Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids.


A compilation of stories and lessons learned

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Salt Water Cure

“The cure for anything is salt water… sweat, tears or the sea.”  ~ Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke



I had to get away.  I sprinted into the repulsive port-a-potty at the base camp.  I locked the door just as a flood of tears began pouring uncontrollably down my face.  I didn’t know why.




I wasn’t okay anymore being stuck up on the mountain.  Not that I ever expected it to be- but I just wanted it to all be over.  I was sick of feeling like I needed to prove something to everyone.  I never wanted to see in innocent life die so horrifically- even if it was for survival. The thought made me cry harder.  I pictured the poor rabbit so sweet in the instructor’s arms.  And then the blood.  The blood speckled the faces of everyone watching the demonstration as the rabbit’s head made contact with the stump and sprayed its contents.  I thought of our rabbits on the farm that we had growing up.  I thought of the other four rabbits in the cage and what was probably happening to them that very second.  Shaking and sobbing now- I couldn’t hold it in any longer.  It wasn’t just about the rabbits anymore.



I was hungry, cold, and lonely.  I wanted to go home.  I needed my mom.  I hadn't showered or shaved in three days.  I disgusted myself.  Four days still to go. Maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this after all.  I knew I had come too far to give up now, but that’s all I wanted to do.  Five minutes passed.  Then ten.



Finally, I decided I had cried enough.  I wadded up some toilet paper and wiped my face.  I waited a few seconds for my eyes to clear and opened the door.



No one was near or had noticed my absence. If they had, they didn’t say anything.  I walked to my group, grabbed a knife and began peeling the vegetables for the rabbit soup.  Four more days.


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This post was written in part of assignment for Red Writing Hood/Write On Edge:  "tell us about the last time that one of these three things 'cured' you." [sweat, tears or the sea]

The previous is from the book that I have been working on for some time now- you guessed it: What They Don't Teach You in Deer River.  This is a piece from the chapter on my SERE school training in the Navy.

34 comments:

  1. I remember crying a lot during my army training. I love the way you reminded me of it so easily.

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    1. Oh I hope I didn't bring back bad memories.

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  2. Beautiful. You are a wonderful writer.

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  3. I feel so bad for younger-you... though I'd have thought that growing up on a farm might have meant that you'd already have been prepared for this? Or your family raises crops, and cutting wheat is not at all the same. You really brought the emotions to life.

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    1. You would think, right? Our family has a beef farm, however I don't think it was ever easy for me- I do get attached to animals. That's probably why I'm the only one in my family that doesn't hunt- even though I completely support it. Conflicting, I know.

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  4. Paul did that school too...the AF version.

    I bet you two have some stories in common.

    I like the vulnerability you bring to this piece. The visual of the blood and the rabbit, juxtaposed with the sweeter memories of your younger days.

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    1. Thanks Nancy! Yes, tell Paul we must exchange a few stories over beers sometime.

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  5. Great post! I was reminded of the first time I went hunting with a scope. I'd hunted rabbits before, but when you shoot a rabbit with a rifle it's far enough away that you don't really see anything except the rabbit fall. The scope brought the entire event into focus, just a little too clearly. I don't really know why it bothered me so much, because I'd seen the results and skinned the rabbits I'd shot before (we never hunted "just for fun" like some kids I knew had, we ate what we shot). That trip with a scope was the last time I went hunting.

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    1. That is very interesting. I feel so torn about it all sometimes. I wish I could be a vegetarian-it would make life easier! But when you need to eat to survive, it's a whole different concept.

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  6. Oh my goodness, I would have cried too. "I needed my mom." That pulled me in, shows true desperation. I have felt that way before, it totally connected me to the story. Well done.

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    1. Thank you for the great feedback!

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  7. Very powerful. I also liked how you blended past and present, yet didn't feel like you had to tell me exactly where you were. It wasn't needed.

    I wouldn't change a thing about how this was written.

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  8. I love this - I know it's part of a larger work, but I like it as a standalone piece as well. A wonderful response to the prompt as well.

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  9. Your storyline sounds very interesting, this was a wonderful picture from your book that fits so well with the prompt. I have no offering today but I plan to read during my breaks from my cleaning tasks,

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    1. Thank you! I always enjoy your comments :)

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  10. There's strength in admitting to yourself that you're at your limit... and then pushing on. And if the tears purged enough of the hurt to get you back to where you needed to be, well done you.

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  11. I could not do that. As a vegetarian for over six years the idea of killing another animal, even for my survival, is horrific.

    However, I love the resilience of the MC and how she is strong enough to endure something she isn't thrilled about.

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    1. I understand and respect your decision. However you'd be amazed at the stuff one is capable of in a survival situation.
      And thank you for sharing!

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  12. Thanks for sharing this very intimate moment with us! You wrote it so beautifully. When it all gets to be too much, that cry in a private place is sometimes like manna. :-)

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    1. Thank you so much. That's so nice to hear. And yes, I agree!

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  13. You did such a great job of conveying all those emotions into this!

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    1. Thanks- to me that is my biggest challenge in writing- without actually coming out and saying what someone is feeling, you know?

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  14. This was incredibly powerful. Definitely a gut-wrencher for me. It was as if I were right there!

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  15. Thank you so much & thanks for reading!

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  16. geez poor guy!Great job

    www.wazhat.wordpress.com

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  17. Very powerful and vivid! You put us right there. (barbarashallue.typepad.com - for some reason I'm not able to publish my comment under my typepad profile!)

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    1. Thank you Barbara! And blasted technical diffuculties! [I'm shaking my fist for you right now]

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  18. That was unbelievably powerful and actually helpful at this time in my life. Thank you.

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    1. Well that means the world to hear. Sending good thoughts your way!!

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