THE VISION QUEST
On the seat next to her are a couple of books she's picked up at
the library, Celine's JOURNEY TO THE END OF NIGHT, then some
interviews of poets about their craft published by the New York
Quarterly. This is the extent of her planning for the camping trip. She's
heading north up Route Four to Livermore Falls and then on.
It's been three days since she's moved out of the house, its
memories of married life, raising a daughter and the divorce, and she's
still in mild shock. The veil had lifted exposing a painful reality, and she
didn't like what she saw. Friends and acquaintances seemed a million
miles from her, still in the old way of being. Everything they said
belonged to a past she no longer inhabited.
Throughout spring, when she knew she had a sure buyer and steps
were being taken, she began to look at maps and drive to different areas
of Maine trying to find a likely area to move to. She's been across
America but she doesn't know her own state well. The wilderness up
north, the Great Allagash and Baxter State Park are a fantasy land she's
always heard of.
She found a log cabin in the western mountains; a small, secluded
house presently occupied till the end of the month, so she's camping
out till then. She's not sure what attracted her to the cabin except that there
were good vibrations. She considers it a stroke of luck finding it.
She stops at Lake Wasookeag and parks her red sports car, Felinas at
the rest area near some picnic tables. Alone, she strips down, puts on her
swimsuit and bathes in the lake. Afterward, she makes a supper of French
bread with radishes, scallions and some cheese. A family comes to the
picnic area and chooses a table far from her. Good. The solitude
feels right, even necessary. She's decided to spend the next two weeks
There must have been a million crickets at her campsite off the
highway outside of Monson, but peaceful and secluded. When fixing
breakfast, she realizes she's poorly equipped to camp out, a last minute
decision. She has no sharp knife or utensils and has to use part of a
nylon stocking as coffee filter.
On to Greenville, the last outpost of civilization, to stock up on
equipment. Every other building is a great wilderness outfitter. Two
banks refuse to cash her check, but the A & P does so readily. It takes
a while to get all the things she needs and she leaves Greenville at one thirty
in the afternoon without coffee filters.
The great northern wilderness and Lilly Bay are up ahead. She
spends the night at a gorgeous spot across from the water, but she has
difficulty falling asleep when it gets dark and there is nothing else to
do by 8 PM. She spends hours tossing and turning. On this night
something comes to her tent. She can hear its rhythmic panting.
By morning, she's gotten into the camping mode, losing her city
ways grudgingly. Breakfast consists of scrambled eggs, burnt toast and
coffee -- all delicious! Afterward, she heads for Kokadjo traveling a private
logging road, dirt, wet down to control dust. Felinas gets caked with a
half inch of mud clear up to the windows. The road comes to an end
at a forest gatehouse where a woman takes down her plate number and
asks where she is going, and how long she plans to stay? The woman wants to
know where she's from. They chat for a while and she outlines her plans. She
had wanted to head northwest and on to the Gardner-DebouillŽ public
land area, but the old woman tells her most of the trails on her map are
privately owned logging roads and she won't be able to gain access to
them. She will have to take the northeast route where she can visit Baxter
State Park for the day. The old woman writes it down in her log book.
That's good; I'm not going to die in the wilderness unknown to the
Baxter State Park is a long ride through rough country, but
beautiful. The southern part is dominated by Katahdin, every turn in
the road brings her face to face with that mountain and there are
several camping areas. When she heads up the narrow dirt trail it becomes
wilder, unspoiled. That's when it happens. She's going along, about
fifteen miles an hour when she sees a bear scamper across the road in
front of her, a black bear.
Jesus! I wish there was someone with me to share this
experience. Surprisingly, she's not frightened. Rather, she would like to
be a bear too, to go tumbling and running in the woods with it. Her
Hollywood image was of creatures who stood on hind legs and roared
menacingly, not this shaggy black ball scampering on all fours. This is
surely an omen. When she first started writing she had terrifying dreams
about a bear who came crashing through her safe middle class life
wreaking havoc, its powerful claws tearing into walls, destroying all in
No sooner has she parted with it when she comes round the bend
and sees a doe and her young one in the middle of the road. The fawn
takes off, but mother stays to examine her. It's as if I've stepped into
another world. On leaving the park, she speaks to the ranger who
estimates the bear's age at two or three years, a young buck. "It's rare
to spot these bears," he tells her.
