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"Wait! Come back!" Julia shouted. "I didn't mean to scare you! Darn it, she's gone... Well, maybe I can invite her in for cookies and milk tomorrow and apologize." Settling down on her living room couch, Julia perused the classified ads but all the advertisements were for office workers (something she vowed never, ever to try again), openings for police officers or firefighters (too dangerous) or jobs as test subjects at the science lab. "I may be insane," she mumbled. "But not so crazy as to let myself be used as a guinea pig!"
As she was about to close the newspaper and head out to her garden, Julia's gaze fell on the following ad:
"Do you have more vegetables and fruit than you can eat? Would you like to make extra money? Bring us your produce and we will give you cash! -- EverFresh Delights Supermarket
"Hey, that's an idea! It might not bring in much but it's a start. Maybe I can also trade my vegetables for food." She raced outside, harvested everything from her garden and headed to the center of town.
The owner of the grocery store, an elderly woman with a welcoming smile, gratefully accepted Julia's vegetables and even agreed to give her store credit for a week's worth of groceries with Julia's promise to deliver more of her tomatoes, lettuce and peppers when they ripened.
"I love gardening!" Julia enthused. "My parents have always said my green thumb is a blessing because at least I have two good traits...that and being a virtuoso."
Grabbing her bags, Julia turned to leave and noticed two women huddled together and speaking in excited whispers. One of them held something shiny in the palm of her hand. Moving a bit closer, she caught occasional words like "silver" and "near that abandoned mine".
"There is silver in Sunset Valley?? And it's just lying around for anyone to find?? I have GOT to check this out!!" Hurrying to her car, she stashed her groceries in the trunk and headed off to find the mine.
"I probably should stop and ask someone for directions." Julia pulled over next to a park where several people had gathered for a picnic and jogged over to a heavyset woman wearing ponytails to ask directions.
The woman was very helpful and Julia stayed to talk with her for a few minutes. She was turning around to jog back to her car when an angry man strode up and slapped Julia several times across the face until she saw stars. When her head stopped spinning and she could catch her breath, Julia glared at him and demanded, in a voice so loud the chirping birds were silenced, "WHAT... IS...YOUR...PROBLEM???!!!"
"YOUR FACE!" he yelled back.
"Oh really..." she snarled. "Well, the sight of yours isn't doing me any good either. Now get out of my way!" And before he could touch her again Julia stormed off. "Excuse me, ma'am?"
A young man, holding a dozen red roses, walked up to Julia. "Don't let that mean-spirited jerk bother you. Here, take these!"
"Oh, why thank you!" She breathed in their sweet scent and smiled at him. "That's very nice of you!"
"I guess there are some nice people in Sunset Valley after all." She thought as she headed out of the park.
After driving up into the mountains over winding country roads, Julia reached a dead end and was forced to go the rest of the way on foot. "I hope the mine isn't too far from here!" she exclaimed, running up a grassy slope. "I'm not in the best shape for hiking through the woods! Okay now what did she tell me? Take a right when I see the large boulders? Oh yes!! There it is!!" Bounding up the rocky hillside, Julia squealed with delight at the sight of numerous clumps of ore scattered on the ground. "There is silver and iron too!" Scooping up every bit of ore, she laughed with delight. "This should pay my bills for a month!"
After collecting all the rocks, Julia stopped to glance around at her surroundings. "It's so quiet up here. It seems like the rest of the world has disappeared. There is nothing but trees, rocks and little woodland creatures." Her gaze fell on the mine entrance. "Hey, I wonder if there is any ore left in there!" Bending down she peered into the darkness of the entrance and saw two glowing eyes staring right back at her!
"AAAHHHH!!!" Jumping backward, she almost lost her balance and a shiver ran up her spine. "What in the world is THAT!!" The eyes blinked back at her and, screaming at the top of her lungs, Julia turned and ran all the way back to her car without stopping.
