beauty shop wisdom


a guide to writing

cynthia gregory

Have you ever been to the inner sanctum of a beauty salon? I mean, seriously in? The beauty salon is the modern equivalent of the Acropolis, a center of culture in ancient Greece. A symbol of the formerly glorious apex that still stands is the temple dedicated to Athena, warrior goddess, who is said to have been born fully formed from her daddy’s head. That would be Zeus, propagating some kind of mad magic, birthing an idea like that femme fatale.

Beauty is its own wisdom, and to enter the beauty salon is to enter as a clean vessel and to leave equipped with what a warrior goddess needs: beauty and a dose of attitude.  What goes on in there, you wonder? Here’s a clue: it isn’t about hair. A salon is where women share their magic. It is the adult version of the Saturday night sleepover, where we braided each others’ locks and dreamed of traveling to exotic places. It is a church where wisdom is currency, and where every woman is a goddess.

My friend Sedona is a hair styling genius. She’s also a princess, as in “I don’t do windows, and I don’t do floors” kind of girl. She is exceptional at the art of alchemical science, and she allows other people to be good at what they do, too, especially if those things hold no appeal for her. Sedona is a big believer in the service trade. “Just let them in,” she advises. “You contract with a helper, and then when you need them, they have permission to enter.” Just let them in, she says, and they fix what needs fixin’.

The idea of ‘permission to enter’ also lives behind the idea of setting up a special place in your home to write. It is also behind the discipline of setting aside a certain amount of time each day, ideally at the same hour, to do nothing but write. By doing this, you give your subconscious ‘permission to enter’ – and then you stand back and let the gods whisper in your ear, give you enough luscious lexicon to fill pages and pages.

You can go so far as to set aside an entire room, decorate it with art that you love, art that inspires you to write. Fill it with flowers and music and artifacts like an ancient Remington typewriter, and fountain pens, and framed manuscripts, first edition books. And then when you enter that room, that sacred space, that temple of contextual creation, you have given yourself permission to enter. It’s just a logical next step to open your journal, gaze out the window, allow your thoughts to unfocus for a minute, fire up your unconscious, give your creative self permission to enter.

Or not. Not everyone has a whole room that has no other purpose than to provide a gorgeous backdrop for journaling. An entire room isn’t necessary. Sit on the bed or an old wooden bench at on the back porch. Write with pencil, write with crayon, an old eyeliner stick. It doesn’t matter. What is significant is that you make an appointment with yourself, and you do your best to show up. Reliability doesn’t guarantee genius, but it doesn’t diminish it, either. It isn’t your job to judge your work to be genius or whatev. Your job is to show up and write. Really, it’s that simple. You just show up and write and let the gods take care of the rest.

This is the best advice I can offer: show up, pay attention, and give your highest creative self permission to enter. See what kinds of ideas your head can give birth to. Find out how many kinds of love your heart knows how to express. Write with your body, write from your soul. Make a date with your highest, deepest self, and see what kinds of genies spring fully formed from your godhead. Give genius permission to enter and then sit down and get ready to write. You may not get thunder bolts and crashing seas, but you might get shopping lists, thank you notes, rampages of appreciation. It’s a good start.

The creative gods are unpredictable, but one thing is for sure. If you show up, they will too. Give them permission to enter.

to be continued. . .

honor among thieves

copyright 2011/all rights reserved


a novel by



Bicky rustled through stacks of reports, shoving things around his desk in haphazard fashion.  He picked up the receiver and buzzed Phyllis.

“I still can’t find the yearly report.” he snapped.

“Did you look on your desk?” she asked.

Bicky snorted.  “Would you come here and lay hands on it please?”

He was still holding the receiver when Phyllis materialized.  He pushed his chair back, making room while the flurry of Phyllis’s hands restored order to his finite universe.

“It’s not here,” she said, straightening.

“I know that.  I’m thinking that eventually you’ll tell me what you did with it.”  Phyllis raised an eyebrow in response, the equivalent of a shove.

Bicky rolled back an imperceptible inch. “Well, it didn’t walk out of here by itself,” he mumbled.

Phyllis shot him another arrow which he dodged by walking to the window.

“Did you stick it in your briefcase?”

Bicky’s briefcase sat perched on the mocha leather couch, the two leathers barely distinguishable.  Bicky watched Phyllis peripherally, pretending to gaze out the window as she rifled through the bag.

