Doris C. Rauschenbach

Thoughtful Intentions and a Bad Idea

Nothing exciting ever happens in my world during the winter months. I can’t think of the last time something spurred my heart to the point of creating an adrenaline rush. With our nine children grown and freed from the nest, my fastest dash in current years is probably towards the couch in hopes of winning prime position in front of the big screen TV. And don’t get me wrong. This can be a mean competition when you have been married as long as I have.

On the brighter side of love, my husband’s good looks have been easy on the eyes. His modern beard style, bushy eyebrows and tightly trimmed mustache have made him a silkier version of Tom Selleck. With the determination that glints from his steely blue eyes, I can see the intensity of Charles Bronson and a man’s man approach to most everything in life. But at the end of the day, and I mean no slight to my husband when I say this, I have the edge when it comes to the seating matches. Besides the fact that I can still run three miles, once or twice a month, I am also one of those lucky people who work from the home.

I run a daycare and my job is that of being the sole person in charge of eight young children. Crazy, I know. I am aware that the ability to operate my business on a day-to-day basis is seen by the parents of my daycare kids as some kind of testament to my limitless patience. It isn’t uncommon for me during the morning drop off to get, “I’m going to have to wish you luck with ‘this’ one today,” as the parent points an incriminating finger at her child. Some mornings the entertainment begins with a young tyke clamped onto their parent in a choke hold. Peeling that kid away can turn into a lopsided boxing match, complete with hair pulling and below the belt punches. But more often than not, most of the parents just smile and offer their heartfelt condolences. Some even confess, “I would never want your job,” as they race out the door.

Believe it or not, for me, the kid part of my business is the easiest. It’s the paperwork that I struggle with. I don’t need a signed worksheet to remind me that I have eight children in my charge. And you can bet if the head count ended at the number seven at some point during the day, I’d know that was a bad thing.

There are so many rules to run a daycare that you are bound to fail at something. And because my job isn’t hard enough already, I am also subject to surprise visits by the State Licensor. So what I fail at, she puts out there for the whole world to see. Thank goodness it is no simple task to find this public information website. I shake my head in bemusement when I think about some of those laws I am expected to follow. I’ll give you a few of my personal favorites.

NAP/REST: ‘A provider shall permit children who do not sleep after thirty minutes and children who wake up early to get up . . .

Get up and do what? Wake up the rest of the kids? I don’t think so.

ACTIVITIES: ‘Toddlers must have access to a variety of toys at all times. These toys must be organized and sorted by type.’

Here’s a news flash. The developmental stage of a toddler includes the dumping stage. Not going to do that either.

HEALTH PRACTICES: ‘Children must be offered at least 60 minutes of outdoor play time.’ Followed by, ‘Jackets must be stored in a way so they will not touch one another while hanging in the closet.’

That is about as dumb as it gets. Seeing as an adult louse can survive up to four days indoors without a host, two hours in a cubby to prevent contamination would be as successful as a time-out is for two-year-olds. So until I see a child itching on their head, neck or ears, the jackets that play together, will stay together. Fair enough?

I am starting to believe that those brilliant policy makers who make these laws have never worked a single day, of their orderly lives, with children. And what’s up with the law that restricts the use of alcohol when working with the young child? Heck, when I babysat as a young teen, I remember watching my employer dunk a pacifier in Brandy before placing it in their baby’s mouth. That 19th Century practice was a popular method used by the wise folks of those times. Baby got some soothing relief for the teething pain and the parents got a little leftover treat after a long day of diapers and tears. I figure that method is one of those timeless remedies that will make a comeback someday. Just like bell bottom, hip hugging jeans.

So there I was, slumped on the couch at the end of an especially exhausting day of teaching the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Potty Training, when my husband slogged through the door. We grunted our usual greeting before he dragged his way to his after work sanctuary in the upstairs bedroom. I had already eaten the last Twinkie in the box and left the carton on the counter. I wasn’t in the mood for any culinary challenge and the thought of ordering fast food take out was making me gag. It was going to be one those evenings where the stomach grumbled for something from the food pyramid, and there was no one around who was willing to step up to the recipe book and cook.

