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Remind Me: A Collection of Short Stories From Various Authors

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Remind Me

A Collection of Short Stories from Various Authors

Forwarded by E. L Wright

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owners.

All rights reserved

The World in Johnny’s Back Garden

by Kurt Chambers

The World in Johnny’s Back Garden

by Kurt Chambers

The window misted with Johnny’s breath as he gazed out upon his garden with eager anticipation. Trails of raindrops raced to reach the windowsill, settling in pools on the white glossed paintwork. “Can I go outside, Mum?” he asked, his chin resting in his hands.

She joined him beside the window. “I don’t think so.” She ruffled his blond spiky hair and peered through the glass. “Why would you want to go out in this miserable weather anyway?”

He shrugged. “I just wanted to have a look around the garden.” He turned to see a smile light up her face.

“You know what it looks like. You’ve played in it like a million times.” She flicked back her curly auburn hair, exposing the wrinkles around her eyes.

He tried to think of a reasonable response, but none came to mind. He turned to look outside again, leaning his chin back in his hands. “I hate Sundays.”

“Why don’t you watch some telly? Put a DVD on or something.”

“Nah, that’s boring. I’ve seen them all anyway.”

She let out a tut and turned to leave. “I wish I had time to get bored. You could always help me with the laundry, or do the washing up? I’m not bothered which. I have a whole host of things to keep you entertained.”

Johnny rolled his eyes. “I think I’d rather be bored.”

His mum left, closing the door. “Don’t say I didn’t offer,” came her muffled voice as she descended down the stairs.

Within a moment, his door burst open again. “Hi, Johnny.”

His little sister’s sharp voice made him jump. “Don’t you ever knock?”

“No.” With one hand stuffed into her faded jeans pocket, she wandered around his room, flicking through the jumble of assorted items that filled every bit of space on his shelves. “I’m bored. Do you wanna play a game or something?” She gazed through the window to see what he was looking at.

He screwed up his nose. “Er, no thanks.”

“Oh, go on. There isn’t anything else to do.” She slumped on his bed with her arms spread out, staring at the ceiling. “Well, what are we going to do, then?”

“You could go and play in your own room?”

She lifted her head and frowned. “Not on my own!” She pulled herself into a sitting position and hugged her knees to her chest. “Will you tell me a story, Johnny?” Her eyes widened with anticipation.

“What, right now?”

“Yeah!” She bobbed up and down, her curly blond hair bouncing with her. “I love your stories. Not a scary one, though.”

Johnny took a deep breath and let it out slowly, as though reluctant. In all honesty, though, he loved telling stories at any time of the day. He gazed out of the window at the giant standing in the back garden and a grin spread across his lips. “Did you know that thousands of years ago, the whole world was full of giants? Long before people were around.”

Sarah raised her eyebrows. “Yeah, everyone knows there were dinosaurs.”

Johnny eased his slim frame onto the edge of the bed. “I’m not talking about dinosaurs. They were tiny in comparison to these giants. These were massive, and they were here way before dinosaurs even existed.” He waited for a reaction, but his sister sat gazing wide-eyed in silence. “And they still live here on earth to this very day!” he continued.

“No way!” Sarah squeezed her legs even tighter to her chest. “That’s impossible.”

Johnny shrugged his shoulders. “Well, if you don’t believe me, there’s no point in telling you, then.” He went to turn away, but she tugged at his arm.

“No, don’t stop. I believe you.”

He made himself comfortable and thought for a moment. Then he began.

“A long, long time ago, way before any creatures lived on our planet, the world was inhabited by giants.” His eyes widened as he emphasized the word. “They lived almost everywhere. Not all of them were really huge, but the biggest ones were colossal, as big as the tower blocks down the town. And some of them could live for more than a thousand years.”

Sarah folded her arms and frowned.

“It’s true!” Johnny nodded his head. “When they’re born, they never move from the same spot for the rest of their lives.”

“That’s stupid,” Sarah interrupted. “How do they eat and stuff if they can’t even go shopping?”

