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About the author:
By day, Colorado-based T. Satterfield is best known as a licensed psychotherapist, certified hypnotherapist, and energy practitioner for trauma resolution. But behind the scenes she’s a storytelling artist, writer, and cat herder who knows that all stories are really love stories, and she’s not too shy to say so.
Known for writing first thing in the morning from bed, T. Satterfield strives to write courageous love stories that make people scratch their heads and rethink what they thought they knew about love. Her characters are fierce, determined, and of course, sometimes afraid—terrified, even.
What inspired you to write your book?
My clients were my initial inspirtiation. But the story itself was inspired by someone I love dearly!
Here is a short sample from the book:
“I’m gonna need someone to help me. I’m gonna need somebody’s hand.” Singing along, pretending Nathaniel Rateliff and I were a couple of salty bikers in leather jackets, I sat at my desk with more swagger than self-awareness. Imagining our fat wallets clipped and chained. Both of us worked up. Clapping and stomping, rocking and rolling to a soul revivalist’s pitch. Preparing to break out of some godforsaken prison.
Nothing made my job at The Law Offices of Dumas, McPhail & Cox easier than plugging in with the volume high enough that somebody standing nearby could hear the gospel of I-don’t-give-a-damn.
Belting out, I sang from a bottomless pit of regret. With eyes closed, I conjured myself yanking at my tie, unbuttoning the first button. Maybe the second. “Son of a bitch! Give me a drink. One more night, this can’t be me. Son of a bitch, if I can’t get clean, I’m gonna drink my life away.”
I crooned, exaggerating my pain, lifting my chin high toward some imagined golden rays of light, some forgiving lord. And just as I was about to feel the salvation of a new day dawning, my boss called out. “Gabe!” Her voice was sharp, and she had the eyebrows to match.
She’d cracked open the door just enough for her head to float in. I pulled out my earbuds. She flashed me a perfunctory smile. “We’re meeting at four-thirty now.”
“Today?” I eyeballed the clock. It was just past four. I sighed, having hoped I could’ve snuck out by five.
“Them’s the breaks, kiddo. Gotta be worth your salt ‘round here.” She pointed her hand as if it were a gun and made a double-clacking sound. “Keep an eye on the time.” She tapped her watch. “Don’t want you late.”
Sighing again, I ran my hand through my messy curls. “I won’t be.” I’d made other mistakes, but tardiness wasn’t one of them.
She faked another smile. “Four-thirty.” She tapped her watch again and closed the door. As she passed by the glass wall of my office, her head bobbed atop her overpriced pantsuit. The Persian floor runners absorbed the clatter of her heels.
Figures. Shaking my head, I balled up my earbuds and shoved them into the top drawer where I spied a blister pack of Pepto-Bismol. No sooner had I popped two than the dangerous sound of Amy Winehouse announced a call from My Ex. “I told you I was trouble, you know I’m no good.”
I groaned, sliding to the edge of my chair, clearing my throat. “Hello,” I said, feigning total disinterest. After all, it’d been a year of nonsense since the break-up.
She was casual. “Hey, I can’t make it tonight.” I heard windshield wipers.
“Seriously? This is the third time. Do you want your stuff or not?”
She spoke as if I were a child, enunciating each word. “Gabe, we are two adults,” she said, like that explained something.
“No! No!” I shot up off the desk and onto my feet. “As usual, you flaked! And two adults? You’re kidding, right?”
“Oh, get your control-freak head examined! You’re like, so attached. You can’t let anything go. You’re a big baby, and I’m not your mother, Gabe. I’ve got a life, and it doesn’t include dragging you around at the tit.”
I jumped out from behind my desk. “After three years with you, I oughta have my head examined! And the expression is teat, and if you think I’ll just go on being decent—”
She cut me off, laughing. “You’re hardly a boy scout. Grow up, Gabe. Have another beer.”
“Seriously? You’re saying I’m not decent?” I paced in front of the glass wall, almost shouting.