“If I had put it in my briefcase, I wouldn’t need you to look for it now, would I?”  Bicky turned and met her gaze with the temerity of a spoiled child.

Phyllis addressed him as one:  “You can get your own report if you use that tone with me again.”

He turned back to the window.  From this angle, Phyllis’s slate blue eyes would do less harm, only able to bore holes into the back of his goddamn skull as opposed to his own eyes, risking his soul.  He watched her reflection in the window and she watched him watching her.  She snorted and he sighed, looking down at his feet, battle lost.  After all these years, Phyllis Steinman had no trouble handling Bicky Coleman.

“Get me my calendar at least,” he half-pleaded.

Phyllis turned and walked out the door returning moments later with the calendar.

“Who was here today?”  Phyllis scanned the calendar entries.

“Every meeting you had today was either in the conference room or away from the office. Except for the one with Graighton which was here and which you were present for, I presume.”  She scanned the pages again nodding her head once to confirm.

“Graighton didn’t take the report.  He’s got his own,” Bicky barked.  “Nobody else was in here?”

Phyllis scanned the pages again and stopped.  Her face contorted slightly and she slammed the book, regaining her composure.

“What?” Bicky asked.


Bicky opened the book and checked the entries.  It was all as Phyllis had said.  He sat mulling over the days events then narrowed his eyes at her.  “Sonia.”

Phyllis shrugged.

“How long was she waiting?”

“I don’t know.  I was away from my desk when she got here.”

“Well, find out.”

“What does it matter?  You know Sonia.  She probably thought she’d use it as ammunition to get her husband out of Iraq.”

“Her husband is out of Iraq.”

“He’s not home yet.”

“I need that report.”

“I’ll order another one.”

“They’re $32,000 a copy.”

“You just gave yourself a $4 million bonus.  What’d you do?  Spend it all?”

“Very funny, Phyllis.”

“What is it exactly, that you would like me to do?”

He turned back from the window to face her.  “I want you to get the first one back.  It’s dangerous for her to have it.  You know that.”

“Why?  Because only a select few are privy?  Besides, how do you know she has it?”

“Oh, for God sakes, woman, don’t act stupid.  It doesn’t suit you,” Bicky said.  “Sonia was the only one in here today.”

“That fact alone does not unequivocally prove that Sonia nicked your report,” Phyllis said  wryly.  “For all we know, somebody off the street could’ve marched in and grabbed it.”

“Well, unless Jerry’s lying dead in the lobby, how do you think that would be possible?”

“Maybe we have poltergeist,” Phyllis sniggered.

Bicky sighed.  “Just call her…please.”  He said the word please under his breath.

Phyllis shook her head.  “Forget it. I’m not getting involved.  This is between you and your daughter,” she bristled, “and if she’s got a bone to pick, it’s with you, not me.  She probably wants a little attention.  Maybe she’s trying to get you to make up for the last thirty years.”

“Spare me the armchair psychology.”

“It’s tough to swallow so much crow.”  Phyllis patted his hand.  “But you’re a tough guy.”  She said, closing the door behind her.  Bicky snorted as he watched her go.

to be continued. . .

mother love

copyright 2011/all rights reserved


a novel by



“I don’t care how you do it.  I just want it done.”  Bicky’s anger was distinct even through a closed door.  “And don’t come back to me until it’s finished.  Capice?”

Sonia heard a muffled assent and, without even thinking, shoved the report in her brown leather backpack, knocking a cup of water across the desk in the process.

“Damn.”  She grabbed a bunch of tissues and was mopping up when Bicky burst through the door.

Sonia smiled.

“Sorry.  I hope it doesn’t leave a mark.”

Bicky stared at his daughter as if he couldn’t place the face before bewilderment gave way to annoyance.

Sonia jumped to her feet.  “Oh, sorry, I . . . was tired.  Your seat is the most comfortable.”  She stood, draped her backpack over her shoulder, and exchanged places with her father.

“How long have you been here?” he barked, and with a gentle touch antithetical to his tone, moved his mother’s picture out of the water’s trajectory and onto the windowsill.

“I don’t know.  Half an hour,” Sonia said, clearing her throat.  “I see you got a new Dickinson.”  She nodded in the direction of Bicky’s rare book collection.  “Nice catch.”