Johnny threw his head back with laughter and almost fell off the bed. “Not everything goes shopping for food. That’s just people who do that.”

She gave him a hard stare. “You’re making this up. Why didn’t they move around, then?”

“They didn’t need to. Everything they need is already there. They drink water when it rains, and they eat by sucking all the goodness out of the mud.”

“They eat mud?” She held her hand over her mouth. “That’s sick!”

He grinned. “Yeah. Well, kind of. They have these long, gnarled tentacles that burrow deep into the ground and feed off of the decomposing bodies of dead insects and rotting vegetation. Anyway, they can’t move around ‘cause they haven’t got legs.” He leaned closer to her face. “They haven’t even got heads!”

Sarah cringed away. “You said it wouldn’t be a scary story,” she protested. “They’re not giants. They sound more like monsters.”

Johnny laughed and pulled a scary face.

“It’s not funny. If I have nightmares tonight, I’m telling Mum.”

He patted her on the leg. “They’re not monsters. Quite the opposite, in fact. If it weren’t for the giants, you wouldn’t even be alive. Nobody would.”

She cocked her head and her frown deepened. “What d’you mean?”

Johnny lay on his bed, leaning his head in his hand. “I don’t think I should tell you anymore,” he teased. “I wouldn’t want to give you nightmares.”

She thrust her hands on her hips. “Johnny!”

He chuckled, relishing his captive audience. “Almost everything we have is all thanks to them,” he continued. “Cars, boats, houses, electricity, heating. The list goes on forever. Money and jewels. Even the air you’re breathing. Everything! Without them, we wouldn’t have any of it.”

“That’s rubbish. How come nobody else has heard of them?”

Johnny shook his head. “What you talking about? Everyone knows. They teach you all this at school.”

“My teachers never told me about them.”

“Yes, they did,” he corrected. “You just weren’t listening properly.”

She sat bolt upright. “No, they didn’t! I’m sure if they’d taught me about giant mud-eating monsters with no heads, I’d remember.” She paused, then scrambled to the edge of the bed. “I’m gonna ask Mum.”

“You’re wasting your time,” Johnny remarked in a casual tone.

“Why is that, then?” She wore a smug grin. “’Cause you’re lying?”

He sat up. “No, because Mum’s an adult. They see things differently from us.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

He let out a sigh. “Adults only see things a certain way. Mum’s seen hundreds of them, but she probably hasn’t even noticed. They’re too wrapped up in grown-up stuff.”

Sarah put her finger to her temple in a circular motion. “You’re mad!”

“Am I?” He rose to his feet and pushed his hands in his pockets. “Well, you’re blind. Why don’t you try looking out the window? There’s a giant standing in our back garden right now.”

She paused, her mouth hung open. “I’m not going to look. You’re not making me look stupid.”

“You’re already stupid.”

She scrunched up her face and stomped over to the window, pulling back the net curtain. “Oh, right, there’s a giant standing in my garden. Ooh, I’m scared … Not!”

Her sarcastic tone didn’t bother Johnny in the slightest. “See, I told you.”

She gave him a blank stare, then quickly glanced into the garden through the corner of her eye. “Yeah, whatever!”

Johnny pointed. “You must be blind if you can’t see it. It’s right there!”

Sarah turned and pressed her face to the glass. “That’s a tree, stupid. It’s not a giant.”

“What do you mean, it’s not a giant? It’s bigger than our house. What would you call it, then, a dwarf?”

She stood looking thoughtful. “I’d call it a tree.”

“You call it a tree, I call it a giant. It doesn’t matter what name you give it.”

She wandered back over to the bed and sat down with her hands on her lap. “So you did make all this up, then. There weren’t really any headless mud-eating giants.”

Johnny thought he saw a glimmer of disappointment in her eyes. “I didn’t make it up. It’s all true. Trees don’t have heads. They have long tentacles called roots that burrow underground and suck the rain water and nutrients out the soil. They never move from the spot they were born.” He grinned. “What part of the story wasn’t true?”

Sarah nibbled on the end of her finger, frowning. “What was all that about the things they gave us? You said they gave us jewels and stuff. You don’t get jewels from a tree, even I know that.”

