With every stitch of her clothing saturated to the skin and every fiber of her being chilled to the bone by the driving and frigid January rain, Donna Mitchell’s mind was comprised of only one thought: A stiff drink sure would be wonderful! Though it had been six months since Donna had her last drink of alcohol before joining AA, she could still taste the crisp and clean bite of an icy cold Budweiser sliding down her throat.
Then chasing it with a shot of Tequila? Oh yeah, baby! God it would hit the spot right now. Just one beer and one shot, that’s all! Nothing more! She could handle just one. But no, she couldn’t. It wouldn’t be just one. It could never be just one. As they say in the program: “One is too many, but a thousand is never enough.” And unfortunately for Donna Mitchell, that statement fit her like a glove. If twenty years of alcoholic drinking and active drug abuse had convinced her of anything, it had surely convinced her of that. Or had it?
Actually it was really only the last year and a half that did the major convincing; and it had done it in the most destructive and painful of ways. In that seemingly short span of time, a mere eighteen months, everything of value in Donna’s life had been lost; snatched out from under her like a rug from under her feet. Her career as a Registered Nurse: Fired! Her husband of 12 years: Divorced her! Her 2006 Dodge Ram 1500: Repossessed! Her home: Lost in the divorce! Her self- respect and dignity: Repeatedly defiled by desperate acts for money and drugs; even selling her body. The trust of family and friends: Gone; she had spent years stealing money, jewels and other valuables, completely manipulating and humiliating them in every conceivable fashion. Her clean criminal record: Arrested numerous times for driving while intoxicated, possession of illegal substances, assault and battery, public intoxication, embezzlement, bank draft fraud and prostitution. Her health: Kidney infections, bladder infections, upper respiratory infections, liver enlargement, high blood pressure, severe malnutrition, physical abuse and Hepatitis C.
But the most devastating loss of all: her two beloved children. Nine year old Nicholas and six year old Wendy were now in the full custody of their father and they had moved with him back to his hometown of Texarkana. Donna now had limited, court supervised visits with them one weekend a month in Texarkana. So, Donna would drive nearly 600 miles round trip along old U.S. Highway 59 through rural East Texas in a battered, war torn 1973 Chevy pick-up truck that she bought for 250 dollars from a guy in the program. The only thing holding that truck together was the paint and even it was falling off by the bucket load; rust was eating that grotesque old “hoopty” down to the frame – but it ran.
Having lived in a woman’s shelter for the first 30 days of her sobriety, Donna’s elderly parents reluctantly allowed their 36 year old juvenile delinquent to move into the one room loft over the garage of their home just outside of Houston. Now as she approached her seventh month of clean and sober life, Donna was still physically weak, frail, and easily susceptible to whatever bug was going around. But despite all her hardships, Donna loved and adored her children more than life itself and would do anything for them; even walk seven miles in a cold and bitter January rain along the shoulder of Highway 59 after her “hoopty” had finally decided to go to the big junkyard in the sky.
Though this trip back from Texarkana had been cold, gray and gloomy with a driving winter rain; in truth, it was no less miserable than any other. Even if there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was eighty degrees, Donna’s heart always ached to the point of physical agony for she knew it would be another full month before she saw her babies again and another two weeks before she could speak to them by phone. She was allowed one mid month phone call and it was court ordered that the children must be available to speak to her. If an emergency arose on either side and the call could not be made or taken, alternate arrangements would then be made by the court to reset it. Donna hated every aspect of the situation. How could these people do this to her? She was their mother! She carried them in her body, she gave birth to them, she nursed them, fed them, bathed them, changed their diapers, wiped away their tears, loved them, treasured them. Who the hell did the state of Texas think they were to do this to her? The words of her AA sponsor suddenly thundered through her head:
“They didn’t do this to you, Donna. You did it all to yourself.”
Now, as Donna trudged down the southbound shoulder of Highway 59 in the seemingly perpetual darkness of a lonely winter night, Donna’s heart ached as it always did. Despite the biting rain smacking her in the face and the gusty January winds chilling her to the soul, Donna hardly even noticed. Physical pain and outer discomfort had nothing on emotional trauma and inner turmoil. With her feet and legs aching from her near eight mile trek, her shoulder length black hair drenched to the scalp and the wind constantly blowing soggy locks in her eyes and mouth, Donna jammed her frail, shivering hands into the damp pockets of her soaking wet denim jacket and listened to her teeth chattering louder than the wheels of a train clattering along the rail. Finally rounding a wide bend that had seem to last forever in the intimidating darkness, Donna’s eyes suddenly fell upon a most familiar and beautiful sight.
The golden arches of McDonald’s had never been a more welcomed sight or ever looked more appetizing to Donna’s exhausted and heavy blue eyes; though at the moment, she wasn’t the least bit hungry. As the arches filled the night sky over the tiny town of Garrison, Texas with an almost heavenly ray of light, Donna managed a miniscule smile for the first time in what seemed like years. With what little remaining endurance she had, Donna picked up her pace and bolted across the street and into the fast food restaurant’s parking lot; she had to get out of the rain. She only hoped and prayed that the place was still open; small towns anywhere in the United States had a tendency to roll up the sidewalks right after sunset, and that had been nearly two hours ago. And if Garrison, Texas was anything, it was a small town; one of many East Texas “shitholes”, as her brother Zane referred to them, along old Highway 59. And based upon Donna’s luck of late, the prospects of the place still being open were slim to none.
Feeling her last vestiges of strength fading, Donna trotted quickly across the parking lot, now suddenly very mindful of the driving rain smacking her in the face and leapt onto the sidewalk, finally coming to rest against the wall under the overhang of the building’s roof. Giving herself a quick glance over and only imagining how dreadful she must look, Donna shook herself like a dog, slid back her saturated hair with her trembling hand and anxiously reached for the door handle, giving it a gentle pull: It opened. Perhaps her fortunes were turning at last. Stepping inside the world’s most popular fast food chain restaurant, Donna was met by a welcomed blast of warm, dry air that literally engulfed her frozen and frail body. Donna stood nearly 5’10” and thanks to her years of drug and alcohol abuse, she was considerably underweight – almost lanky. Since she’d sobered up, she gained some weight back, but she was still weak, gawky and thinner that her doctor would like. Her skin was almost ghostly pale, smooth and surprisingly soft and despite being wiry, she had what most men would consider a very pleasing feminine figure with solid B-cup breasts, rail thin arms, skeletal hands and narrow, bony hips. Her face too was narrow with high cheeks, deeply embedded eyes and a nose that had been broken a time or two; but it had a mysterious allure to it and was just downright pretty despite being worn and haggard by her lifestyle. It also made her appear closer to forty-six than her actual age of thirty-six.
As she wiped her feet on the black floor mat, Donna surveyed the dining room; with the exception of a young teenage couple feeding each other French fries in the corner and two elderly men playing chess at a table on the opposite end, the place was otherwise deserted. It was then her nostrils filled with the delectable aroma of fresh hot fries, cooking burgers and hot apple pies. Donna’s mouth watered as she suddenly realized that she was in fact very hungry after all. But, first things first; she needed to call her parents. Donna searched for a payphone; her pre-paid cell phone had long since expired. Spotting the payphone out of the corner of her eye just outside the restrooms, Donna moved toward it, smiling as she recollected that “First Things First” is one of AA’s most popular slogans.
