All rights reserved, copyright (c) Janna Leonard, 2004
Author's note: Life changes direction, sometimes very abruptly. The Chinese symbol for crisis is actually a combination of two others, danger and opportunity. If you see only danger, you lose the opportunity to experience something worthwhile. Life is a journey to be enjoyed to its fullest; there are no second chances.
I drove away from Chicago with mixed emotions - depression because I'd lost another job, the 5th in as many years, and elation at being set free from the suburban school system. I was 28 and without a partner, and my Jeep was loaded with my belongings as I sped south on the Interstate. I had decided to take some time off from city life and gather my wits, maybe do some introspective thinking and choose a different vocation. Teaching hadn't worked out very well so far; it might be time to change direction.
I stopped at Bloomington and spent a few days with Mom, sleeping late and shopping. She was in her late 50's and frail-looking, more so now that she was alone. She suggested I go to our cabin, and I agreed it might be the perfect place. I repacked the Jeep with the essentials and headed south once more. The cabin was our family hideaway, a large A-frame nestled into the hillside with a pond nearby. I thought lots of trees and solitude might improve my attitude.
Growing up in a northern suburb of Chicago, life was good and nice things were the norm. We had money, my allowance was very generous and I was one of the few who had a car in high school. I also had a desire to teach, but dealing with the kids who didn't care had been emotionally draining for me.
I still missed my Dad, the one who'd been there for me the most. He had a no-bullshit way of dealing with life's problems. When I'd come to him at 17 with the confession that I thought I might be gay, he gave me a hug and said, "You're still you".
All my closest friends in high school had been gay or asexual, more interested in their art or their craft than putting another notch on the bedpost. I dated a few guys in high school, but I never got attached to any of them like I did some of the girls.
My first girlfriend was just like me, horny but inexperienced. We caught each other staring one day at the pool and embarrassment gave way to curiosity. We introduced ourselves and sat talking for a long time, eventually deciding we could be friends. Sleepovers ensued, a glimpse of thigh here and a touch of a breast there, and before we knew it we were head over heels in love. Our sexual relationship ended when I went away to college, but I still get a card from her at Christmas, full of the things she and her partner are doing. My last lover had gone on to something new; she didn't like the city or her job, and had made a major life change. I had wished her the best and kept on working, saddened by her abrupt departure.
I call the place "Rock Haven", about 70 acres of hilly scrub and stunted trees on County Road Y. The pond out front is the only level place on the whole property, an oval about 200 feet long and half as wide. Family legend says that when my Dad excavated it, he took a break for lunch and when he came back the borrowed bulldozer was underwater. The water is always cold, even in summer, so I think it's fed by an underground spring or river. Dad had built a raft of oil drums and planks, and I still remember sunbathing nearly nude on it as a teenager.
I spent the night outside St. Louis in a motel, rising bright and early to hit the road. Late that evening I turned off Interstate and drove down the county road, looking for our driveway. Easing the Jeep down the overgrown path, I stopped by the pole and unlocked the breaker box, turning on the power. A few yards farther down I parked the Jeep and got out, relishing the silence. Grabbing my overnight case, I locked up and went into the cabin. I'd need groceries and gas for the mower but tomorrow was soon enough. I turned on the water heater and checked the place for bugs, then headed for bed.
In the morning I made coffee and sat on the porch, enjoying the quiet. I made a list and unpacked the Jeep, cleaning as I went. I put on a thin cotton sundress and sandals for the trip to town, looking forward to an afternoon on the raft.
Waynesville was the same, a lot of uniforms and people hurrying from one place to another. I shopped for a couple of hours, loaded my purchases and headed for home.
It took several trips up the stairs to get everything inside and put away, and afterwards I put on my black bikini and grabbed a towel for my afternoon by the water. Wading through the frigid water and climbing on the raft were just as I remembered - ice-cold toes and sun-warmed shoulders.
