Love Paints the Way

authorlindsaygibson

January 2021 is the kick off to my short story healing series! Meet Rebecca and the challenge she faces in her personal and career life. Join Author Lindsay Gibson as she continues her monthly short story series along with episodes of healing on her Just Be Podcast. www.lindsaymariegibson.com for more info!


Part I

“See Becca! I knew no one could do what you could

do down there!” Jeff said to her earlier as she was

checking out of the hotel. “That office has never been

more organized, and I know the new manager learned a

great deal. That strategy plan you threw in for the

management team was very clever too. HR is clapping up

here! Rebecca Campbell is our star!”

Rolling her eyes at Jeff’s cheesy compliment, she

wished him a Merry Christmas and hung up the phone.

She didn’t want to hear from him or anyone else in the

company for the entire week she was going to be off. An

hour later Rebecca turned the key into her apartment and

pulled her suitcase inside. She could not be happier to be

home. It was chilly inside, as she had turned the heat

down very low. After turning it back up, she went into her

bedroom and turned on the extra electric heater she had

for her bathroom.

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Boston might be known for its charm, but the old

apartments are anything but warm and cozy. The heat

seemed to slip right back out her windows that needed

updating and Rebecca was convinced no one knew how to

insulate walls in the entire city. She spent a fortune every

winter to keep herself warm and investing in extra electric

heaters while costly, was a necessity during the harsh,

snowy winters – where weeks of a deep freeze sent her

electric bill skyrocketing.

Turning on the bath and adding in some bubbles and

essential oils, she went into the kitchen for a glass of

water, set the coffee for the next morning and grabbed the

book she left by her living room couch. She couldn’t wait

to soak in the hot water and go to bed. Before she got into

the tub, she turned off her phone and plugged it in – she

refused to answer anyone’s calls or texts for at least 24

hours. Even though she was back home from a trip and on

vacation, it was Christmas after all. She still needed to

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shop for gifts and knew it would be a hectic few

days. Slipping into the warm lavender aroma, Rebecca

closed her eyes and took some deep breaths before she

opened them to read. The water soothed her aching bones

and the oils helped take her headache down.

An hour later the water was cooled down and she

finally got out. Glancing at the clock, it was only 8:30 pm,

but she decided to skip Netflix and head to bed. She

melted into the soft warm sheets and before she could

think about what gifts to buy the next day, she fell into a

much needed, undisturbed deep sleep.

Her windows rattling against the howling wind the

next morning woke her up. Turning over, she saw that it

was nearly 10 am. She hadn’t slept that long in years! She

sat up and stretched, her chest felt lighter and her aches

were gone. Much better! Getting up, the smell of coffee

filled her nostrils, and she threw on a sweatshirt while

looking out the window. Snow was falling and it was a

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cold, windy day. Shopping would be a challenge in that

weather.

After scrambling eggs and making toast, she poured

herself some coffee and sat down to eat as she watched

the snow pile up against her window. Realizing she still

hadn’t turned her phone on, she decided best to check it –

especially since she knew her mother, Cindy, was most

likely trying to call her. Once her phone lit up, a list of

text messages came in. One from Brandon telling her

again what a great job she did in Atlanta. One from her

friend Jess asking if she could tag along on her Christmas

shopping today. A weather alert. And one from her mom

asking if she felt better and if she landed okay. She also

asked if she could handle making the pies for Christmas

dinner.

She shot back a text to her mom first, knowing she

was probably worried by now.

I’m better. Landed safely yesterday afternoon. Took a

hot bath… bed early.

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Slept very well…10 hours for the first time in a week!

What kind of pies do you want me to make?

Followed by a quick thank you and Merry Christmas

to Brandon and finally Jess.

Hey Mom! I’d love some company. I am leaving in

about an hour. Still haven’t showered yet.

Vacation life! Meet me at our favorite Starbucks in

Copley Place? How about we grab some lunch too?

Rebecca loved Boston, especially during the

holidays. Downtown would be lit up with holiday

shoppers everywhere and the smells of Christmas delight

would be pouring from the restaurants and bakeries. After

growing up in a small town in New Hampshire and

attending a small college nearby, Boston was the perfect

size for her to live in. Not too big and not too small,

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however, the streets made no sense. Four years in the city

and she still got lost often. The streets had many

unmarked signs and no matter how many mental notes

she took, she always ended up on the highway after one

wrong turn. Jess, a Boston native, joked that a handful of

drunk Irishmen must have built the city!

