Thirty-two months that changed my life

Sunrise
A crisp Autumn morning.

On a crisp autumn morning back in early May 2013, I awoke with two very distinct and contrasting feelings jostling each other to gain supremacy in my mind and heart — the excitement of having achieved something that had been a major part of my life for nearly three years… and the sadness of letting two very familiar and much-loved characters go out into the world where I no longer had the ability to choose the paths they would take.

No, they aren’t my children going off to kindy or day care or pre-school for the very first time, or guide dog puppies in training that now have to get to know a new master or mistress for the rest of their lives as I wave them goodbye with a tear in my eye. These much-loved friends don’t know what it feels like to have real flesh stretched over their marrow-filled bones, nor rivers of red blood throbbing through their veins. Even their thick glossy hair is just a figment of my imagination.

I’ve never heard their voices — except in my head and heart — nor their joyous laughter or those bucket-loads of tears… and there were so many of both. I never walked and talked with them, or sat around a table where we shared a satisfying meal, along with fascinating stories that kept us entertained for hours.

But I have taken them on journeys around this wonderful land of ours — visiting white sandy beaches where sandcastles fashioned out of tiny grains of silica were adorned with pieces of sun-drenched driftwood, long sinews of seaweed and tiny white shells. Then up to blue-hued mountain ranges that echo with shrill cooees as three rigid sisters stand guard… with a little rocky brother by their side. There off in the distance of their homeland’s most north-easterly capital, a hilltop with four tall towers stretching like long tapered fingers into the sky… where two sets of eyes turned their gaze ever wondering about another. Further south and blazing a glorious panorama, huge white sails made of tiles created the perfect silhouette against an azure blue sky while a giant coat-hanger spanned an expanse of the bluest of harbours.

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Off to other countless places that run along this ribbon of earth known as the east coast of Australia — even a stark white lighthouse on a rocky headland, warning sailors not to venture too close.

Grabbing their passports, along with a few stolen weeks of blissful freedom, these happy companions explored down narrow cobblestone roadways leading to fascinating little shopfronts from hundreds of years past. Looking over a mountain range where stark white snowdrifts crowned rugged peaks that turn pink at sunset — and busy Italian piazzas where old men played cards and drank Chianti while little children laughed and played in the streets.

More glorious places to explore… wandering along pristine streets in the city where Mozart was born — playing his dancing violin and mesmerising people with those frolicking fingers — while a sprawling white castle watched over them like a mother hen protecting her chicks. A little while later, these two — with a little girl in tow — visited a tiny hamlet on the banks of that famous blue river… the one that snakes through so many countries in Europe and where long laden barges break its glassy surface. The song of a minstrel led them up a steep rock-strewn hillside where a once-beautiful castle had fallen into rubbly pieces… now only a crumbling shell left to remember. Perched on a rock wall, the same trio listened to a tale of an English king held prisoner in a fortress overlooking this quaint village with the strange name of Dürnstein… with its Wedgewood blue tower in sharp contrast to those stark ruins forever peering down onto its ancient streets.

The art of Florence’s finest galleries held them enthralled for a while — along with traipsing the crawlspace of a massive dome until a magnificent vista lay before them that was once drawn by architects of olden times… and now looks like a colourful Persian carpet. Later, a miniature fortress standing sentinel in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea held them spellbound on a leisurely stroll… as well as wandering the narrow thoroughfares of enchanting Cortona, an Etruscan township perched high on a Tuscan hill — places others only dream about through deep slumber-filled nights — to perform in a concert where another man with a violin in this modern age held a throng mesmerised as strains of stirring music filled its gaslit square.

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Onto vast theatre stages where more stories wait in readiness to spring to life — of places and people and tales set to music — encompassing them in those make-believe lives. And onwards to London to tread more of those well-worn boards…

And so many other tendrils — far too many to tell here — all needing to wait in readiness for a lover of words to devour.

*****

Yet none of these adventures cost a single cent — except for the toll on my heart as I felt the emotions of those biggest of highs and the depths of despair as Lara and Adam’s story seeped out of the caverns only found in a storyteller’s brain.

Have you worked it out yet? I’m sure you have. I think I gave enough clues to gain an understanding of what I do most days sitting in front of a computer constantly conjuring up scenarios for the shadowy figures waiting in readiness on the brink of my imaginings.

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Yes, I was feeling both sad and excited. The strangest feeling in the world… no longer spending the day — or at least part of it — with these two who have become treasured friends… ones I sometimes wish I knew in reality.

For 32 months these two had been a wonderous part of my life. And now it was time for them to embark on a journey of their own – meeting people who may love them to bits … or despise them for the choices they made. A bit like our own lives really…

Creating a lifetime for characters with the finger-strokes of a keyboard and learning all of their intricate yearnings and characteristics, along with those of their families and friends — first in my imagination and then on reams and reams of pages that kept me up long into the night… every night — was been a breathtaking experience.

Two fanciful people who brought me delightful new friends of my own and also ushered old ones back into my life… and taken me to places I never would have imagined.

An exquisite song sung by two of the finest voices in the world started me on this path and provided me with a whole new fascinating career. Along the way I have met some delightful people because of a certain show — and received cherished heartfelt gifts from several of them as well.

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Lara and Adam, you have given me so many highs and lows as I steered you down your own paths — some that brought a big smile to my face and others that made my heart ache at times. It’s bittersweet letting you go now to find your own way… is that a heartfelt sigh that just rose out of my throat — or the last remnants of your breath as you leave me for the final time?

Now dear reader, you may gather an inkling of why I felt to write this tribute to one of the most memorable times of my life. I will miss these old friends clamouring to do the things they dream of and to be with that other one — the one that made them whole — again.

It certainly has been a wonderful journey — one I wouldn’t have missed for anything. Stay safe, you two, and I trust you make new friends who will journey with you along those well-worn paths already taken… but never forget there’s a lone figure sitting at a computer who will always hold you in her heart.

Is there something that has captured your heart in a similar way? What genre of books do you enjoy reading?