PERIODS- holidays, teens, body transformation the older you get….

“There’s an enemy that brings us together and burdens us with a fate from which not even your relationship status (Facebook official or not) could spare you: having your period on Valentine’s Day.”Note: these words came from Sass and Balderdash. Tried to do a link but I think I failed. Read hers first.

Many a Valentine’s Day this has happened to me. It never failed to happen on a holiday or away from home. It was always unexpected and unpredictable. Often times I was not prepared for it to happen when I was younger. As I got older I became more aware of “that time”– however unpredictable it was and I carried with me all of the necessities twenty four hours a day 365 days a year.
My period was so heavy and painful that it was unbearable. I do not know how I survived my teens. It seemed like I was always in a corner of the room rocking myself while holding my abdomen. The pain was so great. I tried Midol and other over the counter medications but nothing seemed to alleviate the pain I was going through. Of course, back then, I was too embarrassed to talk to my mother about it. I did not try tampons till late teens about 16 years of age. I started one time on vacation with my family and the local general store did not have menstrual pads… they only had tampons. My mom tried to put the tampons in me but we ended up giving up so I was stuck bleeding on toilet paper for the rest of the trip. That trip was so embarrassing and I was so glad we were on our way home the next day.
As I got older I tried tampons again which was better than pads and when I was twenty one, I had a boyfriend who recommended I go on the pill to help with the cramps and the vomiting that had crept and gotten worse every year. I went and sure enough at that time and for ten years the pills worked for me. I had more control over the pain and a lot more control over the “time of the month”. I still had a heavy period which lasted for 7 days and less cramping. I finally had a period which happened once a month instead of twice. Sometimes it still hit the holidays but I was always prepared having developed the habit early in life. Or late teens anyway.
Once I hit my adult hood (late twenties to late forties) my period started to worsen slowly despite the birth control pills I was constantly on. While in my early forties I was taken off the pill due to health reasons according to my doctor at the time. so I tried a different method.. . the Mirena IUD which was supposed to stop you from having periods. It didn’t work. From the time I had it put in to two years later I bled every single day of the year. The doctors kept telling me my body would adjust and the bleeding would be less and only once a month if at all. My bleeding got heavier and heavier with clots full of blood. I tried birth control again and the pills had no effect whatsoever. I still bled every single day.
I was finally referred to a gynecologist who did an ultrasound and told me that I had a couple of choices. I could do a process that scraped the uterus to stop it from bleeding as much (I would still have periods and it may/or may not fix the problem) or a hysterectomy which definitely would fix the problem. I went for the latter.
I still feel the hormones raging once a month but I no longer flow which is good considering how much I kept overflowing and how many clots were coming out of me.
Fibroids, which every woman has are supposed to shrink as you get older—they grew as I got older instead. The three of them grew to the size of a baseball which stretched my uterus to the size of a coke can.
I am now only beginning menopause (premenopause if there is such a word) about three years later from the hysterectomy. My ovaries were left in but are starting to die like the doctor said they would as I got older. Although I was hoping I would start this in my sixties and not early fifties. I’ll be fifty in May. I’m starting the night sweats but have not progressed far enough to get wet sheets. Being a person who has always been cold in body temperature I am not now. Feeling a lot of hot nights and thus shedding a lot more clothing. I’m having a lot more highly emotional days than I am used to where I am just a wreck. Although that may be more stress than menopause but perhaps not. It’ll be a different phase of life than I am used to but perhaps I’ll become a more alluring being.

week happenings March

 

The weather here has been really rainy although it has been nicer in the afternoons on some of the days since spring.  The first day of spring looked like it was gonna rain but after 8 am it turned into a beautiful sunny day.  We were hedging the roses on the hill at Zuanich Point Park, if I remember right and it was beautiful day except for the roses.  Bending over in rain pants and hot weather is never a good combination.  It is much better to wear rain pants in cooler weather because the rubber insulates a lot and makes you hotter in the sunshine.  We wear them when picking up the rose stems because we do not want thorns in our booty. 

So far we have not been weeding the gardens we have come too because we need to prepare the gardens for the flowers which will bloom soon. We have been hedging the roses and raking the “special” grasses that are grown around Bellingham WA.  Blue Oat and Carl Forster which are currently brown because of the winter.  We are also raking up the needles that have fallen.  My body and arms are tired of raking: so much so that throb when I’m trying to rest or sleep.  Can’t wait for normal weeding which uses less arm and shoulder muscles.