As Donna reached for the receiver, her hand balled tightly into a fist and her mind flooded with dread and doubt. Would her parent’s even believe what had happened to her tonight? Would they even answer the phone if they didn’t recognize the number on the caller ID? And if they did answer, would they even accept a collect call? Donna had put her parents through absolute hell in her disease; had called them for help, manipulated and lied to them more times than she could even fathom. Though she’d now been clean and sober for over six months, Donna knew that her parents were still extremely skittish and highly suspicious of her every move. Though they loved their daughter very much, they were devoutly religious people, strict disciplinarians and very skeptical about the facets and practices of Alcoholics Anonymous; they considered it a cult. How could a group of strangers, drunks and junkies, help their daughter where they and their church could not? Black magic her mother even called it at one point. Still, Donna had to let them know where she was and what she was doing. That was mandatory if she wanted to continue living in their garage loft. If she didn’t call them now, Donna knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the locks would be changed and what few possessions she had left would be waiting for her on the curb when she finally got home. Donna lifted the receiver; it was dead.
“Shit!” She barked and slammed it back down.
Donna rubbed her hands over her face and weighed her options. She had only one. Donna turned and headed for the front counter. There was a rather scruffy looking young man, probably no better than sixteen behind the register. He studied Donna with wide eyes and incredulity all over his face. Donna briefly worried that given her current state of being she might be asked to leave. Now in a city like Houston, nobody would care about it, but these small towns were very different places.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” He asked.
“I hope so. I’m in kind of a jam. My truck broke down about ten miles outside of town and I’ve just walked all the way in. I’m on my way back to Houston and I need to let my family know what’s going on. My cell phone died and your payphone is out of order, so I was wondering if I could use the store’s phone to call home?” Donna explained.
“Oh, I don’t know. We’re not supposed to let anyone use ….” The young man said, but he was cut off.
“Here you go, ma’am!” A sweet yet strong female voice said from out of nowhere.
A cordless phone was suddenly thrust directly in front of Donna. Turning her head to see who had come to the rescue, Donna’s eyes bulged slightly as she beheld an absolutely radiant young woman with a warm, glowing smile holding the cordless phone.
“Are you sure?” Donna asked. “It’ll be a long distance call to Houston.”
“Oh, I think McDonald’s can afford it.” The young woman said as her smile grew even bigger and brighter.
“Thank you so much.” Donna said humbly.
“Don’t mention it.” The young woman replied as Donna took the phone.
Donna was dumbfounded for she felt the young woman’s smile warming her very heart and soul. It was the most bizarre sensation she’d ever experienced. As the young woman sauntered off behind the counter to attend to the drive-thru window, Donna stared after her in star-struck awe and wonder.
“She has to be the loveliest girl I’ve ever seen.” Donna thought to herself.
The young woman stood no more than 5’5″ at the most with a statuesque, curvaceous figure that was clearly visible, wrapped in a snug pair of black slacks that divinely accentuated her savory, round hips and a bright red shirt that emphasized her bountiful chest with the golden arches emblazoned just above her left breast. Her skin was a gorgeous complexion of peaches and cream, her arms were long and willowy with sensual, sexy hands, long fingers, clear-polished fingernails and her face radiated an equal mix of angelic innocence and goddess-like beauty. With a black ball cap, also emblazoned with the golden arches on her head, long locks of glowing golden blonde hair dangled out from underneath it, beautifully cupping and framing her gorgeous face. Donna placed the girl to be in her early twenties at the most and soon found she was gawking at the girl like a homesick puppy.
“What the hell am I doing?” Donna thought to herself. “Okay, she’s beautiful, but she’s not that beautiful. What are you? Turning lesbo?”
Donna dialed her parent’s number and her father answered on about the third ring. Donna explained her situation while her father listened with faint hints of skepticism and suspicion in his overall manner and periodic sighs; Donna knew his “bullshit” detector was on its highest setting tonight. When Donna finished her story, her father sighed deeply and there was an interminably long pause. Finally he spoke:
“Donna, you know I love you. But I have to confess that I’m having a real hard time believing you.” He said sternly.
“I figured as much.” Donna answered weakly.
“I’m afraid you’re gonna have to get yourself out of this one.” He stated matter-of-factly.
“But Daddy, I’m broke.” Donna replied.
“Well, that’s not really my problem. You’re a grown woman Donna, and it’s time you start acting like one.” He stated coldly.
“But this wasn’t my fault. I’m not drunk! I’m not high.” Donna shot back.
“Then you should be perfectly capable of getting yourself out of it.” He replied.
Donna knew in her heart that any further discussion or argument on her part was useless. She was on her own.
“Okay, fine.” Donna said coldly. “Look, I promised I’d call you and I did.”
“And we appreciate that.” He told her.
“So am I still gonna have a place to live when I get back?” Donna asked.
“Well, you say you’re not drunk or high. And I have no rock solid evidence either way. You sound sober; but then again, you’re a highly skilled and seasoned BS artist. So, I guess we’ll just have to see.” Her father replied almost casually.
“Thank you, Dad.” Donna replied.
“You’re welcome. Good night, Donna.” He said calmly and the line went dead.
Donna could feel the rage building inside her like magma rising up the cone of a volcanic crater. How could her parent’s leave her stranded like this with no money, no resources, soaking wet, cold and alone? As her anger surged to a seething boil just below her skin, the immortal words of her fucking bitch of an AA sponsor once again echoed through her mind:
“They’re not doing anything to you, Donna. You did this all to yourself.”
Donna immediately wanted to argue and claim that this situation was entirely different, but the fact of the matter was, it all went back to her years of lying, cheating, stealing and manipulating. Though the circumstances tonight were not the result of her current behavior, Donna was still Donna’s problem. People still didn’t trust her; especially her parents and that trust would take a long time to rebuild; if ever. Donna’s anger faded but was immediately replaced by overwhelming sadness, guilt and deep regret. Her throat was suddenly tight, filled with an enormous lump and tears were welling up behind her eyes. She set the cordless phone down on the counter and looked at the young man.
“Thank you.” Donna said in a cracking voice.
“Can I get you anything?” He asked dutifully.
Donna fished out her wallet and found it empty. She had spent her last dollars over the weekend with the kids. Her credit cards were all now completely useless; she didn’t even know why she still carried them. Donna searched her pockets and finally pulled out a handful of change adding up to less than a dollar-fifty.
“Could I just have a small coffee, please?” She said softly.
Donna counted out the correct change, paid for the coffee and took it over to a booth by the window. With her stomach rumbling and her nostrils filled with the delightful aroma of cooking food, Donna slid her soaking wet body down into the booth and stared aimlessly out into the cold, dark, rainy night. She had absolutely no idea what she was going to do. She never felt more utterly alone in the world. Her mind briefly filled with visions of her precious little boy and girl, but that brought her no comfort; she missed them so much it physically hurt. They were her everything and she had lost them. As she sank further into depression, morbid thoughts flooded her mind and tears flooded her eyes; her heart was shattered, her body was broken and her spirit was crushed. Overwhelmed with sorrow, unholy terror and an impending sense of ultimate doom, Donna dropped her now very heavy head down onto her arms on the table and sobbed piteously.
“God! Please help me.” She whispered through her inconsolable sobbing.
With her face buried in the soaking wet sleeves of her denim jacket, Donna soon sensed movement beside her and then heard the faint tap of a serving tray on her table. Slowly lifting her head, Donna nostrils again filled with the wondrous aroma of fresh fries and hot apple pie and she found herself staring down at a double quarter pounder with cheese, a super-sized order of steaming hot fries, a super-sized beverage and a fresh apple pie on a tray directly in front of her. Donna’s heart was ramming furiously against the inside of her chest as her head reflexively turned to the side to find the beautiful young woman who’d so graciously let her use the telephone standing beside the booth and smiling sweetly down at her. Donna stared up at her with utter bewilderment.