“Gabe.” She drew out my name like it was a sedative. “Settle down.” I heard her kill the engine. I knew she’d pulled into a 7-Eleven and was likely checking herself in the rearview mirror. Sounding as if she was applying lipstick, she blathered on about what was best.
“Oh, is that right? Look who sounds attached now that you want something. Well, check this out. I changed the locks, and—”
“You changed the locks? My shit’s in there!” She reeled, then caught herself. “Listen. I don’t want to fight. Let’s get along. Okay?”
“Oh, sure. Yeah, let’s be civil now, shall we?” Now sitting on the edge of my desk, I noticed a passerby giving me the side-eye. “Uh-huh.” I lowered my voice, transferring the phone to my other ear while she babbled. I heard her oversized keyring jangle and the car door open. I imagined one of her spiked-heel boots already on the ground. She was getting antsy for her Big Gulp.
“Gabe, you’ve become so cynical.”
“Oh! You feel like I’m sarcastic, do you?” I stood again. “I’m so sorry. I don’t mean to be caustic. I mean, why would I be bitter or humorless?” I was louder than was in my best interest. “The only problem is, as usual, you’ve forgotten about your little—”
The car door slammed. She talked low into the phone. “Listen, Gabe,” she hissed, “and listen good. He has nothing to do with this, and I’m sick of you bellyaching about it.” Bells rang, and I knew she’d yanked open the convenience store door.
“Oh,” I said, slapping my leg, “so if I hadn’t been snowboarding, that wouldn’t have happened? Oh, that’s right!” Spit flew. “It’s all because I’m not honest and never say how I feel.”
She was screaming, probably right in the middle of the store. I couldn’t make out her words but recognized the sentiment.
“No! No! No! I’m not exploding. I’m saying how I feel, and you don’t—No, it’s not at all—”
“Look,” I finally hollered over her, “here’s the deal. You want your stuff? Come by at seven. I won’t be there. Just like you asked.”
It was quiet. Then she whined. “He can’t help me tonight.”
I closed my eyes, clenched my jaw and I bottled up my fury. “I gotta go. Get your crap tonight, or it all goes to the curb.” I smashed the phone down onto my desk, realizing a moment too late that I’d shattered the screen. My stomach lurched, and another familiar ringtone announced a text. Before I knew it, I’d swiped a finger across the busted screen, deleting my mom’s message, then headed to the men’s room.
Planting my hands on the cold marble vanity, I studied my reflection. “When are you gonna get it? You’re the walking dead. Pa-the-tic,” I said, then spat for emphasis. Cranking the faucet, I slapped my face with cold water, then watched while it dripped from my closely trimmed beard and splattered my shirt. Captivated by the dark spots that bled and bloomed, I felt a moment’s peace; that’s when I noticed my suit jacket didn’t match my trousers. God almighty. I closed my eyes and remembered dressing from a week’s worth of discarded work clothes piled on my bedroom chair. I groaned.
“Hey, everything okay?” one of the second-year associates asked, coming through the door dressed to the nines in a starched, white shirt and finely knotted navy tie. “You know, it looks like you might’ve—” he started, but I pushed past him, wiping my hands on my pants before flinging open the door.
“Well, there you are, Gabriel Mendes!” Fanny, the receptionist said, backing up, cycling her arms and shuffling her feet like a train. “Can you do me a favor, muscles?”
I blushed. “Sure.” I said, figuring the watercooler was empty again.
“Hey.” She tugged on my lapel, then motioned to my pants. “I’ve always thought of you as a trendsetter.” She leaned close. “Not to worry. I almost came in wearing two different navy shoes. Uniform hazard. Know what I mean?” She pretended to elbow me. “Listen, this might be the seventh circle of hell, but these sharks are too self-absorbed to notice much past someone’s Rolex. Honey boy, you just sit those sugar britches down real fast, and, sweetie, nobody’ll be the wiser.” She winked, then sashayed off, calling back, “Thanks for the muscle, handsome!”
Shedding my jacket and throwing it over my arm, I hurried to the water cooler to change out the five-gallon jug, grumbling about My Ex and work the entire time. Once finished, I raced down the hall, brooding, hoping the thick carpet absorbed my frantic footfall. All I’ve ever wanted was to feel loved. “Like I matter to somebody. Anybody!” I said, tossing my hands.
