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  • Writer's pictureScott Bryant

I See Nora in Me

Background photo by Francesco Sgura via

Maya stood before her closet, eyes scanning the hangers as if searching for something she couldn't quite name. "Why is this so hard?" she muttered to herself. "Why can't I just pick out an outfit and go?" She knew the answer, of course. It was the same answer that had been haunting her since high school. "I don't fit in," she said, her voice low. "I feel like I'm always playing a role, but I don't know the script." Maya shook her head, frustration rising in her chest. "But it's more than that. It's like I'm not even sure who I am. I've spent so much time trying to fit into someone else's idea of who I should be that I've lost sight of myself." She took a deep breath, steadying herself. "Maybe it's time to stop trying to fit in and start standing out. Maybe it's time to find something that makes me feel alive, just for me." As she closed her eyes, Maya felt a glimmer of hope. Maya had always been independent, but her first few months in college had been tough. She struggled to find her place, even though she did have a few friends. However, her friends were all so different from her. Maya felt like she needed to fit in somewhere.

Maya sat on a bench by the lake, feeling the cool breeze on her face. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and sighed, wishing she could disappear and start over somewhere new where nobody knew her. Then, she opened her eyes and noticed an older woman with bright eyes and a warm smile walking toward her. The woman sat down next to her and said, "Hello there. You look like you could use some company." Maya was taken aback by the stranger's kindness. She hesitated momentarily, but something in the woman's eyes made her feel safe. "Sure," Maya said, surprised by her response.

The woman extended her hand, "My name is Nora Jean Beth, but you can call me Nora. What's yours?" "I'm Maya," she replied, shaking Nora's hand. Nora turned to the lake and deeply breathed, "It's beautiful here. I come here to find peace when life gets too overwhelming." Maya nodded, feeling a sense of comfort around Nora. They talked about their love for literature and their shared passion for the English language. Nora shared her favorite book with Maya, and Maya shared her struggles with writing. "What's your favorite book?" Maya asked Nora. "Oh, that's a tough question. I've read so many good ones. If there is one, I'd say it's The Woman Who Ran with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés." There was another comfortable silence between Maya and Nora. But as Nora looked over to Maya, she sensed something was wrong.

"What's troubling you, my dear Maya?" Maya hesitated, but Nora's gentle presence made her comfortable to open up. "I'm just feeling lost," she admitted. "I feel like everyone around me has it all figured out but me." Nora nodded sympathetically. "I know that feeling all too well. Do you want to know something? No one has it all figured out. We're all discovering as we move along in life. And that's okay." Maya raised an eyebrow. "But don't you have it all figured out? You seem so wise." Nora chuckled. "I may have a few more decades on you, but that doesn't mean I have everything figured out. I try to live in the present moment and trust that things will work out as intended." Maya thought about that for a moment, taking in Nora's words. "You're right. I need to stop worrying and trust the journey." "That's the spirit," Nora said, smiling.

"And speaking of journeys, would you like to come with me tomorrow night to a special place in the park? It's a quiet spot where you can hear the sounds of nature under the stars and beneath your feet. I think you would like it," Nora said with an inviting smile. Maya, with a surprised yet inquisitive look, said, "Really? That sounds wonderful. But I'm not sure if I can make it. Schoolwork, you know, keeps me busy." "Oh, Maya, don't worry about work for a while. Come with me and be in the moment. I promise it will be worth it."

Nora led Maya down a winding path, the moonlight casting eerie shadows on the ground. As they walked, the trees grew denser and the underbrush more tangled until they reached a clearing where an elegant glamping site, lit up by magical lights strung from tree to tree, was set up. "Wow," Maya breathed, taking in the tranquil beauty of the spot. "I never knew this was here." Maya couldn't believe what she was seeing. "It's my secret spot," Nora said with a smile. "I come here to think and write and just be." Maya looked at her with wonder. "You write too?" Nora nodded. "I do. And you should too. You have a gift, Maya. You need to find the courage to use it." Maya felt a warm glow in her chest. It was the first time someone had ever spoken to her like that, with such faith in her abilities. "I'll try," she said softly. "Good," Nora said. "And I'll be here to support you every step of the way."

