As part of the ongoing Sunday installments of the novel. You can find the other chapters on here, posted each Sunday morning. Thanks!
DECEMBER: CATCHING UP
I struggled to light a fire but eventually the kindling took and I sat back in the sand. The sun had set half an hour ago and a cold night threatened. I wasn’t worried. The cabin behind us was well made, a solid log home with a woodstove, double bed, and small galley kitchen. I’d kept the cooler outside on the porch next to the rocking chair. I didn’t bother putting Nelson’s blanket on the floor. He’d reverted to his worried self and didn’t like to sleep anywhere but leaning against me. That was fine in winter. I hoped that by summer he’d grow out of it. I couldn’t imagine us in the bus with all that fur pushed along side of my overheated self. I placed a grate over the fire, moving the bigger logs to the side to open up the embers, and put on my veggie burgers to heat. I’d made a simple salad with a balsamic dressing plus I’d bought a pecan pie. It was the holidays after all. Or close enough.
Nelson sniffed around the porch, suddenly darting and grabbing a mouse. He shook it once and dropped it. He stared at it in surprise. He looked up at me and back to the mouse. The mouse didn’t move. He prodded it with his pink nose but no; one dead mouse lay at his feet. He walked back to the campfire.
The beach was silent but for a few late birds settling in for the night. An owl hoo-hoo-ed in the distance. The wind had died down. I loved this quiet. We’d had a full week in Albuquerque, full of people and traffic and shopping and conversations. I’d even sent presents to Mom, which never happens until the last minute. This way, she’d get gifts before and not after Christmas.
Stars came out overhead and my burgers toasted. Life was good. I sighed. Nelson sighed. Yep. I could do this.
“Want to go for a walk, kiddo?”
Nelson perked up, but didn’t move from my bed, our bed. The cabin was snug, his belly was full, and it was after midnight. He didn’t believe me.
I’d drunk too much coffee on the drive down. I couldn’t relax. I wanted to move and have Nelson to come with me. Reluctantly he slid off the blanket and came over with leash in mouth. He sat and I hooked him up.
“Yep, it’s that kind of place. Pets on leashes at all times, sorry big guy. Come on, let’s go see, okay?”
Thump, thump, and off we walked. I grabbed my coat and a headlamp and we aimed for the water. Easy access to the lake they’d said, and to be honest it wasn’t bad. The sliver of moon helped us find the glittering lake. The beach was sand and pebbles with places set aside for fishing. A marina lay silently off to the side. Short mountains hovered over to the east. Lights from homes reminded me of Angie and Jonnie. They’d persuaded me to head to Elephant Butte, reminding me to make the most of their community, who to talk to, where to eat. Jonnie had tried to get me to stay at their home near by but I needed time alone. Time to think and to decide what to do about Mark, Anne, and even Graham. How do I deal with this mess? I shook my head and kept walking. I unhooked Nelson and he ran to the water and drank, tail mid-height, wagging contentedly. I stretched and then took off at a slow run. Nelson caught up in three strides of his long legs and together we ran and we ran. The moon flickered in and out of the clouds coming in. The homes, the beach, the lodge, all were completely silent and my footfalls echoed softly on the sand as we ran.
I lit another lamp next to the bed. Nelson stretched out beside me. I finally turned on the smart phone and waited for the messages. Voicemails, emails, texts, so many came in that I wanted to turn the phone off, turn the light off and simply sleep but I didn’t. I pulled out my notepad and settled in for the long haul. It was time to take care of business. To see what they had to say for themselves.