“Yes, you do. Where do you think amber comes from? That’s a jewel.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. You dig them up, don’t you?”

“It’s fossilised tree sap. It all comes from the giants, or trees as you like to call them.” He gave her a playful nudge of his shoulder.

She smiled. “Really?”

“I’m not lying. Wood, paper, coal, oil, amber, even the air we breathe. It all comes from trees.”

Sarah walked back to the window and stood watching the Scotts Pine that stood at the end of the back garden. “It’s cool having our own giant.”

Amanda

By Alex McGilvery

Amanda

By Alex McGilvery

I am the kingpin of the neighbourhood lemonade stands. After two brief seasons every kid selling lemonade within bicycle riding distance was using my recipe and paying me ten percent of their profits.I had a franchise that teenagers would envy, but it was as dust in my mouth; lemonade was last year’s fancy. This year’s goal is…

“Look, Dimitri,” my friend Amhil said as he peered over my shoulder. “that’s why no one gets you. You go from lemonade to dust in your mouth. Yuck! Who eats dust?”

“It’s a metaphor, Amhil,” I said as I put my pen down. “I am not talking about really eating dust. That would be extremely unhygienic. Though,” I spun in my seat to look at my best friend. “the Victorians insisted that a child should eat a tablespoon of dirt in a day.”

“That’s gross,” he said, and stuck out his tongue to fake gag.

“Again,” I said, “I believe they were speaking metaphorically. They meant that being too fastidiously clean was as unhealthy as being too dirty.”

“I don’t know,” Amhil said, “all the Victorians are dead, they probably died from dirt overdose.”

“The Victorians are dead because they all lived in the time of Queen Victoria who reigned between 1837 and 1901. They died of old age.”

“Oh, I thought they were a tribe like the Mohawks.”

I just shook my head and went back to my journal. Amhil was my best friend by the simple expedient of being my only friend. I wasn’t sure why he stayed around. Not that he was slow, just that I was cursed with exceptional intelligence and unexceptional social skills.

This year’s is to befriend Amanda Plumbston.

“Like that will ever happen,” Amhil said, “You have as much chance being asked to pitch for the Mudville Slingers.”

“Hmmmph.”

“Well,” Amhil said, “she was third runner up at the Mudville Mall’s Got Talent contest. Though there were only five contestants, and two of them involved hamsters.”

“She was the youngest, at least if you don’t count the hamsters,” I said, “and she has the voice of an angel.”

“The judge said she was flat,” Amhil said, “I thought it was mean since she’s only ten.”

“I think he was referring to her intonation,” I said, “not her physique.”

“Oh,” Amhil said, “I wondered, since the others were definitely not flat.”

“As I said,” I rolled my eyes, “she was the youngest.”

“So if you are off mooning after Amanda, who’s going to run the lemonade stand business?”

“You are. Just remember that we are an honest franchise opportunity. If other kids want to open their own stands they are quite welcome to do so as long as they don’t use any of our materials.”

“It would be pretty hard to make lemonade without lemons,” Amhil said. I spun around and looked at him. He put his hands up. “Joking, joking, I know you mean the advertising.” I nodded at him and forced a smile. I have to admit that I don’t completely understand what passes as humour, but I was willing to learn.

“Do you have any suggestions on how I should befriend Amanda Plumbston?”

“Divine intervention would be helpful,” Amhil said, “I will light some incense to Parvati.”

“Thank you,” I said, “any other suggestions?”

“Not really though you can usually see her at the baseball games. I think she’s a fan.”

“Very good.” I typed in a quick inquiry on Google. “I will read up on the game.”

“One thing,” Amhil said, “You might not want to tell her that she’s your project for the summer. Maybe something more along the lines of you always dreamed of getting to know her. Anyway, I will leave you to your research and go contact last years customers and see if they want to buy into the franchise again.”

I didn’t reply. I was already deep into my research. Amhil was used to it and he made sure to close the door on the way out.

