1. Life Is A Bitch
“I know, Glori, I should have checked the weather before we left that last town.” She rubbed the nose of the golden retriever that rested on her right shoulder. It should have been a four-hour drive and the forecast had been for six to eight inches of snow over the next three days. She had been on the road for seven hours and the snow had already surpassed that. The storm had swept out of Canada reaching further south then expected and the lake effect snow generated as it crossed the Great Lakes had deposited eighteen inches in just the past six hours. Luckily the main roads had been clear most of the way and she had not had any difficulty until she had turned off onto the less travelled roads leading up into the northern part of the state.
Not for the first time she was grateful for her decision to buy the small sturdy SUV. She knew it had not been a popular decision with a number of her friends and certainly not her family who were serious environmentalists, but as a doctor and a neonatal surgeon she needed the four-wheel drive and heavier weight to navigate the roads in all kinds of weather. Winters upstate was notoriously unpredictable and her tiny patients had little time to spare when they were in crisis.
“Damn it Eric, damn you Joyce, in my house, in our bed, how could you?”
Her voice broke and she finally let go the tears she had held back for the past painful three days. Turning to the dog that had climbed over the seat back and snuggled up, she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his thick coat. His front leg settled on a shoulder and he whined softly, licking her hands and face trying to comfort her.
* * * * *
Amanda had never had much time to pursue personal relationships while attending medical school and completing her residency. She was surprised when two years earlier she had started a relationship with an engineer, Eric Devere, she had met through her brother. At first, his heavy travel schedule and the long hours she put in at the hospital left them little time together. As the relationship deepened they both sought ways to improve it and after deliberating for several months she invited him to move into her town house.
During the early months the arrangement suited them both well. Amanda found Eric easy to live with and her adjustments had been surprisingly few. It wasn’t until his travel schedule had changed and lightened considerably so that he had more available time to spend at home he began to resent the hours she worked. She was at a loss on how to repair the growing rift between them. When she had been called back to a couple of emergencies at the hospital causing her to cancel accompanying him to his company Christmas party and family Thanksgiving, he had been furious.
Amanda recognized she had to do something if she wanted to save their relationship. She made plans to spend most of Christmas and New Years with him and requested time off. Because she had often covered other holidays for her colleagues they were more then happy to cover for her.
Leaving work a few hours earlier then usual the Friday before Christmas she picked up a small tree and turkey with all the fixings. Amanda smiled thinking of the special gift she had found for Eric after hours of searching the Internet. It was an antique set of engineering drawing tools similar to the one they had seen in a local museum that he had admired. She had also made reservations for New Years at a nearby romantic bed and breakfast one of the nurses had used during her honeymoon and highly recommended. Humming and very pleased with her plans and the thought of being home first, she easily navigated traffic and reached her front door in record time. Parking her car in the garage she was surprised to see Eric’s Land Rover already there.
Quietly entering the kitchen she noted the wine on the table and grinned thinking of her surprising him for a change. Putting the groceries on the counter she quietly entered the hall and looked for him all through the downstairs. Not finding him she started up the stairs when she heard his voice in the bedroom they shared. Frowning Amanda opened the door and there to her horror found Eric and his secretary Joyce in bed, nude and the smell of wine and sex permeating the room. It took a few moments before the lovers felt her presence. Eric froze when he saw her and started to get up.
Amanda stared at him; her face ashen and drained of all color then silently turned away, descended the stairs and re-entered the kitchen. When Eric followed her he started to say something. She cut him off, stone faced.
“I want you out of here, both of you, in the next five minutes. You can return and get the rest of your things tomorrow while I am at the hospital. Then I never want to see you ever again.”
“Five minutes, Eric, then I am calling the police.”
“That won’t be necessary, Amanda.” He turned away then looked back. “For what it’s worth, I am sorry for bringing her here.”
Over the next couple of days she donated the bedroom furniture to a charity, changed the locks, reset the security codes for both the house and the garage and effectively removed all trace of his presence from the house. Unable to face its emptiness over the holidays, she called her brother, Ted, to request the loan of the family cabin. After some discussion he reluctantly agreed.
“Mandy, it’s pretty isolated out there and they are predicting a storm. Won’t you consider coming over here and spending Christmas with us? You know you are welcome any time.”
“I know, little brother, but I need some time to myself so I can get my head back on straight. I will have Glori with me and you can reach me on my cell phone. Do you know what other things I need to take?”
“Calli made sure the place was pretty well stocked with canned goods before we left this fall. There is a lot of mom’s home made canned stuff and dry goods stored in the silver tubs in the basement along with plenty of fuel for the generator in the shed. Dad and I stacked a couple of cords of wood on the side porch so you should be ok once you get there.”
“Sounds like you all were preparing for a lot of serious winter use.”
“Nope, just hunting season, then dad broke his ankle and we didn’t go. We had hoped to get every one together up there for some skiing or snowmobiling when the snow was deep enough but even that has had to be put on hold with Calli’s pregnancy. You be careful and let us know when you get there, will you?”
“I will Ted, and thanks.”
“No thanks needed. It belongs to the whole family.
“Bye, little brother. My best to Calli.”
“Drive carefully. You’re the only sister I have. Oh and Mandy? I am sorry Eric turned out to be such a bastard.”
“Me too, I’ll call when I get there.”
