The Walk – A Young Adult Novel (Takes Place on the Camino De Santiago in Spain)

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Today, I share the first two chapters of the novel I have decided to work on after the completion of my latest novel I WILL TELL THE NIGHT. I’m several chapters in now. The opening chapters are to introduce the main characters…each of whom is preparing to leave North America at the onset of Summer Vacation from high school. Each of the characters introduced here are enrolled in a program for delinquent teens…wherein they choose to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago instead of serving time in a juvenile detention centre. The novel takes place over the course of roughly two weeks. I’m writing the actual WALK at this point…all of my characters are safely in Spain and they are now on their journey. These two chapters set up two of the three narrators. Each of the three narrators take turns telling the story with alternating chapters. This is Diego Nelson and Shania Reynolds…

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CHAPTER 1 – Diego Nelson

It all started with fire. I wanted to show Sabrina Vincent I’d do anything for her. So, naturally, I set fire to the garbage in the first floor washroom. Now I’m forced to take The Walk and Sabrina still doesn’t even know I’m alive. Well, she may know the name of the guy who gave everyone a free period in the second last week of school. But, I mean, she doesn’t know me know me. Unrequited love’s a drag.

I still think it might have been worth it. I mean, I did get my name on the map of her universe, right? Maybe now she wants to know more about Diego Nelson. Maybe she’s intrigued. Who knows? Maybe I’m now a satellite in her night sky. I just have to wait for her to turn her telescope on me.

I know one thing for sure. The first part of the summer is not mine. The Walk Program owns my ass and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. One too many slip ups and your leverage just gets taken away from you. Juvenile detention. Or The Walk.

This Gilbert dude sounds like a total dipshit, too. My life is over. First of all, who the hell is called Gilbert, and why wouldn’t they change their name if they could? A week and a half with him, and I’ll be ready for death. Hell, I was ready for it after fifteen minutes with him in the meeting with Moms and principal Peters. Dude is about as interesting and relevant as a dead cat. I might die of boredom before exhaustion ever even happens.

But I guess The Walk is known to exhaust people. I don’t even know how it’s even legal to take a kid out of his own country and force him to walk a gazillion miles in the hot sun over mountains and shit in a foreign country. I mean, you have got to be kidding me.

By the time I get back summer will be almost over and I will have missed any and every opportunity I would have had to keep myself in Sabrina’s universe. I’ll fade from her sky, probably forever.

Slight exaggeration, I know. A week and a half does not a summer make. But it’s the beginning of summer that’s most important for setting things up socially. Hell, even my best friends will forget who I am by the time I come back from Spain.

Lesson learned? Don’t set fires for people who will never appreciate the gesture, even if you love them with all your heart and would do anything for them. Dude, it just ain’t worth it.

Now I find myself—me, Diego Nelson—packing a suitcase with all this random shit, preparing for a flight across the frigging Atlantic Ocean. I mean, I’ve never even been on a plane before. Moms must totally hate me. Why else would she send her one and only child into the jaws of death just for setting a little fire at school?

“Ma?” I yell as I continue to scroll down the Things To Bring list. “What’s a spork?”

“It’s a spoon and a fork.” I barely hear this. She’s in the kitchen. I know what she’s doing. The same thing she does every morning when I’m getting ready for school and she’s getting ready for work. She’s standing at the kitchen counter having her cup of instant coffee and her one slice of slightly burned toast with a light spreading of cottage cheese. Ack.

This morning isn’t a school or work day, though. This morning is the day of my flight. The bad kids’ field-trip begins.

“Why do I have to bring a spork anyway?”

“Because Gilbert told you to, Diego,” she says. I can hear her walking down the hall now. Coming to lecture me again. Just one more time. Again. “Starting today, he’s your boss. You do what he says when he says to do it. If that includes carrying a spork on your nose across Spain, then you will do it. Do you understand me, mister?”

“Yeah, but—”

“Don’t yeah but me, Diego Nelson. You will listen to him, young man. I didn’t raise an arsonist. Do you understand me?”

Yes, ma’am,” I say. Moms has been on high octane since the incident. She’s a tough cookie at the best of times. I don’t know what’s worse, actually. The fact that I got sucked into this delinquent program or that I disappointed Moms so much. I mean, she really does give up her entire life for me. It’s only the two of us, and I go and crush all her dreams with some harebrained scheme to get a girl to notice me. I’m such a loser.