The air was surprisingly chilly in the stands. The Mudville Slingers were up by two runs in the fifth. I could see Amanda sitting behind the bench. Occasionally one of the players would turn and chat with her while they waited their time at bat. This was the Bantam League, and they were all leggy almost-teens. I sighed and pulled my coat tighter. I was beginning to think that Amhil was right. She was out of my reach.

I sat and shivered through the next few innings. At least I had a rudimentary understanding of the game. When it was over, a Mudville victory, I watched Amanda stand and stretch and walk away from me. She was wearing a satin Mudville Slingers jacket that was just a little too large for her. She held her arms crossed in front of her like she was cold, or as if she had heard the judges’ comments the same way Amhil had. The blonde hair that she had worn in fancy braids for the talent show was in a simple pony tail that fell almost to where her slim legs appeared from under that jacket. In spite of the cold she wore sandals and I caught a quick glimpse of red toe nails.

To be honest, I was smitten, and I didn’t have the least idea what to do about it. Until I heard her sing at the Mall, my plan for the summer was to expand my business. Now I had just handed over the business to Amhil. I had said my fantasy was to be friends with Amanda, but I knew that what I really wanted was for her to be as smitten with me as I was with her.

I gave myself a smack on the head. All those romances I had read in research were rotting my brain. I went home to hot chocolate and plans.

That was how life progressed through May and into June. The only difference was that I went from shivering to sweating. Amanda’s outfit never changed. It was always that satiny jacket and slim jeans. Occasionally she wore a ball cap.

Amhil in the meantime was making progress with the lemonade franchise. He had signed up all last year’s customers and one or two new kids. Everything was good. Well it would have been good if I could figure out what I should say to Amanda. It was clear that she was friends with the ball players. I couldn’t imagine anything that I could say that she would want to hear. So I sat and watched her and the Mudville Slingers. At least the games began to take on some interest. I was starting to grasp some of the strategy. The players weren’t a lot better than the visitors, but they made the little differences count and they were racking up the wins.

I don’t know if it would have been easier or harder for me if she went to the same school as I did. I went to East Creek where I was relegated to the ‘gifted’ program. Competition for the position of class brain was fierce. Maia was clearly in the lead going into the home stretch. Normally I would have been jostling her for the title, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

“What’s the problem, Dimitri?” Maia plunked herself down beside me at lunch. We have been companions and competitors since kindergarten. I couldn’t say that she was a friend, but she wasn’t a stranger either. At least she understood all the words I use, but today I just shrugged and opened my lunch bag.

“Come on,” she said, “either you’re sick or you’re in love.” I must have paused briefly in laying out my lunch because she started chortling. “Oh boy,” She bumped against me, “tell me all about it.”

“Even if you were correct and I was in love,” I said, “why would I tell you about it?”

“You know that I will figure it out anyway,” she said, “Would you prefer to spill the beans now, or have me poking around in your love life?”

“I don’t have a love life.” Suddenly the healthy hunger pangs that rumbled in my stomach curdled. I looked at my carefully packed nutritious lunch and knew I couldn’t eat it.

“Ah,” Maia said, “but you want to.” She bumped me again. “I know the feeling.” I looked at her and raised my brow. “I’m a girl, we’re not only smarter than boys, we grow up faster.”

“So what did you do?”

“Nothing,” Maia said. She took a huge bite of her sandwich, then washed it down with her milk. “but I wish I had at least talked to her.”

“Her?” I looked at Maia.

“Don’t even go there.” I could see tears hanging in her eyes.

“I’m cool,” I said and bumped her gently.

“No, Dimitri,” Maia said with a her more usual vicious grin, “you aren’t cool and you probably never will be.” She bumped me back.

“Just like you?”

“Just like me,” she said. “We are the brilliantly uncool kids. So talk to her Dimitri and at least you will know what would really have happened.”

“Talk to her, huh?”

“Yep.”

“OK,” I said, “I will.” I picked up my sandwich and took a bite. This would need all the strength I could get.

