She sat silently at her desk sipping her favourite raspberry tea while trying to stir up her creative muse. Today for some reason, her writing routine that she followed to help her get in the creative mind frame was not working. Desperate to get her juices flowing, she replayed all her steps in her mind on the off chance she forgot something. “First, I gathered my favourite candles, favourite mug and favourite classical CD. Then I shut all blinds, turned on laptop and let it warmed up and turned on stove and placed my grandmothers antique kettle on burner- i had filled it earlier when i made hot chocolate in morning. Once water was ready, I prepared tea, turned on favourite CD and lit my candles. All steps completed, then why am I so blocked!” “Damn it Melinda, why are you struggling with this?” She thought to herself. Frustrated with her inability to jump start her mind and release the block stopping her from working on her project, she decides to stray from her usual routine and goes for a walk in the park near her country home. Walking up her winding stairs she enters her spacious and antique designed bedroom. She heads to her extremely organized and roomy closet, she picks out her mother’s pink cashmere sweater and slips it on. Once she was had grabbed her tea and was ready to embark on her walk, she took a deep calming breath and repeated to herself “one step at a time!” After ensuring her alarm was on and doors were locked, she slipped the pewter key chain into the pocket of her favourite grey slacks and started walking along her brick walkway. She was surprised at how beautiful it was outside for a spring day and how she was delighting in the sounds of spring all around her. “I haven’ t walked this trail in so many years. Although it was one of the reasons, she bought this old house and fixed it up to her liking it was almost forgotten about it and neglected. Her gardener kept all her shrubs, flowers and trees looking immaculate and this was something that made her proud to have this beautiful picturesque yard. Looking around at all this majestic beauty, she couldn’t help but think back to how far he had come in the last few years. It had been a very turbulent four years and it had almost broke her spirit and destroyed her sanity, but with faith, prayer and determination as well as professional help she had climbed her way to where she was now. As she walked down the cobblestone walk way, images of the past began to flash through her mind and flooded her thoughts. Overwhelmed by what was taking place, she decided it was best to go sit down in the most peaceful and serene place she knew – her perennial garden. Hidden among the tall cedar hedges in her back yard was a beautiful perennial garden that she designed,and selected all the flowers, shrubs and decorations for it as well. She smiled at who proud of this garden and herself that she was as she had researched each aspect of it, as well as she even planted it herself. This hidden beauty now seldom visited was still immaculately maintained as she left specific instructions with the gardener on how to care for it and paid him handsomely to come in an extra day a week to care for it alone. Once she reached the cedar hedges, she felt around for the carefully hidden and trimmed entrance. Taking a moment before entering, she took in the beautiful smell of cedar which always reminded her of her grandparents house and then she carefully looked around three times to ensure she was alone and entered her forgotten gem. Walking to her granite bench she took a deep breath and looked at all the flowers blooming and admired all the radiant colours. She felt a wave of sadness as she thought to herself, how she had neglected to spend any time here in the last couple of years. She made a mental note to try to visit her space at least once a month. As she sat down on her bench and took a sip of her tea, everything began to flood back to her and she began to feel trapped in the flash backs. “Why is this happening now?” “It has been years since the memories have haunted me!” Her therapist had helped her break the flash backs and gave her coping mechanisms to push through the anxiety of them, which she followed religiously. So why now was all her strategies not working and why couldn’t she break out of flash backs and emotions associated with them? She searched frantically through her pockets, in hopes that her cell phone was with her and then she could call her therapist but her efforts were futile as she came up empty handed. Attempting to calm herself she took a slow breath and said quietly to herself, “only choice is to ride through them, but i am not sure if I am strong enough to handle the outcome” She wasn’t sure what was worse, not being able to forgot or the intensity of the emotions that overtook her when the flashbacks occurred. All she knew for sure was that each time they had occurred in the past, it had physically and emotionally drained her to the point all she could do is cry from the pain of exhaustion. Taking one last sip of her tea, she placed her mug down on the antique table beside her bench and took a deep breath then closed her eyes while waiting for the flash