“You look like you could use something to eat.” She said compassionately.
“I…I don’t have any money.” Donna stammered.
“I know. But just like with the phone call; with billions and billions served, I think McDonald’s can afford to buy a woman dinner.” The young woman said.
Donna was speechless. She searched the young woman’s face and found nothing there but selfless compassion and genuine concern for a fellow human being. Donna felt warmth fill her heart unlike anything she’d ever known. Was this what the people in AA meant when they talked about unconditional love for your fellows?
Tears streamed down Donna’s cheeks and her throat ached from the tightness of all the emotions raging through her.
“Thank you.” She managed to spit out through her veil of tears.
“It’s my pleasure.” The young woman said; her beautiful, compassionate smile never faltering.
The young woman went about her duties as Donna dove into her meal, devouring it like a famished lion. Though she had eaten McDonald’s thousands of times in her life, she couldn’t remember a time when it tasted so wonderful. True, she was starving, but somehow, it was more than that. As Donna swallowed the last bite of her scrumptious hot apple pie and washed it down with a deep swig of ice cold Coca-Cola, the young woman returned with her ever present radiant smile filling her beautiful face.
“Feel better?” She asked sweetly.
“Oh, you have no idea.” Donna replied.
“Yeah, I think I do.” She said. “Would you like some more Coke?”
“Actually, I’d really like some more coffee. It’s cold out tonight.” Donna said.
“Kind of figured you might.” The young woman said as she produced a pot of fresh coffee from behind her back, along with a large cup.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that. I’ll be all right with this cup here.” Donna told her.
“Nonsense. Like you said, it’s cold out tonight.” The young woman replied as she filled the large cup to the rim and then set it down in front of Donna. “There you go.”
“I don’t know how I can ever thank you for your kindness.” Donna said humbly.
“The look on your face was all the thanks I needed, honey.” She replied.
“Uh, can you at least sit down with me?” Donna asked softly.
“Thought you’d never ask.” The young woman beamed as she slid into the booth across the table from Donna.
“My name’s Donna. Donna Mitchell.” Donna said as she extended her hand over the table.
“I’m Karen. Karen Wilder.” The two women shook hands. “Nice to meet you.”
Donna remained silent as she was caught in a trance as she clenched Karen’s soft and sensual hand. Donna felt almost divine warmth flowing out of the younger woman’s hand into her own. Then she noticed her eyes; Karen’s eyes sparkled with what Donna could only describe as heaven’s light. They were of a color that Donna had never seen before, couldn’t identify and they held her completely captivated.
“Donna? Donna, are you all right?” Karen asked, but still Donna didn’t respond. “Hey!”
Donna instantly snapped back to reality at the touch of Karen’s hand on her own on the table.
“What color are your eyes?” Donna asked absentmindedly.
“That’s kind of hard to explain. Nobody has ever been really able to figure it out; including me. You like them?” Karen asked, almost mischievously.
“I think they’re about the most gorgeous pair of eyes I’ve ever seen.” Donna babbled.
“Thank you. I’ve always been fond of them.” Karen replied in her soft, sweet voice. “So, Donna Mitchell; what brings you into my realm on this cold and rainy winter night all alone, soaking wet, famished to the bone and completely broke?”
“It’s a very long story, Karen.” Donna replied as she sipped her coffee.
“I like long stories.” Karen stated matter-of-factly.
“I don’t even know where to begin.” Donna said.
“At the beginning.” Karen said as she smiled, folded her delicate hands under her chin and rested her elbows on the table.
“Can I ask you a question first?” Donna asked.
“Sure.” Karen replied.
“How old are you?” Donna continued.
“I’m 22.” Karen stated confidently.
“My God; just a baby.” Donna mumbled.
“I have a very old soul.” Karen told her. “Now, tell me your story Donna Mitchell.”
Though she couldn’t explain it, Donna suddenly felt as though she’d known Karen for years. The young woman did indeed give the impression of being much more mature than her age bore out and of being wise far beyond her mere 22 years. Donna somehow knew in her heart of hearts that she could trust Karen completely and felt strangely at ease sharing her life story with her. And as Karen listened intently, never speaking a word, Donna could see through those magnificent eyes that the girl hung on her every word and felt every pang of emotion as though she was experiencing Donna’s past realities first hand. For brief moments as Donna relayed some of the darkest and most painful episodes of her past, she felt Karen walking beside her as though the girl had actually been there. It was a kind of comfort that Donna had never known before. Karen did from time to time have to ask Donna to pause so she could direct her staff through their end-of-shift side work and then close out the till. Donna had long since been the only remaining customer in the restaurant and now as the other employees clocked out and left, Karen and Donna were alone. As Donna watched Karen slip on her jacket and turn out the lights, Donna’s stomach tied itself in knots and fear gripped her. Now where do I go?
“So Donna, where are you staying tonight?” Karen asked.
“I have no idea. Like I said, I don’t know what to do.” Donna replied.
“Well then, I guess it’s a good thing that I do.” Karen told her.
“What do you mean?” Donna asked.
“Simple. You’re coming home with me.” Karen stated matter-of-factly.
“Oh Karen, I can’t let you do that. You’ve done so much for me already. I’d feel awful imposing on you like that.” Donna said, trying to sound noble. “No, I couldn’t ask that of you.”
“You’re not asking Donna; I’m telling. You’re coming home with me. You’re gonna take a nice hot shower, you’re gonna change into some clean, dry pajamas and you’re gonna get a good night’s sleep in a warm, comfortable bed.” Karen stated firmly.
“Karen…” Donna said weakly; almost like a pout.
“You said you would feel awful by imposing on me, right? Well you’d make me feel awful if you refused to come. And how can you possibly impose on somebody when in fact they’re demanding that you go?” Karen smiled deviously.
Karen extended her hand down to Donna still sitting in the booth.
“Now come on!” Karen ordered.
“Why are you being so good to me?” Donna asked.
“Because I can. Now let’s go. It’s getting late and you need to get some rest.” Karen said as she smiled warmly.
Donna returned Karen’s beautiful smile and took her hand, all the while wondering what she had ever done to deserve such kindness and unconditional love from a beautiful creature like this. Karen helped her out of the booth and then led her to the door.
“Well, would you look at that; it’s stopped raining.” Karen noted.
“Will miracles never cease?” Donna added.
“Oh they won’t Donna. They will never cease; and they happen all the time. Thank God.” Karen replied as she led Donna outside and locked up.
Donna rode shotgun in Karen’s 1991 model ST Blazer as it traveled the wet, deserted streets of the tiny Texas hamlet and she just couldn’t get over what good condition the vehicle was in for being nearly twenty years old. The interior was immaculately clean and smelled of delicious lavender; just like Karen herself. It was less than a five minute drive from the McDonald’s to Karen’s apartment building; an old relic of a two story, brick building that was probably twice as old as Donna and Karen combined, yet had been completely restored and renovated inside and out from its boom town glory days as a hotel and saloon.
Karen led Donna up the stairs to her second story apartment and ushered her into the quaint and wholesome living room. Donna was taken aback at the overwhelming feeling of a true home that emanated from the place; not to mention the delightful aromas of lavender and cinnamon. With just one bedroom, one bath, a tiny kitchen, dinette area, living room and a miniscule balcony, Karen’s home was absolutely adorable and every inch a young woman’s apartment. But still, it was more than that. Donna couldn’t quite but her finger on it, but she felt a powerful sense of comfort, safety and warmth within the walls of Karen’s beautiful little nook in the world; for the first time in ages, Donna truly felt as though she had come home.
