Monthly Archives: May 2011

Well, There’s Some Good News and Some Bad News…

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The good news is it stopped raining and I finally went outside to get my gardening done.

The bad news is after getting a solid month of rain it looked more like a jungle.

The good news is all the rain has made everything grow like crazy.

The bad news is so did all the weeds.

The good news is it has been a year since I had to prune, weed, and deadhead.

The bad news is it feels like yesterday.

The good news is now that I pruned my roses I can get a ladder close to the windows so I can wash them.

The bad news is now I can wash the windows.

The good news is I am still limber enough to climb into the top of the garbage can and stomp down the rose branches with my rubber boots.

The bad news is they’re not hip waders so I still get gouged by diabolical thorns from the knees up.

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The good news is this year I wore leather gloves while I pruned the roses.

The bad news is the leather is only on the palm of my hands.

The good news is I am done with shredding the moguls in the mountain for the year and for that my body is grateful.

The bad news is my body is now being shredded by rose bushes.

The good news is I have made the decision to finally rip out the honeysuckle which the Colorado high winds have demolished.

The bad news is I am replacing them with more climbing roses.

The good news is with every branch I cut, I bit down hard making a grimace Jennifer Anniston calls “facial yoga” which can ultimately prevent wrinkles.

The bad news is with the profuse amount of branches pruned, I pulled a muscle in my jaw.

The good news is all the annuals I had to buy were cheaper this year.

The bad news is I splurged with the savings and I bought twice as many, doubling the amount of work I have to do.

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The good news is I took a day off from blogging.

The bad news is I caught the neighbors gawking as they drove by, since I thought I was writing this in my head, but was really muttering to myself the whole time; apparently not taking a day off at all.

The good news is my kids are home to help this summer.

The bad news is, well, I can’t think of any bad news with that one!

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 The good news is Courtney doesn’t have to mow again for a week!

Photographs by S. Lindau


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Oprah and Me

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When I was in my late twenties and living in Madison, Wisconsin, I had to get my wisdom teeth pulled. I shuddered at the thought of  having my gums sliced open and impacted molars removed, but looked forward to a couple of days off from work as a medical illustrator at the VA Hospital. The day after the surgery I rested in bed at the rental house that my sister Patty and I shared. My boyfriend of three years planned to stop by later that afternoon to check in on me.

Later that afternoon and groggy on Tylenol 3’s with codeine, I decided to catch up on few programs on our small Zenith TV including a new show broadcast from Chicago, called the Oprah Winfrey Show. I curled up on the black “pleather” couch wrapped in a blanket, as the spunky host interviewed new candidates competing for a job as an advice columnist. The ten men and women perched in tall swivel chairs across the stage. Every time someone from the audience asked a question, they all would respond differently. Finally a caller asked what she should do about a relationship she was in. “I have been dating the same guy for the last two years and every time I bring up any serious issues concerning our future together, my boyfriend doesn’t want to talk about it.” The camera panned the row and they all had the same answer.

“Give him the ultimatum,” the first one said, followed by the entire row and the show faded to a commercial.

Well, you can only imagine how that hit me! Through a codeine-induced haze, I groggily formed a single thought. “I will give my boyfriend the ultimatum when I see him this afternoon!” I smiled as I checked the time and realized he would be knocking on the door any minute. I was recovering from oral surgery. You can only imagine what I looked like. My crack head hair stuck up in all directions. No make-up had come close to my bruised and swollen face which now vaguely resembled Jay Leno’s. I couldn’t brush my teeth or use mouthwash. Salt water rinses weren’t really cutting it for me. I hadn’t showered in 2 days.

When I heard the knock on the door, I flew through the house forgetting about the goofy eyeglasses I wore and the dragon breath which emanated from the clotted blood in the back of my mouth. As I greeted my unsuspecting boyfriend and reached out to give him a big bear hug. I noticed he physically flinched! “Oprah says that I should give you the ultimatum!” I blurted out.

He took a huge step backward almost falling off the front entry stoop. “I never had any intention of marrying you!” he replied which shocked me out of my foggy state of mind. He turned and briskly walked, almost ran to his bike. Oh my God! What had I done?