Somehow, and I am not quite sure– all this rainy, muddy conditions  sometimes dry conditions but I still manage to get my rain gear totally dirty.   I am a dirty girl.  Last night, Friday, it was drippy most of the day but not overly wet and we were protected by the trees we were under.  I still managed to get my nose dirty and did not notice till this morning after I put my glasses on and looked in the mirror.  You’d think sometimes I lie in the mud/dirt but I don’t.  Ha, Ha. Ha.

 

The Bird

Once upon a time in a land far away lived an old man.  He lived in a cottage not far from Schneeze.

Many a day he would walk out of his tiny cottage in the woods and walk along the paths towards the village clothed in a little brown jacket with pants and shoes that matched.  He loved to match colors and dress in casual but comfortable clothes.

One -day as he was walking to the village he spied a bird in need.  Looking around he saw nobody to help so he picked up the bird in his gentle hands, put him in his pocket to keep warm, and continued on his way.  While he was at the village he bought a handkerchief, a small tin cup and seeds. Then he took the bird and the things he had bought and went back home.

When he got there he lit a couple candles to make the house brighter so he could see, took the bird out of his pocket and placed it on the table.  After massaging the bird all over, he took the handkerchief and wrapped up the bird.

After the bird was wrapped up he put the seeds in the cup and fed the bird.  It was getting dark so he went to bed.

After a couple days the bird began to feel better.  He’d hop about the room jumping on one thing and then another.  Soon, the old man thought, the little bird won’t be needing any more help.

That night everything was quiet.  It was the quietest night for several weeks.  Usually the animals were noisy.  Some of the people in the village said the animals did it to ward off evil spirits.  This night not a sound was heard from anywhere.

The next morning as the old man woke up, the bird came to his side and gave him a glance.  The old man understood and got up to let the bird outside.

The old man had lost a friend so he was sad the next day.  When the bird was in his home he was happy.

The next day the old man went to the village as usual.  While he was there he spied an old English Antique shop.  Seeing a lot of good things in the window, he went in and looked around, as he was doing so a lady came up to him and said,”Are you the man who helped the little bird?”

“Yes,” replied the old man, “Why do you ask?”

“I’m just curious.” she said.

“Why are you curious? Did you see me pick it up?”

“No,” explained the lady.”I was just told by someone.  He told me to tell you to go to the old Turkish well on the south side of the village.  I haven’t the faintest idea what he wants you there for.”

After the old man had done his shopping he went to the south side of the village.

It was a long, tiring walk to the south side.  He passed a lot of gift shops, cafes, craftsmen shops, and houses.  It was late afternoon when he arrived at the well. As he approached he saw a figure standing under a fig tree by the well.  The figure was completely dressed in white from head to foot.

The man was astonished to see a figure standing there.  He was afraid that he was dreaming.  It was very scary.  When the old man walked near, it spoke to him in a strange voice saying, “I have longed to meet you.  You were very kind.  Why did you pick the bird up? Many people would have ignored it, yet you helped it.  Why?”

“I did it because I enjoy helping others.  I am kind to a lot of things that other people wouldn’t bother with.  I have an urge to help them.  Do you  understand what I am trying to say?”

“Yes,” said the voice from under the white robe,”I know.”

Then to the old man’s astonishment the figure disappeared.  Not a trace of what he saw or heard was left.

It was turning dark so the old man decided to return to his cottage.  It was a long way off but he could easily catch a coach to the village square where he would find a short path to his house.

The next day as the old man was dressing he spotted a white piece of cloth on his dresser.  Fastened to it were big bold letters that read “THANKS.”

A FOOT OF MYSTERY

Daydreaming for hours had been one of her favorite pastimes, but now she sat bored out of her mind in her aunt’s home for the summer.

She hated her parents for leaving her with an eccentric aunt they hadn’t seen in years.  It was rumored that Aunt Mame had become more withdrawn since the death of her husband twenty years ago.  Her aunt had isolated herself from every relative she had ever known and yet there wasn’t a choice as to who could take her for the summer.

Josie had understood their reasoning when they sat her down one night to explain that they needed time to be alone.  Her mom was having a hard time getting over the loss of a child.  Josie would have had a sister had she lived.