There was a game that night. I went early and sat on the seats behind the Slingers’ bench. For the next fifteen minutes as the crowd shuffled in I tried to think of what I would say. My lemonade empire was built on my ability to talk my way around any objection. The teacher in my classes could always count on me for a reasoned and detailed argument of my position. Customarily the opposite of Maia’s.

Amanda wandered in and didn’t look at me. We all stood while they played the national anthem over the loudspeakers.

“Um, hi,” I said when the music had scratched and hissed its way to the finish.

“Hi,” she said and sat down.

“I saw you sing at the Mall,” I said. Amanda shrugged and turned a little away from me. “I thought you sang beautifully.”

“The judges said I was flat.”

“You’ll grow out of that,” I said. That’s when she turned and slugged me. I fell backwards and got tangled up in the legs of the person behind me. They dropped their drink on my head.

“Hey, Mandy!” one of the Slingers said, “is that creep bothering you?”

“He’s just leaving,” she said.

The tears on her face glistened like diamonds in the harsh lights of the ball diamond. That hurt worse than my eye. So I dragged myself to my feet and tripped and staggered my way out of the ballpark, sticky, humiliated and heart-broken.

“I see you talked to her,” Maia said the next day.

“How is it possible for someone as intelligent as I am to be such an idiot?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “I’m not aware of any scientific studies on the phenomenon.”

I went back to sitting up in the gallery where I could see Amanda, but she couldn’t see me. Every night I dreamed about her. I would say terribly clever things to her and she would punch me in the eye, every time, without fail. Most definitely I was in love. Who knew that love would be so uncomfortable?

The Mudville Slingers were doing so well that people talked about playoffs. Someone decided it would be brilliant to have a live singer for the playoffs. So a few people each sang a song during the seventh inning stretch. The crowd would vote for their favourite. The night’s winner would go to a semi-finals, then finals. I wished that Amanda would sing, but I was afraid to talk to her, not wanting another black eye.

Amhil came to me with a problem that for a moment put Amanda out of my mind.

“I’m having some trouble with the lemonade business,” he said.

“Someone not paying the franchise fee?” I asked.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “it isn’t that. Someone who isn’t one of ours has copied our sign and is using it to sell their own product.”

“How close is the copy?”

“Pretty close,” Amhil said, “but they said that since they are selling limeade instead of lemonade that it is OK.”

“I guess I’ll have to go and talk to them,” I said. “We’ll go tomorrow.”

So the next day Amhil and I peddled out to the extreme edge of my lemonade domain. Sure enough, there was the sign that said ‘Sweet Refreshment’ but the lemons were green and it said limeade. The kid who was sitting behind the stand glared at Amhil.

“I’m not giving you no money,” he said.

“Allow me to purchase a glass of your product.” I pulled fifty cents from my pocket and dropped it into his jar. The boy stuck his tongue out at Amhil and poured me a glass. I took a sip. It was at least as good as my lemonade.

“What would you say to a different kind of deal?” I said. “I’ll let you use my signs and you give me the recipe for the limeade.”

“It’s my gran’s recipe and you can’t have it.”

“I see.” I put another fifty cents into his jar and he handed me another glass of his limeade. I closed my eyes to savour the taste of summer ambrosia.

“Why are you bugging my brother?”

I opened my eyes and choked on the last bit of the drink. Amhil thumped me on the back while I turned red from coughing and embarrassment.

“You’re the creep from the ball park,” Amanda said.

“Sorry,” I said. “I came here to try to make a business deal with your brother.”

“You don’t own this sign,” she said.

“Actually I do. It’s trademarked,” I said, “but I will make you a deal. You sing at the ball park and I’ll let your brother sell his limeade under my sign. I’ll even buy whatever extra he can make.”

Amanda’s mouth opened and closed several times. I wondered if she was deciding whether to hit me or not.

“OK,” she said, “but only if you sing too.”

“Deal,” I said and held out my hand.

“Deal,” she said and shook. Her hand was strong and warm in mine.

“There is one minor problem,” I said. Amanda glared at me. Prudently stepping out of her reach I lifted my arms up in surrender. “I don’t know how to sing.”

