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Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

Almost Heaven

Yesterday, I started reading a book called Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry.  I got it for free on my Kindle a couple of weeks ago and while I was looking for a title to start my Thankfully Reading participation, something kind of “called out” to me.  I can’t describe it any other way.  It just felt that for some reason I should begin with that particular title.

I didn’t have great expectations for it but thought it might be a good read to get me started.  As I started reading it, I was hooked by the Prologue and couldn’t put the book down.  I finished reading it this morning and have been thinking about it and unable to begin another book while I process this one.

Why was I compelled to read this particular title?  What grabbed my attention so that I continued reading it, almost non-stop, until I finished it?

I don’t know.  I’m glad I read it.  I found it comforting even while it disturbed me.  I feel like a the tiniest of seeds has been planted inside of me as a result of reading Almost Heaven.

The book has two main characters in it.  First and most obvious is Billy Allman who we meet when he is just 5 or 6 and follow throughout his life until he’s in his 40’s.  Billy’s life is filled with tragedy.  It seems that just as one negative chapter of his life ends, another and worse one begins.  It actually made me think of the storms I have weathered and continue to do so.  That part kind of really hit home.  The second character is Malachi, an angel.  Billy’s Guardian Angel.  I know it sounds corny.  It wasn’t.  The presence of Malachi and the insight he brought into Billy’s character  and why things were happening to him as they were, both added significantly to the story.

I won’t try to summarize the book here.  Let me just say that this was the most important book I have read in recent months.  Why?  I’m not sure.  I just feel that the next days and weeks and months will continue to divulge the reason I was led to this book.

It’s a Christian title but it has a lot to offer to every day people, regardless of your faith or lack thereof.  Take a peek at it and see if it calls to you as it called to me.

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I’m back from my trip. What a trip. I will write lots about it but time is getting away from me these days. I haven’t even unloaded the car and I’ve been back a week. I’m in the middle of doing a lot of stuff including going through over 1,000 photos! I’ve begun to post albums in Facebook. If you know me there, take a look. There are probably another three albums to come, maybe four. I’ve promised myself I will finish that part by Saturday evening.

I am also getting ready for NaNoWriMo which begins at midnight on the first of November. I plan on attending a midnight write-in that night. I finally think I know what my novel will be about. No real plot yet. I have a nameless Main Character and some other less-than-main-characters to help her out. Not a lot more than that but that’s okay. I don’t usually begin with much more of an idea of where I’m going and I tend to finish with at least a day to spare. It will happen.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, as most of my readers know. I am posting a fictional story that I originally wrote in 2001. Some of you may have read it. The idea is not that you “enjoy” the story but that you think about it and others like it out there. I’m thinking this story may actually play a big part in my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel. You will find it below.

 

The Small Girl

The small girl sat by herself, clutching the thin gray blanket around her shaking shoulders. No one noticed the silent tears on her ashen face. No one noticed the low, melodic humming coming from the child or the vacant look in her round green eyes.

Everyone huddled around the mother. Everyone huddled around the man. Everyone huddled around the police and the paramedics. Everyone paid attention to everyone, except the small girl.

No one saw the child slowly get up and walk away. No one noticed her stooped shoulders at all. No one even looked for her.

The small girl walked down the street alone, she walked with emptiness in her eyes, not seeing where she was going. She walked into the quiet, lonely street.

She had been asleep in her bed when she’d wakened to the sound of screaming and crying. She turned over and tried to go back to sleep, knowing that it would be hours before the noise stopped, placing her flat pillow over her head to drown out the noise.

The screaming didn’t stop. The crying continued. When it got louder, she finally got up and walked to the door of her room and turned the knob slowly. The screaming and the swearing grew louder as she opened the door just a crack.

She saw through the narrow slit in the door that her mother and the man were in the kitchen. There were empty beer bottles on the table – the beer they’d had at dinner time. Next to the bottles were full glasses with the dark watery liquid that she could still smell in her own hair, after he’d thrown it in her face when she’d asked him not to yell at her mommy.

She knew that if she went out there they would both yell at her to go back to bed and if they were very angry, they would hit her before she could run away. She wanted to know what was going on. Why was her mommy crying this time?

“You know I didn’t mean anything. You know I only love you. Come on, you know there’s only you!” It was her mommy’s voice. She wasn’t crying anymore. She was pleading. She wanted him to believe her.

“Don’t gimme that shit! I seen you looking at him. You always look at him like that when you think I’m not seeing you. I seen you. You were eyein’ him up and down. You know it.”

“Ah, come on, Baby. You know I was only trying to make you jealous. You’re the only one for me. You know that.”