Aunt Mame lived in a three-story Victorian home that looked like the one in California that Josie had read about.  The Winchester house had been built by a lady who had lost her husband and child in an accident and was told by a psychic that their ghosts would leave her alone if she kept building the home.  She spent her entire life building on that house.  A lot of the rooms and hallways were dead ends, and some of the staircases went on forever.

Her aunt’s home looked just like it, with little nooks and hidden rooms everywhere.  There were a lot of places to explore in this old house.

Josie’s room had a Victorian canopy bed that was a little hard to climb into so her aunt had given her a stool to step on.  The sheets were silk and the curtains flowed down like angel’s wings.  The mattress was one of the softest she had ever laid on, and the room was bigger than her room at her parents’ home. There was an old-fashioned dresser complete with an armoire and a window seat that looked out the back of the house for miles.  Her aunt had acres of land with fruit trees  and a pigeon coop.

Lying down on the soft sheets, she fell into a deep sleep. Dreaming about her parents hunting an elephant made her smile because seeing them standing next to or damn near one was hysterical.  They looked like ants against such massive creatures, and she could not help but smile.  Then her dream went from funny to weird.  A lady with long, curly red hair and the face of an angel started to sing, and as she sang Josie could see tiny cherubs strumming banjos and other cherubs shooting their arrows into floating hearts.  Every now and again they whispered to each other their secrets.  All she could hear in the wind was bring me back, bring me back.  Confused by this and not sure where to turn or where to go in her dream, she turned around the trunk of a tree and saw a monster ready to grab he so she ran screaming her head off.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” her aunt asked her as she wiped the sweat from Josie’s brow.  “I heard you all the way down the hall.  What else can I get you?  Are you sure you don’t want me to get in touch with your parents? I have their phone number in case there is a problem.”

“No, please don’t bother them.  There is no reason to do that and I am old enough to take care of myself.  My mom and dad really need this time to be alone.  Don’t bother them, okay Aunt Mame?”

“All right, I won’t do that this time, but if you keep screaming you’re going to wake the dead, so cut it out, okay?”

“All right, I promise.  I’ll try to keep it down next time, and believe me, there had better not be a next time.”

With that, the lights were turned off and good nights were said by all.

The sound of the rooster and the clattering of dishes woke Josie with such a start that she began to breathe hard and clutching her chest all wild-eyed she looked about the room, not sure where she was.  It had been a fitful sleep and rested she was not.  She clambered out of bed, put on her slippers and robe, and went to use the bathroom down the hall before heading downstairs.

As she walked down the dark staircase, the smell of sausage permeated her nostrils and smoke hung heavy in the air.  She could see her breath as she came downstairs, and the chill of the air hit her arms like she had dived into the icy sea.  The morning fire had not been attended to, and for a moment Josie thought it was one of her chores that she had forgotten when her aunt called from the kitchen to say that she had not gotten that far yet and would do it after breakfast.

After breakfast her Aunt Mame had chores in the barn, leaving Josie once again to her own devices. This particular day, she decided it was about time she did some exploring, starting with the house itself.  She thought the best thing to do was to start at the top and work her way down to the basement.  She had plenty of time to explore in the next two months.

The attic was dusty and so filled with huge spider webs that Josie didn’t know where to begin.  To avoid some of the dust, she decided to start in the middle of the room.  Seeing a trunk that looked interesting, she slowly lifted the lid and the smell of old moth balls filled the room.  The clothes in the trunk were still in good condition and lifting through the slit she found a variety of heirlooms carefully wrapped in silk handkerchiefs and tissue paper.  Lifting the tissue off of a garment she stared at a wedding dress complete with veil and matching gloves.  She also found medals from the war that her aunt’s dead husband had been in.  There were corsages so well preserved they looked alive. And at the bottom of the trunk was a pair of opera glasses still intact after all these years.

Later she would dust some of this stuff off so she could play with it.  Looking up from the trunk for a moment she saw a weird shiny pattern across the room on the wall. Going over to investigate, she lifted a piece of material sitting on a table and noticed a section of the table that seemed to glow orange in color as the sun hit it.  Tracing the glow with her fingertips she felt the edge indent just a little and pushing aside the rest of the wood she managed to open it.  The drawer was built into the table, completely hidden from sight.

In this drawer she found puzzle pieces enclosed in an embossed velvet pouch.  There wasn’t a picture of what the pieces were supposed to be about so Josie figured this was a chance to find some amusement.  She loved a good mystery.

