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Writer's Corner- New Brunswick

A Step Back
By Fran Dincorn

   When Sammy saw the woman on the highway he geared down the semi and came to a stop just past where she was standing. She was the most unusual woman he ever saw. She was dressed in furs, not nice furs but ratty looking bearskin. She had dark brown hair from the roots for about five inches, the remaining six inches was blond, as if she had bleached it and then it grow out. She was bare foot and carried a fur bundle held close in her arms. Sammy told her to get in, and reached over to give her a hand. "I bet you won first prize" he told her.
    "What" she answered.
    "You know, a costume ball?"
    "Oh, no, not really," she said looking down at her clothes.
    "How come you are walking on the highway alone? Your car break down or something?"
    "I'd rather not explain" she said, "I'm going to have to explain all this in detail later."
    "I understand lady, just tell me where you want to go and if I can I'll take you there."
   Sharron watched Sammy out of the corner of her eye. He was quite a man. Big and muscular. He had a nice friendly face, dark hair and eyes. Not at all like her husband Hal. They drove quietly for three hours, only when they reached South Bay did he speak again. Sammy let her out with just a "so long and good luck", watching her walk away in the direction of a group of expensive houses. He felt a twinge of pity for her as he put the truck in gear, not really knowing why.
   When Hal opened the door and saw Sharron standing there, he didn't know who she was. Then she spoke and immediately he recognized her. "My God, where have you been", he said.
   "It's a long story." Sharron was crying now. "May I sit down please? It's been a long tiring night."
    Hal opened the door wider, and Sharron walked into the kitchen, and sat down. She looked around the familiar room and began to cry again.
    "Okay" Hal said, "let's have it. Where have you been for two and a half years? You start talking and I'll make the coffee."
    Sharron began her story with the day she disappeared.
    Hal and Sharron were on their first vacation in three years. Hal was a lawyer, always in the middle of some divorce case. Sharron was a nurse, and her schedule was hectic.
    They had reached the part of the highway that was all woods on both sides for miles, on their way to Cape Tourmentine to catch the ferry to P.E.I.. Sharron had to make a pit stop and there were no gas stations for miles on end. So Hal pulled over to the side of the road. Sharron got out and ran up the low embankment to the woods. She turned and waved at Hal then ducked behind the biggest tree she could find. Sharron stepped over the huge over-grown root - and landed on her hands and knees in another world. She found herself balanced precariously on the side of a long tapering cliff. Her nails were dug into the rock and her feet hugged the loose, gravelly face. Shocked, she just hung there until she heard a loud growl. Petrified, she turned her head to the left. A huge, brown bear was making its way in her direction. She closed her eyes trying not to faint.
    Suddenly she heard noises from above her, then she let out a scream when someone grabbed her, picked her up and flung her over their shoulder and raced up the hill. While this was going on, she heard others making strange sounds and they seemed to be attacking the bear.
    With her eyes still closed, she was dumped on a rocky floor on top of a fur skin. The man who dumped her was making strange noises to someone else, then he left.
    Sharron opened her eyes just wide enough to see that she was in a cave and there were three women in the cave with her. She thought she was dreaming. They were strange, prehistoric creatures with fur skins around their hips and long, dirty, unkept hair. She prayed this was a nightmare. Suddenly she heard noises from outside the cave. The men were coming back and from the sound of it, they had killed the bear. The one that carried her up the hill came in and crept toward her. She closed her eyes again and he was right next to her, sniffing. She slapped out at him and he jumped back. By then the women were coming closer, while the other men came in. Sharron was never so frightened in her life.
    For an hour she was probed and prodded, her clothes were taken. Then the worst happened, her captor rolled her over and mounted her like a dog. She fainted.
    For a week Sharron cowered in that cave. She was given food and water. They had a fire to keep her warm and gradually, she started to move about. It was obvious she now belonged to the man who saved her from the bear. Slowly they communicated with each other but the worst thing was, whenever the urge came on him, no matter where, or in front of who, he took her.
   When Sharron was allowed to walk around alone, she tried to find her way back to civilization. Everyday she searched for the door without finding it. One day she pointed to herself and said "Sharron'; she repeated this several times until her captor said, "Son" and pointed at her. Close enough, she thought. He pointed at his chest and said, "Ug" Sharron called him Ugly from then on. He was sort of ugly, with his flat features and high ridge across his eyebrows. Sharron was glad he didn't want to kiss her with those big lips.
   She had no sense of time; days grew into weeks and weeks to a year. By now Sharron had her own fur skin to wear. She was treated like royalty by the men, with hatred by the women. The women worked hard gathering food and firewood, and putting together their clothing. They resented Sharron's pampering but when she tried to help, they chased her away. Then the worse thing of all happened - she found herself pregnant.
    When Ugly realized this was happening he became very strange, watching her all the time. She was an oddity to them, with her blond hair... by now black at the roots, and her speech, which puzzled them. Gradually though the women started to come around because of Sharron's growing stomach. One day one of the women took her to a place where there was soft ground, pointing to a spot that had a rock on it. It looked like a marker; when Sharron questioned it the woman pointed to Sharron's stomach, then to her own, then to the ground. Her baby was there. It was then that Sharron dared for the first time to touch her. She patted the woman's arm in sympathy and she understood.
    It was a terrifying nine months. Sharron was often sick and frightened all the time, worrying about giving birth. Finally the day came. The women gathered around, waiting with her. She was in labour a long, long time. When her son was finally born, the women helped to free her of him and wrapped him in a warm fur skin.
    Ugly had an ugly son that looked just like him. He was very happy, really loving the baby.
    During Sharron's recovery, she pined for her home and family. She became very depressed and stayed that way for a long time. She nursed the baby, growing to love it. Then one day, today, Sharron was out for a walk with the baby in her arms - and stepped back into her own world!
   Overjoyed and frightened, she thumbed a ride straight home.
   When Sharron had finished her story, Hal looked at her and said, "That's the biggest crock of bull I every heard. Who is he ... the guy you were shacked up with?"
   Sharron was shocked. "Hal," she said, "It's all true, I can prove it."
   "Yeh, how?"
    Sharron opened the bundle and showed Hal what she had been concealing every since she got home. Hal looked at the baby in amazement, no doubt about it, it didn't look like a normal human being. "You have to get rid of it" he said, starring at the baby. "It's ugly."
    Sharron jumped to her feet, "How can you say that?! It's my son."
   "Well, it isn't mine", he snarled back. "It goes or you go."
   Sharron went into the bedroom and closed the door. She didn't know what to do maybe she could send the baby back through the door to its father. She had to sleep. Tomorrow she would decide.
    The next morning Sharron packed a club bag. She put soap and combs and toiletries of various kinds in it. If her baby (which she called 'Little Ug') was going back, he would go back armed.
    She looked around her bedroom, and felt the familiar things. She could never leave them again ... she had to do this.
   Hal was sleeping on the divan in the living room, so Sharron left a note telling him where she was going, and borrowed his car keys. She had to do this alone.
   Sharron drove the long distance back to where she had disappeared so long ago. She knew she could find the place. She looked over at her son every few minutes. What a strange and wonderful thing happened to her. She grew fond of Ugly and the others. They would be happy to have the baby back. He was hope for their dying race.
    When she found the right place to stop she sat and cried, holding her precious bundle. Hal couldn't father children and this was the only child that she would ever have. Sharron got out of the car, and climbed the embankment holding her baby close.
   When she reached the tree she nursed her baby there for the last time, then she reached out with the club bag, and found the door was still there.
    Carefully Sharron wrapped the baby snugly, and stepped through the hole in time.


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