“Get away from me bitch! You know you dun it with him. You don’t know what love is. You just get that itch between yer legs and you jump on anything that’ll scratch it.”

She heard her mommy laugh. She was moving toward the man with her arms out to hug him. Then she heard the chair hit the floor hard. She couldn’t see her mommy anymore.

The small girl closed the door and ran back to her bed. She put the pillow over her head again. She knew he was going to hit her. Or they might end up hugging and kissing and then they’d go to her mommy’s room and she wouldn’t be able to sleep. There would be too much noise, but at least the screaming and yelling would stop. She hoped they wouldn’t be too noisy this time. Maybe they’d fall asleep before morning so she could sleep too.

But it hadn’t stopped. Her mother had screamed. He had yelled at her to shut up. The house had shaken.

The small girl got up again. Something was different this time. She could feel it. She quickly and quietly walked to the door and opened it wider. She could see her mommy on the floor. He had hit her. She wasn’t moving. He was standing over her with a broken chair. He had hit her with the chair.

She watched as he kicked her mommy. “Git up! I’m hungry. Git me somethin to eat. Git up. You know yer just faking it. Come on. Git up!”

Her mommy still didn’t get up. She moved a little bit. She moaned. But she didn’t get up. The man walked over to her and kicked her. Her mommy groaned and moved a little. The small girl was so scared that she could not breathe. Would he keep on kicking her? Why didn’t her mommy get up?

She watched as he kicked her again and again. She couldn’t stand there and watch. Her mommy wasn’t moving anymore. She just made little sounds and her body moved from side to side as he kicked her.

The small girl ran out screaming, “Stop it! Leave my mommy alone! Stop! Don’t!”

The man turned on her and pulled his foot back, preparing to kick her too. She was faster than he was and so she moved just in time and his boot had missed her. He cursed at her. She was afraid that he would come after her. She ran back to her room, closing and locking the door. She heard him laugh behind her. She heard him slam another bottle of beer on the table top. She heard her mother moan and begin to move again.

The small girl opened the door and saw him kick her mommy again, just as her mommy was going to start getting up. She ran out and tried to help her mommy get up but he ran between them and pushed her away. The small girl hit her head as she fell against the wall. She didn’t cry. She got up and went to help her mother who was still trying to get up.

He pushed her away again and slapped her mommy. “You love her so much? Why? Because you don’t know her. That’s why you love her. But you don’t know her. She’s a tramp. Is that what you wanna be too? Are you gonna be a tramp too? Come on! Help her again and I’ll kick you too! Come on!” He kicked her mother again, only this time she had moved and he kicked her in the head.

When she heard his boot hit her head, the small girl ran to her mommy’s room and opened the drawer next to the bed, where the phone and the alarm clock were. She pushed everything aside grabbing until she found the gun her grandpa had given her mommy the last time the man had beaten her. She grabbed it, almost dropping it and ran back to the kitchen pointing the gun at the man.

“Stop! Stop! Leave my mommy alone!”

“Oh you’re gonna shoot me now?” He laughed at her and kicked her mommy again. Her mommy wasn’t moving anymore, just making low gurgling noises.

The small girl moved toward her mommy. She reached for her, trying to pick her up, to get her out of the way and out of the room … to safety. She tried to reach her but she couldn’t without getting close enough to him so he could hit her again. He laughed as he moved toward her, cursing and coming closer to her every second.

The girl reached for her mommy and then she heard the loud noise and she felt herself shake, then fall against the wall. She didn’t hear him anymore. She didn’t hear her mommy either. She couldn’t hear anything but the loud, sharp sound of the gun, then the sound of his body slamming against the wall. She heard him sliding down the wall, finally resting on the floor. She saw his mouth open and she imagined that he had groaned, but she could only hear the loud noise ringing in her head.

Soon she was outside in the cold. Someone gave her a thin gray blanket. She watched as the ambulance came and then the police. She watched as they pulled his body out, his face covered up with a sheet. She watched as the men worked over her mother, putting a clear plastic mask over her face and a foam collar around her neck. They strapped her to a board and as they put her on the ambulance, the small girl turned her empty stare away from her mommy, pulled the blanket around herself and walked down the dark, lonely street where no one saw her. No one noticed her. She walked in the dark. She stared into the night, not seeing it. She walked into the street not seeing it.

No one saw the red sports car hit her, not even the small girl whose empty eyes saw nothing and whose cold, lonely body felt nothing.

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Ana Maria

[A little story written many years ago and not previously shared here.  The little girl in the story is not me.  In fact, the story is made up from bits and pieces heard through the years from my own mother who lost her father whom she idolized.  I’m trying to work on the formatting but WordPress is not cooperating.]

