Lucy watches the faces of those around her. Some have been around for years, some for months. Each is unique. Some may be similar, but no two are equal.

The face across from her is filled with concern, but wears a smile nonetheless. He winks across the fire at her when he spots her gaze. The gesture something she will always associate with his fatherly love.

The one next to him is filled with content. She leans against his shoulder as a soft and beautiful smile slowly spreads from her eyes to her lips.

There are the others that fade from time to time, but never truly go away. They are the faces that will always be familiar. They will always come back and will never disappear. Disagreements, life, distance, it may all cause fading, but these faces will never be lost.

There is one in the circle that is understanding and has proven more loyal and true than many others and still Lucy has her reservations. A heart eaten by betrayal and hurt does not easily trust again.

There are a few faces that lie in the shadows. Only Lucy seems to notice these. Those whose faces are lit by the light of the fire have no knowledge of those on the cusp of darkness. Their eyes bear down on Lucy. They dare her to fight, dare her to lose again.

There is a face dotted here and there in the circle that is so new Lucy isn’t even sure what to make of the features. Are they friendly? Are they acting? Are they trustworthy? Why are they here?

Then comes the last face of all. The one Lucy fixates on the most. The eyes born by this face capture her attention, her soul. She stares, immobile, into those captivating eyes. When her eyes do finally break away, they fall onto soft pink lips. They are plump and full, but not overwhelming. She runs her tongue along her own open lips unknowingly.

This face hasn’t been around as long as the winking one, the soft smile, or those that will never fade. Yet this face is the most important one. It’s been there even when the circle has been empty. It’s been there when the circle has been too full for comfort. It’s been there while the fire blazed high into the air, but has also leaned in close when nothing but coals remained.

Lucy stares into this face. This handsome face that begs without speaking to be touched by her hands. The lips beg to be kissed by hers alone. The eyes look at no one in the circle but Lucy; always Lucy. The chatter of those around them always fades as she watches the flames dance with passion in his eyes.

It doesn’t matter who comes and goes as long as he stays. The fire shouldn’t be at the center of the circle, he should. What good is the fire without him? The fire is not the center of her thoughts, he is.

Lucy cannot resist the urge any longer, she reaches out and touches his face. Her fingers dance with electricity. As she runs her thumb along his lips, he kisses it and Lucy can feel her own heartbeat where his kiss was left. The fire seems to burn brighter in his eyes.

Lucy’s hand falls slowly back to her lap. He is hers and she is his. All other faces may fade or disappear completely, but one thing she knows: his will always be there.


Jackson – A Fleeting Inspiration

“For the love of Christ! What are you doing?” Jackson yells as Allen’s foot tries to slam a hole through the car’s carpeted metal floor. Allen says nothing, but a smile slowly creeps into his cheeks. Jackson is holding onto the “oh shit” handle and braces himself against the leather back of his seat.

“If you want to die, that’s on you, but you don’t have to drag me with you.” Jackson’s Brooklyn accent is not something he has been able to completely drop. When he’s calm, he can tuck it away neatly. But when stress put the pressure on him or when he was heated, he didn’t even realize how much it was changing his words.

He had come to Ohio to get away from the city and the noise. That’s what people did, right? They grew up in the city and would either love it or try like hell to leave. Jackson had tried like hell and had succeeded. He had found a little backwoods home in the middle of nowhere. When he told people the name of the town he now lived in, they gave him confused looks so he started using other towns to describe it.

“It’s about 20 minutes north of Juliette. You ever heard of Ross?” They would nod vaguely aware that it sounds familiar. “Yeah, it’s just before that.” It was true that the town was nothing more than fields and trees with a few houses or parishes scattered here and there. Sometimes the quiet would keep Jackson up at night. He missed the city sounds at times, but also smiled when he thought about how infrequently he heard sirens. His town didn’t even have a police station. Every two months or so you may see a state trooper cruise through, but that’s really all he did; he cruised through and didn’t pay any attention.

He was wishing this was one of those days that the trooper may cruise by, see the speeding car, and do something about it. Allen’s foot wasn’t letting up. That smile was still eerily plastered on his face. Jackson turned to face the road. He could feel the car slipping on the loose gravel.