Over the next few days I cleaned some more and stored things in their proper places, organizing the place like I wanted. I doubted my Mother would come and visit, even though she had intimated she might. I also began spending more time nude than ever before, especially at the pond.
My body was nothing spectacular in my opinion, but it looked good with a tan. I'm about 5'9" and 120 pounds, with brown hair worn long and hazel eyes. If my butt was a little smaller or my boobs were a little bigger I would've been more content, but nobody's perfect.
On Saturday I woke up late and sat on the porch with my coffee, letting the sun warm my toes. I wanted to spend the day at the pond working on my tan, so after a brief visit to the bathroom and loading my cooler, I grabbed my towel and bag and headed down the path. I rounded the last tree and came to a halt, staring. An old Valiant with a faded paint job was parked near the trees with the door open. A woman was trying to put on a bathing suit, muttering under her breath. A white butt and pale breasts declared her a non-nudist, definitely a visitor.
Not wanting her to see me nude, I backed out of sight and put my stuff down near a tree. Running for the house, I wondered what she was doing here. The property was posted on all sides; I'd checked the signs. I put on my bikini and walked back down, gathering my things. I took a deep breath and walked into the open toward her and the car. About halfway there she saw me and started, her hand going to her mouth.
"Hi, I'm Vanessa Holmes," I said, gazing at her.
Quite pretty, she was about my age and slim, filling her suit nicely. I guessed about 5 feet 6, B cup, with short red hair and long legs, the shapely ones that models have, along with a nicely rounded bottom that wasn't completely covered by her suit. Her toenails were painted hot pink, complimenting her nicely shaped feet.
"I'm Donna Stoddard," she stammered, lowering her blue eyes.
"Did you know you're on private property?" I asked, putting my cooler on the ground.
"Ye-yes," she replied, blushing.
"Why do you come here?" I asked, taking a step closer.
"Look, I'll leave if you want, please don't call the cops, ok?" she pleaded, backing away from me.
"Just tell me why you came," I said.
She hesitated for a moment and said, "It's a nice place to relax, do a little thinking."
"For me too," I replied, "first time I've been here in years."
"You own the place?" she asked.
"My family does, me and Mom now," I replied.
"I've been coming here for two years and never saw anyone. I thought the place was abandoned," she said.
"I'm here for the summer," I replied, "schoolteacher."
She smiled and said, "I teach too, out at the Fort."
"American History and freshman soccer," I said.
"Radio communications," she said.
"You in the military?" I asked.
"For now," she replied.
"Why don't we take a load off and have a beer?" I suggested, sitting down.
I opened the cooler and pulled out two cans, handing her one.
"Thanks. You sure it's ok if I stay?" she asked.
"Glad to have the company," I assured her.
The next few hours were enlightening, she told me she joined the military to get away from home. A whiz at electronics, she found radio to be an exciting hobby and talked to people all over the world. I shared a little about me and my family, telling her the bulldozer story and a few others. She was fun to be with, had a girlish laugh that made her boobs jiggle and an infectious sense of humor.
Toward evening she sat there quietly staring at the trees on the other side of the water, perhaps thinking of the reason she had come today.
Out of the blue she asked "Are you alone?"
I nodded and said "There's been no one for a while."
Standing up, she said, "Thanks for letting me stay; I feel better."
"You're welcome anytime," I replied.
She rolled her towel and slipped on a pair of shorts and an old sweatshirt over her suit, definitely a modest person. I knew I'd have to work overtime on my tan to get rid of the lines I'd acquired today, but it had been worth it.
I put our empties in the cooler and draped my towel over my shoulder, preparing to head up the hill. As I walked past her car, she stepped forward and grasped my hands, saying, "Thanks again for today," and leaned to give me a small peck on the cheek. It wasn't anything special, the kind of kiss girlfriends everywhere give each other, but I was close enough to smell her skin and the tanning oil she used. The look in her eyes told me she was very grateful, and I sensed rather than saw the loneliness behind them.
"You're welcome," I replied.
.... There is more of this story ...