I decided I wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo. I'm not going to explain what that is,if you interested google it. What it does involve is writing a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month. The month of November. I toyed with the idea of working on Book III and when I told Rick he went ballistic.I'm not sure why, but this was one of those things that it was easier to redirect myself than to argue with him. I've had this idea for a "Ghost Story" rumbling around in my brain and I thought maybe I would work on that.
This particular "Ghost Story" is based on fact. Something that really happened to me in a place where we once lived. Of course, I've changed a lot of it around. The other morning I woke up with some vivid impressions about the ending of the story. I may have dreamt it, I'm not sure. (I don't sleep well, so I don't dream. Maybe I do, but I rarely remember dreams.) I wanted to make some notes about those impressions, so I didn't forget them. I sat down at the computer and wrote this last chapter. I didn't intend to, it just came out. (I love it when that happens.)
I hope this isn't cheating on the NaNoWriMO, because I still want to use the story idea. I won't count these 2089 words in my 50,000 total word count. It will be interesting writing a novel, when you know the ending. With my other two books, I did not know how they were going to end. (I'm still not completely satisfied with the ending in Book I - working on that.)
When I gave it to Rick to read,he said he thought it could stand alone as a short story, but there is so much more I want to tell you. Now, you tell me: Do you want to know more about Sandra and Garrett? Do you want to know how they met? Who Garrett is? Why Sandra might be crazy? And so on and so on and so on. Is this interesting? Do you want to know more?LET ME KNOW. Please leave your comments.
Keep in mind, I write Paranormal Romance, it's not meant to be scary. At least not this part. Not unless your afraid of adventure.
Please be warned: it has not been edited. Commas may be needed or may need to be subtracted.
Sitting in my room, I’m wondering if coming home for Christmas was a good idea. Back on the ranch, Everett seems real. I can’t be in this house and convince myself that he was just a dream. If Mom catches me leaning against the mantel in the living room, she’ll start in about counseling again. Maybe I am crazy.
My little sisters do everything they possibly can to distract me. I know they want my attention. I do love them. It’s just hard to relate. Mom and Dad’s schedule for having children seven years apart makes it difficult on each of us.
The Cocker Spaniel had her puppies five weeks before I came home. They are getting into everything. Dad told the girls that the whelping pen had to go out in the barn. Cindy is afraid they will be cold and lonely. Her five year old self, thinks she needs to be their mother. At twelve, Andy thinks she’s Cindy’s mother. The battle goes on.
The house is quiet, too quiet. I keep hoping, just like I have for the past two years that Everett will go back on his word and appear to me, but I know it won’t happen. Everett was an honorable man. He would never go back on his word. Especially his word to me.
It’s not yet nine o’clock, but things start early on the ranch. Mom and Dad went into town. The girls are out in the barn each looking after their babies. I suppose I should go out and check on them. I love the snow, but this morning I really don’t feel like getting all bundled up to tread through the thigh high snow to see some puppies. I do it anyway.
When I step out the door, I’m reminded why I love the High Country and why I keep coming back. The air is crystal clear. It’s so cold you feel like your insides are being sterilized with each breath. The snow crunches under your feet and sparkles in your eyes. I know I’ll never be able to really leave this place.
I step into the dimness of the barn and inhale the sweet smell of hay and animals. My eyes are still adjusting to the light but it’s obvious by the stillness that there isn’t anybody in here. No girls and no puppies. That’s odd. I step outside and take a turn around the barn. That’s when I hear Cindy’s small voice off in the distance, “Come back. Come back here right now.” I can hear her, but I can’t see her.
Putting my hand to my brow to shield my eyes from the sun, I scan the area. I’m pretty sure Andy has a red ski jacket and I think I see her standing at the edge of the beaver ponds. The beaver ponds oh please no. I remember my Dad telling me that in the winter, your life expectancy in those frozen ponds was less than five minutes. It worked for me. Once the ponds froze over I never went near them until spring. Apparently, he didn’t have the same talk with Andy and Cindy.
When I finally make it to her side at the edge of the beaver pond I see Cindy. She’s laying spread eagle on the ice, with a puppy under each arm crying. Andy is frantic.”She can’t make it back. She heard the ice crack and she’s too scared. I’m going out to get her,” she sobs at me.
“No you’re not. I’ll get her,” I say as I start to untie my boots.
“Are you crazy? You must weight a hundred pounds more than me,” Andy shouts.
I look at her hoping that comment comes from the relativity of a twelve year old mind and not her actual perception of me. Still, she has a point. I probably do out weight her by about thirty pounds. I don’t think she weighs eighty pounds soaking wet.
“OK, you go, but only if you do exactly as I say.”
Andy nods her head, yes.
Take off your boots and your jacket.
“Cindy. Honey, can you slide around on your tummy so you’re looking at Andy and me,” I call out to her.
“Yes,” comes her feeble reply. Andy and I watch her slowly slide around until she is facing us. “Sandra, I’m scared. I can see the water under the ice. It’s moving.”
“I know honey. Don’t look down at the ice. Look at me,” I reassure her. “Andy is coming out for you, but you have to grab her feet. Can you do that? No tickling now, just grab her feet around the ankles and we will pull you over to us. It will be fun. You just slide along on the ice. OK.”
“How do you expect me to get to her feet first,” Andy says.
