Paula was enjoying the ride, it was a bright sunny day and the sky looked crystal clear. She could see the birds soaring up into the sky and she felt as excited as them, she was going to meet her parents. Last time she visited them was six months ago, she had such a busy schedule that it was difficult for her to take some time out, finally the project was over and she had a few days on hand and thought of spending them with her parents.
She decided to drive as it was only three hours away and she always enjoyed the beautiful scenic countryside.
Paula had called her mother when she started and told her she would be home for lunch.
She loved to drive on this stretch as there was less traffic and she could drive at her own pace.
The journey continued smoothly for some time with her favourite singer belting out her most preferred songs. The car gave a sudden jerk and it came to a halt. She got down from the car to check and saw that her battery had died down.
"Oh no!" she muttered, she was wondering what to do as the nearest town was two hours away. She decided to wait and hitch a ride.
It seemed a remote possibility as this road was less frequented by drivers being rough and bumpy . She waited for more than an hour with no sign of any vehicle. Looking out of the window, she was shocked to see dark clouds hovering around and they looked ominous. She wished she could get away from here before a storm gathered up.
She tried once again but her car wouldn't budge, only making weird sounds. A sudden streak of lightning flashed across the sky and she knew trouble was ahead.
She tried to call her parents but there was no signal.
She waited patiently in the car for another hour, not a single vehicle passed by. It started drizzling and she knew she had to get away as it was a low lying area and in no time it would get flooded if it rained.
She looked around to see if there were any houses nearby where she could take refuge. At a distance she could see a small cottage which looked old and rustic. She thought of going there and asking for help.
The rain was coming down fast, she picked up her backpack and started jogging towards the cottage.
The cabin looked abandoned with no sign of life inside. The door and windows were rusted and worn out. There was no point turning back as it had started pouring heavily. She thought of waiting inside until the rain subsided.
The door wasn't locked and she entered, inside everything was covered in dust and muck, all she could see was a table, a stool and a fire place. There was a tattered mattress on the floor which folded neatly at the side.
The wind started blowing with all its might and she knew a storm was brewing.
The cabin felt cold and had a musky smell. She pulled out a pair of spare clothes from her backpack and got out of the wet clothes, feeling nice and warm in her dry clothes. She looked for a matchbox and found one on the kitchen counter and lit the the logs, a sudden warmth spread across the room. In the dim light of the firewood she saw that it was a small and cosy cabin in the middle of nowhere and wondered to whom it belonged, maybe some hunter's she thought.
She tried to use her phone again but there was no response.
She waited in the dark musty room praying that the storm would subside and she could atleast walk to the next town which was 2 hours away on foot.
She sat on the stool ignoring the dust and was yearning for a cup of coffee. She started rummaging through the drawers of the kitchen counter and found a plate and a mug and a saucepan in one of the other drawers. She found a coffee container, fortunately it had some coffee in it. The stove was not working, so she heated some water from the tap, in a saucepan on the fire wood and prepared some coffee and after drinking it she felt so much better.
She had a jacket in her backpack and she put it on, she didn't know how long she would have to stay there, she knew her parents would be anxious and worried about her.
She heard a tap at the door, at first she thought it may be the wind playing truant but the tap was persistent. She glanced from the window and saw an old man standing at the door, thinking it must be someone who was looking for refuge, she opened the door and saw an old man in his seventies standing before her, his clothes were wet and his hat was dripping from the rain.
"Hello Miss", my name is Jim and this cottage belongs to me. May I know who you are?"
"I'm sorry Sir, I was just passing by and my car broke down, so I took refuge here. As soon as the storm subsides I will leave". She assured him.
"I'm Paula by the way."
"You can stay here till the storm passes, no worries".
"Do you live here Sir?"
"No, I live in another town but come here often to spend a day or two, as it's very serene here".
Paula wanted to tell him that the cottage showed no sign of habitation but she thought it's none of her business.
"I don't think the storm is going to subside soon, it usually takes a day or two before it loses its steam" he said.
Paula hoped the old man was wrong, she couldn't imagine living in this shack for two days without food and old Mr. Jim for company.