“Oh Karen…” Donna said breathlessly. “I love your place. It is so cute! And it’s so you.”
“Thank you.” Karen replied, seemingly touched by the compliment. “I’m glad you like it. Now, first things first! I want you out of those wet clothes and into a hot shower before you catch pneumonia. The bathroom’s right through there in my bedroom and there’s fresh, clean towels in the closet. You can just leave your clothes outside the door and I’ll get them in the washer.”
“You have a washer and dryer somewhere in here?” Donna asked in astonishment.
“Of course. Right through the kitchen. Hey, this place might be old, but it’s not that old.” Karen said playfully. “Now you go on and get in the shower and I’ll find you something dry and comfortable to sleep in, okay?”
“Okay.” Donna said.
Donna went into Karen’s bedroom; it too, was the epitome of homely warmth and comfort with a spacious double bed covered with a heavy, softer than silk comforter. Again, it was so Karen. Donna stripped out of her soggy clothes, shoes and socks, leaving them in a pile outside the bathroom door as she closed it behind her. Catching a glimpse of her naked body in the mirror, Donna took a moment to study her “shell” as she called it.
“Someday baby. Someday you’ll be pretty and whole again.” Donna whispered to her reflection.
Donna turned on the water, adjusted the temperature and slid into the stall, letting the warm water engulf her damp, chilled-to-the-soul flesh. Sighing in near ecstasy as the warm water doused her body, Donna suddenly felt smothered with a most unusual sensation: For the first time in months, possibly even years, Donna Mitchell was entirely at peace. Her mind, her body and her soul were all suddenly filled with an almost divine comfort she’d never truly known; for a split second, she felt like a newborn baby being held in the arms of God. It was so strange. Nobody she’d as yet met in the program of recovery had made her feel as Karen had. What was it about this girl? As Donna reviewed the events of this night in her mind, images of beautiful young Karen plastered themselves all over her conscious and sub-conscious mind. It was then that Donna was hit with another powerful sensation; one she hadn’t experienced in a very long time either: arousal! Running her hands over her breasts, Donna noticed that her nipples where hard.
“Where the hell is this coming from?” Donna thought to herself.
Letting her hands continue to sensually slide down her body to her mound, Donna slipped one of her hands between her legs and gently fingered her sex. Donna’s eyes widened like saucers as she felt her now extremely sensitive and swollen fleshy folds. Teasing the outside of her slit, Donna then lifted her hand back to her face and sniffed her fingers.
“That’s me!” She whispered. “That’s not the rain or even the shower. I’m wet. Thinking about Karen’s getting me wet. What the fuck is going on here?”
Shaking her head, Donna adjusted the water temperature down to cool; borderline cold, and proceeded to wash her hair and body. Rinsing off, she ran the water temperature back up to hot for a few seconds then shut off the water and stepped out. She grabbed a big, fluffy and surprisingly warm white towel out of the closet and dried herself off. Wrapping the towel around her, Donna spread some toothpaste on her finger and “fingered” her teeth and then swirled some mouthwash; alcohol-free no less. This girl just didn’t quit. Donna also found a spray can of deodorant, a brush and hair dryer and proceeded to put them all to their intended use.
Finally emerging from the bathroom, still wrapped in the big, fluffy towel, Donna was startled to find Karen kneeling beside her bed in silent prayer wearing a soft pink night shirt. Karen opened her eyes and smiled warmly up at Donna. If it was possible, the girl looked even more beautiful now than ever before with her breathtaking golden blonde hair draping long, full and flowing down over her shoulders.
“Oh God, I’m sorry.” Donna said.
“It’s okay, hon. I don’t mind. And neither does he. Besides, I was finished anyway.” Karen replied gently as she then climbed into bed.
Donna stood completely motionless as she was again temporarily mesmerized by the girl’s beauty; particularly after what she’d just experienced in the shower.
“Feel better?” Karen asked sweetly. Donna remained silent and just stared. “Donna? Earth to Donna!”
Donna finally snapped awake and refocused.
“Huh?” Donna mouthed.
“I asked if you feel better.” Karen repeated equally sweet.
“Oh! Much better. That was just what I needed. Thank you.” Donna replied.
“Here!” Karen said as she tossed Donna a bright blue and extra long T-shirt. “It’s not much, but at least it’s dry and long enough to fit you. You’re quite a tall lady.”
“Yeah, I know.” Donna said as she caught the T-shirt and then dropped off her towel without even thinking.
There was a terribly long moment of awkward silence as Donna suddenly realized what she had done and that she was now standing completely naked in front of Karen. Donna quickly wrestled with the T-shirt and pulled it frantically over her head and down over her body.
“Oh God. God, I am so sorry.” Donna said.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about.” Karen told her. “We’re both women. And besides, you’re beautiful, Donna.”
“Yeah, right.” Donna scoffed as she smoothed out the long night shirt over her body.
“You are. You’ve got a great body. You shouldn’t be embarrassed by it or ashamed of it.” Karen said.
“Why young Ms. Wilder, are you making a pass at me?” Donna asked playfully.
“Not that I’m aware of, Mrs. Mitchell. All I’m saying is that the female body is one of the most beautiful things God ever created; and you are a very beautiful woman, Donna. So don’t be afraid to show it.” Karen replied.
Donna felt the young woman’s words embracing her heart and capturing her soul so lovingly that she feared she might burst into tears. Nobody had ever been this kind and gentle to her.
“Now!” Karen suddenly snapped as she threw back the covers and patted the mattress beside her. “Come on to bed. You need your sleep.”
“You want me to share your bed with you?” Donna asked.
“Of course. Why not?” Karen replied innocently.
“Well, after all you’ve done for me, I couldn’t…” Donna babbled.
“Stop. Just stop. And come to bed.” Karen commanded gently.
“I can go sleep on the sofa.” Donna argued.
“Out of the question! That sofa may look comfortable, but it’s not. It’s hard and it’s cold and you’re way too tall for it. Now once again, come to bed! I promise I don’t bite.” Karen reiterated gently.
Donna ran her hands through her now dry and surprisingly soft hair and sighed deeply. Looking into Karen’s warm and gorgeous eyes once more, Donna knew she couldn’t win. And even though she’d only known this girl for less than three hours, Donna felt completely safe with her and would trust her with her life. In many ways, she already had. Donna smiled, shrugged and came to bed.
“Good girl.” Karen said as Donna slid under the covers and stretched out on her back next to her.
“God, this mattress is so soft.” Donna whispered.
“Nice, isn’t it?” Karen whispered back as she shut off the light and snuggled down on her side, facing Donna. “You tired?”
“I should be. But for some strange reason, I’m wide awake.” Donna told her.
“Maybe you should say your prayers and ask Father to help you fall asleep.” Karen suggested.
“I don’t have much to say to the “Father” these days.” Donna stated.
“Liar.” Karen said. “I heard you talking to him earlier tonight at the restaurant. You asked him to help you. And did he not answer you?”
“You answered me.” Donna said.
Karen rested her head in her palm, her arm bent at the elbow, resting on the mattress and she stared down at Donna lying flat on her back beside her.
“And who do you think sent me?” Karen shot back.
“Karen, I really don’t want to talk about this.” Donna replied.
“Okay. So, what are their names?” Karen asked.
“You’re children. You told me about them but you never told me their names.”