“It came at quite a price, let me tell you.”  He smiled and Sonia regained her composure, relieved to be on neutral territory.  Bicky took his seat behind the desk, a reigning monarch, and pressed the intercom.

“Phyllis, some paper towels, please.”  Bicky released the intercom before Phyllis could answer, snapped open the humidor and pulled out a cigar.  Sonia cleared her throat.  He shut it with a muttered apology.

“So. What can I do for you, babe?” Bicky asked, adopting an air of lightheartedness.  Sonia responded by shoving clammy hands into the wide pockets of her maternity dress and wrapped them around the baby.

“It’s about David.  I just wanted to know – when is he coming back?”  She squared her shoulders as if getting out the words freed her to stand straighter, and thrust her belly forward, marking her question with an additional exclamation point.  Bicky stared at her and she held his eye, trying to remember if growing up had always been this emotionally draining.  She remembered so little of her father’s presence from childhood that it couldn’t have been the case.

“I already dispatched a guy.  Your husband’ll be on the next plane home.”

“Really?  Oh, Dad, thanks!”  She ran around the desk and threw her arms around Bicky’s neck, a move instigated by relief and unbridled hormones.  Bicky shifted uncomfortably in his seat and looked to Sonia like he might run.

“Sorry,” Sonia said, stepping back.

“That’s all right,”  Bicky said.  He rubbed his neck gingerly, feeling for the welt.

Sonia hadn’t touched her father in so long, hadn’t wanted or needed to, and so had forgotten his adversity toward the simple act of it.  She rarely saw her parents touch, much less kiss.  It didn’t bother her, but under the circumstances, she never understood how she’d been conceived.  She slumped in the closest armchair with relief.  “So what changed your mind?”

Bicky waved his hand.   “Your mother . . . she didn’t want you to be upset.”

So there it was.  Kitty had trumped him.  Sonia tried to summon some love for the stranger that sat across the desk sorting wet mail.  Feeling none flow, she stood to leave.

“Thanks,” she said, grateful no matter what the circumstances that forced her father’s hand.  Bicky dismissed the gesture with another wave and smiled, a cross between an impatient grin and a grimace.  The phone buzzed and relief washed Bicky’s face clean.

“Where are the paper towels?” he barked into the intercom.

“Try the bottom drawer of your desk,” Phyllis responded, her tone syrupy sweet.

Sonia bit her lower lip.  Phyllis had put up with Bicky since he came to Akanabi over thirty years ago and showed no signs of relenting.  For reasons Sonia couldn’t decipher, Bicky attracted and held people in his life, quality people, like flies to the spider’s web.

The phone buzzed and Bicky checked the caller ID.  “I gotta take this,” he said.  He tried another unsuccessful smile as Sonia turned to go.

“Your mother wants you to come to dinner tonight,” Bicky said, reaching for the receiver.  Sonia waited for any additional proclamations, but Bicky grunted and jerked his head toward the door.  Sonia took this as her unmistakable cue to leave.

Sonia leaned against the smooth, polished walnut, fingering the clasp on her backpack and listening to Bicky’s imperial tone through the lavish doors.  She reached in and touched the edges of the envelope.  She could drop it on Phyllis’s desk, no questions asked, and walk out.  Or…

“Hey there, girly.  Where’ve you been?”

Sonia stumbled and Phyllis was at her side in an instant, directing her to a chair.

“I remember these days,” Phyllis said.  “All top heavy and off-balance.  Like one of those Weeble-Wobble toys.  You remember them?”

“Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”  Sonia sang.

“Isn’t it amazing how you can forget your kid’s birthday, but remember ads from twenty-five years ago,” Phyllis said.  Phyllis was a lithe figure, still beautiful well into her sixtieth year, all grace and high cheekbones.  She pushed an ottoman in front of Sonia’s chair.

“Feet up,” Phyllis said with the authority of a drill sergeant.  She smiled and squeezed  Sonia’s shoulder.  Bicky’s personal line rang and Phyllis put him on speaker phone.

“Where the hell’s my report?”

“Try looking on your desk.”

Bicky ended the conversation with a dial tone.  Phyllis rolled her eyes at Sonia.

“Your father,” Phyllis started, “is not big on patience.”

“Or much anything else unless there are dollar signs attached.  Really, Phyllis.  How do you stand it?  You couldn’t pay me enough.”

