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Breathe Mom 2.0

When I started this blog three years ago I had no idea where I was going with it. And to be honest, I’m still not sure! Between the time I started the blog and now I’ve gone through several transitions. For the past several months I’ve been enrolled in Martha Beck Life Coach Training and I’m ready to start coaching.

So what is life coaching?

First of all life coaching is NOT therapy. If you have a serious issue that’s affecting your mental health, please see a therapist. Also, life coaching is NOT me telling you what to do! Using a variety of tools I help you uncover your own answers, through examining your thoughts and beliefs, and getting clear on what you want.

  • If you’re in a time of transition or feel the need for a change, life coaching can help you negotiate the steps.
  • If you feel like something is missing, maybe just out of reach, life coaching can help you to find it.
  • If you want to explore and rediscover your creativity, life coaching can help you find your dream and make it a reality.
  • If you want to find time for something that’s important to you, a meditation practice, being in nature, or spending time with your family, life coaching can help you identify your priorities.

If you’re interested in learning more about life coaching please contact me for a free 30 minute initial phone consultation. If it seems like we’re a good match we can schedule time to work together for longer. You can schedule here or send me a message.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

My Gift of Imperfection

rotation-of-resize-of-20161026_quiltThis morning I finished repairing a quilt that I made for my husband nearly thirteen years ago. He wasn’t my husband yet although he proposed to me shortly after I gave him the (unfinished) quilt for Christmas, 2003.  The quilt has been on our bed since 2004 and over the years it developed tears and the fabric wore thin along the edges. I did my first repair on the quilt a few years ago and in the interim more tears appeared. Sometime last year I decided that I had time to do a proper repair. I bought new fabric to replace the torn pieces, I washed, measured, replaced the batting inside, started sewing and then I stalled. I wanted it to be perfect, and if not perfect, at least better than it had been. The quilt stayed on the bed, incomplete, and told myself that I would finish it when I was ready to make it better.  Every so often I would take it off the bed, fold it and put it on my great-grandmother’s antique foot pedal sewing machine and then, a week or a month later, I would take it back to the bedroom and put it on the bed, still torn. I sewed a strip of new fabric on the top edge, the one that was most damaged but didn’t close it up. The edges were different widths and the corners didn’t match so I didn’t finish it.


This morning as I was making the bed I once again looked at the quilt. The tears were getting worse and the batting that I had replaced was starting to get worn since it wasn’t protected by fabric. I folded the quilt and put it on the top of the sewing machine, which is also my writing table. Two thirds of the way through my  Morning Pages I wrote, once again, “I want to repair the quilt”. And then I stopped writing and repaired the quilt. It didn’t take nearly as long as I had been telling myself it would take. Yes, it was tedious to pin it and keep the edges straight. No, the corners are not squared and in fact one of them had to be pleated to get the fabric to come together. But its done. And when I look at the quilt on the bed I feel happy.


Now I can move on to the other things in my life that are also not perfect and may not even be better when I complete them. The novel I started during last November’s NaNoWriMo . The sequel to The Secret Labyrinth that I started in July. By accepting my gift of non-perfection I can allow myself to move forward in my messy, creative and lovely life.

Is there something you’re not doing that’s keeping you from moving forward on your path? Would it be alright if it wasn’t perfect?

I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment!

A Question for Our Readers

My co-author and I are very excited about getting this book published in the near future. In a discussion yesterday the question came up as to whether or not this is the best title. A ten year old boy in England who read the book and loved it suggested that most boys would not be inclined to read a book with the word “Mermaid” in the title but he thought it was a great adventure and that his friends, both boys and girls would like it. I had always seen it as a book written primarily for girls but I’m happy that boys like it too! Would a title change to “Halley and the Sea Labyrinth” be a good alternative?

Here is Chapter 8. The Sea Labyrinth will now make sense!