This started a break up that dragged on for a month. By Memorial Day weekend, I’d had enough. I told him to make a commitment or I was moving on. In a lot of ways I already felt like it was over. He went up to his family’s cabin in northern Wisconsin. I called my Mom and Dad and suggested that we go to a Brewer Game to get my mind off all the drama. My Mom said that she had been to bridge club that week with Marilyn Lindau who told everyone her son Danny was coming to town from Denver, Colorado, where he had bought a toy and school supply business.

I grew up with Danny’s younger brothers and had always admired the oldest, from afar. Their family and ours had been close for years so my mom made a phone call to see if they were available for a road trip. The Lindaus were in!

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Patty and I called a few friends. We all met at my parent’s house and caravanned down to the stadium in Milwaukee. Timing can be everything and Danny and I hit it off. We blatantly flirted which each other during the tailgate. He told me how much he enjoyed living in Colorado and about his wholesale business. I could see where he would be a great toy salesman with all the enthusiasm he exuded. He had broken his leg jumping cornices skiing at Arapahoe-basin so he hobbled around on crutches. I used it as an excuse to wait on him, by keeping his cup full and filling his plate at the picnic.

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After a very exciting day, Danny flew back to Colorado. My boyfriend came back into town and we broke up. I felt like I had blown my opportunity with Danny until an invitation arrived in the mail inviting my sister and me to the Telluride Blue Grass Festival in June. My sister couldn’t go, but I could hardly wait to fly out. My mom and Marilyn drove me out to the airport. It was a fabulous weekend filled with sightseeing in Colorado, amazing music, and relating to someone I felt I had known my whole life.

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We booked the priest and the church over the 4th of July weekend and were married in October. When I mentioned to my friends that I had become engaged they responded, “I’m so glad you and your boyfriend are finally getting married!” I had to explain that someone new had come into my life.

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After almost twenty four years of telling my story, Oprah is signing off from her show. The last one will air on Wednesday, May 25th. My only regret is that Oprah will probably never hear about the impact she’s had on me. She has helped thousands, maybe millions of people through the years. How she changed the course my life might seem minor compared to the influence she’s had on others. I only know the opportunity to make the connection with Danny could have only occurred that weekend, since he rarely visited Wisconsin.

The chain reaction of events which culminated in my happy life would never have transpired without the day I sat wrapped in a blanket and watched the Oprah Winfrey Show for the first time.

Thanks Oprah! I’ll see you on your new network OWN.

Photographs by Wikimedia and S. Lindau 

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If Looks Could Kill

Felicity snatched her overfilled red leather backpack and flew out of the loft, with silver bangles jangling on her suntanned wrists. She flipped the bolt lock and ran to the stairwell. There was no time for the elevator. She bounced down two steps at a time knowing her embellished ballet flats had been the right choice. When she arrived on the main floor, she emerged out into the bright sunlight which flickered through palm branches onto her long auburn hair setting it ablaze. She filled her lungs with fresh jungle air and ran to her scooter. She revved it up and sprang out on to the narrow road. It would take her at least fifteen minutes to arrive at her destination. She could feel it. This would be her day.

The months of waiting patiently had been hard on Felicity, but the time had finally arrived. She would be taking a huge risk, but she rationalized it knowing there really wasn’t any other way. Her heart pounded with the fantasy of what her future could hold. The fast pace of the scooter rushed by quaint cottages and shacks built along the dilapidated road.

The film crews had already set up on the beach when she arrived. Pal Mais had officially been put on the map. She parked her motorbike alongside the outdoor tiki restaurant. It was still early, but soon it would be filled with hungry tourists and surfers waiting for a bite of their mouth-watering grilled pizza.

Felicity decided to wait for her moment and took cover in the shade of a palm tree to watch and learn. She strained her ears to listen, but couldn’t hear anything over the crashing surf.

Some of the crew had been there earlier in the week and Felicity recognized them. The director Roger Strathond hid behind aviator sunglasses which were propped onto a zinc oxide covered nose. The same Dodgers baseball cap perched over his curly brown hair. He wore a pair of khaki shorts and another plain white t-shirt, she supposed he bought in gross. His plump red-faced male assistant they called Tex, kept within earshot of his carefully chosen words. She didn’t think the humid climate agreed with him despite his loose fitting XXL Tommy Bahama shirt. He already looked strangled by the early morning heat. The cute blonde casting director, Bonnie, tied her hair up in a bun to keep it from sticking to the back of her neck. She was a bundle of energy flitting all over the set.

