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By Thomas F. O'Neill

The Sage Of Millville

On a moonless night a car was traveling down a long winding dirt road, “will this dirt road ever end,” the driver thought to herself. Her headlights dimmed by dry mud.

It was in the early morning hours that she placed the few belongings she had into her car. She drove off leaving her home behind. She stopped several times for gas, for some food, and to relieve herself. Sixteen hours later she was still driving with no particular destination in mind, “I just need to get away from him he’s a low life, good for nothing, S.O.B,” she said to herself out loud.

She made several turns but she was clueless as to where she was or how she got on that endless dirt road. She didn’t particularly care where the road was leading her, as long as it took her far from where she was in life.

Her man or lack there of would describe himself as having a slight drinking problem. He would start drinking early in the morning and by evening he would be crashed out on the couch. When drunk, he is verbally abusive, extremely condescending, and just down right nasty. He can not hold down a job due to his alcoholism but yet he finagled his way into receiving government disability checks. She had enough of her now former boyfriend’s uncontrollable rants and drunken stupors. She had everything she needed in her car and she was now through with him.

He, on the other hand, was leaving numerous voicemail messages on her cell phone, cursing her for not being home to cook him something to eat. She ignored the ringing of her cell phone as she drove.

She can remember one particular Doctor’s appointment that her low life man kept in order to be approved for disability,

“Do you have a drinking problem?” asked the Doctor.

“Oh yes, Doc, do I ever have a drinking problem,” he said with a concerned look on his face, “my hand shakes so bad at times that I spill my beer when I try to drink it.”

“Well I think the shaking in your limbs is a result of the amount of alcohol you’re consuming, throughout your day. You should consider signing into a rehab clinic, to dry yourself out.”

“Is that required to be approved for disability?” he asked the Doctor.

“No, but it may enhance the quality of your life.”

“Well, Ralph,” she said out loud with her hands clenched to the steering wheel, “you may be collecting government disability checks, but you have no quality time added to your life, you low life drunk,” her mind and thoughts raising with anger as she continued driving down that long, winding, dusty road.

She is now hopeful though, with steering wheel in hand, that the quality of her life will be enhanced, far away from her former boyfriend as possible.

It happened quickly, due to her headlights being covered by dry mud. She barely saw the outline of the man that caused her to slam on the brakes. The car skidded; her vehicle then struck a pedestrian walking on the side of the road.

“Oh my God,” she yelled looking down at him lying there, “are you alright?”

“Ahhghh, my leg,” he said with his face grimacing from the pain.

“Jesus, I need to get you to a hospital,” she said, “is there one around here?”

“Thirty minute drive from here,” he told her trying to fight the pain in her car, “do you do this often?”

“You mean take people to the hospital? Well…….”

“No, run people over,” he said in a sarcastic tone of voice.

“Well look here,” she fired back at him, “first of all you were walking down a dirt road, in dark clothes, in the middle of the night. It’s not my fault you walked out in front of my car.”

“You ran me over,” he said trying to remain calm with the pain visibly on his face.

“Now look here !!!!' she yelled, 'I could of let you lay there on the side of the road but I didn’t.”

“I don’t have any Insurance for a hospital.”

“Well, I will check and see how much damage you did to my car. Then you can claim the hospital bill against my auto Insurance.”

“How much damage I did to your car? You ran me over…….”

“Your leg is fractured” said the Doctor in the hospital emergency room, “it’s not displaced but you will need a cast on it for about three weeks.”

“Well at least it is nothing really serious,” She said to him.

“How did it happen?” the Doctor asked.

“She ran over me with her car.”

“Now look here…….” she fired back, “you are the one that walked out in front of my vehicle.”

“Domestic dispute,” the Doctor mumbled to himself as he wrote something down on a medical chart, “I am going to write you a prescription for your pain. The cast will have to come off in three weeks.”

When she was driving him home,

“How many miles do you have on this thing,” he asked her.

“Two hundred and fifty three thousand,' she said, 'two hundred and ninety two, and three tenths of a mile,” she rattled off in an exact tone of voice, “don’t even think about suing me because everything I have is in this car.”

“Where were you headed?” he asked her, “not too many cars travel to Millville or on this dirt road since the closing of the mill.”

"I needed to get away from, Ralph; he’s nothing but a real A-hole.”

“Did you run him over too?”

“No, but I sure felt like it,” she said.

“Who is he your husband?”

