The sea breeze caught and snapped at my coat. The sun had begun its descent past the horizon, spilling red hues across the sky. Salty spray coated my face. I embraced the cold chill of the ice, leaning into the frigid wind.
“I was wondering when you would arrive.” I turned from the waves licking the shore, feeling the corners of my mouth twitch up into a smile. There was Tollers, sitting in an overstuffed armchair next to a varnished table, a small pile of books resting on top.
“Expecting someone?” I asked.
“Always,” he replied. “How could I not?” Tollers gestured to an armchair opposite him. “Won’t you take a seat?”
Stepping over the rocky shore, I reached the chair and sank into it, losing myself in its warm cushions.
“So, what did you want to ask me?”
“Do I really need a reason to chat with an old friend?”
“No, but you do have a reason, I presume?”
I reached for the top book on the table, thumbing through the cracked pages. “‘The dragon came raging, Wild-mooded stranger, when these words had been uttered, seeking his enemies, Men that were hated, with hot-gleaming fire-waves; With blaze-billows burned the board to its edges.’”
“Ah, yes, Beowulf preceding the hunt for the dragon, if I’m not mistaken.” Tapping his pipe on the ashtray, he glanced over the top of his spectacles. “Perhaps you have your own dragon to face?”
Letting out a barking laugh, I replaced the fading book on its stack. “My dear Tollers, I have nothing nearly as invigorating as a dragon hunt. I am closer to the doldrums.”
“Even more deadly.”
I sighed, sinking further into the cushions. “The more I look, the more I see great warriors keeping the darkness at bay; knights and wizards doing battle against demons. I fear I have been left at home to mind the fire.”
“Minding the fire is a worthy task,” said Tollers, nodding thoughtfully. “But you wish the task of greater glory?”
“No, I—” I gazed out over the sea. “I only wish to be of some good use.”
“I suppose the usual answer to these questions is ‘all things are of use,’ or maybe ‘there are no small parts, only small actors,’ or perhaps we could try ‘by Jove, this all seems like rot, how about lunch?’” Tollers replied, with a bemused expression.
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Well,” Tollers said, straightening in his chair, “I think something special is in order here. Come with me.” Standing up, Tollers strolled off, beckoning for me to join him. Huffing, I pushed myself off the chair and back into the cold night. As the cold wind whipped around us, Tollers made his way to the edge of the rocky shore.
“Look up there,” Tollers said, pointing up. Beyond the lights and the smog in the city, the light was vivid and sharp. The starry cloud draping itself over the universe held me captive in its splendor.
“Now, who created this?”
“Correct, and how did He do so?”
“He said ‘let it be’ and it was.”
Now turning toward me, he said, “And you trust Him with all your heart?”
Breaking my eyes from the sight above me, I replied, “Unconditionally.”
“Then trust that He will provide. That, within the doldrums, He will send a wind to lift you above the darkness and into his light.”
“And in the meantime?”
“Keep your heading to True North and settle down for the ride, my friend,” he said with a wink. “However, I’m afraid—”
“I know, time’s up,” I interrupted, not even trying to keep the frown off my face.
“I do hope to see you soon.”
Opening my eyes, I squinted in the afternoon light cutting through my windows. My room seemed dusty, dry. I yawned.
“See you soon, Tolkien.”