Do Over II

This is part of a series. Refer to the Blog Index if you wish to read them in order.

She drove east until she came to the next big city, passing a few small towns in between. When she saw signs for an airport and hospital she knew she was finally where she needed to be for the next part of her plan. She watched the businesses along the side of the highway and paid attention to billboards with information about what could be found at each exit. Finally she saw it, a coffee shop.

She took the exit, turned right, and turned right again into the parking lot. She exited the vehicle and nearly fell over, grabbing the car door for support. Her left leg had fallen asleep and she hadn’t even noticed. The pins and needles and shooting pains made her want to dance around tapping her foot on the ground to speed things along, but that would draw too much attention. As it was she was equal parts laughing and moaning at the pain and absurdity of it all.

When she could finally put some weight on the leg she began to gingerly walk into the shop. Thankfully there wasn’t a line and only one other person at a table enjoying what appeared to be a chocolate covered croissant. She realized she was incredibly hungry.

“What can I get you?” the young man behind the register asked with a smile.

“Just a plain coffee, largest one you got, and whatever that is they’re eating,” she said.

“Chocolate croissant? You want that heated?”

“Oh, yeah, I hadn’t even thought about that, but that sounds great!” she said, smiling and starting to relax into the idea of food and caffeine coming her way.

“Okey dokey, that’ll be eight dollars and thirty-three cents.”

“Here, and…” she dug around in her pockets for change, “I even have exact change. Hey, do you happen to know if there are any good thrift store around here?” she asked, not really expecting a guy to know too much about the shopping scene but hoping to save herself a trip to a gas station or a long drive around the city searching.

“Oh sure! We call it ‘thrift store row’ cause there’s about four of ’em on one block. You just go up here to the next light, turn left, then make a right at the stop sign and you’ll see them. I’ll bring your order out to you if you want to go sit down?” he offered.

“Thanks,” she said, smiling again, and walking over to a table that would give her a view out the window but that wasn’t too close to the other person in the shop. It always bothered her when people walked into a place that was nearly empty and sat right next to her, like when you went camping and had the entire park to yourself only to come back from a hike and find someone’d set up camp in the spot next door.

The coffee shop worker, Lee, his name tag said, brought her the croissant and coffee and asked if she needed anything else. She politely declined and he seemed a bit chagrined. She wanted to pick up the croissant and bite into it but also wanted to savor it. She decided to pull a layer off and eat it. She stopped herself from groaning as the first bit melted in her mouth. This was amazing, definitely home baked by somebody. She licked the chocolate off her finger and thumb and decided there was no need to continue at that pace. She picked the whole thing up and began shoving it into her mouth, chewing and swallowing and biting as fast as she could. She knew her eyes were rolled back in her head, she knew she probably looked ridiculous, but she couldn’t stop.

When the entire croissant was gone, ravaged, she took her finger and drug it across the plate, getting every last bit of chocolate she could, licking her finger and sighing. She then proceeded to take sips of her coffee, cooled enough to drink in swallows, but there was no rush. Each sip washed a little more of the chocolate away so she took her time. Enjoying the new flavor as much as the old. It was going to busy here over the next few hours, she would relish this down time as long as she could.

She turned her attention out the window and her eyes widened. How had she failed to notice when she pulled in? There across the street was the bus station, exactly another thing she’d be needing. She watched for awhile, sipping her coffee, as people came and went, as buses came and went. It was perfect, busy enough that she’d be just another person coming and going, but not so busy that she wouldn’t be able to find someone to help her.

She finished her coffee, waved to Lee, and walked out of the shop. Leaving her car for a moment she walked across the street to the bus station and up to the departures table. She needed somewhere big and she needed it in about five hours or maybe a bit more. And then she saw it: New York that evening. Plenty of time and plenty big. She went up to the cashier line and waited her turn. Purchasing her ticket, she smiled at the big sign saying “No Refunds,” and walked back across the street to her car.

Remembering Lee’s instructions she made her way to thrift store row and looked through two stores before she found the bag she needed. Big enough to hold what little clothing she’d brought with her, but not so big that she couldn’t tuck it under her feet, lift it up on her own, or carry it for a few miles if need be. As she was making her purchase she asked the cashier if they knew a place that bought cars nearby.

“My uncle has a place two streets over,” the cashier answered, “but I gotta tell you, he’s cheap. Will haggle with you over every little thing to give you as little as possible.”

“I just can’t keep it any more and don’t have time to try and sell it on my own,” she said.

“Well, here’s the thing, my uncle will haggle, but he’s also a big softy. You give him some kind of story and he’ll crumble a bit,” the cashier winked and gave her the name of the car lot and the directions. “Good luck!”

Thanking her again, she walked out to her car with her new bag and transferred her clothes into it. She then threw the trashbag in the garbage in front of the thrift store, got back in her car, and made her way to the car sales lot. As she pulled in she knew this would be just as hard and just as easy as she’d anticipated, all the cars had outrageous price tags on them and none were quite as beat up as hers. She parked and double checked that the only thing in the glovebox was the title and the manual, she also checked the center console and the pocket in the door, just in case, but everything was empty.

Sighing she exited the car and started walking to the office only to be met outside by a man with a mustache and a huge smile, “What brings you in today, little lady?” he asked.

“I’m looking to sell my car,” she said, giving him a small smile and then looking down as though she were sad about the situation.

“That’s just fine! I love buying cars! What are you looking to replace it with?” he asked.

“Oh, I can’t replace it with anything right now. I need to sell it cause I’m moving.”

“Those are out of state plates,” he said, squinting his eyes at her, “you in trouble?”

“No, sir,” she said firmly looking him right in the eyes, “not at all, it’s just that I realized I don’t belong here and I want to get back home. The only way I can afford to is if I sell this car to pay for my ticket back.”

“I see,” he said, softening a little. “Anything wrong with her?” he asked as he started walking towards the car, looking for dents and scrapes and damage.

“No, sir. She runs like a top.”

“Well, let’s take her for a little drive and then I’ll have my mechanic take a look at her while we discuss price,” he said.

“You go right ahead, mister,” she said, handing him the key, “I’ll wait right here if it’s all the same to you.”

Taking the key from her outstretched hand he looked her in the eyes again before nodding and getting in the car. She watched as he fiddled around with things and ran his hand over the inner liner making sure everything was as it should be before driving off the lot. She waited in a patch of sun, enjoying being outside for longer than five minutes for the first time in two days. She felt like she could sleep right there in the parking lot, but told herself to hang on just a few hours more.

She watched as her car returned to her, the man parking it and getting out, walking around the front and the passenger side, then popping the trunk and closing it again after a brief glance inside. He walked towards her, still smiling and said, “go on inside and take a seat, I’m going to give your key to my guy.”

She went in and was met with the smell of stale coffee and some kind of perfumed cleanser that made her crinkle her nose and tuck her face to the side for a moment. She sat down at the only desk inside choosing the chair on the left, closest to the window and furthest from the door. This chair put her head at the same level as the old computer monitor sitting on the desk, and she hoped made her appear smaller and younger, an angle she’d have to work with this man to get the money she needed.

“Okay,” the man said as he came back in, “while Chuey there goes over your car, I’m gonna run a quick report on it, make sure everything is legit, no accidents or anything. Can I get you some coffee?” he asked. She shook her head and he continued, “alright, well, assuming everything is on the up-and-up, I’m thinking we could offer you for about thirty-fivehundred for that old car. I’d like to give you more, but it’s pretty old and not exactly the kind of car that’ll be easy for me to re-sell,” he said, giving her a smile and a wink of apology.

“Well sir, I’m afraid that won’t get me where I need to go so I’m gonna thank you for your time but ask for my key back,” she replied.

His smile grew larger, it was obvious he loved to haggle and was glad she hadn’t turned out as meek as she’d looked, “I hear what you’re saying missy. Let’s just see what ole Chu finds and I’ll run that accident history and then we’ll talk. Maybe we can still work something out.” He turned to the computer and typed some stuff, clicking the mouse a couple times. “Okay, it says here there’s no history of accidents, which is good. And now let’s see,” he typed a bit more, a few more mouse clicks, “yep, it looks like the title is clean, that’s excellent.”

“Hey, boss?” a man asked, coming in from a backdoor she hadn’t noticed.

“Yes, Chuey?” he smiled and beckoned with his hand.

“Everything looks good, maybe needs some oil, but nothing big,” Chuey said.

“Great, buddy, thank you. You have everything you need to get back to that Lexus?”

“Yeah, man, we’re good,” Chuey replied before ducking back out.

“Okay. So, we’re good all around. Now it’s just a matter of what I can sell the car for. You see, I can’t pay you what I can get for it, cause then I don’t make any money. How would I pay Chuey or my rent? You see? So, here’s what I’ll do, I’ll give you fourthousand and you can head on home. Sound good?”

“Well sir, I hear you, and I understand you run a business. I can see that. But I gotta have enough to get back home and get back on my feet. I made a big mistake coming to the city, and I know that, but I gotta make it better, and going home without a car and nothing else to my name won’t cut it,” she said.

“You sure know how to get to a man’s sensitive side, don’t cha,” he said, wagging his forefinger at her as though she were an errant toddler. “Alright, here’s the deal, I’ll give you a check for forty-twohundred and that’s really the best I can do.”

“Mister, you and I both know you’re gonna put a sticker on that car that’s ten grand. Now you’ll probably end up taking eight for it, and that’s fine. I don’t expect to get eight. But I gotta have more than forty-two and I gotta have cash,” she replied.