Spotting a table with a lamp on it she took the pouch to the table and dumping the pieces onto it, she separated the corners from the flat-edged outside pieces. Slowly putting the outside of the puzzle in place, she soon realized that several hours had gone by.  Tired of sneezing from the dust, she took a break, leaving the finished pieces intact.  No one had been up here for years so it was a sure thing that no one would disturb it but the attic critters that roamed the room in the darkness.

The next day she returned to the attic to figure out where the next section of the puzzle went and much to her amazement it took several hours of her time.  This was partly because she had to continuously take breaks to stifle her sneezes.

Aunt Mame was not aware of the trips to the attic or the whereabouts of her niece, nor did she seem to care.  Josie was only called for dinner and breakfast.  Her aunt had her own chores and agenda for the day and Josie did not care about her whereabouts either.

As the puzzle progressed, it resembled a face that seemed familiar to Josie and yet she could not place it.  The face was angelic and beautiful with long, curly, red hair.  The young lady’s eyes seemed to follow her around the room.  It looked as if the eyes had been crying for they were the clearest emerald-colored glass you had ever seen.  It looked as if her soul were reaching through the picture.

Looking about the attic, Josie searched for photo albums, but to her dismay did not find any.  The next day she asked her aunt, who told Josie to search the library.  There was a greater chance the albums were there because albums were considered books, after all, her aunt had told her.

Walking down the hallway, Josie searched for the library and finally finding it she went in and looked around.  Taking a few albums off the shelf, she looked inside them page by page.  Not finding any pictures resembling the face in the puzzle, Josie became more and more discouraged.  She recognized some of the relatives she saw in the photos, but none of them even remotely resembled the face in the puzzle.

When she was almost finished going through all the albums she could find, Josie was about to give up when she spied a huge book lying on a stool in one corner.  The cover was heavily embossed and almost looked like a Bible but was not.  Flipping to the middle of the album she found the face she was looking for.  Next to the face she found a locket of red hair and a baby’s booty with no explanation.  Once again she was at a dead end.  She left the room and went to bed to think.

Falling into a deep sleep, her dreams once again whispered in her ears and she again woke up screaming.  Looking about the room and breathing heavily as if she had been running in her sleep, she started to realize  the lady in the puzzle was trying to speak to her through her dreams and she knew she had to ask her aunt who she was.  Her dreams had cherubs, floating hearts and the most beautiful woman she had ever seen singing in a voice that would make a grown man cry.  Maybe the dreams were trying to tell her something.  If only she knew what it all meant.  She was tired of waking up to the sounds of her own screams.  Trying to make sense of her dreams and the puzzle was beginning to take a toll on her beauty sleep.

Getting dressed she glanced at the clock and seeing that it was time for breakfast she went downstairs to look for her aunt.  Aunt Mame was in the basement tending the fire in the stove. The smell of bacon in the air made Josie’s stomach growl.

“Aunt Mame,” Josie said, “I’ve been having a dream I can’t explain.  I have a hunch it has something to do with what I found in the attic.  A couple of weeks ago, I found a puzzle in a secret drawer and when I put it together it was the most beautiful face I have ever seen with long, curly red hair and when I looked in the library I found her picture in the last book I looked in.  Beside her picture was a locket of red hair and a baby’s booty with no explanation.  Do I know her?  She seems familiar and she was in my dreams before I found the puzzle in the drawer.  Who is she?  And what happened to her?  She was singing in my dream and there were little cherubs strumming banjos, shooting their arrows into floating hears and they kept whispering to each other to bring me back, bring me back.  Why do I keep dreaming about someone I do not know and can’t remember?”

“Wow, you certainly have a lot of questions,” her aunt said as she thought about what Josie had asked her.  “I don’t know why you would be dreaming of her.  She died a long time ago and no one has spoken of her since. Why don’t you go eat your breakfast and I’ll explain when you’re done, okay?”

“Okay”, Josie said as she sat down at the table.  Contemplating her aunts words, she wondered what was coming next.

After breakfast Aunt Mame took Josie to the library.  Gathering the dusty embossed album in her arms, her aunt walked behind two columned bookcases filled with romance novels and poetry books.  Along the walls of the long hallway leading to a hidden room were pictures of ancestors framed in gold.  It reminded Josie of a museum. Every other picture had an oil lamp hanging alongside it and was lit with the light coming from the end of the hallway.