“You’re almost done packing, Dee. Just finish that list and come back out to the kitchen and eat your breakfast. You know I need you to eat before we head to the airport. Breakfast is the most—”

“Important meal of the day,” I say, finishing her once-a-day repeated mantra on the importance of breakfast. “Yeah, Ma. I know. Almost finished.”

“Roll, Diego,” she says, pulling the three single solitary t-shirts I’m allowed to bring out of my backpack and unfolding them so she can roll them up instead. “Rolling is always better than folding when you’re packing. Even for a backpack. Oh my God, I’m sending my baby across the world with nothing but the clothes on his back. I’m a terrible mother. Oh my God, Diego.”

She stands hugging my shirts now. She’s losing it. She said she wasn’t going to. A part of me wants to say, I told you so. How could you do this to me!? But she’s my Ma. I hate hurting her. As soon as she agreed to this, I knew I had to give in and shut up. I’m not a bad kid, seriously. Just amazingly stupid.

“Ma,” I say. “It’s okay. It’s like you’re sending me on an adventure. It’ll be amazing, right? Summer camp in a whole new country. Ma? It’ll be good.”

I smile and I hope it’s fake enough that she buys it. When she looks at me, I know she knows this is the last thing in the world I want to do. But she plays along with me.

“Roll. Less wrinkles.” She gives my shirts one last hug before sending them into the backpack with the assorted randomness inside. I have a toothbrush, a flashlight, a notebook, a spork, Q-tips, Kleenex, wet-wipes, a roll of flattened down toilet paper, a towel, a water bottle, diaper pins, hiking socks, etc, etc, etc. “Looks like you’re ready to go, my baby.”

She turns and grabs me and hugs me tight. She has coffee breath. I love that smell. I don’t drink coffee. It’s disgusting. But when I smell Ma’s coffee breath it just smells so good. So…home. Yeah. I hug her back.

When I feel like she might snap me in half I try to step out of the hug. But she holds on a little longer. I let her. I know she’s crying. How could I even do this to her? I’m like, the worst son in the universe.

“Come, puppy,” she says when she finally lets me go. “Breakfast before we leave.”

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CHAPTER 2 – Shania Reynolds

Saturday, June 29th – Suckage Day 1 – The Summer that Never Happened

 

I hate my life.

 

What a fitting way to start this stupid journal. In the beginning, Shania declared her profound angsty disgust in the entirety of the universe and everything in it.
They can force me into this bullshit, but they can’t make me like it. I still think I should have been able to pick my punishment myself. I’ll take Juvenile Detention for two hundred, Alex.

 

But no. Steal one car and suddenly I find myself in this program from hell with Captain Dweeb running the show. Please, oh great Captain Dweeb…please save me from a life of crime and misdemeanours.

 

Gawd!

 

I hate my life.

After I write my opening entry in my journal, I squeeze it into the side pocket on my backpack and I’m ready to bust out of this pop-stand.

 

 
So, yeah. Bye Mom. Bye Dad. Thanks for being here to see me off. I know you’re sad that I’m leaving. I can tell by the way you’re not here on the day I leave the country for a whole week and a half. If, that is, I don’t die from some tragic unavoidable accident with a bull or a mountaintop or something. I love you too.

 

 
I hope this Gilbert guy isn’t a perv or something. The name sure sounds pervy, like he’s some kind of molester or something. Gilbert, the diddler. Don’t they have to at least screen people who work with kids? Even the bad kids? Sorry, troubled youth.

 

 
All I’m saying is I better not get blisters. Who thinks walking across an entire country is a good idea, anyway. What a bunch of granola eating freaks. I so entirely hate this.

 

 
“You almost ready?” Dillon asks from my doorway. “Bus leaves in five.”

 

 
“You know, Dill, you don’t have to drive me to the airport.”

 

 
“Oh, so how you getting there? Gonna hotwire the Thomas’s car?”

 

 
“Very funny,” I say. “I can just take off and spend the time around here. You can tell the ‘rents you did your duty. Nobody needs to know.”

 

 
“Come on, Shania,” Dillon says. “Don’t be stupid. Of course they’ll know. You don’t think this program is monitored like Fort Knox? Hello. Delinquent much?”

 

 
“Yeah, yeah,” I say. I flip him the bird as he walks away to head downstairs. “Whatever.”
I put my backpack over my shoulder. I can’t believe I’m going to carry this for a thousand million miles up a frigging mountain. I’m crazy. Gilbert’s crazy. This program is crazy. And Mom and Dad are crazy.

 

 
I will shit daisies if I get one single solitary blister. Everyone will pay. They will know my outrage.