It was a Tuesday night and only four more days until the opener. Deer hunting season that is. The longer I live with a man who is driven to hunt the more I have come to understand that the deer hunting season is not just any old season. It is more like a revered holiday that must be continually studied . . .meticulously prepared for . . . ceremoniously celebrated.

I swear the modern male metamorphoses into a prehistoric cave man with a mystical badgering instinct to hunt. This transformation is easily recognized amongst the sisterhood of wives. It may begin with his focused channel surfing that ends every time at an outdoor adventure show. Weather forecasts are researched and analyzed at least twice daily. Fragrance free wash cycles are mandated.

Some of the hunters’ women do better than others with this temporary loss of their man. The mature wife adapts conversation starters to closed ended questions because she understands that one word responses work best. She may even find some solace in the ease of uninterrupted online shopping. But honestly, the Bambi hunters are granted just one week to slay their brown eyed beast. And I figure if you can’t last that long without a flicker of emotion and make do with limited conversation, you may be way too needy and a bit on the controlling side.

I don’t want you to think that I think being needy is always a bad thing. Everybody has needs. There’s the husband who needs to waste an entire week of vacation in hopes of killing a poor defenseless deer. Then there’s the wife who needs to eat before heading off to the supermarket so she doesn’t over shop the junk food section.

This differing of needs between Mars and Venus can cause a marital dilemma for some couples.

Thankfully I am one of those wives who has read the relationship guide and learned that I can still influence my man to pay attention to me. The key is to use a less obvious, more subtle delivery. I.E., the empty Twinkie box on the counter, the lethargic pose on the couch . . .

My husband’s primal instinct must have tuned into my emotional state as he made his evening pass to the kitchen to retrieve a beer. He asked me something that is actually unheard of in this pre-ceremonial period.

“You want to go out and get some dinner?”

I jumped up from the couch and yelled, “Yes!”

And it was in that moment that I think I fell in love all over again.

Of course, like any marriage, there are times when conditions apply before an agreement can be met. Dropping corn at the deer stand was the prerequisite in this particular situation. The deer stand was forty-five minutes by highway. The restaurant was another fifteen minutes from there. My mouth began to water at the thought of a hot plate of tangy barbequed ribs with a sugar-rimmed strawberry margarita by its side. But I knew we had to take care of business first. The deer must be baited. And that was the predecessor that brought us out into the white and drifting snow, 6:00 one evening, on a dark and moonless night.

I remember as we left the house, the gentle snowfall was the kind that demanded me to compare each shapely flake as it rested upon the wool of my jacket. Considering the snow had been falling at a steady rate since mid-afternoon, the travel conditions were not bad once my husband four wheeled the old Chevy out of the alley and onto the main highway road.

We traveled in silence, which was okay with me. I became mesmerized watching the attack of the flurry pellets through the beam of the front headlamps. The swish, bump, swish, bump of the wipers created a calming tempo that was welcome after a day of listening to the children’s vocal mix of soprano and vibrato.

It took us thirty minutes before we turned off the highway and proceeded down a barren county road.

“Lots of traffic on this road tonight,” I said while noting the lack of tire tracks embedded in the snow. Each curve we rounded confirmed the fact that my husband and I were the only two humans within a fifty mile radius who were not warming their feet in front of their big screen TVs.

I remember wondering if we were a bit foolish to follow through on our plans. But dang it, I was offered the chance to have a meal prepared for me that I didn’t have to cook. The thought that I wouldn’t have to wait for a drink at the bar and there’d be a table ready just for us was sounding better and better. The mantra . . . This is dumb, no it’s not, this is dumb, no it’s not, began to beat in perfect rhythm with the swish, bump of the wiper blades.

My husband finally stopped the truck at a point that it seemed we would get swallowed up by a cape of snowflakes that were multiplying by the minute. He turned off the headlights and started to dress in his winter boots and arctic jacket for the short walk into the woods. He must have assumed I would be assisting him in the carrying of the corn as he looked over at me with raised eyebrows as he opened the driver’s door. “Well”?