Before she went back into the kitchen to put her empty

plate and mug in the sink, she saw some of her oil paints

on the dining room table. A new set of colors that she

bought at the end of the summer, sat on the table

unopened. She remembered putting them on the table to

bring into her guest room where her canvases were, but as

always – her job and life were too busy to paint – and

they remained forgotten on the table. Walking over to the

table, Rebecca chuckled a bit to herself because it shows

how often she uses that table! Followed by a big sigh as

she ran her fingers over the colors. It had been nearly two

years since she last completed a painting and her mother

always seemed to remind her of that.

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She loved to text Rebecca pictures of all her drawings

and paintings she saved over the years that she would find

stored in the house somewhere. It always made Rebecca

feel sad instead of inspired to start painting again. Maybe

one day soon…

Part II

The town of Snowbay is New Hampshire’s best kept

secret. Growing up there was a dream and every time

Rebecca came home, she smiled in all her memories here.

After establishing as its own town in 1962, with a

population barely breaking 500 people – the town was

named after the large grove of sugar maples in the town

and quickly became a “fashionable Victorian resort” type

of town. Attracting all kinds of die-hard ski fans every

winter to the state’s White Mountains and its many resorts

that are nearby. Snowbay’s unique dining always did very

7


well, including Rebecca’s parents who own the diner in

town.

Walking to the front door, she realized that her

parents may be at the diner. It was 11 pm on the night

before Christmas Eve, when no one wanted to cook, so

they were most likely still cleaning up from a busy night.

That’s where Abby must be! That pup loved to go with

them and during the summer months, you would see her

sitting outside the front door, greeting customers with a

friendly wagging tail. In her early years, her high energy

always made the locals laugh and the tourists run!

Rebecca’s parents ran a great diner with delicious

homemade and nutritious food that both her parents made.

Everyone in town came for her mom’s buttermilk

pancakes with warm maple syrup and baked goods from

snickerdoodles to homemade donuts. Her dad’s dinner

meals were mouthwatering and made everyone come

back for more. She smiled as she rang the doorbell and

after a few minutes with no answer, concluded that they

8


were still closing up. Reaching down, she lifted one of the

loose rocks that lined the walkway and sure enough – the

spare key still sat there.

Letting herself in, Rebecca smelled the woody pine

from the Christmas tree and what was probably remnants

of cranberry. Most likely a holiday blend her mother was

burning in her essential oil diffuser. Rebecca made a

mental note to buy one for her apartment in Boston. It was

so good to be home! For a moment, she wondered if she

should text them and let them know she was home so they

wouldn’t be startled when they came back, but she

remembered her car would be a good enough warning

anyway. Leaving her bags in the front hall by the stairs,

she wandered into the living room and headed to the

kitchen to get some water.

She picked up the framed photo of her high school

graduation as she passed by the living room and looked at

her parent’s smiling faces, so proud of her for a job well

done. She focused in on her own eyes in the picture,

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which were filled with the excitement of going to college.

Rebecca didn’t even recognize the girls smiling back at

her. This young version of herself looked strong,

confident and…happy.

That was not all she was staring at in the photo, for

she was holding a pencil sketch she made when she was

about ten years old of her dad. That was the sketch that

began her quest to become an artist. It had been years

since she did a pencil sketch or any type of artwork for

that matter. Rebecca put the picture back down, feeling

defeated against her own self and who she was today. She

halted that journey of growing as an artist and suddenly

the weight of that hit her hard.

Just as Rebecca was making her way from the

kitchen after retrieving a glass of water, the front door

opened and her mother came bursting through the door

with a huge smile on her face and Abby, their dog, on her

heels.

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“Becca! I knew that was your car! You’re home!”

Her mom ran over to greet her daughter with a big hug.

Rebecca bent down and Abby drowned her face with

doggy kisses. Rebecca’s regret of all her life decisions

suddenly seemed to vanish in the presence of her mom,

whose smiles and excitement she couldn’t ignore.

The sounds of cabinets shutting woke Rebecca the

next morning and after remembering where she was, she

sat up. Abby shifted on the floor beside her and sat up

with her. She may only be home occasionally now, but

Abby always chose her to sleep with regardless.