Come evening, she camps about three miles down an old logging
road, a short way from Patten, off Route 11. She has an eerie feeling
being there; psychic forces are at work. She takes a walk on an
overgrown, abandoned road, finds some raspberries, eats several
handfuls, then runs for a half mile.
After she's set up camp and had supper, she sits on a rock thinking
about the underworld and how hard she works to keep it down, to ignore
it. But still it's with her and pierces her reality when she least expects it.
She thinks about psychic energy; she can feel its presence in the rocks. It
occurs to her that her mind is obsessed with "relationship," that her life
revolves around her relationships, and perhaps this is so because the
world is too fearful otherwise. It holds unlimited possibilities -- chaos.
It's been a long driving day. She crawls into her tent and falls asleep
in short time, but is awakened in the middle of the night, freezing. She
tries to rearrange her sleeping bag, puts on her chamois shirt and wool
socks and then the damn tent falls on her. Full of dew. Her sleeping
bag and even her clothes get wet. She gets up and goes to sleep in the car.
A scary dream awakens her: she's pursued by people whose faces
are wrapped in gauze and she's asked for identification, her driver's
license with a picture, but she can't find a picture of herself without
others in it.
In the morning, she discovers the car has a flat tire and the battery
is dead. She thinks to walk to the highway, but for some reason she's a bit
apprehensive. Once there, she decides if she has no luck after flagging
down five cars she'll go back and maybe there'll be enough juice in the
battery to get it going. Number four car stops. A man with soft, curly
grey hair greets her.
They look at each other for a moment; he's OK. "My car's parked a
couple of miles down this road," she explains. "I've got a flat tire and my
battery is dead."
He nods. "I'll go take a look," reaching over to pop open the door on
the passenger side of his automobile, he motions for her to get in.
Once the tire is changed and the car's running, he hesitates . . .
as if not wanting to part with her. She tries to explain the trip to him, but
her explanation lacks clarity. It doesn't matter, because she can see he
has understood the nature of the adventure she's embarked upon and he
wants to share a small part of it. This service he's rendered will
suffice him before he reenters the every day world of his life in Patten.
It's back to Route 11, pouring rain. She heads past Eagle Lake
toward Fort Kent and Madawaska, to the very tip of the Maine border,
then down through French country, Presque Isle, Frenchville, Van
Buren. The terrain is very different here, miles and miles of flat land,
potato fields and sugar beets. She listens to French songs from the
QuŽbec station just over the border. The farmhouses are great two
and three story structures. She loves the large open porches and half
buried potato barns.
When her daughter came back from college, there was a strange
look on her face when she arrived at the house. "You gotta get out of
here, Ma," she told her in an ominous tone.
And so she's left her dead house.
She's not well. It started in the morning. She feels dizzy, weak,
stomach is sick. She decides to spend the night at a rest area and
information station in Houlton. She doesn't want to be far from help if she
She awakes the next morning not feeling any better. The camper
parked next to her moves back and forth. At first she thinks it's her
dizziness, but no, it's the wind blowing. What a job trying to make
coffee with the propane stove! It takes forever getting the water up to
She spends the day in the parked car reading some poetry essays,
Levertov and Rukeyser. And some of CŽline's book, a tragicomic,
stream-of-consciousness story from a rough and tumble guy. The
Levertov article was written in the sixties. She takes a righteous
stand, belittling the rich kids and their experience at the ivy league
school where she taught.
She was more impressed with Rukeyser. Still, she finds very little of
substance concerning craft in both interviews. Before she knew very
much about poetry she used to read Whitman, Dickenson, Poe, Bly.
There was no plan to it, even later when she read every poet she heard of.
Had someone asked, Have you learned anything from it? She would have
said no. Perhaps there is a subconscious plan. She finds that a poem
writes itself if it is true. But how to arrive at truth? For her, it is
learning to be quiet, learning to listen.