Today they were joined by camera men, video equipment, dolly’s, and grips. A few pampered actors joined the crowded set. She estimated the crew totaled about twenty five. Onlookers not used to so much commotion on this small surf town beach stood gawking at the spectacle.

Then she recognized Mason’s profile she remembered in dreams and nightmares. She thought moving to Costa Rica would be far enough away. She was wrong. Four months ago she learned through a friend that he would be starring in a mini-series and they were considering Pal Mais. It had been chosen for its amazing waves suitable for any level surfer. Three sets of waves continually hit in a rhythm even a beginner could master. Farther out, fifteen to 20 foot waves could entice the extreme surfer. Felicity could see a few of them catching those glittering waves even though the big breakers had slowed with the rising tide. Like clockwork, they would rush out later in the afternoon for another frolic in these behemoth and towering waves.

Felicity looked at her watch. 10:20. She had a few more minutes. Even though she stood completely still, her heart raced like she had sprinted a marathon. “Calm down!” she thought to herself, “Nine more minutes until show time.” She checked her lipstick in a mirror she kept in a pocket of her backpack. She adjusted her white silk blouse which was cinched up with a silver belt over a short floral skirt.

As she counted down the minutes, the adjacent parking lot filled with carloads of tourists and locals arriving to enjoy the beach and to check out the movie set. “There would be an audience,” she thought and smiled to herself.

“Time to go!” Felicity strode across the sandy beach to the film crew. Bonnie noticed her first.

“Hello Jessica!” said Bonnie.

Felicity drew her chin up in the air and nodded to her in reply.

Tex nearly tripped over a speaker as he turned to greet her. “Hi Jessica! You remember Roger.”

“Oh yes. So nice to see you again.” Felicity turned her cheek to let Roger kiss it.

Out of the corner of her eye she spied him. As he jogged back up from the breaking surf with a yellow surfboard in his hands, Felicity could see his muscles ripple. His thick shoulder length brown hair was tousled and caught the gentle breeze. He stopped and gazed at her with deep set blue eyes glinting in the sun.  His jaw dropped. The curious crew could sense the intensity of the electricity between them.

“Felicity what are you doing here?” Mason asked.

“I’m Jessica Phillips your co-star.”

 

 

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Hi Mom! I’m Home!

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Courtney’s college dorm 

My children tore my heart out when my they left for college last fall. I would walk by their empty bedrooms and sigh. The pit in my stomach took up permanent residence. I cleaned my house and organized. My husband and I took a few trips. I kept up with the books I wanted to read, started writing, played tennis, skied, and worked out. Still as the days grew shorter, time slowed.

With the arrival of spring came renewed energy. I will have both children home this summer. My daughter and son’s leases don’t start until August 15th. My son tired of the party palace he and seven other guys rented the last two years. He is looking forward to a welcome respite with only one roommate this fall.

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Courtney and her roommate Joslyn 

The easy move:

My daughter Courtney moved home last week from the CU dorms. She had loaded most of her things in her car and was scrubbing walls when I came to haul the big stuff. “Are you looking forward to living at home?” I asked.

Okay, there was mold growing in the dorm rooms and she complained about the continual noise every night. I heard all about the dorm food being “disgusting” for months now, so I anticipated an emphatic “Yes!”

Courtney replied, “It’s going to be weird.” After seeing my crestfallen face, she added, “I’ve been on my own all year, so it’s going to be a big change.”

The excitement isn’t mutual, but I guess that’s normal.

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Rocking out at the Party Palace 

The stressful move:

My son Kelly took his last exam on May 4th. He had ten days to move home, but is a DJ and told me, “I have a couple gigs, so I’ll stay up here until my lease is up so I have a place to crash.” This sounded very logical to me at the time.

The following week I periodically called to ask if he needed help and he would respond, “No I got it handled.”

Saturday he called in a panic. He had spent the last day moving furniture into a trailer. I don’t think he anticipated how much time it would take to gather all the small stuff and clean. My husband Danny and I were out to lunch enjoying a hot sandwich on an unseasonably cold day with Courtney and her friend when we got the call. “Mom, I have to be out by 5:00! Four of the roommates have bailed. The house is trashed!” Danny and I had each driven a car, so we would divide and conquer.

