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Rated: E · Novel · Fantasy · #2144431
First Chapter in my Dragon's Series - Need advice on first person narratives
One
In hindsight, I can see where it all went wrong. That’s the funny thing about life. When you decide to do something, you think about the possible outcomes, but you can’t imagine all of them. Some things you can never imagine. Like a dragon. Who could foresee a dragon? It’s not like they really exist, right? Wrong.
~1~
Dragons exist. It’s not like we were taught in school about dinosaur fossils being mistaken for something else. And it’s not like the stories you read as a child, where dragons are vicious treasure hoarders either. There are no evil dragons… and none that are perfect either. They are a lot like you and me. ~2~
It’s hard to decide where to begin. There is a lot to tell. I guess I should start at the beginning. Not the beginning of time, mind you, just my beginning. I am a city girl. Born and raised in Portland, Maine. Not the biggest, or most exciting city on the planet, but it is all I have ever known, and I love it. ~3~
My life has changed a lot in one year. Back then, I would never have imagined living anywhere other than a city. I would never have been caught dead in the woods. To be completely honest, I don’t know if I would have survived this last year if it wasn’t for dragons. ~4~
Let’s get the formalities out of the way so we can move on to the interesting parts. My name is Amanda Pelletier, and I am the world’s biggest klutz. I am also an incredible web designer. I’m not being smug or tooting my own horn here. I am in high demand. The company I work for is one of the best. And though we have had some trouble in the past few months with another company stealing some of our employees, I am loyal to the people who gave me my start. The worst part of the whole thing is that we had to do a stupid work retreat. They wanted to foster good relationships with the employees. Don’t get me wrong. If this retreat had been in the Bahamas I would not have complained. ~5~
It all started last summer when they decided to shell out a lot of money on some corporate retreat. Totally lame, I know. It was not my idea of a good time. The company is in Portland, Maine. No one seems to remember there are cities in Maine. Well, there aren’t many, and they are not big. We are at the edge of the world in most people’s eyes. ~6~
We went to this camp, also in Maine. My parents said I shouldn’t go. My friends told me I should quit. Maybe I am not making myself clear. I am a tried and true klutz. Always have been. I think I broke my first bone when I was two. I was not looking forward to this trip. At all. The retreat was a several hours away driving, though it was less than twenty minutes away by helicopter. ~7~
It was about four in the morning when we all arrived at the office and piled into these three huge blue vans. They belonged to the retreat, and since there were seventeen of us going, it was a good thing they sent three. To be honest, I don’t do so well in cars. I tend to get car sick. So I was given a front seat. ~8~
I do have to admit it was beautiful to look at through the windows of the van. The sun came up during the drive, and it lit up the trees and the hills and made them look inviting. But the thought of walking around the woods was a scary one for me. Since it all started out there, maybe I should be happier about the surroundings. But I really can’t say I enjoy the wilderness experience. I don’t like fresh air. I get my adventure through books. Where it is safe and cozy. In my armchair, I mean. But, life isn’t exactly safe and cozy. Sometimes it can be wet and cold, and downright dangerous. Very uncomfortable things, adventures. My suggestion… Never have one! ~9~
So, we’re out there, in the stupid woods, filled with bugs, and dirt, and trees. I really, really hate bugs. They always find a way into your clothes. I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about bugs, and out there I was surrounded. Nature. Hah! Give me city streets and television any day of the week. I even prefer the smog! ~10~
We climbed out of the vans, most of us groaning, and looked around. There was a huge, main building, which looked warm and welcoming. There were three smaller, long buildings on the right, and a small cabin off to the left with smoke rising from a stone chimney. ~11~
The inside of the main building was beautiful. It was all log walls, stone hearths, and wood floors. There were cozy couches in a semi-circle, with a large stone fireplace. Next to the fireplace was a huge white screen. A small desk and high counter sat near the door, with a cheerful blonde woman pouring coffee behind it. ~12~
She came around the counter and showed us around. There were two large conference rooms, and a small medical station inside the main building. Josie, one of my co-workers, nudged me with her elbow and pointed to it. “At least you know where you’ll be spending most of your time.” I couldn’t help laughing. It isn’t exactly a secret that I tend to hurt myself even in the most secure environments. ~13~
The first day wasn’t too bad. We sat around and watched a presentation about building a company by building up the employees. It was even kind of funny, and I love humor. I doubt I would get through a week if there wasn’t something to laugh about. They gave us safety tips and told us the itinerary for the next three days, and sent us off to have dinner. ~14~
That night we went to our bunks. There were three long cabins with four bedrooms each. And each bedroom had four beds. But they were bunk beds, and I ended up on the top bunk. Never a good thing. Me and heights don’t exactly get along. But then again, I don’t get along with ice, or toys on the floor, or anything that could fall on me either. ~15~