Donna felt the emotional tightness seize her throat and her eyes grow misty at the mention of her little ones. Her heart began to pound and her stomach fluttered.
“Nicholas and Wendy.” Donna whispered in a cracking voice.
“You miss them, don’t you?” Karen said as she gently stroked Donna’s hair.
“So much so I can hardly breathe. Every day that goes by that they’re not with me I feel another piece of my heart wither and die.”
“And is that why you’re angry at God? Because you believe he took them away from you.”
“No. He didn’t take them away from me; I let them go. Alcohol and drugs became more important to me than them. No, I’m angry at God for creating me. And I’m angry at him for leaving me alive. See, I wanted nothing more than to die after the kids were gone. I could have fought for them in the custody battle, but I didn’t. I let their father take them. I knew in my black heart that I was no good for them. But I still loved them so much it hurt. Yet I took comfort in the fact that I would soon be dead and out of their lives forever; but I didn’t die. No matter how badly I wanted it and how hard I tried, my body just wouldn’t die. And I hate God for that! I hate him for not killing me when I deserved it so much!” Donna wailed in a shaky, choking voice, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Oh Donna…” Karen whispered; her eyes full of sympathetic and compassionate tears.
Donna looked desperately up into Karen’s warm and loving eyes.
“I want my babies back, Karen. I love them more than life itself.” Donna said as she covered her face with her hands and sobbed like a baby.
“Oh precious…” Karen said as she cradled Donna’s head in her arms and held her close, resting her cheek on Donna’s. “It’s all right, my child. It’s gonna be all right. Shhhhh. It’s okay.”
Donna came completely unstrung as she wailed and sobbed piteously in Karen’s arms. All the pain and anguish of her entire life poured out of her soul through her gushing tears. Karen cradled and gently rocked her in her arms like a fussy infant. And despite her internal agony, Donna felt divine warmth and a genuine love coming from Karen unlike anything she’d ever known from another human being. For the first time in her life, Donna felt completely safe, fiercely protected and devoutly treasured.
Karen held Donna contently for what seemed like hours until Donna finally got it all out. Karen gently lowered Donna’s head back down to rest on the mattress and softly stroked her hair as Donna gazed almost innocently up into her beautiful face and her angelic smile. With some minor hesitation initially, Donna reached up slowly and caressed Karen’s silky smooth cheek with the tips of her fingers. And as if by some mystical force, Donna felt her head rising and her lips inching slowly toward Karen’s, who at the same time, seemed to be inching her lips toward Donna. Their lips brushed ever so softly together and Donna’s entire body spasmed from deep within as she reveled in the immaculate softness of Karen’s incredibly sweet and succulent ruby lips. The two women gently nuzzled and grazed their lips softly over each other and finally Donna pulled back, staring deeply into Karen’s eyes; her fingers still on Karen’s cheek.
“Karen, I…” Donna began.
Karen gently pressed her fingertips onto Donna’s luscious lips to silence her and she smiled so beautifully that it took Donna’s breath away.
“It’s all right, love. I wanted you to kiss me.” Karen whispered.
“I’ve never been with a woman before. I’ve never even been attracted to a woman before. But there’s something about you that I can’t resist. You’re just so incredibly beautiful, Karen.” Donna whispered back.
“As are you, Donna. And it’s okay. Because I really like you too.” Karen said.
“Can I kiss you again?” Donna whispered seductively.
“No.” Karen replied in an erotic toned hiss. “I’m gonna kiss you.”
Donna’s eyes shut, her lips filled with a smile and Karen’s mouth soon captured them in a deep kiss of love. Donna’s mind spun, her heart hammered furiously in her chest and her body quivered with deep desire as she felt Karen’s tongue probing gently across her lips. Surrendering completely to the younger, smaller woman, Donna’s lips parted and Karen’s tongue sank deep into her mouth. Their lips sealed tightly around each other, Donna’s tongue entwined with Karen’s and she soon found herself reveling in the velvety softness and warmth of Karen’s sultry mouth.
Karen rolled gently up atop Donna’s body, pressing her full weight down on the taller woman and she felt Donna’s arm slide gently around her, engulfing her in a lover’s embrace. Karen’s kiss was so deep, so sensual and so full of divinity that Donna’s very soul trembled deep within her. Donna slid her hands slowly down Karen’s back over the soft fabric of her nightshirt and began to gently pull it up her body. Feeling bold, Donna then let her hands continue down Karen’s body and her palms graze gently over the smooth, silky flesh of Karen’s bountiful, sumptuous bottom. Karen chirped with delight in Donna’s mouth as she felt the woman caress and squeeze the firm, perfectly round globes of her naked behind.
“Why, Mrs. Mitchell; are you making a pass at me?” Karen joshed playfully.
“I hope you don’t mind, Ms. Wilder.” Donna replied in blissful desire.
“Not at all.” Karen replied.
Donna returned her hands to Karen’s soft night shirt and continued to tug it up her body.
“Can I take this off?” Donna whispered. “I want to see you.”
“Thought you’d never ask.” Karen told her with a seductive smile as she rose up onto her knees, lifting her arms over her head.
Donna rose to her knees as well and pulled Karen’s night shirt up over her arms and off. Tossing the night shirt on the floor, Donna was left a virtual zombie as she took in Karen’s magnificent nudity, allowing the tips of her fingers to gently graze down the woman’s warm and immaculate flesh. Karen was the most beautiful thing that Donna Mitchell had ever seen; her eyes fastened themselves to the young woman’s sumptuous, bountiful chest; the plump, pink nipples standing immensely erect in the center of the areolas and the milky white flesh that surrounded them.
“Oh Karen…” Donna whispered. “How could a human being possibly ever be so lovely as you?”
“By the hand of the Father, my precious. Now let me see you again.” Karen whispered as she took hold of the hem of Donna’s night shirt and lifted it up over her raised arms and off.
Karen tossed Donna’s night shirt to the floor and likewise grazed her fingertips gently down the front of Donna’s quivering body. Still on their knees in the middle of the mattress, the two women explored each other with their hungry eyes and their wanton fingertips. The room suddenly filled with soft romantic music, but Donna could only hear the pounding of her own heart as she felt Karen’s fingers caressing her body.
“Why are you trembling, Donna? There is nothing for you to be afraid of. I would never hurt you.” Karen whispered.
“I know. I just can’t believe that this is happening. That I’m here with such a beautiful woman, and we’re doing what we’re doing.” Donna rambled.
Karen caressed Donna’s cheek and gently pulled her face closer.
“You’re beautiful too, my darling. You’re beauty is divine. You are a priceless creation, Donna Mitchell; an immaculate and holy treasure. And I am so honored that you’re sharing yourself with me.” Karen whispered lovingly. “Kiss me, my love.”
Karen and Donna’s mouths seared together in a deep, lover’s kiss and they slid their arms slowly around each other; engulfing one another in a warm, devout embrace. Karen gently lowered Donna down to the mattress once again and the two women entwined in sensual passion as their kiss deepened. Donna stroked Karen’s firm, curvaceous figure; reveling in the softness of her delicate skin and the heat of her sexually charged body. Running her fingers through the golden silk that was Karen’s gorgeous hair, Donna felt the young woman’s hand slide between her legs and gently massage her aching mound. Donna sucked in a deep, orgasmic gasp and her eyes spun as Karen touched aching and moist sexual center.
“Are you all right, love?” Karen asked quietly.
“Yes, I’m fine. It’s just been a long time since anybody’s touched me there.” Donna replied.
