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The Quilt

It's funny how the mind works.  I was drinking my coffee this morning and poking around on Pinterest, two of my favorite addictions, when I stumbled across an Emmet Kelly figurine post under the "Everything" option in Pinterest.  So, I started looking up Emmet Kelly figurines, which somehow also added a Precious Moments clown figurine in the search.  So of course I had to reminisce and look up Precious Moments, as my aunt, my mother's sister and whom I am named after, used to cross stitch Precious Moments scenes.  Many of the PM kids reminded me of another childhood character, Holly Hobbie.  I bet you can guess what I had to look up next!

And that brings me to the purpose of this post, childhood memories.  Specifically one childhood memory, a quilt.

There are few material things remaining in my life from my childhood; my quilt is one of them.  And though it is tattered and in disrepair, it is one of my most valuable possessions.

The quilt.  It is old and threadbare.  It is stained and faded.  Much of the quilting is now flat and there are a few holes in some of the squares.

My quilt.  It feels like home and smells like memories.  It is worn and soft, and nothing in the world can compare to its comfort.

You see, when I was a baby my grandmother made this particular quilt for me.  She spent the better part of a year (so I've been told) hand-stitching from start to finish a quilt for each of her grandkids as Christmas presents.  Both of my brothers got a quilt, one in blues and greens, and one in earthy tones.  Neither of my brothers still have their quilt.  They were long since lost or discarded.

My quilt, my precious quilt, is squares of pastel pink and a light summery green.  Each and every square was decorated with needlework of Holly Hobbie, enough squares to completely cover a twin-sized bed.  The style of needlework was embroidery, not cross stitch, with beautiful stylized stitches accented with decorative knots.  I can't even imagine the time my mother's mother put into making just this one quilt, all by hand, much less three.

This is what the needlepoint work originally
would have looked like on my quilt.
Through the course of a lifetime my quilt was used to keep me warm, as padding to sleep on, comfort when I was sick, a play mat for my kids as well as the children of my friends and family, and to warm my mother when she was battling cancer.  It has silently witnessed everything from birth to death of human and furry creatures a like.  It has felt the coolness of grass on a spring day and protected me from the burning sands of the beach on a hot summer's afternoon.  It has been eaten on, spilled on, bled on, thrown up on, had diapers changed on it, machine washed and rewashed, bleached, sun dried and dryer dried, even hand washed more than a few times, used as a couch cover, a chair throw, a car and hotel blanket when traveling, a crib/playpen "sheet", a pet bed, and yes, even as a cover for my own bed.

Now almost 40 years old, the lovingly-stitched Holly Hobbie scenes are long gone, the decades-old thread having been faded and worn away to nothing.  You can still faintly make out where some of the knots and stitches us to be.  The lining and edging are frayed and have holes in them.  Life, my life, has left a few permanent stains on the now delicate fabric of the quilt.  The stains that to others may seem unsightly, to me make it all the more beautiful because of the memories of a lifetime held within each one.

My grandmother has long since passed away, and sadly so has my mother.  But I have a quilt, and because of that I will always have a little bit of them with me.

My quilt


Still Standing

The mourning sun glares on a street
once enshadowed
By Twin Towers standing as guardians
over Manhattan.
As dust and tears settle on a now
unfamiliar skyline
Their thunderous demise still
echoes the Nation.

Instead of bringing this great county
to its knees
We rise shaken and bruised, refusing
to admit defeat.
We join together as one
to show
A united front towards
a common enemy.
Our flag continues to wave, The Star
Spangled Banner continues to play
And prayers are lifted unto heaven
on Angels' Wings.
Today, amidst the rubble and chaos
brought to this land
We, The United States of America
proudly STILL STAND!
                                                          (c) sierra sugar 9/12/2001

Growing up I remember my parents talking about the assasination of John F, Kennedy and how even decades later they could perfectly remember even the smallest detail of that singular moment in time.  I couldn't understand it.  That is, not until September 11, 2001.

Ten years ago today I was married to an enlisted Navy man serving shore duty at Patuxent River, Maryland, which is located just South of Washington DC.  We lived on base and he worked on the electronics and radar systems for the F-18 fighter jets.  That morning, like any other morning we both were at work and the kids were in school, him on base and the kids and I off base.  That's when I heard the news.  A patient called to say she wouldn't be in, she was watching the news and a plane just flew into one of the Twin Towers in New York.  I couldn't wrap my brain around that concept.