He looked hard at her for a minute, the smile gone from his face, his mustache twitching a bit at the right corner. “You leaving today?” he asked. She nodded. “Okay, you look here, you leave today and don’t tell nobody the deal you got from me, you hear? I’ll give you fortyfive, cash, and a lift to the airport,” and there came that smile, only this smile was gentle and sincere.

“Sir, you gotta deal,” she said, sticking out her hand so they could shake on it. He laughed and shook her hand.

Still pumping her arm up and down he said, “give me thirty minutes to get all the paperwork in order, get your cash, and have Chuey clean up to drive you.”

“Thank you, truly,” she replied.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Do Over I

This is the first part of a series. Refer to the Blog Index if you wish to read them in order.

When she’d struck out on her own, she’d left with nearly nothing, a bag of clothes, her car, her phone, some toiletries, a couple hundred bucks, and her scant resume with her new name saved to a thumbdrive. She spent the first hour driving as fast as she dared on the highway heading east. East would get her out of the state quickest, not that she was particularly enamored with her choices from there, it wasn’t about that. She only had so much time and so much money.

Once across state lines she made a beeline for the nearest big city. This route took her a bit south and a bit further east. She would be there in roughly another hour. Perfect timing to fill the tank and make her purchases. Until then she had nothing more to do but drive, slightly slower now, hovering within five miles of the speed limit, and stay awake. Not easy to do at 3am, but easier than being caught and going back.

She arrived in the city completely exhausted, the thrill of adrenaline rushing through her at her initial escape long since run out. It was 4am, a time she’d only ever seen once or twice in her life, and she was amazed by how many cars were on the road, she’d expected none, and by how many businesses were open, although this was a city and things would obviously run differently here.

She pumped her gas and tried to look casual as she glanced up and down the main street looking for other open businesses that would have what she needed. Spying an open drugstore she breathed a sigh of relief, topped up the tank despite the signage warning against it, and went back into the station for her change.

“Ladies don’t normally pump gas ’round here after seven or before seven,” the attendant commented, the toothpick sticking out sideways from the corner of his mouth bobbing up and down as he spoke.

“Hmmm,” she breathed as she collected the change from his out held hand, “thanks.”

Her impulse was to run back to her car but knew that would draw all kinds of unwanted attention from a man already paying her too much. She walked calmly back to her car, head held at what she hoped was a normal angle, trying desperately not to duck and make herself small. She got back in the car, locked the doors, and immediately set off for the drugstore.

Hoping any cashiers and workers in the store at this hour would be too tired to comment on her, she went inside, grabbed a handheld basket and walked around. She wanted to be sure she wasn’t remembered as odd so bought the sorts of things she figured people out at four in the morning bought: a box of cold and flu medicine and a box of tissue, in addition to the main purpose of her visit, a box of hair dye, some scissors, a bottle of nail polish, and an all-in-one makeup kit.

“Find what you need?” the cashier asked in a bored voice.

“Yeah, thanks,” she replied, “sucks being sick with nothing to do.” She gave a little laugh, followed by a cough.

“That’ll be $60.42,” the cashier said.

She blanched at the total but tried to turn it into a fake sneeze, “oh, right, here,” she handed him a wad of twenties.

The cashier handed her the change and in the same robotic voice said, “have a good day.”

She “you too’ed” as she swept up her bag and headed out. By now she was rather desperate to pee, but she also needed a place to do her hair, a place where no one would notice she’d been in the bathroom that long.

“Think, think, think,” she muttered under her breath as she sat in the car in the parking lot. She could turn around and go back into the drugstore, but that would make her memorable. She could go back to the gas station, but she knew that wasn’t really an option even as she thought it. She glanced up and down the street and seeing nothing that would work, she decided to start driving.

She drove back the way she came knowing she’d need to get on the highway again and hoping against hope that something would appear before she got there. Nothing. Most businesses were still closed and the ones that were open would definitely notice if she disappeared for more than five minutes. “Damn,” she said as she began steering towards the on ramp.

And then something caught her eye under the bridge of the highway. Something over on the other side. “That might work,” she breathed. She steered back into the forward lane after checking her mirrors and drove under the overpass. There it was, a neighborhood park well lit, grass cut, with a large stone building that looked like it may house a bathroom. She drove around the park a bit more looking for the parking lot, found it, and then decided to park on the street against the curb close to the bathroom.

She grabbed her bag from the drugstore, removed the scissors and hair dye, checked out her windows that no one was about, and jumped out, shutting the door and locking it as she sprinted to the bathroom. She tried the women’s room door and it was locked. “Shit!” she breathed. She went round to the men’s room door and tried it, locked too. She was trying not to panic, clearly there would be another option if she could just think of it, when she saw there was a third door. A family bathroom. Fingers crossed she approached and tried the door, unlocked.

Breathing a sigh of relief, she opened the door, looked into the dim interior to be sure it was empty, and then went in, locking the door behind her. She peed first as she couldn’t hold it anymore. Another sigh of relief and then she went to the sink and washed her hands. She looked up to see what she was going to do about her hair and realized there was no mirror. Of course there wouldn’t be a mirror at a public park, “stupid” she berated herself aloud. She grabbed her phone from her pocket and turned on the camera feature, flipping it around as though she were about to take a selfie. The lighting in the bathroom was terrible as she was too afraid to turn the electrical lights on and was relying solely on the light coming in through the skylight, and while the sun was rising it was still early.

Doing her best she parted her hair in the middle using her hands, fingers combing strands this way and that. It would never work, she just couldn’t see well enough. She thought again and realized her best bet was a ponytail. She swept all the strands up into her left hand, making sure she got it all, then pulled the rubber band she always wore on her right wrist up and over the mass of hair, twisting it, and pulling the hair back through. Once it was all in as nice and tight a tail as she could make she put her left hand around the rubber band, using her finger and thumb to count off roughly an inch away, and then raised her right hand with the scissors and began cutting. She cut as close to her finger and thumb as possible, being careful not to cut herself in the process.

She didn’t realize how difficult it would be to cut through all that hair with cheap drugstore scissors, but she powered through and finally felt the last of the hair drift away. Using her left hand she felt around the new stump for any errant hairs. Finding none she took the rubber band out, ran her fingers through her new short hair and then, taking a deep breath, looked into her phone camera. She almost didn’t recognize herself. The hair cut really wasn’t that bad, obviously not professionally done, but not any worse than a strip mall haircutter would do.

Wasting no time she grabbed the box of dye and began reading the instructions. It was may more complicated than she’d expected, than she’d seen in The Fugitive. There was all kinds of water and wait time and towels suggested on the box that simply weren’t options for her now. She stuck her head in the sink, hit the little push down knobs and felt the freezing cold water course down over her scalp and face and neck. Continually depressing the knobs so the water wouldn’t stop she got what was left her hair good and soaking wet. She then grabbed the plastic bottle from the kit, cut open the bag of powder and dumped it. Again she depressed the knobs to fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Plunking on the lid she shook and shook and shook the bottle until she was sure the powder had all dissolved. Then she put her head back down in the sink and began squirting the bottle all over her head as close to the scalp as she could get without being able to see what she was doing and using her fingers to help spread it out to the ends of her hair. She scrubbed all around her ears and neck and forehead.

“This better work,” she said softly. Not wanting to wait the fortyfive minutes suggested on the box she began cleaning up the impossibly long strands of her hair from the floor, shoving them in the now empty hair dye box, she ran out of room and began putting the remaining strands on a paper towel she pulled from the dispenser. Once she was fairly sure she’d gotten it all she figured she’d used as much time as she could afford and she began to rinse out the dye. Plunging the water knobs down over and over, scrubbing and rinsing and scrubbing until the water going down the drain was just only slightly discolored. She began grabbing up all her stuff to leave when she heard voices.

She stopped and waited, holding her breath. It sounded like a man and a woman, what were they saying? She heard a metallic click and a thank you, followed by footsteps and another metallic click. Someone was unlocking the bathrooms. She stood stock still and waited as the footsteps approached her door. There was the metallic click as her door was unlocked.

“They’re all open now,” she heard the man call, his footsteps retreating.

“Thank you,” she heard a woman holler, slightly muffled by the building.

She waited several breaths before walking as quietly as possible to the door, pushing it open. She looked about and saw a green truck marked with what she assumed was a city emblem, possibly a ranger, pull away from the parking lot. She walked out of the building and turned to the left so he wouldn’t be able to see her. She dumped everything in the first trash can she saw and made her way to her car, checking over her shoulder once to be sure the woman in the building wasn’t coming out, hadn’t seen her.

She got back in her car and realized from the overhead cabin light that her shirt was ruined. She quickly took it off and grabbed another shirt from the trashbag full of clothes in the backseat. Throwing the new shirt on, she took a look in the rearview mirror and stifled a surprised “oh” as it escaped her lips. She didn’t look like herself at all. Not at all. Unfortunately there was also a very dark and telltale ring of brown all around the edge of her face from where the dye had gotten into her skin a little bit, nothing she could do about that but wait for it to fade, which she was sure it would in a few days.

She knew she should go somewhere else before playing with the makeup but she was too excited. She grabbed the little kit and read the little guide so she’d know what each thing was and where it went. Unfortunately there wasn’t much info on the how of it all, so she had to guess. She put some of the purple stuff on her eyelids and some of the pink stuff on her cheeks. She looked in the mirror again and giggled. She was definitely not herself, but she didn’t look too terrible. She’d have to get better at the makeup for sure, but her main goal of being someone else had been accomplished.