Reaching the end of the hallway, her aunt paused for a brief moment as she lifted the plastic sheet off the window seat.  The light in the hallway had some from the sun filtering in from a huge window that looked out onto the family graveyard which was now covered in rose bushes and ivy.

Sitting down on the cushion, she gestured for Josie to sit beside her.  Josie waited patiently for her to speak.

“Jane was thirteen years old when she died giving birth.   Her baby was also born dead.  She had taught herself to crochet to pass the time on the farm she lived on and had made booties and a matching gown in anticipation of her new arrival.  She had the voice of an angel and would often sing to her unborn child.  The same fate had befallen her mother who had also died giving birth.”

” Her father despised Jane for killing his wife, and he often left her for days.  She sang to keep herself company.  At thirteen she got pregnant and none of us were sure who the father was.  She was too far away to check on every day and there weren’t many close neighbors.”

“As she grew nearer the end of her pregnancy she went into labor and lying down in the barn with horses she attempted to give birth.  We all think the baby was breach because when we found her the baby’s legs were sticking out of her body.  The baby was too small to breathe on its own and there was no one to turn the baby in the womb so it could get air.  Neither of them survived.”

“The puzzle was made by her father because even though he despised her, he loved the sound of her voice.  He often told others that despite his resentment, he thought she was the most beautiful person on earth.  She looked so much like her mother that it was like looking in a mirror and that is why he stayed away.  He became a drunk after her death and ended up in a mental institution, where he hung himself a couple of years later.  We were so ashamed of the incident that we tried to bury the past.  None of their names were uttered again in this house. The puzzle was hidden so that no one would speak of it again.”

“The only reason I even know about it is that my grandparents used to tell us stories of the ghosts they saw at night in this house. We thought they were making up the stories to scare us until your mom went digging in the attic one day just as you did and discovered the family secret.  Our grandparents were telling us the truth and passing down the tales as ghost stories.”

“I don’t know what your dreams mean, but I could probably venture a guess if you want me to?”

Josie nodded. “I would like to know what those dreams mean.  I keep waking up screaming, and the dreams are so weird that it is keeping me up at night.  So it would be nice to know if you have an explanation, ” Josie said.

“Well, perhaps the elephants signify the exaggeration of the story over the years and the whispering cherubs shooting floating hearts could mean that we have broken a lot of hearts over the years because we have not loved people for who they are.  We have mistaken the sins of others for the people they remind us of. It was a mistake to forget she even existed.”

“Josie, I should have been paying more attention to you instead of wallowing in my own grief.  My husband died twenty years ago and your mother lost a child.  I’m sorry.  We should call your mother, I haven’t really talked to her in years and I know we have grown apart.  Do you think she needs me?”

“I think it’s time to bury the ghosts of our past and to move on, don’t you, Aunt Mame?”
“I agree.  Let’s phone your mom, shall we?”

 

 

I was well on my way to writing something down this evening but by the time I got home–had to stop by Fred Meyers for food today cause it was finally pay day– I had completely forgotten what I was going to write about.  So this will be a short post for tonight.  I will–however, start another story so keep an eye out for it.  Don’t have much time tonight and I won’t be able to finish typing it.

Windy roses

Just a note to say i started back at my seasonal groundskeeper job.  This is my second season and yesterday we were at the airport pruning some roses that were 6 feet tall and all tangled and half dead.  Turns out they had not been pruned for a couple of years.  As most of you know, there is still some snow in spots in Bellingham but these roses just had the sand exposed.  It was bright and sunny and . . . windy! While we are pruning these tall bushes the wind would blow and they would bend toward us as well as the sand.  At times, we caught several mouths full of sand.  Of course while they were bending toward us in the wild wind the thorns got stuck in our hair, faces, and clothes.  I was attacked the most and several times had to call for help.  I had the thorny branches stuck in my hair and on my arm at the same time and could not get unstuck.  At another moment, the wind knocked over a coworkers barrel full of cut branches of roses.  When the wind knocked it over all of those branches got stuck on my butt and I could not get them off.  It was very funny.  Good thing nobody had a camera or video.