Catching my breath outside the conference room, I tucked in my shirt and straightened my tie. I cleared my throat, and with great care, rearranged my suit coat over my arm. Sighing, I stepped inside.
The partners hadn’t yet arrived, but the place was still spooky: dark, with only the eerie spotlights over every chair. Finding my place at the long, lacquered table, I hurried into the leather and chrome chair. Except for a few hushed conversations, most of my colleagues scrolled their phones. Perspiration ran down my back and from my pits, soaking my discount dress shirt. I snatched the closest crystal carafe. Water splattered. Blushing, I swiped at the puddle with a sweaty palm and then my sleeve, but the wet beads defied my efforts and remained glistening on the polished table.
Slumped back in my chair, I stewed over how I’d dump My Ex’s things on the stoop before heading to the pub tonight. It’d be good to have her out. Maybe I could finally breathe. But something about her driving off with the last of her stuff made me feel like a real loser. Totally alone and dead inside. Whatever.
I gazed out the window. The sun had already set. It was the solstice. “Darkest day of the year,” I muttered, playing with the provided weighted black pen, tastefully inscribed and detailed with gold fastenings. I ran my hand through my hair.
You’re gonna need more than the cycle ride home tonight, Mendes.
“Yeah, maybe a long, long, loonnggg run.”
“Excuse me?” the woman beside me asked with a sour face.
“Oh, nothing.” Catching a whiff of my stress sweat, I shifted in the chair, adjusting my wet shirt and pants, hoping I didn’t stink. I shrugged. “Just reminding myself to go for a run when I get home.” I gave her a quick nod, trying to appear normal, but it was too late. She’d already spotted the spilled water. She flashed a forced smile, but averted her eyes. See Mendes, everybody knows you’re a mess.
“What difference does it make?” I mumbled, shaking my head, “I can’t do this.” I stood. People looked up from their phones. “Uh, I have an emergency,” I lied. “Okay?” I asked, nodding, backing away from their stares and hurrying for the door.
“Gabe,” someone said, pointing to my suit jacket.
“Oh, right,” I said, backstepping, hoping my pants would go unnoticed. Then making a break for the door, I shoved it hard at the same moment Mr. Dumas stepped right into its advancing trajectory. The door struck him square in the nose. A collective gasp rose from the room. Blood gushed from his flared nostrils, staining his perfectly pressed lapel and crisp white shirt.
Approaching home on my bike, I squinted in the dark to make out my neighbor seated on my front stoop. As soon as I dismounted, the single mother stood and her two noisy kids jumped off the cement steps and flew at me, throwing their arms around my legs.
“Hey, girls,” I said brushing past, not even looking at them.
“Bubbles, Mushkin,” my neighbor called to her girls, “leave Gabe be.” Then to me she said, “Sorry Gabe,” and nodded toward my wide-open front door. “I wasn’t comfortable just shutting it, so we waited for you.” She made a sorry-for-you smile.
“Thanks,” I said nodding, trying to seem like it wasn’t a big deal.
“Girls? Bath time. Say goodbye to Gabe,” their mom said.
“Bye, Gabe!” Bubbles and Mushkin shouted as their mom took them by the hand to cross the street and head back home. With my back to them, I flashed an open palm in a half-hearted wave as I headed to the door.
Inside my house the kitchen window screen lie on the floor. My Ex’s things were finally gone. All she’d left was a message scrawled in red lipstick across the refrigerator. It read, Happy now you dead zombie? An icy breeze blew through the house. My phone rang. I shoved it between my ear and shoulder, answering. “Yeah?” I barked before slamming the window shut.
“Oh! What was that? Is everything alright? You never answered my text.”
“No, Mom. Everything’s not alright. I’m missing something, or something’s missing in me.”
A week later, planted in my La-Z-Boy, I reclined but still stumbled around inside my head. Revelry and celebration? “Not tonight,” I said, numb but not too numb to remember the New Year’s resolution not to grow drunker as the night went on.