I’m looking for inspiration. I had it in one brief moment during a ten minute break almost two weeks ago. Before I got a chance to finish what was sure to be at the very least interesting, my break was over. I have opened this post a few times since then and could never find the same fire that started the first paragraph. I wrote the last paragraph this morning and something just feels off about it. I also have no idea where to go from there.

It’s heartbreaking to have lost the words that only a couple months ago came so easily. I don’t know why I can’t summon words with the same ease as I did before this wretched concussion gripped my brain. I feel like the words are all jumbled and I have no idea how to unscrambled them.

I want to write again. I miss it. It’s like a part of me is in a coma and I don’t know how to wake it up. It’s lying there, I can see it. I see it’s even breathing on its own so why won’t that part wake up? I feel like it’s trying to fight the condition; a brief moment here or there where movement is detected. Yet in the end, that part of me is still sleeping. 

I want my writer self back! She needs to wake up! I can’t feel the release my soul needs without her. I feel couped up and like the words are building up inside me. I fear the pressure will build too high. I fear she will be lost forever if that pressure should finally cause an explosion.

I try to use prompts, but end up deleting the post because it doesn’t make sense. I can’t do it without my writer self. Without her inside my brain feeding me the lines deep from within my soul, I am nothing but a shell. My soul is resting inside her body and I fear it may just disappear.

Guardian Angel

The day’s nightmares are haunting me as I try to fall asleep. Noises echo in my head. They bounce from cell to cell in my brain. The rush of the car as it passes me. The horn that’s blown across the intersection. The two coworkers arguing over whose fault it was that the report didn’t get filed. The TV show characters replay their crisis for me. The doctor telling me that these cells that control all this chaos aren’t behaving the way they should be.

The ever-present pessimist living inside me yells that I’m not good enough. She persistently badgers me and complains about how terrible things are always going to be. She’s aggressive and argumentative. She paces back and forth, demanding I just give up. “There’s no point in fighting it. It always gets worse!

The optimist, who I know is somewhere in there, huddles in a corner. She whispers that it might not all be bad. “Maybe this time things will be different.” she says in hushed tones. The pessimist frightens her, intimidates her. From time to time she can be strong, but I think this most recent series of events has finally cracked her. I don’t understand why she doesn’t fight harder.

I squeeze my eyes tighter trying to block out the sounds. I just want to fall asleep. The noise is so loud. My ears are ringing. My head aches. My heart is pounding. Just go away I scream to the ghosts lingering in my subconscious. Why don’t they just let me spend my night in peace? They torment me enough during the day that they should have the decency to let me sleep.

Please” I’m begging. “Please just let me sleep.” I feel my eyes warming and the first start of tears sliding down my pink cheeks. It’s too much for my soul to bear. It’s too much for me to take. “Please God do something.” I squeeze the pillow over my ears in an attempt to shut them out, but there’s no shutting out what’s already inside.

You’re a failure and you know it!” miss Pessimist says. “Not a complete failure.” Miss Optimist whispers weakly. “Of course she is! Look at her. She can’t even silence the voices in her own head!

I’m transported into my mind. My body drops on the dirty, dark gray cement ground. I curl into a ball as the bodies of the voices come closer. They are on top of me. They will consume me. I’ll have no choice but to give in. Their dark figures loom over my head. “Please God. Please. Please.” My plea fades softly until I’m just mouthing the words, my face now wet with tears.

Through the dark figures, a single soft light makes its way toward me. She’s found me once again. She is wordless. She is silent. In the midst of all the yelling, angry bodies, she is quiet and calm. There is a soft smile on her lips. Slowly the darkness is pushed back. A white, shimmering force is pushing them back. The noise is fading. The darkness is being pushed away by her light. Her fingers graze the soft shield she has made for me.

I watch the angry ones beat against the shield, but I hear nothing. Silence and warmth wrap themselves around me. She sits next to me and gently smooths my hair. As peace begins to fill my soul again, I hear her soft, gentle humming. It’s so faint I wouldn’t expect it to be coming from the being next to me. My guardian angel has saved me from my demons once more and I sleep.

