Justin awoke suddenly and slapped at the digital clock alarming on a nearby table. “Shut up
already, you infernal machine. Susan, did you set this damn thing? Susan?” He turned over to
find the blankets pushed down and the sheets cold. Thinking she had just already gotten out of
bed, he started to close his eyes, but a nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach caused him to sit
up. He grabbed his jeans and pulled them on as he looked quickly around the room, before
placing his feet on the cold floor. Unable to shake the sensation of dread, he rushed out the door
and down the stairs, calling for his wife as he went. Finding himself alone in the house, Justin
began searching outside and rounding one corner, he saw the open greenhouse doors.
As that nagging sensation of dread turned into a feeling of impending doom, he quickly ran
toward the swinging doors, calling out to Susan the whole way. Reaching the doors, he paused to
catch his breath before searching within the building. As he entered, a flutter of white fabric off
to the side of the structure’s doors caught his attention. Rushing across the distance between
them, Justin found Susan lying on the cold ground between two rose bushes, her skin as pale
white as her robe.
“Susan,” he said kneeling next to her, “Susan, wake up baby.” He touched her cheek and found
it cold; fearing she had died, he frantically searched her signs of life. Justin released a sigh of
relief when he located a pulse. “Baby, don’t worry, everything is gonna be okay.” He picked his
wife up, cradling her limp body to his chest.
“Justin?” Susan asked in a quiet voice. “What are you doing? Where am I?”
“Well,” he said softly, bending to kiss her forehead, “Since you chose to sleep part of the night
away in the greenhouse without a blanket, I am carrying you back inside.”
“Oh, okay,” was all she said, before falling back asleep.
Justin carried her into the house and after climbing the stairs, placed her gently on the bed. He
left her side long enough to grab a pair of flannel pajamas, an electric blanket and a basin of
warm water. He gently undressed his wife, cleaned her muddy feet and dressed her tenderly in
the warm flannel pajamas, before wrapping her in the electric blanket. As the color slowly
returned to Susan’s flesh, Justin began to relax and breath easier. When he was certain she
would recover, he left her for just a moment to go downstairs and grab their laptop.
Before returning to their bedroom, he picked up some sodas and a bag of chips to hold him over
while he kept an eye on Susan as she rested. With her briefcase strapped over one shoulder, a
sketchbook and legal pad squeezed under one arm, the six-pack hanging from his fingertips, and
a bag of chips clutched in the other hand, Justin returned to the bedroom. Upon arriving at her
side, Justin set up an office at the foot of the bed and began to do research.
§ § §
1 2 3 4 5