The story so far:
What’s interesting is that I don’t remember much about the time I spent in that house. The details of my days there are fuzzy at best and all I have to go on are the stories told by my friend Jason. What I do remember are the feelings, the comfortableness of the house, the warm surroundings. I remember Paula, my angel who rescued me. I remember her smell, her smile, the kindness in her voice while I was there. I don’t remember eating, although Paula says I had a few bites but the dehydration ruined my appetite. I was there for five days and what I do remember was sleeping. I remember feeling rested.
According to Jason, this is what happened:
After my initial reaction in the bedroom, I finally made my way downstairs. I was sore, scratched and burnt. I had to hold on to the railings and walls as I walked to the kitchen to keep myself from falling. Paula plopped a plate in front of me but all I seemed to want was water. I drank 3 glasses in one sitting. Jason stayed on the other side of the table keeping his distance from me. He didn’t want to upset me again.
“So where are you headed?” Paula asked, in the soft voice I remember.
“New York,” I whispered in between the gulps.
“You must have someone special there to make this long trip.” I shook my head. I wasn’t in a talking mood. I cupped my hands over the glass of water and kept drinking glancing around the room as I swallowed.
“The house isn’t much, but its home,” she said trying to keep the room from being silent.
“Don’t even mention it,” she said as if it was her destiny to find me on that road and bring me back to life.
I slept for three days straight, occasionally being checked on by Paula to make sure I was ok. She would leave me glasses of cold water and aloe for my sun burn. I don’t think she ever really left me side. On the fourth day, I finally made it out the room.
“Well look who finally decided to join us,” she said as I entered the kitchen. The huge smile on her face was welcoming.
“Sorry. I guess I was more tired than I realized.” She walked over to me and gave me a hug. I remember the calmness of her as she wrapped her arms around me. I was at ease. I spent the next two day recuperating, healing the wounds I had attained. When the five days were up, I had regained my strength and was ready to go back out again.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay longer?” Paula asked with concern in her voice.
“I can’t, I really should get going.”
“Ok, well Jason’s going to drive you for a couple of hour, get you further through Texas. We’d give you a car if we had an extra one.”
I gave her a hug, “you’ve done enough,” I whispered in her ear. She handed me one of Jason’s old backpacks full of supplies she was sure I would need and a wad of cash.
“Take it, you need it.”
“I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
“Get going, it’ll be dawn soon. The light is better for walking. Be safe you hear.” I gave Paula one last long hug almost hesitant to let her go. I remember feeling lost when we separated, me without my guardian angel.
I hopped into the car with Jason. We were quiet for the first hour, just the noise of the CD player to drum out the silence. He wasn’t as nervous to be around me anymore, but he wanted to give me time to reflect and prepare.
“I have a friend in Dallas, so I’ll drop you off there.”
Jason and I talked for awhile after that. He told me him and his mother was driving back from Phoenix when they found me on the interstate, his mother’s fear that I was dead and her excitement when she found me breathing. He told me about his father, having left when he was 5 years old and how he had to become the man of the house. His mother was so strong, he went on, never letting him feel the loss of a father figure. I told him about my aspiration of being an actress and of Howard and our humble beginnings.
My memory recovers somewhere in Dallas. I don’t remember the drop off, but I remember walking. I remember walking through Dallas into Canton and Marshall finally making my way to Louisiana. From there, I can never forget.