Resurrection 13Posted: November 6, 2016
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
J.W. woke after 8. The two beers from the night before gave him a deep sleep he desperately needed. As he looked around, he saw his fellow hikers were already on their way and he was alone.
“I can’t believe I slept through them breaking camp.”
Wiping the sleep out of his eyes, he saw a note on his backpack.
Preacher, Had a great time last night. We tried to let you sleep. We left at 7:30. If you hurry, you might be able to catch up with us. Creek.
J.W. stretched again and then reached for his phone. Last night’s conversation with Suzanna seemed strained, and he wanted to call her this morning to at least try to ease the tension. Pulling out his phone, he realized it was dead.
Now he couldn’t call her until he got some charge, which is hard to do on The Trail. He pulled out his solar charger and tried to find a patch of sunlight in the heavily wooded area, hoping to get some charge while he ate and packed the rest of his gear.
After fifteen minutes of eating and pulling his gear together, he tried the phone again. Still nothing. He put the phone in his pack and tried to affix the charger panels to the outside, hoping to get some charge while he hiked.
Maybe if he hurried he could catch up to Creek and the others and use one of their phones.
At the parsonage the morning crept on. Tom stayed an appropriate time, then left to go home, tell Rachel the terrible news, and get a couple hours sleep before his first patients of the day. Polly made more pots of coffee, then made biscuits and eggs. No one even tried to eat. They all talked and cried. Claire slept then woke again, ready for another feeding.
Suzanna called her parents and gave them the news. They were now making the three hour drive from Vanceburg to Silerville. Should arrive around 10am.
J.W. hiked at a hurried pace. He passed a couple other hikers who were heading north, but neither had a charged phone. He pushed himself, thinking Suzanna was probably worried he hadn’t called as promised.
It was almost noon when he caught up with Creek, Tiny and the rest. They had just finished eating and were getting ready to head out again.
“Hey, Preach,” greeted Creek. “You slept like a rock last night.”
“Yeah, I did, Creek. Hey, my phone is dead, do you have any charge? I want to call my wife and let her know I’m OK.”
“I got charge but no signal. Tiny you got a signal?” shouted Creek to the redhead.
Tiny checked her phone. “Nope, sorry Preacher.”
“Hike with us for a while and we’ll get a signal sooner or later.” counseled Creek.
“Yeah I will.”
As they hiked, J.W. kept periodically checking to see if his phone was charging. The shade of the trail seemed to be preventing enough sun. At every high point, Creek and Tiny checked their phones. Nothing yet.
Once Suzanna’s parents arrived, the ordeal of revelation started all over again. More tears, more questions, few answers. It did comfort Suzanna to have them here.
As the news began to get around Silerville, people began calling, showing up at the parsonage. Doc Sibley called in a low-dose Xanax script for Suzanna and Johnny Phillips, RhP delivered it himself. By noon Suzanna had enough.
“Why don’t you take one of those pills and try to get some sleep,” Polly suggested. “I and your folks can take care of Claire. There’s breastmilk in the freezer, right?”
“Yeah, maybe that’s a good idea,” responded Suzanna.
“Good. Here honey,” Polly gave her a glass of water as she opened the pill bottle.
Just then Suzanna’s phone buzzed. They had shut off the ringer a couple hours ago.
“It’s Plummer’s,” said Polly, looking at the phone. Polly had taken charge of the incoming calls.
“Just let it go to voicemail, Polly. I can’t deal with that now.” Suzanna took the pill.
As she walked toward the stairs, Polly asked after her, “What do you want me to do with the calls?”
“If someone’s not in my contacts, let it go to voicemail. Otherwise you can answer. Tell them I’m resting.” Suzanna climbed the stairs, pulled the covers over her head and cried herself to sleep.
As they topped another ridge, Creek pulled out his phone to see if he had a signal without J.W. even asking. “Hey Preacher! I got a signal, wanna make a call?”
“Thank God! Yes, my wife worries a bit when I am on these hikes.” J.W. was relieved.
“Here ya go,” Creek handed the phone to J.W.
He dialed in the number.
Polly looked down at the incoming call. Asking the room, “Does Suze know anyone in Connecticut?”
“No, I don’t think so,” her mother replied. The other grandparents nodded no as well.
Polly sent the call to voicemail.
J.W. wished he hadn’t gotten voicemail, though Suze was probably napping along with Claire.
“Hey, honey. I’m calling from someone else’s phone. Sorry I couldn’t call this morning, my phone is dead. I’ll be able to charge it once we make camp and if I have a signal, I’ll call you tonight. If not, then I’ll find a place on the trail in the morning where I can call. Kiss Claire for me. Love you, bye.”
J.W. handed the phone back to Creek. “Thanks Creek, I appreciate that. I’m sure she was concerned.”
“No problem, Preach.” With that Creek shut off his phone and put it back in his pocket.
They continued on their hike but J.W. struck out ahead, trying to get to the next shelter early enough to get some sun and charge his phone.
It was three o’clock before Suzanna woke. At first she realized it had all been a dream, John was just on his trip. Then as she became more lucid, she realized all over again it was real.
She willed herself out of the bed and into the bathroom. She brushed her teeth and apprised her looks in the mirror. She hadn’t looked this bad after labor.
She wanted to go downstairs, to be with her family. She didn’t want to face anyone else.
“Mom,” she called down the stairs from her bedroom door, “can you come up here?”
“Of course, honey.” Suzanna’s mother climbed the stairs.
Suzanna’s mother found her sitting in the bedroom chair where she often nursed.
“What can I do for you, dear?” At 62, Doris Beacher was still a rock.
“Are there still a lot of people coming and going?” asked Suzanna.
“Yes, a couple from the church – the Wallingfords – just got here to pay their respects. Others have been coming and going all morning.”
“Mom, I can’t do this. I can’t face them or anyone right now.”
“I understand, honey. Don’t worry about it. You can stay up here. Do you want me to stay with you?”
“Yes, please, but can you bring me Claire as well?”
“Certainly honey, anything you need.”
Doris went back downstairs, retrieved Claire and told the family Suzanna was going to stay upstairs for a while. Polly got a chair from the dining room and took it upstairs.
“Are you ok?” asked Polly before leaving the room.
“I guess I’m as good as I’m going to get right now. Holding Claire is nice. I wish this all would stop.”
“I’m sure you do, Suze. I’m sure we all do. I’ll leave you and your mom alone now.” Polly closed the door behind her as she left.
J.W. got to the shelter and clearing before 4pm. He was exhausted from the rapid hike. He immediately set up his charger and phone. Hopefully he would get a charge shortly and be able to call Suze-if he had a signal.
A half hour later “The Fellowship of the Ring” – as they decided to call themselves – arrived as well, Creek heading the parade.
“How long you been here, Preacher?” asked Tiny as she dropped her pack.
“Not long.” J.W. said.
“Got any charge yet?” asked Creek.
“I’m going to give it another half-hour and then we’ll see.”
The group all began setting up camp. Since J.W. had slept outside the shelter last night, they gave him the prime spot for tonight. At 5, J.W. checked his phone.
“YES!” he said as it sprung to life with a 25% charge.
“You gotta signal?” asked Tiny.
“It’s searching…” said J.W., not looking up from his phone. Suddenly two bars appeared.
He navigated to his favorites and called Suzanna’s phone.