I checked my watch and it was already 1:30. It would take us more than an hour just to get from downtown Boulder to Greeley and we had to stop home on the way. Late for an appointment, my daughter asked me if I could drop off her friend. Why is it whenever I am in a hurry, I get behind someone going 10 mph below the speed limit!

When I finally arrived home, Danny had already started collecting a load of cleaning supplies. While I argued that Kelly and his roommates had a vacuum, my husband ignored me and grabbed the Shop Vac from the basement. The last time I used it, dirt and God knows what else, blew up into my face. He assured me he had fixed the behemoth vacuum by emptying the dirt and then threw it into the back of my car.

Oh my God! When we arrived at the party palace I at once realized why he hadn’t wanted me to visit. Parts of the house hadn’t been cleaned for months. What am I saying! More likely a year! I greeted a familiar face in the kitchen. It was the mother of my son’s roommate I met freshman year in the dorms. Up to her elbows in filth, without rubber gloves, she stood scrubbing down sticky shelves. A shiver went up my spine.

We found our son upstairs in his leveled bedroom. Without a care of what anyone else thought in the house I yelled, “What the Hell were you thinking?”

Kelly told us the landlord stopped by and took pity on them. He will never forget the look on her face as she walked through the house. “She expressed disgust, shock, and awe. Every time she looked into a room her eyebrows rose higher and her frown grew deeper. She was not a happy landlord.” She gave them an extension until 9:00 A.M. Sunday.

I started in the upstairs bathroom which had been shared by four of them and not cleaned by one for a long time. I stopped myself and thought, “What am I doing?”

“Kelly, you do this!”

Their vacuum cleaner had been laid to rest two weeks ago. No doubt it had strangled on a beer bottle cap. I used my son’s noise cancelling headphones to run the deafening Shop Vac, and was now thankful Danny had brought it. Impressed with the sucking power of the machine, I tackled the hall and bedroom carpet. This had been a beautiful arts and crafts home built in the early 1900’s, but it had been eventually carved up and added onto becoming an eight bedroom rental. All the oak had been painted white and now thick black dust had accumulated on the baseboards and window sills. The previously white six-panel doors were tie dyed with finger prints. I got out the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and went into attack mode. My husband and son took the trash out to the dumpster and filled my car and trailer to the brim with the remainder of his belongings.

By the time I vacuumed the main floor, a foreboding feeling came over me. I had asked my husband to dump out the contents from the vacuum, but I’m not sure that he heard me. When I bent over the monstrous machine in the kitchen to flip the red switch, my fears were realized. “Boom!” It spewed a blinding black cloud of grime, hair, and dirt right up into my face. I had to blink to see again. The outside of the vacuum was now covered in a thick grime so I could imagine what I looked like.  I don’t want to think about what I was covered in. To say I was grossed out would be an understatement.

By the time we left, the dumpster was filled and various pieces of unclaimed furniture lined the alley. The roommates threw out some small appliances even I wouldn’t clean to reuse. Don’t worry. They never made it to the landfill. The dumpster divers were elbowing each other for all those fabulous prizes when we rolled out of the driveway at 8:00 P.M. and it was drizzling!

I knew my camera had been in my back pocket the whole afternoon and evening, but I couldn’t bring myself to use it. It didn’t seem like a Kodak moment at the time.

Saturday night I took the longest shower in recent memory. Danny brought me a cold beer which cut all the dirt and dust that had accumulated in my throat. I slept like the dead, not even having the energy to turn over all night.

Meanwhile, Kelly had to DJ. Then afterwards he planned to go back to the house and finish cleaning.

He arrived at our home before noon looking haggard, but relieved. He told me after DJing, he and one of his roommates worked until 4:00 A.M. They slept for 3 hours and then cleaned from 7:00 until 10:00 A.M. when the Landlord arrived. She surprised him by asking, “Did your other roommates come and help?”

“Nope. They never showed up.”

The landlord planned to hire a professional service to do the finishing touches and would charge the boys who didn’t help clean. According to my son, “This time when she walked through the house, she was in a much better mood.”

Kelly sat down in my kitchen and said that when he left his house for the last time, he stopped to throw a paper cup into the trash from his car. There were two guys picking through the dumpster. He asked, “Are you on a scavenger hunt?” The men replied they have five warehouses filled with items retrieved from the garbage. Renew, reuse, recycle!

