The phone! Where is my phone? I see the blue light, over there. I try, but I cannot reach it. I am pinned in my seat and I cannot reach my cell phone. I claw at the seatbelt until my fingertips are raw and burning, then I pound on the window and yell. Finally, I am tired. I let my eyes close.
"Hi, Lady!" I say. She looks startled but then she smiles at me. She has a cute smile and her teeth are white. Her tongue is hanging out and it glistens with wet saliva. I look out my window, where there's just a bramble of bushes, but I see a reflection of Lady on the window. I realize that she's sitting in the other seat, looking out the front window at the scenery, and then she turns her head in front of me and smiles again. "Aw, Lady," I say, reaching for her. "You're always right here!"
I am cold. The night is cold and I shiver. It is harder to rest at night because the animal sounds scare me. My adrenaline flows and, besides, it is cold. I am wide-eyed, staring into darkness. I hear the brush rustle, as a critter moves through the darkness. Maybe it's a squirrel. Or a rat. What if it's a raccoon? They are mean, so I hope it is not a raccoon. A car passes on the road and the red of their tail lights flashes in the night above me as the animal scurries away. I reach for the clasp and try again.
Forest animals make a lot of noise at dawn. A large bird lands on the hood of my bright blue SUV. Sideways, I see his head, his beak. His head is white with a little black streak. I don't see the rest of him but I know that he is a bald eagle. He looks at me with yellow-green eyes and is very interested in me. I've never been so close to a bald eagle. He stays with me. His skinny legs try to keep their grip on the hood of my car. Now, he seems more interested in getting off the hood, and he is not looking at me. He's looking down, in front of the car. He is focusing on what's below and thinking about going. Why does he get to hop off the hood? I'm glad that he doesn't. He stays with me. I look into his eyes and thank him in my thoughts. SoundBuilt was Tom's Monday-through-Friday job so, on Saturday, he had the luxury of sleeping until eight o'clock. He planned to spend the day tackling those blackberry bushes. The agent who was handling the property needed the wetlands cleared fast and Tom was squeezing in the project between his regular job and his pizza job. At nine that morning, Tom was working on the blackberries when his phone rang. It was Tanya's boss at Fred Meyer.
"Is everything alright?" she asked.
"'Course," Tom said. "Why?"
"Well, Tom, Tanya hasn't been at work for the last two shifts and—"
"What?" Tom said, shocked. "What are you talking about? That's not like Tanya!"
"I know Tom," she said. "She hasn't been at work and she hasn't called and it's not like her, so I just wanted to make sure everything's alright."
"What?" Tom repeated, his mind reeling as he jumped gears from the physical work to contemplating what he was hearing. "When is the last time you saw her?"
"She left Thursday morning, around nine," the woman said, concern growing in her voice. "And, Tom, she's not answering her phone."
Tom's mind went into overdrive. When's the last time I called her? When's the last time I talked to her?
"I'll try to get hold of her as soon as I hang up, and I'll have her call you," Tom promised. "Is there a number you can give me?" Standing out in the bushes, Tom wrote the number on his hand and then ran to his truck.