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Authors: Catherine Madera

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BOOK: Rain Shadow
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“Like I was saying, it takes certai
n
interpersona
l
skills to succeed as a real estate agent. You have to like people and be interested in getting them what they need.” 

While Steve droned on, Taylor thought of Melissa and felt a twinge of envy. What would it be like to be both good at somethin
g
an
d
passionate about it? Taylor could totally see Melissa owning Holy Grounds and taking the business straight to the top. Her own little coffee shop utopia. In the process Taylor had the chance to do her first real estate deal as an agent. They’d both get something important out of the experience. Instead of being excited, however, Taylor felt melancholy. Her time at the coffee stand would soon end. Working there was a temporary gig, something to fill the time and provide a little cash while waiting for real estate to take over. As she thought of Melissa’s dreams, she wished to somehow be a part of them.

“Are you listening?

“Huh?”

Steve frowned then patted her knee. “You have a lot to learn, Taylor,
and it’s my job to teach you.” He squeezed her thigh with meaty fingers. “Go call that woman who wants to see the strip mall space for rent. Let’s make sure she’s still planning to meet us after lunch.”

Taylor rose from her chair, ignoring Steve’s outstretched hand holding an empty coffee mug.

“Aaahem.”

“Did you need something?”

“I think you know what I need,” Steve winked. “This is a good opportunity
to practice your people skills.”

Taylor forced herself to remain pleasant and took the mug. She wondered if Steve had some sort of winking disease.

After Steve had consumed six soft tacos and a milk shake, they made their way to The Plaza and the small business space available for rent. Steve managed six of the ten rented spaces. It was a good location and he’d shared details of the unit with Taylor including the monthly fees—$550, plus utilities, and a minimum year lease.

“Hi, I’m Helen.” A trim middle aged woman with long braided hair and no make-up waited on the side walk outside the strip mall. She wore an ankle length tie-dyed skirt made of wool and smelled like soap.

Steve grabbed the woman’s hand and shook it vigorously, “Good to meet you, I’m Steve. This is my assistant, Taylor.” Orange-colored taco sauce formed a thin outline at the corners of his mouth. “Now, let’s have a look at this unit. Outstanding location and very modern.”

Taylor said nothing as she watched Steve give Helen a tour. Across the street the drive through at Coffee By the Bay was packed on both sides. The weather was turning cool, making lattes enjoyable at all
hours of the day. Taylor thought up drink names to share with Melissa
that would promote autumn weather: Fuzzy Sweater (caramel and marshmallow) and The Hottie (cinnamon mocha).

“Time to go, Taylor Ann.”

At the sound of her name, mom-style, Taylor snapped to attention. Helen had already left the building, her bright colored skirt visible in the parking lot where she was opening the door of a vintage Volvo.

“Uh, only my mother is allowed to call me that.”

“I needed to get your attention. Again.” Steve raised his eyebrows. “Now let’s head back to the office so you can do some filing for me. Then we’ll review a list of clients you can follow up with.”

“So what did Helen think?”

“Too expensive. She wants to sell her organic goat milk soaps and lotions. This space is clearly out of her league.” Steve shook his head in disgust, “Just what we need in Bellingham, another Earth Mother selling soap.”

“Maybe it’s her dream.”

“Dreams are overrated; she needs to get her head out of the clouds. Or maybe its out of the earth.” He laughed loudly, his belly wobbling close to the steering wheel.

“What about helping people get what the
y
nee
d
? As you were saying awhile back.”

Steve’s eyes suddenly narrowed. “So you were listening. Good to know.” He belched, filling the car with the smell of cheap Mexican food. “People hardly know what they need, that’s the problem. I help them get what the
y
reall
y
need. In her case, its a road side stand.” He laughed again.

“Wha
t
I
really need now is a smoke.” Taylor cracked the window and spoke into the blessedly fresh moist air outside as they pulled into Northcoast Realty.

Steve turned off the car and sat for an extra minute as if pondering the situation. He finally looked at his watch. “Five minutes.” Without waiting for her response he lumbered into the building.

As Taylor sucked on the cigarette she pondered how to tell Steve she had a potential deal. Should she tell her mother first? Steve was the head broker at the office, not to mention her mentor. She’d have to rely on him to help her and make the deal work. He probably wouldn’t take Melissa seriously. Like Helen she had a dream, but no money. Was it possible for a single, 21-year-old woman to get financing for $89,000?

 

 


 

 

 

Chapter 13

 

 

T

aylor grabbed a six-pack of Corona out of the refrigerator. Pulling on a wool sweater she flopped into a lawn chair on the porch.  Across the street the gathering dusk muted the shapes of the gravestones. The shadows of the enormous evergreens that surrounded the cemetery seemed as if they were swallowing the space. Taylor shivered and popped the top off a bottle. She turned her attention to Rain’s small field where she could still make out a silver shape that moved here and there, gleaning the last bits of hay Taylor had fed her not long before.

The air felt moist and icy on her skin, warning of the coming cold weather. No longer the warm blanket of fog that visited the earth in early fall, it had turned raw and penetrating, as bracing as the ocean in Puget Sound only a few miles away. It would be a cold night. A night perfect for snuggling deep under the flannel sheets and featherbed her mother had given her. If only she wasn’t terrified to go to sleep.

Taylor took long pulls on the bottle in her hand. A couple beers should do it. She wished there was some way to sleep outside with Rain. Maybe the horse could ward off the spirits tormenting her. She’d love to stretch out on Rain’s broad back and drift off to the smell of horse and the sound of a steady heartbeat.