Stretching, she realized all her aches and pains were now

fully gone – he had never felt better! There were no more

signs of the flu and whenever she was home, she slept

sound. Her sleep seemed to be more restorative and

deeper while home, and she always woke up with as

much energy as a teenager.

Glancing at the clock, it was 9:00 a.m. Her parents

should both be knee-deep in pancake orders and endless

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refills of coffee. Who was downstairs? She got out of bed

and a chill ran through her. Mountain air felt nice to

breathe in, but it was sure cold – colder than the wind

tunnels of Boston! Slipping on a sweater she pulled out of

her bag, she headed downstairs. The cranberry smell hit

her once again on the stairs and it smelled so good!

Her mother was bent over in the refrigerator, filling

up her bag with avocados and lemons. Rebecca stared at

her for a moment…what was she doing?

“You aren’t going to make pancakes with lemons

now are you, mom?” Her mom jumped, nearly banging

her head on the drawer.

“Becca! You scared me!” Her mother stood all the

way up and closed the drawer. She went on. “We are out

of lemons and it seems the whole town is a bit sick and

wants lemon tea. Our supply is dwindling by the second.

But feeling ill apparently doesn’t stop them from coming

in enjoying some pancakes while spreading germs! And

the skiers are all asking for avocado on the side. Since

12


when do diners serve things like that? I can’t keep up with

these city folks! I needed more lemons, so I came here

instead of the store. Do you want me to get you anything?

If you want to help at the diner, there’s still plenty of time

left.”

“Sorry I didn’t get up sooner! There’s something

about being home, I sleep like a bear in the winter. I will

head into the diner soon. I can already taste your

cinnamon roll pancakes!”

“Oh, Dad saved a batch of those for you in the back.

The kids are plowing through those and I ran out of

cinnamon already and I just looked, and we ran out here

too!”

“Well, I better get some more for you! I’ll stop at the

store before I get there. What else do you need?”

“You are a lifesaver Becca! Grab like 10 more

lemons just in case. Maybe a few more avocados. Oh, and

flour! I am running dangerously low and if we run out of

the makings for pancakes on our annual Christmas Eve

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pancake breakfast, it’ll turn into an avocado with tea

breakfast only! This year is more packed than usual! Lots

of out of towners must be at the resorts for Christmas this

year.”

Thirty minutes later, Rebecca was dressed and

standing in line at the store. The storm was bringing

everyone in early to shop for Christmas dinner and while

she was getting dressed, her mother texted her with ten

more things to get realizing that the storm would prevent

her from getting things they might need later. Rebecca

sent a quick reply and started mindlessly scrolling through

her Facebook feed.

“It can’t be the famous Rebecca Campbell in front of

me could it?”

Turning around, Rebecca found herself face to face,

staring into familiar eyes. It was her high school art

teacher, Mr. McGrady. All the feels seemed to hit her at

once, but the biggest one was an uneasy sense of anxiety.

She hadn’t seen him since she graduated and left for

14


college, with high hopes on becoming an oil painter. He

was her biggest fan. No, scratch that – she had in fact

seen him around town but was always able to avoid any

encounters until this moment. Her heart began racing.

Would she find the right words for what she knew he was

about to ask her? Why can’t she just stand up and be

confident? After all, she wasn’t lazy or sitting around

doing nothing.

“How good to see you again! How are you? And I bet

by now you have some amazing paintings. I can’t wait for

you to tell me everything. Every now and then, a student

will come into my class that will blow the other students

out of the water with their artistic skill, but no-one has

been able to impress me like the infamous Rebecca

Campbell!” He smiled at his student he mentored long

ago.

Rebecca felt heat in her ears and her mouth went dry.

“Mr. McGrady! Wow it has been some time since

we have seen each other!” Rebecca looked down at her

15


hands and swallowed, not sure what to say next. Luckily,

he jumped in.

“You don’t have to call me ‘Mr. McGrady’ anymore,

Becca. Call me Paul and I’ll say! I think I saw you a few

times around town over the years, but you must have been

busy because before I could catch you, you always

vanished!” Paul winked at her with a smile.

“I can’t wait to hear all about your latest work! I’ve

tried to look you up a few times on social media, but I’m

not particularly good at all that and could never find you,”

he laughed.