I returned the raised eyebrows with a toothy, fake smile. I had two options and I had to choose one quick.

I knew if I stayed in the truck, I would remain warm and dry. But, I would also be all by myself in the middle of nowhere, warm and dry. The other option I had, of course, was to escort my husband to his deer stand. I began to lean towards the latter as I detected my husband would feel some sort of instinctive adoration for a wife who was both adventurous and brave. Seeing as I may get some mileage out of this stroll through the deep white, I felt it would be in my best interest to be my husband’s steadfast protector and join him. I proclaimed, “I’m so there!”

I scooted over the bench seat to the driver’s side and hopped out. I slammed the door tight and was rewarded with an echo of a “Bang” that came from somewhere in the dark. I zipped up my pea coat to the highest tooth and flipped up my hood while I watched my man pour the corn pellets from a 20 pound sack into a 5 gallon container. The snowflakes stuck to my eyelashes as I surveyed our surroundings. I wiggled my toes and stomped my feet to keep the warm blood flowing through my legs.

My husband asked, “You got enough warm clothes on?”

I gave him one of those ‘this is what I got’ poses.

He shrugged his shoulders and uttered, “Put your gloves on.”

I pulled my Dollar Store mittens from my pocket and slipped them on.

“That’s what you got for gloves?”

“Huh?” I watched my husband roll his eyes and shake his head as he turned his body away from mine. I was thankful when my husband assigned me the job of carrying the flashlight. That made sense to me as I was definitely the one who was cued into the sounds that should be interpreted as a possible threat. I would also be the one who would take the precaution of scanning the woods periodically to look for the beady eyes of a predator. Bears are like children: you never can trust them. I knew those sounds and the light of the flashlight were two of the most important tools we could have that would forewarn us of danger.

My husband took the lead and identified the trail with a finger point that would steer us to his deer stand. Personally, I could not tell the difference between this trail and the numerous aligned gaps that nature provided. But my husband was confident in knowing exactly which trees lined the designated route and which trees would lead us astray. I could not help but feel a sense of peace and serenity as we ambled on. I had to keep focused so I could shine the light in front of my husband’s steps. With the hectic world fading behind us, the sounds of our breathing became more prominent.

When my eyes eventually adjusted to the darkness, it was difficult to see past the cloud of air that escaped my mouth with each breath. The crunching beneath my boots became almost obnoxious compared to the drubbing of the heavy flakes as they landed upon my shoulders.

Although I wasn’t alone, I was beginning to feel incredibly vulnerable. I understood I was in another living being’s playground and I was the foreigner. Grandmother’s ominous warnings from my childhood started to pour down from heaven with each plop of snow on my head . . . ‘Stay close by me where I can see you! . . . Don’t you go playing in those woods!’ Her wise words rumbled down and straight to my heart . . . ‘There are bears out there!!’

The only thought that kept me from totally freaking out was the fact that these same animals in the forest are supposedly more afraid of us than we are of them. I tried to imagine the bears running away as they heard our fearsome approach. And I can assure you, it wasn’t easy when my grandmother began to shout in my head . . . ‘Get out while you can!’

My previous restrained conversation style opened up to spewed word diarrhea. I began to sing senseless songs that I still remembered from my childhood days. I began to pound my steps harder with each beat. I was really hoping that through music and fond memories, I would be able to deflect my fears. These fun and lively winter wonderland melodies reminded me of the Sunday trips we would take to visit Grandma.

My grandmother lived in the woodlands where she had a four seasons cabin on a lake. When I was a tyke, my family would cram into the old station wagon and head out to Grandma’s house for dinner. I can’t help but remember how boring those long rides would get. With six offspring, I can’t believe my parents wanted to take us anywhere, or how they managed to stay sane when they did. An hour is a long time for little kids! I remember my siblings asking the same old annoying questions over and over again. “Are we almost there yet?” “How much further?”

Once in a while, my idiot little sister would ask my mother, “Does dad know where he is going?” That was probably why my mother encouraged us to sing while traveling. In hindsight, maybe she thought that would help with the car sickness problem too. It was always a good trip if we could make it the fifty miles without someone puking along the way.