I went to put the news on for my boss and I.  I remember standing there with my phone in my hand as I had called my husband but it just rang and went to voice mail.  I vaguely remember hearing his voice mail message, as if through a hollow tin can, as the second plane flew into the other tower.  When the first tower collasped, that's when my legs gave and I crumpled to the floor.  By the time I was finally able to make my legs work and stand both towers had collapsed.  I don't remember crying but my eyes burned and my cheeks were wet.  Every number I tried to call got some message about circuits being overloaded and the call could not be completed.  Being that close to DC I didn't know whether my husbands squadron was going to get called out.  My family and friends didn't know if we were ok.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when my phone actually rang.  It was my husband.  He had literally two minutes to talk.  I remember him saying be quiet and listen.  Get the kids and get on base NOW, they are locking everything down.  No one in or out.  

My boss told me to go and I did.  I couldn't get through to the school but it didn't matter.  Cars were lined up, buses were loading kids already, and the office was in hyper drive checking IDs and signing kids out.  From that point it took me 3 hours to get on base as every car and person, kids included, went through a complete security check including metal detector and pat down.  They looked in cars, trunks, behind seats, used big mirrors to scan the under carriage of every vehicle.  Only those with valid military ID that showed they lived on base, or listed as critical crew were being allowed in, everyone else was turned away.  And at 6pm no one, living there or not, was getting on the base, period.  We were locked in for 3 days.

That night every navy wife and husband not on duty turned off their lights and sat in their front yards for a candle-light vigil.  Even the kids were solomn and still for that hour.  There was nothing we more we could do at that moment but pray and hope.  

For days we watched nothing but every video, news cast, interview, and heart-wrenching story from that fateful morning.  Until I finally couldn't take it anymore.  I turned the TV off and took the kids to the park on base.  Every moment of that day, every face seen on the TV, every tear, and every loss will always be etched in my memory.  And every day I am thankful that for all the heartache and loss that day, my family was spared.  I only wish so many others would have been as lucky.
Never Forget!


Sounds of Silence

This time of year is easily the hardest time for me. It sneaks up on me every year. My emotions run high. My tears fall freely. I find myself angry and confused for no apparent reason. And then I realize what's going on. And even though it all makes sense, it doesn't make it any easier.

Labor Day weekend. In the US it's a long holiday weekend filled with football, cookouts, friends, family, laughter, time at the beach or lake, and fun. For many it is the last hurrah before they go back to school. For others it is a quick reprieve after the first one or two weeks of being back to school. For me? It is the last time I saw Teddy (Thor Bishop in Second Life) alive. Four years ago over Labor Day weekend I was up in Long Island, New York spending the week with him, meeting his family, and planning our future. I flew home the day after Labor Day full of hope and happiness. One month later I found myself on a plane back to New York for his funeral. It doesn't seem like it has been four years. And then again at times it feels like its been more than a lifetime. Throughout the year I remember him with laughter and smiles. I have said my goodbyes to him. I have packed away all but the most treasured memories and I have gone forward with my life. Yet, I find once again this time of year tripping me up and bringing me down. Four years.

Autumn is such a beautiful time of year. Throughout most of the country the colors start to change to rich reds, warm yellows, glowing oranges, and deep purples. The air is just barely starting to turn cooler, but the days are still sunny and warm. My mother loved the warmer months. The hotter the better. She lived to be outdoors in the sun. Autumn is when we lost her. Two years ago September 24th my mother lost her battle with cancer. Two years ago this time of year we were watching her struggle and slip away. Two years ago we were all in denial and silently preparing for the eventuality of her death. As much as we wanted to ignore it, wish it would go away, pretend it didn't exist, the cancer most definitely did exist and it was stealing my mother away breath by breath every day. I can still see the changes in her from each visit. I can still feel the frailty of her as I cared for her, helped her move, bathed and fed her those last days. Two years.

It doesn't seem fair for cancer to win so often. But it does, and it doesn't care how old you are. This time last year, yet again we were left helpless as we all watched my sister-in-law lose her fight with cancer. She was only a couple years older than me and had been fighting cancer for 4-5 years. When my mother died the year before she left behind a husband and three adult children. When the insidious cancer took my sister, she left behind a husband, one child just barely in college, and another still in high school. I was here, where I am most days, taking care of my patient unable to get away. I got the news of her passing and grieved her loss alone in silence. One year.