“No, not my husband and I never ran him over,” she repeated, “Boy, I sure as hell felt like it though, many times. He is nothing but a drunken loser. We never got married we just lived together for three years. He is the biggest mistake of my life.”

“Any kids?”

“I wanted kids, he didn’t, but I am glade we never had any because he would have been an abusive father towards them.”

“So where were you headed?” he asked.

“Nowhere in particular, this morning I packed up everything I own got in my car and drove off. I couldn’t deal with that drunken slob forcing himself on me again.”

“And you wound up here on this dirt road in the outskirts of Millville?” he said slightly perturbed.

When they arrived at his home she helped him out of the car and into his living room, “is there someone here that can help you,” she asked.

“I live alone; I have been here alone for a long time,” he told her. He was in pain from his broken leg but he became more concerned for her. In his mind, she seemed a bit scattered, like a broken child without direction.

“She was abused,” he thought to himself, as she helped him over to a chare, “abused by a person who put his own needs first. Her needs were of less importance in the hands of her abusive boyfriend,”

He watched her move through the room like a curious child, “a loser and an abuser, is not what she needs in life,” he thought, “I will help her get back on her feet.”

She moved a foot stool over to his chare and gently lifted his broken leg and placed it on the stool. “If you want,” he said, “you can stay here until you get an idea of where you want to go.”

“Thank you but I feel that I would just bother you,” she said, “but, I hate to picture you here all alone with a broken leg in a cast.”

“Is that a yes I will stay or a no I am hitting the road?”

She paused for a moment and then slowly said, “I really don’t have anyplace to go and I am partially at fault for your leg. I can stick around until your leg is better.”

It didn’t take her long to settle in, “I just realized something I never got your name.”

“Mark,” came the reply, “I gave all my personal information to the Emergency room nurse at the hospital don’t you remember?”

“I am terrible with names. I am much better with faces then names. By the way my name is Linda.”

“Well make yourself comfortable here, Linda,”

“There is something childlike about her,” he thought, “she is very open and trusting. She is to trusting perhaps; maybe that is why she got caught up in an abusive relationship with her Ex - Ralph.”

“This is more of a cabin then a house,” she said, as she began to look around.

“It is quite comfortable here and quiet,” he said to her.

She noticed beautiful woodcarvings on the fireplace mantle of various small animals and of a little girl, “they are quite beautiful,” she said referring to the carvings, “where did you get them?”

“I made them; I use the wood from the old abandoned Mill. That is where I was headed; I was going to the Mill when you hit me with your car. I used to work at the Mill before it closed. I now sell my woodcarvings at various craft shows a few times a year. People also mail orders to me of what they want me to carve for them. I will never get rich doing it but it gives me enough to live on.”

“At least you are doing what you enjoy doing,” she said as she admired the intricate details in the wood of a Bald Eagle. She then picked up a woodcarving of a little girl in a dress, “who is this little girl?”

“She is my daughter.”

“Where is she now?” she asked.

“She is with the angels, and at times here with me.”

“With the angels? you mean she died?”

“She went to visit the angels,” he said once again, “ten years ago, she accidentally drowned in the lake out back,” as he pointed in the direction of the near by lake he said with tears in his eyes, “she was only six years old.”

“Where was her mother?”

“Like your Ralph, my wife also liked to drink, but her choice and preference was vodka. After our daughter died, my wife’s mind deteriorated, and she was institutionalized in a state psychiatric hospital. I heard from the hospital a few years ago that she is living in a group home for the mentally ill.”

“I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child,” she thought as she listened to his story.

“I feel my daughter with me though and I made that woodcarving of her from memory. Sometimes when it is very peaceful and quiet here. I could see her standing and looking at some of the small baby animals, outside the cabin. She then looks over at me with a large happy smile.”

“I believe she is still with you here because she loves her father.”

They slept in the same bed that night but Linda seemed restless and she snuggled up to him in a somewhat childlike way. She trusted him and thought about the pain he must have endured from the loss of his daughter. She thought about what he must have gone through caring for his alcoholic wife.

The next morning as Linda was making a large pot of Coffee on a wood burning stove, she looked out of the cabin window. She saw a large beautiful bald eagle standing on the banister on the cabin’s front porch. She quickly woke Mark up to tell him about the beautiful Eagle. “That is Liberty,” he mumbled as he awoke from a deep sleep.