Ana María lay in her bed crying silently.  She was six years old and felt all alone.  Nobody understood her.  Only HE understood her and HE was gone again.
Ana María loved her father more than anyone.  She loved her mother too.  She and her mother lived with her grandmother and Ana María loved her grandmother more than she loved her mother.  Her mother was always gone.  Always working.  Her grandmother took good care of her.  But her father…the love she felt for him was greater than what she felt for anyone else.
Her father lived in another town — far away.  She only saw him once in awhile.  She couldn’t remember the days when they’d all lived in the same house.  Ana María’s mother told her that he had moved out and they had been divorced when  Ana María was only three years old — but she didn’t remember.
Her father loved her too.  She knew it.  Not just because he said so and not just because he brought her presents.  Ana María knew it because she felt it every time he came to see her.  She knew by the way he held her close and by the way his eyes looked at her.  She knew from the things he told her and by how he told her.  Ana María had not doubt…her father loved her very much.
Ana María felt very special when her father was there.  He made her feel like she was the most important person in the world.  He never wanted to go away but her mother always made him go.
Her mother was so mean to him.  She hated him..  She said bad things about him when he was gone.  She wanted Ana María to hate him but there was no way she would eve get her to hate her father.  NO WAY!!!  Ana María’s mother fought with her father when he came to visit Ana María.  Why did she do that?  He hadn’t come to see her mother so why did she always make him go away?  Ana María hated her mother for fighting with her father and sending him away.  She hated her mother when she wouldn’t let her go places with her father.
Yesterday had been so special.  Her father had come early.  Just like he’d promised last night when he left.  Her father always kept his promises.  They had gone to a big, expensive restaurant to have breakfast.  Her father let her order eggs, bacon, pancakes, AND chocolate milk.
When breakfast was over, he’d taken her in his pretty new red car.  They had gone downtown to a clothes store and he had bought her a new red dress with a sailor collar that had gold stars on it.  Her father said that now she looked like the sailors at the Navy base in town.  Then they’d gone to the shoe department to get her some new shoes–shiny black ones with a bow and a strap wit a buckle.  She bought new white socks with lots of ruffles, too.
Then, he let her pick out a swimsuit and said they were going to the beach.  Ana María had never had a swimsuit before.  She always wore short pants when they went to play at the water.  On the way to the oceanfront, her father had stopped at a toy store and bought her a pail for playing in the sand.  He let her buy some other toys to bring to the beach with her.
They had played at the water for a long time.  Ana María was so happy to be there with her father.  She kept calling her father “Daddy” so the other kids would see that she had a daddy too–just like them.  Maybe now they would stop being so mean to her.  When they’d finally tired of the beach, he had taken her to lunch.  After lunch, her Daddy said they were going to a movie.  They went home so she could change clothes before the movie.
When they got there, Ana María’s mother was so angry at her father.  They got into a big fight and she told him that they’d all be better off if he went away and never came back.  Ana María had cried and begged her mother to let her father stay for just the afternoon.  Her mother yelled at her and sent her inside the house.
Through the window, Ana María’s father told her not to cry.  He’d be back tomorrow and maybe her mother wouldn’t be so angry.  Maybe tomorrow she would let them go to the movies.  He reminded her that he loved her.  He blew her a kiss, smiled, and walked to his car.  Ana María watched him and cried as he got in his car and drove away.
Ana María had been so upset that she had not been able to have dinner.  She’d gone to bed early.   She couldn’t sleep.  All she could do was cry.   She cried for her father.  She cried because her mother did not love her father and she cried because they hadn’t gone to the movies.
When Ana María’s mother came to see if she was asleep, she apologized to Ana María for fighting with her father and not letting her go to the movies with him.   She promised that when he came tomorrow, she would be nice to him and maybe all three of them could go to the movies.  Ana María smiled at her mother.  She hugged and kissed her.  Finally, she fell asleep.
When morning came Ana María woke up early and put her new dress on.  She knew her father would be picking her up soon.  She waited all morning.  He didn’t come.  At lunch time, she could barely eat.  She tried not to be angry at him.  She tried real hare.  All afternoon Ana María waited for her father.  Something must be wrong.  He always came when he said he would.
Daddy never came.  That night Ana María cried again.  She cried quietly so that her mother would not hear her.  Her mother had been angry at her father all day long because he hadn’t shown up.  Ana María did not want her to be mad at him so she cried as quietly as she could.
Ana María never saw her father again.  She fell asleep crying and when she woke up, her mother was crying too.  She told Ana María that her father’s’s brother had come early that morning to say that her father had gotten very sick.  He had been sick all day and had died before the doctor could get to see him.  He had died of a ruptured appendix.
Ana María did not understand.  All she could understand was that her father would not be coming today.  They would not be going to the movies.  Her father would never be coming to see her again.  Even though Ana María didn’t understand,  she hoped that maybe now her mother would stop being so angry at her father.