“You’re Sarah now,” she told her reflection, “Sarah Jones. Easy.”

She started the car and began heading towards the highway again. The sun was now up and there was decidedly more traffic. She joined the line of cars merging east and turned on the radio.

“Sarah Jones,” she said again.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Bath Time

From the moment she heard she was pregnant she was terrified of the baby’s death. She immediately enrolled in a CPR course. She began researching cribs and bathtubs and everything she could find on infant death, causes, ways to avoid. She couldn’t seem to stop herself from seeing ways her child could die in her home, in a car seat, in a stroller. Reading about children around the world she began to put together a plan for how she would keep this child, her child, alive.

There was no sense to this fear. Her husband told her so, tried to convince her they lived in the most affluent country in the world, there was absolutely no reason why she wouldn’t have the very best care, her child wouldn’t receive the very best care, no reason whatsoever to believe anything bad could possibly happen to their baby. And she agreed, nodding, in his presence. She truly agreed. In his presence.

But when she was alone, when she was reading one of her endless supplies of baby books or putting together the baby registry her family insisted upon, then in those moments, when it was just her and this little being inside her, she became terrified again that it would die in her charge.

By now she’d learned not to say anything to anyone about her fear. Everyone, her husband, her doctor, her mother, they all looked at her askance when she said anything and asked her if she maybe wanted to see a therapist or go to some mommy and me groups now, in preparation. So she simply stopped talking about it. But the thoughts were there. She couldn’t stop them.

When the baby finally arrived, and why do they say that, by the way? It’s not like she just waited around watching Netflix until the doorbell rang, “oh, honey, look! The baby has arrived!” At any rate, when the magical day arrived, and it truly was magnificent, she looked upon her new baby and decided she had truly been a little insane. Nothing terrible was going to happen to this baby. Because she wouldn’t let it.

She determined that like one of the many tribes she’d read about, her baby would not be placed out of arms once in it’s entire first year. She also decided they would co-sleep as it was recommended by groups like La Leche League and was actually shown to decrease incidence of SIDS. She decided she would handle bath time personally as it was the one daily ritual with the highest incidence of associated death. And this was how it continued for the first two years.

And then she learned she was pregnant again.

Her arms were already in use with the first child, how would she keep a second child in arms for an entire year? Their bed was already full with them and the first child, how would they add another? Bath time. How could she possibly keep an eye on two heads at once? She babbled all this to her husband who stopped for a moment, looking deeply into her eyes before asking, “are you serious?”

To which she could only reply, “no,” and laugh, “no, of course not. I’m just so excited and so nervous…a new baby!” she said.

He laughed and smiled, too, but from then on she’d occasionally catch him looking at her, an odd expression on his face. And he became a bit more forceful in his requests to take over bath time every now and again. And she found herself running out of excuses for why he couldn’t.

By the time the second baby arrived, (pause Netflix to answer the door, surprise! Your new baby has arrived!), she’d convinced herself that after seven months the children didn’t really need her to hawkeye them the entire time they were in the tub. She could go pee in the toilet next to the tub, for example, glancing away to wipe, pull up her pants, flush, wash her hands. Of course she kept her eyes on them as much as possible and kept her ears especially open for any sounds indicating trouble, but the longer both kids remained alive and well, the more she began to realize she’d been perhaps a bit over the top in her concern.

Once she could safely pee with them in the tub, she began to think of other things she could safely do. And so a couple nights a week she’d put a basket of clean laundry in the bathroom for her to fold while the kids were bathing. She could keep her eyes mostly on the kids with an occasional glance down to pick up the next item or put the current item down. Once that was working smoothly she decided there was no reason she couldn’t clean the bathroom while the kids were in the tub. And so she started cleaning the sinks. And then one night cleaning the toilet. The mirrors on another night. Before she knew it she was getting some chores done smoothly and efficiently with no adverse affects to the children and feeling quite proud of her newfound sense of mommyhood. She was practically a pro.

As the kids got older and the youngest one got old enough to play games, the two would sit in the tub making up stories with their toys, or blowing bubbles in the bathwater, or taking turns holding their breath under water. This always terrified her, despite how calm she attempted to appear on the outside. She couldn’t help but tell them they must never play that game unless she was watching, to which they always gave her a funny look and said something along the lines of “but you’re always watching,” to which she’d blush a bit and nod.

One night, when they’d been playing at holding their breath for a very long time her nerves got the better of her and she finally had to tell them to stop. “It’s time to get out,” she said, attempting to put a bit of a singsong into her voice. This was met with all sorts of “ah, moms,” and cries of “five more minutes!” She sighed and aquiesced.

Remaining in her station sitting upon the toilet seat cover, she dropped her head in her hands for a moment to massage her scalp. She would figure this out. Maybe she would go see a therapist. That wasn’t such a taboo thing anymore, lots of people went to therapy, it had it’s own badge of honor now. Yes, that’s what she’d do, she thought.

“Look mom! Baby holds breath for a long time!” She heard.

Turning to look she saw the smaller form stationary under the water and shrieked. It wasn’t a scream, it wasn’t throaty and hearty, it was a shriek like seeing a mouse scurry across the floor. She dove towards the tub, her arms reaching in and under and grabbing the little form roughly, wrenching it out of the water. She threw the little body across her knees and began pressing the little chest, two fingers forced down, one two three. She turned the little body upside down and gave a small shake, flipping it back around and breathing gentle puffs into the perfect mouth.

Her husband had come running when she shrieked and seeing what was happening he was asking all the questions, his voice rising as she didn’t answer, too busy trying to give life to the little form a second time.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

The Spider

“Oh,” she breathed, “you’re a stunner.”

The spider had moved in sometime between brushing teeth last night, about 9pm or so, and brushing teeth this morning, also about 9am or so. So somewhere in the last twelve hours the spider had woven a very small and intricate web, that looked enormous and slightly terrifying in her bathroom sink.

At first she’d thought it was her hair, pieces of her hair that had fallen out and laid haphazardly, or perhaps not so, across the sink. The web glistened under the sixty watts shining down upon it and before she’d realized what it was she’d started to turn on the faucet, a few drops running out before she’d woken enough to realize what she was seeing and abruptly turned the water off. With a few drops of water in it the web was somehow even more alluring, enticing, and she could see how an insect may see it and still land in it distracted by its charm.

She decided she could just as easily use the other sink as this one, let the spider be, see what sorts of critters it caught. They could be roommates as long as the spider paid rent via taking out the creatures that routinely buzzed around her kitchen, dining room, and bedroom every night driving her to distraction. She completed her morning ritual using the other sink, said goodbye and good luck to the spider, and went out.

Her work day proceeded like any other with the exception that on this day she used her breaks to google spiders rather than text her friends and spiral into fantasy on Pinterest. It turned out the spider was nothing more than a common American house spider. Although she wondered why anyone would call it common. The spider could eat flies and mosquitoes, even cockroaches and skinks! Not that she had any cockroaches or skinks around, still pretty amazing for a critter not much bigger than a quarter. The idea of the spider eating all the flies and mosquitoes that buzzed and hummed and drove her nuts every evening was more than enough incentive for her to let it be. She wasn’t much squeamish about bugs in general although she usually did everything she could to collect them and put them outside, this one she’d allow to stay.

When she got home that night she made a beeline to the bathroom to see how her new roommate was settling in. To her surprise there was already a small webby mass in one corner of the web, her roommate had gotten lucky while she was out.

“Cheers,” she smiled, turned off the light, and went back to the kitchen to figure out her own dinner.

Weeks went by with the new ritual a good morning and goodnight to the spider each day, a check in on the progress of the spiders web and captives each evening. She found she was sleeping better at night and waving her arms less frantically each time she ate dinner. She began thanking the spider each day for coming to live with her.

After several months she noticed there were two spiders in the web one evening.

“What’s this?” She asked, “friend or foe?”

She watched for awhile but her spider didn’t seem scared, although how would she possibly know. It looked to be the same kind of spider to her untrained eye although this one was slightly larger with less brown and more of a spotty look. She assumed this meant one was a male and one a female, but again she was no entomologist. She hoped she was right. She briefly considered removing the other spider in case she was wrong, but talked herself out of it: Darwin would never forgive her for interfering.

She went about her business and continued to check on her roommate over the following days. By the third day, she noticed there was now only one spider again. And a few days later there was a rather large mass in a corner of the web. She began to wonder if perhaps she didn’t have cockroaches after all, and her new roommate had taken care of the problem for her, but as the weeks went by she began to see that the new large web wrapped thing had a sort of life to it. And sure enough she began to see little black spots moving about within it.

One evening as she came in to say goodnight, she saw the sac was no longer closed. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of baby spiders all over her bathroom. She stifled a scream and ran out.

“Not cool, roomie,” she said under breath that night as she crawled into bed, without brushing her teeth.

The next morning she very tentatively turned on the bathroom light, keeping her feet and the majority of her body out of the room itself. With the light on she looked all about the room and couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. She slowly began walking into the room, keeping an eye especially on the floor, the idea of stepping on a baby spider was more than a little revolting. But the floor was clear. She did, however, see two minuscule new webs in the upper left hand corner of the bathroom, near the top of the mirror, with two itty bitty spiders inside.

“Welcome,” she whispered, “I hope you all find enough to eat in here.”

She swept the rest of the room with her eyes several times before deciding the others had all went in search of greener pastures and then she shimmied up to the spider sink to say good morning and congratulations to her roommate. Sadly, her roommate was belly up in the bottom of the sink, legs akimbo.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, noticing tears in her eyes, “I’m so very sorry.”