I was still furious when I woke up the next morning. It seemed like everyone I thought I could depend on had turned out to be dishonest. Dad was leaving for work by nine o’clock and I had to figure out a way to get to the sea cave on my own. I decided to go the labyrinth alone. I knew that Dad had left the Gheenoe near the shore. He had it padlocked to a post and if I could get it in the water I thought I could get it started. It was a risk but I was desperate and I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want anyone to come looking for me so I wrote a note saying that I was meeting Jonathan in the village and left it on the kitchen table. Adults weren’t the only ones who could lie. I could play the same game.
After Dad left I went into the shed and found a paddle and a life vest. I started walking down the path and saw Mr. Fraser up near the sheep pen. His dog started barking at me and Mr. Fraser narrowed his eyes but I couldn’t tell if he was looking at me or just squinting from the sun. He didn’t call out to me and I kept walking with my head down, pretending I hadn’t seen him. I knew it was unlikely that he would say anything to Dad. When I got to the Gheenoe I was able to unlock the cable. Dad always uses the date of their wedding anniversary as the padlock code. I made sure the motor was tipped up into the boat so it wouldn’t get stuck in the sand when I dragged it to the water. It was heavy and I was out of breath by the time I got it to the sand. I took off my hiking boots and threw them in the boat. I rolled up my pants legs and pushed the boat out until it was floating in the shallow water, then I climbed in and used the paddle to push myself out to deeper water. I said a little prayer that the engine would start before I pressed the starter button. It started right up and I breathed out a sigh of relief. I could smell the exhaust from the engine as I steered down the coast. The smell always reminded me of spending time with Dad on the water. He had let me drive the boat before and I knew it was almost impossible to tip over. He’d shown me by going in really tight circles until we were both dizzy. It was so nice to be out on the water again that I almost forgot why I was there and for a little while I wasn’t so upset. It was a beautiful day, clear blue skies and very little chop. As I made my way along the coast I saw the familiar landmarks and felt my stomach twisting when I thought about how different it would look if Caislin Cliffs was built there. There were some seals near the rocks, splashing in the waves. I wondered if I might see the mermaid but there was no sign of her.
I could feel my heart beating faster as I approached the sea cave. It would be dangerous going in on my own and no one even knew I was out here on the ocean. The cliffs were higher here and the waves were too. I remembered when I came with Dad that we had timed it just right with the tide. I cut the engine and used the paddle to go a little further south then turned around and came back to the entrance. I was able to paddle through the break in the rocks and then I was inside the domed roof of the cave.
It was even better than I remembered inside. A break in the roof let in the daylight and there was the sound of the water rushing over the rocks and sucking back out of the cave. I could smell salt and decaying seaweed in the air and it was damp and cool inside. The tide was low enough for me to pull the canoe up onto the sea cave floor, which had been worn smooth by the water washing over it for thousands of years. There were pieces of wet seaweed that had been left behind as the tide ebbed. As I climbed out of the canoe I avoided the barnacles that were clinging to the rocks. I had cut my webbing on one once and it really hurt. I looped the rope over some rocks at the front and rear of the canoe and sat down on another rock to put my boots on. I walked up to where the cave floor met the wall and looked around for an opening. From the map it seemed that the opening would be really obvious but I couldn’t see anything. I pulled a headlamp out of my backpack and scanned the rocks. I squeezed behind a big boulder and gasped as I saw an opening in the rock, low to the ground.
Could this be it? I had thought it would be much larger, more like a doorway. This was just a small opening and I would have to crawl to get through it. I hesitated for a moment and wondered if I should go back and ask Jonathan to come with me. Just because I couldn’t trust Mom or Mrs. Muir anymore didn’t mean I shouldn’t trust him too. But that would mean delaying by at least another day and I might not be able to get the boat out again without anyone noticing. I decided to take my chances. I got down on my hands and knees and poked my head through the opening. Even with the headlamp on it looked really dark inside. At least it was unlikely that there was anything else alive in the cave. I pointed the headlamp at the ground in front of me and crawled for a couple of feet. Once I was inside I found a cave large enough to stand in and near the back of the wall another opening that was almost as large as a doorway. I stepped toward the opening, hearing my boots crunch on the gravel beneath them. As I walked through the doorway into the labyrinth it was absolutely quiet except for the sound of my heartbeat drumming in my ears. There were no markings on the walls and it was pitch black except for where my headlamp shown in front of me. I couldn’t