Then I asked Kelly the same question I asked my daughter, “Are you glad to be home?”

“Yes! I am so happy to be home!” Kelly replied as he laid his head down on the cool and clean kitchen counter.

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This is only a fraction of Kelly’s belongings! 

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Into the Wind

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I still have the determination I had in high school tennis and unfortunately the same smirk when I serve!

Monday night I played a United States Tennis Association match in the Devil’s Thumb neighborhood in Boulder. Although I had been warned, I was late for warm up since I didn’t anticipate the severity of the clogged rush hour traffic. As I drove down Foothills parkway the 50 mph gusts struck my car in shuddering blows. When I arrived at the courts, the temperature dropped as I stood shivering in my tennis skirt. How would we manage this wind? Some of my team dispersed to other courts down the road. My partner Sherilyn and I drove around a corner to a somewhat more sheltered one at the end of a cul-du-sac.

We met the opposition and started our warm up. The deafening wind thundered down from the foothills and slammed the ball onto the court. I would have to slice my balls higher tonight to get them over the net. I generally like playing in wind because I like to lob into to it. The ball moves around making it an unpredictable target and also keeps it on the court. I slice the ball which keeps the shot low forcing my opponent to hit upward into the current which often carries it off the court. I have played singles matches where the wind played to my advantage. Near the end of the match when it abruptly stopped, I sped up the game knowing my opponent could start playing their game again.  I usually consider myself lucky when the wind starts to blow, but with this velocity, tonight might be a different story.

We were ready to begin the match so Sherilyn and I conferred about which of our opponents might be the weaker and stronger player. Both of them seemed athletic and could cover the court. Their solid ground strokes and volleys at the net would be fierce to defend. One had a slice which intimidated my partner.

The wind whipped between the houses and continued its erratic churning. The surrounding trees cast shadows which moved in fitful patterns across the court. Lobbing would be a risky choice. Just before we started I mentioned to Sherilyn, “Just go for it at the net. I’ll try to set you up.” She is a great player and once she is up there she can put the ball away. I am a singles player at heart and love to play from the back of the court. Unfortunately, at  4.0 tennis, whichever team has someone stuck behind the baseline often loses.

The match began with my service loss. Our opponents hit all the angles with the force of the wind at their backs. We had a glimmer of hope when we won 2 games and the score was 2-3, but those were the last games won by us in the first set which we lost 2-6.

In the second set we quickly found ourselves down 1-3.  I am used to being alone out there in singles so in between games I had a little pep talk with myself. I smiled realizing the wind had died down a bit.  I thought, “Just keep slicing cross court and receive, approach, and volley. Use the wind to your advantage.”

Then I trotted over to my partner and said, “Sherilyn just play your game. You have to run up to the net.”

“They have been hitting the ball at my feet all night,” she said, “I can’t get up there.”

“Let’s just pretend like it’s practice. Don’t look at them. Just play like you usually do.”

Sherilyn reluctantly agreed and walked back to her side.

During the next point she hit the ball cross court, ran to the service line, and then smashed it into their alley. Our point!

“Sherilyn! You’re back!” I screamed. I ran over and high fived her.

We won the next 5 games, winning the set 6-3. In lieu of a third set, we played a 10 point tie-breaker and won 10-6. “Woohoo!” We won the match.

After shaking hands with our competitors, I congratulated Sherilyn for blasting back and going for it by playing her game. She needed to feel confident again which she accomplished by pushing herself. I believe you have to stick with your plan in order to win. Even if we would have lost, at least we would have given it our best shot.

I think this message can be applied in life. We may set goals, but become discouraged when we meet opposition. We find ourselves back on our heels when we lose confidence. Doubt can cause faltering. We all make mistakes, even the pros. Sometimes a little reassurance is all we need to get back in the game. I try to keep the positive comments I have received stored away like precious treasure I can retrieve when I need inspiration. Recalling encouragement helps me to put the focus back on my aspirations. I realize that it takes a lot of resilience, determination, and tenacity. There will always be set backs, but when I feel vulnerable I say to myself, “I can do this.”

I know it will take courage, fortitude, and endurance to achieve my objectives. I plan to log in a lot of hours practicing my skills. I will keep my eye on the ball and hope for a breeze because I can always use a little luck!

