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Of course they had to be her hands. Who else’s hands could she be holding in front of her face? But they seemed so… so… well, old. Maybe not old. But older than the hands of a little girl, for sure.

She tried to put aside the perplexing mystery of her hands by refocusing her attention on the words in her book. Within a few short minutes, she found treasure; a good many words that certainly did help pass the time and remind her of what this journey was all about in the first place.

But now she felt a little badly that she had opened her book as a mere distraction. The pages are filled with such beneficial nuggets of wisdom and useful insights, how could she view this little black, leather-bound wisdom bank as anything other than a good, close friend who has never let her down. She smiled, knowing that her book would forgive her if it could specifically say so. Somewhere in her book, there are actually several words about that very topic.

The deep reverberating sound of the great ship’s horn brought the little girl to attention. She rose and walked to the railing and saw that the ship was now in the harbor of the resplendent city that she had so looked forward to seeing, and now here it was! Only a few more minutes and the ship would be docking and she and the other passengers would step forth into this wonderful new experience.

Suddenly, many doubts rushed into her head. She heard a handful of questions in her mind. How would she handle certain situations? What if she got lost? What if people noticed that she was only a little girl and concluded that she had no business walking around as though she belonged here? But mostly she just felt a general, heavy doubting feeling.

Then, almost as suddenly as the doubts came, a renewed resolve settled over the little girl, almost like a cavalry of heroes riding over the hill; a far superior force of the good guys arriving to chase the feelings of doubts away in a hasty retreat. The girl was now gritting her teeth and pursing her lips in determination, knowing that she was exactly where she was supposed to be. Nothing and no one would tell her any different.

The time came for her to step off the great ship and venture into the gleaming city. Holding tight to her book, she walked across the gangway connecting the ship to the dock. She carefully descended a beautiful spiral staircase to join the bustling masses of people coming and going, many there to see their arriving loved-ones and many there to prepare for a voyage of their own.

Now, here she was, downtown. It was incredible. Oddly, it was also familiar and this was somewhat reassuring to the little girl. But before she could muse about how recognizable her surroundings seemed to be, the little girl caught a glimpse of herself in the reflection of a store window.

She cocked her head back just a little, and gave herself a knowing smile.

All in the same instant, the girl recognized the reflection and yet she didn’t. But still, she knew it was her that she was looking at. And she was proud of the person looking back at her. Her smile said it all.

Previously on the ship, when she looked at her hands, she had been startled at first, but then things started to come back to her. When she felt the surge of determination to rise above her doubts, she had felt that in the flash of that moment other things about her had changed as well. So, this time she wasn’t startled to see that the person reflecting back was a lovely woman, maybe in her mid-thirties.

Next she would figure out why her surroundings were so familiar.

To be continued…

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