Black Bears

I see him in the distance. He’s giant and round. His hair should be shaggy and mangled, but it just looks silky as the breeze pushes it back and forth. I flatten myself against the hill and hope he doesn’t see me. He looks my way and I lower my head more. I wait a few seconds and chance a glance up. He is looking the other way. I slowly start to crawl toward the shelter. It’s a pathetic sort of shelter now that I think about it. It’s only advantage is that it is on a hill high enough to stay out of reach. Otherwise, the pavilion-like structure offers little protection. I crawl a few paces and look back to where he was standing on all fours. His eyes are locked on me. I freeze as panic starts to set in. I’m still quite a distance away from the shelter and he can move much faster than I. His snort is faint, but is enough to warn me. He turns his body in my direction and before I can see if he will take a step, I’m on my feet and running as fast as I can. It’s not fast enough though. I feel a force pushing against me. It takes every bit of strength I have to keep moving, to keep pushing against whatever this mysterious unseen force is. I can hear his colossal paws landing hard and fast against the hard packed dirt and grass. My heart is racing and, as I reach the ladder, the force is gone and I climb swiftly to safety.

I look down to see the black bear standing on his hind legs at the bottom of the ladder. He growl is low and short in repetition. He’s frustrated and I’m doubled over sweating. He goes back to all fours and turns first to the left and then to the right. I look to my right and toward the steep stairs carved into the cliffs. They lead to the parking lot, to my car, to true safety. I hear the black bear walking around the shelter. The hill it sits upon is oblong in shape. The sides of the hill are made of rock, just like the cliff’s sides.  The rocks aren’t exactly smooth, but they also aren’t jagged enough for him to get a grip to climb. Thankfully, he doesn’t know how to use a ladder.

My eyes follow the cliffs on either side of the steps. On the left there are two more black bears. Somehow, I know they are females. They are resting in the sun on an outcrop. It’s far enough away from the steps that I may be able to make it to my car. I scan the right side of the steps and my heart sinks. There are three cubs playing atop the cliffs. Never get between a mama bear and her cubs. The saying echos in my head and hope of reaching my car is diminishing. I walk around the edge of the shelter looking for Mr. Bear. I see him on the opposite side still trying to find a way up when another bear shows up beside him. Now I have four full-grown black bears to contend with who will also be hypersensitive to my movements considering the cubs they are caring for.

I hear talking and movement from the other side of the shelter. I turn to find people walking about the park. I’m about to warn them of the danger when the bears come around to the front and show themselves to these strangers. The bears sniff the humans and the humans show no fear of the bears. One young woman actually reaches out and runs her hand along Mr. Bear’s furry back as she walks past. My brow knits in confusion. Why are they not afraid? Why do they not see the danger? Why do the bears seem perfectly fine to let them go while feeling the need to eat me?

I look back at the steps and, although I didn’t think it possible, my shoulders drop further in discouragement. One of the female bears is now with the cubs and closer to my car. I have nowhere to go. I have no escape. Mr. Bear and his friend continue to stalk around the shelter and I’m trapped.

Tap Tap Tap

He sits at his desk tapping the pen against the wood. His eyes are glazed, looking through his computer screen. The rhythmic tap, tap, tap of his pen is echoing in his mind. Somewhere in the distance a copier hums to life and spits out warm pages.

He’s thinking about nothing, about everything. He’s thinking about what it was like to be a kid, free and unbound. He’s thinking about what it’s like to be an adult, chained and captive. Tap, tap, tap. He hears metal against metal instead of plastic against wood. The clank of a hammer as it slams onto the link of a chain.

His kids would be getting off the bus soon. His wife would be arranging them at the table for “homework hour”. She’d prep dinner as their tired faces look over pencil and paper. Steak was on tonight’s menu. Tendorized by his wife’s  vicious pounding. Tap. Tap. Tap.

When did his life get so boring, so predictable? Get up, work, eat dinner, watch TV, sleep, repeat. Mix in the occasional obligatory barbeque and you’ve got his life in a glass case. He can hear the fingernail tapping against the viewing glass as some giant spectator chuckles at his dull life. Tap. Tap. Tap.

There’s a phone ringing. Are we all just robots, going through the motions? We do what’s expected of us. How many can really say they’ve lived outside the box? How many, at death’s door can say they’ve done everything they ever wanted? As the coffin is nailed shut, how many can say they have no regrets? Tap. Tap. Tap.