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The Night that Shattered

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“I will see you tomorrow.” Samantha said to her roommate Jack as she grabbed her loaded green frame pack. She bounced towards the door of the small apartment and pulled her blonde ponytail through the back of her pale blue ball cap.

“Have fun and remember safety first,” Jack replied in his good natured way, “Don’t forget to try your cell phone when you get up there so you can get a hold of me if you need anything.” He smiled under a mop of dark brown curls, green eyes twinkling and walked over to give her a hug.

“Don’t worry Jack!” She rolled her eyes and hugged him back, then slid the cell phone into her orange Columbia jacket pocket.

Samantha had a deadline for a column she was writing, but felt a well-deserved break would clear her head. A rigorous hike, then camping out was sure to cure her writer’s block. Growing up in Aspen, she had tremendous experience with survival training and had snow-caved overnight by herself in high school. Camping on her own was not unusual for her.

She threw the pack in the back of her black Toyota 4-Runner and started the hour and a half trip into the snow-capped mountains. As she drove higher in elevation, the road narrowed. After a series of hair pin turns it ended altogether.

Samantha pulled over next to a grove of Aspens. It was just like she remembered. The evergreen forest rose up all around her. The pine fragrance was overwhelming. It had just rained and the trees were still laden with raindrops.

“I love it up here!” she exclaimed. Throwing the bulging pack over her shoulders, she started up the trail.

Overhead a flock of whiskey jacks flew by. She heard the chirping of a squirrel upset that she hiked so close to its territory. It was early evening and the shadows were growing longer.

After hiking on the trail for a while Samantha thought that out of the corner of her eyes something streaked by. She immediately went on the defensive knowing that mountain lions abounded in this forest. For the next 15 minutes she was on edge as she hiked. Without seeing anything else out of the ordinary, she continued up the trail.

Soon the path got brighter indicating that she was close to her destination. The trees thinned out and Samantha found herself on the edge of a beautiful mountain lake. It was fed by the glaciers farther up on the mountain pass. “Perfect.” she said to herself. She took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air and dropped the heavy pack to the ground.

Samantha unstrapped the tent from the pack and assembled it quickly. She knew that it was getting late and she saw thunder clouds gathering in the distance. She scouted around for kindling to start a fire.

There it was again! The golden streak caught her attention. This time it ran out into the open. It was a mutt. Probably some type of Labrador retriever mix. It was really dirty and wasn’t wearing a collar so she assumed it was a stray.

“Here boy!” Samantha coaxed. The mutt came closer but shied away from her outstretched hand.

She gave up with the dog and continued with the search for dry wood. After amassing a pile she lit the leaves and twigs. The fire first sputtered and then roared. Samantha smiled and felt the golden warmth of the fire on her smiling face.

She filtered some water from the icy lake and boiled it over the fire to add to her dehydrated dinner and tea. While she looked up at the impending storm she felt watched. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. “Here boy!” she called out again. In the darkness, Samantha heard rustling in the underbrush and snapping of twigs but there was no sign of the dog.

Lightning streaked across the sky followed by a low rumble. A few rain drops fell.

She gathered up her pack and entered the tent as the sky opened up. It was quite a storm. Samantha opened up the flap to peak out and saw her fire extinguished and smoldering.

She snuggled down into her sleeping bag and was almost asleep when she heard something outside her tent. Grabbing a flashlight from her backpack, she decided to investigate. Could it be the stray had come back looking for crumbs? She was aware of bears and had cleaned up carefully after eating.

Samantha pulled on her jacket and hiking boots, ducked out of the tent and stood up. It was still lightly raining. As she started walking away from the tent she felt someone grab her from behind.

“Ah!” Samantha gasped.

“Hey pretty girl. Let’s have some fun!” the man whispered roughly in her ear.

“No!” She screamed. Samantha kicked, clawed, and finally twisted away from him, but slipped in the mud and fell. He pounced on top of her. She could smell the alcohol on his breath and the stink of someone who hadn’t bathed in a while. He tried to flip her over. She desperately tried to feel around for a weapon and found a rock, turned towards him and smacked him in the head.

“Stay away from me!” she screamed.

“You bitch!!” he cried.

She got up and ran, but had lost her flashlight in the attack. The moonless night made it hard for her to navigate the rough terrain.