She debated what to do next. The easiest thing would be to rinse the spider, her web, and the now empty sac away, and then scrub the sink, as it was terribly dusty after having been ignored for roughly a year. Would that be too harsh on the wee cherubs living above? Would they even notice? Would they absolutely notice and bail, assuming her to be some sort of spider killer? A quick glance at her watch told her she didn’t have time for a ceremony.

She turned on the tap and watched as first a wee bit of brownish water came out followed by a flush of clear. She placed her hand under the spigot and rotated it this way and that, letting the flow get to the outer edges of the sink. She reached under the sink to grab the cleanser and a sponge, turning off the tap as she rose up with both in hand. She cleaned the sink quickly and efficiently, as though it hadn’t housed a friend for a year. When she was finished she returned the cleaning equipment to it’s place below and moved to the other sink to get ready for the day.

She said goodbye to her new roommates on her way out of the bathroom, sweeping her eyes about the place as she went about her routine, ensuring none of the other spiders had taken up camp anywhere else. She wondered briefly where they’d all gone, and how they’d gotten there, before heading out herself.

She stopped for coffee on her way to work, the sink cleaning had taken the time she normally would have used to make her own. She placed her order and went to stand around waiting for it with the other addicts, and it was only then, as she took a deep breath, inhaling the wonderful aromas of fresh baked goods and fresh ground coffee, that she began to cry. She was startled, whatever in the world had she to cry about?

A kind woman who’d ordered ahead of her glanced over and saw her tears, made a small motion with her hand as though to touch her arm but stopping just above, “are you okay, honey?” she asked in the sweetest of southern drawls.

“Yes,” sniff, “Oh, yes, it’s just…I lost a friend and I guess I’m still…” sniff, “processing,” she stammered.

“Well, if they meant this much to you, honey, I’m sure they’re in a better place, and if they aren’t, well, the rest of us don’t stand a chance,” she patted her arm and looked up as her name was called. “You take care now.” She went up to collect her coffee and breezed out.

Sniffing and grabbing a couple extra napkins out of the dispenser, she stopped to consider what she’d just been told. “I literally have no idea what just happened,” she heard herself say as she went up to collect her own coffee.

~~~That’s one hour~~~


My older son has taken to sleeping on the couch instead of going to his bed. This is new. He’s been going to bed in his own bed for months, possibly a year, and now suddenly he doesn’t want to. He always has some reason why he can’t be in there but the reasons are always silly and he doesn’t truly believe them himself as evidenced by the smile he tries to conceal when delivering them. So my husband, the greatest pushover of all (I hear Whitney Houston singing The Greatest Love of All but with the words the greatest pushover of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall), has told him he can fall asleep on the couch in the living room with us. He gets snuggly under a blanket with another rolled up blanket as a pillow, and quietly listens as I type in the recliner next to him and dad snuffles and snorts trying not to openly guffaw while watching television on his tablet.

My younger son sleeps fitfully in our bed, waking often due to gas, and calling out. Sometimes he calls out enough that one of us has to go back and settle him back to sleep. Sometimes nothing will work but breastfeeding. Sometimes he goes four hours with not a single interruption and then the entire rest of the night is nonstop boob and crying and wriggling. This is our life right now. And it’s wonderful. It’s devoid of any proper sleep, it’s full of too many arms and legs in the bed and none of them still. It’s beautiful and frustrating and there’s no clear path forward.

Our youngest is currently mastering the art of feeding himself. It is a messy business. Most of his food ends up on the floor, on his face, on his chest. Very little food actually makes its way into his mouth or into his stomach. It’s a hilarious and wonderful exercise to observe. He’s so proud when the spoon goes from food to mouth with no unexpected destinations in between. So proud when he decides to stop it halfway to his mouth and touch the spoon with his other hand to sample a taste of from his finger, as if it might be different than off the spoon. And perhaps it is. Who am I to say.

These boys astound me every single day. The things they come up with on their own and together, the ways they have of making my heart race for their safety even as I try desperately to stop myself from yelling “be careful!” two of the most overused and completely worthless words in a parents vocabulary. And it’s only going to get worse, or better, depending on which side of the fence you’re on in all this. I can’t wait until their building forts and racing soapboxers and rock climbing and mountain bike riding and and and. I’m so excited for it.

The kids are so very much in the now. In the day to day. I find myself constantly in the future, reeling myself back in to the present. I can’t possibly know the future, I can’t possibly say how they’ll be, who they’ll be, and it doesn’t matter right this minute, because who they are right now is so fantastic and I keep missing it when I disappear into tomorrows. The only time in the past is in my dreams, and I wake up disoriented, grateful to be here now.

I don’t recall having a hard time falling asleep as a child. I don’t recall having a hard time staying asleep as a child. Yet I also recall battling insomnia for as long as ever. When the boys have difficulty I wonder if it’s genetic. Are they having insomnia now because of me? I do remember that waking up in the morning mostly meant eating cereal and watching tv. I do remember the rare occasions when I’d sneak into my moms bed in the morning instead of going for cereal. How I’d think, I’ll just lay here for a little while and then go eat breakfast, only to wake up an hour or more later.

I remember how much more comfortable her bed felt, although I can’t imagine our mattresses were that different. I remember how much warmer her bed was, although I’m sure my bed was just as warm before I left it. I remember how her arms around me were both too tight and perfect. I wonder if my boys feel any of this now. On mornings when my husband gets up with the young one, our early riser, and I stay in bed with the older one, an arm draped over his little chest. Does the older one wake up and think my arm is both too heavy and perfect? Does the older one wake up and purposely pretend to still be asleep just so I won’t move?

On mornings when I get up with young one and my husband and the older boy stay in bed, I have no idea what happens. Do they experience any of this early morning magic? I’ve never thought to ask. I’ll be up with the young one, reading books or playing with quiet toys, wondering if he’ll always be an early riser or if this is just part and parcel of his odd sleeping habits. Will I ever get to cuddle my young one in the morning, or do I need to hope he’ll always want cuddles at night as he’s falling asleep?

My husband used to worry that we’d never get our bed back if we started co-sleeping. I agreed. We would not co-sleep, unless it was with a sidecar. Our bed was for us, the adults. That all went out the window within hours of our oldest being born. We put him to sleep in the sidecar and went to sleep ourselves only to be woken a few hours later by his tiny but very serious cries. I quickly reached over, pulled him to me in the adults-only bed where he immediately quieted and went back to sleep. I did too. Ever since, the bed has been everyone’s bed.

And yet, our oldest has been sleeping in his bed for months, possibly a year. I’m not entirely sure when it happened. But he started going to sleep in his bed, and then mostly staying there all night. There’d be the occasional night when he’d turn up in our bed in the wee hours of the morning, before there was any light to speak of, when the Great Horned Owls were still hooting back and forth to each other outside our window. But there was definitely a time there when our bed was an adult-only bed again. It was brief, but it existed.

It was a bit of a sad time. It was wonderful to be able to do adult things in the adult bed again, don’t get me wrong, and it was wonderful to be able to stretch out and roll over without anyone demanding you roll back or crying that you’d took their blankie or or or. But it was also sad. The bed which had begun to feel much too small was suddenly enormous. The sweet soft snores were gone, replaced by the occasional snore from my husband. There was no tiny warm body pressed up against me, breathing softly and slowly and helping me find my own tired breath.

It’s been so lovely with the younger one in the bed and also so exhausting. We’re so close and so far from the time when the two boys can sleep together in their own bed. I eagerly await it, push for it, and also don’t quite know how I’m going to fall asleep when it happens. Will my insomnia become worse? Spiraling out of control? Will I end up sneaking into their bed to sleep with them? Doubtful, but possible. Will my poor husband end up unable to move because his wife has decided that if she just slides up against him once he falls asleep she’ll be able to fall asleep too?

I look over at my older kiddo, who should be fast asleep by now, he’s been laying there quietly long enough, his breathing getting deeper and slower. But no, he’s wide awake. He seems to realize the futility of sleep and has just recently begun to pull his legs up out of the blanket and inspect his toes. His bear lies quietly face-down beside him, one leg hanging off the couch. Bear, the sleep talisman that seems to have lost its mojo. Toes inspected, my boy rolls to his side, clutches bear around the neck, and continues to move his toes. It may not appear that he’s trying to sleep but he is. I was the same way. Watching him it comes back to me.

I’d been having such a hard time falling asleep that I’d created little rituals, much like OCD people do, perhaps I’m more OCD than I’d like to admit, but I digress. I’d been having such a hard time falling asleep that I’d latched on to old stories of me sleeping: “you’d put the silk part of the edge of a blanket between your index and ring fingers and rub your fingers back and forth.” So I began doing that every night, muscle memory perhaps would enable me to fall asleep. I noticed my feet were always cold. So I began incorporating a slight foot shuffle under the covers, creating a little foot nook alcove of heated sheets. I’d get the sheets warm in that little circle and then place my feet just so in the middle. Now I wasn’t allowed to move my feet or they’d get cold again. This probably helped me fall asleep because it forced me not to move. I didn’t realize it at the time of course, I just thought foot shuffling was the magic counterspell to insomnia.

As an adult I’ve read so much about sleep and insomnia that it’s a bit staggering that I could still suffer from it. How is it possible to know so much about a subject and still not be able to fix the problem? If I were an automechanic and I’d spent all this time learning how to fix an engine and still couldn’t do it, I’d be pretty pissed. And so I am. I am pretty pissed. It’s amazing how frustrating it is to stare at a clock or remove the clock so you won’t keep staring at it only to stare at the ceiling, or the backs of your eyelids. It’s positively maddening to heed the advice that if you can’t sleep you need to get out of bed because laying there only makes it worse, and you end up out of bed all night now not only getting zero sleep but also getting zero rest. For any of you struggling with sleep, I encourage you to ignore the “get out of bed” advice: even if you’re not sleeping, you’re resting and this is super important in so many ways especially when you’re sleep deprived.

I’ve tried all the tonics and sprays and bedroom modifications. I’ve tried all the teas and meditations and exercises. I’ve tried everything and some things work some of the time and some things work other times and some things never work at all. What’s amazing to me is that people always seem to think it’s a choice, like I’ve somehow chosen not to sleep. “I don’t know why you don’t just go take a nap,” my husband will say when it’s roughly 1pm on a day when I’ve literally had zero hours of sleep the night before and I’m struggling to survive the day. I have no response to that.

My older son is now sitting up, laying down backwards, moving his legs, playing with the dry skin on his lips. “I just can’t sleep,” he says, when questioned, “I just want to sit up.” But that’s not the deal. The deal is he can stay out here on the couch as long as he’s laying down and quiet. I’m trying to stay out of it. Apparently dad has decided that ignoring him is the answer. The boy sits up, looks at me out of the corner of his eyes, catches me looking at him. Shit.

“I think the deal is that you have to be quiet and you have to lay down, if you’re going to stay out here,” I say.

“But, I’m thiiiiiiiirsty,” he replies, “I want my water.”

I say nothing. His dad says nothing. He slides off the couch and goes in search of his water. He finds it and comes back in the room taking large, gulping slurps of water, clearly his thirst was intense. He probably could have died from dehydration and we wouldn’t have noticed. Sigh. Seeing what else he can get away with he now stands in front of the couch, leaning against it, rather than laying back down.

“What are you doing?” dad asks.

“I want to sit up,” the boy says.

“You’re not going to sit on my lap,” dad says, mishearing, “you can lay on the couch or go to your bed.”

The boy decides to go to his bed…maybe. He has at least taken the corner out of the living room but he’s not heading down the hall.

“I want someone to sleep with me five minutes,” he says.

The thing is, is he suffering from insomnia too? Is it my fault? Should I go lay with him five minutes if it means he’ll relax enough to fall asleep? Perhaps I can teach him to make a warm space for his feet and then hold them there? My poor little man. I know how it feels to want sleep, to desperately need sleep, to be so deprived of sleep that you’re literally seeing and hearing things that don’t exist. I’m so grateful he’s nowhere near that. I’m so grateful this is all probably just normal kid boundary testing. Still. Maybe I’ll just go lay with him for five minutes….