Since bringing the mare home Taylor was coming alive a little more every day. Rain invited her to engage in life again and she became a friend Taylor looked forward to seeing each morning. Her very presence invited peace. But then the dreams had started, a recurring dream that left Taylor sobbing in despair. Her heart would pound in her ears upon waking, breaths coming in frantic gasps, as she tried in vain to shut out the images in her mind. Panic attacks. That’s how the website diagnosed her suffering. Perfect. Forget a head shrinker; she now needed drugs, too.

A sliver of light illuminated Rowan’s deck next door. Taylor popped another beer and watched the woman approach in the near dark, her dreadlocks a ropy silhouette
.
Like Medus
a
, thought Taylor through the warm haze of a buzz. She laid her head against the stretchy back of the chair and imagined it disconnecting from her body and floating like a balloon into the darkness.

“Hello there.” Rowan climbed the two cement steps and leaned against the railing surrounding Taylor’s tiny porch. “I brought you some dried Echinacea. Good in case any
germies befriend you this winter.”

“Oh, thanks.” Taylor reached for the brown paper bag of herbs. Rowan’s crop of flowers were mostly dried and mixed into natural herbal potions to sell at a tea shop in town. She also cultivated a smaller plot of medicinal plants: Calendula, Bee Balm, and various mints. “How do I use it?”

“Steep in hot water and strain to remove the leaves. And don’t drink with sugar.” Rowan wagged her finger at Taylor. “Sugar breaks down your immunity. I call it The White Death.”

“You sound like my mother.”

“I think you could use some mothering, my dear.” Rowan jerked her head toward the six-pack that had quickly become a three-pack. “Do I need to worry about you?”

“Nah. I only drink at night. Alone.” Taylor giggled, enjoying the detachment she felt between her physical body and her brain. “Thank you again for letting me keep Rain here. I just love her so much.”

“She is good for you, I think.” Rowan looked closely at Taylor, her green eyes wise. “Horses are good teachers.”

“I hope I’m a good owner is all …”

The cozy, alcohol-induced feelings suddenly evaporated. Taylor felt tears prickling. She wondered if her brain would explode from all the feelings that wanted to leak out.

“Why wouldn’t you be a good owner? You love her; you care for her.”

“I’m having bad dreams since she came …”

Taylor knew tears were coming. She placed her empty bottle down
and reached for another. Rowan grasped her arm before she could remove
the Corona from its cardboard cubby.

“Tell me about the dreams.”

Taylor allowed her arm to go limp. She leaned back against the chair and looked up at the square of porch roof over her head. A family of spiders had made homes in all four corners. She shivered again.

“I started to have this dream about a week after Rain came.” Taylor squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. “In my dream I see Rain waiting to be fed, morning and night like she always does. But instead of feeding her, I get busy doing other things. She keeps appearing at the fence, waiting for me, looking at me with her big, kind eye. But I don’t feed her.” Taylor stifled a sob. “One day, I go out and she’s dead, withered away from hunger right in front of me. I didn’t care for her. I killed her.”

Sobs choked the end of the sentence. Taylor dropped her chin to her chest. She felt Rowan’s warm, rough hands grasp her own and squeeze gently. She said nothing for a few minutes.

“Dreams are important windows into the soul. Do not discount this dream.”
Rowan looked serious when Taylor finally lifted her head to meet her eyes. “You do not trust. That is what this dream reveals. You have been given a life to nurture but you do not trust yourself to do it.”

Taylor nearly gasped out loud at the truth of the statement. Rowan didn’t wait for her to respond. “You must learn to trust yourself. Go deep into your true self and you will find that self is worthy of trust, worthy of esteem. See, Rain shows up at the same time day after day. She believes you will arrive, she believes you are trustworthy. She will help lead you to your true self.”

Rowan massaged Taylor’s forearm as she spoke, sure of her advice. It was a shallow comfort. Taylor wished she could be sure of such a thing, that she was trustworthy. Going deeply into herself, as she had done in the last year, had not produced peace. She felt at times only inches away from a stint at the Funny Farm, that’s what excessive self-analysis had gotten her. Rowan did not know what she had done. The woman nurture
d
flowers
,
nurture
d
dir
t
. She would probably never kill a living thing.

“Thanks, Rowan. I should probably go to bed now.” Taylor took her arm away.

“Anytime you can share your dreams with me, I will interpret them for you.” Rowan smiled. “Don’t forget to drink the tea; build up your immune system. And don’t neglect your true self.”

“Will do.” Taylor tried to smile as she shut the door.

One more beer, that’s what her true self needed right now. To drown out the last bits of the dream she had not shared with Rowan, the part where she was back on that metal table shivering uncontrollably as blood drooled between her thighs. The nurse had patted her arm, “It will be over soon, just relax.” How could she relax with the whir of the vacuum? In her dream her mind screamed to get off the table, to run away before that machine sucked out every piece of her soul. The doctor had not looked at her. He finished his business in silence, only sharing one word with a watching colleague as he disposed of something wet into a waste bin. The word stabbed her through the fog of horror and medication. “Female.”

And Taylor knew he was not referring to her.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Chapter 14

 

 

T

aylor left Rain tied to Liz’s trailer and walked to the covered gazebo
to sign in. Horses and people of every color, size, and
shape milled around waiting for the start of the poker ride. Taylor silently
took a copy of the waiver and glanced at the terms before signing her name.

Rider is aware that horses, by their very nature, are unpredictable and
horseback riding is an inherently dangerous activity. By signing, Rider accepts
all risk and will not hold The Back Country Horsemen of Washington liable
in the case of injury or death.

BOOK: Rain Shadow
12.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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