food of memories to wash over her. Chapter Two There were no specific defining moments just a pattern of events and experiences that rattled around in her soul like loose screws in an appliance. They were always present in her mind,but usually she could redirect her thoughts when something triggered her mind to relive them. It had taken a long couple of years for her to finally find the strength,peace and tools needed to get normalcy back into her life not that her world would ever be truly normal again. Melinda had what some of her friends called a “respectable” and “envious” lifestyle before everything had been upheaved on her. She had a great job that paid her well, a beautiful apartment in the downtown area and was very active in her community. She had been in a few relationships but she wasn’t ready to settle down as she was focusing on her career first. She remembers vividly when her life seemed to take her off the original course she planned for herself. How she wished she could erase the memories that were imbedded in her mind, but like many experiences in life there was many complicated emotions woven together. Her day started off as usual as all her day offs from work as she always planned them out as she had only every second Monday off and wanted to ensure she made most of day. Sunday nightsafter work, she perused her cupboards and fridge to see what groceries and supplies were needed as well as browsed the online ads from her favourite super markets and wrote down all the sales. She made sure it was ready for Monday morning’s grocery run so she wouldn’t waste valuable time this morning. She woke up and pulled on her favourite fleece house coat and slippers and then headed to her kitchen to make her breakfast of toast with honey and banana slices. While she was waiting for the sound of the toaster, she started her kettle and grabbed a tea bag and mug. Once everything was ready, she headed to her small wood kitchen table to sit down and browse her favourite column in newspaper. Once she was finished eating, she placed her mauve plate and mug in her sink and headed to her bedroom to get dressed in her previously set out clothes to wear grocery shopping. “Comfort is the most important element of grocery shopping because you do not want to be all stif and uncomfortable pushing through aisles” she always told her friends and family. Ironically although they teased her about it, they couldn’t argue with her logic as it made sense. Once she got dressed in her pink leggings and knitted pink and white top, she slipped on her black loafers and headed to the counter to grab the necessary items that she had set out for her day – grocery bags, lists, car keys, house keys, cell phone and her matching pink purse. On her way out the door, she grabbed her warm black poncho and headed outside. Locking the door, she took a step ahead and took in all the scents of springtime surrounding her neighbourhood. Melinda’s first stop was to the supermarket to gather supplies plus get some new ingredients for a recipe she wanted to try. Cooking and experimenting with new foods and flavours was something that she loved to do especially in her time after work. Some of her favourite things to make were bread,scones and soups. She always found it so relaxing and therapeutic when she spent time working in her kitchen. Many of her most precious memories from childhood were rooted around spending time in the kitchen with her grandmother. One of her favourite things to make was her grandmother’s “Blackberry Scones”. She had made the recipe so many times that she had it memorized. As she pulled up to the super market, she began to scan the parking lot for a space that did not have any cars near it as to not have to worry about anyone hitting her car. It was her pride and joy and her first brand new car and she babied the car and always kept it immaculate inside and outside. Once she was parked and had grabbed her cart inside, she began her favourite part of the day grocery shopping. She loved the feeling of browsing the aisles as she picked out her favourite items and picking up new coupons for her next shopping trip. While she was reading her list and walking the bakery aisle, she accidentally bumped into someone. When she looked up, she saw a tall, slender man with deep blue eyes and short reddish blond hair. “Oh my gosh, i am so sorry. ” she said “i was kind of absorbed in my list!” She could feel her face redden as she spoke, she was so embarrassed. “It is okay ma’am it happens to us all. Are you ok, did you hurt yourself?” He smiled at her with such a beautiful smile and a sincere look of concern. ” i am okay, only thing bruised is my ego” she laughed nervously “”Thank you for asking though!” “My name is Melinda by the way, nice to meet you” She figured she should at least introduce herself as he was so kind and understanding. “Name is Jobe, but my friends call me Jo and it is a pleasure to meet you as well. ” he extended his hand to shake hers. As her hand touched his she felt a weird sensation and feeling run through as if they had a deep connection. There was something about him that drew her to him and she couldn’t put her finger on what.