During her year of waiting for the house to sell, she realized that
from the beginning what most interested her were the words. It was
her reason for entering college. She had wanted to learn the words to
speak her soul, and more than that to free her from the constraints of
the identity imposed on her. She had wanted to master those specific
words that are used to imprison and shackle the defenseless, and she's
done that. Yet, she realizes this isn't enough. She wants to be able to touch
people with her words.
She fixes herself a big breakfast the next morning with a pot of coffee,
some stir fried carrots, onions, potatoes, and a couple of toasted
egg sandwiches with cheese, a sure cure for what ails her. I swear, on
my death bed I will be eating five course meals. Afterward, she takes out
some fruit for her midday snack straightening things out in the car,
and goes out to wash up in the rest room.
Driving down Route 1, she thinks of spending four days in the
woods fasting, as the Indians do. A vision comes to them from the
experience and it shows them the path they must follow in life.
Usually an animal or bird is part of the vision and is adopted as that
Indian's totem. It's incorporated in their name.
She wants to do this. She's thought about it this winter, lying in bed
at night thinking about starting a new life, wanting guidance for a new
direction. This fast may not be easy to accomplish. She's got to find a
place where she's not going to meet up with people. And then there's
the queasiness, she feels somewhat better today, but still in the bathroom,
the room started swimming when she exerted herself.
To her left, off the highway, is a winding dirt road which she decides
to explore. Rough going, some fresh tire tracks and many old apple
trees along the way. she drives for a mile through woods and when she
comes to a clearing, she parks the car and continue on foot. The area is
fresh mown grass, flowers, and vegetable gardens. Oops! She can see an
old man working among the pole beans. She's in someone's backyard.
But another inlet leading to the gardens opens and she goes back. Mr.
Shey introduces himself, tells her he is a retired railroad man. He
wears one of those striped engineer hats and looks like Santa except
he hasn't got the beard.
"This is a beautiful area, Mr. Shey. The vegetable and the flower
gardens are gorgeous. You must have worked a long time to
"I have time. This is my private corner," he tells her with a
wink. And it is that. No one traveling Route One would suspect
there's an Eden behind the woods.
They chat for a while and they are silent too. She's a bit
uncomfortable, but she trusts him. They lean on the hood of his truck and she
notices he is inching close to her. She don't know what to think of it, but
she doesn't have an urge to move away.
"How would you feel about my camping in the woods back there?"
"I wouldn't mind at all."
"I'd like to stay for four days."
"That's fine. Come," he motions, "I'll get you some vegetables for
your evening meal." He gets her corn and tomatoes, some cucumbers
and beans. Then he takes her for a walk beyond the clearing to the
woods in the back.
"You can get your water from that stream," he points down
beneath a stone bridge where cool, dark water runs through a winding
path of rocks. "There are three miles of woods beyond this, and then
a couple of lakes -- all of it uninhabited, and miles and miles of woods
beyond that." He leaves then, his house being way back on Route 1.
She immediately sets out for the woods. There are many trails and she
walks quite a while looking for just the right spot to set up her tent. She
takes her clothes off along the way. Back at the clearing, she lies naked for
a couple of hours, sunning herself and reading another essay. Erica
Jong speaks about getting published and what it meant to her, that
talent isn't enough you need perseverence too. How she knew good
writers in college who never followed through and weren't writing
Later she has her last meal, cleans out the ice chest and gets rid of
the perishable food. She packs the things she will need for her four days in
the woods and sets out.
It starts raining during the night and by morning it is pouring.
The tent leaks badly. Everything is soaked, her sleeping bag and all her
clothes. Then all of a sudden a loud roaring noise; sounds like a
motorcycle. It's Mr. Shey coming up the road in an all terrain vehicle.
So much for four days of fasting, solitude and peace.
"I got worried that you got lost in the woods."
Reasonable assumption; there is some responsibility about her
camping in his woods, and he doesn't know her.
