I finally reached Achilles' Last Stand, and stood silently by Madeleine's side for a moment or few, and I watched her type away on her computer, which, just last sun greeting, was upon her desk in the county clerk's office. For those new to these stories, you see, sweet Madeleine is my boss, the county clerk. And I am her assistant, the assistant county clerk. There also had been some romantic...umm...exchanges between us lately, and the more fervently inclined regions of my heart had grown quite fond of her. I realize, of course, that romance between a human and an albino peacock is a strange and uncommon concept...but our lovely Xanadu Forest is a strange and uncommon place.
Sweet Madeleine finally stopped typing for a moment, pushed up her glasses, and gratefully broke the awkward silence, "Happy, sun greeting, Kev. Yes, Raven is gone. Your lovely gatekeeper has returned to her family, which is good and proper."
My heart sank nearly to the core of existence much more quickly than the speed of light, for I feared the answer to the question I was about to ask...but I asked anyway, "Did she say when she is coming back?"
Madeleine is a loving and compassionate soul, but she is never one to mince words or to beat around the bush. So she simply replied, "She's not. She's not coming back, Kev." Then after that, she shouted, "Hey! Where are you going?!"...for I had turned and walked away.
I shouted back, "I'm going back to the Persian rug, and I'm going to lie down and try standing up again, because this is obviously some sort of misguided and vivid dream!" I did just as I had shouted I would, and returned to Achilles' Last Stand a few moments later, at a complete loss for words.
Madeleine put her wing upon my shoulder, and spoke gently, "I've gotten to know you pretty well by now, Kev. I know how you're feeling, and I have a good idea what you're thinking this moment too. It's time for you to trust me. It's going to be okay."
I replied, "But why wouldn't she tell me herself instead of just vanishing? Our love for one another has always been deep. She has been with me since the very beginning."
Madeleine adjusted her glasses and looked deep into my eyes. I felt her power for the first time just that moment--a tremendous power--a reassuring power. Intimidating, but in a beautiful and nurturing sort of way. Then she spoke softly, "Kev, you are a gentle and highly sensitive soul. You would have guilted her into staying, and that would have been a terrible thing for both of you. She still loves you, and she knows that you love her. That is what really matters. You know well that people come in and out of our lives all the time for all sorts of reasons. A new sun greeting has arrived for both of you. Accept it. Embrace it. Learn to adore it. You'll see." And sweet Madeleine's warm smile reached down into the deepest part of my soul and lifted my heart out of the slimy pit just like that.
I was suddenly more grateful for sweet Madeleine's presence in my life than I ever had been before...and that's saying a lot! It felt natural, proper...and very comforting. I was grateful I was able to smile back at her the way that she smiled at me, for it was most appropriate. Then I suddenly noticed an envelope next to the computer, written upon it in Raven's handwriting, "From #1 to #2." I reached for the envelope, but Madeleine slapped my hand away and spoke sternly, "Uh, no. That's for me, not for you! Just you never mind."
A thousand questions or more rocketed to the front of my mind--many of them very good and happy questions. Some of the questions...well, um, they were still valid you know! My eyes opened wider, and the corners of my mouth began to curl upward as I asked sweet Madeleine, "So you're going to be my gatekeeper now?" I felt very much like a young child as those words passed my lips.
Sweet Madeleine laughed, and took off her glasses, and spoke, "Well, you're pretty dense sometimes, and are often too emotional to make quality decisions. You're going to need a gatekeeper. I was nearby, and since we've got the county clerk's office network connected through the garden servers anyway, it seemed a natural transition. And, since I'm sure you'll be wondering, yes, I am still your boss. You would do well not to forget that!"
I assured sweet Madeleine I would not forget that she was my boss, and another thought crept into my mind: "If I remember correctly, there are some codes and rules regarding gatekeepers and the nature of their relationships with the gardens they watch over."
Madeleine wisely anticipated my thoughts and wisely replied, "Yes, you remember correctly. And yes, I liked you too...liked you liked you, of course, as you have like liked me. But we will have to put that behind us now. Breaking the gatekeepers' code would be a terrible thing for both of us...it could even destroy your entire sacred garden. But we will adapt, and our love for one another will never have run deeper than it will from here on out. Trust me."
I was genuinely happy, and I smiled warmly as I replied, "I do trust you, Madeleine. It feels right. You were brought into my sacred garden for a reason, and you will make a wonderful gatekeeper...you already ARE, in fact! But I have to admit, I don't feel right calling you 'my lovely gatekeeper.' It feels like that name should be retired for eternity." Madeleine put her glasses back on and nodded in agreement. I concluded, "What if I were to call you my beautiful gatekeeper? Would that be okay?"
Madeleine smiled softly at me and said, "Yes, that would be perfect. Thank you, Kev."
I thanked my beautiful gatekeeper back, and realized it was time to clarify one last detail: "Just to be clear, this means I can't play dress-up with your wardrobe in the county clerk's office anymore, right?" I asked.
Madeleine surprised me with her answer, "I don't see it causing any harm...so long as I don't know about it." And she went back to typing upon Achilles' Last Stand.
I said "Sweet!" very softly under my breath and turned and started walking toward the garden gate.
"Where are you going?" asked Madeleine.
I chuckled and winked and answered, "To the county clerk's office of course...to double check on those files that probably need filing, you know. No appointments today, my beautiful gatekeeper, thank you."
I distinctly heard Edwin the Bee upon His lotus flower grumble at me as I exited my sacred garden, but I also detected a sneaky warm smile from Him. I told him I loved Him, and so began the next set of chapters in my life.
I'm so grateful & blessed.
I love you.
Thank you always.