smell the sea anymore, just musty cool air like a cellar. The turns were quite tight and as I reached what felt like almost a full circle I made the first switchback. I had traced the path of the labyrinth with my finger on the map before I left home this morning and I knew that it had seven rings before it reached the center. It was hard to tell if I was walking in circles in the dark. I felt a little disoriented and my breathing sounded loud and strange to me. I started imagining what would happen if my headlamp batteries died. It would be pitch dark and I could get lost and die. How would anyone ever find me? I stopped myself from thinking any more scary thoughts and kept walking, one step at a time, following the path. I was becoming mesmerized, listening to the sound of my footsteps and breathing. I made turn after turn, walking in wider circles, then narrow spirals. And then suddenly I was at the center. I looked around with my light. I was in a small circular room, no larger than our kitchen at home. There were bits of seaweed on the floor covered with what looked like salt crystals and a sharpness to the air, like the ozone that I can sometimes smell before a thunderstorm. In the middle of the circle was a raised dais about two feet off the ground. There was nothing on the walls and the dais was empty, there was just a shadow in the center of it. I came closer and shone my headlight on the dais and saw a shallow bowl carved out of the stone was casting the shadow. I felt a little disappointed. I guess I’d been expecting to find a treasure or art or something, but it was empty. Why had Annabelle left a map of this place in her diary? I had thought I’d find the answer when I got to the center but there was nothing here for me. I shivered as I glanced around at the empty chamber. Suddenly I didn’t feel at all safe and I just wanted to get to the sea and back home. I turned and headed back the way I had come.
I looked straight ahead with my headlamp pointed at the floor of the cave. The walk seemed faster on my way out and I didn’t feel so afraid anymore. I just hoped that I could figure out a way to use what I had found to stop the construction.
I walked along the last few turns of the labyrinth. When I got to the mouth of the cave I got back down onto my hands and knees and crawled out. There was a shaft of sunlight shining through the hole in the ceiling and it was such a relief to be out in the salty air again. I took a big breath and stepped around the rocks to where I’d tied up the boat.
“Oh God.” It was gone. The paddle was against the cave wall where I’d left it but there was no sign of the boat. The tide must have turned while I was in the labyrinth and loosened the rope. I pulled my cell phone out of my backpack but of course there was no signal. Now what was I supposed to do? If someone discovered the boat floating at sea they’d probably panic and assume I was drowned, if they even knew I’d taken it. I could feel my heart pounding. “Okay,” I said to myself. “Calm down and think.”
I’d have to swim home. Now I really was going to be in trouble. I’d taken the boat without permission which was bad enough but I’d also promised both Mom and Dad not to swim in the sea anymore, especially alone. I figured it would take me at least thirty minutes of swimming to get to the beach where the sea path was and then I’d have to walk home from there. I didn’t see any other choice though. I looked down at the hiking boots I’d worn for the cave. They would drag me down. I took them off. I’d have to go barefoot. Then I took off my jeans and long sleeved shirt. They would only slow me down. I put the headlamp, my phone and my clothes in my backpack and left it behind the rock near the labyrinth entrance. Then I climbed down to the smooth floor and dove into the water.
It was rough going at first. The water was colder than I expected, probably because there was so little sunlight in the cave. The waves and current were pushing me this way and that as I swam to the entrance. Once I got through the opening I pointed myself in the direction of home. The waves were more gentle on the open ocean. It was actually quite wonderful to be back in the water and I loved the wetness on my bare skin. My feet were really pushing me quickly through the water and I got that feeling I’ve had since I was a baby. The water felt like home and I was being supported and carried. Everything was going to be okay.
When I was about half way there I started to feel tired and a bit scared that I might not make it. I turned onto my back and rested, floating for a few minutes before flipping onto my front ready to start swimming again. Just as I rolled over, I heard a slap on the water. I looked to my right, and there, about twenty yards away was the mermaid! Could it be Annabelle? I called to her and started to swim toward her but she shook her head and continued to swim forward, pointing toward the shore. She was guarding me, and guiding me home. We continued to swim and she would glance at me and smile every so often but she never got any closer to me. I was so excited to see her again my whole body was tingling. I desperately hoped I would get the chance to talk to her, to find out more about where she came from. When we got to the beach near the sea path I didn’t want to leave her. I really wanted to swim away with her forever so I wouldn’t have to go home and face Mom and Dad. I stood up as I got to shallow water and called out to her. “Are you Annabelle? It was you who gave me the key, wasn’t it?” She nodded her head, bobbing in the waves. I called again, “So that means you’re my great-great grandmother! Can’t you come onto the beach with me?” She shook her head. “I read your diary. I’m so sorry about what happened to you. And Margaret never gave the letter to Genevieve. I found it in the desk with the map and your diary.” Annabelle seemed to shimmer in the water and it looked like she was beginning to swim away. I cried out to her, “Can’t you come back? I need to talk to you.” She looked at me sadly then and glanced behind her. As I watched she seemed to fade slightly, so that I could almost see the waves through her body and then she disappeared.