He realizes the phone ringing is his. The spell is broken. The tapping stops. The office sounds return.

“Copper’s Paper Products. Marketing your brand one page at a time, Trent speaking.”

Cool Water

She sat alone in her office, swiveling back and forth in her chair. The fan above her head rocked a rythmyic tune as she waited for her computer to load. The blue screen in front of her displaying circling dots. She let her head fall back against the chair and she stared at the ceiling. Stucco patterns overlapped in ugly clumps.

The walls were pale blue, too pale. It would probably be considered sky blue, but the sky never seemed this shade. She noted the many nail holes that dotted the walls as she swiveled back and forth. The holes were remnants of the previous resident who appeared to like hanging things.

As she swiveled left and right and left again, she stopped and lifted the edge of the blinds to peek outside. All she saw was black. She swiveled right again. A pool of water was collecting at the bottom of her glass. A drop of condensation slid down the plastic to join the other fallen drops.

After seeing that her screen had still not changed, she lifted herself from the seat and went to the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face; to wash the sleep from her eyes. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. It was not a reflection she was particularly proud of, but it also wasn’t horrible. She turned her head right, then left, shrugged and turned her attention to the faucet.

She let the cool water pool in her hands before bringing them up to splash the water on her face. It felt good. She scooped some onto her neck as she leaned over the sink. It was refreshing and calming. She straightened and dabbed her face and neck with her hand towel. As she hung it back in its place she glanced at her reflection then turned to walk away.

She stopped before she had fully taken a step. She turned and faced the mirror. A red mark was on her neck where none had been before. She leaned over the counter to get a closer look. She rubbed the mark. It was flush with her skin, not raised as she might have expected. It felt no different than her skin. It wasn’t warm or tender to the touch.

She turned on the hot water and rubbed the mark with soap and water. It didn’t change. She heard the sound of Windows loading and decided to worry about the mark later. Her fingers lingered on the spot as she walked back into the office. 

Her cat looked up at her with a pitiful expression when she found him in her seat. She laughed and picked him up, setting him on her lap as she sat down. He lept from her lap to find his own place of comfort. She logged into the computer and played the waiting game again as the updates finished installing.

There was a tickle at the back of her throat. She coughed and tried to it. Her desktop loaded and she clicked on her browser, ready to work on her client’s webpage. The tickle was persistent and she rubbed her throat, trying to massage it away.

She updated the banner images and went to work on updating the “contact us” page. She took a long drink of her water hoping that would clear her throat. She tried to ignore it, but the itch became more intense. It began to feel as if her throat were closing. She rubbed it again with no change.

She stood and went to the bathroom. The mark had grown. It spread across the entire right side of her neck. She coughed again trying to get rid of the ball that seemed to be lodged in her throat. She watched the mark crawl along the front of her neck and toward the left. 

She could barely breath now. She clutched at her throat. She scratched at the mysterious mark, but only began to bleed when she scratched too deep. She watched her face darken and her eyes redden. As she silently choked for air, the edges of her vision started to darken. She began to feel weak and grasped the counter for support. She stared at her reflection in the mirror and had just a second to see the red mark completely cover her neck before her world went to black.

I’m a Sinking Boat

Today’s (bonus) boot camp prompt is:

Sinking Ship 

You realize  the  boat  is sinking,  but that’s  not  the  worst thing  that  could  happen.  The  worst thing happened  last night.

My boat is sinking. I’m going down. Water is flooding the cabins, the hull, spilling onto the deck. The worst part of this whole mess? I started it. I’m the one who punched a hole below deck. I’m the one who broke the wood and let the water in.

This morning had started out beautiful. The sun was shining through my window and warming my face as I woke. He had been laying next to me. It had been peaceful. Sweet. Perfect. I had made the mistake of getting out of bed. Maybe if I had stayed in bed none of this would have happened.

As I walked into the kitchen to feed the cat, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and stretched. I heard the bathroom door close and a few seconds later open. I heard the thump of his body on the bed. I heard the ding of my phone. That’s when it started.

“What the fuck?” His voice carried down the hallway followed by his pounding footsteps. “What the fuck is this?” He said shoving the phone in my face. I jerked my head back to see the screen better.

“I’ve been telling him no.” I said defensively as he pulled the screen away from me. That was the punch in the wood. That little lie.