After he leaves, she puts up a clothes' line and hangs out the sleeping
bag, her extra pairs of socks and her hat. But it's no good because it
continues to rain on and off all day. She's miserable, no place to stand or
sit, rain, rain everywhere. She's cold and there is nothing to be done
about it, everything is wet. So she sits inside the tent on the plastic air
mattress with the rain coming down on her and all she can think of is
home, but there is no home left, and of food. Food, food, food,
vegetables, eggs, thick sauces, fresh fruit with cream, cakes and pies.
She gives up at five PM, brings in her wet sleeping bag and turns in.
She's beginning to get sick and has a bad headache.
Cloudy, overcast second day. She hangs the sleeping bag on the line
with little hope of it drying, then she cuts some pine boughs and fixes
herself a place to sit down. Later she takes a walk, but it's hard going. She's
weak and tiring easily. Besides, her sneakers are getting soaked, so she
sits around most of the day. The food cravings seem to be gone, but the
She notices when she closes her eyes that the imagery is vivid. She sees
wild, crazy pictures, wilder than dreams. She tries to see if they make up a
story. They don't seem to. Do they reflect momentary feelings? She
doesn't know, they're so outrageous it's hard to figure them out.
Mr. Shey drives up in the afternoon. "It's gonna be a cold night,
about 30 degrees," he tells her.
Oh gosh, that's discouraging! Well, I'm going to have to do
something about it.
He tells her his daughter is coming up from Connecticut this
evening which he's looking forward to. After he leaves she gets to work
preparing for the cold night by cutting some pine boughs to put
underneath the air mattress, figuring it will put her that much higher
off the ground and maybe she can put some on top of her too.
Five o'clock and she's exhausted. She checks the sleeping bag, a few
wet spots otherwise it's fairly dry. But the real luxury is that her
woolen socks are dry. There is a towel and a pair of shorts in her pack.
She wraps one around each foot then lies down.
It takes several hours till she falls asleep. All of a sudden, she's
awakened by the sound of the all terrain vehicle.
Jesus! What is it now?
"Hello! Hello!" Comes the impatient voice outside. While she's in
the process of opening the zippered screen, then the zippered flap
the voice, irritated now, says, "Hey! Hello!"
She get things unzipped and there's a young man with red hair
sitting on the vehicle. "You must be Mr. Shey's son," she greets him.
"No, I'm the grandson." He asks what she's doing way the hell up
"I don't know."
"You don't know!"
At this point, she closes the tent's flap. He can't start his all
terrain vehicle and mumbles something about it. His penis has wilted.
Good! I hope he gets stranded in the woods overnight.
And now she is ill, violently ill. Her stomach is going crazy. She keeps
wanting to throw up; surely it can't be food. She spends a long miserable
Fairly warm third day, but windy. After she awakens, she forces herself
to go outside. The sound of that wind is oppressive. Weakness is
causing her to totter. She walks to her spot in the sun and is warmed.
The tiniest field mouse, no more than a biteful, comes to check her
out. Then many birds park themselves in surrounding trees, sparrows
mostly. They're starting to trust her presence.
She hangs out the sleeping bag to finish drying and sees Mr. Shey
driving up the path for a visit.
"I'm really impressed with what you're doing," he tells her.
Marvel and affection are written all over his face.
She nods, "I feel the same way about you. You're a kind, gentle man
with a trusting heart. I enjoy these visits."
"I do too."
It isn't that they talk so much, but rather they seem attuned to each
other. She feels at peace when she's with him.
Before leaving he gives her the weather report, "It's
gonna be a cold night, but warm day tomorrow," then he starts
his machine and heads out.
Her energy runs out at three PM. She tries to stick it out till four but
at three thirty she decides to turn in. She puts on her two pairs of socks and
sneakers. Tonight, everything is dry. The minute she lies down the
vision begins. She sees a man dressed in a phosphorescent robe. On his
chest is a scroll with calligraphic writing on it. It's a map. From each
side of the man's throat grows a young tree, both reach up to form the
antlers of a deer.
This man is a sorcerer who gives off a cool, glowing light in the
dark. His identity, worn on his chest, are the words, beautifully
written. It serves as a map to guide others. Indians have visions of
animals, she has one of a sorcerer. She understands the vision is guiding
her to the world she knows but dares not acknowledge or speak of. It's the
underworld, the world of chaos, without boundaries that she glimpsed on
the logging road.