Jim pulled the tattered mattress near the fire place and sat on it leaving the stool for Paula.
They sat in silence for some time and with each passing moment Paula could feel the severity of the storm. There was thunder and lightning followed by a heavy downpour.
Paula tried to use her phone but still there was no connection.
"You won't get any connectivity here", said Jim. "This place is far away from any transmitter and I prefer it that way."
Paula's phone was her lifeline, she could never survive without it. She was sure her mother must be frantic with worry now and so would be Jerry, her husband, her mother must have called him by now.
Because of her work schedules there was a certain friction in their relationship as she couldn't give him enough time , she was the Project manager in her company that meant keeping late hours with frequent tours outside the city. She accepted that she was a workaholic and she didn't want it any other way.
"Miss, I think you may have to spend the night here."
Paula remained silent the old man was speaking the truth, she thought.
It was dark outside, she glanced at her watch, it was 5pm, she was amazed that she had spent 5 hours in this cabin without her phone or internet. She was hungry and tired, her last meal was the breakfast she had at 8 am which was a piece of toast and coffee.
"I have made some coffee, would you like some?" she asked Jim but he declined.
She started chatting with him to kill time. He told her he lived alone as his wife had passed away a few years ago, he had no children. He and his wife would come here often on the weekends. He missed her a lot.
She told him about her parents and her relationship with her husband which was not so great.
"One word of advice Miss, if you have a good partner in life then nothing is above him. You should give it your best shot to preserve your relationship." said old man Jim prudently.
Jerry was a good man she had to admit and he was right in demanding family time from his wife. He was always there for her lending his shoulder whenever the need arose and in return he wanted some attention from his spouse but because of her hectic schedule she was unable to meet his demands and this was the cause for the friction between them.
It was already 10 pm, the storm was still raging but the intensity had decreased. Anyways, it was too late to venture out and dangerous too, she resigned to the fact that she would have to spend the night there in the cabin.
Jim offered her the tattered mattress but she refused saying she was fine on the stool.
This is the first time she was without her phone or internet and it was not the end of the world. Infact her mind was calm and that helped her to think rationally .
She started liking it as she wouldn't be heckled about any of the problems at work in the office.
Paula wished she was home in her cosy bed. She missed Jerry ,his strong arms and his warm body . She realised now that she always took him for granted, never cared for his feelings, always busy with her projects and it dawned upon her that she was practically throwing away a good, solid relationship which was so difficult to find these days.
She laid her head on the table tired, with the days events. She was lucky she had shelter in this storm and realized that anything could have happened to her.
First time in her life she was without her phone and internet and she had survived without either of them. She decided she and Jerry should go away on weekends to such remote places and spend quality time together which would definitely improve their faltering relationship.
She had given her job priority, ignoring her parents and husband and she wanted to rectify this mistake before it was too late.
She woke up in the morning to birds chirping, she ran to the window, a clear bright sky greeted her with beautiful birds flying around.
She looked around the room, there was no sign of Jim, he had already left, maybe he didn't want to disturb her. She wished he had woken her up, she wanted to thank him for allowing her to spend the night in his cabin which turned out to be a haven for her.
She picked up her bag decided to walk to the nearest town from where she could get help. As she walked out of the cottage she heard someone screaming her name.
"Paula! Paula!" She saw a figure at a distance looking around and calling out to her. It was Jerry.
"Jerry I'm here" she called out.
He came running towards her and enveloped her in his arms, there were tears in his eyes.
"Your mother called at night saying you hadn't reached home. I wanted to come out at night but the the storm made it impossible. Paula, I was sick, worrying about you. I came out in search of you as soon as the storm abated. I saw your car parked on the side of the road and came looking for you. I was so scared Paula".
"I'm fine dear". She assured him and told him about the events and showed him the cabin where she had spent the night and also told him about old Jim.
"Paula, I realised I have been making unreasonable demands on you. I promise, I won't, in future".
"Jerry, these few hours that I spent in the cabin made me realise how precious relationships are and we should never take anyone for granted. I will makeup for all the lost time, from now on my work will take a backseat and you will be the only priority in my life."
They both had tears in their eyes, they held hands and walked towards their new future.