“Everyone knows how to sing.” Amanda put her hands on her hips; her eyes smouldered. “We had a deal. You shook on it.”

“I have no intention of reneging on our deal.” My hands stayed up, but my shoulders were getting tired. “It is just that I hoped to get a few tips on singing so as not to embarrass you at the stadium.”

“Does he always talk like this?” She looked at Amhil.

“Always,” Amhil said and grinned widely. “You will get used to it. I learn much from Dimitri.”

“Right,” Amanda looked at me. “And the smartest thing you could think to say to me was ‘um, hi?’”

“There are some things that even my intelligence can’t deal with.” I put my arms down, but watched her in case another punch was coming.

“Right,” Amanda said again but somehow it became a completely different word. “Stand up straight and take a deep breath.” She demonstrated, an angel in shorts and a T-shirt. Her eyes started to smoulder again, so I gasped in air and tried to push my shoulders back.

“Hold your stomach like I’m going to punch it,” she said, then punched my stomach, My air went out with a whoof. Her brother giggled, and Amhil bought a limeade, then leaned his bike against a tree and sat on the ground to watch.

“Again.” Amanda demonstrated. I decided not to punch her in the stomach. She breathed out a single note that hung in the air like a bubble of purest sound.

Once again I breathed in air and tightened my stomach before she slapped it lightly. She nodded and strange warmth climbed from the place she touched me to my heart and up my neck. I opened my mouth and sang. It sounded like a cat strangling. The brother laughed and fell off his chair. Amhil hid his grin behind the empty glass of limeade. Amanda looked pained.

“Relax,” she said. “Don’t force the note out. Let it free.”

I tried again. A kid on a bike stopped to snicker at me and buy a drink from the brother. And again. A girl walking a dog stopped to watch with her hands over her ears while her dog howled. By the time Amanda gave up, most of the kids in the neighbourhood gathered around making what they considered witty comments. Unfortunately I had to agree with their assessment. I sang the way that a brick floated.

“You don’t have to…” Amanda said.

“A deal is a deal,” I said, in a voice that was more croak than speech. “We shook on it.”

“Keep trying,” Amanda said. “Relax, find a video on Youtube and sing along. I’ll see you at the game.

“Deal,” I said and held out my hand.

“Deal,” Amanda said. Her hand squeezed mine all too briefly, but she smiled at me before Amhil and I collected our bikes for the long ride home.

Once at home I locked myself in my room with a large glass of water and looked for the perfect song. I had three days before the game. My parents begged me to stop. Amhil told me he was too busy with the lemonade business. I practiced and drank water until the day before the game.

That’s how I ended up standing on the pitchers mound with a microphone in one hand while Amanda gave my other hand a squeeze. She didn’t let go. Heat traveled up my arm to envelope me. I squeezed her hand back and grinned what I absolutely knew was the most mindless grin on the planet.

“Break a leg, creep,” she said and winked at me.

I took a deep breath and sang in the dulcet tones of crows at dawn.

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”

 

Alex McGilvery is also the author of

 

Sarcasm is my Superpower

Her last year of school may just kill her.

 

By The Book

Not everything is in The Book

 

Playing on Yggdrasil

A girl, a tree, a war. 

 

http://alexmcgilvery.com

www.celticfrogreviews.com

http://celticfrogediting.com

 

 

TORN

 

by Nicole Tillman

 

 

TORN

 

 

by Nicole Tillman

 

 

 

My eyelids were as heavy as lead. I knew I was awake but couldn’t move my body. I couldn’t focus enough to recognize separate parts. It was all pain. Sharp, searing pain radiated out of my core and trickled off to dull aches through my limbs.

I heard muffled voices all around me. Multiple voices. I wasn’t alone. There was light everywhere; light and sound. I didn’t want to risk opening my eyes. There was a steadily increasing pressure between my temples that I was sure would be amplified if I were to attempt to move my eyelids.

I groaned instead.

“Hey guys! She’s waking up! She’s coming to! Bring me that kit… Yeah.”

What a kind voice, I thought. Deep bass, but smooth as honey; the kind of voice you expect a god to have. I bet the man behind that voice is beautiful. A work of art.

