The man stood in his office chuckling. His promotion had seemed a thing of such excitement but now it was more a source of humor. After so many years of work in one of the many cubicles scattered throughout the floor he had been offered a small raise and an office. While he did appreciate the promotion, it did not do much. The raise placed him in a higher tax bracket so the increase in salary did not even make it to his pocket. The office? It at least inspired a laugh. It was nothing more than another cubicle. The only difference was one of it's walls was an actual wall of steel, stone and glass...

The woman, though still lovely, looked tired. Even in her sleep, there was no rest from the burden that had been her due. As she would say to her family, "It is my time to endure... it is my time to hold fast and I will do so as long as it is given me to do." Her stubbornness had always shined like the sun. When asked, her husband would always include this trait along with her beauty, gentleness and strength. As he held her hand now, he smiled down at her counting every breath entering then leaving her body...

It did not take long to unload his belongings. His laptop he placed slightly to the right of center and a jelly jar with construction paper deco pauge dotted with crayon smiles was placed just to the left. Next to this he arranged the pictures of his family then placed the paperclips, stapler and files in efficient order. He dropped a handful of pens into the happy jelly jar then smiled with the jar.
His children had made it as a gift to thank him. He had surprised them with the news of their upcoming vacation to Disney World. Not for just one week but for two whole glorious weeks they would be together on a long and wonderful journey. They had in turn surprised him. Now he straightened the pens in the beautiful gift...

She began to stir then finally opened her eyes. There was no window in the ICU but her eyes twinkled with sunlight as she smiled. Her husband witnessed her tussle with death. He knew that it was bound to win but she would not let death be the victor. It would not take her easily nor would it rob her of the joy she found in life. According to her, she was not dying. "I will live until I am dead and then death can have me but as long as I have breath death will have to wait."...

He could hear the children playing. They could be quite loud but it was a beautiful sound in harmony with his wife's laughter. He painted a verbal picture of the office over the phone then told her he would be on time for dinner. She told him she had borrowed luggage from her sister then mapped out every inch for socks, shirts, shoes and everything else imaginable. There was room for the kitchen sink if "you think we need it" He could hear the smile on her face.
Disney is a magical place and his childhood visit there had remained with him but it was not the only place that held magic. As his journey had, so too would this journey lead his family to find more than the magic of Cinderella, Snow White or Peter Pan. That was the magic of a brilliant man but there was also another magic...

She took a few sips of water then tried with weak hands to hold a comb but could not. Her husband took it from her to comb her silver hair. He knew just how she liked it, parted to one side and back from her face. He held the mirror for her to see if she approved. They did not speak much now, since her breaths were shorter with more distanced between but their smiles said more than any words that had ever been written...

"Girls just wanna have fun..." floated playfully out of the radio with his mom and sister singing along. Disney was drawing closer but was still far away. They had started late then driven for what seemed to be the equivalent of crossing the Gobi Desert on a camel when they turned off the main road. After a while they pulled into the drive of a little cottage.
The cottage was of stone with moss laying at it's feet beneath ivy climbing upon it's breast. It's stance was solid, as unyielding as the trees and tall bushes which danced to the song whistled by the wind as it passed through the valley. Though it's walls were of stone, once through the door it became alive. A heart beat inside it. A mixture of many old things made up it's interior and all was set aglow by a small stone fireplace.
This was not the ideal place in the mind of a nine year old little boy on his way to a magic kingdom and he was reluctant to stay. The road was long and Disney awaited. His parents just smiled while they told him "Patience, Disney will be there and you will, too." So he sighed then said OK as if he was surrendering the galaxy to the minions of a dark over-lord for eternal domination. He sat in a chair trying hard not to look at the things in the room but found that an impossible task.
Even the dishes displayed in the old curios spoke of tales. Blue guys like George Washington bowed politely before ladies holding fans in gardens on a backdrop of creamy white. Chipped porcelain teapots and tea cups crowded around them expanding the blue gardens with yellow and red floral bouquets. Both lace and weaved cloths cradled these, carrying the eyes to the crisp white curtains bordering the windows. Wooden ships, hurricane lamps and porcelain vases stood atop the old tables placed with the old chairs and couches of which the placements celebrated the humbleness of the small fire burning in it's stone hearth.
Given the lateness of their arrival, with dinnertime being long past, a women placed upon the table a selection of breads and meats, vegetables and condiments. Plates, glasses and silver were situated with humble charm. The ambiance of the entry followed into the dining room for the plates were creamy white. Lace and weaved napkins sat by them. The glasses were filled with milk and freshly baked cookies sat on a saucer by the vegetable plate. Paintings of fruit bowls and vegetable gardens hung around the walls. Punch bowls and gravy boats sat at anchor upon the aged buffet and the fragrance of fresh flowers in the table's centerpiece mingled pleasantly with the food...