She helped him into the kitchen and he took some bread out of a cabinet. “I raised that Eagle when she was just a young hatchling. Her mother was killed by a hunter, when ‘Liberty’ was still in her egg,” he said. “When her egg hatched, I had to feed her from an eye dropper every twenty minutes. Now, she comes by every morning to see me and I give her some bread.”

Linda helped him out to the front porch and he held out the bread in his hand. The large female Eagle with its powerful beak, took the bread out of his hand. It then raised its wings, turned, and flew high into the air. She circled the cabin high in the sky with great majestic beauty.

With Linda’s help he went back into the kitchen and he drank a few cups of coffee with her. “He is such a sweet sensitive guy,” she thought to herself.

That afternoon he made a pair of crutches for himself out of wood, with Linda admiring his handiwork.

That same afternoon Liberty returned with a large fish and dropped it on the front porch, “Well, it is not much but that is our lunch,” he said.

“That is so cool,” she said to him, “she does that everyday.”

“Yes,” came the reply, “I don’t eat meat but fish I eat. Somehow Liberty knows I like fish and she brings me one everyday.”

“Eagles must be really smart,” she said.

“She is very smart, and very strong. She can hear and see things from extremely far distances.”

“Its better then having a watch dog,” she said.

“Well, I never seen her attack anyone.”

“I suppose she could if she had too,” she said with curiosity and excitement in her voice.

Over the next few days Linda became more and more fascinated by what she witnessed through the kitchen window. She watched various animals around the cabin walk up to Mark and he would pet them. “They just run away when they see me” she thought, “he is such a gentle soul.”

They began to trust one another with deeper intimacy. She wasn’t used to being with a man that showed compassion and a deep caring warmth towards her. She didn’t know how to accept it at first. She opened up to him and he listened, completely listened, he was completely there for her.

The relationships she had in the past were mostly fueled by a sexual attraction but they were lustful passions that slowly fizzled out. Those short lived relationships were built on superficial foundations; they were shallow, with no substance. A person like Mark never entered her life before he accentuated all that is positive within her.

One evening as they lay in bed, she explained in greater detail, what she lived with and endured, at the hands of her former boyfriend. “I can never return to that relationship,” she said with tears in her eyes, “I would rather die then go back to him.”

“You can stay here for as long as you like,” he said.

She was slowly putting her past behind her and she was accepting the fact that this was now a new beginning for her. The cast eventually came off Mark’s leg and she remained with him.

The simple life that Mark is living was a bit difficult for Linda to adjust to. He has no indoor pluming or electricity. He has a ‘Well’ for water but before he could use the water, for washing, cooking, or drinking, he has to boil it. The boiling of the water kills off any contaminates that could make them sick. They cook on a wood burning stove and they have a makeshift fireplace for heat. Next to the cabin is an outhouse and for Linda it has an unpleasant order. But for Mark that is the life he chose to live. The food they eat always has to be fresh because they have no way of refrigerating or freezing food.

Linda has no way of charging her cell phone battery so she is unable to use her phone. She was unaware of the numerous rants of voicemail messages that Ralph was leaving for her. Her cell phone was eventually turned off for lack of payment.

Linda often made comments about how Mark is a leftover from a different century. But then she realizes he could never afford the modern conveniences due to his meager income from the woodcarvings.

He once said to her, “when fools strive for the possessions they do not have - but wish to gain. The wise are developing what they already posses within themselves.”

When she would complain about their meager lifestyle, he would tell her, “what we have, is all we need, Linda.”

The little money that is generated from his artistic talent is used for purchasing hygiene supplies and various spices for cooking. The store they shop at is three miles from their cabin. Other then going to the store for purchases, they are isolated from the rest of the world. She stayed with him though because she sees a gentleness in him, a kind, and caring soul.

In the short time she was with him she never saw him frustrated or angry. She also never saw such concentration in a person especially when he is creating a woodcarving with intricate details. He would carve for hours without taking a break, to eat, drink, or sleep.

She is also continuously fascinated by Mark’s relationship with the animals near the cabin. How they walk over to him without fear. The birds do not fly away when he goes near them. Baby dear eat food out of his hand. She is also a bit amused with the thought of a large female Bald Eagle watching out for him. “He is different from other people,” she would continuously say to herself as she learns more about him.

He also understands her better then other people. Most importantly he helped her gain a deeper understanding of herself. He brought out an inner strength in her. She was beginning to realize why she chose to live with the abusive men in her past. She learned that she had a low opinion of herself.