“Well, I…,” Rebecca started to say something, but he

cut her off.

“So happy we are finally face to face! How long are

you in town for? Are you free to grab some coffee and

chat after we get our groceries?” He stared at her intently,

looking hopeful.

Why is this line moving at a snail’s pace? Her mind

was racing for words to get her out of the conversation.

16


She was so shaky and nervous, that she started to sweat.

She felt ridiculous being so nervous. Why won’t the

words just come? After all, there is nothing wrong with

just telling him the truth. So, what that she hadn’t picked

up a paintbrush since college and had worked her way up

a very respected company in Boston.

As she stared at her old teacher, still fumbling for an

answer, something suddenly hit her. It wasn’t Mr.

O’Grady who needed an answer – it was her who needed

one. Why wasn’t she pursuing her passion for painting?

Part III

“Becca! Becca!” The voice came from the end of the

line. She and Paul both turned to see who it was. It was

her best childhood friend Gina, waving at her – while

trying to hold her wiggly, twin boys’ hands.

17


“Can you put your groceries on the conveyor, Miss?”

The clerk was ready for her to check out. Relief washed

over her as she reached into her cart.

“Oh, yes, of course!” Rebecca said, while waving

back at Gina. Saved! When she was finished loading her

groceries on the belt, she turned to Paul. “It certainly was

great to run into you! I’m not sure how long I will be in

town yet, as I have some plans for New Year’s back in

Boston.” She gave Paula a small smile.

“Oh, well I understand. It is a busy time of year too.”

Paul squinted his eyes, studying her and he couldn’t help

but notice how nervous she appeared.

Reaching for her credit card to pay, she continued her

story, “Unfortunately, I already made plans with Gina

back there after this. So I have to say no to the coffee, but

thank you anyway. I’ll try to look you up once I know

when I will officially be heading back and maybe we can

squeeze in a coffee date then!” She felt her face flush with

the lie and swallowed the lump of guilt, as she swiped her

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card to pay. After she was done, she looked back at Paul

with a big smile. “Again, so good to see you!” She leaned

in and gave him a big hug.

“Good to see you too, Becca. I hope we can catch up

before you leave again.” Paul stared at her and his voice

was a little quieter. He was concerned. Something about

her didn’t seem like the old Rebecca.

What he didn’t realize was how accurate his intuition

was.

Rebecca waited until Gina bought her groceries and

they headed out. The winter storm was already sprinkling

a light snow on the cars. Grass and sidewalks beginning

to be blanketed with white snow.

“Wow! Already starting! I better get this stuff to the

diner! Mom said this is one of the busiest years in a long

time!”

“Is it? We were going to drop the groceries at home

and head over. I can’t miss the annual pancake breakfast

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too! I’ll see you in a little while!” Gina waved and the

three of them headed to their car.

Rebecca made a quick stop at the house and unloaded

groceries for dinner that night and breakfast and lunch the

next day. She had picked up some extra things at the store

and stocked them to bundle down during the storm. Thirty

minutes later, she walked in the front door of the diner. It

was still so packed, that families were lined inside by the

door, waiting for a table.

“Excuse me! Hi everyone! Oh hey, Patty!” Rebecca

greeted Patty, who was half standing on her table to wave

at her.

Inching her way to the kitchen, she pushed through

the door and heard a crash. A pan hit the floor and the

crash could be heard above the loud voices coming from

the dining room. Everyone became silent for a moment

before carrying on with their conversations. Jack came

out from behind the stovetops, shaking his hand in

obvious pain.

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“Dad? You okay over there?” Rebecca set the

groceries down and went over to see what happened.

“Hey Becca, yeah I’m just so busy that I forgot to

turn the pan away from the flames with an oven mit. Does

it look like it’s slowing down out there?” he looked

hopeful.

“Not one single bit. In fact, there are still about five

groups waiting for tables.” Rebecca began to unpack the

groceries. “Good thing I got double of what Mom asked

for!”

Cindy came flying through the door, with relief

seeing that Becca was finally there with the cinnamon.

“Becca! Thank goodness! The order for my

cinnamon roll pancakes are coming in non-stop! I had

enough to squeeze out some for the last table, but four

more orders behind it would be pretty upset if you didn’t

get here just now!”

