Roxanne had literally clawed her way into the cub reporters position at WKRU TV in Gardner, Montana. She had reported on everything from a snowy owl sighted in a local back yard to the woman who was channeling the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt through her TV. She was determined to take every story thrown at her and write an unforgettable byline that would make her boss sit up and take notice. And she researched every back story she could find, weaving the background into a 3 minute segment. She was never at a loss for words and loved the deadlines. Deadlines made her pour her words into a script. But she kept getting the crap assignments that no one else wanted and lately, as the assignments had become more mundane her words were harder and harder to come by. Today her boss had assigned her a story on the dwindling Bison herds. So she sucked it up and began her research. Everyone knew they had been overexploited and conservation had actually restored the Bison to healthy levels. Unfortunately, the interview she completed with the now dormant Bison Society was dry and predictable. They now planned to relaunch their conservation efforts for ecological and cultural needs. Oh boy this was one story she could not sink her teeth into. When it came time to write, she was blocked. How many ways could you talk about the extinction, resurrection and rebirth of the Bison in Montana? She read her story over and over and continually erased it. She paced. She read National Geographic. She took herself for a walk, she carried coffee and cookies to her desk and attempted to rewrite. She paced some more. She began to surf the web for boots made of Bison hide. She found a pair she really liked and ordered them. Then she felt guilty and cancelled the order. The phone rang, thankfully. Her best friend Julie was calling. Would she like to go to that new bar that had recently opened? You bet! Anything to get me away from this Bison block. I need to get out of my head for a while. Maybe something scintillating about Bison conservation will magically pop into my head.
The Gardner Roadhouse had just opened for business. This was exactly the atmosphere Roxanne needed. She and Julie eagerly snagged a table and ordered their first of several Margaritas. There was a commotion in the next room and they grabbed their drinks and went inside to see what was going on. A mechanical Bison ride!! The man at the door was taking names and signing up riders. Julie looked at Roxanne. This is just what you need to write that story! Get out there girl, and show that Bison who’s boss! The next day Roxanne submitted her story, with this headline: No Bull, Girls These Bison are Alive and Well and Waiting for You to Ride.
A conversation between friends.......
“That’s not a New Year Resolution, that’s a death wish,” Pam said to me.
"Why is it a death wish? I need to lose a few LBS and what better way to begin the process than by a trying Cross Fit?"
"Do you know what you’ll be expected to do?"
"The usual: warm up, strength train, and stuff. How hard can that be? The secret is discipline."
"Wait a minute. Your idea of discipline is no whipped cream on your hot chocolate. Tell your overambitious self to walk away slowly."
"Pam, I’ve researched what’s required and the workouts are scalable. Anyone can join in despite their fitness level. And you never do the same exercise twice. Talk about approachable!"
Pam rolled her eyes and realized her friend Becky had really lost it if she thought this was a good idea.
"Becky, this will be high intensity no matter how you scale it. Misery is misery whether you’re lifting a 40lb dog food bag or attempting Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting or high intensity cardio.
I’ll be here for you when you call me weeping after your first day, barely able to press the buttons on the phone, let alone tie your shoes."
"Jeez Pam, have some faith in me!"
Pam gave Becky a sympathetic look and patted her arm, (which after this, Becky would not be able to have her touch.)
The next week Becky showed up at the gym. Tom the trainer, a sculpted specimen who no doubt moonlighted as a model for romance novel covers was there. Appropriately looking nonchalant, but feeling the heat rise in her face, Becky thought to herself, this makes it all worthwhile!
That was the last time Becky had any coherent thought at all. After two hours, her grunting, moaning and once, a suppressed scream that sounded like a kitten mewing, was upsetting the rest of the clients. Tom asked Becky if she felt she could do one last exercise.
You’ve got to be kidding! she thought.
She could barely lift her butt off the matt after falling from the last low platform she should have easily jumped onto, but missed, falling unceremoniously onto her backside and... could she admit it?... causing her to expel gas at an alarming volume.
Crawling on her hands and knees she reached for the platform to hoist herself up to a standing position. She would walk out of here with her head held high, though the act of walking caused her to mimic Edvard Munch’s “Silent Scream”...and she did.
Janine plunged out of the cab and strode into Paddington Station toward the ticket booth gripping the money in her pocket, the bills wet from clutching and unclutching the wad she had taken from the jar on the kitchen counter. The clock above the ticket booth glowed ten minutes to nine. She made sure her husband had left for the office, and her children were safely at school before making her escape.
They would not discover her absence until much later.
The entire brood would be pulling away from the school around 5pm this evening when sports and other after school obligations had ended; her husband was the designated driver today. It would not be until much later when they arrived home that they would realize she had gone.
