tiny treasures

The backstory: I first visited Montana a year and a month after my husband walked out, a few weeks after I filed for divorce. My husband hadn’t responded to any of my emails, texts, or calls in nearly a year, yet I was terrified he’d choose that moment to pop up and interrupt the new life I was building.

So in what passes for secrecy in the digital world, I created a shortlist of Facebook Friends I could trust to keep a secret, and only they got details of my trip to Montana to visit my refound friend, Mr. Montana – a beau from 15 years before. I dubbed the list “In The Knowledge” after a clandestine group in a political thriller novel I was reading!

As it happened, my cell phone service provider had zero coverage in the entire state (I divorced them, too) and the wifi was spotty and weak, so I didn’t send any letters from Montana that first visit, they all came before and after. This is one of the first I sent after.

{ In The Knowledge }

My tiny treasures from our walk between worlds…

– Tall grasses cut short,
– A red stone and a white one (hearts and bones? blood and tears? his and hers?),
– A sprig of Russian olive, a plant that was brought over a century ago and never will belong,
– A popped pod near empty of seed,
– A feather, long lost.

Did you know it’d been years since he slept through the night? He blamed his age and arthritis; I blamed his evening coffee. Yet when I was there, after adjusting to sharing the bed, he got the best sleep he’d had in years. Every night I was with him he slept deeper and longer. Now that I’m gone, he says he can’t sleep at all.

I’m still unsettled by how reserved he was in person. I go through my day, I do my work, I live my life but, in these quiet hours, I can’t reconcile the months of plentiful words by phone with the week of his continuous quiet.

He’s uneasy, and I’m uncertain.

Want to create tension between two characters? Pair someone who prefers hearing words of love with someone who grows shy about saying them. Make sure the shy guy is a man of subtle telling actions she understands days later. Make sure the girl who needs reassurance has to swallow a mouthful of pride to tell him about that need.

Make the guy eager and able to do his part but struggle with it. Let her let him flounder despite her urge to rescue him. Let them both realize their limiting traits and beliefs create a distance farther than the 2,000 miles between them. Let them both see they’ve met their next teacher and bow to the opportunity to grow.

To his credit, make him a man of unquestionable integrity, cut from old cloth, tempered by fire, rough as a cob, true as blue, wise as winter, and sweet as peaches.

To her credit, make sure she has the sense to gather tokens of their most precious hour and tuck them in a jar for nights like tonight, so after the right words are finally said, and the tensions have finally ebbed, she can hold that captured moment in head and heart and hand, and know full well their feelings are mutual. ♥



Crys Wood is the copyeditor + proofreader at Paper Crane Publishing, making a career of her innate pickiness and love of words. She lives not-so-quietly in Big Sky Country with her sweet and cranky old man, a cat who is more of the same, and stacks and stacks of books.