~~~That’s one hour~~~


When I look at my kids I see their dad. When I listen to my kids, I often hear their dad. I am so grateful that I am in love with their dad. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for parents who divorce and have to see their ex every single day in the faces of their children, have to hear their ex every single day in the words and tones of their children. I get that you always love your children no matter what. I get that divorce doesn’t mean you suddenly don’t like the parts of your kids that are the other parent. In fact, I totally get that the most frustrating parts of our kids are the parts that remind us of us. But still.

I had never quite realized how hard that must be until I started thinking recently about how difficult I was as a child. I’m thinking about it because my oldest is so much like me. He’s stubborn and smart and funny and a total pain in the ass. He is excellent at making deals, for example:

  • Me: “go to bed”
  • Him: “I’m not tired”
  • Me: “then lay in bed and talk with Bear”
  • Him: “I’m not doing that. I’m just… Come lay with me five minutes”
  • Me: “I often come and lay with you five minutes but tonight I’m not going to. Tonight I have things I need to do”
  • Him: “okay, dad, come on”
  • Dad: “not tonight, buddy, I don’t feel good”
  • Me: “look dude, we often come sleep with you five minutes but not tonight. Dad doesn’t feel good and I have things to do”
  • Him: “okay, so either you come sleep with me five minutes now or you finish what you’re doing and then come sleep with me five minutes”
  • Me: “okay. I will. I’ll finish this and then come sleep with you. It will be at least one hour before I come in there”
  • Him: “I’m not tired. I’ll just wait here”

What am I supposed to do with that? I should just get up and go lay with him for five minutes. It wouldn’t kill me to do it, it would make him happy, and soon he’ll be an age where he won’t be asking me to do it anymore and I’ll miss it. It will actually make me sad and I’ll miss it. So why am I fighting it tonight? Because this is how the entire day has gone and now I’m done. I’m exhausted. I have nothing left to give this little guy. And he needs it. He needs and wants some comfort and I’m an asshole for not giving it to him.

Ah hell, I just spent the five minutes. I’m such a pushover. I can’t help it. Just putting it in writing that there will come a day where he won’t need or want that anymore was enough to send me in. It just slays me how quickly he’s growing up. How quickly everything is becoming difficult.

When you have a baby everyone always says ridiculous things like “enjoy it now, cause someday they’ll talk and it’ll be all over.” What a douchebag thing to say. With both my kids I can’t wait til they can feed themselves, crawl and walk and run, use words to tell me what’s wrong and what’s right and what’s what, so I don’t have to guess and schlep and do all the things. I get so excited by each new advancement they make, and so frustrated by the inevitable backslides.

At any rate, I was thinking how it’s already so frustrating to hear myself parroted back to me, or as my girlfriend likes to say, “how do you like arguing with yourself?,” that if I was no longer in love with their father, if I was in fact irritated by their father and now I was arguing with one of the kids and I’m now arguing not only with myself but with their father as well *ARGH* how frustrating would that be?

Did my mom ever feel that way? Does she ever feel that way now?

I hope I never have to find out. I hope my husband and I remain in love forever, that our love and life together changes and grows and still manages to stay together, to grow stronger rather than apart. But there’s also no denying that there’s still a roughly 50% divorce rate in America, and as much as I think my husband and I are exceptional people, we aren’t. We’re regular people. We could just as easily be the divorced as the married.

And while I’d like to think that we’d remain kind and courteous to one another in the event of a split, I also know we’re both very stubborn and very attached to our children. I could easily see us saying “you can have everything” to one another when it comes to the “stuff” and arguing for centuries when it comes to visitation and how much time is enough time. Even if we were able to literally divide visitation exactly in half we would each always feel it wasn’t enough time with the kids.

The thing is this is all coming up because my girlfriend is getting a divorce. When she told me my first thought was “congratulations,” but thank god I actually had my filter on that day and instead I said something nice or asked something important or whatever. I dunno exactly, but I was actually there for her. And I’m still trying to be there for her as much as I can when we don’t live in the same state. I think about her constantly and I know this is literally the best thing that could ever happen to her because she’s so amazing and her soon-to-be-ex is totally worthless and all they ever did together was fight and that’s just not my friend. So the point is, it’s a good thing for her and a good thing for her kids, and it still totally sucks. It’s still this horrible thing you have to go through and your kids have to go through and it totally sucks.

So she’s been watching The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce while the kids are with their dad and she’s folding laundry or pretending to make herself something for dinner that’s more than popcorn and red wine. And I started watching, too. In solidarity. Because that’s one way I can be there for her when I’m not there with her. And damn if this show doesn’t have me thinking all the thoughts.

One of my thoughts is how I was not there for her when she told me she was pregnant. I was in a shit-show situation in my life where I’d just left a relationship of nearly ten years, I was trying to get my feet under me, get my debts paid off, money saved up, buy a house, and I was *gulp* living back home with my parents to do it. I was every stereotype you can imagine. And one of the major reasons for my breakup? I wanted kids and he didn’t. So here was one of my very best girlfriends of (at the time) sixteen or seventeen years, telling me she was pregnant. Oh, and the guy wasn’t sticking around. So she kind of fucking needed me. And where was I? I was at the bottom of the second bottle of beer by the time five minutes had passed in the conversation and I was starting a third. Where was I? I was wallowing in self-pity because she was pregnant and I wasn’t. I wasn’t thinking she might be scared or she might be needing someone to come up and be with her for a few days. Nope. I was drinking heavily and wishing I was her.

That was a very low and very regretful moment in my life. Since then I have not had an opportunity to be there for her. She hasn’t needed me, and that’s wonderful for everyone, because it means she’s living a pretty great life. We see each other once every few years, we write actual letters (like the kind you send in the mail on paper and stuff), and we text or online chat. We stay in touch as much as you can when you live in different states. So now, when she needs me, I want to actually physically be there. But that’s not what she needs. The next best thing I can do: text her every few days, send a card every few days, and when she says she’s watching a show, I can watch it with her even if I’m not with her.

I had given up on having kids by the time I had them. I’d done some questionable things and never gotten pregnant nor had a legitimate pregnancy scare. It was pretty obvious that I could not get pregnant. I had gone from a point in my life where I was ready to buy from a sperm bank or adopt from an agency to a point in my life where I was ready to sleep with a guy who would sign paperwork first stating the baby would be mine to a point in my life where I was trying desperately to make peace with the fact that it simply wasn’t in the cards for me. I thought I was doing pretty good at making peace, but really I was just drinking.

I got pregnant with a man I’d only known for about a year and only been hanging out with for a few months. We’d gone from being people who knew of each other, to being people who knew each other, to being people who wanted to know each other better, to pregnant. Besides that initial moment of seeing a positive pregnancy test and smiling so big my face might split open and having my heart race and thrill and wanting to dance a million steps, there was the moment of “oh shit. He’s going to think I tricked him.” Because I’d all but told him there was absolutely no way I could get pregnant. I think my words were “I’m 95% sure I can’t get pregnant.” I went from being thrilled to being thrilled and terrified. I never want to be that girl that swindles the guy into being with her.