“Oh, he’s not so bad.  He was so green when I first got him.  All eager to prove himself to your grandfather.  Who knew he’d grow to be the pompous ass he is today.  I think a part of him died with your grandmother and it’s been rotting inside him ever since.  And between you and me, I feel a little sorry for him.  He’s just a kid who really misses his mother.”

Sonia considered this a possible reason for Bicky’s strong gravitational pull:  memory and pity.  Memory of what the man was; pity for who he’d become.  And a desire to help him crawl out of the quagmire.  Sonia had made the same mistake many times, thinking that her father would then include her as a relevant part of his life only to find that Bicky considered himself a single planetary solar system, a man who shared the cosmos with no one.

From the wet bar, Phyllis grabbed a bottle of chilled Evian and handed it to Sonia.

“When my son was born, my husband was in Vietnam.  I thought I would lose my mind.  I got through it, though.  You always do.”   She smiled and stroked Sonia’s hair.  “We’re tougher than they are.  That’s why we bear the babies.”  Phyllis strode across the room, grabbed something off her desk and handed it to Sonia.

“I printed out a copy of his itinerary.  He’ll be in about the middle of the night so don’t wait up,”  Phyllis admonished.  She smiled, revealing a lovely set of pearly white teeth.

“Thanks, Phyllis,” Sonia said, standing.  She gave the older woman a hug.  “I’ll call you as soon as something happens,” she said, a hand on either side of her belly.  “They have these websites now, where you can log on and see the newborns just a couple days after they’re born.  You won’t even have to go to the hospital.”

“Bye love,” Phyllis said, throwing a kiss to the air.  Sonia watched Phyllis bound toward her desk before turning to the elevator.


The elevator opened in the lobby and Jerry stood waiting as if summoned.

“How do you always know?” Sonia teased.  Jerry tapped his chest and smiled.

“My heart beats a little more quickly when you’re around,” he said.  “You let us know the minute our baby pokes its head into this world.”  He smiled, dazzling her.

Sonia kissed him on the cheek and turned to leave.  “I will, Uncle Jerry.”

He opened the door and watched as she walked away, their usual ritual.  At the moment before Sonia rounded the corner, she turned and blew him a kiss as she’d done a million times before.  His turned his cheek to catch it, reeling backwards, holding one hand on his heart and the other over the newly planted kiss so as not to let it slip away.  She smiled and disappeared around the corner; the smile did not leave Jerry’s face.


Dave Hartos knelt inside the base of an oil rig, fiddling with a stalled pump.  He whacked his wrench against the pipe and the wrench clanged to the ground.  Even in the bowels of the derrick, the sand writhed and swirled, infesting the machinery.  With a heavy sigh, he lifted himself out of the hole and climbed the metal rungs of the ladder back up to ground level.

An open-air jeep approached, a dust bowl swirling behind.  Andrew Mahajan, second-in-command to Hart and his best friend, got out grinning.

“Good news.  You’ve been sprung.”  Mahajan handed Hart a telegram.  “Go home and help your wife pop that baby out.”  Mahajan clapped Hart on the back with one hand and handed him a box of Cuban cigars with the other.  “For when the baby comes.”

“Hey, I don’t need to get arrested on the way home.”

“Customs won’t bother if you have less than a box,” said Mahajan.  He opened the lid and removed two cigars, clipping the ends.  “Now there’s less than a box.”  Mahajan produced a lighter from his pocket, but desert winds foiled attempts to light it.  He shrugged and pulled a bottle of Jamieson and two whiskey glasses from the jeep.

“Let’s celebrate.”  He wiped his brow with a bandana and motioned toward the trailer.

“Isn’t it bad luck to toast before the baby’s born?”  Hart asked.

Mahajan shook his head.  “Only thing bad is not taking advantage of an opportunity when it bites you in the ass.  C’mon.  A driver’s coming for you soon.”

Hart grabbed the glasses out of Mahajan’s hand.  “You gonna be all right here?”

“Right as rain, buddy.  Right as rain.”  Mahajan wrapped an arm around Hart’s shoulders and pushed him to the trailer.

to be continued. . .

Romance, Babe Ruth, & Lolita


Barb Barrett is having a bad year. After years of dancing around the soft porn edges of marital abuse and in a dazzling moment of clarity, she leaves ‘the experson’ as she calls him, more out of fatigue than actual courage, and strikes out on her own. This bold maneuver has its immediate downsides. First, she doesn’t really think her exodus through and gets arrested for “camping” with her children far beyond the bounds of camping season. Second, the experson is able to convince the court in their small town that Barb is an unfit mother, and gains custody of their two young children.