 

 
I walk downstairs and already I can feel how impossibly heavy this bag is. Unfriggingbelievable!

 

 
“Say goodbye to me, Flibber. You might not see me ever again.” I shirk my backpack long enough to curl up on the floor with my Newfoundland. He licks me all over my face like he usually does, but this time I don’t yell at him or call him gross. This time, I like it. For real, I’ll miss him. He’s the only one here most of the time. Mom and Dad are always out there living their uber important lives and Dillon is so whipped by Hattie he might as well be enslaved to her. Pathetic boyfriend extraordinaire. “I love you, boy.”

 

 
I whisper this into Flibber’s ear, of course. Show no emotion. That’s my number one motto in this life. I look around to make sure Dillon has already left the house before I kiss Flibber on that soft amazingly smelling spot between his eyes. Flibber does a little whine. He knows.

 

 
When I get to the door, I turn back and look at the house before I leave it. Like I will never see the living room again. Or the umbrella stand in the corner of the front foyer. Or the stain on the carpet across the third step where Dillon spilled a slushy and almost died trying to get the blue out. Or the gorgeous Newfoundland looking back at me with drool hanging halfway to the floor. I am having all the feels.

 

 
“Bye, boy,” I say. I shut the door and turn around to walk to the car. Great. Speaking of Hattie. There she is. Again. Shotgun. Can’t he do anything without her at his side for just once in his life? His chain is so tight, I bet she holds it for him when he goes pee pee.

 

 
I hate my life.

 

END OF EXCERPT.

 

To visit my author page at Amazon and see my five published books available for reading now…click on the picture below:

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The Best Camino de Santiago Primer You’ll Ever Find! Black Friday Sale!

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Camino Guide Extraordinaire SUE KENNEY!

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This is what JOY looks like on the Camino de Santiago. Sue Kenney – Captain, my captain!

I don’t do this often here, but when I experience something life-changing I like to share the experience and recommend it to others. If you have ever read this blog, you’ll know that I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago back in May of 2014. (SEE THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR A BLACK FRIDAY REGISTRATION SALE FOR THE MAY 2017 CAMINO GUIDED TOUR BY SUE.)

I did my Camino journey with the incomparable Sue Kenney, Camino Guide Extraordinaire. What makes my experience with Sue’s twice yearly Camino guided tour somewhat unique is that I didn’t go into the journey blind. I didn’t find Sue’s tour on the internet and take a chance. I already knew Sue…from writing novel marathons with her. I knew her in her capacity as a writer. She was already a friend when I signed up for her guided Camino de Santiago walk.

I also knew that Sue was a world leading Camino expert. She had walked the Camino several times. She had also written a best selling book about her journey. She is known around the world as CAMINO SUE.

Let’s go back to May 2014 for a moment. I booked my Camino adventure months prior and I was feeling extremely electric about what I was about to experience. It was a transitional moment in my life. I was walking the Camino for change and for empowerment and for discovery. Ever since I had met Sue back in the early 2000s she had sparked a flame in my heart for the Camino. It is said that we all come to the Camino for different reasons, and that once we learn of it and choose to WANT to walk it…it remains a part of your life until you undertake the journey. It waits for you. It knows it will one day see you. The Camino chooses you, much like the puppy you choose at the kennel/breeder in actual fact chooses you. The Camino comes into your life and refuses to leave until you fulfill your promise to walk it.

I arrived in Spain (Madrid) with a fire in my belly and a backpack. Before the journey began, there was the gathering of strangers. Seven of us walked with Sue. There was Nicholas, Danielle, Julia, Connie, Tanya, Claudette, myself and Sue. Eight Musketeers. Connie was our official photographer. Sue was our captain, our guide, our spirit. The others, like me, had signed up for the guided adventure…not quite ready to take on such a large endeavor on our own.

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Nicholas, Danielle, Julia, Tanya, Claudette, Connie, Kevin – Sue Kenney’s May 2014 Camino Group.

From day one, it was an amazing experience. What Sue does as a guide is remove 100% of the worry. She had every albergue (hostel) booked in advance, she knew how many miles we would walk each day, she lined up meals, she did it all. Our mission, and we did decide to accept it, was merely to WALK. All we had to do was show up and walk. Sue did literally everything else.

