!”
“You are too kind,” said Verloren. Verloren had mixed memories of her time at the house but she could not recall why exactly. “Does it have a new person living there now? I must introduce myself to them,” she said.
Mrs. Reisenden must have been the gardener at Farkas’s house before he moved in, thought Maria.
“I enjoyed my time at that house,” Verloren said to Maria’s mother. “It was good to do some manual gardening again. We have to keep grounded, you know. We can’t be high and mighty.”
Maria gave Mrs. Reisenden her coffee. As she turned to walk away, she found herself rolling her eyes which was quite unlike her. Maria loved her mother but the difference in their tastes was becoming markedly wider. Perhaps, that was only obvious to Maria and not to her mother.
As Maria was still not feeling well, she decided to visit Erdo.
“Your body would not get sick if you held no thought of resentment. It is neither good nor bad of itself. If you use it to bless, it will not complain,” said Erdo like this was elementary knowledge. “If we hold anything against anyone, we will suffer ourselves.”
That is difficult but perhaps I could take that on board, Maria thought. At least, I wouldn’t feel sick anymore, so it’s probably worth it.
“More than this, Maria,” Erdo continued, “you are the very people that hurt you or you dislike.”
“I am not those people, Erdo.” This was getting offensive. “I am not those people,” she repeated with a fire rising inside her. Erdo, who normally knew everything, was unexplainably mistaken in this instance. “I am not Farkas with his stupid, angry attitude pushing everyone away as if they all want to kill him. I am not that bare-boobed girl, Elise, running around town, sleeping with anyone she thinks she can get something from. She must think she has nothing to offer but a body to be used and then discarded. I am not that woman from the city, Verloren Reisenden. She acts like she is so kind but she lies to her husband, chases good looking men, and spends her time shopping and talking to her friends about how badly life is treating her.”
Maria’s anger was replaced with a calmer, older Maria who spoke with authority, “Those women come together under the guise of love to gossip about innocent people who have what they do not; happiness. And if they cannot drag the person into their weak world of suffering, they will seek retribution. How little they realise that their great bond of love will so easily be turned against each other.”
Erdo was silent for some time and then spoke to the younger Maria, “You are all those people. If one is left behind, none of us gets there. No one can be forgotten. We are connected as one creation which has many interrelated parts. We are family. Whoever you hold accountable for their mistaken identity holds you in the dream.”
That’s too hard, thought Maria.
“If it was too hard, you would not be hearing this now. We hear what we are ready to hear. We draw into our life those who will help us to grow. Naturally, we will tend to have mixed feelings about those very people, but they are marked for us and we invited them into our house. We have forgotten that we wrote them an invitation some time ago. We look at them as if they are intruders when all along they are guests.”
Maria bumped into Farkas a few days later while walking to the shops.
“Hello, Maria,” he said and acted like there was no reason not to be friendly, although, there seemed many.
Maybe he wants something, Maria thought.
“I hear you are spending a lot of time in the hills with Charlie?”
“Yes. I am with Gabriel as much as Charlie. Charlie and I talk about Erdo, the old man in the forest. Gabriel and I talk about life.” Maria was being far more generous with information about her private life then she felt she should be.
“Gabriel? The gay guy from the city?”
“Yes,” Maria said. “Do you know him?”
Farkas nodded that he knew him but looked like he did not want to know him any more than he already did. There didn’t seem to be anything else that Maria could say that could redivert a conversation that was now headed nowhere good. Farkas had decided that the conversation was over. He turned to leave.
“By the way,” he added, “a lady called Verloren called to my house. She said she used to do gardening there before I moved in. She also said she would call again.”
Call again? Maria thought. It is surprising Farkas let her call once. “She comes to the cafe,” Maria said. “My mother likes her. Erdo says I must like her too.” She said this as if she was a child being corrected by a parent.
“Are you sure that’s what he meant?” Farkas asked with surprising wisdom. “The woman, Verloren, said that gardening was good for her because it made her forget about herself and her problems,” he added.
That was honest of Mrs. Reisenden, Maria thought. It’s rather strange of Farkas to have such a conversation with her. He hardly talks to anyone, let alone someone like that. For a moment, Maria and Farkas looked at each other as if both were trying to recollect things that they could not recall; bonds that were invisible; a purpose that was unclear. As neither could remember, they went back into their normal demeanour and said goodbye.