So I told him straight out I was pregnant and that I wanted to keep it and that I completely understood if that wasn’t what he’d signed up for. Lucky for me it was exactly what he’d signed up for, exactly what he’d hoped for, exactly what he wanted. Not only did we get to be stuck together but we got to be saddled with a kid. It was heaven. And luckily it’s remained so. If anything it just keeps getting better. So when it’s good like this, you can’t really imagine it being bad. You can’t really imagine what it must be like to have it be over.

We have all these relationships with people and we leave and we maybe have a memento or two to remember them and we maybe lose one of them when we move or we maybe purposely dispose of them when we move on, but the point is that in all our relationships we aren’t forced to be in the same room with our ex once we’ve moved on. We aren’t forced to hold conversations with them, or love them, or tuck them in to bed at night. Unless we had kids with them.

I guess I just don’t really know how to get my head around that.

There’s this wonderful idea when you’re still in love and still together that if anything horrible ever happens to either of you you’ll have the kids to remember the other person by. Or if something horrible happens to both of you your families will have your kids to remember you by. It’s this sort of silver lining to a horrible situation thing. So what’s the silver lining when you get divorced and now you have your mini-ex driving you absolutely batshit crazy because you love them SO much and they also remind you SO much of a person you are trying not to love anymore.

Or maybe you always love the person you had children with. No matter what. Because they gave you a gift that no one else has ever given you, could ever give you. Maybe you love them forever and that’s okay because you’re not in-love with them anymore, and you’re able to emotionally move on to a place of romantic love with someone else, so it’s not like you’re stilted, and maybe the kids help you stay in that place where you can be amiable with them, you can continue to love them and not want to be with them. Maybe that’s actually a wonderful thing. And if so, why isn’t it more prevalent? Why aren’t there more amicable divorces? Or maybe there are and we just don’t hear about them because what’s there to say when there’s no drama?