Exchanging one distraction for another, I put down the beer and plugged-in to Ornette Coleman. The saxophone blasted. I closed my eyes and transported to the familiar house of broken mirrors. Feeling lifeless and lost, I half-enjoyed the imagined sensations of tripping down long hallways and bumping into screeching confrontations of myself. My Ex and I having sex in the back of the car. Saying nothing when she stole a bag of Skittles from the checkout and boldly consumed the candies before we were even out the door. On the lookout while she pulled a nip from her bag and spiked her drink at Pronto Pizza. Truth be told, I’d been among the walking dead for a while.
Oh, don’t misunderstand. I did faithfully roll out of bed five days a week and bike in to work as an overqualified paralegal. At home, I paid my bills, vacuumed, cleaned the toilets. Sometimes I even bought groceries before the cupboards went bare. I exercised. Stood in seas of others to witness rites of passage at weddings and funerals. To a stranger, it probably looked like I had a life outside my small, bleak mind. Maybe, it even looked as if I were loved. Maybe.
But this New Year’s Eve, I’d promised myself liberation from my own restless brooding twin. That night, I ditched the whole intellectualization that there is no way and surrendered. I cut Coleman and let Chet Baker’s velvet trumpet envelop me, his mellow voice singing, “I fall in love too easily. I fall in love too fast.” Keeping four-quarters time and soft-shoeing in my seat, I didn’t raise a bottle to Coleman’s higher math. I didn’t hunker down in my loneliness and desperation. I didn’t relish the familiar urgency and paranoia of a rat in a maze.
Finished with the constipated struggle of making myself into a pretzel, the confines of my self-imposed straitjacket, I took off my headphones and chugged the last of my rich, malty beer. Setting the bottle in line with too many others, I climbed out of the easy chair. This was the night that all my previous years of wrestling myself to the ground would amount to something more than swearing I’d be different tomorrow. This was the night I would pin myself down to more than a renewed commitment to my job or my love life. This night, when I flipped open my thin, sliver laptop, the room illuminated. This was the night I found a way out.
Taking a deep breath, I cracked my knuckles and lengthened my spine. “Okay,” I said and typed into the Google search bar:
I scrolled through the many options: ten tips; two key steps; seven fast fixes; three simple ways; five truths. Go vegan. Swim in the Ganges River. Retreat to the desert. Drink green juice. Visit Peru. Take up bonsai. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Hike the Camino de Santiago. Build a labyrinth. Raise chickens.
Sighing, I sank into the chair, chewing a fingernail. I’d heard it all before. I’d even once tried making a labyrinth, and I didn’t believe chickens were the answer. I mean, I got the back to nature and collecting fresh eggs thing, but I don’t know. I guess that’s my problem: I don’t know! My brows creased. My chest weakened at its center. Here we go! It was only a matter of time before I returned to that desolate place inside my mind. “Argh!” I growled through clenched teeth, plowing my hand through my thick hair. Mustering all my determination, I threatened myself and some god. “I am not giving up. Not this time. At the very least, I deserve some happiness.” Doesn’t everybody?
Startled, Cat pulled her ears back and shot me a dirty look. Lowering my voice, I whispered, “Sorry, old girl. Didn’t mean to wake you.” Petting her, I smoothed her hackles and kissed her head.
Beyond the window, the flower boxes overflowed with ghosts of last year’s calibrachoa. Dried leaves and skeleton stems replaced the millions of bell-like flowers. The full moon unveiled a frigid winter landscape. The naked Japanese maple stood lonely over the brittle lawn. The garden pond would have frozen over if not for its heater, yet the waterfall only trickled. A stiff gust stirred the copper whirligig My Ex had given me. And the tall brown reeds, all that remained of the ornamental grasses, bent to the winter wind. Everything else holed up in the frozen earth, waiting for spring.
I imagined the promise of my summer garden. How a warm breeze would make the bee balm stems wave, their rose-colored heads bobbing, while the purple coneflowers with their hardy stems stood strong, barely influenced by the current. I leaned closer to the window. Two raccoons scampered up the gigantic ash tree. I’d seen a family of them late last summer scavenging grapes from my neighbor’s arbor. Maybe there was a natural order to things that was easy, even abundant.
