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Carol Park

Exploring varying geographies is Carol Park's delight. Writing narrative, whether fiction or true, and poetry connects her internal geography with what lies outside. In recent years, she has completed an MFA in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University.


The anthology Irrational Fears has published a short-short of Carol's and the The East Bay Review will publish a longer piece this summer. Last fall actors performed excerpts of two stories on a Hollywood stage.


          Not a single man had asked me out for months. Beach days and hikes solitaire peppered my days off. June brought a move—to a summer job of dual purposes. I worked under redwoods, climbed granite, and encountered strange consolations.

          My day at Sequoia National Park started with a walk up a lung-heaving path to the cafeteria. Afterwards, at the housekeeping office, I learned where I’d labor. We rolled wheelbarrows of brooms and linens to scattered lodgings. Working in one-room cabins, we stripped sheets and picked up dirty tissues. Cracks yawned between hand-nailed boards and cockroaches grew large. I learned to smash instead of scream.

          Think back to when no cell phones existed. Imagine a day filled with dusting, sweeping and cleaning toilets. Imagine nights between rough linens in a shivery one-room cabin shared with two others. Recalling all, it’s not so strange that I ended up between silky sheets, waiting for Ron.

          Strange because of what brought me to Sequoia—my underlying job as a Christian leader to college students (a group of whom had also signed on at the park for several months). As college ministers we taught, No bed before you wed.

           Few knew about Ron and me. He spotted me in the employees cafeteria and later told me, “You’re the only good-looking one,” as we chatted within his three-room, modern cabin—his perk as the restaurant supervisor.

           Before me, only his mother knew why he’d left city life and drugs, for a remote haven—caught himself, he’d turned informer for the Feds. I joined his mother’s prayers for him to leave his life of drugs behind. Maybe I could restore his childhood faith in God.

           My talks with Ron turned to snuggles, but didn’t veer further.

           One night after his evening shift ended, I ferried him downwards, so he’d make an early morning flight—away to court. Midnight at a hotel desk, Ron said, “We’d like two rooms.”

           “We only have one.”

            I considered driving back. No one to keep me awake on two hours of twisting, midnight road. An hour later, in the luxury no cracks or roaches, I lay and fretted over Ron. Was he still drinking in the bar or had a chick lured him to her bed?

           When he finally slipped in beside me, I asked no questions. I wore no lacy thing, only a woven cotton top, and nothing on my legs. His hands, chocolate on top and pinkish pearly palms, knew the right touch, a certain giving pressure and a letting up. A swirl and a dance whispered that I was wanted, beautiful, and needed, a message his lips and tongue also told. Our smooth legs intertwined and even the soles of his feet stroking my calves felt better than anything before, and his kisses conveyed both power and need.

            In Sequoia, the touch of lips and tongue were all we’d had. Here his hands caressed my back and up my top. When we released a slow and tender blending of our mouths, I whispered, “See, I’m not cold.”

            I meant that a lack of desire wasn’t what restrained me from what our bodies wanted. Marriage came first. I imagined a reference to the words of his mother’s book, and mine, would make it clear that, later, I would meet all his needs. “In the marriage bed, anything is okay.”

           His chin jerked. I’d shocked him. He released his hold on me and I edged off, and into a sound sleep. His AM wake-up call rang at 4 AM. He whispered good-by and I mumbled mine.

           Between his return to Sequoia and the end of my summer job, we met only once. With car packed full, I drove to my parents for a visit. In the pink of my childhood, I longed for Ron. He’d said we’d continue, but hadn’t called. I’d phoned once. No message could be left. Without his Hershey’s cheeks spreading his ruby lips in a wide smile, my doubt pestered. My finger swiveled one circle after another of the phone.

           A drowsy voice answered—female?

          “Is this Ron’s?” Click. Desperate, I rang again. A blare, a pickup, a click.

           I ended things with a postcard. No word back from him. Perched on a rock within my childhood park I rained my tears.

           On the long drive back home to studio and campus job, I considered Ron’s appeal and my naivete.  How deep was our hunger. What a charming purr had the panther.

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