She felt she needed a man for security but now she understands it is a false security. The life she is living now is by choice not by an insecure need. The security in her life now rests on a strong foundation of mutual trust, understanding, and love.

She is also learning to put the past behind her and to move on with her life. She enjoys Mark’s company, his sensitive demeanor, but most importantly she wants to stay with him for the rest of her life.

He also enjoys Linda’s company, he enjoys their closeness, and their intimate moments together. In a short time they learned a great deal about each other and the paths in life that brought them together.

One morning as Linda sat in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee. She saw a little girl running near the cabin playing with a baby deer. She heard the little girl’s excited laughter.

The baby deer seemed to take the little girl’s lead by chasing after her. When Linda went outside she continued to hear the little girl’s laugh. She went looking for her, down by the lake, but she was no where to be found.

When she told Mark about her,

“That’s Emily,” he said to her, “she has accepted you being around here.”

“Emily?” she asked.

“My daughter,” he said, “the one I told you about.”

“The one who died in the lake?” she asked in a slightly concerned voice.

“She likes you,” he said.

“The animals see her and play with her,” she asked in a confused tone of voice.

“She is very sweet and playful, she loves the animals,” he said.

“When you said she comes around, I didn’t know you meant she literally comes around,” she said with a shocked look on her face.

“There is nothing to be concerned about,” he said.

“That baby deer enjoys playing with her,” she said in a surprised voice.

“That deer was her pet. She really loved that deer,” he said, “she was devastated when a hunter shot her pet. She was crushed and cried for days. I think her coming around is her way of saying she is happy.”

“You mean that baby deer and your daughter are ghosts?” she asked in a surprised voice, “I heard of such stories about ghosts but I never thought they were true.”

“My daughter accepted the fact that you are here,” he said.

“How could that be your daughter?” she asked, “when you yourself said she died.”

“Well, I am not an expert on death,” he said, “I like to think of myself as being an apprentice in life.”

“She is really your daughter,” she said in a perplexed tone of voice.

“Emily is not a problem for us,” he said, “my former wife, on the other hand, can be more of a problem then Emily,” he said in a slightly concerned voice, “Agnes is very unstable and she would never accept you being here.”

“Should I be concerned about her?” she asked.

“She hasn’t been here in a very long time,” he said, “since she has been living in that group home.”

“How far is the group home from here?” she asked.

“A good three hours,” he said, “so I wouldn’t be that concerned about her.”

Unbeknownst to Mark and Linda, the former wife was planning a visit to the cabin in a stolen vehicle. Two weeks earlier Mark’s former wife, Agnes, stole a vehicle from a gas station. The purpose being, she was coming back home to Mark.

In her reality their daughter Emily was her traveling companion. She was delusional from being off her medication and in her mind her daughter was very much alive and Mark was still her husband.

In her delusional thinking, she was simply returning back home from being on vacation with Emily. She drove aimlessly but she talked to her daughter as if she was sitting in the passenger seat. She constantly told her, “Mommy and Daddy love you, and how happy Daddy will be to see us back home.”

She asked total strangers for money for gas and they normally complied to help her out. Agnes was living a delusional existence while Mark and Linda were enjoying their life together at their cabin.

One morning, Linda, saw the little girl running near the lake and she followed after her. Emily pointed to shrubs and once again Linda heard the little girl’s laughter. When Linda looked down at the shrubs she saw a large female deer licking its newborn. “How cute the little baby deer looks,” she said to herself.

The appearances of Emily shocked Linda at first because as quickly as she sees her and hears her excited laughter, she is gone.

“Is she physical?” she asked Mark, “or is she just an apparition? Can she physically be here with us?”

“I like to think, she is just visiting us,” he said to her as they walked through the woods together, “it has taken me many years to get over her death. Her visits might be her way of showing me that she is happy. It may have been my pain that kept her around and her coming around might be her way of trying to ease my pain.”

“I am not much into religion,” she said, “most of life to me is a mystery. I don’t really believe in miracles.”

“To me there are no miracles in life because life itself is a miracle,” he said, “look around and take a really close look at nature, it’s around you, and part of you. See the beauty of it all.'

Mark slowly walked Linda over to a tree limb and showed her a beautiful Butterfly delicately moving its wings, “We as living beings, are part of life’s miracle, and part of god’s beauty. You and I and all of nature make up the beauty within the magnificent face of god.”

“I never heard it put that way before. I always saw god as being far away from us at a place called Heaven.”

