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TITLE: Marta (working title) 3rd chapter
By Karie Spiller

Same as one and two
Chapter 3

The next morning, Marta got up before Keith and Ranger John, grabbed her backpack and slipped out the door. She wanted no excuse to stay. After all if she stayed she would inevitably be hurt again. She walked down a worn path and over the foot bridge over the stream. She was heading to the highway. She was enjoying the crisp morning air when she heard a bleating among the trees. She followed the sound and found a fawn nestled in a thicket. Marta knew that the mom must be around somewhere so she went farther into the woods. As she approached the road she saw a deer lying by the side of the road. It wasn’t moving so Marta assumed it was dead. Marta slowly approached the fawn that got up and tried to run away. She appeared to be caught by something.

“It’s okay, little one,” Marta said as she approached the trembling fawn.

“Was that your mama,” she said as she reached out to pet the fawn.

Marta pulled back some of the branches in the thicket and discovered that the fawn had gotten stuck in a hole in the tree branch. She freed her from the hole and held her in her arms. The fawn settled down as Marta spoke softly to it. As she put the fawn on the ground she noticed that it was limping. She decided that she needed to get some help for the fawn so she picked it up and walked back to the ranger station. When she got there Keith was outside reading. He got up and went over to her.

“What have we got here,” Keith said as he looked at the fawn in her arms.

“I think her leg is broken. I found her in a thicket by the road. I think her mama was hit,” Marta said.

“Bring her inside,” Keith said.

Marta brought the fawn inside and put her on the couch. She was scared so she jumped off the couch only to fall again because of the leg.

“Why don’t you hold her and talk softly to her. I have to get a few things to fix her leg,” Keith said.

Marta stroked the fawn’s back to calm her down, while she waited for Keith to come back. He came back with a roll of bandages, a splint and a baby bottle.

“Here you give her this milk while I fix her leg. She looks like she may be only a few days old,” Keith said.

Marta took the bottle from him and offered it to the fawn. She sniffed it and licked the nipple. Then she drank it hungrily. Keith worked quickly with the splint and the bandages and by the time the fawn was done with her milk he was done.

“Let’s get a blanket and fix her up a bed,” Keith said as he went over to the trunk.

As Marta held the fawn she looked into it’s brown eyes and petted it softly. She liked the feel of the fawn’s soft fur and rubbed her cheek gently into it. Keith looked over at Marta and smiled. Marta held the fawn until she was asleep and then gently set her on the blankets that Keith had made into a soft bed.

“You said she was in the thicket and her leg was caught in a hole,” Keith said.

“I figured she was just put there by her mother and then I saw a dead deer lying on the side of the road,” Marta said.

“Can you take me to where you found her?” Keith asked.

“It’s right over the foot bridge near the stream,” Marta said.

Keith followed Marta to the spot and looked around. He headed toward the road and found the deer lying beside it. It was dead. Marta came over to Keith and the deer and looked at the dead deer. She all of a sudden felt sick to her stomach and looked away.

“Are you okay?” Keith asked.

“I just don’t like the sight of blood,” Marta said.

“I think you are right, this might be the fawn’s mama. She’s a nursing mom and there are no other deer around. I’ll have Ranger John get this deer removed from the highway.” Keith said as he got up.

“What will happen to the poor fawn?” Marta asked.

“We can take care of her until she is ready to be on her own. You can help me take care of her if you’d like,” Keith said.

“No, I’d better be going. I mean as long as the fawn is going to be safe,” Marta said as she picked up her backpack.

“Come back to the station and have some breakfast, you can’t get very far on an empty stomach,” Keith said.

Marta looked into his gentle blue eyes and smiled.

“Okay, but after that, I am leaving,” she said.

Marta and Keith walked back to the ranger station.

“Did you find the fawn’s mama?” he asked.

“Yes, unfortunately, so did a car,” Keith said.

“That’s too bad. I guess we’ll have to keep her here until she is ready to be on her own,” Ranger John said.

After breakfast Marta went over to the fawn, who was lying asleep on the blankets and stroked her soft fur.

“She is so soft, isn’t she?” Keith said as he came over to her.

“Yes she is,” Marta said.

“Well I guess you will be leaving now,” Keith said.

“Ranger John, I would like to stay a little longer if that is okay. Just to make sure she will be alright,” Marta said.

“Okay,” Ranger John said as he came over to them.

Later that morning Keith and Ranger John went out to remove the dead deer. As Marta sat in the quiet cabin she remembered why she had run away. She looked at the bruises on her arms and started to cry. She didn’t really miss her boyfriend, but he had been her constant for the last year. She felt lonely as she thought about her life. It had been a hard life full of heartache, pain, and bruises. The only thing she ever remembered with fondness was her time with Keith and his family so long ago. She got up and went upstairs. She looked at the books on the shelf and picked up “The Princess Bride”. She went over to the window and sat down. The air felt fresh and clean compared to the city she had just left. She opened the book and a faded lilac fell out of it. It was dry but she could still smell it’s fragrance. She put it aside and started to read. She got so lost in the book that she didn’t hear Keith come up the stairs.