Huh. I don’t know. Obviously. But I wonder. I wonder if I’ll ever ask my mom. I wonder if I’ll ever ask my friend. I wonder if I’ll ever have to find out for myself. And I hope not.

~~~That’s one hour~~~


There was going to be a meteor shower, or rather, there was a meteor shower happening if she could find a place with low light and no clouds from which to view it. She thought of her own backyard, of the deck that would keep her up off the cold and potentially soggy ground, the first bulbs starting to come up thinking it was spring when in fact the human calendar had just celebrated Christmas.

The deck would do nicely, the cold air would keep her bottle of beer at drinking temperature, a futon mattress dragged clumsily down the hallway and out the back door would keep her off the cold and wet wood of the deck, and her sleeping bag, the one she got for backpacking through Europe that ended up being way too hot, would be perfect in this situation.

She considered putting on more clothes, but she was exhausted and more than a little drunk, and that damn sleeping bag would have her sweating in ten minutes anyway, so she stayed in her oversize t-shirt, grabbed her beer, and danced her way out to the little bed she’d created. Just the two feet from her door to the bed were enough to leave her breathless with the cold, a pain in her chest, her toes completely numb. Teeth chattering she fumbled her way into the bag, zipping it all the way up and around so she wore it like a pea pod, just her face sticking out.

She couldn’t feel her nose, but her eyelids suddenly existed when she’d never noticed them before. Can your eyelids freeze? she wondered. If she didn’t blink her eyes enough would the wet surface of her eyeballs freeze? She was most certainly drunk. She giggled to herself and then lay down on her back. Drunk as she was she’d remembered to turn the house lights off, there were no lights outside to ruin her experience.

Waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dark she thought about all the times she’d been to those planetarium things. They were so cool. The way it got dark and then you were instantly outside at night. Learning where all the planets and constellations would be that time of year. Hearing some of the myths that went along with the constellations. She always said it was the very best date anyone could ever take someone on, and she didn’t understand why so few people had ever heard of it. Or done it. Except that one time in school for that one fieldtrip.

Sigh. Adults need more fieldtrips, she thought to herself. It’s like we just stop learning and we’re okay with that. She sighed again.

The Milky Way was now visible and stunningly bright. She’d never seen it before in the city. Grown up her whole life believing it was something you could only see from a telescope, not realizing you could literally lift your face to the heavens, wait a few minutes for your eyes to come around, and then woosh. There it was. A literal spill of white across the sky. Whoever’ed named it was a genius.

Now that her eyes had adjusted she could also see a few constellations. No shooting stars though. No meteors. The trouble with these things is they always have a peak that’s at some god awful time of day like 2am. How can you possibly get enough sleep if you stay up until after 2am in order to view a meteor shower? And the idea of going to sleep only to have an alarm wake you after a few hours, possibly interrupting your REM, just so you could stumble outside, not fully awake, and certainly not appreciative of being woken, and possibly falling back asleep instead of seeing the things anyway? Crazy talk.

There it was!

Not particularly spectacular, she almost wasn’t even sure she’d really seen it. Had it been a meteor or a trick of her peripherals. She snuggled down in the bag a bit, even though the only part of her that remained cold was her toes and her face. Time to pay better attention.

There! Another one. Ha!

There was something so satisfying about it. So storybook. She made a wish. Why not?

Another! Oh and this one was truly something. This one traveled the full length of her sight line before halting, growing very large, and exploding, much like a firework. She realized her mouth was open. Shutting it, then opening it again thinking she’d take a drink of her beer, then shutting it again. If she hadn’t lied down she could have arranged her beer between her knees and her chin so she could tip her body back for a sip, rather than pulling her arm and hand out of the bag every time she wanted a drink. She decided this was a rather ingenious method and decided perhaps she wasn’t quite so drunk after all. She also decided against it because it would require her to get up.

It wasn’t long before she’d counted at least fifteen meteors. How long had she been out here? It couldn’t have been an hour yet. This was really rather amazing, and beautiful. She considered staying outside all night, falling asleep under the shooting stars, how poetic. And then she heard the coyotes yipping. They were hunting nearby, probably hoping for a dog from one of the neighborhoods nearby to come out. These coyotes were smart.

She’d watched the coyotes send out a female to start yipping, getting the attention of the humans and the dogs of a particular house. The rest of the pack would try to stay out of sight as they split up, circling around to sabotage positions. She’d watched as one neighbor, not understanding that there were several coyotes about and not just the one female, let his big dog out to chase her off. Big dogs, you always think they’re safe. It took less than ten minutes for the canines to dash in, overpower the dog, and rip out its throat. The owner, who’d stood there the whole time screaming was shocked, devastated. It’d taken her forever to get that image out of her head, but she’d finally succeeded. Now it was back.

She watched a few more meteors cross the sky. Listened as the call of the coyote changed from a yapping to a yipping, to a symphony of howls. They’d caught something. She decided to go back inside. Last thing she needed was to turn up in the local paper: Drunken Resident Eaten Alive By Coyotes While Meteor Shower Watches.

Leaving the sleeping bag around her, she pulled her arm out, grabbed her beer, put a thumb over the opening and hopped back into the house. There was no need to turn on the lights, she could see clearly. She hopped into the living room and disrobed the bag setting the bottle on the coffee table. She was sweaty and would have to take shower before bed. There was nothing worse than trying to sleep in clean sheets when one wasn’t clean oneself.

She debated leaving the futon mattress outside until the next day, but realized it would end up ten times as heavy if it got soaked in dew. Stepping back outside she was instantly freezing, the sweat on her body drying slowly and painfully. She grabbed the mattress and pulled, and pulled, and pulled. She’d never be any use in helping to dispose of a body, she had zero upper body strength. It took her better than ten minutes to move the mattress three feet, but it was enough to close the door with the mattress inside. In the way, certainly, but better dealt with later, and dry.

She traipsed back into the living room, grabbed the bottle off the table, and wandered back to the bathroom. Turning the hot water up and shrugging out of her shirt, she jumped in, placing the bottle on the window ledge. Letting the hot water warm her back, she took idle sips of the perfectly cold beer as she washed, rinsed, and decided against the repeat. Did people really do that? It always seemed like a pretty great marketing scheme, make people use twice as much shampoo as necessary. She let the warm water beat down on her a bit longer, finished the beer, and then shut everything off, grabbing her towel from the rack and stepping out onto the bathmat.

She realized as she was drying her hair that she’d just taken a shower in the dark. And it had been wonderful. So soothing, so natural. She wondered if maybe she should experiment with not using lights for a few weeks, a month maybe. That would be fascinating. Would her eyesight during the day also improve? Would other senses dull as her eyesight took over?

Hanging the towel back on the rack she took the empty bottle to the kitchen, rinsed it under the tap, there were few things in this world as disgusting as the smell of stale beer in bottles waiting to be recycled, and then set the bottle upside down in the sink to drain and dry. As she was turning to go to bed she saw motion outside the kitchen window. She stopped and looked. Had it been a meteor in the sky? There it was again. Not a meteor, no.

It was eyes. They were there, in front of her house, loping around, getting into position. She saw the eyes throw the light from the sliver of moon or perhaps the meteors, as the head turned her way. She knew as she looked into those eyes that there were six other sets of eyes watching her house, even if she couldn’t see them.

The yipping began.

Her skin crawled, prickled, the hair on her neck beginning to stand on end. She knew they weren’t actually hunting her, that they were hoping she had some small beloved pet to send out, but in all absence of such a creature she felt hunted. Listening to the coyote yip, she sometimes sounded just like a small child. A two-year-old maybe. Crying out. She’d hear the yip and instinctively for a split second want to go check and make sure the kid was okay, before realizing it was just the coyote yipping.

How long would they yip? Couldn’t they smell that she had no pets to send their way? What would they do if she went out there shining a light in their eyes, hollering at them, throwing a stone or shooting the BB gun she’d purchased on a whim cause it was pink and she’d wanted to encourage the manufacturer to think broader. What would they do then?

There was a flash of something, a momentary silence, and then the sound of yipping and yapping all converging into a victorious howl. She couldn’t see what they’d caught but it must have been a rabbit or a fox, maybe a bobcat. Something relatively small and very fast, but not fast enough. The howl reverberated down in her diaphragm and before she realized it she was howling too. The coyotes didn’t stop although they surely heard her strange harmonizing join in. For a few minutes they all just howled. And then as quickly as it began it stopped.

The coyotes all scattered. Vanished. As if they’d never been there.

She wondered if there’d be hair and blood and bits of bone in her yard in the morning. Token memorabilia of the hunt. She realized her heart was racing and she felt completely sober. She also realized she was cold again. The shower that had warmed her back up had long since worn off, if she’d gotten into bed immediately perhaps she’d have stood a chance of staying warm, getting the sheets around her warm enough before falling asleep in the little nest.

She ran to bed lightly on her toes, making little swish noises as her thighs touched. She quite literally jumped into bed, tumbling the covers all around her in a mound, in an imitation of a coyote pupping den. She felt wild and alive, and slightly ridiculous. She fell asleep and dreamed of eyes shooting through the sky, howling in intensity.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

A Man

She couldn’t think of anyone she knew who enjoyed being alone when they were single. In a relationship, tons of her friends, herself included, desperately wished for more alone time, craved it, but as soon as they were single alone time became a hazard. Alone time meant being forced to reflect on everything that happened, it had the potential to make you bitter. It also had the potential to make you better…but few people recognized this. No, most people, suddenly single found themselves rushing out to meet someone new without doing any of the work on themselves that would keep them from repeating the last mistake, or the one before that, or the one before that, or….

She was no exception to any rule. She wished she was. She loved the idea that she was different. Never a “girl” like those “other girls” she knew how to keep sex and love separate, she knew that makeup was rarely necessary, she knew lingerie was for six months or more in and not the very beginning. She knew beer was the answer to everything that could possibly be wrong with this world. And she knew that an ice hockey game made a great first date. She knew all sorts of things.

And she was tragically wrong about them all.

She’d been through her fair share of terrible relationships and more than her fair share of good relationships. The problem, or so she thought, was finding her pattern: if she could discover “the guy” she kept dating that always ended so badly, she could stop dating “the guy” in the future. She just had to recognize who he was early enough not to repeat the pattern. So she sat and had herself a long think. She thought and thought and thought. She used a single piece of paper per man, his name in the center, a large circle drawn around it, branches out from that circle with more circles. All the good, all the bad, all the cliche. She wrote everything she could think about each man from his appearance to his personality to his habits.

She then tried to find the similarities. Good similarities she labeled on a new clean sheet of paper: Good. These were the things she knew attracted her to these men and made the good parts of the relationship good. Bad similarities also got a clean sheet of paper labelled bad. These were all the qualities that made the relationships fail, even if they weren’t the one major nail in the coffin, they were certainly contributors. She made her lists. She read her lists. She decided she knew her patterns they were clear.

She always fell for the guys who could make her laugh (good) and who took control (bad). She always fell for the guys who also liked to drink good beer (bad) and who she could have long talks with every single day without running out of fodder (good). She always fell for the guys who had dreams and passions and goals (good) and who put their work ethic first in all things (bad).

It was interesting to re-look at some of these qualities she’d previously thought were good. After all, what was wrong with a strong work ethic? Work was important, money was crucial not just to survival but to a decent life (unfortunately), so what could possibly be wrong with a strong work ethic? Except it meant they were over-workers. They literally put work first. If it was the birthday event that had been planned months in advance or stay late at work because there was a crises, they’d stay late at work and miss the event. That can only happen so many times before you begin to question your value in a relationship, or your value as a person.

She decided to keep both lists taped inside a cabinet door where she could see them every morning upon waking and every evening before sleeping. She would have these traits ingrained in her mind and look at any and all new potential mates through the lenses of Good and Bad.

Not too surprisingly this did not work. It was not possible to find the one for you using a short list of acceptable and unacceptable qualities. There was far too much grey area in between. For example, what about the guy who ticked all the good boxes, none of the bad boxes, but for whom she felt absolutely zero affection? Or the guy, same story all the boxes, who spent his free time gaming and had only read the books required in his classes to graduate. This guy had never read a book that wasn’t assigned to him…unless you count gaming magazines, which she didn’t. Clearly the lists weren’t working.

Where was the flaw? Ah, she began to see that she hadn’t really given herself a fair shake. Nervous not to become the eighth grader who insisted that her next boyfriend be blonde and six feet tall and all the vapid things, she’d hardbanked the other way and ended up with not enough qualifications, and certainly not enough that mattered for a mature relationship.

She began a third sheet of paper, meant to encapsulate all the Good, all the Bad, and all the Necessary. Her new list was much more realistic, and could perhaps be considered a stretch, after all, she did spell out exactly what the man must be able to do (make coffee) and what the man must not be interested in (football). She considered removing the football thing, she did want her next partner to have his own interests outside of her life, she felt that was healthy, but she left it in because quite frankly, football people are football people year-round, not just during the months the infernal sport is played (which also seemed to be growing to cover the entire calendar).

She removed the two Good and Bad sheets from the cabinet door and posted just this one now: The Good, The Bad, and the Necessary. She looked at the paper every morning upon waking and every evening before going to sleep. She made sure that the now much more complete and accurate list wasn’t missing anything G, B or N. And after just one week of creating this new list, she met a man.

The man she met was not at all like she had expected. She’d heard the term “barrel chest” before, it was always coming up in steamy summer reads, but she’d never thought it was a legitimate description for a man’s chest, until now. He wasn’t ridiculously tall or ridiculously short like the guys in her past, no, this man was perfectly average in height although his presence made him seem quite a bit taller. He definitely made her laugh (good), spent many an evening cosied up to the fire reading (good), and he had a cat (good).

There didn’t appear to be a single thing about this man that wasn’t absolutely perfect for her, and she began to be more and more concerned that he was in all actuality a figment of her imagination…or a fake. They began spending two evenings a week together, then four, then six. They began seeing each other earlier in the day and remaining together until later into the night. It was a whirlwind of perfection and she didn’t trust it.

At one point, before they’d even kissed, they’d been having a moment, out by their cars, stalling, pushing out the time til they absolutely had to leave each other until the last possible moment. The lights of the businesses around them were slowly ticking off. The air around them was quickly turning colder. They’d both begun to sort of hop in step to keep warm, laughing at themselves and each other, and their breath on the air. He’d started to lean in towards her and she knew without a doubt that he intended to kiss her. Rather than lean in as well, which she very much wanted to do, she skittered like a filly that hadn’t been broke. She was slightly embarrassed, wondered if he’d noticed, if she could still take it back and fix the moment.

He was smiling. He’d leaned back to standing, his arms and hands by his side, his eyes telling her he saw her. “There’s no rush. I’ll see you tomorrow?” he asked.

She nodded. Partly furious with herself for ruining an otherwise perfect moment and partly in awe that a man had seen her, finally. They went their separate ways, he waited to see her get into her car and start it up before he got in his and drove away.

She returned to her home. Opened her cabinet door. Looked down the list slowly, reading each word out loud and thinking on it for a moment or two before moving to the next. Yes, it was true, he was all the things GBN. And he was something she’d never thought to put on the list. So she added it, before turning in to sleep:

A Man Who Sees Me

~~~That’s one hour~~~

In Sickness

I have been so lax this month in my #writeonehour a day. My family and I are still fighting a flu or cold or zombie virus that simply will not go away. Tomorrow will be fourteen days that my sons have been fighting and thirteen days for my husband and I. Luckily the kids are mostly over it and it’s just the hubs and I that remain in headache-stuffy-nose-hell. At any rate, I’ve attempted three days to login here and write and those three days I just could not do it. I logged in tonight, despite the flu fog and awful feeling because it reminds me so much of where I was about ten years ago or so.

Roughly ten years ago I bought a house. It was a foreclosure that literally sat in escrow for two years (no one believes me, but that’s the way it was back then). At any rate, when it finally closed, everything on paper said I could afford that house. Everything on paper said that my budget and the house meant that I’d be playing it very close, not much left over for savings, but that I could do it.

This turned out not to be the case.

I refused to get back into debt, a place I’d been in before as a result of a miserable relationship that had left me buying stuff to fill the void, rather than accepting the relationship had tanked and moving on. But I digress…

I had just gotten out of debt and gotten everything sorted and bought the house and now I was staring at going into debt again. Hell no. So I took a course. At the time it was called Man Vs. Debt, I don’t know if it still exists…hang on, I’ll check. Wow, yup, still there. It was absolutely terrific when I took it and I can’t imagine with ten years it could have gotten anything but better. If you’re struggling with debt I highly suggest it, you can find it here. (And no, I’m in no way affiliated with them).