A GRIP ON THE SOUL

Slowly creeping through his veins like a caterpillar inching its way inside a leaf, the sensation made Harry irritated as his leg cramps returned.  He had been sitting in the same spot for hours.  Lying down earlier had relieved some of the pain but now it was back again.   So he stood up to stretch, his feet slipped out from under him, flinging his legs into the air and sending his butt to the ground with a thud.  Instead of staying in one spot, the weight of his body slid him closer to the edge and then suddenly stopped.  Harry’s breathing ceased for a second and he froze.  Slowly moving only his eyes, he looked around him to determine why he was still on the mountain.  After coming to the immediate conclusion that he was on his back staring at the sky above him, he glanced in the direction of his hands and saw that the only thing holding him on the cliff was a branch caught between a rock and a hard place.  His hands had turned white against the strain.  “Whew”. he gasped.  “That was close.  What was I thinking?” he muttered.

Having spent the night up here, he had removed his shirt at sunrise, giving praise to the beautiful day and giving in to the chill and wetness of the heavy dew.  A compiling of wood-chips had been built up as high as a tiny ant hill beside the rock he had perched his butt on the night before. Needing to keep his hands busy so his mind would remain calm, he had whittled a stick so much that there was nothing left of it but a small stub.

Memories of the past seemed to flood his mind.  Growing up, he had always turned the other cheek like the Bible told him to. His family had always gone to church and fervently believed in God and the devil.  Both of these concepts were deeply believed by his family and were alive and well and living on earth and in Heaven.  His family had chosen to always turn the other cheek like the Bible had taught them for generations.  “A man can walk away from a fight and still hold his dignity but once you join in, you are just as bad as they are,” his dad would often say.  His family did not act like Christians all the time, however.  People were different behind closed doors.  His dad was drunk half the time so it was a real challenge believing a word that came out of his mouth.  Once again, Harry’s heart chilled at the thought he had been contemplating all night.

The air stung briskly as it hit his skin, rushing in from the trees and the sunny mountain sky.  Earlier, looking over the edge of the mountain, bare-chested and in shorts and hiking boots, he could not believe how far down the drop was. Pulling himself up to his knees, he started to stand but sensed something in front of him. His muscles tensed at the sound he heard. Standing between him and the edge of the cliff was a rattlesnake whose shade rock had fallen when Harry had slipped.

Trying to give his mind a respite from the problem it now faced and trying to maintain his balance without moving a muscle, he tried to think of the right thing to do at the moment. But instead, his mind went back to earlier in the day when he had been sitting near the edge of the cliff.

While sitting on a rock, he had received a feeling of power and control over his life.  It felt right.  He had never known this feeling of control at any time in his life.  He could remember a lot of incidents where he did not have control, and as the memories crossed his mind, his attitude started to change from a feeling of ambivalence to an almost uncontrollable anger.  Popping into his mind at the moment, he recalled a conversation between him and Jessie, a child-hood friend who had been in his life for a brief time.
“Harry, why do you always let them get to you? Nobody can take your attitude away from you.  You have control over how you feel.  Don’t let them get to you, no matter what happens. Promise me you won’t let them get you down”, she would often say.

“I promise I won’t let them do that to me. Don’t let me catch you doing that either, you hear me?” he would shout back into the wind.

Times were hard back then, and soon his one and only friend was gone.  She had moved to another state and handwriting letters was not his forte so they soon lost touch and the words she had often encourage him with soon left him too.  The comforting words pushed into the recesses of his mind did nothing to protect him against the cruel world and the promise was soon forgotten.  Teased and ridiculed for having a family who believed in turning the other cheek and having a birth name of Harry Gripp, he had endured a lot of torment over the years.

His mind bogged down with nothing except the memories of pain and the dispositions of everyone he had known all his life.  With his support system failing him at home and with no one to count on but his mother, he could not seem to ignore the ridicule and the alcoholism that pervaded his home. His life now had no meaning for him and there was nothing left.  He thought there was nothing he could hold on to, not even the love of his mother.

As the late morning started to fade and the sun had  moved out from above him, the sweat on his brow drenching his face brought him back with a start.  The decision he had to make about the circumstances he was currently in was driving him nuts and standing in a semi-crouch position and not moving a muscle had begun to give him the shakes.  Complications were starting to set in quicker than anticipated.  It was now or never, he thought to himself.  It was time to make a decision.  It was time to act. Sweat trickled down his neck, making his back itch, and resisting the urge to scratch was too much.  Before he had his mind made up, he instinctively moved his hand and the snake arched its neck and struck, biting his leg.