“Obviously not! ‘I can’t wait to see you again‘. Again? Obviously you said yes at least once.”

“I met up with him once to try and get him to back off.” He shook his head and I saw his thumb moving across the screen.

“You lying bitch.” He said. I knew he had reached the other texts. The ones encouraging his best friend. The ones telling his childhood buddy that I found him sexy. It hadn’t been planned. I hadn’t planned to cheat. It had just happened.

Before I knew what was happening he was on the phone with his friend yelling and pacing up and down the hallway. I was shocked into paralysis. I stood in the kitchen with my hands on my head. After he had it out with his friend there were sounds from the bedroom and soon he walked out with a duffle bag in hand.

“No. Please.” I stood in front of him.

“Get out of my way.” Tears welled in my eyes.

“Please. I swear it’s over. I made a mistake. Please give me another chance.” He took a deep breath.

“I was raised to not hit a woman, but I’m not sure that rule applies to cheaters. Get out of my way.” I had no choice but to let him go. That was it. The boat was going down and taking me with it.

Now I sit in my living room wondering how I let it get so out of control.

A Loosed Spirit

Today’s boot camp prompt is:


Write a story featuring  a Ouija board, a search engine,  and a self-help  book.

Summer time is the worst for me. I like the cold of winter. I like sitting on the couch with a blanket wrapped around me and a warm cup of hot chocolate in my hands. I love the smell of snow. I love the way it covers the world and makes it feel like a completely different place. I love the way it feels when the soft flakes land and melt on my face. I like to hear the crunch of hard packed snow under my feet.

So as I sat on the sofa with the windows open and multiple fans strategically placed throughout the house blowing as hard as their hardware would allow, I tried to think of that beautiful time of year. A knock on the door interrupted my thoughts. I stood and put on shorts and a tank top before answering.

“Look what I have!” My over-zealous friend Katie said, displaying the wooden board dramatically in front of her. I turned and sat back down on the sofa. She shut the door behind her and sat on the floor in front of me.

“Come on. It’ll be fun! I found it at a yard sale. They only wanted a quarter for it! Can you believe that? It’s in such good condition. It’s practically brand new!” I slowly rolled off the couch and onto the floor across from her. I had never used an Ouija board before and honestly didn’t know much about them except that they were used to speak to spirits.

“Why are you so excited about this?” I asked.

“Because my mom would never let me have one as a kid. She called them ‘the devil’s tool” and wouldn’t allow one in her house.” 

“And if I say the same thing?”

“I’ll call bullshit because I know you don’t care.” I shrugged. Fair enough. The truth was the truth.

“Why are you acting so blah?” She asked with slumped shoulders. She really was the yin to my yang; always bubbly, never a care in the world, excited about everything.

“I’m hot. I hate summer.” She rolled her eyes.

“But summer is when you get to go swimming and tan up and wear short skirts and less in general.” I stared at her.

“Are we simming right now? Where’s your tan?” She scowled at me.

“Summer just started, I haven’t had a chance to lay out yet. Now are we going to do this or what?” I shrugged again.

“Sure.” She clapped with excitement and set the board down with its planchette on top. She put her fingers on top on used her head to motion for me to do the same. I complied.

“What should we ask?” She looked up in thought.

“Why don’t we start with the basics? Is there a spirit in this room?” We sat quietly; our fingers resting gently on the heart shaped piece of wood.

“Please, if there is anyone here, let us know.” Katie was looking up into the air, waiting expectantly. The planchette did not move. “Your apartment is old. There has to be something living here.”

“Yeah. Me.” I replied wanting to laugh at her assumption that ghosts existed in every single old building.

We asked the same question in different ways for nearly 30 minutes before I called it quits. I stood and sat back on the sofa where I could feel the wind from the fans better.
“It’s just not going to happen I guess.” I said sinking into the cushions. Katie’s shoulders dropped.

“I was sure there would be a spirit here.” She stood and sat next to me.

“Not so close. It’s too hot for that.” I said pushing her a little.

“Maybe we didnt do it right. Maybe we need to wait until dark and light some candles or something.”

“I think if a spirit were around, it wouldn’t care what time of day it is or what lights are on.” She shrugged. It was like all the energy had been sapped from her. I reached over the arm of the couch and into a book caddy. I handed her a book.