So there I was taking this course that was literally teaching me how to take control of my financial life, I was learning stuff I’d never learned when I was growing up, wondering why they didn’t teach that shit in high school or sooner, and one of the things I needed to do was make more money. I did all the things the course recommended, which I won’t go into here as it’s not my place, and then I jumped ship (I kept taking the course, but I let my mind wander to other possibilities). I thought outside the box. I thought, I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life, launched a dog walking business in sixth grade, long before it was a thing, did a pet-sitting and plant watering business too, was babysitting from seventh grade through all of high school. I thought: what is something else I can do that won’t interfere with my job that can bring me income.

Obviously hooking was out of the question, illegal. (I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek here, but it’s to drive home the point that I literally looked at all possible avenues of income).

And what I found was this service that put people who write in touch with people who need things written. Not essays for rich college kids or anything sordid like that. This was a service, I can’t remember the name or I’d check to see if it’s still around, that allowed publishers to put up an ad that said something like:

300 words on Spam through the ages. Must use the following words: Hawaii, cooking, and delicious. Submission required within two hours of acceptance. Pays $0.80

So if you were a writer logged in to the site, you’d see the ad, decide you knew a hell of a lot about Spam, or could learn in less than two hours, and you’d take the gig. Then the timer would start. You had to do your research and submit your piece before the timer got to 0:00. If you failed, it gave you a black mark and you were no longer eligible for a certain tier of articles. If you succeeded the publisher got to grade your work. If you got a lot of good grades you moved up in tiers. This meant longer articles and more money. But we’re still talking pennies.

Everyday after work I would come home, open a bottle of beer, go into my room and search for articles to write. I told myself I had to work on writing for a minimum of one hour a day. More is fine, but less was unacceptable. And I gave myself two days off a week, any two days I wanted each week, but that was it. You figure if you only write five of these a week that’s maybe $10.00 If you’re lucky. It was usually less. So I wrote a lot of these horrible articles. And who knows where all they went. Cause you didn’t get any credit for them either. They’d be posted to someones blog or in a magazine and the actual author got zero cred.

But it was part of my plan to keep out of debt and it was part of my plan to keep myself writing. I figured even if I didn’t get the credit for it, I was still using my brain, using my fingers, using my talent (if it’s there, the jury is still out), and that was all important.

Since getting sick and being in a total brain fog and some days not even being able to get out of bed, it’s been all I can do to take care of the kids (my husband is a god but he, too, is sick; it’s been rough). So there have been three days this month that I have missed my #writeonehour, and seriously y’all, it’s kind of killing me.

I can’t decide what the rules would have been if I’d stipulated rules in the beginning. Would I have given myself two days off a week, like I did back then, like a job would do now? Would I have given myself the option of making up the lost hours somewhere else on another night? What stays most true to the purpose of #writeonehour ?

I think the answer is: I want to write one hour a day to get myself trained to sit down, focus, and write for one hour. After a year, maybe less, when the kids need me a little less at night, maybe that becomes two hours, maybe three. At some point, the idea is that I devote myself to this in a manner befitting a full-time or part-time mother and author. So if the goal is to get the training in, then I suspect it’s probably okay to miss a day here and there because I’m sick. Not okay to miss a day here or there because I don’t feel like it, or I’m tired, or any other ridiculous lazy excuse. But sickness…hell, I’d have called in to work sick with this, so why not call in to myself?

I don’t ever want to give up on my dreams, but maybe it’s okay to take a sick day off every now and again.

~~~That’s one hour~~~


A storm was supposed to maybe come and it was hard to believe with the sky clear, the sun warm, and the birds singing. But one never knew with mountain weather. She’d seen a perfectly stunning day turn to snow in a matter of hours, and a cold rainy day given up to tea and reading turn into the perfect day for a hike. The fickleness of mountain weather appealed to her and she wondered how she’d lived down in the city for so long.

It all started when she realized she’d been duped by the system. She’d done all the things they tell you to do: get a good job, buy a good car, buy a good house. And all that did was lock you in place. You had to keep the job to pay for the car and the house. Once the car was paid off, you still had the house to pay for, so can’t quit the job. By the time the house is paid off you’ve had to get two other cars cause the cars only last about ten years apiece if you’re lucky and the mortgage is a minimum thirty. Sigh.

After her first year in her new home she’d realized she was trapped. It made it so much worse. Everything. The job she hadn’t particularly liked because a job she loathed and resented. The house she had actually loved, the house that had taken her nearly two years to purchase because of the damn bank, became an anchor. She began to see all the places she’d never live rather than all the places she could travel to. She began to see all the opportunities she’d never have rather than all the jobs she could apply for. It was a horrible downward spiral that she couldn’t seem to stop.

And then one day she decided she could actually do anything. There was literally nothing stopping her from applying for another job or selling her house and moving or taking a vacation…well, actually money prohibited her from a vacation, but the other two were doable. In fact, if she sold the house and bought a tiny house she’d be the owner immediately, with no additional payments. And if she switched her jobs to another state she could probably live in her tiny house for little to nothing on someone’s land or possibly purchase her own land.

The sky was the limit when she stopped looking down at all she had and instead played it like a businesswoman.

She began taking weekend excursions in her car to places within an hour’s drive. Then within two. She began spending more and more time in the mountains, not wanting to leave come Sunday. She relished three day weekends and holidays for the time they afforded her to be free from work and free from the city. She started returning to the same town every weekend. Began to be recognized by some of the locals as “that woman who eats here every Saturday.” People began asking her if she lived there and then asking her why not.

She took a big leap and asked her boss if there was any possibility of her working remotely. Telling him for the time being that she simply wanted to spend an additional day getting stuff done from home, especially with Fridays being so casual. It would be easier for her to concentrate without the distraction of the TGIF crowd. He gave her a trial period.

For three months she spent every Thursday at the end of her shift packing up anything she might need for the next day, and then hustling out to her car. She’d already packed her bag the night before so she could head for the mountains immediately after work. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and sometimes a holiday Monday, too! Four whole days in the mountains. And she found she simply didn’t belong anywhere else anymore.

She put her house on the market and began pouring through real estate listings in her soon-to-be-hometown. She spent her weekends now alternately seeing available properties and talking to locals about what she should know about life up there that she wouldn’t know coming from the city. Boy was that a hoot. Mountain folk had all kinds of terms for people like her, and she tried not to be offended, after all, the terms were apt and wouldn’t apply to her for long.

She learned all about winters, how much wood she’d need to get through, what kind of stoves to avoid, the merits of propane dryers. She learned all about springs, how she’d never spend a second indoors, how the bulbs bloomed: daffodils and tulips and narcissus, the benefits of going off grid to avoid power outages that were all too common. She learned all about summers, how she’d want nothing more than a covered wrap around porch to relax on, how she’d need a home with air flow, and how to make a simple pool out of tarp and hay bales. She learned all about autumns, how she should never switch to flannel sheets before Halloween, how fire season was a thing of sheer terror, and how the fiddle contest came through and for those in the know it was a thing not to be missed.

By the time her house was in escrow, she’d already informed her boss that she’d be moving and offered him a choice of keeping her on remotely or letting her go. He kept her on. She tried not to be disappointed. She set her sights on purchasing a little property she’d been eyeing for a couple months that seemed perfect, not too much yard to maintain and not too much house to clean. Perfect. By the time her house sold and she had to get her stuff out, the property she was buying was only two weeks from handing her the keys, so she stayed with a friend on their sofa. What was two weeks in a lifetime? She was following her dreams.

Moving was a snap, the easiest of all the things that would come. Easier than selling her city house and easier than buying her mountain cabin. It would be the last thing she remembered as being easy for years. The hardships started right away. In all her question asking and planning she hadn’t once thought about internet and it turned out it was no small feat to get. She tried a hot spot. Failure. The things kept overheating and more than that it couldn’t run as fast as she could type. Unacceptable.

She tried a land line. What a disaster. The landlines were literally the old school phone lines from the 80’s. Sure she had mail, but she couldn’t get it to load in less than five minutes. She was all for trying satellite but the companies all assured her there were far too many trees in the sight line, satellite wouldn’t work.

She called her boss. He accepted her less-than-two-weeks-notice.

Luckily her home and expenses, save for car fuel, were all much less than living in the city. So much so that her three month savings cushion became a six month savings cushion in the mountains. She began spending her days hiking in the morning and job searching in the afternoon. There were plenty of unskilled jobs available, the amount of available help in the town was far surpassed by the number of businesses who needed help during tourist season. She was sure she could take a job as a waitress or a shop girl, but she worried about the off season. Surely they’d cut back her hours and possibly her entire position. She wanted something steadier. A bit city-er.

She kept looking and after several months a position opened up at a local nonprofit foundation. The foundation protected the hiking trails she used every morning, and they needed someone to run the office. That was right up her alley. She’d had plenty of experiences in offices, she could easily go back to staring at a computer eight hours a day if it meant she could ride her bike to work, hell, maybe she’d sell her car completely. Her excitement grew as she awaited a response to her application.

In the meantime, winter had arrived on the mountain. Her first. Her car spent the first snow stuck in her neighbors yard because that’s as far as she could drive it up the street before the snow spun the tires and she knew it was hopeless. Whether she kept a car or not, this car would surely not do. She’d been prepared for that, but still felt unduly put upon. She suspected the job limbo had more to do with her feelings than anything.

She ran out of wood after the first month. Apparently not understanding that a chord of wood should last her in her small home at least half the winter. She’d been burning it too hot and ate right through it all. A little lesson in wood stoves from a kind neighbor and she was sorted out. But she had to buy more wood and that ate into her six months of savings.

~~~That’s one hour~~~