Connections Jan 2015 - Page 8

Copyright ©2014 Susanne Leist Chapter 1 Linda Bennett was walking home from her bookstore in thepicturesque town of Oasis, daydreaming about the beautiful fall weather in northern Florida. The leaves were turning those intriguing shades of orange and red. The trees were beginning to shed their multihued leaves that blew around in the warm breeze. She loved the coastline of Florida, where each season brought with it a wide range of colors and foliage in the midst of mildly changing temperatures. She strolled down Main Street, past the quaint shops and the grassy town park. Spread out before her was the treelined walkway that ran parallel to the pristine white-sand beach. Behind her, Main Street continued inland to include a gas station/auto body shop, a large town hall, a grocery store, and the sheriff’s office. Farther inland and accessible only through narrow and winding side roads, were the charming bed and breakfast and the run-down, deserted mansion. Adjacent to the park stood the Oasis Hotel, which fronted the beach with its large pool, cabana, and poolside bar. Nestled farther south along the beach was the colorful fishing village with its pretty marina for docking its small fleet of fishing boats. Scattered in the small hills behind the hotel were the homes of the town’s residents. The tree-lined country lanes showcased these large houses with their sloping lawns, all prettily wrapped up in white picket fences. The large hill behind town, or what Floridians consider to be a mountain, held the extravagant homes of the town’s original residents. These palatial homes were concealed behind tall trees, thick bushes, and metal gates. The older residents were very wealthy and kept to themselves. At night these homes woke up— as if from a long sleep during the day —to loud music, laughter, and colorful lights. Fancy cars and limousines dropped off guests along the long, hidden driveways. Linda had never been invited to the private parties, which she knew were being held behind the huge policed gates. She heard loud voices and laughter coming from the direction of her apartment complex. It was the sound of her friends who lived in her building. It wasn’t one building, but two lines of apartments with curving stairways descending from second floor balconies—right into the sand. Linda removed her shoes to walk