Leslie Daniels’ debut novel, Cleaning Nabokov’s House, is a wonderfully frank novel about the small joys, hidden sadness, and completely ridiculous insights of a mid-life divorcee. What a perfect finale to the summer reading list.

As she begins her new life, about the only thing Barb has going for her is her meager part time job answering correspondence for a local dairy. That, and the sheer dumb luck she stumbles over like a naughty curb when she buys what turns out to have been the house that, according to legend, where Nabokov lived when he wrote Lolita.

While cleaning her house one day to avoid the devouring ache of missing her daughter, Barb discovers what appears to be a pack of index cards containing the notes of a novel. She knows of the famous writer who occupied her house. It seems possible that the writing belonged to him, was somehow lost in the back of a bureau, and left behind. The narrative of the notes focuses on baseball and love, a Babe Ruth tale of romance. With a job that she doesn’t love nor hate, a manuscript of possible literary importance, an agent, and a plan to win her children back, Barb’s life begins to take on more meaning than it has for a long empty stretch of years.

Nothing happens magically in Daniel’s novel. In fact, the pacing and transitions of Barb’s transformation are slow and tangible. Barb turns out to be you or me, and we love her for her goof-ups as much as her strengths. With an unexpected gift of cream from the dairy, as a practical matter, she makes butter. She allows five year old Darcy to steal her pocketbooks and then borrows them back for important meetings. She encourages son Sam to express his culinary talents despite the fact the boy’s father thinks he’s going to grow up to be a fatty. We love that Barb has one pair of dress slacks that she calls ‘the pants’ and which she dons to impress both literary attorneys and university faculty of the importance of the found manuscript.  We love that she finds meaning in writing letters about ice cream. We especially love that she recruits athletes from the local college to staff an exclusive ‘spa’ catering to the very special needs of Lake Onkwego’s matrons and which incidentally, generates the cash flow necessary to bankroll the recovery of her life. What we love most of all is that when Barb wins back her children from the ex, she does so with a generous helping grace, and without a drop of malice.

We like to see our heroines win, but not too easily. And in this, Cleaning Nabokov’s House delivers. It is a classic tale of redemption and is every bit as satisfying as bowl of homemade ice cream on a late summer’s day.



pretty deceptions

copyright 2011/all rights reserved


a novel by



A week later, Sonia strolled into the lavish offices of Akanabi Oil.

“Hey, Jerry.  How’s it going?”  She extended a gloved hand to Jerry who sat behind the security desk.

“Great now.”  Jerry Dixon, Akanabi’s head of security had been hired by Sonia’s father, Bicky Coleman, over thirty years ago, primarily because of Jerry’s former incarnation as a Navy Seal.  Jerry’s rugged good lucks and natty dress didn’t hurt either.  He made an excellent first impression on anyone looking to retain Akanabi’s services.  Now that handsome and hard face bent to kiss Sonia’s hand.  “I miss you coming around.”

“Jerry, I haven’t been coming around for years.”

“That’s how long I’ve missed you.”

Sonia blushed.  In the early years, before Sonia’s relationship with her father completely rutted out, Bicky would bring her into the office on Saturday mornings.  But instead of spending some quality time with his daughter, Bicky would leave Sonia with Jerry to monitor hallways and closed circuit cameras, push phone buttons.  They got on well –  better than Sonia did with Bicky – as if their connection preceded the arrangement, while Bicky felt his paternal duty fulfilled, simply because his daughter was in the same building.  Sonia’s mother, Kitty, had wanted Jerry to be Sonia’s godfather, and Bicky found that in addition to being a sharpshooter, Jerry was an excellent babysitter.

Jerry released Sonia’s hand, reached behind the counter and held his hand behind his back.  Sonia smiled broadly, knowing full well what was coming next.  She closed her eyes and  opened her palm into which Jerry deposited a red lollipop.  Sonia planted a kiss on his cheek.

“You never forget, do you?” she asked.

“Can’t say as I do, my dear.”  He wrapped an avuncular arm around her shoulder and steered her to the elevator.  He looked at her belly and raised his eyebrows.  “That husband of yours better get back PDQ.”

“Talk to my father,” she said, a catch in her voice.

