By Heidi Eljarbo
Days were short this time of year. The sun rose at about nine o’clock and set six hours later. The mild temperature was unusual. Water dripped from the gutters, and rain whipped against the window. Juni was grateful to be inside, snug, warm, and now also satisfied after the scrumptious dinner and dessert. A cup of steaming-hot rosehip tea sat on the table as she got her typewriter out of its case and organized the papers for an upcoming article for the newspaper. The editor expected it by the twenty-second of December. She had four full days at the cabin to get it all done.
She’d fought this assignment, claiming she had no children of her own and no experience in writing articles about what little people needed or wanted.
“You’ll be fine,” Liv, her editor, had persisted. “I’ve not seen you have any problems before. And you write stories varied as sea life.”
Sea life? Liv should know. She spent all her free time by the ocean.
Despite her reservations, Juni had given in and had spent the next days trying to revive her dormant imagination. She’d brought her notebook to the park, and she’d tried jotting down words while walking the dog in the woods or lying down on the couch. Nothing. She and Leo had even gone on an outing to the beach, but all Juni had come up with was stories about the oceanic playground and the savage aquamarine waves rolling merciless toward the rocky shore. Leo had run along the sand, barking at seagulls. Closing her eyes, she’d realized the hypnotizing sound of the ocean that usually opened up her deeper thoughts had also abandoned her.
“I’m afraid I have to pass on this one,” she’d finally told her editor.
That’s when Liv had brought her chair to Juni’s office desk. She’d sat down and handed Juni a cup of hot chocolate and calmly explained the situation.
“Our sales are down, and the ratings have not exactly been booming lately. We must land the perfect Christmas story to keep our readers interested and also attract new ones. The owners have decided on a huge Christmas issue in hopes of saving the newspaper. There’ll be recipes, nostalgic holiday tidbits, and your article will be the main feature. We’re counting on you, Juni. I know you can do this. Make us proud.”
The pressure was on. Almost to the point of boiling over. Juni had immediately packed a bag and escaped, hoping the serenity of the mountains would give her the inspiration she sought.
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