“There you are, Marta. We thought you had left, but then I saw you up here in the loft,” Keith said.

“I just wanted to read it one more time,” She said as she closed the book.

Keith picked up the lilac and smelled it’s sweet fragrance.

“That’s okay. I was kind of hoping you would still be here,” Keith said as he sat down next to her on the window seat.

“I really need to move on,” she said quickly as she got up off the window seat.

”Why? You told me you were running away, but you never told me what from,” Keith said with concern in his voice.

“I don’t know. I guess I just need to get away from my life. I don’t see any reason to stay here. Besides if I go I won’t get hurt again,” Marta said.

“That’s too bad because Ranger John and I could really use some help around here. We are just a couple single guys who don’t know how to keep house. When Julia, his wife, died last year we were left to take care of this place by ourselves. It’s been hard with all the things we do in the forest and the tourist season will be starting up in a few weeks. We could really use some help cleaning the station and getting it ready for visitors,” Keith said.

“I don’t belong here and I don’t want to be a burden to anyone,” Marta said.

“You won’t be. I was talking with Ranger John and he said that if you would like to stay we can let you work here for room and board. We could really use the help,” Keith said.

“But I have to go,” Marta said.

“Go where?” Keith asked.

I have to go..” Marta said. Her voice trailed off.

“You have no where to go. I’m offering you a chance to stop running,” Keith said.

“Running is what I do,” Marta said.

“But do you like it?” Keith asked.

Marta thought about his question for a minute and then she looked around the room. She was tired of running, but she was also scared. She was scared that someone was going to hurt her again. She didn’t want to open herself up to more pain. Then she looked over at Keith and felt safe.

“I’ll stay and help you get the station ready for the tourist season, but after that I will go,” Marta said.

“Fair enough,” Keith said with a smile that lit up his face.

“Okay then, where do I start?” Marta said.

“With the fawn. She needs a bottle,” Keith said.

Marta smiled and went down the stairs. Ranger John was pleased that she was going to stay.

She sat down next to the fawn and said, “Can I call her Daisy?” she asked.

“Sure, but she can’t stay here forever. She is a wild animal and will need to be released back to her home when she is older,” Ranger John said.

“I know, but I’d rather call her something other than the fawn,” Marta said.

Keith smiled as he watched her feed the fawn. After she was done she looked around the station and picked up a broom. Keith and Ranger John went out again and when they got back she had fixed dinner and was feeding Daisy again.

“This place looks really good,” Ranger John said as he came inside.

“Something smells really good,” Keith said as he hung his coat on the hook on the wall.

“Dinner is ready. We need to eat it before it gets cold. I hope you like it,” Marta said.

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Keith said as he washed his hands in the kitchen sink.

After dinner Marta did the dishes and Keith hung around the kitchen to keep her company. Ranger John went outside to enjoy the quiet Spring night. After the dishes were done, Keith and Marta talked.

“What have you been doing with your life for the past ten years?” Keith asked.

“Running mostly, what about you?” Marta asked.

“After I finished High School I left home. I lived off the land and slept under the stars. It was a great time for me. After about a year I decided that it was time to get a job, so I went back home and packed up my things and went into town. After several fast food jobs I decided that I really wanted to get back into nature so I decided to try to find work somewhere outside. I found an ad for this job and applied for it. Ranger John hired me about three years ago and I have been here ever since. I have been taking some college courses and as soon as I pass the final I will be a full fledged ranger,” Keith said.

“How long do you need to pass the final,” Marta said.

“I have to have a four day long wilderness adventure in the mountains,” Keith said.

“When do you do that?” Marta asked.

“As soon as we get past the Spring storm season. Probably in a couple of weeks,” Keith said.

“I’m glad you found a place to belong,” Marta said.

“Ranger John has been like a second father to me. I owe a lot to him,” Keith said.

“You are like the son I never had,” Ranger John said as he came inside.

“I am tired,” Marta said as she tried to stifle a yawn.

“You do look tired. How about you go to sleep. Keith and I want to take you out on one of our trails tomorrow. We need an extra pair of hands to remove some brush,” Ranger John said.

“Ranger John, Marta needs her own place to sleep. She can have my loft while she is here,” Keith said.

“No I couldn’t do that,” Marta said.

“He’s right. You need to have the privacy that the loft gives you. Keith can bunk out with me,” Ranger John said.

“Are you sure, I don’t want to take away your room,” Marta said.

“Marta, I want to do this for you. You need a good night’s sleep,” Keith said.

“Thank you,” Marta said as she climbed the stairs to the loft.

Marta lay in the bed and thought about her day. She didn’t know why but she felt like she was going to be okay. She fell asleep listening to the sounds of the forest.
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