Once we arrived at Grandma’s house, I often opted to take a nap to settle my stomach in my grandmother’s bed. I found those were wonderful opportunities to scavenge through her cool jewelry and play with her lipstick. Sometimes I would tune into the adult conversations . . . and that really wasn’t my fault at all. My napping room was right next to the kitchen.

One day I heard how my grandma, it seemed, refused to see the danger she was putting herself in, living alone in the country. With the nearest country store some quarter mile away, and no car or driver’s license, Grandma would have to walk down a narrow gravel road that journeyed through the woods, just to get a gallon of milk. During these conversations my mother would say, “Mom, you should move to town. It would be safer . . . ” At the age of five, I couldn’t have agreed more.

I am quite certain that I was probably the only one of my siblings who heard my grandma tell the story about how a bear crept up on her house one dark night and splayed his body upon the front bay window. The bear didn’t try to get inside the cabin or anything. He just kind of stood there on his hind feet looking for something or another. That time I remember suggesting from my hiding place underneath the table, “Grandma, you could live with us”! To which I recall getting yelled at because I was supposed to be outside playing with the rest of the kids.

Those fond childhood memories were not doing much to deflect my fears. I decided I should tap into my sense of maturity and not let my imagination run away from me. I was an adult who was able to make decisions based on fact versus silly and menacing premonitions. I liked the woods with its fresh pine smell! I thought it was pretty how the snow covered branches bowed down from the weight of the snow! The little white bunnies looked so darn cute when they hopped along the snow crested hills without seeming to have a care in the world.

After I finished the fourth verse of, ‘Dashing Through the Woods’, I began to get the feeling that my husband was not enjoying my little solo. I wasn’t sure if it was because of my vocal ability or the song in general. But my husband, being the awesome communicator that he was, dropped my hand and said in a not so nice way, “Would you . . . just . . . shut . . . up!?” I didn’t see his face, but I didn’t need to. The next thing that came out of his sassy mouth was, “You’re going to have more than bears to worry about if you don’t knock it off!” It probably was a good thing he didn’t turn around to see my tongue sticking out at him. He probably wouldn’t have appreciated my middle finger pointing him to look up at the sky either.

So with more of a self- survival approach in mind, I began to ask my husband a barrage of questions instead.

“Are we almost there?”

“Are you sure you know where you are going?”

“How much further do we have to go?”

And in this case, the questions were obviously well founded. And although my hubby didn’t respond verbally, I could tell from his body language that he was totally unnerved. He may have been getting irritated, but he was still acing my test. And then just as I began to ask the next question—the one I had about the batteries in the flashlight going dead—my husband dropped the corn bucket and said, “We’re here!”

He grabbed the flashlight from my hand and began to search the ground for the perfect placement of the corn pellets. After a brief examination of the landscape elevation, the tree growth patterns, and the deer stand location, my husband found the exact spot where the corn smorgasbord would be served. I began to get the feeling that we were being watched. My husband was not properly using the flashlight. He wasn’t periodically searching for glowing eyes in the dark. He seemed to be oblivious to how cunning bears could be when they hunted humans. Only I seemed to understand that a bear was a patient predator and tended to stalk their prey. I got to see this for myself in a movie I watched some years ago. It was called “The Edge.”

In that particular scenario, a small plane went down somewhere in the middle of nowhere. There were three survivors. The movie began with a bear following the unsuspecting trio through the wild as they tried to find their way back home. I almost flipped off the couch when this bear made its attack on those poor souls. I still recall how the frantic screams of those men shattered through my body. Of course this beast chose the smallest of the group for his bedtime snack. The eventual plot of this movie was about the last two people who struggled to survive in the dangerous wild without killing each other first. So my husband and I were just like them . . . without the plane part.

My husband turned off the flashlight and stuffed it inside the pocket of his coat for safekeeping. In my best, I’m sorry kind of voice I asked, “Can I have my flashlight back?”

“NO!” Was his response in a tone of voice that screamed I am really getting sick of you!

