A circle's turning point

On looking back, I remember now. Spring had finally come and it was tugging at my heart to leave the dusty chores and indifferent house. Outside the air was fresh with the moist earth turning green and delicate, and down by the bend of the creek were the early flowers, waiting like a gift. They stretched across a knob of hill sheltered by the woods where the warmth of the sun was cupped against the night. Slowly across the nodding green of slender stems, the daffodils had begun to uncurl like drops of light. I knew the hill would be shimmering gold against the sky, and there would be hanging over it a faint sweetness, a fragrance fading into my other days like a small dream.

I must go, I must go, and I took my youngest, Johnny. The older children had grown into their own worlds but Johnny was still waiting with me, and so we went down together, Johnny and I.

He was only six but fast going on seven, and he had no front teeth, so when he crowed, he lisped, and he couldn't eat without spilling, or at least that was what he said. He was born with a brightness in his face and he stumbled through the hours serenely confident of love in the world, for that was what he brought to the world. He hardly ever heard when he was called, as he was always busy thinking, figuring out the marvels that were singing through his mind like fragments from the night.

We had almost reached the daffodils when in the middle of a skip, he stopped. ''Does it always come green - you know - after all the snow? I wonder why.''

''Maybe it is to remind us,'' I said. I was wondering too. ''I guess we get so busy, Johnny, we forget things - like just looking.''

He did three hops and screwed up his round button nose. ''Dicky don't think so. He says ain't no reason for nothing. 'Member Dicky?''

Oh yes, I couldn't forget Dicky. Things always fell apart and came unglued when Dicky showed up. ''I expect Dicky doesn't notice much,'' I ventured. ''It's why I took just you.''

''Is it something special?'' He aimed a stone at a stump and smiled when it hit, with a satisfying thump.

''It'll be something to remember, Johnny - a little something - very beautiful. You never know what's going to happen inside you when you see something beautiful - it's like . . . well, when someone you love smiles at you.''

He thought a moment. ''Teddy, my Teddy - he does sometimes - only you don't believe it, I 'spect. It's extra and it's 'cause he cares so much.''

I could nearly believe it. Once or twice at night, going into Johnny's bedroom, I had caught something on the brown whiskery face looking gently up from the pillow near Johnny's head. I almost envied Teddy being cuddled so close and giving only comfort.

The path was curving out of the woods and Johnny scampered ahead and he flapped his arms like wings and chanted, ''Hopping down the bunny trail, Peter Rabbit snaps his paws, flap . . . flap. . . .'' It was something he had done since three. Then he had darted into the open and I caught the pause as he stared amazed at the field of daffodils.

''The sun spilled over,'' he cried, and a gladness came over me like the song of a bird perched on the twig top of a tree when the day begins. Petty fears of my life dropped away and I was standing there silent and waiting, with the sun overhead and a small boy wading in the gold of daffodils. I could almost see back to the child I had been when the sky and the wind and the grass are all one with you, and the loveliness makes you want to weep but you shout instead.

The moment passed and slowly we turned out of the woods and ahead was the village with its busy shops. Nothing had changed - only a wisp of cloud was turning pink from the sunset over the daffodils.

''We'll be coming back, Mother?'' He looked up at me and the crooked gaping smile caught at my heart. He was so sure I would always have a little boy to go back with.

''Mother, you won't forget - it's a promise!'' He crowed as he jumped across the small ditch by the road.

A promise! O Johnny - and I felt his confiding small hand slip back into mine. Such a long circle I had been - such a long circle back - and it was Johnny had brought me . . . a turning point, taking me to the beginning so as to see through to all that was ahead . . . in confidence . . . hope. . . .

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