This time of year is hard. And I don't know where else to vent except for here. The above incidents are not the only things that have happened during September/October the past couple years, but they are the most significant. The others are just salt in already painful wounds. I was alone when I got the news that Teddy died. I sat all alone on the floor in an airport crying into a cell phone telling my dad. My best friend in real life didn't even know and when I tried to tell her she didn't understand, she couldn't. When my mother died I felt like I had to be the one to be strong because I watched as my brothers and dad were coming to pieces. I couldn't even express my pain for over a year, and even then it was over the phone to a long-distance friend who had never lost anyone and had no clue what I was feeling.

The past month here has been crazy with all sorts of repair work and technical problems. I am most definitely stressed and worn out. The past two days I've barely been able to hold the tears in when I'm on the phone or on the air. Music helps, distractions help, but they are not enough. When I hurt I tend to isolate myself. Hoping for someone, anyone to notice and reach out. In theory those that know me know this. Yet not one of them has taken the time to ask what is wrong. I reached out in sheer desperation to two different friends, just needing a little compassion and comfort to help me through what felt like the worst of it. One completely ignored me. The other told me to "get over it".

Why do I continue to put my faith in people? I like to think that when it counts I am a compassionate person. Honest and caring. Willing to listen and try to understand. Life experience has given me a lot, whether I wanted it or not. But it helps me relate hopefully to people around me. No one is perfect, we all fall short sometimes. But I would hope that when it matters I'm able to see through to someone's pain and be there for them. For those of you that perhaps I failed in this, you have my most heart-felt sincerest apology. And for those that know me know I tend to say "Everybody leaves". And that's exactly how I'm feeling right now, everyone's gone and I'm left sitting here completely alone.

If you listen to the sounds of her silence you'll hear the crash of tears as they fall. And if you look through the brightness of her smile, you'll see the shadows of sorrow in her heart. (c) 2011 Sierra Sugar

Virtually Six

In the normal chronology of life six years can be a significant amount of time. If a person lives to be 60, six years is 1/10th of their life span. If an average adult marriage lasts 30 years, six years is 1/5th of that time. To a teenager six years is longer than one spends in high school or for many even college. But in terms of virtual chronology six years is more than a lifetime, to many it may seem like an eternity. In an age and environment where technology is outdated nearly as fast as it is developed and changes are measured in terms of gigabytes per second, a year marks an extreme passing of time.

It also marks the virtual age of Sierra Sugar. Six years ago today Sierra was “born” if you will into the virtual world of Second Life. Seeking an escape from the grind and drama of the average raid oriented guild in MMORPGs, a friend of mind recommended this “new” game. Knowing my affinity towards The Sims, he thought SL would be a nice change of pace from the XP grind of WoW. Little did I know what I was stepping into.

In a world where any person can be and create anything their heart desires, Sierra was created as and has remained a virtual extension of her real life user. The only deviation from that real representation was the addition of kitty ears and tail, call it a personality trait expressed visually. Many use Second Life as a way to be something they are not or could never be. I have used it as a means to express who I really am. The person who was always a bit too quiet, or too shy for her own good could finally have a voice and be seen. It allowed me to step out of myself and take a good look. It showed me many things I did not like, and quite a few I realized I did. It has afforded me opportunities for amazing friendships, incredible love, unending creativity, and yes even unbelievable heartache. Through the laughter, the tears, the good times and the bad, after six years Sierra still remains.

Six years is definitely an eternity in Second Life time. And in those six years I’ve seen this virtual world change exponentially. It was a much smaller world back then. The grid could easily be traversed by foot, vehicle or hot air balloon in the course of a couple hours at best. There were no private islands and mainland was being bought up in large quantities by a budding virtual real estate entrepreneur, Anshe Chung. The only known custom skin maker was Munchflower Zaius of Nomine fame. There was no flexi nor sculptie. And any average Second Life citizen could enter into chat with a Linden simply by asking for help in world.

In 2005 if you logged in and there were 8,000 people online you know the world was going to crash. I remember the first time I saw there were 12,000 people online. And again when there were 20,000 online I sat back and went “Wow!”. Now on any given day there will be on average 65,000-75,000 online. Again, just “Wow!”.

In my six years in Second Life I've seen people meet from half way around the world, fall in love, meet in real life, and make it work. I’ve witnessed the growth of virtual support groups and learning centers. I’ve both witnessed and personally experienced extreme acts of kindness and generosity given to “friends” in a virtual world shared so closely, where yet the real world separates them by hundreds and even thousands of miles.