Cindy grabbed the cinnamon and flour and as she

rolled her sleeves up, Rebecca stood back in amazement

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watching her mom get to work. Her mom loved working

in the kitchen. For a minute, she watched both her parents

working tirelessly side-by-side, not speaking a single

word to each other, yet they both maneuvered flawlessly

around each other as if they were dancing.

“You two are such a pair at this! I’m always so proud

whenever I am home and watching this diner kick butt,

just like it has since the day you bought it!”

Jack glanced up and smiled in response, while Cindy

couldn’t see past her pancake mission to say anything

except to start barking orders.

“Becca, I need you to get out there and keep things

flowing while I whip up these pancakes. Tables 5, 14 and

19 need refills, coffee on all three tables and 4 OJ’s.

They’ll tell you what they ordered, just bring it all on the

tray. Table 3 is ready to check out and after that, swing

through all the tables and see if anyone else is done. Get

Bobby to bus the table that is leaving asap. He was out

22


bringing the trash outside when I came in.” Cindy didn’t

look up once while she listed off what to do.

Rebecca laughed. “Yes ma’am!” Even though she

was teasing her mom, she was also proud because she was

just like her and every time she was here, she was

reminded where her work ethic came from!

Four hours later, the three of them slumped in an

empty booth and waved goodbye to the last of their

customers. The snow was coming down heavier now and

the grass was completely covered.

“Go on home, Becca, while the roads are still safe.

Your mom and I will handle closing up. Bobby did a great

job keeping the dishes going and there really isn’t much

left to load for the final wash.” Jack looked at her with

concern.

An hour later, Rebecca let herself into the house and

Abby came bolting towards her wagging her tail. Her

parents left her home for this special pancake breakfast,

knowing how packed it was going to be. She didn’t do as

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well in larger crowds and new faces. Abby might have

scared them away with her barks.

“Hey girl, you must need to go outside.” She barely

got the door opened, as Abby practically knocked her

down to get outside. She laughed watching her jump

around in the covered grass, like a little kid in the first

snow of the year.

When Abby came in, Rebecca headed upstairs to take

a hot shower. Her shirt had syrup on it, sweat was dried

on her back and her muscles ached from carrying too

many heavy trays. She forgot how much work waitressing

was! Or maybe it was because she was a teenager when

she did this regularly. When she finished, the steamy

bathroom made it hard for her to see. The front door

slammed below, and her parent’s voices filled the silence.

She was thankful they were home because the storm had

picked up even more, along with the winds. Lights were

already flickering, and she was thankful that Jack had

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installed a brand-new generator a few winters before. It

certainly came in handy for storms like this one.

Rebecca dressed in some comfortable clothes and

went downstairs to make tea. Christmas movies were

surely on and all she wanted to do was relax by a fire, put

a heavy throw over her shoulders and watch them. There

is nothing more soothing than the feeling of being hugged

by a cozy blanket! Her parents were in the kitchen,

looking just as tired as she was.

“I think we made a month’s earnings in one morning!

I know we have five days off, but I am already tired

thinking about our New Year’s Eve party we have to do.

Is it too late to cancel that?” Jack said, laughing, but

Rebecca knew he was half serious. Cindy gave him a look

as if to warn him to not even try her with that.

“Oh sure, Jack. With nearly thirty groups who have

given their rsvp… you think we can cancel?! And we paid

for the band. I am too exhausted to even joke about that

right now.”

25


Cindy turned to face Rebecca with a smile, “Hi

honey, thanks for your help today. I am going to take a

hot shower before the power cuts out, which will most

likely be soon. Our car nearly blew off the mountain on

the way home! Jack before you go up, can you get a fire

started?”

“Actually, I need to head to garage to chop some

more wood anyway, so I’ll be up in a bit.”

Rebecca made some tea, sank into the couch and

scrolled through the movies. She settled on one and

looked at her phone messages for the first time in hours.

She had a voicemail from work. Why was work calling

her on Christmas Eve? Feeling quite annoyed and

surprised that her boss was even in the office, she debated

about whether to listen to it. But she knew it would bother

her if she didn’t. So, she pressed on her voicemail.

“Hey Becca, it’s Jeff. Listen, I know it is Christmas

Eve and you’re on vacation, but if you can give me a

26


quick call back, I would appreciate it. It’s a little after 1

pm and I’ll be here until about 3. Thanks!”

