Moose Ridge: Ending to Beginning
Book One by Craig Hastings Genre: Inspirational Women's Fiction
All beginnings lead to endings, but some endings bring beginnings.
Attending Harvard was the first positive thing in Jazmine's life in a long time. While a member of an affluent New York family, her mother died when she was five and her father went to jail when she was twelve. Jazmine lost everything leaving her a ward of the state and becoming a foster child.
Meeting Michael, a medical student was the second positive experience. Now she's looking forward to the perfect life she dreamed about. Leaving Boston and New York behind, the only cities she's ever known, she's on her way to join Michael and start their new life together in Wyoming where he will complete his neurosurgical residency. She's had a lot of hard blows, but now all her hard work and dedication are going to pay off. The day has arrived for her and Michael to start the beginning of their future life together. Jazmine just knows, for once, everything is going to be exactly how she always dreamed it could be.
He gives a sort of snort and turns to me. “Are you forgetting something?”
“I don’t think so. You said we needed to wait until the stallion is awake and eating. You can open the gates, and we can start back. Can’t we?”
“Are you forgetting we’re low on fuel?”
“Not at all. You said it was fine since it never used the gas. We’re okay, right?”
“Not quite. Yes, you never used the gasoline, but we’re thirty miles from anyone who might have diesel and at least forty miles from a fuel station.”
“Okay, what’s the problem?”
“The tank with the diesel has less than an eighth. I doubt we’d get ten miles with this rough terrain. The engine might be fine, but we have no fuel to get anywhere. The diesel in the other is mixed with gasoline so it’s useless.”
“Wait…you mean we’re stuck out here?” I almost scream. This can’t be. “There’s nowhere to get gas?”
“Except we don’t need gas, we need diesel. We have plenty of gas. Twelve gallons of the stuff, wasn’t it?” He must think his smirk is cute.
“Hold it. I’ve got my cell. I’ll call someone and have them bring us diesel.”
“That would be great.”
Is he snickering? With a glare his way, I select the phone app.
“You might want to check for a connection before you bother dialing,” he says with obvious sarcasm.
I check, and there’s nothing. Not even one bar. “There’s no connection! How can this be?”
“Might be because the closest cell tower is, oh, I don’t know, forty miles from here.” Again, with his snicker. He sits watching the horses like there’s nothing to worry about.
“You’re not concerned we’re in the middle of nowhere with no phone connection and no gas?”
“Again, we have plenty of gas.” He sits back and pulls his hat down over his eyes. Why is he so smug?
“Fine, no diesel! Happy now?” I huff. “What are you going to do?” I demand.
“Well, I could walk to the nearest ranch and hope they’re home and have diesel. That could take several hours.”
“You mean leave me here alone in this wilderness?” I shake my head vehemently. “Not on your life, buster.”
“You go then. Take the trail back to the road. Hang a right and follow it until you reach a ranch. Can’t be much over thirty miles. I’d stay on the road and go soon, because we’re losing daylight.” His hat is still covering his eyes.
“Are you crazy?” I’m on the edge of panic when I get an idea. “You can ride a horse to the ranch and they can drive you back.” I know there’s always a solution. You must remain calm and consider your options—like they teach so well at Harvard.
“One of those horses?” He’s pointing to the corral.
“Yes, they appear sturdy enough. They run wild all the time. I bet they’re in excellent shape.”
“I’m sure they are. For wild horses—emphasis on wild. As in, they’ve never been ridden. They’ve never even seen a saddle or a bridle, let alone worn them, which matters little since we have neither. Believe me, no one is riding one of those horses tonight.”
With his comedy routine complete, we revert to sitting in silence. Two can play the silent treatment game. After a while, Jason gets out and opens both gates. Several of the horses are quick moving to the other corral. He hurries back to the truck.
“Shut the door!” I tell him. “You’re letting in the cold air.”
“Wow, for someone who caused all this, you sure are bossy.”
I can’t believe he said that. “You’re saying this is my fault?”
“Um, yeah. You put in the gasoline.”
“And who let me take a truck low on gas…I mean diesel?” How can he blame this on me?
“The one who knew he had half a tank of diesel.”
“Right, half a tank. In a truck getting ten miles per gallon. Not even enough for a hundred miles when we’re close to a hundred fifty miles from home.” The audacity of him accusing me.
“Yes, a hundred miles’ worth, and we’re forty miles from the fuel station. We could make it twice, but someone put gasoline in the tank, so now it’s worthless except for starting forest fires.”
“You mean the extra tank you never mentioned, or that the truck needed diesel, I might add. No, sir, this is not my fault. It’s all on you.” This ends the conversation.