Residents of Second Life span the globe and their charitable interests are expressed accordingly. Funds have been donated in large quantities not just for RFL, but also for the relief efforts of Katrina, Haiti, Japan, Abused Women, education, Mobility, and various other charitable organizations. Our first year in working with the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life, citizens of Second Life barely raised $100,000 USD. Yet that amount was considered a significant achievement brought about by merely a bunch of virtual gamer geeks. The past two years Second Life RFL teams raised over $2.5 MILLION USD each year. Again, just “Wow!”.

In six years here in this Second Life I’ve also witness heartbreaking sadness and acts so inhumane rage and disgust can’t even begin to express accurately. Negativity and evil exists in the real world just as surely as it does in a virtual world. It doesn’t make it right or any less wrong. Human nature being what it is can we really expect others to behave differently simply because it is virtual? Not really. We are who we are no matter what platform or environment we choose to represent ourselves and interact with others. Evil, in what ever context you wish it to be, simply is. We acknowledge it, avoid it if we can, and move on.

Being the perpetual optimist I try to not dwell on the negative. To quote another strong woman from a different era, yet just as equally virtual in its own sense for the time she was created, Ms. Scarlett O’hara once said “Tomorrow is another day!”

And yes it is. I wonder what tomorrow will bring.


Two Three Six Five - Sierra Sugar

Earlier in the year I was recommended by Callie Cline to the Two Three Six Five blog and they asked me if I would like to write. The Second Life Two Three Six Five is the SL version of the RL blog of similar namesake. After reading over the project and comparing the SL and RL blogs I was ecstatic to be included in this project. And of course the date that naturally came to mind for me to write about was 10/09/2010, a significant day to those that knew me.

Little did I realize the changes life would take over the past year and how it would effect my writing (and personal life) in a way I never imagined. If you haven't already been following this blog do go and check it out Here. If you've liked what I said please leave a comment. All feedback on anything I write is always most welcomed.

~Sierra Sugar

Three Days (parts 1 and 2)


I will be posting a series of blog posts tagged as "Big Fish". I'd like to thank someone special to my heart, Cole, for helping to bring a spark of creativity back to my writing. These posts are loosely based in idea only off a film we saw together called "Big Fish" featuring an all-star cast to include Ewan McGreggor and Danny DeVito. If you've not seen the movie, you absolutely must. It has become something I identify closely with, and anyone who has ever spent time in Second Life and has memories there, then you too have your own Big Fish.

Our Avatars are an extension of our personalities and the experiences we have in Second Life through our avatar become part of our real memories. These adventures in a virtual world while entirely "real" (in a sense) to us are nothing more than Big Fish stories to other who have not had the joy of such an incredible and immersive world. I hope you all enjoy my personal Big Fish and have many of your own to look back and smile on.

((This is not our first Big Fish story we've created together. Earlier ones were based entirely on SL experiences. Having made the decision to meet in Real Life we started working on a future Big Fish story about that up-coming meeting as a way to relieve some of the anxiety of this huge step.

Written by my through his perspective.))

-Part 1-

As I lined up with the rest of the Lemmings to leave the plane I realized just how sleepy I really was. It had been a long sleepless night. I’d glance at the clock thinking hours had passed and surely it would be time to get up, only to find the clock minute hand had only moved an agonizing half an inch. It felt like it was going to take a lifetime for those three days to finally arrive.

Three days. It seemed like a decent amount of time when we were making plans. But now that everything was moving in fast-forward, even with my fatigue induced fog, three days seemed like only a blink of an eye. How is it that time can be so elastic? How can it can it be allowed to shift speed leaving the innocent party to stumble along trying to keep up? Time, it seems, has a twisted sense of humor.

Someone cleared their throat and I realized the Lemmings were finally shuffling their feet forward, so I followed suit. One foot in front of the other that felt both agonizingly slow and far too fast at the same time. Would she be waiting for me? Would she recognize me? Would I recognize her? And then what?

That was the big question we both feared, the what next part. And now that the answer was so close I could almost taste it, along with the stale airplane air that clung to my tongue, I was suddenly unsure. I had to readjust the grip of my duffle bag to keep it from slipping from my moist palm. At least I didn’t have to worry about the airline losing my luggage this trip as I chose to carry everything with me in one carry-on bag. Everything I’d need for a weekend fit neatly into one carry-on. One weekend, three days, and I cursed time as I finally stepped off the plane into the terminal.