Rebecca glanced at the time and saw that it was

almost 4 p.m. Hesitating, she wasn’t sure what to do.

Anger started to bubble up because she shouldn’t have to

call him back. She was on vacation and it was Christmas.

However, like she normally does, she ignored the anger

and gave in to the guilt and called him back. It went to his

voicemail and she left a message and stopped herself

before she was about to apologize for missing his call.

She could at least show some sort of boundary. After all,

why should she be sorry? It is her vacation, and she is

home in New Hampshire – there is no need to explain

where she was. Just as she was feeling more irritated and

curious as to why he called her, she saw a text from him

as well.

Hey, just left you a voicemail. Can you give a call

when you get a chance today? If it is after 3, just call my

cell.

27


Seriously? How rude of him to be so pushy. What

could he possibly need? Rebecca’s mind began to cycle

all the reasons why he could have called her. Her

annoyance slowly turning to full anger.

Hi Jeff, I just called the office and I…

No! She stopped herself from finishing the text. She

will call him after Christmas. She would blame it on the

storm and bad reception and…

…just finished helping my parents at their diner. I

am free anytime to talk now.

She sent the text back anyway. So much for

boundaries.

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Part IV

Rebecca woke up on Christmas morning with a

heaviness in her heart. After calling her boss, she felt so

low and the rest of the evening was spent trying to figure

out why? Her mother made a wonderful meal, the storm

was fun to watch – but she just wasn’t feeling the holiday

cheer. Sitting down for some tea with her dad later on in

the evening was what finally got her to understand

everything she was feeling inside. Parts of her

conversation with him was on repeat in her mind.

“Rebecca…I know you have tried all through dinner

to be happy for your mother, but we both see right

through that plastered smile. When your boss called, you

looked really pale after. A reaction that would seem as if

he fired you.”

“No dad, just the opposite. He needs me to come

back to the office tomorrow. I guess I am the only one in

the company who can take on this new assignment. There

29


is a new division opening in California and he needs me

to set up a lot of things. Then needs me to launch it all. I

didn’t even know about this new division until now.”

Rebecca took a big breath and sighed it out. “Sounds like

an interesting asset to the company. They are going to

be…”

Her dad gently cut in. “It sounds as though your boss

just asked you to cut your much needed vacation short by

six days and come back to work. That’s what it sounds

like to me.”

When he stated it like that, it made Rebecca pause

before answering. When Jeff explained to her what going

to happen in California and the company’s goals, it

sounded rather exciting. He certainly had a rush to the

tone of his voice and the compliments to her were nonstop.

It felt good to be recognized as one of his most

crucial assets to the team and in a way, she felt proud to

be so trusted. While her head agreed with her pushy boss,

her heart and stomach did not.

30


Looking back to the conversation, Rebecca

remembered how much her stomach twisted into knots

and her heart raced. What really stood out to her now was,

how easily she ignored all that and told her boss she

would be there at 8:30 a.m. sharp the day after Christmas.

It was like she answered him in a trance and now she was

out of it, reflecting on how controlled she really felt. What

was worse, she felt tension begin to form in her head and

neck. As her heart raced in response, she noticed that she

was holding her breath. Have I always done this? Rebecca

wondered as she blew her breath back out and proceeded

to take slow, long breaths to steady her heart.

Pushing the memory of the day before out of her

mind, Rebecca shook her head and knew it was time to

start Christmas. Getting out of bed proved to be much

harder than she anticipated. The sun was gleaming off the

snow and shining brightly into her windows. Her muscles

were stiff, and head was pounding a bit. Hope she wasn’t

getting sick again. She didn’t sleep well, and it wasn’t

31


cause of the winds from the snowstorm that was pounding

on her windows, it was the storm inside her heart.

Turning on the bathroom lights, Rebecca noticed the

window to the bathroom was so frozen with ice that she

couldn’t see out it. One of her most favorite things about

her bathroom at home was being able to look out the

window and into the rolling trees on the mountain that her

parent’s house was. She turned on the water to let it warm

up and went back into the bedroom to pick out her outfit

for the day. A nice red, cashmere sweater and soft pare of

leggings would work great for the snowy Christmas day.