“I’m sorry, I thought they covered reading at Harvard.” Seems he didn’t get the hint. “It says it on the flap you opened to get to the cap, beside the cap you removed to pump the fuel, and believe it or not, even on the cap itself. We should write Ford and let them know about their lack of explicit markings.”
“Great, you agree, it wasn’t my fault. Now we’re getting somewhere.” I’m glad he’s coming to his senses. “Now, how are you getting us out of here?” When I glance over, he’s snickering—again—which gets louder, and soon, he’s in borderline hysterics. “You find this funny?”
Born and raised in Muncie, IN, Craig is about as typical middle-America as they come. His 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, followed by another 15 as a DoD contractor, allowed him to live in several places in the States and overseas. After over 20 years in German and the UK, Craig hates moving, he and his wife settled in Oklahoma City where their 3 miniature Dachshunds allow Craig and his wife to live with them. He continues working for a major computer company under contract with a major airline manufacturer, which keeps him busy during the weekdays. Leaving his evenings and weekends for his writing and maintaining their 5 acres. Oh, and his major job of taking care of the pups.
WHY I WROTE MOOSE RIDGE: ENDING TO BEGINNING
In 1977, I was a young airman stationed in Omaha, Nebraska. After calling all the grandparents, I headed to the room where my wife was after giving birth to our first son.
I found her crying and she shared a nurse said the baby was not well and might die. I rushed out to find anyone who could tell me what was going on. That evening, they moved our son from the base hospital to the University of Nebraska Medical Center Neonatal ICU.
Later, I stood beside his isolette, watching him on the respirator, with multiple IVs and leads attached. They did not know what was wrong or what was going to happen. All I could think of was what my Grandma Josie always told me when things were looking bad, ‘It’s okay. God’s in charge.’
Somehow, I found the strength that night to turn it over to God. I knew I couldn’t handle it on my own. Thus began six months of highs and lows as he endured surgeries, tests, and experimental treatments as they dealt with his issues. Several times, we were told it wasn’t good.
My faith in God had never been tested more in my brief life, or since. Three days after he was born, a doctor took us aside to tell us there wasn’t any hope. He realized we were Christians and suggested we pray for help to deal with his death. I told him I wasn’t praying that. I wasn’t ready to give up on my son, or on God.
During this time, I found the inspirational fiction book, Not My Will by Francena Arnold. My wife and I read it and it helped me to stay strong and deal with everything.
At six months, our son came home. He still required special care, but they felt we could provide this at home. He was home two weeks when he passed away late one night. I did CPR until the para-medics arrived and they took over and we followed them to the emergency room. But he never revived.
As I held and comforted my wife, I felt the comfort of God holding me. He let me know it was okay. I’ll never understand why, but I knew it was time for our son to go. Later, his primary doctor shared how much they had learned while treating the rare issues he had and how this would help save others. He specifically mentioned a child near Chicago who would now probably live because of our son.
One day short of a year from his death, my wife gave birth to our second son. We named him Chad after the character in the book. Then, 23 months later, son number three came along. They have filled our lives with blessings.
But I never forgot that book by Francena Arnold and how much it helped me. I always wanted to do something similar for others.
I’ve taught Bible studies, preached in mission churches overseas and Stateside, worked with youth groups, helped build church buildings, and even drove the church bus. I’ve shared about my son whenever I could, but always felt there was something more.
A few years back, I took the plunge and, using my experience with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Intelligence Agencies, started writing novels. But while I was working on these, a character appeared who had suffered many traumatic events in their life, and while their inner strength allowed them to move forward, each time it got harder to see any chance at happiness.
When Jazmine came to me, she was 25. She had been born into the lap of luxury in New York City with a life full of promise most could only imagine. But when she was five-years-old, her mother was killed. Her life was never the same. From this point forward, the world would tease her with a glimpse at happiness, only to snatch it away.
Now, once again, she was on the cusp of the overflowing happiness she had always dreamed of having. As she stood in a dismal small house in rural Wyoming, life again tore her happiness away, shattering what she felt was her last chance. She had reached her limit. She was ready to give up.
I thought about what it would take for someone in Jazmine’s place to rekindle their hope of happiness. To take another chance and risk their badly damaged heart in the hope of finding joy. One thing Jazmine had never experienced was the knowledge of a loving God, and the faith, He will take care of you. Just as when I stood by my son’s isolette, I knew He was her only hope.
Thus began the story of Jazmine’s journey from when she feels her life is ending. She sees in others a powerful belief in a God she doubted even existed. But is it enough for her to risk her battered and scarred heart again? Is there really a chance for someone to have a new beginning? Will she learn and accept that with God, there is always hope?
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