I thought I’d give you all a sneak peak into one of the stories I’m currently working on. Here’s the first chapter. If you enjoy reading it, please give this post a like and don’t forget to follow my blog so you can read more!
It wasn’t your average winter. This winter had been different. The cold wind had felt more bitter, the snow had come down in droves, continuously blanketing every inch of the small mountain town. The days of sunshine were few and far between. The short days had felt longer, and the cold Lauren had, seemed to be unending. But she knew everything only seemed worse than it really was. The days weren’t really 36 hours long as they had felt. The wind wasn’t more bitter than it had been the winter before. She had been far too stressed causing herself to catch several colds in a row, and in all reality, the snow totals for that year had been less than the year prior.
Everything seemed so much gloomier when you were alone. Which she had been all winter long. The winter she had left her boyfriend of six years. The winter she had found out that her best friend of twelve-years wasn’t who she thought she was. The winter that her mother and father died in a car accident.
She had never felt this alone before. She’d lost everyone that she was close to in a matter of two months and hoped that the return of spring would at least help her days feel a little better.
As she drove into town to get her weekly grocery shopping out of the way, she thought about the life she had had just four months before. Thoughts of wedding bells and vacations in Cabo. Thoughts of another Christmas spent running around to the multiple family gatherings that her and Ben had done all the years prior.
She had made lists. Lists upon lists, upon lists. Lists of what she was going to get for everyone. Lists of the decorations she had and the ones she needed to replace. Lists of food to cook and desserts to bake – a joyful hobby of hers. There were papers scattered everywhere in her orderly-disorganized way.
But those thoughts and lists quickly faded away after that late-December night. She’d already bought all the presents, so she had decided to deliver them despite her pride telling her not to. Her mother had warned her not to let her pride or any other messy feelings get in the way of the Christmas Spirit. She had thought of donating the gifts, but they seemed too cheesy to be donated. They had been specifically picked out for certain individuals. And in the end, it wasn’t his family’s fault.
Her thoughts gave way to the night that she knew was the fault for all the pain she had felt this winter and she quickly shook her head to rid herself of having to think about that horrible night. She knew that one little thought would spiral into all the bad things she had been through afterwards.
She pulled into the small grocery store parking her car in a spot more toward the back even though there was an empty space near the front. She didn’t like to take the spots in the front. To her, those spots were reserved for pregnant women, mom’s with newborns, people who had just had surgery or older people. The people who didn’t qualify for a handicap pass but should have closer parking spots to allow them to walk less.
Plus, she didn’t mind walking. It was a little more exercise in addition to the half hour hike she took her dog, Daisy, on every day in the woods behind the cabin she called a home. The cabin that had once been her childhood home. The cabin that she had moved into with Ben when her parents had found a condo in town. The cabin she had also shared a million memories with Zoey. Distant memories that taunted her in the middle of the night when she couldn’t sleep and laid in her bed tossing and turning unable to return to sleep.
She felt the sunshine on her face as she walked toward the front doors of the grocery store, happy to feel its warmth and knowing that spring would return once again. Though it wouldn’t get much warmer in Cattle Ridge, Colorado, which was 8,909’ feet in elevation.
The blast of heat at the front entrance felt good on her face and neck, the only part of her not covered by a piece of winter clothing. She scooped up a black basket with her arm and she walked through the store slowly. She was in no way hurrying to get back to her cabin. Daisy could be left alone just fine for a few hours before she might start to get into a little bit of trouble. Peeing on the carpet or tearing her toys up to shreds. It was never anything too awful and she’d always forgive her. Right now, Daisy was about the only living creature she had in her life.
She was only there for a few things. There was no need to stock up on extra food or snacks as she had no one else at her house to think about. It was just her and her black lab.
She walked toward the produce as it was the section she parked by and she grabbed a hand of banana’s, a bag that held eight lady apples, a bag of baby carrots, one stalk of celery, a bag of mixed greens for salad, a container holding four perfectly red, juicy looking tomatoes, and a head of cauliflower.
She then made her way through the rest of the store adding one loaf of wheat bread, a dozen bagels, one container of Country Crock Spread, one container of cream cheese, two bags of shredded Mexican cheese – her favorite -, five pounds each of chicken and ground beef, two boxes of hamburger helper, a package of taco shells, a can of refried beans, two cans each of corn, green beans diced tomatoes and black beans.
By the time she was done, she was regretting grabbing the basket instead of a cart. She held some items in her hands and carried the too-heavy basket on her arm that was – without a doubt – leaving a red mark on her arm.
“Hello. How are you today?” The clerk, Frank, said as he rang up her items.
“I’m good, Frank.” It’s a lie. She thought.
“How are you?” She added, not wanting to be rude.
“I’m good. Any ice or stamps?” He asked. She was staring at the bald spot on his head that he had tried to hide behind his thin, gray hair but did a terrible job of. She felt half-bad for thinking that way, but lately she couldn’t hold back the judgements that passed through her mind.