What makes Sue the greatest guide is that she knows every nook and cranny of the walk. And not only does she know it, but it knows her. Her vibrant spirit makes her so approachable and memorable. Everywhere we went–every little town along the way–we were greeted with excitement. Because everyone everywhere along the Camino KNOWS Sue. She was on a walking adventure seeing old friends in every town…we were around for the warmth that greeted her. We had special experiences along the way that came with arriving in certain towns with THE SUE KENNEY. We danced. We toasted. We celebrated. We pontificated. We broke bread with wonderful beings on amazing journeys. We saw the Camino in such a unique and profound way…almost as natives, insiders. Sue gave us the experience like nobody else could have. She opened up the Camino to us in a way that made each of us feel at home on the path, like we were visiting relatives.

If you dream of exploring the Camino de Santiago, but you’re not quite ready to do the whole thing, or you’re not quite ready to take on the experience alone…there is only ONE WAY to WALK THE WAY…that’s with guide extraordinaire Sue Kenney. She will give you the inside track on this mystical journey like nobody else can.

And this weekend you can register for her MAY 2017 WALK at a deeply discounted rate. Here’s a blurb she put out today for the Black Friday SALE:

Our next Camino walk is getting booked for May 2017. This weekend we have a BLACK FRIDAY SALE. Book by Sunday November 27 and get up to $900.00 OFF!!! Our best deal ever. Walk for 6 days or 10 days. You don’t have to carry your backpack, we have a service for that. All details are sorted for you. It will be my 19th Camino. Sue will be talking about the next Camino walk on Facebook Live My Camino Book at 11:00 AM today (FRIDAY NOVEMBER 25th, 2016). If you miss it just go to the page and find the post to watch it.

If ever you dreamed of taking THE WALK…do yourself a favour. Take it with Sue. It’s not the full Camino, but it’s an abundantly FULL Camino. I promise you that. Sue will remove all obstacles and give you the sweetest Camino journey you could ever imagine. Take the journey for yourself…you will cherish it forever.

For full details, visit SUE’S SITE HERE.

Nano Nano – Shazbot!

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I use the Orkian curse word because, well, I haven’t been a good Nanoer this November.

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Speaking of shazbot, did you realize it was the last thing Bon Scott of AC/DC ever recorded. At the end of Night Prowler, he said, “Shazbot, Nano Nano.” And then, he blinked out. Imagine, telling the world to suck it in Orkian right before you buy the farm. “Goodbye, cruel world.”

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But I digress.

In ways, I’m disappointed in myself for not trying to nano more this month. But I also keep in mind that I finished a novel and submitted it to my agent at the beginning of the month. I did my Nano in October…in a huge way. And then I got lazy and justified my laziness with my October accomplishment.

How’s your Nanowrimoing going? Did you have a good story when you died? Enough to base a movie on?

I have been processing a lot. I feel another race to the finish line coming on with one of my perennially unfinished novels. I just have to get there. I have to get to that place where I feel the imperative of finishing . I am the kind of lazy that has to trick itself into action. I can go a whole eight or nine months NOT writing. But when I need to have a novel finished, nothing will stop the drive to get it done. The struggle is real. The hunger is real. I have been mapping the next chapters of my Camino de Santiago novel in my head for the past few weeks. Tweaking. Rearranging. The desk in my head is a hot mess. When I get things in order, I will be able to stream it through my fingers and on to the page. My Nano will happen when it happens.

Still, I like to make myself feel the anxiety and motivation of that November Feeling that NaNoWriMo has become for me. It’s the time of year when I force myself to feel the guilt of not writing, and to contemplate getting my BIC to write. I like the threat that the month carries. It moves me. If not to write, then to at least think about writing.

I’m winning NaNoWriMo. I can feel it. My word-count may tell a different story, but I have yet to figure out a way to count the words in my head. They’re there. They’re real. They matter.

As you continue to reach for that 50,000 word count for your 2016 NaNoWriMo, remember what the NaNo is about…motivating the writer. It serves as a reminder that time is valuable and that all you have to do to write a novel is sit and write. NaNo is about getting shit done. The real goal is to put Bum In Chair. Once you’re there…you can find a habit and carry NaNo with you throughout the year. Don’t make it about 50,000 words…make it about finding a home in your writing life. Make it about being kind to yourself and enjoying your writing life. Make it about telling a story. Make it about becoming friends with your inner-writer. Far too often, I see people talking about NaNo as though it were a war…I hear harsh words and self-hatred and self-shaming. Get over yourself and write. Shut the Negative Nelly up and put your bum in your chair and write.

30 days has November. This means that your daily goal to reach 50,000 words in the month of November is 1,666.666666666 words per day. If you don’t reach that goal every day, ask yourself if you wrote more words than you would have if it had not been NaNoWriMo. Ask yourself if you lived in your writer head that day. Put value on the words you imagined, even if you didn’t get them down. Don’t approach NaNo as though it were your enemy that you had to slay. Chill. Write. Or don’t write. Just be more WRITER.