He began to drizzle the corn as he paced off a square. I watched his lips move: one, two, three, four . . .one, two, three, four . . . one, two, three, four . . . one, two, three, four. I wondered why he was doing that because the men I had watched on the TV shows just took the bucket and dumped the corn on the ground. But then again, my husband isn’t like most men.

My husband hand washes dirty dishes before he puts them into the dishwasher. He rearranges our three vehicles in the driveway until they are equally spaced apart. Before using a newly purchased product, he reads the entire owner’s manual before operating. And now there was this corn pile laid down for deer in a perfect square.

My husband must have barely seen me through the dark, shaking my head back and forth in both wonder and disbelief.

“You got a tape measure?” He laughed.

“Wait right here,” I said like I was some nitwit dog excited to fetch a bone that just got thrown down an abandoned well filled with poisonous snakes, “I’ll go get one for you.”

“Don’t bother,” he said with feigned regret, “I forgot to pack one.”

I found myself wondering if he could leave a less than perfect display upon the snowy ground. But thankfully he walked away and didn’t turn back. For once in his life, something was going to be good enough.

With the mission accomplished, we both took a moment to breathe. I followed my husband’s gaze toward the stars that twinkled through tiny gaps in the blanketed sky. We were silent as we each took a moment to appreciate the cool freshness of the winter wonderland that we found ourselves in. When my husband took my hand in his I finally allowed myself to appreciate the incredible, breathtaking setting we were in. For the first time all night I felt safe. My heart swelled with love for the man beside me. I thought it was actually one of those moments that should forever be captured on the cover of a Hallmark Christmas card. And that was when he said those three little words that have become so common in our married life. He said to me, “Let’s do it . . .”

“You have got to be kidding me! Seriously?” Of course he was serious. He’s a guy. I released his hand from mine in answer to his proposition and asked him that same old rhetorical question, “Is that all you ever think about?”

“Yeah,” he answered with that familiar leering look upon his face. “Pretty much.”

Immune to yet another shot down proposal, my husband proceeded to retrieve the empty bucket that he left sitting beside the corn pile. I tried not to let him see my sliver of a grin as I began to search the ground for any trace of a footprint that would point us in the right direction. It was a brief moment of love, fun and games. But with my grandmother finding her way back inside my head, it was time. So once again, what I really, really wanted was just to get the heck out of there.

I heard my husband say something garbled behind me that sounded like, “Th- fl-hl-ght’s n-t w-rk-ng.”

Between the fact that my toes were starting to numb and my stomach was beginning to growl, I was in no mood for a silly game of “Let’s Scare the Little Wife.” Being the bigger person, I gave the appropriate, but completely fake giggle, and continued to scour the ground around us.

“No. I am not kidding.”

I curled my lip and was about to give him a piece of my mind when I turned around and realized he wasn’t joking. I could feel my heart beating faster as I watched him perform the normal checks on the flashlight. He hit the flashlight’s switch on and off. He banged it against his thigh. I felt my hands begin to sweat as he unscrewed the cap, pulled out the batteries, put the batteries back in, and hit the switch. I bit down on my lower lip as I understood that our one and only source of light was gone.

This may be a good time for us all to have a quick review of the five stages of grief. The first stage of course is denial. Apparently this mindset is supposed to protect a person from immediate shock and deny the reality of a situation. Okay, so the flashlight was dead. I didn’t have a lot of probing questions about what happened there so I quickly moved onto the next stage: anger.

Heck yeah, I was angry! I turned away from my husband as I began my muted attack. My lips moved as I vented my thoughts. Come on, man! Where are all those survival supplies hunters are trained to bring with them into the woods EACH and EVERY time?! As I recall, the start of every show you watched began with some sort of hunter’s safety. Did you get up and get a beer every, single, flipping time during those prologues?

I was also mad at myself. How could I have let myself be manipulated into this little sashay through the woods? Was I that starved for attention? Am I actually, deep down, one of those needy wives that “I” can’t stand to listen to? And then, to add insult to injury, how stupid were we that we did this on an evening that even Rudolph would have declined to fly?