“I think my mom should have given that to you instead of me.”

“How to enjoy the here and now: a guide to self-love and acceptance of the present.” She looked over at me incredulously after reading the title aloud. 

“You know, because you’re searching for what’s in the past.” I laughed when she threw the book back at me.

“I thoroughly enjoy the present!” She grabbed the remote from the side table. “Although I may change my mind if I keep hanging out with you.” She turned the TV on and found a show for us to watch. While the people talked and the “studio audience” laughed at just the right moments (and Katie along with them), I grabbed my phone and did some research on this Ouija board.

“We didn’t say goodbye.” I spit out casually. Katie turned so violently she nearly slapped me in the face.

“So we left it open?” I shrugged.

“I guess. People are saying you need to say goodbye.” She jumped off the couch.

“What was this on when we stopped?” She asked pointing to the planchette.

“I don’t remember. I wasn’t paying that much attention. What’s it on right now?”

“The 1.” I’m not a superstitious person, but in that moment my chest tightened.

Pop the Trunk

Today’s boot camp prompt is:

Breaking Down 

A tire blows out as you’re in the car with someone on the verge of his/her own breakdown. Stuck in a small  town, you’re about to do something  you haven’t done in years.

“Just calm down.” I was saying. “It’ll work itself out.”

“No it won’t.” Tears were streaming down Luciana’s face. “I was just fired for being late too often. My boyfriend is the reason I was late and now he’s left me, rent is due in two weeks, I have barely enough money for food, let alone gas to drive around trying to find a job.” I felt bad for her, but she had honestly put herself in this situation.

“I still don’t understand how it was your boyfriend’s fault that you were always late.”

“I told you!” She said blowing her nose. “He wouldn’t let me get into the bathroom while he was getting ready so I’d have to wait until he got done and by then I’d be running behind.” She could have just woken up earlier, but I didn’t think saying that would help matters right now. 

I was about to console her again when the car jerked to the side and a thumping noise sounded from toward the back. Lucy slowed the car down and pulled off to the side.

“Great now I have a flat.” She dropped her head against the steering wheel as her shoulders slumped forward. She was making it seem like this was the end of the world.

“Do you have a spare?” Her ponytail bobbed as she shrugged, then nodded. I got out of the car and looked around. There were cornfields on both sides of the road for as far as I could see. This actually was a bad time to get a flat tire. We hadn’t seen a car in a solid 20 minutes and I still saw none in sight. 

I checked my cell and found next to no service. I tried to call my insurance company to see if they could send someone, but the signal was so bad that the agent couldn’t verify who I was or what I needed. I hung up after trying to explain it a fourth time. I looked up and down the road again, still no sign of a car.

I knocked on Lucy’s window. She rolled it down and stared at me with pink eyes.

“Do you have the same cell provider as me?”

“Mine fell in the toilet when I went into the bathroom to cry after they fired me and doesn’t work anymore. I haven’t had a chance to buy a new one.” She sighed. “Or the money.”

“You didn’t think it might be important to tell me that before the 17 hour trip back home?” Now I was pissed. Not only was she acting like a dramatic 15 year old instead of the 39 year old that she was, but she was now leaving out vital information. “Why in the hell wouldn’t you mention you don’t have a phone? I could have bought one of those pay as you go phones to make sure we have a backup.” She scowled at me.

“I’m sorry, I’ve just been a bit preoccupied with things I thought were more important than my cell phone.” She rolled the window back up and turned her head. She wasn’t even going to attempt to help me. I walked a bit back the way we had come hoping to get better signal. It got worse, dropping out completely. I walked back toward the car, passed it, and continued walking, hoping I would have better luck in that direction. None. I got back to the car and looked to see if enough time had gone by that another car would be coming. Again, no such luck.

I finally realized I was going to have to do something I hadn’t done since I was 16. It struck me like a smack in the face. That was over 20 years ago. I leaned against the back of the car and tried one more time to get with my insurance company’s roadside assistance. Again I had to hang up because we just couldn’t hear each other clear enough. I put my phone in my pocket, said a little prayer of thanks for sunshine and a cool breeze, then yelled for Lucy to pop the trunk.

