A NEW BEGINNING
Back home in Middletown, Phoebe couldn’t sleep. Her knee ached. She couldn’t get comfortable. It had been a hot night even for June, when suddenly the coolness of the forest air began to drift in through the half opened window. The wind had changed. The odor of the Forest Preserve, just beyond the field across the street, began to permeate everything, smelling of leaves and pine needles and some flower Phoebe couldn’t name. The tension of a coming storm filled the air. Excited and scared, she lay in the darkness, her energy rushing and bubbling inside her like a river in flood.
Phoebe knew she was taking a big risk. A series of knee injuries had ended her soccer career and she had decided to drop out of college, leaving herself with almost no life to lead. She had come home without achievements and without prospects. But she did have a plan, though it was a long shot.
The possibility of empty weeks stretching on ahead set her on the edge of panic. She sat up and glanced at the vague gray shapes in the bleak and empty room. A bit of silvery light filtered in through the window. Two bulging 30-gallon black garbage bags full of her clothes and shoes, and her backpack full of books and small treasures, lay in the middle of the floor where she had left them an hour before. She didn’t have the heart to unpack. The great unknown stretched out before her like an endless, shadowy darkness.
She tried to relax, but fear and excitement raced through her veins. A distant roll of thunder sounded deep in the heart of the forest. The wind was rising, and the leaves trembled in the breeze.
Phoebe fell into a daze, still aware of the cool wind on her bare feet, the wind whistling outside the window, and the panic rising from deep inside.