I waded onto the shore and looked around. I felt like sitting down on the sand and crying. I was worn out from swimming and I knew I was going to be in huge trouble for losing Dad’s boat. I started to walk up the path. It was cold now that I was out of the water and I was shivering so hard that my teeth chattered against one another. I realized that if someone saw me in just my underwear it would be hard to explain. I kept walking and the sharp rocks were cutting my feet. I wasn’t used to being barefoot on land and I stumbled a few times. As I crested the hill I saw flashing lights. There was a police car at the cottage and my mother’s car was there too. My father saw me first and he and Mom came running toward me.
“Where in hell have you been and what’s happened to you? Where are your clothes? If that man did something to you I swear I’ll kill him! You’re bleeding Halley, your feet are bleeding. And you’re soaking wet.”
“Please stop yelling! Nobody did anything to me.” I looked at Dad, “I’m really sorry Dad, I lost your boat.”
“But you left a note that you were meeting Jonathan in the village. Did you take the boat out with him? Where is he?”
“It wasn’t true. I just wanted to get away to be by myself and I knew you wouldn’t let me go on my own because of what happened at the Corryvreckan. Why are the police here?”
“We called them because we were frantic and thought something horrible had happened to you. Mr. Fraser told your father he’d seen you going toward the sea path with your life vest and the canoe paddle. We didn’t know where you had gone. Why would you do such a thing? Get in the house right now and get yourself cleaned up and dressed. I can’t believe you would do this to us.”
“I had to swim home because the boat floated away. I know I said I wouldn’t swim and I know you’re angry.”
“You’re right I’m angry. You made the wrong choice to go out on the water without permission. I’ll deal with you in a few minutes. First I have to explain to James that you haven’t been abducted.”
My father took off his jacket and gave it to me to wrap around myself. Mom stomped up the path ahead of us toward the police car. I could hear her telling the officer that I was okay and that no one else was involved. Dad looked sideways at me and said “I wish this hadn’t happened Halley. I know you were upset last night after the meeting but this wasn’t a good choice on your part. It’s not the sort of behavior that we expect from you.”
“I know Dad. I’m really sorry. I’ll get a job or something and pay you back.”
“Honey, it’s not about the boat. That can be replaced. But you can’t be.”
Dad opened the door and I stepped inside. I hadn’t mentioned the labyrinth and now I didn’t know what to say. I almost wished that Dad would sound angry too, instead of so disappointed. “Can I get you some clothes?” he offered.
“No thanks. I can still climb the ladder.”I heard the door slam a minute later as Mom came in and she started to raise her voice again. Dad murmured something and she replied “It’s my decision if I want to sell this croft. It was left to me and I don’t have to stay in Scotland just because my daughter does. It’s not about her, Tom. It’s about us as a family. And you know I don’t want to stay here.”
I heard her call from the foot of the ladder. “Come down here when you’re dressed and I’ll bandage your feet.”
“I can do it myself.” I pulled on an old sweatshirt and some shorts and sat down on my bed. I didn’t want to go back downstairs to take a shower because I’d have to face my parents. Looking at my feet I could see that they were in really bad shape. Some of the webbing had torn and they were throbbing although most of the bleeding had stopped. I cleaned them the best I could and then found the puffball that Jonathan had given me the day I met him. I squeezed some of the powder onto the cuts and wrapped some bandages around my toes.
A few minutes later Mom climbed up the ladder. I sat on the bed and looked out the window. She crossed her arms and said “You have no idea what went through my mind when I first saw you.”
“I do, Mom and it’s horrible. Why would you think that Jonathan would do anything to hurt me? He’s not a bad person. And why did you lie to me? You didn’t tell me you were trying to sell the croft.”
“I didn’t lie to you, I just didn’t tell you. You know how I feel about living here and if I decide to sell it’s my decision.”
“This whole place is going to be destroyed by that stupid development and all you want to do is sell Nan’s house and land and leave here forever. I hate you!”
She narrowed her eyes at me. “Don’t say something that you’ll regret Halley. I’m going out to clear my head. We’ll discuss this later.”
I turned away from her and buried my head in the pillow. I wouldn’t let her see me cry.