Enjoy The View

Today’s boot camp prompt is:

Dollar Message 

You’re  at  your favorite  department  store  buying a  birthday present  for a  friend. As the  cashier gives you change, you notice  a message with specific  instructions scribbled on one of the bills. What do the instructions say? Do you carry them out and, if so, how?

I stood outside the door reading the instructions carefully one more time. They were obviously from someone in this area, but why put these instructions on a dollar bill? I had just finished shopping and was getting ready to head home, but when the cashier handed me my change, this caught my eye and I was now rethinking my afternoon. The instructions were written in tiny scroll and covered almost the entire bill, front and back.

  1. Drive to the Gibson River Park.
  2. Find the “Leaves of Gibson” parking lot.
  3. Park.
  4. Get out of your car and start down the path opposite the parking lot entrance.
  5. Walk approximately 300 yards and you will see a large boulder on the left.
  6. Turn right and begin walking off-path.
  7. At the bottom of the hill turn left.
  8. Walk for another 300 yards.
  9. Enter the cave opening on your left.
  10. There will be two paths, choose the right one.
  11. Follow the path until you reach another fork.
  12. Choose the right one again and again. Always choose the right one.
  13. Enter the large cavern. 
  14. Enjoy the view.
  15. Speak of this to no one.
  16. Put this bill back into local circulation.

I walked to my car and put my items in the back. I sat in the driver’s seat and stared at the bill. I could go and see what this view was about. Or I could go and get myself murdered. I felt my bodyguard .380 pressing against my side and decided to take a chance. I didn’t have anything better to do anyway.

I parked where I was supposed to park. The lot was empty besides my car. This was not in a well known area of the park. I felt a tingle of doubt creep down my spine. I suspected it received few visitors. Every other parking lot I had passed was full. It was 75° and sunny out on a Saturday, for this area it was heaven. This particular lot was about a mile from the main part of the park and even the driveway getting to the lot was longer than the others.

I flipped the safety off on my conceal carry weapon and started down the path. It was almost exactly 300 yards to the boulder. I carefully made my way down the hill, slipping a few times, but ultimately making it safely down. There was no path at bottom. It was level ground, but not an actual path. I could hear that the river was close, maybe only 100 feet through the trees in front of me.

I started walking in the direction the bill advised. I could hear so many beautiful sounds. There were bird calls I had never heard. Even the sounds the bugs made seemed to add a little sweetness to the chorus. There was a mild breeze that rustled the leaves as fallen branches cracked under my feet. I could see the cave coming up through the mist of water. The rock above jutted out and a stream poured over the edges. I stood in front of the mist for a moment deciding if I should walk through. I had come this far, why not?

I jumped through quickly, managing to stay mostly dry. Now came the really hard decision; walk into what was surely a trap to rape and kill me or turn back and save myself. Step #14 kept coming to the front of my mind. Enjoy the view. I was in a park, maybe these caves led to a look out point. I took the cave on the right. I continued through the tunnel of rock and earth. Sometimes it felt like I was walking down, other times up, I wasn’t really sure where I stood in terms of “feet above sea level”.

After about 10 minutes of walking, the path began to tighten. My claustrophobia began to kick in as the walls narrowed and I had to turn to walk sideways. Thankfully that only lasted a few minutes before I came out on the other side and into the cavern. I stumbled out of the opening and took a deep breath. When I looked up that breath caught in my throat. 

On the far side of the cavern was a trickling waterfall that flowed into a pool on the cavern floor. The water was clear and blue. The size of the cavern and the pretty water were not the things that took my breath away. What took my breath away were the intricate paintings that covered the cavern walls in their entirety. It appeared that not an inch of rock had been left unpainted. The scenes depicted, while varied, were each detailed and precise. It could be seen that whoever created them had taken care with each brush stroke.

I put the bill back into circulation that day. I wanted so badly to tell my friends, to take them there. I also wanted to respect the artist’s simple wishes though. They wanted people to search for the unknown and find something beautiful and wondrous. I’ve been going there at least once a month. I pack a bag of food and sit in the cavern and think or read or write or brainstorm for work. It’s a haven in a crazy world. In the 5 years that I’ve been going, I’ve only ran into two people, neither of which claimed to be the artist.

I wish we would have more of that beauty in the world. More beauty and less crazy.