“To me god is intimately part of us,” he said as they continued their walk, “we are intimately part of god.”

He added, “the life of god is our sustenance, our essence; god is the life and the love that is within us.”

“What is death then?” she asked.

“Like I said, I am not an expert on death. I am merely an apprentice in life,” he said, “but I like to think of death as being part of the cycles of life. The cycles of life and death are part of god’s artistic symmetry. When we die we may rest for a bit, to assimilate the sum total of our experiences. I like to think that in time we return. We are reborn so that we can learn and grow with others. We gain greater self-awareness of ourselves and all of nature by living, growing, and sharing our lives with others. We are simply growing within god’s beauty and enjoying the gift of life.”

“So you believe in reincarnation?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said, “but not in a traditional sense but I do believe we are reborn. I like to think also that when we die we simply wake up to a higher awareness. It is like waking up from a dream. We simply have a greater awareness of life.”

“Death is like waking up to higher awareness,” she asked in a slightly confused tone of voice.

“We simply become more aware of life - when we die,” he said, “We become more aware of the life that we are living.”

“Like waking up from a dream?” she asked

“When we desire to sleep our dreams become our reality and we participate in our dreams. When we wake up from a dream we become fully aware that we were dreaming. Some of our dreams are good and some of our dreams are bad but we can learn more about ourselves from our dreams.”

“And then we return?” she asked.

“In time we desire to return, in order to delight in the game of life,” he said. “When you play well with others - in this game called life - others will want to play with you. We are simply learning and growing with others, like children, we learn by playing with others.”

“Do we meet the same people as before with each return,” she asked.

“People come into our lives for a reason. They come into our lives out of our soul’s desire, which is to love and to be loved,” he said, “We need others in our lives, not just for our physical sustenance, but because they help us learn more about ourselves.”

“So we met for a reason,” she said, “so my running you down with my car was no accident,” she said laughing.

“I would have preferred meeting you in a less dramatic way,” he said with humor in his voice.

“So what you are saying is we are reborn in order to learn more about ourselves so that we can grow and become more aware of our self,” she said.

“Yes,” came the reply, “we are reborn so that we can become more aware of our self in relation to others. In order to grow in self-awareness we have to fully live and participate in life with others.”

“Then when we die we analyze the events in our lives like we do with our dreams?” she asked.

“Yes, sort of like that,” he said, “I like to think of death as waking up, becoming more fully aware.”

“I was always told about a place called Heaven, where good people go, and Hell where bad people go, but what you’re telling me makes more sense,” she said.

“Yes, it makes more sense,” he said, “we learn a great deal more about ourselves from the life that we live with others. We are growing and evolving with others. With each return we will continue to evolve, physically, psychologically, socially and in greater self-awareness. We participate with others because we desire to be with those we love and to learn, and grow, in the game of life.”

“So then what is the purpose of life?” she asked.

"The purpose of life is to become more actualized,” he said, “to become more aware of all that there is.”

He began to show her the natural beauty of the forest as they continued to walk and talk, “our purpose in life” he said, “is to become more aware of god, life, and love. We are evolving, physically, socially, psychologically and in greater self-awareness with each return.”

“But why?” she asked, “what is the purpose?”

“We are helping nature move forward because we are part of nature,” he said. “We are also helping humanity move forward because we are part of humanity.”

“In what way do we help humanity?” she asked.

“We are helping humanity and nature move forward,” he said once again, “we are evolving, collectively, and on a more personal level. What we give to humanity and nature we give to ourselves.”

“I think I understand but it still does not answer the question as to why we exist,” she said.

“We must eventually come to a greater awareness of all there is,” he said.

“All there is?” she asked

“God,” he said. “God is the intimate essence of who we are and what we are becoming in life. I do believe god is the reason we exist because god is very much a part of us.”

“But you still haven’t answered the question, why?' she said, 'why do we exist, for what purpose?” she asked in a frustrated tone of voice.

“As we become more self-aware,” he said, “we come to a greater realization that the only thing we truly posses is life itself. Life is also all around us. Life is the expression of god's love.'

'That still doesn't answer my question,' she said.

'The life within us is the life of god trying to become more actualized in our very being,' he said. 'With each return we are trying to refine our expression of life. We are sharing the life of god and the purpose being. God communicates its presents through us because the life of god is an intimate part of us.'

'We are 'One' with God, is that what you are trying to say?' she asked.

