*** I’m not a consistent blogger simply because dear readers, each time I write in here, you get a unique creation pulled directly from my imagination. I do not word process any of this ahead of time, there is no editing other than what I do on the fly and cut/paste only happens once I’m done so that I can keep a “hard” copy for my own files. Such is the nature of online blogs that a story is considered “published” when I post it here, so you are all a blessed group because each time I write, I write directly for you and you only. Many of you may find my blogging style tedious and irritatingly inconsistent, however, in those times I am not writing for you, I am writing for future publication. Who knows, maybe one day, we’ll all meet between the protective coverings of a soothing book. We can all wish. Enjoy.***
A loud groan sliced the peace of the isolated beach, startling a nearby seagull. Squawking and screaming it hastily soared to height glancing down toward the source of the noise as the golden rays of the early morning sun played upon its wings. Inside a tiny green tent just above the high tide line, there was a frustrated sigh and the irritated sound of a sleeping bag being hastily unzipped and kicked aside.
The ragged sounds of a zipper echoed, foreign amid the whisper of wind through the beach grasses and waves softly lapping the shoreline. A dull thump sounded and a body tumbled through the mesh enclosure and out heavily onto the soft white sand.
“Oh for crying out loud!” came the cry shattering the natural wonder of the surroundings and effectively rendering it no more than another place of people. In the nearby forest a deer lifted it’s head, sniffed the air then turned to quickly run in the opposite direction of the sudden danger. A squirrel chirped loudly to alert others of the nearby threat and then scurried back into its tree.
Former paramedic, Kassie Sutherland, stood up and began angrily rubbing the dust-like sand that clung to every inch of her body. She looked around and cursed the decision to come to this god forsaken remote section of wilderness. Her hike in the day before had left her thoroughly exhausted and with only fading light left to work in, she had managed to quickly pop up her tent and crawl in hoping for a full night’s sleep. Instead what she received was a night of mosquitoes at a deafening roar, bullfrogs in a nearby swamp that would make a drum set seem tame and the loud snapping of twigs in the forest that set her teeth on edge and her body on high alert. Wasn’t it supposed to be peaceful out here?
Two days ago, she’d imagined herself sitting on a quiet beach watching the myriad of stars with the calm lapping of water against the beach and the soft snapping of a warm and hypnotic campfire. Instead it was more like a smorgasbord for the swarms of mosquitoes, many of whom, she imagined, likely could not believe their luck that food had just casually walked into their midst. She’d spent the night staring up through the mesh skylight of her tent as the insects blanketed it and fought to find a way in, threatening at some points to lift the entire tent and carry it off as an offer to appease some kind of mosquito god.
Her back was not fond of the rough and lumpy sand mattress beneath her sleeping bag; she hadn’t taken the time to inflate the air mattress she’d brought along. She stretched and groaned aloud, she would have to get down to the nitty-gritty of setting up a proper camp before the sun rose too high and heated up the beach beyond safe working levels. She lifted her arm to wipe her puffy, tired eyes and was greeted with the invisible grit of sand.
“Arrrrghhhh!!!” She roared and kicked at the ground. She reached for her pack and produced a quick-dry towel, then headed for the water’s edge. As she arrived her body began to shake and from a distance it would appear that a lone woman stood in the ever shrinking shadows cast by the treeline crying silently at the water’s edge. Instead, she was laughing. There in front of her was a wide swath of thick brown sludge extending at least three feet from the shoreline. Her hands hung limply at her sides as she looked up toward the ever brightening sky overhead and shouted, “Thanks! You can’t make this any easier for me can you?” A single tear slid down her cheek and she stumbled backward about to give in to the sobs that threatened to overtake her. Instead she swallowed hard and shook her head.
“I’m tired. I’m just tired. I’ll set up camp and I’ll take a nap later but now I have to find some water. I’m gonna be okay. I can do this. I can do this.” She began searching the shoreline. Some 300 meters away the sand gave way to large rocks, she figured it was worth the hike to find a clean source of water and she set out still fighting with the tears that threatened to fall.
In her mind she repeated over and over again, “I’m here because I want to be here. I’m here because I want to be here.” And it was true. She felt that a trip into the wilderness, the romantic idea of being at one with nature? Well, she felt that was what she needed to feel alive again. It was rare for her to even feel alive inside anymore. Her days melded into one another. Ever since that day she received her notice, “medical retirement”. At least, that’s what they called it, to her it didn’t matter how sugar-coated a title it was given, it all amounted to the same thing – fired. “No longer fit for duty.”
She used to love these forays into the wilderness when she was younger, she’d forgotten the amount of work that was required to pull it off. In fact, she’d never once been out here on her own, so the reality of it was now setting in with a brutal heaviness. Her feet began to drag through the sand and looking down she berated herself for not having the presence of mind to have at least put her sandals on before starting off on an exploration trip. She turned and looked back down the beach toward her camp – nope, she would have to make do with her bare feet. Her mind flashed all the possibilities, cuts, infected scrapes, trying to run through the woods across pine needles and branches….she took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“Calm down” she reminded herself, “I just have to be careful is all. I can do this. One step at a time. Hard work is a distraction. It is an accomplishment. It is something I can be proud of…..I can be proud of me again.”
She carefully stepped from rock to rock making her way out from the beach line. Twenty feet ahead the water cleared from a grayish mix to a deep blue. Evaluating her options, she took the safest route out to the water’s edge, selected a stable rock with a relatively flat surface and began rinsing her face and arms in the cool water. She glanced cautiously around her and then looked back toward her tent barely visible above the rise created by the high tide line. The sun’s rays were now streaming in long glowing lines above the treetops. She sat back on her haunches and began to weep.
This was it. This was the romantic notion she’d imagined. This was life in all of its raw and untainted beauty. This was what she needed to feel in her heart.
She sat weeping openly as the suns rays crept steadily higher and began to caress her face lovingly, holding her in a welcoming embrace, just as it did all other creatures of the earth. The sun did not judge her. The sun could not see her as anything but perfect. Most importantly it spoke to her heart and told her that she was…..