The car came to a full stop at the edge of the long lawn that curved away from the road on the northwestern side of the park. The car was a small blue compact, covered in scratches and holes where the paint was peeling and bumper stickers proclaiming freedom and power and revolution and truth. Three girls walked out of the car smiling. They came to stand together on the dirt path that separated the asphalt from the lawn. All three girls were dressed in black, one in a short black dress, another in black shirt and black skirt, and yet another in a black T-shirt and black jeans. The one in the dress was the youngest and her face was peppered with freckles, her hair was blonde and her eyes were wide open and eager. The one in the black skirt was the oldest and her face was long and thin and her eyes were narrow and full of suspicion and her chin protruded like a broken ledge and her hands and arms were thin and moved through the air with slow gracefulness. The one in pants had streaks of red and pink and green on her hair and she had deep black lines of make up under her eyes and her arms were thicker and she stood with her legs slightly apart as if preparing for a fight. They stood in a small circle on the brown road of dirt and pebbles and they looked at each other. The oldest one leaned forward and smiled, and the others responded by bowing and smiling as well. Then the oldest one started to walk down the incline of the lawn, towards one of the several empty picnic tables that stood close to the dark bushes that outlined the wide curves of grass. The other two followed, moving quietly, eyes fixed on their leader.
The leader came to the bench and sat on the surface of the table, with her feet on the bench, and she turned around to look at her friends who were just behind her. Her legs were very white and they were shining with the sunlight of the early afternoon as she crossed them and leaned back.
“Are you both clear on what we are doing?”
The youngest girl stood nervously to her right and nodded. The tough girl nodded as well and shrugged her shoulders slightly.
“As clear as I can be, I guess…”
“No,” the leader said, “I want to know that you are very clear, I want to know that there are no questions left behind at all.”
The younger girl shook her head swiftly, “no questions, no questions at all.”
The tough girl nodded and frowned, “I don’t have any questions…”
“Then we will look for the gifts…” she took out a small bag made of black cloth and placed it carefully on the table. She opened it and looked inside. “When you find what you find, bring it over and put it in here…”
All three then went their separate ways, around the lawn itself, behind the bushes, through the trail that led back to the soccer fields and even around it to the hidden lawn and the darker areas full of trees where the grass was taller and the afternoon was not as warm. The young girl looked around carefully as she walked, and every once in a while her eyes would come to rest on a bit of twig, or a loose leaf, or a loose pebble or even a flat stone. She would then pick up the object and bring it back to the black bag that waited on the table. The tough girl did the same, but moved faster and with more decisiveness. She made two or three trips in the same time that the younger girl did one. She went further away and brought back some small brown rocks from the other side of the soccer field and some little purple flowers from behind the big dark bushes on the other side of the road. The older girl stayed close to the bag but still looked for what was there, and managed to find many bits of bark and little pebbles and even a tiny shiny rock. It all went into the black bag. When the leader determined that they had enough, she asked them to stop. She tied the bag with a small piece of light white rope and they walked over to one of the most prominent bushes, just a few feet away from the table.
“We offer this gift to the goddess, as an act of sacrifice and love for the many gifts that she has chosen to offer us,” she spoke slowly and in a very soft voice that seemed to trail off with the slight breeze that was flowing through the long empty lawn.
“We offer this gift to the goddess in a sincere act of humility, with our hearts opened and our minds at ease,” said the young girl and she blushed slightly as the other two looked at her with crisp attention.
“We offer this to the goddess for her powerful presence and her infinite wisdom, that she may continue to share her abilities with us who are only her servants,” said the tough girl and the others nodded and smiled at her.
The leader then tied the loose end of the white rope to one of the thicker branches of the dark green bush and, for a moment, they all stared at the black bag as it dangled in the midst of a world of light brown twigs, green leaves and pregnant shadows. After a few minutes went by, the leader turned to them and smiled broadly, and let out a long full breath. “It is done… now we can go back…”
And they walked back to the car together, in the same formation as they had come.