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a re-post!  I’ve been watching the USGS site to get word on a series of earthquakes in Baja California where I have in-laws, or more correctly former in-laws.  I still care.  So I am too distracted to write so he’s a little post I wrote a while back.  It’s from a prompt (Headlights In the Rain) and it’s from the POV of a child.  Enjoy (or not).

Headlights In the Rain

I was so tired.  I wanted to be home, warm, safe, in my bed, but I wasn’t.  My mother and my brothers and sisters and I were walking home from the movies.  It was dark and late.  We had stayed all afternoon.  We watched both movies and the cartoons over and over again.  My mother gave us money to get food at the snack bar when we complained we were hungry.

We wanted to go home but my mother said it wasn’t time yet.  So we stayed longer.  Finally all the movies were over and everyone had left.  We were the only ones there and the man came and said we had to leave.  So we did.

When we walked outside, it was dark and cold and raining.  My little sister complained that she didn’t want to walk.  She cried and told my mother to call our father to come get us.  My mother said no.  She said our father should be asleep now and we couldn’t wake him up.  So we started to walk.

This wasn’t the first time.  It happened all the time.  When my father didn’t have to work on the weekends, he would drink beer.  A lot of beer.  Then he would fight with us and with our mother. My mother always let him say things to her and even hit her but when he started to hit us, she would get mad at him.  She would find a way to send us outside or in the other room where he couldn’t hit us.  Then she would come and tell us to get our shoes on and our clothes ready because we were going for a walk.  We had to be quiet.

And that is what happened today.  He drank his beers.  He yelled at my mother.  He hit her.  Then he started yelling at us.  When he got up to hit David, my mother distracted my father and motioned for David to leave the room.  Then we got our jackets and quietly waited for her.  It didn’t take long.  We went to the movies, walking quickly and looking back to make sure he wasn’t following us.  Then we watched the movies and waited.

Now we are walking home, in the rain and I know we are all hoping he will be asleep when we get there, or the fighting will start again and we can’t leave at night time, in the rain, because all there is out there are headlights in the rain.

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This morning, I was doing my laundry and had to run out to get my daughter at the airport.  I was wearing a long men’s dress shirt with tails, one I had picked up at the Goodwill to sleep in.  I hadn’t slept in it but it was the only thing clean so I put it on and intended to put my pants on under it when they got out of the dryer.  I’m only five feet tall so the tails on the shirt pretty much covered me up–if I didn’t move.  I ran around the house like this, fixing my coffee and a bite to eat which this morning consisted of egg beaters with a tablespoon of salsa to spice them up.  My outfit was fine for home with no one around.  However, as soon as the dryer was finished, I would get dressed then leave.  The phone rang and it was Tina.  Her plane was early.  She would be arriving at least 20 minutes before planned.  I had to run NOW.  But the dryer wasn’t finished with the drying cycle yet so I waited as long as I could then grabbed the clothes, my purse, and my keys and headed out the back door to where my car was parked.  I knew that if I didn’t hurry she’d be on the phone yelling at me for not being there the moment she walked off the plane.

It was dark out.  Dawn hadn’t cracked its smile yet so I knew none of the neighbors would see me in this shirt-only outfit.  I threw all the clothes into the back seat of the car along with my purse and I jumped into the drivers seat, started the car, and headed for the freeway and San Francisco International Airport, an hour away from home.  I figured I would put my pants on when I got to the Golden Gate Bridge.  I would run into the bathroom and put them on.  It would still be fairly dark out and there wouldn’t be any tourists around.  The daily commuters would have their minds on getting to their jobs, not on some lady running around with only a shirt and no pants.  No one would be the wiser.  So I thought.

Off I went.  When I got near the Golden Gate, I started to search for a five dollar bill for the toll.  I usually have a five stashed in the little compartment under the stereo in my car, just for tolls because we have to pay a toll every time we want to get across the bay.  No money.   I searched all over and couldn’t find anything.   I decided I would have to pull over just before committing to the bridge and get money out of my purse.  First problem.   I had managed to leave my wallet out of the purse.   I had no money.  I searched the car and eventually found a couple of ones and a bunch of quarters that I usually have stashed for parking.   I had $4.75.  I was twenty-five cents short.  I figured I would smile nicely and hope they just waved me on.  In the meantime, I decided to put my pants on since I was already stopped.  The sky was getting light and I had to dress before much more lightness appeared.  Second problem.   I couldn’t find my pants.   Somehow, I had grabbed all of the clothes from the dryer, minus the dark pants which must have stayed in the dryer.  Now what?  I would have to go on with no pants and time this so that I didn’t have to do anything  but pull up to the curb as Tina walked out to meet me.