I knew I had better not spend a lot of time in that phase. Anger had never been an emotion I was any good at expressing. My husband on the other hand has always been a master at expressing the vocabularies in a meaningful way. Personally, I still get a little confused in how I can change ‘that four letter word’ so it can be used as a noun, proper noun, pronoun, adjective, or verb. So before I could say anything out loud that would diminish my higher intelligence, I quickly moved onto stage three. The “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve’s.”

I found that the stage of bargaining was easier for me to spend time on. I unquestionably felt the normal reactions of feeling helpless. “Please God,” I prayed, “If you get us out of this mess, I will learn to be happy that I am able to cook a full course meal after working a ten hour day with those beautiful, energetic children You have entrusted me with . . .” “If You save my toes from frostbite, I promise I will toss these gorgeous fashion boots I am wearing that match so perfectly with my coat, gloves and purse.” The last promise I made to God, but yet the most important, “God, if You keep the bears away from us, I promise I will never consciously manipulate my husband for my benefit ever again . . . ”

And with the bargaining tools on the table, I felt a newfound freedom of directing the blame where it should go. I had numerous thoughts and ideas of how things could have gone differently . . . If only my husband would have not been such a moron and brought a spare flashlight . . . we would have light. If only my husband wasn’t so stubborn about knowing everything and had brought a compass . . . we would know “for sure” we were going in the right direction. If only I would have not listened to my idiot husband when he told me to leave the cell phone in the truck, we could call for help.

With the final two stages of grief being depression and acceptance, I may have chosen the wrong emotional charting for this experience. I don’t recall being sad about anything except maybe the possibility that I may be found frozen to death in the woods somewhere. No, the next stage that I felt after accepting the fact that no spiritual being was going to transport me batteries, compass, or a phone, was pretty much fear.

Although I had heard that fear can cause a person to become paralyzed, I can assure you that I did not suffer from that sort of reaction. I had a surge of adrenaline that was spilling over into a fight or flight response.

My unraveled state was pathetic as I watched my husband transform into a Knight in Shining Armor right there in front of me.

He declared, “I can get us out of here without a flashlight!” When my hero saw the look of panic on my face, he tried to calm me with his confidence, “I know these woods like the back of my hand.”

I will never know for sure if he was that confident or if his main concern was that if I were to lose my mind, he’d have to knock me out and cart me out of the woods on his back. But at that point, what choice did I really have? For the first time in my married life, I truly had to put my life into the hands of my partner. After the events of the evening, this small token of faith took some work on my part.

My husband stuffed the useless flashlight into his coat pocket. He grabbed my hand and began to pull me in what I had to believe was the direction that would lead us back to safety. I followed closely behind with his hand firmly grasped into mine and kept my gaze toward the ground. Again, the questions I had for my husband began to pour from my troubled heart.

“Do you really know how to find the way back?”

“What is it you see that looks familiar?”

“Are we almost there yet?”

“Are bears really more afraid of people than people are of them?” I think it was the last question that I may have repeated more than once. In fact it was the only question where I desperately needed to know the truth.

Although I continued to move forward through my husband’s constant commands, there was no spring left to my step. He seemed to know where he was going. One hill after another appeared the same to me. I knew I was screwed if what I had heard about animals and their innate ability to smell fear was true. I must have smelled like some sort of Sunday buffet that was out for an evening delivery. Each path we trudged and every trail we blazed looked identical from one to the next. My boots seemed to sink deeper with each step as the night wore on.

I began to wonder which death would be worse to experience. I read somewhere that wild animals kill their prey in a humane way. They bite your throat. It’s quick and clean. Freezing to death may take a little longer. The bright side for this option is you supposedly fall asleep before you actually die.

I began to think of the many newspaper articles I had read about hunters who lost their way in the woods. It seemed that every time a hunter got lost, it was because he did not have his trusty compass to guide him to safety. Those poor schmucks lost their way in the forest as their imbalanced stride caused them to walk in circles. Some of those hunters spent the entire night in the forest. Some even died! I once read how a hunter was found frozen to death against the base of a tree while still holding his gun.