Nora and Maya sat in silence for a moment, taking in the peacefulness of the night. Then Nora turned to Maya and spoke. "You know, Maya, sometimes we get swept up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget to stop and appreciate the little moments. Moments like this one, where we can sit and be present." Maya nodded thoughtfully, her eyes fixed on the glimmering stars above them. "It's like the stars," Nora continued. "They're always there, but we don't always take the time to notice them. We don't appreciate their beauty and wonder." "I never thought of it that way," Maya said softly. Nora smiled. "It's easy to overlook the beauty in life when we're so focused on our worries and fears. But if we can learn to appreciate the small things, we can find joy even amid hardship." Maya looked at Nora, her heart full of gratitude. "Thank you," she whispered. Nora took Maya's hand in hers. "We're all on this journey together, Maya. I'm here to remind you of the beauty surrounding us daily."

Nora smiles softly and nods. "I know that feeling all too well. But you know, Maya, I've found that the beauty of life lies in its imperfections. It's the messy parts, the parts that don't quite fit, that make life interesting and worth living. It's like a painting - without the imperfections, it wouldn't be nearly as captivating." Maya looks at her, her eyes wide with wonder. "You see the world that way?" Nora chuckles. "I try to. Of course, I have my off days. Life and its little moments happen for a reason, and even the worst things can lead to something beautiful." Maya nods slowly, taking it all in. "I want to see the world the way you do, Nora. I want to find beauty in everything, even the imperfections." Nora smiles at her, a light in her eyes. "I think you will, Maya. You have a beautiful heart, and that's where it all begins."

Nora smiled at Maya and said, "I see so much potential in you, Maya. You have a gift for words and a depth of emotion that can touch people's hearts. You just need to believe in yourself. Your voice is yours and yours alone." Maya felt her eyes fill with tears as Nora's words sank in. No one had ever spoken to her with such kindness and encouragement. She looked at Nora and said, "Thank you for seeing me, Nora. I feel like I've been invisible for so long, but you make me feel seen." Nora took Maya's hand and said, "You're not invisible, Maya. You're a beautiful, unique soul with a story to tell. And I'm here to help you tell it." Maya felt a warmth spread through her chest at Nora's words. She felt like she had someone on her side for the first time in a long time. Someone who believed in her and her dreams.

The next day, Maya woke up with a sense of gratitude. She knew she had to thank Nora for their beautiful time the night before. Maya hurried to the park, hoping to find her at their secret spot. But as she approached the bench, Maya's heart sank. Nora was nowhere to be seen. Maya searched the surrounding area, calling her name, but there was no answer. Then, finally, she saw a paper tucked under a rock on the bench. Maya's hands trembled as she picked it up and read:

My dear Maya,

I am sorry to have to say goodbye like this. We have only met, but I have known you forever. I want you to know you have a beautiful spirit and a kind heart. You have so much potential and so much to offer the world. Never let anyone make you feel otherwise. I am grateful for the time we spent together. I hope you will always remember our conversations, laughter, and shared moments. Please carry them with you and let them guide you. Please don't be sad. Remember, life is precious, and every moment is a gift. Live it fully, with love and courage. That's what I will do wherever I am.

Until we meet again,

~ Nora

Maya's eyes filled with tears as she read the letter. She felt a pang of sadness, loss, and deep gratitude and love. She knew that Nora's words would stay with her forever, like a beacon of light in the darkness. Maya folded the letter and put it in her pocket. She looked up at the sky, feeling the sun's warmth on her face. She smiled, knowing that Nora was somewhere up there, watching over her. Maya walked away from the bench, feeling a sense of purpose and hope. She was gifted something special, something magical. And she knew that she would never forget Nora, her wise and wonderful friend.

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