“Do you want me to stop?” Karen asked.
“No.” Donna whispered passionately.
“Lay back, my precious. You’ve denied yourself for far too long.” Karen told her as she gently rolled Donna down flat on her back and shifted her own body atop her.
Karen slowly and gently pelted soft and sensual kisses all around Donna’s face; on each of her eyes, on her nose, on her cheeks, on her chin and finally captured Donna’s mouth in another deep kiss of unbridled passion. Donna had never felt more loved. Karen slowly continued her sensual quest down Donna’s body. Beginning at her chin, and using equal parts of her tongue and her luscious, succulent lips, Karen sampled the sweet elixir of Donna’s flesh; down her long and sleek neck, over and around her shoulders, down her arms and then suckling on her fingers as if they were the last morsels of food she would ever eat. Karen turned her erotic conquests back to Donna’s chest and found her way to the woman’s pert breasts. Karen could sense Donna’s body quivering with intense eroticism; squirming as shockwaves of intense, illicit pleasure coursed through her body. As she listened to the soft, tender moans falling from Donna’s lips, Karen’s velvety mouth found the small, dark areola of Donna’s left breast and the nub of her immensely aroused, dark nipple.
The orgasmic gasp that catapulted from Donna’s lips sent shockwaves of intense arousal through Karen’s seething body as she took Donna’s nipple deep into her mouth. Seizing a handful of Karen’s silky hair, Donna’s head rolled from side to side as she felt the young woman’s tongue swirl around her areola as her lips sucked, and her teeth gently nipped at her throbbing nipple; all surrounded completely by the warmth of Karen’s sultry, velvety mouth. Karen continued her feast on the left then slowly shifted her head to Donna’s right nipple and serviced it with every bit as much passion and carnal desire. Donna’s body stiffened, her breath caught in her throat and her heart nearly exploded as Karen continued her descent; sliding slowly and sensually down across Donna’s flat tummy, hungrily sampling the flavor of her succulent flesh. Karen slid her body down on the mattress between Donna’s widely spread legs and grazed the tip of her tongue around the woman’s divine sexual center. Donna seized handfuls of the sheets in her fists, tugging desperately at them in breathless anticipation as Karen blew softly on her soaking wet and swollen labia.
“The portal to where life begins. The most priceless treasure in existence. The very essence of womanhood.” Karen whispered lustfully as she teased the surface of Donna’s pulsing slit with the tip of her finger. “So beautiful.”
With that, Donna’s eyes rolled wildly in their sockets, her body spasmed and her heart virtually stopped as Karen took her lover’s divine womanhood into her sultry mouth. Donna’s jaw fell open, but nothing came out; the orgasmic pressure building within her was immense and she could find no air to exhale. Karen’s mouth clamped down gently on Donna’s sex, mashing her saturated, succulent folds between her lips. Wrapping her arms around Donna’s thighs, Karen plunged deeper – probing her tongue inside her lover’s body, sampling her sweet nectar and suckling on Donna’s most sacred flesh. Donna’s back arched toward the ceiling, her hand clamped down tight on the back of Karen’s head, pushing her deeper inside. Karen’s nostrils filled with the musky scent of Donna’s arousal; her mouth flooded with the woman’s liquid sexual essence. Karen’s passion for Donna was fueled by the intensity of the woman’s growing pleasure and the massive orgasm beginning its journey to climax.
Donna’s body now thrashed wildly about on the mattress; her moans of unadulterated ecstasy bounced off the walls and the ceiling of Karen’s bedroom. Clamping her legs like vice grips around Karen’s head and shoulders, Donna seized the sheets once again as Karen dug her fingernails deep into the flesh of her lover’s stomach as the orgasm erupted. Donna exploded. Her nectar washed like a tsunami into Karen’s ravenous mouth and Donna’s ravaged body then collapsed in a spent pile of a reawakened sexual being on the mattress; her chest heaving furiously up and down as her lungs reveled in gasps of desperately needed air. Donna unlocked her legs from around Karen and they tumbled to the mattress like pieces of Jell-O. Karen pulled herself up, slowly dragging the tip of her tongue up Donna’s body, followed by her erect nipples, grazing across Donna’s now sweat glossy skin. Karen was soon face to face with Donna, letting her body gently come to rest atop her and Donna hungrily seized Karen’s mouth with her own; sliding her arms around her and holding her tight.
In the midst of their kiss, Donna rolled Karen over on her back and cupped the young woman’s face in her hands as she now lay beneath her. Passion and carnal desire engulfed them; each woman could feel the other’s thundering heart as their bodies and chests were mashed firmly together. Their eyes remained transfixed on each other. Donna could never get enough of Karen’s intoxicating eyes. Instantly, Donna crushed her mouth to Karen’s once again and her tongue explored the deep recesses of the young woman’s mouth; straining desperately to taste the divine elixir of her precious soul through the passion of their kiss. The kiss soon broke and the women stared hungrily at each other. Donna felt Karen looking directly into her heart.
“Oh Karen….Oh Karen…Karen, my love.” Donna panted in a near whisper.
“Easy my precious. Steady. I’m not going anywhere. I am here. I am with you. And I love you.” Karen said softly.
“Can I taste you?” Donna asked breathlessly.
“Yes, my darling. Follow your heart and do what comes naturally.” Karen said as she smiled.
Donna followed Karen’s earlier example and proceeded to sample every inch of her flesh. Karen’s sexuality was almost overwhelming and Donna never knew such passion could exist between two human beings; let alone between two women. When Donna’s journey down and around Karen’s body finally brought her to the young woman’s sexual center, Donna knew that this was the most meaningful and magical experience of her life; Karen was truly divine. Taking the sex of another woman into her mouth for the first time, Donna Mitchell felt that at long last she was finally and truly a complete human being – her mind, body and soul were at last one. As she sampled Karen’s honey sweet nectar and feasted on her divine womanhood, Donna’s mind and heart filled with the assurance that she did indeed matter. That she was in fact a vibrant, pure and beautiful creation. That though she had made so many horrendous mistakes in her life, she herself, was no mistake at all. Her life had purpose. And her purpose was to be the woman God had created her to be. And from now on, with his help, she would do her best to be that woman.
Donna Mitchell and Karen Wilder remained entwined in their intense, lover’s passion well into the night. They made sweet, tender love to each other; sampled each other’s magnificent sexuality over and over, tasted the phenomenal elixir of each other’s souls and literally explored every square inch of each other’s divine nudity with their lips, tongues, hands and fingers. Donna had never experienced such a wondrous night of lovemaking. No other human being had ever before been so gentle, so compassionate, so very patient or understanding with her in the throes of sexual passion; she had never truly known what it was like to be so wantonly desired or passionately loved. Donna Mitchell was reborn.
As Karen finally fell away to sleep in her arms, Donna snuggled her tightly; holding on to her like the most cherished of earthly possessions. Gently stroking and caressing her lover’s flesh, Donna’s mind reviewed what had happened. As she replayed the events of the day and night past, tears welled in her eyes as a smile filled her lips. For just a mere few hours ago, this day had looked to become one of the worst of her life; perhaps even one that would drive her to a radical act of self-destruction or even death. But now, it has shown itself to be the day of rebirth; the most glorious and fulfilling day of her earthly existence. And it was all because of a gorgeous creature sent from the gates of heaven itself to rescue her – a beautiful angel named Karen. All it took was asking the Father of all for his help. And so it came. Gradually, Donna drifted off into deep and peaceful sleep. Perhaps the most rejuvenating night of rest the woman had ever known.