The vision continues and she sees jaws, the open jaws and teeth of
what appears to be a fish or alligator. A Batman with his mask, several
Batmen snapping their long fangs. Then it is eyes, a face with an
eyeball wet and slimy. A hand reaches in to pull it out, it turns into a
little fish. And next it's a face that looks like a mask, the right eye is
This part of the vision is the other side of the coin; the life
without identity, wearing a mask, rapaciously hungry, without sight or
* * *
She awakens at nine am on the fourth day. A coyote came close to
her tent during the night and sang her a lullaby. It isn't her puny
energy it crooned to but that great feminine power in the sky.
Tomorrow morning she'll be making her way down to the clearing and
the gardens. She's concerned about her ability to make that trip with full
pack, the tent and her sleeping bag.
The day is warm, full sun. She sits quietly for a while and writes in
her journal. Afterward she takes her clothes off and sunbathe but she can
only stay for a while, she's exhausted. At noontime she crawls into her tent.
Her mood is peaceful, the forest has an order that induces this. She finds
that she doesn't think very much, it's more intuitive. In the city her mind
spins and spins until at times she wishes she could remove her head to get a
On this morning when pissing on the ground she noticed a rock with
a small natural puckering hole in it that looks like an inverted belly
button. Turns out it's an old Indian scrapper used to clean hides and
such; fits perfectly in the hand. Whoever made it shaped it in such a
way that it looks like a fish with the belly button pucker as its eye.
When she leaves here she'll be driving through Indian territory, the
Micmacs. She had wanted to buy herself something, the scrapper is much
better, made when Indians roamed America, Children of the Earth
that nourished them and this simple tool a part of it.
She thinks about that first day in the gardens with Mr. Shey. She could
see that although her work is there, she doesn't want to go back to the city
for a long while. It saps her energy just to maintain balance in all that
Her daily visitor comes over at three thirty. She crawls out of her
tent and stands for a while but finds she can't sustain it and goes to sit by his
side on the red machine he disdains so. "It's my son's," he always
points out. They have a long visit and talk about simple things, about
nature and animals, the habits of certain birds. It's ending and both
feel sad. She confides in him about her fast and vision quest.
"I suspected you were doing that. I could see there were no
cooking utensils here. I wanted to bring you a sandwich several
She smiles at this offer.
"I'm truly amazed you've done this and stuck it out."
She doesn't know why she's not afraid in the woods only that it's a fact.
She tells him about the coyote who came to her tent in the night.
"I hear them in the evening from my house. They travel in
packs. That's how they hunt." He doesn't warn her or try to coax her
out of the woods because he knows she is free and treats her with
"Will I see you tomorrow?" she asks, pointing out that she'll leave
"I won't be able to come in the morning. My daughter's visiting
and we'll be going to church. But why don't you stop at the house
when you leave?"
She can tell it's important to him, he wants his wife to meet her.
But she doesn't want to do that. What with the grandson's visit she figures she's
being thought of as a curiosity at his house.
At night the visions are of women. She sees a sorceress in a long
white gown. The woman wears a crown that springs off her head and
is structured into a triangle, richly decorated and with lights all
around it. Then come a series of pictures of one woman. It's a friend
back home, a woman who's lost her power in the world. She appears
soft, feminine, happy, not this woman's way for many years now. She
is hardened and emulates men's ways in the cities.
In the first scene, she wears a wedding gown but hides her face.
When she does show it, there are small tree fungi all over it, and also
on her gown. She wears another wedding gown in the next scene. It
has a bluish tinge and the crown of her veil is encrusted with large
bluish pearls. She is walking at the edge of a cornfield.
The last scene depicts the bride sitting at her vanity, radiant.
She arranges her face and hair. There follows a series of pictures of
women, all beautiful; one is a painting of a woman holding a yellow
flower, a living, moving painting with red, red lips. The flower is
presented, it is live.