Have fun. Embrace writing. Let’s be careful out there…

 

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Be kind to your writing life. And have fun with your imagination. NaNoWriMo – the month of kaleidoscope eyes.

Isobel Swallows a Warrior – A Short Story (Previously Published in Nothing But Red)

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I thought I would share a short story today. This was originally published in the anthology NOTHING BUT RED. The anthology came about after the brutal ‘mercy’ killing of Du’a Khalil Aswad. Joss Whedon wrote an essay on the incident on May 20th, 2007. Later, Nothing But Red was created. It contained the essay from Joss Whedon which can be read HERE.

From the NOTHING BUT RED website:

In April 2007, seventeen-year-old Dua Khalil was pulled into a crowd of young men—some of them family members. They proceeded to stone and beat her to death, a supposed “honour” killing for being in the company of a man of a different faith.

The police stood by and did nothing, and several members of the crowd filmed the incident with camera phones. You can find the video on both CNN’s website and YouTube (We have not linked to the video. A simple search will find it for you.).

One month later, popular writer and filmmaker, Joss Whedon, posted his complete despair and outrage on a fan-run news blog, Whedonesque.com. Among his words was a call to action. This is how some of us responded.

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Here is the story I wrote for the anthology. It was published in 2008.

 

Isobel Swallows a Warrior

By: Kevin Craig

Isobel has reached her breaking point. She watches the wipers’ valiant attempts at clearing the rain from the windshield as she wills herself somewhere outside the Denali in which she is trapped. It is futile. There is nowhere she can go to escape the voice of oppression sitting beside her.

“You never listen, Isobel,” Cal repeats. “This has been planned for months. Just because you don’t want to participate in the social events of my life, doesn’t mean you’re excused from them. You’re my wife. You will accompany me. It’s the way it will always be.”

Isobel attempts to hear Cal’s voice as only noise. She has become adept at tuning out the gist of his words; at hearing only his baritone drone. This ability saves her from the sting of many insults.

As the wipers continue to fight the deluge, she listens to the near-whisper of Dusty Springfield singing Son of a Preacher Man (“A radio is supposed to be background noise. The volume doesn’t need to be above three. Anything higher is excess.” One of the first Cal tenants; handed down some twenty years earlier. She has been straining to hear ever since.). Her finger itches to crank the volume; an action that would be met with dire consequences.

“Are you even listening, or are you proving my point?” In her head, Dusty is drowning him out.

“Isobel? Earth to Isobel.” The jab to the shoulder brings her back. “You’re going to act like a normal human being tonight. I work with these people. The least you can do is show them a little respect, for Christ’s sake.”

She rubs her shoulder and ponders Dusty’s words. Cal is the only boy who could ever teach her. There was a time–way back when–when she thought he was a sweet-talker, too. It seems she shares something with Dusty. She wonders if Dusty would allow herself to become a doormat to her preacher man’s son.

“Promise me that.”

“Yes,” she mumbles. “I always do. Your fetes are so incredibly stimulating—”

“Don’t get lippy, Issy. You’re going to ruin this for me before it even—”

“I’ll be your puppet, Sir Cal. Don’t worry.” Something in the hopeless way the windshield wipers struggle against the rain empowers her. She smiles, proud of her flippancy.

“Phhh. Some puppet you make. You’re as useless as feathers on a trout. I’d be able to control a puppet better.” Cal reaches for a cigarette and works at getting it lit. Isobel cracks her window against the smoke. “What the Christ are you doing? Can’t you see it’s pissing out?”

“You know I can’t handle the smoke,” she says.

You know I can’t handle the smoke,” Cal mimics in his mousy Isobel voice. “You’ll soak the seats.” Isobel reluctantly shuts the window.

Isobel shuts down and allows Cal to concentrate on his cigarette. She knows he is thinking about tonight’s Big Cal on Campus event; how wonderful he will be. She thinks idly about her children.

At first, she did the Cal experience for Cal’s sake. He was a sweet-talker. He seemed like someone she could love forever. As the tides began to turn—as the ugliness began to show through his rigid façade—she had found herself with child. First came Hennessey, and then Ben. With each rise in her belly, she felt a swell in her sense of hopelessness. With each child, Cal’s particular brand of Calness grew uglier.

But the kids are grown, a new voice in her head announces. What am I staying for now? She seems to search the rain for an answer. “We’re almost there.”

