The doorbell disturbed their daily dinner ritual. Mark got to get the door before Ann could resent the disturbance.
“Hon, it’s an envelope addressed to you. Somebody just left it at the door and left”, he spoke as he returned to the table. She took the envelope and tore it open, curious about the sender. She questioningly glanced at Mark to observe if there was any surprise in waiting. But he either wasn’t aware
Dear Ann Roosevelt,
We are delighted to announce that you and your partner have been shortlisted for our exclusive Rejuvenation Retreat: Canopy Sunrise this weekend. The list of essentials you require is enclosed with the letter. Don’t worry the list isn’t too long. We believe in travel light as we help you find the lost light in the darkness of today’s world.
We look forward to see you at the address mentioned.
Till then have a happy life,
The Light In Darkness.
“Is this some kind birthday gift you are planning?” Ann spoke putting the letter on the table and scanning the list of items required for the walk in the forest.
“Me? No! I know nothing about this sweetheart. But it sure sounds like an adventure. I haven’t been to any forest before. Have you?”, asked Mark genuinely.
“Yes, twice. Once when dad took us to the forest near our farmhouse and second was a college trip to the woods”, she still wasn’t convinced about Mark’s non-involvement in the whole scheme of things.
“Let’s do it then. It will be fun and a beautiful sunrise memory we can add to our little collection! Please Ann!”, pleaded Mark.
“If this is not your plan, and I haven’t applied for any offers as such, who sent this letter?”
“Why do you think so much? May be it’s just universe helping us to spend some time together in peace, away from the darkness of this world!”, winked Mark.
“What if this is tactic by some burglar gang to have a good hand at theft by sending us away?”, Ann began to sound concerned, her overthinking kicking in as she picked up the emptied plates and went to do the dishes.
Mark walked over to Ann giving her a helping hand and a few words of advice, “I ask Jason to stay here in the guest room and look after the house. Now can we go? Why think of all the bad things that can happen, think about the good ones that are on the way”. He quickly stole a kiss when he saw her smile.
The whole of the week went by in a jiffy but Ann’s struggle to find answers to her questions was proved to be futile. Against her better judgement, she had finally agreed to Mark for the Forest Escape as he liked to call it. On the eve of the Escape, she stuffed all the essentials into two small backpacks, one for each of them. In the morning, she spoke to Jason for about an hour, explaining to him a list of instructions for the house.
The ride to reach the address in the letter took them two hours. Ann couldn’t keep still throughout the ride. Mark was invariably enjoying the ride with her favourite songs playing in the loop. When they neared the makeshift gateway to the forest, Ann couldn’t help but notice the giant balloon which advertised loudly about the Retreat and its organisers The Light In The Darkness. The name sounded familiar to her but she just couldn’t place its origin in her mind. As she walked through the gateway after the customary security checks she finally decided to let go of her thoughts.
The walk was calm and serene, as the birds chirped returning to their homes. The sun was beginning to set and darkness began to engulf. The torches were lit to let the participants walk easily. Ann kept holding to Mark all the while, she hadn’t told him about her fear of snakes and her previous experiences of the woods. After walking for good three hours, they reached a clearing where a few tents were already set around a burning bonfire. The night went by as they stared at the starry sky from the transparent ceiling of the tents. The area was surrounded by only trees and one could hear the wind rushing through the leaves to touch the few human souls. The insects too continued to talk in their own languages, Mysterious to everyone else.
“Thank you”, Ann whispered to Mark, as they lay in each other’s arms grazing at the lone moon with the star-filled sky.
“What did I do?”, he winked.
The sun took charge from the Moon and began to brighten up the day, its rays breaking through the canopy of the trees.
Her birthday has just begun.