'Yes,' he said, 'God’s life is within us it is becoming more actualized through us. As we evolve in life god becomes more known to us and we communicate the presents of god more fully.”

“So what you are saying then Death does not exist, there is only life?” she asked.

“Death is just a recycling process, its nature’s way of recycling itself,” he said.

“I was told evolution goes against god’s intelligent design and creation,” she said.

“The intelligent design of our own being,” he said, “is a reflection of the intelligent design within all of nature. Empirical evidence has revealed to us that there is an evolutionary order to all life which some Scientist’s believe is an intricate part of nature’s intelligent design. Today’s Scientist’s recognize intelligent patterns within nature. That is why we continue to rely on Science and continue to develop scientific methods to help us gain greater insights in understanding nature’s intelligent design.”

“So evolution is part of nature’s intelligent design?” she asked

“Yes,' he said, 'all we have to do is look at our humanity. We are pushing to better ourselves with each generation. It is within that desire for self improvement that we have evolved to where we are today and will continue to evolve, socially, physically, consciously, and spiritually, for countless generations. With each new generation humanity is gaining a deeper self-knowledge and becoming more self-aware of the essence of who we are as human beings. We are also very much a part of the evolutionary process of nature.”

“So we are evolving out of our own desire to better ourselves?” she asked

“Yes,” he said, “we are collectively pushing nature and humanity forward.”

“So life is all there is,” she said.

“The gift of life is all that we truly posses,” he said, “that is why the wise develop what they already posses within themselves.”

“You said before that we are becoming more actualized,” she said to him in a slow tone of voice, “by evolving to a greater expression of life, I think I understand what you meant.”

“The life of god that is within us,” he said, “is becoming more fully expressed through us as we push ourselves forward and evolve.'

'Are you saying that God is part of our evolution?' she asked.

'I think you understand what I am trying to say,' he said. 'The life of god is evolving through us as we push ourselves forward with each generation. The purpose of life is to evolve, to allow the life of god to fully express itself through us. The life of god that is within us is our sustenance, our essence, and god’s love.”

When they were walking back to the cabin he turned to her and said, “the wise understand that there is nothing we truly have but life itself and we determine our life’s worth.”

“How do you determine your life’s worth?” she asked.

“By what I give to others,” he said.

“And what do you give to others,” she asked.

“My woodcarvings are one way that I have chosen to reach out and connect with others,” he said, “one aspect of my life’s worth is through my artistic expression.'

“Your carvings are beautiful,' she said, 'absolutely beautiful.”

“My woodcarvings,” he said, “are my way of communicating and giving to others a part of my labor of love. What we give to others determines are life’s worth.”

“You are lucky that you found your nitch in life,” she said, “I suppose I haven’t found myself yet, but your certainty that there is only life brings me some comfort. My seeing Emily also brings me some comfort that we continue on in life.”

In time, Mark began to teach her a great deal more about nature and about the animals around the cabin. “They are much more sensitive then us,” he said, “they can pick up your vibrations, and your smell, but in time they will get used to you being around. The animals know me and they will get to know you as well.”

Their isolated world was about to be jolted by an unexpected visitor. From their kitchen window Linda was the first to see the dust rise from the dirt road. A vehicle pulled up close to the cabin. Linda heard the unfamiliar voice,

“Mark we are home.”

Upon hearing Agnes’s voice, the former husband felt a knot in his stomach as if someone without warning punched him in the gut. He quickly yelled “Linda,” who was standing in the kitchen, and urged her to quickly move to a back room in the cabin.

Liberty perched herself high on a large tree limb as if standing guard. She somehow felt the uneasiness in Mark.

Agnes walked up to the porch before Mark could brace the door closed with a chare. She yelled out, “Mark, sweetie are you home?” He ignored her but Agnes walked into the cabin and saw Mark and Linda in front of the Fireplace.

“Mark aren’t you glade to see us home?” she asked.

“What are you doing here?” he asked her with a concerned look on his face.

“I came home with Emily she missed her Daddy.”

“Whose vehicle are you driving?” he asked.

“Ours silly,” she said, “are you alright Mark?”

Linda nervously walked over to a metal poker that was leaned up against the fireplace.

“Give your Daddy a hug, Emily, he missed you,” Agnes said.

In her delusional mind, Emily’s death was erased from her memory. Her daughter was still very much part of her life and Mark was still very much her husband. Mark however was not concurring with his former wife’s reality.