The sorceress with triangular headpiece brings unity and light,
warm light to her. She shows her the way to become whole through
the example of her friend who is transformed and given a new identity
by becoming part of the woods, the cultivated soil, through solitude
and refinement of the soul.
And she understands, the beauty of woman ultimately is the flower
she presents to us, not the way she appears.
* * * *
This is the morning! She crawls out of her tent, makes her way to the
blackberries across the path that she's been eyeing for the past four
days. Their tartness grab at her throat and Ishe retches. She drinks some water
and sits in the sun for a bit and rests.
Then she starts packing for her trip down, making everything as
compact as possible. The plastic water jug is emptied and she latches it to
her pack. Bedroll is tied so she can carry it like a suitcase. Only the tent
is cumbersome. Although it folds up compactly and slips in a pouch,
the pouch has no handle.
She gathers the pine boughs she had cut and uses them to repair part of
the path that is gutted and collects water. Slowly and rhythmically she
make her way down never stopping once all the way. She can see the
clearing ahead. She starts to cry -- because she is glad? -- No, confounding
human nature, she is sad to leave the woods.
Felinas waits faithfully. Her breakfast consists of herb tea with
honey and she has an orange to eat. Throughout food preparation she
scurries back and forth through the gardens and fills her cooler with
vegetables as Mr. Shey has advised.
The sun overwhelms her and she sits in the car to rest. She pulls out a
crisp, clean sheet of paper and writes a poem to Mr. Shey. She includes a
note and picks some goldenrod and black-eyed Susans that she sticks in
the scarecrow's hat.
Back on the road, tooting wildly as she passes Mr. Shey's house, she
drives by the Indian reservation and is overwhelmed with sadness.
They have now become the Children of Government. They live in
identical brick houses all in a row, all facing the highway.
She turns the radio on, wants to get acclimated by degrees, but finds she
cannot listen to hard news. A plane crash has occurred in California
killing fifty people; and over in South Africa thirty Blacks have been
murdered for refusing to leave homes after being given eviction
notices. This information is given in a rhythmic, singsongy way. No
Click! She shuts the thing off.
Around five o'clock she decides to stop at a store and get some
supplies, then find a place to bed down for the night. Oh god, what a
shock she encounters when she steps into the store! She's lost her way of being
in the world. Stimuli bombards her from all sides. Words! Letters!
Signs! Exhortations! She feels like an African bush woman suddenly
transplanted to the Grand Central Terminal. Against the back wall is
an ice box with butter, she gets two sticks and makes her way to the
counter. She want to protect herself from all the stimuli. Furtively, she looks
at the counter girl as she slowly counts out my nickels and dimes and
then she runs out.
Once outdoors, she make a quick assessment of her physical
appearance. Wild hair which she sticks beneath a straw hat to no avail.
Her body looks emaciated. A normally slender woman, this weight loss
makes her look anorexic. She can finally say without equivocation that she
has a flat abdomen. And her inner thighs so long a source of concern
at the gym, the skin just hangs from them now. What's more she hasn't
bathed in five days.
She stops at another store, makes her way to the ice box; there's that
Wine Cooler I like. As she reaches in to get it a young man comes over and
says "No Ma'am, you can't take that."
"What have I done?" she jumps back. Seems they don't sell wine on
Sunday in this town. She's completely unnerved and mutters something
about getting ice.
"Yes," he tells her. "You can get ice."
She quickly makes her way out of there too. Eventually stopping at
two other stores, each time gaining more composure. Her walk
becomes slower, sexier. People's looks are less strange when they see
her. She keeps driving and driving but can't seem to find a place to bed
down for the night.
Finally around seven PM in desperation she makes her way to a boat
access and launching area in Searsport, a big lot, tarred with marked
lines for parking cars, big overhead lights, potted flowers and a picnic
area with corrugated metal tables, grills and a tiny lawn. But the view
is stupendous, ocean all around, about twenty five boats moored in the
water, some with sailing rig, a long, large wharf where people are
coming back from boat trips.