His first thought, of course, was of his mother and what she would have thought had she been here.  Had she come up to him at that moment, she would have been appalled to know that he had come to this decision and she would have told him that it was a sign from God who was intervening in his life for a reason.  He could still make something of his life if only he would see the good around him and the chances still to take.  God had a purpose for him despite the past.

Ignoring the thoughts of his mother, Harry knew this was the moment he had waited for.  It was time to prove to him-self and to the others who had taunted him over the years that he had the guts to finish what he started.  Closing his eyes and breathing slowly, he knew he had to clear her judgmental face from his mind, from his heart.  He knew that deep down she loved him and had always been his ally, but over the years his trials had become hard for her to bear and she had begun to think that it was his fault.  That it was him bringing on all the pain.  He could not afford to contemplate what she would think of his decision now.  At 15 years of age, he was considered a man in many cultures and was old enough to make his own way in the world.  His mind was made up and he swore to himself he would not budge.

Coming back to reality, the pain sinking in to his senses, he fell to the ground and screaming in agony, he tried to see where the snake had gone.  Inching out from behind a twig, the snake bit him again and again until it had enough room to maneuver to the other side of Harry.  Trapped no longer, the snake slithered out of sight.  Harry lay there thinking of everything that had happened, the real and the imagined, and it dawned on him that he needed to do something quickly or he was going to die a fools death.  Having not been the method he wanted to die from, he managed to get off the ground with the help of a stick he found lying near his head.

Inching his way to a standing position, he looked around him trying to get his bearings.  He knew all too well what this meant to him now and the decision he had started with the night before was slowly changing into a desperate need for survival. As the pain grew and retreated like the waves of an ocean, his mind eased with the course of the wave so that he could recall in those moments of retraction where he had left items not needed in his journey the night before.

In one of those tearful moments through the pain, he remembered where he had parked his truck.  It was a forty-five minute walk from the truck to the top of the mountain, and he knew he would be dead before he got there.  He had deliberately parked where no one could see his truck from the road, and he had hiked in without any extra clothing or survival equipment as his intent was not to survive.

Now, he was berating himself for not being prepared for Mother Nature’s interference.  He  should have known better.  He’d had encounters with her as a child and many a time she had interfered with her gusty winds or bears eating the fish that should have been his while he was fishing in the same stream.  Scattering the poles into the water, he would run, leaving the bears to the fish before they sniffed the air and made a meal out of him instead.

Facing once again a powerful pain in his gut, he had to do something quick. Feeling his pockets, he found the pocketknife he had been whittling with last night and he tried to remember what he’s read in that book on snakes as a child.  Oh yeh, he said to himself, I should cut the site and suck out the poison.  And with that thought, he did.  Doing this bought him some time and he managed to make it to his truck.  Finding the extra keys underneath the truck made it easy for him to drive.

Halfway down the dirt road, he started to get dizzy and passing out at the wheel he slammed the truck into a ditch almost hitting a tree. Opening his eyes slowly and assessing where he was, he tried to maneuver the truck out of his ditch.  Mud sprayed everywhere and the tires went deeper into the soft earth.  After many attempts, he finally realized he should put it into four-wheel drive.  Doing this gave him an advantage between the mud and his losing battle which gave him the necessary traction to get the truck back on the solid dirt road.

Every minute seemed like hours, and the act of driving became such an effort that even though he was sure he had sucked most of the poison out he began to doubt himself and with this doubt came the fear that he would not make it through this after all.  He was hard pressed to realize that staying alive meant, as much to him as his original intent– to kill himself.

Harry could not appreciate the beauty surrounding him as his face was dripping in sweat once again, only this time it was from the poison and not from the sun.  He wanted to live and he now wanted to prove that he could turn his life around despite his past.

About an hour down the dirt road he turned off and hit the freeway.  Another ten minutes, he saw a hospital sign and taking the exit off the freeway he followed the signs and pulled up to the front doors of the emergency room.  Leaving his car door open and the engine running, he stumbled in and collapsed on the cold sterile floor.  An attendant rushed to his side.

Hours later, feeling much better and very much alive, he had such a tale to tell.  The first person he was going to talk to besides his mom was Jessie– a friend that he had thought was lost forever, a friend that had helped him realize what a goober he had been and what potential he could become.