* * * * * *
It was some time before Amanda spent her tears. She became aware that the wind had died down and the snow had tapered off. Using her wipers to clear off the accumulated snow from the windshield and the rear window, she restarted the car and found she could move forward with little problem. She blessed heeding her brother’s advice and getting the snow tires the week before. She covered another mile or two before she encountered a strange thick heavy fog that lay close to the ground like dirty wet wool. Opening her side window she wrinkled her nose at the acrid smell that billowed into the car with the fog and managed to make it down a little hill, across the wooden bridge that marked the start of their property and up the last quarter mile to the cabin. Heaving a sigh of relief, she pulled up to the wide front porch that ran the width of the two story stone building.
Her grandfather had built the whole thing himself with the help of her father and his two brothers. It was a gracious cabin that had sheltered her family for three generations. He and her grandmother had emigrated from Scotland just after getting married. With a small inheritance from her grand mother they had purchased the property upstate initially intending to do some commercial logging. For a number of reasons including the Wall Street Crash of 1929 they had not been able to do so and eventually the cabin had become a rustic retreat for the growing family.
Just as she finished unloading the car and moving it to park in the shelter of the storage shed the storm began again in earnest. She called her brother to let him know she had made it and then turned her attention to starting a fire in the fireplace and putting her groceries away. Crossing back to the shed she started the generator after checking the supply of fuel. Returning to the cabin made up a bed with fresh linens in her small bedroom upstairs, then preparing a hot meal for herself and feeding Glori she settled down in front of the fire to relax and listen to the radio before she turned in for the night.
The next morning broke under a blinding blue sky as can only happen after a storm has blown through. When Amanda awoke to Glori’s insistent woofs to go out, she realized she had slept dreamlessly through the night and the tension in her head and shoulders were gone. After letting the dog out she started a pot of coffee and returned to watch Glori through the window as he jack rabbited through the deep snowdrifts that surrounded the building. She laughed as he burrowed his nose through the snow and tossed small clumps of snow into the air or tried to catch the bits that fell from the trees. Finally calling him back in she fed him and poured her self a cup of coffee savoring its rich smell as she drank it. Warming her hands on the cup she returned to the window and gazed out at the panorama of undulating forests in shades of blue green and bare trunks wearing hats of white snow and silhouetted against the hills rising to the tall mountains blanketed in snow beyond. In the far distance she could see a hawk circling as it hunted. There was the occasional snap of a tree limb or trunk as it gave way to the weight of the newly fallen snow. And then there was the silence, the peacefulness of a world apart. She felt it permeating and soothing her aching soul.
Reluctantly shaking herself she began to mentally review what she would need to do if the forecast held. They were expecting another storm to pass through bringing four to six feet of heavy wet snow during the next forty-eight hours. She hoped she would be able to get out afterwards. She considered starting up one of the snowmobiles stored in the basement garage before the storm arrived just to be sure she could. She worried momentarily how she would get Glori out then remembered the old sled that they had attached to the snowmobile in past winters and hauled wood and even the occasional Christmas tree. With some coxing he would ride it.
Glori finished his food and nosed around the floor hopefully searching for the last bit when he lifted his head and ran to the front door. After listening intently for a while he suddenly began scratching excitedly at it and whining. Looking back at his mistress he wagged his tail wildly and danced around in circles.
Amanda immediately was alert and told him to lie down and be quiet. Cautiously she crossed from the kitchen to the front window and looked through the curtains. She watched as a bundled figure on snowshoes came up the road towards the cabin. The figure stopped suddenly at the edge of the clearing and she got the impression he was surprised at finding the cabin in front of him. He turned around studying the landscape and appeared puzzled at what he was seeing. Finally turning back toward the cabin he slowly approached and threw back the lynx fur lined hood of the heavy brown cloak he was wearing.
At first she took him for a Native American but as he came closer there were some things that didn’t fit. He was very tall and walked with the natural gait of an athlete. His facial features were sculpted and he had high check bones. His black hair was long and pulled back from his brow with a number of small braids and the rest hung loose down his back. His skin was fair with a pearly glow unlike that of the typical ruddier Native American. He wore a pack on his back and she could see what appeared to be an old fashion hunting bow slung with it. On closer examination the snowshoes were of a style she had never seen and his cloths had another worldliness about them.
Amanda looked around for something she might use as a weapon. Her eyes stopped on the antique gun that her mother had bought at a garage sale years before and now hung over the mantle. Even though it no longer worked, he would not know that.
“Hello, is there anyone there?” came her visitor’s voice. He spoke with an accent she didn’t recognize. Now holding the gun she called Glori to her then opened the door cautiously.
“What do you want?” she asked in a blunt tone.
“Forgive this intrusion my lady, I became lost in the storm last night and I have no idea where I am. Can you direct me towards Rivendell?”
She frowned at his archaic language and shook her head.
“Sorry, never heard of such a place around here.”
He studied her, “Are you of the Dunedain? Perhaps you can direct me to Arathorn’s encampment.” He now stood at the bottom of the stairs leading to the porch gazing up at her with storm grey eyes.
She studied him in return. Something nagged at the back of her mind. It was as if she recognized something in what he was speaking of but couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Then it dawned on her as she glanced down at Glori, Tolkien, books, Lord of the Rings, Middle Earth, movies, and the actor.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.