There's much activity in the lot, cars pulling in and out. Some
just come for the view, others are going home with their catch. Two
women and a young boy in a beat up car pull up next to hers. Mama
and her girlfriend, sitting to her right with the window open, are
discussing LOVE. The kid's got an enormous ice cream cone in one
hand and a large drink in the other. She watches him playing for a while.
He finishes his ice cream then throws rocks at the sea gulls. She has to
fight an urge to push him over the rock edge he skirts and send him
hurtling into the ocean.
At bedtime, she parks under the big light next to the camper trailer
making sure all doors are locked.
Morning sun streams down on her; people are bustling through
the parking lot. She sits up, again the outstanding view. She notices people
are less frantic than the ones she saw in the stores yesterday. About
fifteen of them are fishing off the sides.
She makes her way to the corrugated metal tables and starts coffee.
An old woman comes to greet her and offers chitchat. She acknowledges
her and replies briefly, trying to protect myself, to control incoming
messages. Something happened to her in the woods -- I don't want to
lose it, don't want to go back to being crazy in the world again.
She sits with her coffee and begins to write. The old woman and her
husband take the table next to hers. They are having lobster. He
unfolds a lawn chair facing the sea and cracks open a book, A
pampered man, handsome, lean, full white beard. His wife faces
corrugated metal and begins her attack on the lobsters. She works
steadily and quietly save for an occasional query about her husband's
well being. She speaks with an accent too faint to distinguish.
The morning passes like so. The man removes his tee shirt, nice, well
proportioned chest. He sees her watching and struts a bit. She's
amazed at the amount of meat the old woman has managed to extract
from the lobsters. Everything's been pulverized. But, she didn't
save the tomalley -- an out-of-stater.
It's time to head home. She charts her route and heads inland. The
closer she gets the more anxious she becomes, not wanting this time to end
and bracing herself for the ride into town. She would like to go
immediately to the cabin, but doubts that it is ready yet.
She decides to go the Silver Gym, take a shower and afterward get
supper, hoping staff is not present so she won't have to chitchat. Again
the violent shock as she enters; hard black iron strewn in long rows on
the floor, heavy black iron machines everywhere, and the whole of it
set off by mirrors all around reflecting it twice and three times over.
She passes a body builder and his girlfriend on her way to the locker
rooms. Both give her the once-over and disdain her. Three weeks ago
she was a peacock strutting this floor. She still remembers the combination
to her locker and the door opens to reveal an electric blue body suit
with stripes, smoke colored tights and salmon pink leg warmers
She packs everything up except the toiletries she will need for her
bath. The shower lasts thirty five blissful minutes and afterward she blow
dries her hair, puts on a dress and heels examining herself in the mirror.
I look good, my face is strong.
Chinese dinner at the Jade Fountain, she sees hardship in the faces
of people around her and she remembers the glib comment made by a
visiting celebrity. "A depressed mill town," is how he phrased it. Two
fortune cookies inform her that her outstanding trait is versatility and
the way of the heart is the most profound way to speak.
She heads for the cabin, stopping along the way to pick up a bottle of
champagne. What an incredible sight it is when she gets there! A big bouquet of
wild flowers with oak leaves sits on the picnic table, several smaller ones in
the house. The place has been all spruced up and polished.
She sits quietly outdoors for about fifteen minutes taking in the
white tipped, blue mountains, the lake, the tall pines. She lights the
outdoor fireplace that's been prepared with newspaper and kindling.
Then she becomes frenzied like the lobster woman and brings in the
things she had stored in the pump house, hangs all the bedding, area rugs
and pillows to air out, puts all the food supplies on shelves, in cabinets.
She decides to leave the office furniture and equipment for another day. She
is too weak to move the filing cabinet and desk.
She proceeds to the car, uncorks the champagne bottle and pops it
against the front door. Then she completely unloads the car by firelight,
bringing in the vegetables from Mr. Shey's gardens. She washes them up
and cooks the beet greens so as not to lose them. It's four o'clock in
the morning, everything's straightened out and she hops in bed. In the
still and quiet she is aware she has entered the chaotic darkness of her
life, her new home. She begins to cry, deep heart wrenching sobs, and she
does not stop for a long time.
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