I had a pretty vivid picture in my mind of how this guy must have looked all frozen against the tree. His frightened, iced eyes open, tiny icicles hanging from his bushy brows . . . I guess the search party found him still grasping onto his frosted shotgun. He must have looked beaten down, lost, defenseless against a surprise bear attack. He was definitely dead though. I verified that fact in the obituary column. On the bright side, he was holding his firearm in proper position with the barrel of the gun pointed up.

I was beginning to feel like my husband and I were in the process of writing the ending to our own life’s story. I felt like we were becoming just like those hunters of the past. We had no choice but to weave the pattern of a basket as we walked round and round. I was just about to accept my fate and pick out the perfect tree to rest my weary body against for the last time, when my foot landed on solid ground.

“We’re back?” I asked in disbelief. I swear that I needed a pinch under my arm to make sure our safe landing wasn’t just a dream. My husband pointed towards an igloo shaped pile on the side of the road.

“The truck is right there.” The next thing I heard was the dangling of keys and a pop of the door locks. It was like a gun going off at the start of a race after which I made my mad dash to the inside safety of the cab.

With the truck running and the dome light on, I watched my husband as he organized his belongings from his pocket and set them on the center seat console. His silence was deafening as he remained focused on each singular task.

“Good,” He said more to himself than to me.

“Me too,” I chimed in. I was glad we were finally on the same page. It was good to hear my husband admit that he may have been a little scared too. I watched as he glanced back towards the spot where we came out of the woods.

He looked at me with a sense of pride and said, “I’m glad I got that done.”

I had a wretched feeling our journey wasn’t over yet and my husband was just not getting it. There were still numerous things that could go wrong. We could run out of gas. We could end up with a flat tire. We could hit a slippery patch, slide off the road, only to fall through an icy river and drown. I tried to wait patiently for my anal retentive husband to finish organizing his things. He left the driver’s door open which only allowed the snow to continue its attack on me. I was just about to break down and offer my boots as a sacrifice to the snow gods when my husband finally hopped into the truck and slammed the door shut.

I couldn’t help but scan the forbidden woodlands one last time through the passenger side window for any trace of a monster lurking in the shadows. After a lingering moment I settled into my seat and buckled myself securely away from the terror of the night. With our first task accomplished and our lives intact, it was finally time for our final quest: dinner. I began to caress the faint warmth of the heat as it blew through the register. It was difficult for me to squash those newly awakened childhood fears. I tried to shake off the outlandish phantasms still stuck in my head and forced my focus towards putting things into perspective.

I knew we were lucky we made it out alive and it became important to me that both my husband and I would never forget this adventure and the critical lessons that we should have learned. I asked myself for the hundredth time, what kind of responsible adult takes a stroll through the woods in the middle of the night, during a snowstorm, without a compass and an extra set of batteries? The last leg of our journey was traveled in this pensive state. I wondered if the smart thing for us to do would be to change our plans and head straight for home. That thought was quickly erased when we pulled into the empty parking lot of the restaurant and saw the red neon “OPEN” sign flashing in the window.

The silence between my partner and me had stretched far enough. Someone needed to say something and I discerned that someone would be me. I knew I must choose my words carefully, which wasn’t going to be easy with my brain still feeling numb and my sense of reasoning muddled. But it was game face time and if I were to get any romance with the dinner that was promised me I needed to communicate in words what I was feeling. So when my husband powered off the truck, I turned to him and demanded:

“. . . Don’t you ever and I mean EVER . . .”

I paused for a moment . . . I took a deep breath . . . I held my composure and forced my voice to stay calm.

“. . . Don’t you EVER make me come out here and rescue you like that again!”


 

Doris C. Rauschenbach first learned her love for crafting prose when she was a student at Northwest Technical College in Green Bay. It was during that time that Doris began to write personal essays of her past experiences. Some of her essays are spun into humorous tales while others are written about her challenges and joys of parenting her children, one of which has special needs. Doris is a self-employed home daycare provider. In her free time, she enjoys evening runs, wilderness camping and spending time with her family. You can contact Doris anytime at doris.author@gmail.com