Agnes looked at Linda with a fiery temper and with sheer hatred in her voice said, “who is she, Mark!!!!!!!”

“She is my friend, and you need to get back to the group home, Agnes,” he said to her in a calm voice so that she would not violently go off.

An eerie feeling came over Linda as she picked up the metal poker. She felt she may need it for protection. Agnes walked up to her and quickly pulled the poker out of her hand. She swung it like a baseball bat waking Linda across her arm. Linda cried out in pain and quickly ran out of the cabin.

“Run you little tramp,” Agnes yelled and ran after her. She whacked her again across her leg.

Linda once again cried out in pain and Agnes was about to strike her a third time. Liberty with outstretched wings flew around Agnes distracting her from continuing her assault on Linda. Liberty then grabbed the poker with her clawed feet and Agnes quickly let it go out of fear. She watched Liberty fly off with the poker.

She then quickly turned and began kicking Linda. Mark ran over to stop her but she quickly turned and began hitting Mark with her fests, “you’re a no good two timing cheating louse,” she yelled.

Liberty instantly flew down from her perch on a high tree limb and grabbed Agnes’s hair with her clawed feet. She pulled her forward causing her to fall to the ground.

Linda was in terrible pain. Mark helped her up and slowly walked her to her vehicle. He drove her to the hospital and called the police.

She not only had a broken leg but a broken arm as well and they were placed in casts in the hospital emergency room. The police followed them back to the cabin from the hospital.

When they arrived home Mark was first to notice Liberty standing guard from her perch high up in a near by tree.

Agnes was too scared to leave the cabin due to a large bird grabbing her hair and pulling her to the ground. The Police placed her under arrest and charged her with auto theft and the assault and battery of Linda. A judge involuntarily committed her to a psychiatric hospital, due to her being a threat to others. “She is to be remanded there until she is psychologically fit to stand trial,” the Judge said.

It was now Mark’s turn to care for Linda. He felt guilty and somehow responsible for what happened to her.

“I should have reacted faster and got to her in time, to stop her from hitting you,” he said to Linda.

“It wasn’t your fault; I shouldn’t have grabbed the poker in the first place. I am just glade Liberty was there to help out,” she said, “she sure is smart.”

The next morning with Mark’s help she held some bread out with her good arm. To her surprise Liberty flew down onto the porch banister and took the bread from her hand, “thank you for helping me,” she said to Liberty, “you are one great friend.”

Over time Linda’s leg and arm healed and she remained at the cabin with Mark. Her former boyfriend is unable to track her down but even if he could find her. She feels safe knowing that Liberty is close by watching over the cabin.

It was shortly before Linda discovered that she was pregnant. That Emily stopped appearing to them, “Emily, is much closer to us now,” Mark said gazing at his baby daughter’s face. As he held her in his arms he smiled.

He continues to make his woodcarvings and he added a few additions to his personal collection on the fireplace mantle. One addition is a carving of Linda and their baby girl in her arms. Another addition is Liberty standing on a tree limb looking down at Linda, Mark, and their precious baby girl.

Linda remembered that the last time she saw Emily she was pointing to a newborn baby deer, “perhaps it was her pet retuning,” she said to Mark.

She then walked out to the front porch. She held out her hand with bread in it to see if Liberty would take it without Mark being around. To her surprise Liberty flew down and took the bread from her hand. Liberty turned, with outstretched wings, she flew high circling their cabin. Linda then noticed a much smaller Bald Eagle in the sky remaining close to her.

She quickly called out to Mark so that he to could see the baby Eagle,

“It looks like Liberty is now a Mother too,” he said to her.

That afternoon Linda saw three fish lying on the porch. “I guess one fish is for me, one is for Mark, and the third fish is for our daughter,” she said out loud, “thank you, Liberty.”

Mark is a proud father and he increased the number of woodcarvings per week so that he could provide for the new addition to their family. Their lifestyle, perhaps simplistic to an extreme, especially, for our modern time, but their quality of life is rich and they are a happy family.

He is looking forward to the day his daughter can start school so that she can prepare herself for a brighter future. “She will learn, and grow,” he said, “she will learn much more then you and I will ever know.”

“Life is still a mystery to me Mark, but I suppose life is all we really have,” she said.

“Wherever there is life, Linda, there is love,” he said as he held his baby girl in his arms.

With love,
Thomas F. O’Neill

Click on author's byline for bio.

(800) 272-6464
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries
by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.


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