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Linda Marie
Gary R. Hoffman


       Linda Marie Percell was unhappy with her life.  She had everything she had dreamt about when she was younger, but things just weren’t right.  Her home was a condo on Lake Michigan in Chicago that had spectacular views of the lake on one side and of the city on the other.  Most of her friends envied her job as the executive secretary for Claude Springsteen, a distant relative of some kind of Bruce, who ran a multi-million dollar real estate business in the State of Illinois.   A salary in the lower

six figures added to their envy.

       But she just wasn’t happy and wasn’t sure why.  A decision to simplify her life brought jaw-dropping looks from people who knew her.  She put her condo up for sale and took a lower than value price just to get rid of it.  As soon as the condo deal was closed, she contacted a company that handled estate sales and had them sell off most everything she owned.  What did not sell, she donated to Goodwill.

       Most of the money from her sales, she put in an IRA account, knowing she would not be able to touch it without paying some penalty.  With what little she kept out, she bought what she considered minimal supplies for her new life.  It all fit in one backpack.

       The Greyhound Bus she was on headed west and finally settled in the mountains of western Wyoming.  From the last bus stop, she started walking.  She hiked for three days and slept under the stars.  She got cold, but enjoyed it.  Warming by an open fire was a new and simple experience.

       Linda Marie found a cave.  It was perfect.  There was even a stream close by babbling its way downhill.  She quickly decided that would be her new home.  It was protected from most of the elements by a rock ledge sheltering its’ entrance.  A flat area in front of the cave was perfect for building fires.

       Rocks made up her first fire pit.  She collected wood and cooked her first meal of beans and dried ham.

For four glorious days, she spent her time working to live, not vice-versa.  She read from a book she brought with her.  Writing in her journal eased her mind and relaxed her.  Water carried to her 

new home was used for cleaning and cooking.  She collected firewood.  It was glorious, perfect.  This was the way she was meant to live.

     On day five, Linda Marie learned one of the great truths of life. Perfection seldom remains that way.  The bear came back.

Gary R. Hoffman was born at an early age. Five years later, when he was five, he started school which lasted a long time. A college education supposedly taught him how to teach, but the only thing he really learned was that no one can teach a person how to teach. The teaching gig lasted twenty-five years, until he got tired of the federal government thinking they had the answer on how everyone should teach. He quit and went into business for himself. Later, like all good mid-westerners, when he retired, he moved to snowless Florida and started writing. He has had over four hundred short stories, essays, or poems published or placed in contests. So far, so good.

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