I finished NaNoWriMo!

I just uploaded 50,000 plus words of a new novel to the NaNoWriMo website and have been proclaimed an official winner! Whoo hoo! And to celebrate I’m posting Chapter 7 of Halley and the Mermaid. Thanks again for continuing to read along!


 Halley and the Mermaid

Chapter 7

I woke around midnight and at first I didn’t know where I was. I’d fallen asleep with Annabelle’s diary still on my pillow. I put it back in the treasure box and slid it under my bed. I looked out the window and saw that the sky wasn’t quite dark because of the Summer Dim. They call it that here in Scotland because it stays light almost as long as it does in Alaska in the summer. I thought about getting back in bed and trying to fall back asleep again but I knew it was no use. I quietly crept down the ladder of the loft. I saw that the kitchen door was slightly ajar and I looked out the window. Dad was awake and I could see him in the moonlight. I grabbed a jacket off the peg on the wall and went out the door. He was sitting in a lawn chair, with a pair of binoculars pointed at the moon.
“Hey Halley, you couldn’t sleep either? With the light from the sky it almost seems like daylight…”
“Yeah Dad, it’s really beautiful.”
“Grab a chair and come sit with your old man awhile.”
“You’re not that old”, I laughed as I pulled a chair up next to him. He handed the binoculars to me.
“If you look right there, near the teapot, you can see the teaspoon tonight!”
“That’s a silly name for a constellation.”
“I know, it was probably a British astronomer who named it.”
“I thought maybe you named it, Dad!”
“No, I haven’t discovered anything to name yet. Maybe someday… Hey, speaking of discovering, why don’t you come with me tomorrow to Callanish. I need to figure out where to place the telescopes and cameras for next month’s full moon. It’s the one we’ve been waiting for! I’ll lend you my camera and you can take some pictures.”
“That sounds like fun, Dad. I’d like that.”
“Good, it’s a date. I’ll pack one of my famous picnic lunches for us.”
“Very funny, Dad. You always pack the same thing. Turkey sandwiches and apples.”
“That’s why it’s famous, honey. You know just what to expect.”
We sat quietly for a while longer. Dad told me a long time ago that he thinks he became an astronomer to give himself something to do when he couldn’t sleep at night. I wished that I could tell him about the diary and Annabelle and the letter to Genevieve. I was so confused by how I was feeling. It seemed like something that I should share with my mother but I didn’t want to and I wasn’t sure why.
“Are you alright Halley? You seem kind of sad tonight.”
“Yeah, I’m okay Dad. I think I’ll go back to bed and see if I can sleep. Are you staying up?”
“Just a little longer. Maybe I’ll discover something new tonight.”
I went inside, climbed back up the ladder and hoped that I could sleep.