Sunny Florida. The plane arrived on time touching down at exactly 11:25am. A few minutes to taxi, another couple minutes to disembark the plan, and I was suddenly submerged in a sea of bright sunbeams streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the terminal. Pulling my sunglasses from my pocket I quickly slipped them on to help ease the pain from the glaring bright light. It was a warm happy scene, but my eyes were just too tired for the radiating brightness.

No longer having to squint I could finally see where the other Lemmings went, so I adjusted my duffle bag one more time and followed them out of the terminal to the main area. That’s where she said she’d meet me. Was it really that much warmer here already, I thought shifting my duffle bag finally to my other hand and wiping the clamminess of my palm onto my pants.

It wasn’t quite as bright in here so I was able to take off the sunglasses. Looking around I could see that I wasn’t the only shell-shocked traveler unsure of where to proceed next. There was a tall square pillar just at the edge of what appeared to be a solarium so I leaned casually against it and let my bag drop to my feet. That looked casual right? Did Florida have a wattage control for their sun down here? Above the center of the solarium sunlight didn’t just stream lazily down, it burst through the glass roof with a force I wouldn’t have believed possible. Even the dust in the air was swirling and dancing in the light, animated by the intensity of the beams.

The light was definitely doing something to wake me up. More alert I slowly scanned the entire opening. She wasn’t here. Yet. I reminded myself to add yet to my thoughts. Jacksonville’s a big city; maybe she’s caught up in traffic? Maybe she was delayed getting away from home? No, she’s not here yet. Maybe in a few more minutes? I glanced at my wrist, my bare wrist, and shook my head. Right, I was supposed to get another watch last week. Instead of counting the minutes on my would-be watch, I counted the travelers walking by.

I took more notice now realizing not all were Lemmings. Oh there were many Lemmings around to be sure, but that one there, in the bright sundress and sandals, a light step to her gait, a purse and small carry on, she was eager to get to her destination. Happy even. Was she headed out for a weekend such as mine? And those two there, the man in the crisp Navy uniform and the pretty little girl holding his hand, sadness and tangible longing in the way they looked at each other. This was a sad goodbye. I shook my head, I didn’t want to think about sad goodbyes. I sighed. Three days.

Shifting my weight to my other leg I realized my foot had fallen asleep. Where was she? What time was it? Leaning over to grab my duffle bag I pushed away from the pillar with a purpose now. My own stride was a little awkward, as my half-asleep foot seemed to have a mind of its own. But I needed to find a clock. There, just over LDC display of flight arrivals and departures was the time. What? Wait! That can’t be right. How was it suddenly 3pm? Impossible! I turned and walked to the gift shop.

“Excuse me. Can you tell me the time, please?” I asked the kid behind the counter. He appeared to be in high school, but obviously coordinated enough to not only work but also remember to wear a watch. I shook my wrist is agitation.

“Five minutes after three.” He informed me. My face must have been a sight. I could feel the emotions start to take form on my face then change before fully developed and move onto another emotion, morphing several times before settling into utter and complete confusion. “Is something wrong?” The kid asked.


My defense mechanism from years of keeping people from knowing what’s really going on in my head. I just smiled. “Can I get a newspaper?” The kid handed me the current daily edition of USA Today, of course. Paying for my paper I walked to an unoccupied row of cushioned benches and found a seat in the back out of the way. Sure I could call her, I thought to myself spying the pay phones and suddenly remembering the cell phone in my pocket, turned off for the flight. But if she was standing me up why give her the satisfaction? No, I’d wait it out. Soon as I calmed down I go to the ticket counter and change my return flight to the next flight home today.

Snapping the paper open my thoughts were stopped in their tracks.

Thursday, July 8, 2010.


July 8th.

Not July 9th.

I felt myself getting a little light headed and took deep breath sucking in the air suddenly realizing I had been holding my breath. I’m a full day early. No wonder she isn’t here. She didn’t stand me up. She’ll be here, in 20 hours, but she’ll be here! The paper in my hand drooped.

HOW had I managed to get on the wrong flight, the flight leaving a whole day earlier? How was that possible? What type of incompetent staff did the airlines employ these days? Hadn’t they cracked down on all that after 911? Why didn’t someone say “Sir, you’re here a day early. You’re flight doesn’t leave until tomorrow.”? And I had to fly home in three.. no four days under the care of these same people? Maybe I’ll rent a car. I pulled my boarding pass from my pocket ready to head to the ticket counter to make a scene when my legs froze half way up out of the bench. I stood frozen there for half a second before collapsing back onto the bench. I rubbed my eyes, looked again, and then let out a deep sigh.