When Donna awoke, Karen was gone and the room was filled with bright sunshine. Glancing out the window, the sky was a deep blue and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Sitting up slowly, Donna felt like a completely new woman. She felt empowered, vibrant and totally free. As she stretched, the delectable aroma of frying bacon and eggs, toast and coffee drifted into her nostrils and made her mouth water. Springing up out of bed with the energy of a high school cheerleader, Donna immediately spotted her clothes of yesterday now washed, pressed and folded neatly atop Karen’s chest of drawers. Her denim jacket too, was clean, pressed and hanging on a hanger from the brass hardware on one of the drawers; her tennis shoes waited on the floor – they too, spic and span clean.
Donna dressed, ran a brush through her hair and went out to the living room. Karen was absolutely radiant, glowing like a true Christmas angel as she stood cooking breakfast at the stove in the kitchen in a pair of gray sweat pants and a University of Texas sweatshirt.
“Good morning.” Karen said exuberantly; her smile beaming.
“Good morning.” Donna replied.
“Actually, it’s afternoon.” Karen replied.
“What time is it?” Donna asked.
“Just after one.” Karen told her. “Hungry?”
“Starving.” Donna said.
“I’m not surprised.” Karen said. “Coffee?”
“Please.” Donna said.
Karen poured a cup of coffee and brought it around the counter to Donna. Donna immediately set it down and snatched Karen into her arms.
“What. No good afternoon kiss?” Donna asked slyly.
“Of course.” Karen replied and they kiss deeply. “Cream and sugar?”
“No cream. And I just got my sugar.” Donna replied.
Donna and Karen sat at the small dinette table and gorged themselves on bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs and toast. They spoke very little in words, but told each other volumes with their eyes. Donna helped Karen clear away and clean up the dishes and was about to snatch her smaller lover into her arms when Karen held up her hand.
“Come outside with me. I’ve got a little surprise for you.” Karen said.
Taking Donna by the hand, she led her outside and down the steps to the parking lot. The day was crystal clear and cool with a stiff northerly breeze, but the sunshine help keep them warm.
“Ta-Dah!” Karen said as she pointed to Donna’s battered old “hoopty” in a nearby parking space.
“My truck?” Donna said in astonishment.
“Yep. Fully functioning and ready to roll.” Karen said as she held out the keys to Donna.
“How?” Donna asked.
“Garrison is a small town. And small town folks look after each other. I have a good friend whose a mechanic. Actually, he’s a miracle worker. So, he worked a miracle.” Karen explained.
“What did I ever do to deserve you?” Donna asked.
“You asked for help, love.” Karen said. Donna was silent for a long moment and her face dropped into a pitiful looking frown. “Donna? Honey, what’s wrong?”
“I have to go.” Donna said; her voice cracking.
“Yes you do.” Karen said solemnly.
“But I don’t want to.” Donna admitted.
“You have to. You have to go and do what’s right. You have to go and become the woman you were created to be.” Karen said.
“Karen, I…” Donna began. Karen placed her hand gently on Donna’s lips.
“Please don’t, Donna. I hate good-byes.” Karen said.
“But this doesn’t have to be good-bye.” Donna pleaded.
“Yes it does; at least for now, love.” Karen told her and she took Donna in her arms for one final embrace. “Oh, don’t be sad. You’re gonna be fine. You’re gonna be better than fine. I promise.”
“Will we ever see each other again?” Donna whimpered.
“I don’t know. That’s not up to me. It’s not really up to you either.” Karen replied.
“I’ll never forget you.” Donna said.
“And I’ll never forget you either.” Karen replied.
“You saved my life.” Donna told her.
“Not me. Now go. And just like E.T.” Karen said as she placed her hand over Donna’s heart. “I’ll be right here.”
Donna and Karen embraced once more and Donna climbed into her truck. It started right up and she rolled down the window.
“How can I ever thank you for what you’ve done for me?” Donna asked.
“Just remember me, love. Just remember me.” Karen told her. And do for another lost and aching soul one day as I did for you.”
“I will. I promise.” Donna pledged.
And with that, Donna put the truck in gear and drove away. Tears slid down Karen’s cheeks as she watched the truck turn the corner onto U.S. Highway 59 and disappear from sight. Donna sobbed inconsolably as she drove out of Garrison, Texas and headed south toward Houston.
~~~ ONE YEAR LATER~~~
Donna Mitchell was giddy as she drove her brand new 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 up Highway 59; only today she wasn’t going all the way to Texarkana to see her kids. Today she was only going as far as Garrison. It had been exactly one year to the day since Donna and Karen had said good-bye. As Donna passed the Garrison City Limits sign northbound, she reflected on what had transpired in her life since that fateful night one year ago today.
As she had pulled her old “hoopty” into her parents driveway that evening, her mother and father greeted her at the door and threw their arms around her like a soldier returning from the front. They led her through the house and to the spacious spare bedroom and informed her that this was now her room. She no longer had to live in the loft over the garage. They had received a phone call from a mysterious young woman in Garrison and what she told them about the gallant actions of their daughter warmed their hearts; melting them with parental pride for the first time in years.
Then, as if the gates of heaven had opened fully, blessing after blessing and miracle after miracle flooded into Donna’s life with the force of a mighty tsunami. Within two months of that fateful night, all of Donna’s medical licensing was restored and she returned to her career as a Registered Nurse. Upon taking a required physical before returning to work, it was found that Donna’s blood pressure had returned to normal, her kidneys and liver were miraculously healing themselves and her Hepatitis C had disappeared.
Within six months, just after celebrating a year of being clean and sober, Donna was informed that her visits with the children would no longer be supervised and it would ultimately be at her ex-husbands discretion as to how long and how often she could be with the kids. It quickly became every other weekend, Donna was even allowed to stay in the guest room of her ex’s home and by Christmas, her ex-husband had moved back to Houston and offered complete joint custody. By this time, Donna had secured her own spacious three bedroom townhouse and bought herself a brand new truck. On New Year’s Eve, Donna’s ex-husband asked if she would be willing to make another go at their relationship. He missed her terribly and still loved her more than anyone else in the world. At the stroke of midnight, he slipped an engagement ring on her finger as he had done many years before. They kissed and ended up making love that night for the first time in nearly two years.
As Donna approached the McDonald’s where her new life had begun just one year ago, her heart raced and her stomach leapt into her throat. She didn’t exactly know what she would say to Karen, but she had faith that the right words would come to her. She parked the truck, checked her face in the rearview mirror and went into the restaurant, practically floating on air. It was the middle of the afternoon, well past the lunch rush, so the dining room was fairly deserted except for maybe six or seven people. Donna strode through the door and across the dining room, brimming with confidence that she once again was the healthy, vibrant and sexually alluring woman she had been in her youth. And she most certainly was. The frail, haggard shell of a wiry ex-junkie she was a year ago was long gone. Behind the counter was a handsome older man with thick gray hair and glasses; he was wearing the exact same type of bright red shirt and black slacks that Karen had been wearing when Donna had first laid eyes on her.
“Excuse me?” Donna asked. “Is Karen working today by chance?”
“I’m sorry. Who?” The man asked, seeming somewhat befuddled.
“Karen.” Donna repeated. “Ahh Karen…I don’t believe this. I can’t remember her last name.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid there’s nobody working here by that name.” He told her.
“Well, you see it’s been a little while since I was here last. It’s been right at a year; a year ago today as a matter of fact.” Donna explained.