Frank had to have been at least at retirement age. He’d worked as the general manager of the store since she could remember. He would often help the clerks check people out on Saturday’s, the small-town store’s busiest day. She didn’t mean to be so mean, but she found she couldn’t help it.
“No thank you.” She finally said.
“How are you holding up?”
She knew the question was coming before he had even asked. It was the question she got most often. At least half the town had been at her parent’s funeral. She was their only child. She had no best friend or boyfriend to lean on at such a time. Though both Ben and Zoey had tried to reach out to her. Letting her know that they were there for her in their time of need. But she never wrote them back. She left it as is. Because she knew, an old wound was best left not picked at.
“I’m doing okay.” She gave him a weak smile and inwardly breathed a sigh of relief when he didn’t ask any more questions.
Her groceries were bagged, and she left the store, heading back for her little car at the end of the parking lot. The sun had warmed the day a little more since she was inside the store and she found herself itching to get back home to take Daisy on her walk.
When she finally arrived back at home, Daisy was by the front door, waiting, happily, to greet her. She brought in her groceries and put them away.
“How about we go on our walk?” She asked Daisy who responded by excitedly thumping her tail against the wall. Lauren walked over to the front door, grabbed the leash from where it hung on a hook on the wall and snapped it onto Daisy’s collar, pinching her thump in the process on the metal snap.
“Shit!” She cried out in pain and bit at the pad of her thumb where she had been pinched.
Daisy looked up at her, her thumping having calmed down. Lauren squatted down next to her best fur friend.
“Oh Daisy, it wasn’t you.” She said and kissed the dog’s cheek.
Daisy responded by licking her face and the thumping resumed. Lauren led Daisy out of the house, or more like Daisy led the way, and to the trail behind the small wooden cabin.
The two of them walked up the hill for fifteen minutes. Lauren was beginning to breath heavily. It was cold out and she was tired from the long sleepless night she had. Her exhaustion had gotten the best of her and she decided to end their walk early. She walked back down the mountain with Daisy, who didn’t seem too happy about it and let Lauren know by taking her time to find a spot to use the bathroom before they went back inside the two-bedroom cabin.
Just as they stepped in through the back door, her phone began to ring. She flipped it over, read that it was Zoey calling and flipped it back over, hitting the side button to silence the sound.
She listened to the voicemail when her phone made the notification sound she had specifically for voicemails.
“Hey Lauren. Look I’m not sure if you’re still that mad at me about what happened or if maybe you just don’t want to talk to anyone these days, but call me please. I’m worried about you being all alone up there. Miss you. K. Call me back.”
The voicemail ended and Lauren deleted it. She couldn’t call Zoey back. There was no way. Not after the way she had stabbed her in the back.
She removed her jacket and gloves and went over to the fireplace, she had plenty of wood in the shed out back to get her through the rest of winter. She started the fire and sat down on the couch, in her favorite spot, covered her legs up with her blanket and flipped on the television.
She was lucky to have cell service, internet, and satellite T.V. at the cabin. All luxuries which were to be thanked by the expansion of Cattle Ridge.
Daisy laid down on the couch next to her, her face wet from the water she had just been drinking.
“You wanna watch our show Daize?”
The dog lifted her head, looked at her and then put it back down on the arm of the couch. She was pouting.
Lauren put her hand on the dog and pet her back. “I’m sorry girl, I’m tired today. We’ll go on a longer walk tomorrow.”
Daisy responded by turning herself around and laid her head on Lauren’s lap.
Lauren turned to Netflix on the smart T.V. Ben had installed in the beginning of December after he had ordered one for her for Black Friday. It was a part of her Christmas gift and she wondered what he had gotten the new girl and if he gave her whatever other gift he had planned for the rest of her Christmas present.
She scrolled through the titles and selected one of her old favorite series, The Office. She could use a good laugh. And a drink. She got up off the couch as the show began to play and poured herself a glass of wine. She noticed Daisy’s food bowl was empty and added some more food to it. Daisy was a grazer and would eat a little bit here and there over the next few hours.
After the first glass of wine, she poured a second. By that time, she was feeling a little buzzed and maybe it was because of the lack of sleep or maybe the loneliness just getting to her, but she decided to pour a third one, which she never did, and finished off the bottle of White Zinfandel.
“Well Daize, looks like I have to go back into town tomorrow.” She was disappointed and wished she would have checked her wine supply before she headed into town that day. She didn’t like going into town more than once a week.
Lauren finished the glass off and set it back down on her counter. She watched two more episodes of her show and then got ready for bed. She had been going to bed before 8 since her parents passing. If she stayed up any later, the pesky thoughts and regrets would creep in and keep her awake all night. So as per usual, she took Daisy out, brushed her teeth and then slipped under the covers and drifted to sleep before the wine buzz had worn off.