I didn’t sleep very well. I had never been so far from the city, and the noises were wrong. Instead of the familiar sirens in the distance, and traffic noises, I heard chirping of crickets and croaking of frogs, and something that made a loud humming noise. I tossed and turned, but eventually I fell asleep. ~16~
The next morning, we all trooped to the main house for breakfast. Then we were huddled outside and forced to do trust exercises. I hate trust exercises. Basically, trust should be earned, not given away for free. The first one wasn’t too bad. Just falling backwards. I’ve fallen on my butt at least once a winter my whole life, so I figured that was easy. I didn’t even land on my butt though. Two people caught me. It was a relief, let me tell you! ~17~
The next one was the hard one, at least for me. We all lined up and were paired off. You would think it would have at least been someone in my own department. Nope, not that lucky. I get this guy named Edgar, who is skinny, and wears these coke-bottle glasses, and can barely see. He does some sort of coding for web security, and almost never talks to people. This is the guy they choose to lead the biggest klutz in history on an obstacle course through the woods. I was supposed to wear this blindfold, and have both my hands behind me using this rope with two loops. ~18~
Bad move. Very, very bad move. First ten steps in, the guy walks me right into a tree branch. I swore a bit, under my breath, and Edgar apologized profusely, but after that I wasn’t very trusting, and I will admit, I peeked out of the bottom of the mask. The obstacle course was about two-hundred meters long, and went over a little bridge, and around and under stuff. I peeked a little, and once, used my hands to catch myself before bumping into another tree. More apologies from Edgar, and more swearing from me. ~19~
I’m not sure how long we had left of the course, but I was nervous, and unhappy. I was thinking there were probably bugs in my hair, and I was tired and feeling really, crappy. Then the ground was gone, and I was falling. I let go of the cord I was holding behind my back, and reached out with both hands. I felt dirt under my fingertips, but couldn’t find anything to hold onto. ~20~
I know it was only seven or eight feet, but in my head, it took a hundred years to fall. Yeah, your brain does strange things when you are freaked out. I screamed. I’m not ashamed of it. It scared me. I hit the bottom and heard my leg snap. It took a second for the pain to reach me. And then dear God, did I yell. I must have screamed for a minute straight. Took a breath, and did it again. ~21~
I could hear people calling down to me, but I couldn’t see anyone. For a second I thought I had gone blind. Then I remembered the stupid blindfold and took it off. People were around the edges of the hole staring at me. I think they were nearly as panicked as I was. I could see Edgar, on his belly, with one hand reaching down to me, as if he had been trying to catch me. ~22~
The ground under me was damp, and cold. It smelled pungent and musty. There were worms in the dirt around me, and I figured there must be other bugs as well. I yelled for them to get me out, a little panicked. They just looked at each other and then back down at me. ~23~
“Do something!” I yelled at them all. Still they did nothing, just looked around at each other some more. Like they were all waiting for someone else to make the first move. ~24~
I heard a yell from a distance. “Get out of the way, damnit!” And then I saw him. The most hunky, handsome man I have ever seen. A true Adonis of a man. He was there at the top of the hole, staring down at me. Blonde hair, messy, and a little long. Big shoulders, and a slightly crooked nose. Perfect. ~25~
He asked if I was okay, and if there was anything broken. I figured by then that my leg must be, though I refused to look at it. I think my brain was in overdrive, because there was this part of me saying that if I didn’t look, then I would be fine. It’s not like I haven’t broken any bones before, but this was different. I was stuck at the bottom of a hole. My coworkers were staring down at me, shocked and nervous. I just wanted out before I assessed the damage. ~26~
The new man, Mr. Hunk, moved the others away from the edge and turned away for a minute. When he turned back, he threw down a rope, and told me to tie it around my waist and under both legs. I grabbed it when it got to me, and started following his instructions. I messed up a couple times, but I got it. My leg was throbbing like a sore tooth, but in my mind, I was saying Hubba Hubba. ~27~
I finish tying the rope and this guy starts hauling me up. By himself, mind you. See what I mean. A real guy. One minute I’m on the floor of this hole, then I am in midair, and then Mr. Hunk has me in his arms. He carried me to the main house. Carried me! And the whole time I am ignoring my pain to wonder what kind of aftershave this guy uses, because he smelled like heaven. ~28~
I look up at him, but he was looking ahead, and seemed very serious. I almost kissed him. Swear to God! I wanted to kiss this stranger because he got me out of that hole in the ground. And, I admit, because he was hot! ~29~
He gets me into the cabin and sets me on the couch. That’s when the pain really hit. I guess maybe I had been ignoring it to a point, but I started crying like a baby. I mean really bawling. I am not a pretty crier. My nose gets red, my eyes get puffy. I’m no major model people. And I’m thinking, oh God, now I am crying in front of Mr. Hunk, and that makes me cry even harder. ~30~
Then he made call on some sort of satellite phone. He looked at me several times, and I saw his eyes. Glacier blue. The most incredibly beautiful eyes I have ever seen. I felt, just for a second, like I was falling into them. ~31~
