I ran into Dot and Alli today on my way back from a supply run. The three of us met at an intersection under a bright blue technicolor sky peppered with white fleecy clouds that resembled cotton candy stretched across the heavens. A curious intersection where a dirt path met bright golden bricks and black tar pavement.

Alli looked as if she’d just crawled out of a rabbit hole – white pinafore smudged with mud – twigs and leaves sticking out of her long blond hair. Dot appearing as if she’d just awoken from a dream having slid down a rainbow, neatly dressed in blue gingham, red shoes sparkling as they reflected the light of the mid-day sun. Her little dog tucked safely in the basket nestled in the crook of her arm. And me in my favorite quarantine uniform – yoga pants, t-shirt and hair in a messy bun.

“Pardon me, but did you see a rabbit? He’s wearing a waistcoat and carrying a pocket watch” Alli inquired in her sweet refined accent. “I followed him this way, and I desperately need to find him.”

“Not me.” Dot replied pointing back down the swirling winding path from which she appeared. “Nothing that way but a village of charming little people and a man entirely made of straw and man of tin and a lion and they could all sing and dance. But no rabbit.”

“Me neither,” I replied. “He wasn’t in Publix. They only allow service animals. I could have missed him altogether in the Easter Section. They’re still trying to get rid of all that stuff. And I could only move one way down the aisles.” I grinned, seeing the opportunity to lighten Alli’s intensity.

“Oh, but I really must find him. He led me here, so he most certainly knows the way home.”

“Home!” Dot exclaimed. “Well, that’s where I’m trying to get back to! You must come with me. I was instructed that there’s a man in that city who knows the way!” Dot pointed across the field of poppies toward a skyline of Emerald green.

“I live on Celebration Boulevard. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump away – quicker than you can click your heels.” I said. “But neither of you look like you are from ‘round here. Want me to call you an Uber?”

“Oh my!” replied Alli nervously to Dot. “But you can’t go that way. I hear there is a Queen there who decapitates anyone that comes near. And you’re likely to encounter a very cynical cat and a cryptic caterpillar who won’t give you any direction at all. He’ll just drone on and on and on asking ‘who are you?’ No help at all. That’s most certainly not the way home.” Alli insisted.

“Well, you can’t go back from where YOU came Alli,” Dot implored. I’ve seen a witch with a squadron of flying monkeys come from that direction. Green and haggard and flying on a broom. She is very, very angry. She even wrote in smoke across the sky that wants to kill me, and my little dog too. That most certainly is NOT the way home.”

“Well, you all could go that way,” I replied gesturing toward my idyllic little town. “But you’ll need to wear masks and be indoors by 11pm. An invisible curse has been cast upon the land that has made people retreat to their homes indefinitely. Businesses have been shuttered and everyone is living in fear clinging to their TVs, phones, and tablets for signs that the curse has been lifted.”

The pause was palpable. I was certain that laughter would soon break the silence.

“Oh my, that’s terrible.” Cried Alli, mouth agape and hands pressed to her face in horror. “How curious. Those poor people!”

“Yes, well that’s certainly not the way to go” declared Dot. Alli nodded in agreement.

“Nope, not going there. A witch and a homicidal queen,” Dot reasoned, “I can absolutely handle that.” She curtsied politely as she quickly excused herself, skipping – no running down the yellow pavers, dog in tow, continuing down her path to the bright green city.

“Don’t drink the water or lay down in the poppies” she exclaimed as she disappeared around the bend.

Turning back to Alli, I could see she was already making her mad exit. “Goodbye! And good luck with your invisible curse thing” she offered very cordially. “And if you see the rabbit, tell him NOT to go that way. Go anyway, but NOT that way.”

“And don’t eat the cookies. They’re full of sugar and they mess with your digestion.” And with that, Alli dashed down the dusty road toward a quaint little tea party already in progress.

“Um. . . keep calm and wash your hands.” I shouted. “And remember, you can always make masks out of your aprons.” I didn’t have much too add considering both were willing to face what I perceived to be, bigger fears than my own.

Moral of the story: Everyone is trying to make their way home, facing the fears that are relevant to their stories. Change your story – change your fear. Get home safely.