Departure Date: Thursday July 8, 2010 LaGuardia Airport
Arrival Date: Thursday July 8, 2010 Jacksonville International Airport

Right there in black and white. I’d booked the wrong flight. My mind, so eager to get down here had subconsciously picked an earlier day to leave and it never registered consciously. So here I am, in Florida, a day early. A day early! No longer Three days but FOUR! Smiling broadly I reached for my cell phone powering it on. Then immediately powered it back off and slipped it back into my pocket. No, I couldn’t call her. She told me she had a million things to do to get ready. Besides, she couldn’t just run out unscheduled. She had a patient to take care of, to coordinate her schedule around. I sighed again. No, I would just wait it out here and tomorrow she and I would have a good laugh. I sat back on the bench, opening the paper again, only this time without the previous annoyance. What’s going on in the rest of the world today?


-part 2-

“Did he stop breathing?”

“Is he dead?”

“If he’s dead can I have his watch?”

“He’s not dead and he’s not wearing a watch, you idiot!”

The strange voices didn’t seem to make sense. Its like they were talking into a bucket or a can. The voices had that ring of hollowness. Maybe I was dreaming? That’s probably it. I hate when my dreams do that though. I was having this incredible dream, I was in a meadow with her, and the weather was perfect. And it was just getting to the really good parts; I could tell when everything shifted to this… new dream that didn’t make any sense. Maybe if I got more comfortable I could find my way back to that other dream. I turned over and immediately realized I wasn’t dreaming.

There was the sound of paper wrinkling, the fleeting feeling of falling, and then the air knocked from my lungs as I landed on something cold and hard. The strange voices started snickering. Opening my eyes I realized the paper was actually the newspaper that had obviously fallen open over my face when I fell asleep. And the linoleum floor of the airport waiting area was the cold and hard object I’d landed on. Looking up, I realized the voices came from a motley crew gang standing just a few feet away. That was the only word I had for them. There were four of them, each carrying a backpack fairly filled to overflowing, the tallest one towing a luggage cart, each wearing an assortment of miss-matched items of clothing, three of them, all fairly tall, standing slightly behind the shortest one who was appraising me with a set of eagle eyes, color unknown.

Officer: Can you give me a description, height, hair color, eye color?

Me: Tall and short, all various shades of gray and brown.

Oh what a wonderful eyewitness I would make. Who knew color blindness could be so inconveniencing? I half wondered if this strange gang would take pity on me and maybe leave me alone for my handicap? Somehow I doubted that.

I groaned as I pushed myself off the floor acknowledging I was definitely going to have a few bruises from the fall. Why didn’t I call her? Why didn’t I get a hotel room? A taxi? Rent a car? All obvious choices now that I’d had a little sleep.

The short one was talking again. I forced myself to focus.

“Don’t try to play the dumb foreigner with us. You were reading an English newspaper, so I know you understand me. I’m gonna as you again, just what were you doing on our benches?”

It was more of a demand than a question. Someone had obviously never gone through public speaking. I turned and looked at the bench noting it was rather plain, unmarked without any names or symbols of any kind. Turning my gaze back to the band of airport rats I shrugged and said, “There were no names on it.”

I guess the bigger one in the back didn’t like my condescending tone of voice as I noticed him readjust something in his grip. A baggage tie. Seriously? A baggage tie? It was all I could do to not roll my eyes.

Another one spoke, it was the voice that wanted my watch. “Ooh, we have ourselves a Yankee. Aren’t you a little too far from home snowbird?” The other two in the back snickered again, the short one in the front continued to assess me, her hand obviously fidgeting with something in her pocket.

I stretched my arms out only half pretending to stifle a yawn, slipped my hands into my pants pockets and shrugged as I leveled my gaze on the smart-mouthed one. “Well I hear the water is better down here so I thought I’d come have a taste. But I suspect you find the water better down here too, ay?” He still had a touch of a Canadian accent and his eyes narrowed and he took a step forward when I called him on it. The tall one swung the cart around in front of him and the air around me became electrically charged with the tension.