Wait, what?

Shit… I’m concussed.

“Ma’am? Can you hear me? Catherine, can you open your eyes for me, please?” His voice was half concern, half authority.

“Cat,” I managed to croak.

“Excuse me? What was that?” He asked, clearly confused.

“She likes to be called Cat,” my landlord, Ms. Wallace, said from some distance away.

“Alright, Cat. I need you to open your eyes for me, please. Just take your time, but I need to know if you’re in there.”

I inhaled and exhaled several times, preparing myself for the slaughter my senses were about to take.

Pain. Why so much pain?

I slowly opened my eyes.

When the world finally came into focus I realized I didn't know the person hovering over me. I could only see the backs of the men gathered outside my door, each one wearing a blue polo with the word PARAMEDIC silk-screened on the back. Finally, understanding replaced my confusion as I noticed Ms. Wallace's tears- and her laptop. The security system feed was froze on the image of a man leaving my apartment.

“No, no, no!”

At my obvious distress, the EMT grabbed my hands in an attempt to calm me. The opposite of what he should have done.

Before I could even register what I was doing, a shrill scream tore from my mouth.

“Don’t touch me!”

His eyes were apologetic as he watched me, no doubt waiting for me to fall apart. I inhaled and swallowed the burning lump in my throat.

“Okay, Cat. I need you to listen to me, very carefully. Okay?” His soothing voice brought me down a notch. I nodded.

“Cat, my name is Tommy. I’m an EMT. Ms. Wallace over there called me. I need you to tell me exactly how you feel. Where is your pain the worst? And do you have any dizziness? Nausea? Anything like that?”

As his words sank in, the fear grew. I struggled to keep my breathing even. I closed my eyes again and prayed it was all just a nightmare. I would wake up soon. Please, let me wake up.

“Cat,” Tommy whispered. “I know this is hard, but I’m going to patch up your head and then we have to move you.”

“Move me?” I asked, confused.

“We have to get you on the gurney, so we can get you into the ambulance,” he explained slowly.

“Ambulance? Why?”

This seemed to confuse him. He glanced up at Ms. Wallace for help then back to me. I watched as Missy walked over to the bed and sat beside me, tears streaking her worn face.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t see him come in on the monitor. I’m sorry,” her words were strained and shaken.

She wrapped her cold hands around my fist and cried, “I’m so sorry, Cat.”

I was lost. All I knew was pain and fear as I attempted to piece together the puzzle.

Man on the monitor. Ambulance. Sorry. Hospital.

Where were the rest of the puzzle pieces?

And then… Light. Mask. Scream. Fight. Fight. Breathe. Pain. No. Fight. Dark.

“What… what happened?” I asked as I tried to lift my head to look around.

As my eyes focused on my body I was instantly embarrassed, then ashamed, and finally utterly horrified.

Bruises and blood. Lots of blood.

Why is there so much blood?

Someone, I assumed the EMT, had the decency to cover my more private parts with the towel, which was also covered in blood, but as soon as my eyes landed on the small round bruises dotting the outside of my thighs, I knew exactly what happened. I knew he had held me, moved me, so firmly that his fingers had dug into my flesh. Blood had burst from my capillaries, moving up to dance with the tips of his gloves through my skin.

Tears burst from my eyes as I threw my head back.

“No, no, no, no! Oh, God. Oh, my God.”

Ms. Wallace cried in silence as I sobbed. Hesitantly, she leaned down and kissed my hair.

“I’m so sorry. I called the cops as soon as I heard you yell.”

I couldn’t understand why she was sorry. She didn’t do this.

I tried to calm my breathing. “I forgot. I-I forgot to lock the door,” I managed to say before my sobs overtook me again. This was my fault. This was the result of my carelessness.

Tommy cleared his throat.

“Could I get you to move over a bit, Ms. Wallace?”

Silently, she scooted toward the foot of the bed without letting go of my hand.

