“Are you sure?”
“I don’t like you being up there by yourself.”
Alone in the remote trail head parking lot, the two women sat on the tailgate of Makayla’s Subaru wagon. Cat returned to her task, tugging her bootlaces tight before tying them. Her bracelet, made of multiple strands of green jute with tiny bells, jingled as she moved.
“I’ll be fine,” She looped an arm around Makayla and squeezed before hopping down. “Promise.” Cat pulled on her mostly crimson, hand crocheted hat with ear flaps that ended in pumpkin orange braided strings and then waved toward occupant of the back seat. “Besides I won’t be alone.”
“He doesn’t count.”
“He’s the only one of the male persuasion I trust.”
“Not every man is like Paul.”
“I know,” She spoke with hard won conviction although the sound of his name triggered a cascade of memories that threatened her calm.
For over a year Cat had dated a man who swore she was fine but would be great if she’d just not wear such bright clothes, dye out that awful streak in her hair, get rid of her silly jewelry and… the list went on. She’d ignored all the cautionary words from concerned friends and took to heart the criticism Paul had delivered in a tender tone, smiling. A nibble at a time, he’d devoured her self-confidence.
Cat stretched forward, reaching into the car to grab her backpack. She’d become a shadow of herself for Paul. A slow transformation, one small surrender at a time, until one day there was a stranger reflected in her mirror, dull brown hair in an elegant twist, appropriate clothing, and tasteful accessories. Sadness grew within her like poison. By last month, she couldn’t even fake a smile.
“I’m glad you broke up with him.”
“So am I.” Cat put her arms through the shoulder straps, shrugging to adjust the weight of her pack until it rested comfortably.
“Several,” She enfolded the other woman in a long hug. “But none about leaving Paul.”
Makayla had been amazing, cheering her on during the process they’d dubbed the reclaiming of Cat. Her hair had been streaked a rainbow of colors until she’d found the right shade of blue to compliment her natural brown. They’d shopped thrift stores until her wardrobe contained a variety of choices from bright gypsy style dresses to the hiking boots and faded jeans worn now. Today, wearing a mixture of practical and whimsical items, she almost felt like herself again.
“I’m sorry I ignored you.”
Makayla hugged back tight. “It’s all right.”
Cat blinked back tears as she pulled back. It was time to focus on the future, not the past. She turned around, walked up to the rear door and opened it. An enormous grin of pure male appreciation greeted her.
“Let’s go Mongo.”
One hundred and sixty five pounds of love bounded out of the car, stopping directly in front of her. Her Mastador, an English Mastiff and
“On Valentine’s? No, thank you.” Makayla’s parents had a tiny cabin several miles up the trail near Looking Glass Lake. She’d found peace and inspiration there before. Today, she would again. “Besides, the whole point of this is have time for reflection, alone.”
And be where I won’t see huge displays of red roses, stacks silly stuffed animals holding hearts and there is zero chance of running into a man.
Cat snapped on Mongo’s leash and grabbed her walking stick from the car. “Don’t look so worried. You’re joining me tomorrow. I’ll be fine. Nothing is going to happen to me in one day.”
To be continued on Lynn Marie Hulsman's Blog on Feb. 11
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