On her way home, she began feeling silly for letting her imagination get the better of her. "For all I know it was just a stray cat or a raccoon! It probably will be gone the next time I'm there." Still, Julia wasn't up to returning to the mine the next day and spent her time exploring Sunset Valley instead. And it was a good thing she did because she soon discovered that the mine wasn't the only place in town where riches were to be found. Scattered throughout town from the beach to the mountains were gems, ore, space rocks and even seeds! Julia spent the next few weeks collecting as many of these treasures as she could. The ore and gems she sold to Smelters R Us and Two Cat Burglars' Jewelry in downtown Twinbrook while she put the space rocks on display in her foyer and planted the seeds. During her treks through Sunset Valley she occasionally stopped to pick a few fruits and vegetables from the gardens she passed. "I'm only taking a few new kinds to add to my garden", she reasoned. "And I'm careful not to pick any unless the fruit is plentiful." And soon her garden was filled with healthy green vegetable and fruit plants.
One morning when Julia entered Everfresh Delights, carrying a box full of apples and limes, the owner informed her that they also purchased freshly caught fish.
"Oh, But I don't know how to fish!" said Julia.
"It's not hard, really. Just get a rod and check the ponds and ocean for spots where the fish are so active they jump right out of the water! You will be catching some in no time! And you know what else? Fish make great fertilizer for all kinds of plants!"
That afternoon Julia did some saltwater fishing and, after falling on her butt a few times when casting the line, she learned to stay on her feet and managed to catch a few anchovies and soon she was an experienced angler. During her downtime Julia read voraciously and filled her shelves with books like "Gardening to Riches" and "The Whiskered Deep: Catfish and You". While at Divisadero Budget Books one afternoon she picked up a book on home repair and a basic cookbook and in no time learned to fix a leaky faucet and cook a delicious, nutritious meal at the same time!
When she developed enough confidence in her ability to succeed on her own she invited her parents and all her friends from Riverview to her home for a meal. While they enjoyed grilled salmon with oven roasted potatoes, Julia finally told them the truth about losing her job and her new approach to making money. They were all sympathetic and understanding making Julia feel a bit guilty and foolish for not sharing her troubles with them much sooner.
"I wish you had told us right away instead of taking all the worry on yourself!" said her mother and the others agreed. After the meal Julia showed them around her house and yard and tried, but failed, to suppress a proud grin as they "oohed" and "aahed" at her new garden.
"Well, we certainly don't have to worry about you anymore, my dear." said her father at the end of the visit. "You have already made a wonderful home for yourself here."
"Thanks, Dad!" Julia blinked back tears and gave him a big hug. After everyone left and she finished the dishes, Julia decided to take a stroll around town and maybe find a few more items to sell. There was a huge crowd hanging around outside the theater listening to a street musician. "I should try bringing my guitar down here some night!" she thought. "I could make a lot in tips!"
After listening to the music for awhile, she dropped a simoleon in the tip jar and strolled over to the park. It was early evening and still light.
"I think I'll check out the beach and then drive up to the waterfall and take a look at that strange lot." she said to herself, climbing into her car and heading in the direction of Old Pier Beach.
Old Pier Beach was deserted except for two old men playing a game of chess. Julia walked along, scanning the sand for a glimpse of something shiny but she was out of luck this time. Before heading up to the lot near the waterfall she stopped to admire the beautiful sunset. Julia had first driven by the empty lot the same day she had gone to the mine. Since then she had been planning to stop there but had been too busy. Today she was determined to check it out. "For all I know that lot could be full of rainbow gems and pink diamonds!"
Dusk was settling in when she parked by the curb and stepped out onto the overgrow grass. Covered with brambles, buckhorn and other assorted wild plants, the lot looked abandoned. It didn't help that people had been using it as their personal dumpster. Near the curb stood an old garden gnome with no head and next to it was a broken toilet. "I will never understand people who treat the earth like it is their trashcan!" she shouted.
Muttering angrily to herself and walking deeper into the lot, Julia avoided the thorny brambles while keeping her eyes on the ground. The wind began to blow and she took a deep breath of the salty air.
When she first heard the rustling in the bushes nearby she thought it was the wind. But it happened again when the wind wasn't blowing. She turned around sharply and saw two glowing eyes staring right at her. Julia screamed.
Insanity Isn't Everything - Chapter 2
Aug 15, 2011 by Audrey May
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