My mind drifted, traveling backward, way before law school, long before My Ex, all the way back to the prettiest girl in the sixth grade. I’d secretly loved her, even pretended she was mine while we stood side-by-side at our lockers. I’d even planned to ask her to the school dance. But Theo Winner beat me to it—asked her right there in front of me, at our lockers!
Dude! Seriously. Come on. The sixth grade does NOT sum up the natural order of things.
“Focus, Mendes,” I told myself. I nodded, closed my eyes, laid my fingers on the keyboard, and then typed: What is love?
The search netted similar results, only with tips and truths about what love is not, Cher lyrics, and ads for dating apps. Except with one deviation.
Lost looking for love in all the wrong places? The Oracle of Delphi https://www.PythiaOracleofDelphi.com/where-is-love-how-do-you-find-love
Join the quest for answers to the questions of love. Let Pythia, mystic and high priestess, take you through the umbilicus and into the sacred spring known as love. Be prepared to sacrifice your black ram.
I scratched my beard, then the back of my neck. Umbilicus? High priestess? I sat back with my legs crossed, my lips twisted with skepticism. How big of a sucker did they think I was? “Be prepared to sacrifice your black ram?” I read aloud before scoffing. Leaning in, I scrutinized the listing. I shook my head. “What a racket.” How many sure fools before me had fallen for the tricks of these hucksters? I scanned the entry. “Sacred spring. Huh? Everything does bloom in the spring.”
Cat stood to stretch her tuxedoed body. I ran my hand along her bony spine, holding her tail as she pulled it through my fist; it was our game. She jumped from the desk. “Hey!” I called. “You’re gonna miss The Oracle of Delphi!” I laughed. “Honestly! What impudence.” I shook my head. “Ridiculous,” I said under my breath, and before I knew it, I’d clicked.
The site opened to an alluring woman. Mature. Fiftyish. Standing before a bubbling brook at the edge of a forest. Detailed bangles and large gemmed cuffs wrapped her arms from wrist to elbow. Her long, wavy auburn hair spilled from under a thin gold crown and flowed over her breasts, clad in the soft green silk of her gown. A skeleton key threaded on a gold chain hung at her lovely neck alongside an impressive faceted blue stone set in an intricately carved bezel. Both dangled near her cleavage.
Through the screen she looked right smack at me, as if she’d known me all my life. I could see she was a woman of great opinion. Her bright blue eyes were kind but frank, holding me to a reflection of myself more honest than comfortable. If not for her striking beauty, I would have turned away. She made no sound. The only discernable movements were the blinking of her uncompromising eyes and the rise and fall of her full breasts.
The image rippled and beckoned me. A mirage that lapped at my fevered brain, lulled and stilled the chaotic chatter that usually flooded my head. Then, cruelly, she faded away. For some minutes, I sat staring wide-eyed at the empty webpage, waiting. Thinking it was a marketing ruse, I checked my connections, refreshed the browser, but the screen remained blank.
I hit the return key. Nothing. I hit it again, searching the nothingness for some clue. It crossed my mind I’d been played for a fool. I glanced out the dark window and then over my shoulder. I’d made myself an easy target searching the internet for advice. I ought to have been embarrassed. But she’d looked sincere, I couldn’t help believing I was meant to have more. I bit my bottom lip too hard. My tongue dashed out, darting back and forth to soothe the harm I’d done.
I shrugged, then placed my fingers on the keys again. What did I have to lose? Where did you go? I typed.
I’d barely finished when letters, kerned and shaped like those of a typewriter, formed the words, I am here, across the bottom of the page. Though the screen remained vacant of her beauty, I jumped to my feet. “Yes!” I raised my arms in victory with an enthusiasm usually reserved for the Chicago Cubs. Then sounding like a spy arranging a rendezvous, her hushed voice came through the computer. “The time is getting late. Meet me at the hour of cockcrow,” she said.