The next morning Dad and I drove to the Callanish standing stones. He was happy that I had come with him and he wanted to tell me all about the history of the area.
“These stones were placed around 3000 years B.C. by people in the Stone Age and-”
“I know, Dad” I interrupted. “Jonathan told me about them.”
“Hey, I was just trying to teach you something.” Dad looked a little hurt. “What else did Jonathan tell you?”
“He said they don’t know how they were able to lift them into place or exactly why they’re in the design that they’re in but it probably had something to do with the seasons. The solstice and equinox and that stuff. Kind of like a giant calendar.”
“He’s right. And about every 18 years the moon seems to skim right along the tops of the stones. That’s what I’m preparing to film at the next full moon. That’s why I’ve been researching here this year. We’re hoping it might reveal something we haven’t noticed yet in the stones. You can also see different stars and constellations highlighted by the largest stones if you come at the right time. Look at this center monolith. It’s more than twice as tall as me!”
“And Jonathan said they may have done ceremonies and stuff like that here. So it was like a religious place, only not a church.”
“Here’s something you probably don’t know yet. These stones are made of Lewisian Gneiss, which is a metamorphic rock. They started forming over 3 billion years ago. They were exposed during the ice age about two million years ago.”
“You’re right, Dad,” I countered.”I didn’t know that. Thanks and I’ll try not be such a brat.”
“It’s okay honey. You know I’m just used to being the only man in your life.”
“Oh God Dad. It’s not like that. Jonathan’s nice but he’s old.”
“I’m just teasing you a little. He’s a pretty smart guy” continued my Dad. “I’m glad you’ve found someone that you like to talk to and you seem to be learning a lot from him. Your mom worries though, you know.”
“I know, Dad” I sighed. “She thinks I should have friends my own age. But I really don’t have much in common with the kids here. And I like talking to Jonathan. He doesn’t treat me like a child. I’m not lonely, Dad, really I’m not. Can’t you get Mom to back off a little?”
“I’ll do my best, honey. We both love you and want you to be happy, that’s all. And your mom is still really shaken up about what happened at the Corryvreckan.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right. But I am happy. I love it here and I’m learning so many new things. If we can just do something to make sure the development doesn’t happen…”
“Well, kiddo, I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t see how we’re going to stop that. It’s been approved by the council and seems to be moving forward.”
“What do you mean it’s been approved by the council? You said you’d go to a meeting with me. When was it approved?”
“I read something in the paper about it recently. We could go to the next meeting though if you want. I never got around to putting it on my calendar last time. You know I can be a little absent minded like that right? How about if you find out when the next council meeting is and I promise I’ll go with you. I know you’re upset about this.”
“Okay, I’ll do that as soon as I get to the village. Hey, remember when Jonathan came for dinner you said we could we take the boat out one day. I want to show him around near the coast.”
“Not without me. I don’t know if we’re ever going to be able to convince your mother to let you out on a boat again.”
“Please, Dad. Just talk to her. I promise I’ll be safe. I’ll wear a life jacket and you’ll be with us and there are no whirlpools and it will be fine, really.”
“Does Jonathan really think there might be something closer to home?”
“Yes, Dad! That’s why he came here. Oh I’m so excited, thank you, Dad!”
“Wait a minute, I don’t remember saying yes to any of this.”
I gave him a big hug. He gently pushed back my shoulders and looked at me.
“Hey, that’s not fair” he warned, but he was smiling.
“So you’ll ask her?”
He nodded and hugged me back.
Mom was back to her regular schedule the following Monday and had already left for Edinburgh when I woke up. I told Dad I was going to the library and left for the village on my bicycle. I found a notice on the bulletin board at the library that the next community council meeting was in two nights on Wednesday evening. I wrote it down in my notebook so I could show Dad later. After I left the library I pedaled over to the guest house where Jonathan was staying. I hadn’t seen him since before our trip. He wasn’t there so I wrote a note and left it with the owner telling Jonathan to meet us at the community center for the council meeting on Wednesday and that I had something really important to share with him. I couldn’t believe that he didn’t have a cell phone but he was a little bit old fashioned in that way.
Dad and I ate dinner early on Wednesday so we could go to the meeting. I was nervous and had no idea what to expect. We walked into the community center and there were six chairs facing us from behind a long table. There were more rows of uncomfortable metal folding chairs set up facing where the council members would sit. Lots of people were milling about and talking in small groups. I was surprised when the council members went to their seats to see Mrs. Muir sitting with them. I hadn’t known she was part of this.
I was happy to see Jonathan slip in at the last moment before the chairman called the meeting to order. “Thank you for turning out for this special meeting in such numbers tonight. We’ll have a short presentation about the resort from Mr. MacDonald, our representative from the Western Isles Council, and then we’ll open the floor to questions.” There was a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of what the luxury resort would look like. It focused on the money that would be brought to the community. It looked horrible to me. There were big stone houses that were supposed to look like Scottish castles which is why it had the name Caislin which means little castle in Gaelic. It’s pronounced Cash leen which is just perfect because the only reason the council approved this is because of the money they think it will bring to the village. There was also a central building that would be available to rent for conferences, some fake looking plants and rocks that they claimed would enhance the local landscape and worst of all a swimming pool. Who would want to swim in a swimming pool when the sea was right there? But then the picture zoomed out to show the whole resort and it was surrounded by a high metal fence. It looked like it would run right across the sea path. I was getting a headache from clenching my teeth so tightly. The whole thing was infuriating. When the presentation was over the people in the room started applauding politely.
