Chapter 1

One day, she was a mid-level sales associate, working for a large cosmetic company. Then, one afternoon, someone came around the office handing out envelopes.

Inside were three checks, and a letter. The letter informed all the employees that the whole department was getting laid off.

It also told that the first check was their final pay check, the second was for any vacation or sick pay they still had coming, and the third was a two month severance that the company had to give the workers upon being let go or laid off.

The sales personnel had until the end of the day to clear their things out of the offices. Linda didn't keep a lot of her personal stuff at the office as many did, but she had some things.

She felt bad for her clients that were expecting product or other information, so she spent about two hours calling her clients and letting them know about the delays that they would probably face, and that she was sorry not to be working with them anymore.

To her surprise, a few knew about the closure. They were sorry, too. A few others wanted her personal contact numbers, so that they could call her in the future, if a position opened in that client's company.

Linda did share her number and email address, but told the people she might like a little time off. If she couldn't stand it, then she would call them. It got some chuckles.

The next day Linda did a few errands, cashed her checks, and took herself to lunch and back home to watch a movie. The day after she decided to give the house she lived in a good cleaning. That, in itself, took three days to complete.

On the fifth day, she again took herself to lunch, dropped off the things she had marked for donation, then she did a bit of shopping. The next day, she just goofed off at the house, making calls and being online looking up stories and even signing up for unemployment.

It was on the seventh day, that Linda realized that she was out of things to do. With nothing to do, Linda's mind started to reflect on her life.

Linda had been a loner, growing up. As an adult, she was the same. She did have a few friends but she didn't do a lot of socializing.

She was forty-five, and she lived alone in a house that she inherited from her aunt and uncle when they had passed away. She didn't even have a cat. It was just her.

She had worked for the same company for over ten years before the layoff. She lived very comfortably on what she made from them. She had enough in savings at that moment, to get by for a few years. She knew she couldn't sit on her backside for that long, without going stir-crazy.

Linda started out life in a small town, where the main source of income was the lumber mill that both her parents worked for.

Her father was an ex-marine as well as a survivalist and loved the outdoors. Her mother loved her husband, the outdoors and her garden. From them, Linda learned everything one needed to know to live off the land by the time she was twelve years old.

She could shoot a bow as well as she could shoot a rifle. She could do anything needed to take care of a kill, including gutting, skinning and tanning the hide or pelt. She could make her own clothing if she wanted. Now, at forty-five, she only did sewing for special projects. She knew how to do any number of needlecrafts, and even knew how to spin yarn and weave cloth.

Then there came several things that really changed her life. The first, and most traumatic, was that her father was killed in an accident.

Well, it wasn't really an accident. One of the big machines started acting up but, before any one could even look at it, the thing exploded. This set up a chain reaction and when the fire was finally put out, her father and twenty-three others were dead. There was a big investigation that found the owner of the company had paid someone to sabotage the mill, so he could collect the very large insurance policy that he had on it. This meant that the mill was closed, permanently.

Linda's father was a man that had wanted to make sure his family was well taken care of, so had planned ahead. He had gotten a separate life insurance policy, even if it was through the company. That insurance paid out quickly, which gave her and her mother a little to live on.

Unfortunately, her mother never came out of her grief. Three months after her father died, her mother told her she was going to lie down because she was tired. That was how, at the age of fourteen, Linda became an orphan. The cause of her mother's death was a broken heart.

Linda really didn't remember too much of those first years she spent with her aunt and uncle. However, soon she found she was graduating from a high school that she hardly remembered, with honors, and a full scholarship to a good college. Then, four years later, she had a degree in Business Management with a minor degree in Forestry and Wildlife Management. That was when she learned she still owned the land that she had lived on, back in Montana.

Linda decided to just leave it in the capable hands of the family's accountant, who was taking care of the taxes and the maintenance of the place. It was not the time for her to want to face that part of her life yet.

At thirty-two, her uncle died of a heart attack. At thirty-six, her aunt followed after contracting a bad pneumonia.

That left Linda, now several years later, at forty-five and unemployed. She had no idea where she should go with her life ... or, as a very, very, very tiny voice in the back of her head said, 'or even if she wanted to continue at all.'

The next week saw her unemployment money starting to come in, so that she wasn't living on her savings ... even though she could.

This is where her life, again, was about to take a left turn.


"Hello, Mason residence."

"Ms. Mason, I'm Calvin Baits of Weber-Baits and Associates. I need to talk to you. It's in regards to your property in Montana."

"Oh. Well, okay."

"We have a small problem and it could cause you to lose the place, there. It seems that even though we have people out there twice a year, for several days, the state and forestry departments are not satisfied.

"Starting this year, non-corporate or personally owned properties must be occupied by the owner, for three months out of the year."

"Can they really do that?" asked Linda.

"Yes, they can. Some places require as much as six months, but that's not all of it. Because of the original accident and the trials and appeals that have finally finished, a final settlement has been reached. The amounts vary but as you lost your father in the initial event, and your mother as a collateral event, it was ordered that you are to receive, after any and all taxes, $5.9 million ... including interest.

"However, there is a stipulation on this, which is that you have to be an active resident. Otherwise, at best, you would receive twenty-five thousand."

"Damn!"

Linda then sighed, she didn't want to deal with that part of her life, but what could she do?

"Ok. How can they expect a person to just drop their life, to live in the middle of nowhere, for three months out of a year? The mill was all the work there was, even when I was a kid. I don't expect that it has changed much."

"My partners feel that after a year or two, these regs will be lifted as most will just let the property go."

Linda looked around her aunt's house for some reason. For the first time in a long time, she realized that the house, was her aunt's house. It was not hers. Even after several years, it was still her aunt's.

"Mr. Baits, I need a few days to look over things. However, as of right now, I'm in a position to follow through with moving to Montana. Can I get you to arrange an appraisal for my aunt's house, here? I'll order a POD or two, and move all that I wish to keep into them. Then I'll sell the remainder."

"I can do that. I'll have our people go up to Montana, and make sure everything is as it should be."

"Please make sure a phone line is installed, as well as cable and internet. If there's cell service, it will most likely be functioning only close to the town."

"I'll have that done. It might take a week or so, but I'll get it in."

"Thanks. I'll talk to you later, when everything is ready."

"Very well, and you have a good day," Mr. Baits said and ended the call.

And that's how it started. By the end of the week she had most of her things packed. By the end of the second week she had her aunt's house sold with everything inside, to someone that had loved the place for years and had known Linda's aunt and uncle.

It felt right, to Linda, to sell to her.

Edited By: Monbade, TonyG, Rev, and Bob S.
Final Edit By: TeNderLoin

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Story tagged with:
Fiction / Were animal /