As she recounted her steps that day, she realized she had no specific destination in mind; only to escape. She felt as if all her life she had been living with eyes closed. But now they were opening and she walked confidently to the ticket booth. It was brightly lit from inside, but empty, yet she could see a steaming cup of coffee on the counter as if someone had just left in a hurry, so she waited. She had been planning this for a long while and she thought it was curious that at the moment of final execution on her part, (where she would go and how she would get there) she should have to wait. Strawberry Fields Forever was playing somewhere and although she looked around she couldn’t be entirely sure where it was coming from. The lyrics began to seep into her consciousness and she couldn’t help but hum along now as she waited for the station master to return.
Living is easy with eyes closed,
Misunderstanding all you see,
It's getting hard to be someone,But it all works out,
It doesn't matter much to me…
She couldn’t help but feel that the music was live and coming from somewhere high above her. As she directed her gaze upward she saw him then, the station master, floating high above the terminal ticket booth. And as he floated there, he sang:
Let me take you down,
'Cause I'm going to strawberry fields,
Nothing is real, And nothing to get hung about,
Strawberry fields forever
“What are you doing up there?” she called up to him.
“I’m trying to direct traffic,” he replied, rather nonsensically she thought as he was certainly not in any condition to direct anything. “But no one is listening to me. You see.”
No one I think is in my tree
I mean it must be high or low,
That is you can't, you know, tune in, But it's all right,
That is, I think, it's not too bad”
Just then the janitor approached her pushing his massive dust broom, and seeing her upward gaze he followed to where the station master was directing traffic.
“Oh for heaven’s sake Harry, you’re high again.”
Harry looked down on them and gazed intently at Janine.
“What is your destination?”
“I haven’t figured that out”, she called up to him
“Are you dreaming?” he said
Janine considered this question and said, “Well, I’m not sure. Always, no, sometimes I think I am, But you know I know when it's a dream, I think, er, no, I mean, er, yes.”
"Well then, he said, for you it’s all wrong. That is, I think I disagree. You’re not dreaming, you’re running away. And that’s ok as long as you know what you are running to. But be careful. The temptation to run is strong and often leaves you flying high with no parachute.”
Janine considered this. “Maybe tomorrow,” she said, and turning away, headed to the taxi stand where she would hail a cab and return home to clean the house, do the laundry, feed the dog and prepare dinner for her brood who would be returning home by 5-ish, famished and ungrateful for the clean house, the well-fed dog, the folded laundry and the hot meal.
Miranda is a Latin word meaning "to be wondered at"
Miranda looked in the mirror and regarded her face. Low forehead, eyes close together, a stubborn unibrow and, most notably a crooked nose. When God was handing out good looks he must have run out when he got to her, or more likely she had been standing behind the door and he missed her entirely. Her life was like that, an endless stream of missed opportunity. Except for her job packing groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly, where she was recognized as a hard worker, diligent and efficient, she talked to no one and no one talked to her, making her the ideal worker. At quitting time, she clocked out and walked home. She didn’t say goodbye to anyone and no one said goodbye to her.
Miranda clung to the hem of life, making no waves, receiving no notice, no invitations, and no unexpected visits from neighbors. Evenings were quiet at her home.
Most nights she ate whatever she had left over, cleaned up her dishes then went to bed. She did not retire with a good book, she did not dream, she totally lacked any imagination. Her life, such as it was, was without expectation. And then it happened. As she lay tightly tucked into her bed, quite resembling a letter stuffed into an envelope, untouchable with no promise of ever being opened, she heard an almost imperceptible movement in the corner, like the soft pages of a book someone was absentmindedly flipping. Because she had no imagination she was not startled but reached for the light.
If dull and lifeless had form and shape it would be the small disheveled, slightly damaged bird she saw there. She carefully slipped from her envelope and approached. One wing askew, one foot missing a toe, it hovered there staring at her with eyes clouded like November skies. She knew that look: trying to be invisible, to shoulder the pain of needing help but unable to ask. Carefully she cupped the bird in her hands and carried it to her bed, arranging the pillow just so for the bid to rest.
There they slept.
Miranda dreamed she was flying that night. Unusual for her as she never could have imagined such a glorious, free feeling. Her hair billowing behind her, she was laughing and crying at the same time; tears flowing endlessly. Below her fields and streams, prairies and majestic mountains, oceans and rivers spread far and wide.
She awoke from her dream and looked about her. The bird had gone. Miranda looked to her open window. Lost.
Even a broken winged bird could fly.
She allowed that it could not be that difficult to recreate the euphoria she had felt in her dream, so she lifted her feet off the floor and drifted out of the window to follow where the bird had gone.