“Very carefully,” I tell her. “It is important that we ease you out with your body spread out as much as possible to displace your weight.”
“See how Cindy is laying on the ice, with her arms and legs spread wide, you do the same. I’ll slide you out. This will spread your weight out over the ice and we have a better chance of it not breaking,” I explain.
“Sandra, will this work? Dad said we would die in five minutes if we fell through the ice,” Andy asks.
“Of course it will work. I want you to hold onto my wrists and do not let go no matter what. Let’s go. I want to get back to the house and have some hot chocolate and brownies. How about you?” I say and smile.
“Yeah, me too,” Andy says lying down in the snow at the edge of the pond with her feet just barely hanging over the ice shelf.
I crouch down and wrap my hands around her skinny little wrists. She does the same with mine, and I start to slowly push her out onto the ice. I keep pushing until I’m lying flat out in the snow. I’m extended up to my armpits, afraid to reach my torso out over the ice and add my weight to that of the girls.
“I can’t reach. I can’t reach Andy’s feet. I’m cold and my jacket is all wet, my pants too,” Cindy cries.
Oh, please no, I think. The ice must be cracking and the water is seeping over the top. I have to get her now. I slide out onto the ice up to my waist shoving Andy forward.
“She has a hold of my ankle,” Andy says and the ice beneath me gives way.
My head and shoulders plunge into the icy water. The combined weight of my sisters drags the rest of me in. I have never felt so cold in my life. It’s like a thousand needles stabbing into every bit of me. Andy still has her hands locked onto my wrists. I try to drag her closer to my face. Her eyes are closed and her mouth is open. Oh, Dear God, please save my little sisters, I don’t think I can.
Somewhere from in the depth of my being I find the strength to twist around in the water. Andy is still in front of me. I shove her up to the surface and push her backward, with the last bit of strength I have. I’m amazed that she stays there, suspended just out of my reach. Did I actually push her up onto the bank? The only thing I see of Andy is her foot, still covered in her pink and green striped sock. Cindy is clutched onto her ankle. Cindy’s eyes are closed, but she is smiling. She has two limp Cocker Spaniel puppies held tight in her free hand. I reach for her waist and shove her up out of the water and backwards on top of Andy. When she doesn’t slip back beneath the water, I feel like I can relax.
I don’t feel cold any more, but I have never been so tired. A few minutes ago I felt like my lungs were about to burst, but now I can actually take a deep breath. Something about that doesn’t seem to be right, but I close my eyes and think; I’ll figure it out after my nap.
I barely fall asleep when I feel a warm hand slip into mine. My fingers instinctively close around it and I’m pulled free from the water. I come out of that icy pond like the cork out of a champagne bottle. I land on the bank standing on my feet, my hand still gripped tightly by the man standing next to me. I look up into Everett’s face. He’s smiling.
“Somehow, I knew it was you,” I say.
“Come on, we need to go, now,” he says slipping his arm around my shoulders.
I let him lead me up the road, past the ranch house. We’re walking into the hay field, but something is different. The snow is gone. There are bales of hay staked up waiting to be picked up and stored for the winter. It looks like fall. I turn my head to look at Everett.
“You told me fall was your favorite time of the year,” he says.
I look down and although I’m wearing the same clothes I dressed in this morning, I’m dry. Nothing even feels damp. I look ahead and see the sun down close to the mountaintops. It’s almost sunset. It was morning five minutes ago. That’s when I hear someone crying. This woman is sobbing. Over and over she keeps saying, “my daughter, my daughter, my beautiful daughter.” When I try to look back in the direction of the weeping, Everett forces me onward.
“Everett, someone is crying. My sisters. I don’t know if my sisters…”
“Sandra, you sisters are fine. Today, no one showed greater love for them than you. You will see them again, just not today,” he says.
I turn to face him and put my hands on his chest. “How is it that I can feel you? I felt your hand in the water and your arm around my shoulders. Finally, you’re real.”
Everett just smiles.”Sandra, can I kiss you?”
I nod yes.
He puts his hands on my shoulders and gently pulls me toward him. His lips meet mine and linger there in the softest embrace. This is nothing like the kisses I’ve endured over the past three years in my attempts at dating. My attempts to forget him and finding someone real. There is nothing forceful, pushing or prodding about it. Finally, I feel something in every fiber of my body. This feels like love. I look into his face and I know he feels it too. Everett slips his arm around my shoulders and urges me forward.
I can still hear that woman crying and I’m troubled by it. I feel like maybe I need to go and comfort her. When I try to turn and look back Everett stops me and keeps me moving forward.
“Don’t look back. It’s better if you don’t look at them,” he says.
“Can I go back? Do I have a choice?” I ask.
He shakes his head. “You can’t go back? You can hang around here, if you want to,” he says looking over at the old ranch house.
“If I go on, will you be with me?”
He nods yes and says, “Forever.”
“Everett, am I dead?”
“It took me one hundred and fifty years to figure out that death is just the next adventure.”
“I love a good adventure,” I say. I look around and notice that we are high up on the mountain. We stand at the exact spot where the sun is about to touch the earth in the final blaze of glory, that we call sunset.
Everett wraps his arms around me as we are caught up in that sunset. I feel the glory of it shining right through me. He looks into my eyes and says, “I love you.”