“Ma’am, I’ve been the manager of this restaurant for nearly four years now and I’ve never had anyone working here named Karen.” He replied.
“What?” Donna said aghast.
“Perhaps you got her name wrong. Could you describe her for me?” He asked, trying to be helpful.
“Yes, she’s about five-five, 22 years old; guess she’d be 23 now. She has gorgeous long, flowing blonde hair, very attractive figure and a beautiful, angelic little face. Just as sweet as a human being could be. God, I wish I could think of her last name.” Donna expounded.
“Ma’am, are you by any chance talking about Karen Wilder?” The man asked with wide eyes.
“That’s it! That’s her name! Karen Wilder.” Donna proclaimed. “So you do know her?”
“Sort of. And you say you met her a year ago today while she was working at this McDonald’s?” He asked, very incredulously.
“Yes.” Donna replied.
“Ma’am, I’m very sorry, but that’s impossible.” He replied grimly.
“What do you mean?” Donna asked.
“Karen Wilder was killed in a car accident over ten years ago.” The man explained.
Donna felt every ounce of her strength vanish as the words cleared the man’s lips. Her legs buckled, her heart froze mid-beat and she almost forgot how to breathe; she suddenly felt horribly dizzy and sick to her stomach. She stared glassy eyed at the man behind the counter.
“Are you all right, ma’am? Can I get you some water?” He asked with concern in his voice.
“What did you say?” Donna managed to utter.
“Karen Wilder is dead. She’s been dead for nearly eleven years now. In fact, it was eleven years ago last night. She was working here that night and as she was pulling out of the parking lot, her car was broad sided by a drunk driver and she was killed instantly. She was just 22 years old.” The man explained.
Donna tipped forward and rested her weight against the counter; her heart was pounding relentlessly in her chest.
“She’s dead?” Donna asked with her voice cracking.
“Yes. For a long time now. Here, take a look.” The man said as he directed Donna down the length of the counter to a memorial plague hanging on the wall.
Donna gazed at the plague through her tear-soaked eyes and immediately recognized Karen’s beautiful face in the picture. The plague was pure silver and engraved with a brief summary of Karen’s life and engraved across the top above the beautiful picture were the words:
“GARRISON’S ANGEL – KAREN LEANN WILDER – NOW OUR GUARDIAN ANGEL.”
Donna gasped and slapped her hands over her mouth. The date of her death was indeed eleven years ago last night; which would have made last year the tenth anniversary of her death.
“Oh my God! That’s her.” Donna wailed.
“It was a terrible tragedy. And a very ironic one too.” The man said solemnly.
“What do you mean?” Donna asked.
“When she was a teenager, Karen was a wild child. In fact, her nickname around town was Wilder Gone Wild. She had a horrible addiction to alcohol and drugs; damn near destroyed her. But when she turned nineteen, she suddenly found something. Some say she found the Lord. Anyway, she got into recovery, got cleaned up and became a pillar of the community. Everybody in town knew her and everybody absolutely adored her. She was the sweetest human being God ever created; and she would have done anything to help anybody. In recovery or not. Just so terribly ironic that she was killed by a drunk driver.” The man explained.
“What happened to the driver?” Donna asked.
“Mercifully for him, he was killed too. But I know that even if he’d lived, Karen would have forgiven him. That’s just the way she was.” The man said. “Karen was a living angel; she was our angel. And now she’s our guardian angel.”
“Yeah.” Donna whispered.
“You gonna be all right, ma’am?” He asked.
“I’ll be fine. Guess it must have been somebody else after all. I wasn’t very well that night after all. Anyway, thank you for your time.” Donna said as she turned and sauntered away.
“You have a nice day.” He called after her.
Donna climbed back into her truck to pull herself together. Taking slow and deep breaths, Donna fired up the truck and drove to where she remembered Karen’s apartment to be. The building looked no different than it had a year ago as Donna jumped out of her truck and raced up the steps to Karen’s front door. Something was different. She couldn’t pin it down, but something was definitely different. Gathering her courage, Donna knocked on the door. An elderly, heavy-set black woman who looked to be in her mid to upper 70s answered the door.
“Can I help you, Miss?” She asked sweetly.
“Yeah, I’m looking for a good friend of mine and I thought I remember her telling me that she lived in this apartment.” Donna said.
“No, I’m afraid not honey. I’ve lived in this here apartment for nearly eleven years now; just me and my cats.” The woman told her.
As she was speaking, Donna looked past the woman and into the apartment where her life had changed forever for the better. It was indeed the same apartment she remembered, but it looked nothing like it did a year ago. It was dank, dusty and dark; it had been lived in for a very long time by the old woman standing in front of her.
“Well, I guess I must have misunderstood her.” Donna lied. “So sorry to bother you.”
“No problem at all, sweetie.” The woman said. “Excuse me.” Donna interrupted. “You said you’ve lived here for nearly eleven years now? Do you have any idea who the previous occupant of this apartment was?”
“Oh yes.” The woman said proudly. “Everybody in Garrison knew her. Sweetest and prettiest young thing you’d ever want to meet. Name was Karen. Karen Wilder. Poor baby was killed in a car wreck one night just after she got off work. She’s was only 22.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I read her memorial plague in town.” Donna said.
“You know some folks here in town say that they’ve seen her around since she’s been gone. Say they’ve seen her ghost.” The woman interjected out of nowhere.
“I don’t believe in ghosts.” Donna answered.
“Do you believe in angels? Because if it’s true what people say about seeing her; then it ain’t a ghost they’re seeing. They’re seeing one of the sweet Lord’s most precious angels.” The woman said with a warm smile.
“Maybe.” Donna replied. “Thank you for your time.”
“You have a blessed day, honey.” The woman said and closed the door as Donna turned and went back down the stairs.
As she climbed back into her truck and started the engine, tears streamed down Donna’s face and a beautiful smile lit up her face as she gazed up into the afternoon sun.
“Yes, ma’am; that is exactly what they’re seeing.” Donna whispered and drove out of the parking lot.
The sky quickly turned very dark and threatening as Donna cruised south down old U.S. Highway 59 heading back to Houston. About ten miles out of Garrison, the sky opened up and a torrential downpour ensued. Donna flipped on her wipers and slowed as the pavement became slick. The roadway was unusually barren and very lightly traveled for a Sunday afternoon. It was then that Donna spotted a human form on the shoulder about a quarter of a mile ahead. As she approached, Donna saw that it was a haggard-looking teenage girl desperately trying to flag down a ride; she appeared to be drenched to the bone. Immediately Donna’s heart filled with pity. She remembered the sensation only too well, along with the overwhelming feeling of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. Then out of nowhere, Karen’s soft, melodious voice echoed across Donna’s memory:
“Just remember me, love. Just remember me. And do for another lost and aching soul one day as I did for you.”
Donna pulled her pick-up truck over onto the shoulder about 25 yards or so ahead of the young girl and watched with a content smile as the girl raced up from behind and hopped in the passenger side of the truck.
“Oh thank you so much for stopping.” The young girl said.
“No problem at all, hon. I know exactly what you’re going through. It’s happened to me before.” Donna said.
The young girl was rail thin, gawky and looked so very frail. Her dirty blond hair was soaked to the scalp and her tiny hands were shivering as her teeth chattered.
“So, where you headed?” Donna asked.
“Anywhere but here. Would it be all right if I just rode along for awhile?” She asked.
“Not a problem. I’m on my way to Houston, so I’ll be heading south for awhile.” Donna told her.
“Great.” The young girl said.
“My name is Donna.”
“Hi Donna. My name is Karen.”