Again he caught up to her grabbed her by her hair and threw her to the ground. Samantha fell head first against a boulder. She felt searing pain and the warmth of blood as it trickled out of the wound. Now she felt helpless against him. Trembling, she slowly turned her head and saw him above her laughing.

“No, no, no!” she moaned.

He was a fair skinned, six foot tall man who wore a black hooded sweatshirt over layers of old clothing. His dark oily hair was slicked to his head.

She gave up the fight and started to cry. The attacker bent over, reaching out to touch her face with a grimy finger when out of nowhere the stray jumped through the air and took him down.

Without looking back Samantha forced herself to get up and run. She was woozy and her legs wobbled but she desperately tried to orient herself to find the trail.

She could hear the dog wrestling with the vagrant.

When she could no longer keep running, she slowed her pace. Remembering her cell phone, Samantha pulled it out of the zipper pocket and dialed. No signal. Her head throbbed and when she reached up to wipe the blood out of her eye, she felt the gaping wound. She remembered her wallet was still in the backpack.

She could see her truck just where she left it. Luckily she kept a spare key under the carriage. She bent over and felt around for the metal case. Samantha heard the sound of footsteps running down the path behind her. She found it and frantically pulled the key out dropping the container on the ground.

Her heart banged away in panic as she fumbled with the key. She tried to slide it into the lock, but it was difficult because she was shaking. She finally slid it in and opened the truck door slamming it behind her.

Just as the man got to the truck and tried to open the door, Samantha hit the door locks.

She turned on the engine and threw the truck into reverse. Then she jammed it into drive and careened away, but was careful to keep the truck on the road.

Samantha navigated the first hair pin turn when her attacker ran right out in front of the truck. He had cut through the forest to catch up with her and must have expected her to stop or swerve off into the embankment. She screamed as she hit him head on. He rolled off the hood and she continued down the road. In her rear view mirror she saw him get back on his feet and limp off into the forest.

She was shaking and sobbing as she gripped the steering wheel. Shock had set in and Samantha drove all the way back to her apartment in autopilot. She dragged herself out of the truck and could hear her heart beating in her ears as she slowly climbed the stairs. As she opened the door to the apartment, Jack called out from his bedroom, “Sam? You’re home early. What happened?” When he saw her he gasped and ran towards her.

“I got my story,” she said as she collapsed into his arms and passed out.

Picture by S. Lindau 

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To Live Another Day

She woke from a deep sleep and looked around the strange space. “Where am I?” she thought. Long shadows streaked across in random patterns. She tried to turn her head to roll over but couldn’t. The restriction caused her blood to rush to her head. Her heart fluttered in her chest. Butterflies sprang to action in her stomach as panic spread through her body like fire. With all her strength she tried to lift her legs, but couldn’t. It was as if liquid lead had filled each one while she slept. She opened her mouth to speak, and tried to contract her lungs to force out a scream, but could only manage to move her lips. Barely audible muffled sounds reverberated from the next room.

To calm herself, she desperately tried to recall what she had dreamt about. It came back to her in flashes. The ocean broke in warm waves on a creamy white sandy beach. Her feet squelched as she sauntered along.

Interrupted by an acute shock of pain across her forehead, she attempted to reach up and touch her temples. She strained her constricted arms, but they seemed paralyzed.  “Oh God! Help me!” she thought. She squinted her eyes until it subsided.

“Concentrate on the dream.” The sound of thundering waves clamored back to her. Roaring and crashing. Roaring and crashing.  As she walked along, she reached out her hand to someone. “Yes! A blonde haired little girl on one side and a boy wearing a baseball cap in the other.” Their similar blue eyes reflected the sun like sea glass. An old feeling rose in her heart and she somehow knew they had been important to her once.

Another round wracked her body from her head down to her toes. It seemed as though the walls had come to life and would crush her. “Oh make it stop.” She found herself engulfed in inky black darkness, the essense of which was like the beginning of time.

As one ended, another began. And another.

She felt her confined body stir ever so slightly. Would I be able to move again? Another round of pain like an earthquake rumbled through her. Now she was convinced she had moved.

All at once a crushing violent spasm enveloped her. With all her strength she resisted the compression. Her heart pounded in her ears. She thought she would explode. When she felt she could bear no more, her body burst into the most glorious blinding light!

“It’s a girl!”


 

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Playboy Magazine’s #1 Pick

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