“Alright alright. Settle down.” The short one was saying now, her hands stretched out at her sides as if to hold the others back. The object she was toying with in her pocket now visible, a baggage tie. Now that I looked closely all four of them had these baggage ties clutched in their fingers with a purpose.

Casually I pulled my hands out of my own pockets and raised them about shoulder level in a frozen shrug, a ‘hands in the air’ kind of move usually meant to convey no harm meant and shows hands clear of any weapons. On my right hand I spun my key ring, dangling off one side was the delta wings that I was given as a complementary flight gift off the other end was the laser toy used to annoy… I mean amuse my cats. The key ring spun around my finger like a miniature lop-sided set of nun chucks.

Everyone froze.

The key ring stopped spinning and I held the laser toy in my grasp, hands still half in the air, a casual smile on my lips as I appraised the leader. I’d done nothing more wrong than falling asleep on a public airport bench. The pack of airport rats, trapped in time in some terminal like a bad B movie was not about to oust me. Tomorrow I would see her and be well rested with a harrowing tale of my victory over a vicious gang out to maim me with their deadly baggage ties. My lips curled up in a devilish smile.

“Well, I hope you find the water to your liking.” The short one was talking again as she eyed my laser warily. She took a slow deliberate step backward and lowered her arms, but not putting her hands back into her pockets. “Let go check out Gate A, I saw Johnny’s girl heading that way when we specifically told them that was our Gate after they lost last week.”

The mouthy one started to protest but the short one gave him a look that easily read he shouldn’t question her decision. In unison all four seemed to relax, though not completely dropping their guard, and they shuffled quietly down the wide hall and around the corner, presumably off to Gate A. I caught a few hushed words that sounded like “His bench” and “Laser” and “Crazy”.

Chuckling, I sat back down on the bench no longer tired but craving a hot cup of coffee. Wasn’t there a Starbucks back at one of the corners surrounding the solarium? Grabbing my duffle bag I headed off on a quest for my liquid black gold, key ring in hand just in case.


Dreams end

The morning light filtered through the windows into the silent room. The cheerful illumination starke contrast to the shadows in her eyes. Taking a deep breath, a vain attempt to block out the screaming of protest to her heart she knelt, dropping slowly to her knees as she had so many times before, so many happy times. Her bottom rested snuggly between her heals, her toes pointed parallel to the floor, her shoulders pulled back caused a graceful arch to her back. Reverent. Respectful. Silent. Sorrowful. Hesitantly her hand traced the delicate metal around her neck as to commit the intricate pattern to memory; a needless action for the cool metal had long since burned its place into her soul. A burn much stronger than the sting behind her eyelids.

Letting her chin drop and her long curls fall to the side over her shoulder she reached behind her to unlock the clasp. The opening "click" so silent she was sure it was only her imagination that made the sound seem like the slamming of steel door. Or perhaps the slamming was the sound of her heartbeat, the irratic pulse as it rushed in her ears. She opened her eyes to try to ease the fire and focus on the floor, a small patch of carpet just before his feet.

He shifted His weight impatiently.

It was time.

Her hands began to tremble noticably as she removed the collar from her neck. Leaning forward she placed the beautiful symbolism of her love and ownership on the very spot of carpet at which she had been staring.

One tear fell, absorbed by the fabric of the plush carpet. Gone. Disappeared as if it had never existed. Just like the dissolution of her dreams. Her heart stopped. There was no pounding, no rhythm, no whooshing. There was complete silence and she had to consciously remind herself to the breathe. The pain was ripping and jagged, it tore through her chest into her very soul and she couldn't control the tears any longer. With one quick gesture she removed the ring from her left ring finger nearly dropping it from the tremor of her hands. She didn't even look at it. She didn't need to. She knew the pattern, the cut and design of the metal shaped into tiny leaves supporting a diamond flower. She'd never forget. As she set the ring in the exact center of the empty collar her shoulders began to shake and she bit down hard on her bottom lip to silence any sound that would give her away.

She never looked up at Him. She never looked at His eyes. She knew seeing the the cold empitness there now where there once was warmth and love would be more than she could bear. Keeping her chin down and eyes closed in a poor attempt to hide her tears she rose to her feet with more strength than she actually felt.

He never said a word. He never moved. He never acknowledged her actions or seemed to notice her pain.

It was time.

It was over.

Turning, she walked away from her life, her dreams, her hope. Constricted and unyeilding her throat allowed her only one word, a choked whisper, "Goodbye."

(c) 11/23/2009 sierra sugar