“Aawww, geez, I’m sorry.  We’ll get him back in time, don’t you worry.  Even if I have to fly him back myself.”

“I wish Bicky were more like you,” Sonia said.  “You missed your calling, Jerry.  You really should have had kids.”

Jerry smiled, but it was a sad one, and Sonia thought she’d said something wrong.

He turned a key, calling a special elevator, and waited until it arrived.  He held the door for Sonia as she got in, turned the key in the lock once more.

“I’ll call Phyllis and tell her you’re on your way up,” he said, all traces of melancholy gone.  “Can’t wait to see that little guy,” he added with a huge smile.  Sonia blew him a kiss as the elevator doors glided to a close.


Sonia got off the elevator at the 45th floor, the doors opening with an imperceptible swish into the reception area of Akanabi Oil’s penthouse suite.  As CEO, Bicky Coleman claimed the entire floor for himself.  And what a floor it was, affording spectacular views over all of downtown Houston.  Although Sonia despised her father’s pretensions, she had to admit he had a great eye for stunning details.  Bicky not only participated in the architectural reconstruction of the building, but hand-picked the decor, right down to the ancient Chinese vases displayed prominently in niches and tastefully interspersed among the ceiling to floor French tapestries.  Walking these halls gave Sonia the distinct impression that she was inside a well-endowed museum.

Phyllis was away from her desk so Sonia walked down the hall and let herself into Bicky’s prodigious office.  Beyond the floor to ceiling windows, the city glittered and glistened, all glass and mirrors, in a blaze of afternoon sun.  Houston’s story as an American city began in the early party of the 19th century after the founding fathers wrested control from Mexico.  Although the city predated the discovery of oil, the town flourished during the boom and bust days of early oil when fortunes were made and lost on the turn of a drill bit.  The first inhabitants of old Houston, the ones who built the city, combined the rugged individualism of the west with the genteel manners of the South.  Walking its streets, you could almost feel the pride and bravado mixed with courtesy and goodwill that brought the city to life.  But Sonia thought the newer part of Houston, where Akanabi’s offices were located, lacked the charm and distinction of old Houston with its ethnic diversity, grand architecture and historic flare.

Sonia busied herself with Bicky’s vintage book collection, rare and exquisite gems, many of which had historical significance beyond anything that Bicky Coleman would ever do with his life.  Maybe it was Bicky’s subconscious desire to tame his own demons, but for whatever reason, his taste leaned toward the psychological and philosophical, original printings of Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche.  He didn’t pass up an opportunity when it was offered.  It was the acquisition that drove him, the thrill of the chase.  Once his, he placed the item neatly on the shelf, or under glass, where he could watch without interacting.

Bicky had placed Sonia on a shelf soon after she was born and she’d spent the better part of childhood trying to get down.  By thirteen, she’d given up, and now, at thirty, she was fully resigned:  the man whose offices she perused with more than a hint of disdain was more fake than father.  Their vibrations were at opposite ends of the light spectrum and Sonia felt she had nothing in common with the man other than the X chromosome he’d provided for her DNA to replicate itself.

Sonia sat down behind Bicky’s desk and leaned into the plush leather.  Nine months of pregnancy had taken a toll on her arches.  She stretched her back, cat-like, and yawned as the massive grandfather clock in the corner chimed five o’clock.  Exhaustion snuck up behind her and held a gun to her head so she laid her head on her arms and would have fallen asleep, but for a piece of mail sticking into the soft, fleshy part of her arm.  She dug it out for inspection.

It was a thick brown envelope marked “Urgent and Confidential.  To Be Opened By Addressee Only.”  The seal had already been broken and Sonia helped herself to a peek.  Inside was a report with curled corners, folded pages, and a big coffee stain on the cover, all indicating heavy use.  The title looked simple, and boring, enough: “World Oil Report”.

Sonia skimmed the pages, looking for something of interest before settling on a page with a folded corner.


The world’s oil reserves peaked in the mid-1970’s.  All previously undiscovered oil reserves have been marked and estimated.  At the current rate of usage and barring the discovery of oil reserves on other planets, the earth’s oil reserves will be depleted by the year 2025. 

Sonia put the report down and stared at the cover.  Could this be true?  Her grandfather’s empire, her father’s world, would it soon collapse?  Would they be wiped out?  Her hands shook, her breath grew shallow and she could hear her heart pumping in her ears.

to be continued. . .