The nurses attended her needs with mechanical, but kind, precision. Though well trained and professional, their sadness could not be hidden. It was as if the last bit of sugar was spilling out of the bowl, without which the taste of life would be bitter. They touched her shoulder before leaving the room. She clutched his hand, as with a whisper she told him to smile. "If I could leave anything to anyone, I hope it would be a smile."...

He slept in a small room. The sheets were smooth with a scent like a sunny day. The bed was soft and the room a nice blue. A sandy beach hung in the painting at his head and sea shell shadow boxes hung over the chest-of-drawers to his right, To his left, the stars hung outside the window. He looked around for Peter's shadow. If Pan was to show up anywhere on a journey outside of Disney this would be it. This place was a story book, began long ago but not yet finished in it's writing. He fell asleep watching for magic in the shadows.
The sun woke him, or it may have been the rooster. He did not dwell on the debate but dressed before he gathered his things. His mom and dad weren't there but he placed his clothing upon their bed by the suitcases. He could hear sounds so he descended the stairs, finding his mom standing in the doorway to the kitchen. She was watching the woman who had fed them the previous night.
He had seen street artist paint with chalk on the walkways in the city. Their intensity and surety concerning their creation could so easily be seen. This woman, too, was an artist. Rolling then cutting the biscuits, turning the bacon just so before flipping the eggs in mid-air. While her humming was off key and flat it narrated the events with perfection and a pleasant delivery. She twisted open the home canned jars of jelly and apple butter like the clashing of symbols. The harmony between the movements and sound was broken only by the occasional reflex of pushing her hair back behind her ears.
Mom carried her coffee to the back porch then sat next to his dad. His sister rocked gently in a giant rocking chair. She was humming with the woman in the kitchen but not very well. He guessed she was trying to place the tune to it's title. This made him chuckled. She would be there a while. He heard the birds singing, they knew the tune. There were no notes on paper or any top five playlist where this tune would be written. It blew in the breeze with the dandelion puffs...

She lay deeper into the pillow now. Out of habit, she reached up to push her hair behind her ear but her hand shook. He used his fingers to gently comb first one side then the other as she had tried. One side of her face now lacked the smile with the eyelid hiding a portion of the sunlight but the other side still shined though it twitched with failing strength...

He helped with the suitcases, then climbed into the car with the taste of apple butter still on his tongue. Mom and dad shook hands with the couple before getting into the car. Dad started the motor then said "Seatbelts, you guys!" The man held the woman's hand as she pushed her hair behind her ears with her free hand as she wished them a safe road for their journey and lots of fun...

Outside the hospital, a ray of sunlight shined through a gap in the gathering clouds. Inside, she held his hand one last moment then with the humble grace with which she had lived she released the world telling death he could now take her as she was finished in her time. She followed the beam of light through the clouds...

He sat at his desk, took a file from the stack then pressed start on the laptop. He remembered the car turning down the drive with the road to Disney appearing before him once more. He looked back at the woman with the bright eyes, touches of silver in her hair and a sweet smile waving good-bye outside the little stone cottage. He knew that Mr. Disney had been to such a place as this on his journey to build a kingdom of magic where dreams come true. His children would soon see the grandeur of that brilliant dream but they would make a stop on the way.
He typed the file number into the box on the screen. He didn't notice the sunbeam shining through the break in the clouds outside the high office window. As it faded behind him he reminisced over the magical taste of warm biscuits with apple butter in a small stone cottage where his soul was touched by a song of humble grace. He smiled.