The sun was hanging out lazily passing from early afternoon to late afternoon, and Rachel equally as lazy planted one foot in front of the other in a jaunty mosey like walk. She had walked for several days, with no new distractions. There was plenty of construction going on, but once you've seen a back hoe, you've seen them all, except for that one that was pink, she found that one interesting to look at. She figured it for some kind of theft deterrent.
And then there, was plenty of swamp, and swamp wild life, and Rachel learned rather early in her lessons, in whatever limbo state she was in, she could get really close to white tail deer. So, close in fact, she did get too close, and startled the doe, which leapt haphazardly across the highway, just narrowly missed getting plowed by an eighteen-wheeler. She had felt bad for that, and had since managed to keep her distance, no need to go about being contagious and spreading death or whatever this was to innocent fauna.
Finally, Tony showed up, just about the time she felt, she would probably be craving a mid afternoon latte. He fell in to step beside, however, much more dignified than her swagger.
"The gentleman around the corner, who is he?" Rachel asked, casually pointing with her pinky finger. She had been moving closer to home at a regular pace now that she was putting everything in perspective, but suddenly she was again stuck, between a rotting log and what could have been an armadillo. She was anxious to get moving once again and curious to know if the stranger up the road had anything to do with her stalling."I believe that is Jim Warner," he said, as he shielded his eyes with his hand and looked up the highway. "Yeah, that's Jim."
"Commander James Warner?" she asked. She shuddered, that name made her blood run cold. When she was just a silly young girl, she could have done anything, she could have been anything, but she was set on being a sailor. She knew now Commander Warner was not to blame for how her Navy career ended, but she had written letters to the Executive Officer, and the Commanding Officer, pleading for a second chance, but her letters had gone unread. Either way she had been unceremoniously separated from the navy. He had everything to so with her pitstop."The same," he answered.
"He died, twenty years ago," Rachel said to herself. "Right after I got out of the Navy." She looked questioningly at her companion. "Is that it? Am I dead?" She deeply inhaled, waiting for the answer.
"Do you feel dead?" Tony asked, as he raised his eyebrow. "You would certainly know if you were dead?" Aside from his raised eyebrow, his face remained unchanged, careful not to have given Rachel an unspoken answer to her question.
"Would I?" she sighed. Rachel didn't think she felt dead, during the day she could feel the sun, warm on her face, and just the day before a sun shower gave her goose bumps on her uncovered arms. But as far as things she should inherently know, that was a dilemma. She stared at her sneakers, realizing the white toes of her Converse were whiter than they should be, when she looked back up Tony had gone.
Rachel sat down on the mass of rotting tree and felt the wood give a little, setting her off balance. She rested her elbow on her knee, then her chin in her hand. She was bothered and concerned. She had been moving slowly, but surely closer to her destination, closer to home by doing what Tony had suggested on their second meeting. With every step she forgave someone, or asked God to place forgiveness in someone's heart for her past transgressions. If it dawned on her she would offer a praise to the Lord for her and her families good fortune. The whole process had started pretty slow, but she soon found that she got a little bit ahead with genuine praise for the beautiful sunset and the breeze that cooled her walks through the hotter days. She had reflected and reevaluated her life, she had made peace with her poor choices, but Tony didn't mention people would be obstacles to overcome. She absentmindedly kicked at the gravel on the highway's shoulder. She felt like she had gotten pushed back to the beginning.
Rachel sighed, and then sighed again for drama's sake, it was not like anyone paid her any mind. The only people she saw drove by at 60 miles an hour, and they certainly didn't see her. She looked at her shoe again, or rather her son's shoe, it was a black canvas sneaker with a white rubber toes. She smiled to herself as she remembered Thomas had to have these sneakers they were the coolest shoes ever. She had caved, and hard, too, because she bought the name brand, not the cheap Wal-Mart knock-offs. Thomas had worn the shoes for about two weeks before he unceremoniously outgrew them. Lucky for her, Thomas was gentle on his things and she was able to commandeer the shoes.
She thought of Thomas for a moment, how he was trying so hard to be a good boy sandwiched in between her eldest son, Kevin, who had been born with cerebral palsy, and her eldest daughter, Maggie, born with a congenital heart defect. Then she thought about how much she missed watching Thomas play with her youngest daughter, Delilah. Delilah had arrived as a surprise seven years after Maggie, so Rachel's children stretched her between the PTAs for high school, middle school, elementary school, and preschool. However, in spite of two of the children's special needs, the four of them were a rather undemanding bunch.
Rachel missed them all, her chest ached for a moment, and it was all so ironic. A week ago, or was it a month ago, she was begging for this kind of peace and quiet, but now that she had her wish, she was miserable. She longed for Kevin's crooked smile, and Thomas and Maggie, both typical middles, fighting over the television, and Delilah's wispy baby curls. Of course, she missed Mark, her husband, but he was an adult and didn't need her like her children did.
The sun slowly began to go down behind the marsh, and the headlights on the cars began coming on as traffic became more sporadic. Rachel was glad another day was done. She was a day closer to being back with her family, but she still needed to cover the distance, and before she could do that she had to get past Jim Warner.