“Give the woman a medal,” Cal says. “Does MENSA know about you?”

“I was just thinking aloud.”

“Try not to make any mental breakthroughs like that tonight. They already think you’re weird. Don’t start talking to yourself.”

“I was making an observation.”

“And a fine observation it was,” he laughs. “Fine as rain.”

Isobel watches the wipers cut their rhythmic path across the windshield. She knows there is an answer to her problems right in front of her—she just can’t touch it.

If he lets me out at the door, I’ll stay. If he makes me walk in the rain, I’ll leave.

Isobel almost jumps from her seat as this thought occurs. She sneaks a peek across the void between herself and Cal, afraid that he has heard the ultimatum. He is finishing his cigarette, staring blindly into the road and savouring his superiority.

She wants to jump out of her skin. She feels as though a warrior has taken possession of her body and she tries desperately not to blink away this belief. She is afraid the spell will be broken, and with it her resolve.

Cal moves into a turning lane. They are at the Sienna Suites, the pretentious banquet hall where the pretentious soiree is being held. Isobel feels her heart in her throat. She is afraid he might not be able to resist the bright lights and showiness of the valet parking.

As they enter the parking lot she crosses her fingers, hopes for a miracle. As soon as the thought had entered her head, she knew she had wanted it more than life itself. Now she allows her future to rest on Cal’s next move.

“Like I’d let one of those punk-ass kids drive this truck!” Cal says to himself. Isobel waits for him to suggest she jump out.

If he drops me off, I stay with him. Her heart races and monarchs scratch the insides of her belly. They inch past the doors, past the smartly dressed, pimply teen-aged valets—past the security of knowing where Isobel will sleep at night.

In typical Cal fashion, he heads for the back of the lot. Isobel hears the tired parking-refrain mixing with her swirling thoughts of escape—Nobody’s denting these doors. This is a Denali, for Christ’s sake!

Cal pulls sideways into two spots, grabs a Toronto Star from behind his seat, unfolds it over his head and opens his door. He is running toward the banquet hall before Isobel’s door is opened.

She leaves the truck slowly, allowing the rain to soak her new Alfred Sung dress. Cal stops halfway, waves one arm impatiently while holding the paper above his head with the other. Isobel’s own arms begin to rise at her sides. She feels them lengthening—becoming wings. She looks into the night sky, allows the water to further soak her upturned face. She is unconcerned with running mascara and wilted hair.

She makes her way to the entrance and sees Cal waiting inside. His face is red with anger as he glimpses the damage that the rain has caused her. She smiles and waves. She splashes through a final puddle before allowing a tall dark doorman to open the door for her.

“What the hell took you so long? Christ, Issy. Now is not the time to get lost in that Dreamland head of yours. You’re soaked!”

She comes back down to earth just long enough to placate him with a few light words. “I’m in heels, Cal. It’s okay. I’ll just run to the washroom and freshen up. Wait here. I’ll be right out.”

“I’ll see you at the table. I’m not your Goddamn servant,” he snarls. “Wait here,” he says in his finest mousy Isobel voice. “That’s rich, Isobel.” He storms off, handing the doorman his dripping Toronto Star.

Isobel makes a show of walking towards the washrooms, in case he glances back. Her full-circle back to the door is almost a dance. She thinks of Hennessey and Ben—of how they will react to her spontaneous decision to flee. For a split second she thinks she will step back into her life. The resolve takes hold. The warrior in her belly propels her to the doorman.

“Can I help you, Miss?”

“Can you please call me a cab?” It is not Isobel’s voice that comes out of her tiny body. It is the voice of her swallowed warrior. She is leaving.

“They’re just outside. Follow me.” He cracks an umbrella and ushers her into the new and unknown. She puts one foot in front of the other, attempting to look like the sane, rational woman she is leaving behind.

An orange door is opened. She hears the thank you escape her lips. Her wet frame drops into the seat of the cab and she thinks she is smiling as the door closes.

Isobel stares forward, not knowing her next move. I’m leaving Cal. She turns to look at the back of the driver’s head. I’m on my way out of my life. I’m leaving Cal.

“Looks like you got a drenching,” the cabby says, pulling her back into the world. There is music playing softly, almost inaudibly.

“Just a little rain,” says the new voice that Isobel is trying on for size. “Could you please turn the music up? Music should be heard.”

“Certainly. And where are we going tonight?”

She looks to the ceiling and then closes her eyes. “Anywhere but here, driver. Just drive.”

THE END