About twenty minutes later, I heard the chopper. I knew I needed to go to a hospital and get my leg checked, but I didn’t want to go. I’ve never been afraid of hospitals. I’m not all that close to any of my co-workers. It wasn’t anything like that. I just didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay and stare at this guy. It was very strange. I just felt like if I left him, even for a moment, the whole world would end. I’ve never felt that way before, and to be honest it freaked me out a little bit. ~32~
I was feeling very stupid, and very silly, and I was in pain. Not a great vacation. I don’t even know the guy’s name, but I want to stay with him. For some reason, around him I feel totally safe. Stupid right? ~33~
So, three people come into the cabin and get me up. They load me into the chopper, and the guy got in with me. No clue why. He just did. I had never seen him until he rescued me from the hole, and I didn’t know his name. But I was glad he was still there. One of the rescue people buckled me into a seat and started checking my vitals. I wanted to scream at the guy that taking my pulse wouldn’t fix my damn leg, but I stayed silent. ~34~
Mr. Hunk still wasn’t saying anything. I still had no clue who he was, or why he had been the one to rescue me. I did know he wasn’t a co-worker. I may not know them all very well, but I was sure I had never seen him before. I tried not to make a big deal about my leg, but it hurt, and I wanted it to stop. ~35~
I started to feel cold. I couldn’t figure out why. And everything felt like it was far away. Who knows, maybe I was in shock. I thought for a minute, that I might pass out. And then he was there, holding my hand. And I stared into his eyes. Next thing I remember, I was being pulled out of the chopper. ~36~
My leg was broken. Twice over. The hunk held my hand while they set it. Even though they had given me a pain-killer, I still hollered and cried. I worried I would bust someone’s ear drum. ~37~
I don’t remember too much about the hospital. Probably because of the pain killers. They made me dizzy and tired. There was a lot of activity for a few minutes, and then everything was quiet. ~38~
I finally got up the courage to talk to my hero. ~39~
“My name’s Amanda. ~40~
“Mark.” That’s all he said. His jaw was clenched a bit. I wondered if maybe he didn’t like me. ~41~
“Well, thanks Mark.” I looked at him for a moment. Finally, he nodded his head. Alright, it was going to be like pulling teeth to get him to talk. I turned my head away, suddenly completely aware that I was sweaty, and covered in dirt, and that I wasn’t exactly the thinnest girl on the planet. I guessed he didn’t like me very much, and that I was probably ruining his day. ~42~
“You don’t have to stay.” I gulped when I said it, but I was either going to get him to talk or drive him away. I don’t like awkward silences. I never have. My parents only had me, and they almost never spoke. I swear they hated each other, but they stayed married until I was eighteen. ~43~
Mark grunted. That’s it. He just sat there, holding my hand, and looking out the window. ~44~
“Really, I’m fine.” I was lying. I wasn’t fine. The painkillers weren’t really stopping the pain. I was feeling nauseous and dizzy. And the hunk was seriously starting to annoy me. “You can go if you want. ~45~
“No.” That’s it. That’s all I got out of him. So, I decided to be quiet too. And I was so quiet I drifted off to sleep. In a stupid paper gown on an ER gurney, with a stranger holding my hand. How weird is that? ~46~
I don’t know how long I was out. Maybe five minutes, maybe an hour. I woke up when the doctor and nurse came back with discharge papers. I had to take my hand back to sign them. It was strange, letting go of him felt like hell. The nurse shoed him out of the room so she could help me dress. She grabbed a pair of sweat pants from one of the cupboards, and with a pair of scissors, made a cut up the right leg, to fit it over my calf. ~47~
After I was dressed, Mark came back into the room. Another nurse brought a wheelchair and helped me into it. ~48~
I had no idea what was going to happen next. Was I going straight to the airport and going home? Was I going back to the camp? Was I going to a hotel? I hadn’t considered any of that earlier, and now my mind wasn’t working well enough to make any decisions. ~49~
Thankfully Mark had taken care of everything. When they got me outside, the van was already there waiting. Toby, my boss, was driving. He and Mark helped me into the back, where I could stretch out my leg. Mark climbed into the front passenger seat, and we drove back to the camp. The ride was long and towards the end, bumpy, and I was very uncomfortable. Each bump sent shockwaves of pain up my leg. ~50~
At first, everyone hovered when I got there. It was nice for a moment, and then very annoying. I just wanted to sleep, but everyone else wanted to ask me questions. Edgar came over to the couch where I was sitting and apologized several times. I told him it wasn’t his fault, even though I think it might have been. He kept trying to bring me things. Food, water, magazines. I wanted to scream, “enough already,” and be left alone. ~51~
Finally, Mark picked me up and brought me to a small room where there was a bed and a couch. He put me in the bed, went back and got my crutches, and sat on the couch. I was asleep before I could even say thank you. ~52~
It was an awful night. I woke up several times. I had a lot of pain, and I really needed to pee. First, I forgot my leg was messed up and tried to stand. Mark was there, he grabbed me before I hit the ground, and carried me to the bathroom. I tried to tell him I could manage with the crutches, but I gave up. I was in pain and tired and wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep. I took more of the pain meds, and decided I hated them. ~53~
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