She took a nice long shower, enjoying the hot water

against her skin and the lovely smells of sweet smell of

toasted almond and juicy cherries from her soap that was

soaking into the steam.

She felt much better after the stepped out and all her

aches were gone. Wrapping a big fluffy towel around her,

she took a hand towel to get the steam off the mirror.

When she finally looked at herself, she saw something

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different for the first time in years. Sure, she saw her

brown hair and green eyes and all the features of herself –

but that wasn’t what she was looking at. What suddenly

had grabbed her attention, was the fact that she was

looking at the Rebecca that has been lost for so long. She

was looking at the real Rebecca…the Rebecca that is

silently screaming at her to pay attention to.

And it felt so good.

Part V

Rebecca’s phone was sitting on the table in front of

her. She couldn’t bring herself to turn it on, but she knew

she had no choice – she had to make the call. It was 5

a.m. and her boss expected her to be in the office in three

hours. She hadn’t even left New Hampshire yet and

wasn’t planning to. Pushing down her nerves and

imagining her boss’s face at what she was about to do, she

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instead, put the image of her father’s face from Christmas

Eve in her mind. That was the face that was the most real

to her and made sense. Not only did that conversation

snap her back to what is missing in her life, but really

made her realize how low she felt.

Pulling her shoulders up, she stretched her neck out

by bringing her head from one side to the other. How does

one carry on in life and not realize how beat up they feel?

For Rebecca, feeling “low” didn’t just include her

sadness, in which she had done a really good job ignoring,

but also her body that has been screaming at her for

years.

The tension headaches, racing heart on and off,

insomnia - all had taken a toll on her. Thinking back, she

lost count how many times she attributed all of that to just

the normal stress of her job. Her insomnia always seemed

to pop up the night before she had to travel, and she was

always rubbing away her tension headaches on the plane

ride home. Anxiety had become a regular visitor in her

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life, so much so, that it almost didn’t notice it. Never

mind, how her body ached all over in response to the

anxiety. She suddenly remembered all of the meetings she

had standing up to walk around the room as she spoke, in

order to combat her racing heart.

Without even realizing it, tears were falling down her

cheeks. Only when they began to pool off her chin, did

she finally wipe them away. She pictured her art set,

unopened, just sitting on her dining room table. Has it

really been three years since her mother gifted her all of

that on her birthday? The blank canvases, beautiful new

oil paints, brushes, easel - everything!

Her coworkers flashed into her mind and the

relationships she had developed over the years. A few of

them she really liked and admired. She had such fun with

them on all the trips and after work getting dinner and

drinks. What she respected the most about them was how

passionate they were about their positions in the

company. Did they have racing hearts too? Did they

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spend hours awake the night before they had to travel?

Did their muscles constantly ache?

Out of nowhere, it hit her. She has spent years

fighting to work her way up a company, all while

competing with absolutely no one. Her coworkers seemed

relaxed because it is what they want to do. Yes, they have

struggles just like her, but they genuinely want to be

there. The ones who don’t? Have already left the

company or planning to as they work towards their goals.

So, why hasn’t she?

Is the answer really that simple?

Rebecca groaned, wanting to stand up and go to the

mirror to shout at her own self. When you lose connection

to who you are, life gets a lot more complicated than it

needs to be. This isn’t the life that she has set out for

herself since she was a child. Art was who she was. It was

more than just a hobby; it was what she dreamed of doing

her entire life. So much so, that she majored in it in

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college, ready to conquer the art world. Where did that

artist go? The artist who was not afraid to fail and was

filled with ideas on how to utilize her art in so many

ways.

Her body has been trying to communicate with her

for years that the life she was leading as a Talent

Acquisition Manager was not for her. Sure, she was good

at it, but those are skills she learned along the way.

Money was nice, but she knew in her heart that money

could be earned with the passion she had to paint. Love

was bubbling in her heart as she almost squealed with

excitement. All she wanted to do was pick up her brushes,

filled with years of frustration and let it all out through

each stroke. Perhaps a nap or two as well. She needed a

long break, the kind that required her to call her boss and

let him know she wouldn’t be coming back.

Rebecca had no plan in place, but she knew one

would come. The love started spilling out of her because

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she picked up her phone with ease. As it rang, she wasn’t

worried, she knew that the love would paint the way.

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