The Calm After the Storm

Lizzie pulled the threadbare quilt and accompanying pile of blankets up around her chin and listened to the silence. It had been a long time coming and she wanted to treasure this moment.

Had it really only been three weeks ago that she had been living in the cramped apartment in town? A yearlong battle had left her and her two dogs crowded into an apartment complex with 160 units filled with people who seemed as lost as she had felt. A year of threatening phone calls, restraining orders, meetings with attorneys had finally come to an end.

Without hesitation Lizzie had quit her job writing ad copy for a local company, packed up her dogs and personal items in the back of her SUV and began to drive. With no family and no reason to look back Lizzie drove for two days straight, stopping only to grab a bite to eat and take care of the dogs.

Finally, out of pure exhaustion, she pulled into a small roadside motel. She slept until just before noon the next day, then pulling her honey hair into a loose ponytail wandered into the small café next door. Lizzie avoided making eye contact with the locals who watched her make her way through the maze of tables to the coffee counter halfway to the back of the restaurant. She ordered a cup of coffee and then took her time studying the menu and the room full of people who were making furtive glances her way.

When the waitress returned, Lizzie ordered a chili burger and fries. As she handed the waitress her menu, she heard a deep chuckle from her left. She turned to face the aging farmer who was shaking his head and laughing at her.

That was three weeks ago. Now it is the first of November and Lizzie nestles further down in the blankets, seeking whatever warmth she can find in the predawn hours.

The past weeks have flown by as Lizzie settled into the old farmhouse she rented from the farmer at the café. The leaves were falling from the trees in a cascade of ginger, gold and scarlet as she scrambled to stock up on firewood, find furniture for the house and amass a full pantry for the winter ahead.

The hundred and twenty year old farmhouse nestled near the edge of the woods had barely begun to feel like home when the storm hit three days ago. Lizzie piled the front porch to the rafters with spit wood for the woodstove and replaced the batteries in each of her three flashlights. Then the wind began to blow and behind it came snow; lots and lots of snow.

For the past three days, Lizzie had holed up alone in her house with no electricity. She only had the fire, a small stack of books and her dogs to keep her company. The noise of the snowstorm was deafening. She would have called it a blizzard, but they don’t have blizzards in Oregon. Or, do they?

Throughout the howling of the wind and the flickering of shadows from the fire, Lizzie reflected back on the past few years. She had lived a life full of strife. Anger and disillusionment had found her after every bad decision. Fear and conflict had swirled around her in a cacophony of noise. The past three years had been the worst with the hate, abuse and vengefulness that had been spewed on her until the very last court hearing which had finally ended her ten year marriage.

Lizzie had taken off, run away, seeking solitude, seeking a new life in a place where nobody knew her. Before she had crawled in bed last night, she had come to the resolution that she was doomed to die in this ramshackle farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in the first blizzard ever recorded in Western Oregon. But this morning, Lizzie had awoken to silence.

Finally slipping out of the covers fully dressed, Lizzie padded through the house followed silently by the two black Labradors which had been her constant shadows this past year. Lizzie opened the front door and gasped in amazement.

The sun was coming up over the snowy field. Its light was refracted hundreds of times so that it seemed as though a star had landed in front of her farmhouse. The white of the snow in the fields merged with the snow in the trees only to be broken up by the prismatic light show in the field.

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