“And now Mr. MacDonald will take comments and questions from the community members. Please raise your hand and you’ll be called in order.”
My father glanced around to see if anyone wanted to speak but no one did. He raised his hand and the chairman nodded to him. He stood up and said “Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Tom Armstrong. My wife Genevieve Irving and our daughter Halley are all living at the Irving croft where my late mother-in-law, Kate Irving, lived for many years. We understand that the proposed development will be on land that separates our land croft from the sea. Halley and her mother spend a great deal of time at the shore. Genny collects algae samples there every week that she’s analyzing at the University of Edinburgh. My question is will the sea path remain in the public domain or will it only be available to the residents and guests of the Caislin Cliffs resort?”
“Thank you Mr. Armstrong for your question and we do hope that you’re finding Scotland to your liking. At this time we don’t have a representative from Caislin Cliffs here but if your wife still needs to get to the shore I don’t think there will be a problem with her continuing to use the path. Of course I can’t guarantee that but the developers have been most accommodating thus far. Next?”
Now Jonathan raised his hand.
“You, sir?”
“I’m Professor Baines from the University of York. I’m an archaeologist and I specialize in the artifacts and settlements of ancient Great Britain, particularly those of prehistoric and early Bronze Age people. I understand that the development company completed an archaeological study with an in-house team and I would like to know if this council ever requisitioned an independent survey of the land to determine whether or not there may be artifacts or structures at the site?”
“Thank you for your concern, Professor Baines. We’re confident that the survey is accurate and at this time we have no plans for continuing to delay construction. This has been a long process and we voted on it months ago. Now are there any residents from the town village who have questions?”
I groaned inside as I heard this. That meant he saw us as outsiders whose opinions didn’t matter. Several more people came forward with questions. Most of them wanted to know about employment opportunities during the construction phase and as workers at the resort after it was built. I tried to catch Mrs. Muir’s eye but she was looking at Mr. MacDonald. She and Mrs. Fraser had both mentioned how the economy was still in poor shape and I knew people needed jobs. But I kept thinking of this beautiful land being bulldozed so that giant houses could be built for rich people and fences put up to keep the rest of us out. My stomach felt like it was tied in knots. I couldn’t sit still any longer. I got up my courage to speak and raised my hand. The chairman looked surprised when he saw me. My heart was pounding and my mouth was dry. I stood up and could hear my voice shaking. “My name is Halley. I’ve only been living here since October but I love it so much. I’ve never seen so many different types of birds and wildlife in any other place that I’ve lived. I’ve been studying the bird population. There are a lot of nests during the spring in the area that’s supposed to be developed. I know the village needs more income but what if we built a wildlife sanctuary or something like that instead of houses?” I sat down suddenly, surprised that I had talked for so long.
Mr. MacDonald cleared his throat. “I’m sure that Caislin Cliffs will follow the best practices for ensuring the birds and other wildlife are safe during construction. This item was placed before the community council months ago and has already been approved by the Western Isles Council as well. Construction is due to begin on the first of August and we don’t anticipate any delays. And now, if there are no more questions we’ll prepare to adjourn.
I felt sick inside when I heard this. The construction was already scheduled. Why hadn’t Mrs. Muir told me? She hadn’t even told me she was a community council member. If we could have come to a meeting much earlier maybe we could have made a difference but I doubted it. The only way to prevent this from happening was to find something so big, so huge, that the council wouldn’t be able to ignore it. Dad put his arm around my shoulder as we started to file out of the building. Mr. Cruickshank, the local council chair, pulled us aside on our way out. “Frankly Mr. Armstrong I was a little taken aback at your question. Genny already spoke to me about this and I assured her we’d do what we could to get you a fair price for the croft.” I felt like my body tense. I looked at Dad and he seemed as surprised as I was. Maybe this was why I hadn’t told her about Annabelle. She didn’t have any intention of staying here in Scotland and she didn’t care about her ancestors or where she came from. How could she be so dishonest? Then I saw Mrs. Muir standing near the door. “Halley, you were so brave to speak up like that. I know this is hard for you, dear. The plovers and oystercatchers will adjust, they always do. Now you cheer up and I’ll look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the library.” I brushed past her, keeping my head down.
“I don’t think I’ll make it tomorrow Mrs. Muir. I have something else to take care of.”
Dad stayed inside to talk to Mrs. Muir but I left the room and went outside. Jonathan was waiting for me. “You said in your note there was something really important you wanted to tell me. What is it?” This was my only chance to talk to him privately but suddenly I didn’t want to tell him about the map or the labyrinth.
“It’s nothing. I thought I’d found something important but it turns out it wasn’t.” For a second I felt guilty about lying to him, but I was so upset that I didn’t want to trust anyone, not even Jonathan.
“Can’t you want to tell me what you thought it was?”
“No. I said it was nothing,” I said angrily.
Jonathan looked disappointed as he turned to leave. “You know where to find me if you change your mind.”