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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: War and Peace (not about the book) (07/07/11)

TITLE: Tricky Trails
By Kim Hamlin


She listed the ammunition: snoring, televisions, trains, ambulances, fire trucks, kids, keyboard pecking, slamming of doors, the constant hum of the air conditioner and the refrigerator. They were trying to make her crazy and noise was the weapon of choice. Her sessions with Dr. Halcyon didn’t seem to be helping, and she told him so today.

“Dr. Halcyon, I don’t think you appreciate what I’m trying to tell you. The noise in my house and my office is deafening. No one should be expected to live in these conditions. I just need a break. I don’t think you understand how important it is that I get away from here.”

Dr. Halcyon silently continued to write in his notebook, the sound of his pen scratching the paper, causing Irene’s neck muscles to creep even closer together and tighten. She wondered if he would ever stop writing and start talking. She had planned this for months. She had conveniently placed Dr. Halcyon’s advertisement in with the mail, the mail her husband always went through. After painstakingly exhibiting signs of mild psychosis for weeks, the advertisement was the ticket home. Tristan hesitantly suggested that Dr. Halcyon might be helpful to talk to, and offered to make an appointment for her. She pretended to grudgingly agree.

Irene wanted nothing more than to take a vacation away from Tristan, away from the kids, away from the noise. But, the only way to do that would be to convince them she was nuts. Dr. Halcyon had recommended a peaceful paradise for her friend, Lori, who had written to her about it. Tranquil Trails would be the perfect solution for her noise-addled mind. Nestled in the Albany Accord, the spa had rejuvenating waters, well-equipped cabins, walking trails and, most importantly, it had quiet.

That’s when she had begun her crusade. She began by not answering when Tristan was talking to her. She would stare into space, even after he repeated himself over and over again. She stopped having sex with him altogether. She deliberately placed groceries in the wrong place, like the peanut butter in the refrigerator. She stopped picking the kids up from school. She stopped having manicures and pedicures and she stopped eating. This was enough to get her husband to start showing concern for her and when she found the advertisements, she covertly placed them in his paper and in the mail. It finally worked.

Tristan was relieved when his wife agreed to see Dr. Halcyon. He hadn’t wanted to tell her he wanted a divorce when she seemed to be having such a difficult time, but he wanted to make sure that he ended their marriage cleanly before she found out about Lori. She didn’t seem to listen to anything he said, but the conversation regarding the doctor seemed to stir her senses. He felt that deep down she must know there was a problem and was now going to do something about it. He felt that at least she would be able to have a relationship with her kids someday.

When Irene got off the bus in Albany, there was a man with a white jacket and a clipboard that asked her for her name. She gave it to him, thinking he must be one of the camp counselors that Dr. Halcyon told her about.

“Well Ms. Irene, it’s nice to meet you, you can call me Doc, please join us over here.”

Irene followed Doc to a small group of people gathered next to a red mini-van.

“Alright people, we are going to load the van now. No pushing or shoving, there’s room for everyone. Single file please.”

Irene was mildly irritated by being talked to like a child, but pushed those thoughts away as she got into the mini-van and took a seat. Soon, even the noise of the van and the chatter of the other passengers didn’t bother her. She was soaking in the sight of the curvy road leading to Tranquil Trails, with wildlife and lush greenery. Finally, she would have peace.

Irene doesn’t remember arriving at Tranquil Trails, but she is realizing now that the shrill screaming she hears is coming from her own raspy throat, because a jacket is being fastened behind her.

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This article has been read 418 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/14/11
I loved this! You did an outstanding job of pulling me in from the very beginning. The doctor's name was genius. It gave me the clue that things weren't going to go the way poor Irene was hoping for. Your surprised me with Tristan wanting a divorce and left me thinking about who the real mastermind really was, Tristan or Lori? Positively brilliant and a fresh take an the topic. I do believe this is one of my all time favorites!
Linda Goergen07/16/11
This story is certainly fascinating with its ironic twist and revelation that all parties involved have been playing deceiving games, all with self-serving motives, lying to get what they think they want! Only the lies seem to land the worse on poor Irene! LOL But so often, how true in life…listening to Satan’s lies, a person follows into what they think will bring happiness and peace, only to find torment there! A wonderfully crafted story with such a unique take on the topic! Great job!
Joe Moreland07/21/11
A fantastic job of illustrating how trying to manufacture our own version of heaven always lands us in hell. I only wish I could see this without the word limit restriction. I have a feeling this could be wonderfully more convoluted and devious with more space to tell the whole story. Great job!
C D Swanson 07/27/11
I really enjoyed this article. It was well written and held an interesting theme all the way through. Good job!
Clyde Blakely07/27/11
Wonderful, this is just what I've been looking for. I'm printing it off and placing it in with the mail for my wife...
Noel Mitaxa 07/27/11
I get the feeling that the peace will be short-lived. Very absorbing writing, with its touch of irony and its twists.