She was so groggy. Someone was slapping her face, trying to wake her up. Her eyelids felt like lead weights. She used all of her might to open them. She could barely see a face and heard a muffled laugh as he moved away from her. A noise that had been in the background, an iron dog, momentarily took over the night as it kicked into high gear and sped away. She was shivering in the single digit temperature, huddled on her side in the snow, with no clothes or covering, but she did not panic. She knew that it would not take long before she would simply fall back asleep again. It would not matter that, back in town, they had already realized that she was missing. She would die from exposure within minutes. They would never find her body until summer, if ever.
What fate in life had left her in this desolate place? She thought back and remembered. It was that one seemingly innocent email. If only she had never responded to it, learned of that man’s pain, tried to be the one to make it right again. You cannot force things to be right for another person’s soul, especially one who would not embrace the zig-zags of life, and who expected perfection in others that they could never attain. She remembered when she first saw the look in his eyes that revealed his dark side, his unresolved anger in life, and that he was one of those who could cause serious harm to others. She had known it that very first week, yet she had stayed.
She remembered the small ways he had used to slowly gain control of her life, the multiple daily messages and phone calls that she thought were so touching back then, what looked like so much loving attention. She thought she had been so noble to help him work through his pain. As she struggled to maintain her identity and tried to explain her world to him, he would listen just long enough to seem like he cared before moving her back into his own world with a kiss. He tried to utilize all of her time; he was jealous and possessive when she left for social engagements with her girlfriends or when she went to business events to gain support for her career. Her world must end.
She remembered him showing her the gun. They were sitting in his truck listening to the radio. He made the excuse that he just needed to know that she was fine with him owning one. But they could have simply talked about that, he did not need to show it to her, and he told her many stories that justified him carrying it with him. She understood the implied threat, but she also knew that he would never need to use it on her, for there were far easier ways to deal with people in this arctic place. Her morning had been so happy until that point, she had thought that they had made progress the night before and that they were falling in love. She remembered the turning point, being afraid to be alone with him that weekend, and telling her girlfriend she would call her each day so she would know that she was still alive.
The same argument kept coming up again and again. He just could not leave her past alone. Finally, he blew up. His dog kept barking and he yelled at it to shut up. The dog did not like the tone of voice he was using with her. His dog had grown so fond of her, sitting at her feet, gazing into her eyes, placing a paw on her leg or hand, meeting her car when she drove up. Their bond had grown so close, so full of love. She knew that he was screaming at the dog when he really wanted to scream at her. She asked him to please stop, that the dog had done nothing wrong. He told her about the animals that he had killed because they had displeased him. Once again, she understood the implied threat. She told him that to take a life, in any manner, was one of the most serious decisions one could ever make in this life. She remembered telling him that he thought her no better than an animal now. She told him that she would trade her own life if there were some way that it could make his world right again. Then she left, for she knew that her fate had been sealed, it was just a matter of time, and that she had better have her affairs in order, in all ways that mattered.
She remembered calling her old lover and telling him that she had become involved with a very jealous man. She warned him that he should never talk about her so that he would be safe. She told that gentle, quiet man that she would never forget their evening together and that she would never have undone it and missed the beauty of it for anything in the world, even though the price had most probably been her own life. She was happy to learn that he had found love again. All was in order now, and she was at peace.
She felt so tired and sleepy as she tried to remember the words to a song . . . something about avoiding the pain but she would have missed the dance . . . and that a friend had sent her the words to another song . . . I hope you dance . . . and that after all of her years of being alone that she had learned to love again. Her thoughts drifted to the other favorite songs and sayings . . . that time heals, that when you are given lemons in life that you must make lemonade, and that sometimes God gives you potpourri. Life had been good and bad, she had embraced the bright side, met adversity with grace, and she had danced.
She smiled as she saw the aurora dance above her in the sky and she closed her eyes, so hard to stay awake now. She was content, for she knew she would see her dad soon, and that she would dance with her mom again. She would see all of her dreams come true in her heaven and for those she loved on the earth below. In a silly last twist of fate, she laughed, for she realized that he had just made her famous while he would suffer his own demise.