Living in a resort community, in a little mountain hideaway, is this writer’s dream come true. Nothing calms the soul like a caramel swirl Americano and a laptop, while staring at The Three Sisters between word epiphanies.
And why would my soul need calming?
Maybe because the world itself is a ball of continual stress. Conflicting ideas and philosophies are ever present, regardless of your place in time or country of origin. America is no exception. Consider the popular Yellowstone television series about Montana ranchers versus Native Americans and environmentalists, all vying for the same land to manage as they see fit.
As if that wasn’t eye opening enough, there is the 1883 prequel about hopeful minorities on a westward bound wagon train looking for a new life, while fighting off gangs of robbers and various indigenous tribes defending their homeland.
But then, hasn’t every person who ever walked the face of this earth dealt with ongoing unrest in their country?
America is a lot like a marriage relationship. It started with a passion that could not be denied, followed by focused compromise for compatible coexistence, before entering a romanticized era of seemingly endless power, strength, and productivity. Now it is dealing with disillusionment and irreconcilable differences.
Our country has lost sight of that compassionate and idealistic hope for a bright future. It’s contemplating divorce from its significant other half. At least it would appear so, when considering the escalated arguing, shouting, and inability to listen to one other respectfully.
You can’t save a relationship unless both parties want to peacefully resolve their grievances. You either row together or you capsize. This is something I have learned over the years from personal observation and experience.
I have no idea how, or if, our country will settle its differences. No crystal ball here, but united we stand, divided we fall comes to mind.
I am encouraged, however, when I come down from the high desert to shop at my local grocery store. People in my little corner of the world are good, and they are smiling, despite everything. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by their friendliness.
This week when a shopper and I both reached for the last eight pack of a popular drink, we spent five minutes insisting the other person take it. Then we enthusiastically discussed all the new flavors. I smiled and cooed at her baby. She complimented my sandals.
Everyone at the local Freddie’s is displaying the best side of human nature, and I love this. I’m encouraged that my neighbors are genuinely friendly, helpful, and kind. That inherent good nature in most Americans would be our redeeming grace, our redemption for the future, our reason to believe that we will work out our differences at some point, before it is too late.
At least, this is the raft of hope I am clinging to.
Katia is coming soon…
A moment in time…
A cold shower slammed into my umbrella as I walked down Franklin Boulevard. It was large and black, and my father had insisted I pack it. Rainwater ran along the curb beside me and sloshed into my sneakers.
There was nothing unusual about June rain in Oregon or students in hooded sweatshirts heading toward the university. I don’t know why on that day, of all days, I didn’t rush across the street to the Art building.
Maybe it was the ominous cloud hovering over the campus that caused me to hesitate. An old Beatles tune floated on the breeze from a popular brewpub half a block away. Eleanor Rigby… Picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been… Lives in a dream… Waits at the window… Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door… Who is it for?
The song whirled faintly about my head while I stood there wet and shivering, despite my father’s efforts to keep me dry beneath a large black umbrella. Eleanor Rigby floating on the breeze lured me toward the brew pub. When I reached the entrance part of me wanted to dash back down Franklin Boulevard and into my art history class, but then someone opened the heavy glass door.
I slipped inside and found myself looking at a dark-haired stranger. I could only presume he was a fellow college student, judging by his approximate age.
“Did you skip class too?” I asked, immediately embarrassed for having accused him of such a thing, but then he smiled. We lingered awkwardly in the entryway until the dark-haired boy asked if he could buy me a beer. Right at that moment thunder clamored in the distance, startling us both. I took it as a sign.
“I’d love to have a beer with you.” It was an uncharacteristic response for me. I was a reclusive art student. Having beer with a stranger wasn’t what I normally did. Something about him enticed me. Admittedly he was appealing to look at, but it was more than that. His confidence perhaps, or his low, husky voice which I found quite sensual.
Looking back, I believe more than anything it was how the light danced in his eyes.
He said his name was Parker and I told him I was Katya. We sat at the end of the bar where I couldn’t help but marvel at what opposites we were. I was fair skinned and petite, with blond clouds of hair that moved about my head in the slightest breeze. Parker was tall with angular features and shiny raven hair. We discussed our college majors and future goals as the hours sped by and the rain stopped. He’d grown up in St. Helena, California, where his parents owned a winery. I shared about my childhood on a small ranch in Central Oregon.
At nearly dusk we left the bar and had a few more drinks at a house he rented with several other students. I became helplessly inebriated by my attraction to him. At midnight Parker and I stifled laughter over spilt beer, so as not to awaken his roommates. Together we wiped it up, with his hand and mine intertwined on the kitchen towel until our eyes met, and we froze.
There was something sobering about Parker’s hand on top of mine. I sensed we both felt it. He leaned forward to kiss me and when our lips touched it felt as if the room had begun to spin. Parker’s hands were soon tangled in my hair and mine were holding his face, as if I feared letting him go, only to discover this was all a dream. If it was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up.
We still held each other when the kiss ended, and I could feel his breath tickle my cheek as he whispered let me walk you home.
Without hesitation I whispered back which room is yours?
“Are you sure?”
Until that moment I’d never slept with anyone but Miles, who was an on again off again boyfriend. Being with Miles did not compare to my night with Parker, who had awakened something in me I didn’t know existed. It was as if, when our hands touched, a fire ignited that could never be put out.
I like to believe our souls had fused together.
We’d failed to exchange last names or phone numbers on that random night in my otherwise very ordered world. Maybe we would have, but I’d slipped into my jeans and sweater at first light of day and tiptoed out the door.
I could still taste Parker on my lips while sprinting across campus to my dormitory. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t push away my guilty thoughts for such impulsive behavior, nor could I regret it.
The only thing I knew for certain is that if there really was such a thing as destiny, we would meet again.
“If you crave a good love story with an unusual twist, Kat Mattingly’s Katya captivates from the opening scene to the final page. The story is filled with lush descriptions and poignant characters…” ~MJ Kuhar, author of In Vitro (2023)
“Katya is an artfully written mash-up of romance, mystery, intrigue, and fantasy….” ~Ned Randle, author of Baxter’s Friends, Down Cemetery Road, & St. Michael Poker & Drinking Club
In Katya, Kat Mattingly does a superb job of developing a story around a chance encounter so captivating it supersedes every relationship that follows…. ~Ginger Dehlinger, author of Brute Heart and Never Done
Book Summary – Katya creates etchings and silkscreens from sketches drawn above a vineyard, when not busy as a micro farmer growing produce behind her Napa home. Both are a distraction from her unhappy marriage. A series of unpredictable events turn her world upside down, landing her in a coma. While unconscious Katya lives in an alternate state, which depicts her ideal life. If she can solve the meaning of what she dreamt while in a coma, it might reveal the answers to everything that matters.
Author Bio – Kat Mattingly enjoys teaching novel and short story writing at her local college. She has won recognition for outstanding fiction in both long and short form. Other books by Kat include Benjamin, Journey, Olivia’s Ghost, The Tutor, and a short story collection entitled Fractured Hearts. Kat lives on the high desert in Central Oregon with her husband Dennis and their Maine Coon cat, Atticus.
Kathryn Mattingly ~Edgy Words Unleashed