About five minutes before I pulled up, my cell phone rang and Tina informed me that I had to park the car and come to help her because she had too much luggage to carry by herself.  She needed me to help her carry it all.  I told her I couldn’t and she started yelling atme that it was my job to help her.  I was her mother, after all!   I told her I didn’t have any pants on and couldn’t get out of the car.  It took some convincing and me threatening to go home without picking her up at all, leaving her to take the airport bus which would cost her $38.   She relented and said she’d get everything curbside but I should hold off on my airport approach for another ten or fifteen minutes.

When I pulled up, I couldn’t even help her get the stuff into the car.  I had to let her do it all.  I felt bad, but this was sort of her fault so I just sat as she piled everything into the back of my Prius then off we went.  Of course, it didn’t take her two seconds to start laughing at me for not having any pants on!  I was a little upset at her for laughing at me but before long, she had me laughing.  Then she got hungry and wanted me to stop at IHOP so we could go in and eat.  No way.  I had no clothes.   I was hungry too, though.   I also had to eat because of my medication.   I can’t let my blood sugar get too low.  So we had to stop and go into a restaurant to eat and I was pant-less!  We ended up driving to the Target off the 380 which crosses over from 101 to 280.  I sent Tina in and had her buy me some $6 sweat pants so I could at least have pants on when I got out at IHOP.  I also informed her she would have to pay for the pants and breakfast.  I would pay her back when we got home.  I also let her know I shouldn’t be driving because I didn’t have my license on me so she would have to drive us home once we ate.   She agreed.  She doesn’t like it when I drive because I drive too slow, in her opinion.

We finally got home after laughing all through breakfast.  Tina had played the perfect joke on me.  She hadn’t gotten me black or dark blue sweats at Target, like I had asked her to.   She had managed to find the brightest yellow-orange color she could find, one that required sunglasses to look at them!   That’s what I had to wear.  I couldn’t exactly refuse.  It was either brightly dressed or undressed!

That’s how we spent our APRIL FOOL’S day morning!

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Wednesday 3

Today’s 3 Word Wednesday words are apology, consider, distant.  I chose to follow up on the scene I wrote on Monday as part of Manic Monday.  If you’d like to read that, you can find it here.  

______

Barbara sat in the dark for a long time.  She cried and she took the time to consider her life.   She had married  Chuck two years after they had met.  Chuck had always been a bit distant but she hadn’t realized that he had a mean, violent streak.   She had once described him to a friend as having a “volcanic” temper.  One minute he was fine, then the next he was spewing hate and anger like lava from a volcano.  Once the initial explosion was over, there was never an apology.  He would just go on as if nothing had happened.  Barbara is the one that would come after him and apologize for her part in making him explode.  They had been married for two years and it got worse and worse.  Years ago, he would never have gone off on her like that, in front of their friends, Kerry and Bob.  But tonight was not the first time Chuck had humiliated her in front of others.  He was getting worse.

Barbara didn’t want to go home.  She was afraid of him now.  It had to stop.  She touched her belly and knew she could not put her baby through this.  She could not go home.  She would not go home.  No apology would get her to go home this time.

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Writers Island Logo

This week’s Writers Island prompt is “second chance.” Below you’ll find a couple of short, 100 word fiction pieces with “second chance” as the theme, although not necessarily the title.

Her Turn

It was the second chance she had thought would never come.The years had not been kind to her and her dreams had faded.Now it was finally her turn.The letter had come in the mail, long after she had given up waiting for it.She was heading back to school.She was afraid, to be sure, but she was more excited than afraid.She would be older than the other students.Old enough to be their mother, in fact, her own children were no longer students.But that wasn’t important now. This was it.It was finally happening.

Only Coffee?

 

Candace hadn’t been to the new coffee shop.She had heard many wonderful things about it.When Tom called and asked if she’d go out for coffee, she had hesitated.”We can go to Nueva Luna, that new place.It’s supposed to be quite good.”

Now she sat in the corner enjoying the plushness of the velvet pillows, yet dreading what Tom might want.They had both felt the vibes.That much she knew.Was she reading anything into this?She guessed she might be.She feared it, in fact.She wanted Tom’s attention.But did she dare risk it?

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