“I’m going to clean your face with this,” he held up an antiseptic wipe, “and then I’m going to bandage you up until you can get stitches. If you want, Ms. Wallace here can bring you a bag of clothes for you to leave the hospital in, but for now you’ll have to wear a sterile gown until you can be examined.”

“Examined?” I shook my head.

I couldn’t tell if it was sympathy or pity that dominated his eyes. I suspected the latter.

“We’ve gotta take you in to get your injuries looked at,” he paused, looking down at his feet, “and they’re going to need to do a rape kit.”

 

Four hours later, I stood in the apartment where I had been attacked. At first everything looked the same- besides my missing bed linens. Then I noticed the wall. The paneling beside the bed had been broken in two places. I remembered my head being slammed into the wall just once, not twice. But there was a lot I didn't remember.

I perched myself on the couch. Sleep was out of the question even though I was exhausted, sore, and disoriented. I stood and started to pace.

What do I do now?

Do I pretend it never happened?

Do I go to work tomorrow and pretend I’m okay?

I stopped in front of the fridge, took out the half empty bottle of Vodka, and sat at the kitchen table. I thought of getting up for a glass but quickly dismissed the thought. I tipped back the bottle and took long burning gulps until I couldn’t breathe.

As I slammed the bottle down, the tears returned. I sat at the table, alone and scared, wondering how I had let this happen. One bad day. One slip up. One lapse in judgment and everything had changed. Despite the medication I had been given at the hospital, I could still feel the pain. I felt the throbbing in my head, the sting of tender ripped flesh, the pull of internal stitches, and the ache of the resistance my body had attempted to hold.

I thought I was a strong person. I was wrong. I was weak, broken, tiny. And the fear I had been carrying in me since I woke, it hadn’t ebbed at all.

[_ When will this- when will ] I [_be okay?]

I cried until crying no longer made sense to my body. Looking up, I stared at the mirror. Who is that person, I wondered.

A mask of bruises, swollen red eyes, ratted hair, bandaged head, cracked lip, deep maroon and black bruises ringing her neck.

That woman was a mess. She needed help.

I didn’t want to accept that the battered woman in the mirror was me. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be fearless. I didn’t want to be broken.

I began to question myself. Was I ever really strong? How could one night break me so completely? Nothing about my body felt familiar. I wasn’t a woman who could take care of herself and stand on her own two feet. I was a child. A child that had been broken, physically and emotionally. Just a scared child.

Looking around the apartment I realized there were things I needed to do. I needed to put clean linens on my bed, I needed to sweep up the splinters of wood littering the floor and I needed to mop up the drops of blood next to the bed.

Opening my lone closet I stared at the dark shelves.

What goes on a bed? Sheets, right?

I removed a stack of sheets and threw them on the bed.

I stared.

I looked around the room.

I stood like a statue, lost and confused.

It’s a bed. Make it.

My mind wandered. I squinted my eyes and tried to focus on the task at hand. I vaguely remembered the ER doctor telling me something about a mild concussion and how to deal with the disorientation.

All I needed to do was take this one step at a time. Concentrate, push the anxiety, fear, and sadness from my mind and just do what needed to be done.

The bed. My bed. Put the sheets on the bed.

I found the fitted sheet and tossed the rest in the chair. The chair the EMT had sat in while I bled.

No. Focus!

I unfolded the sheet. I took one corner in my hand and leaned across the bed to tuck it around the mattress. As I held myself up on one knee and stretched I gasped for breathe, dizziness taking hold of me. I lost my footing and fell flat on my stomach. The mattress bounced to absorb my weight and my muscles tensed.

My instincts fought and won against my logic.

Don’t let him get on top of you. Kick. Fight. Run.

“No!” I screamed as I struggled to get off the bed.

Pain shot through me as I landed on the floor and I fought to control a wave of nausea.

“No, no, no!” I didn’t know what I was objecting to. The pain? The confusion? The control that had been taken from me?

I brought my legs to my chest and curled in on myself. I knew I needed to get off the floor. I knew I needed to take a shower. I knew I needed to make my bed so I could sleep. But then what?

Would there be someone in the room when I came out of the bathroom? Would there be someone crushing me into the mattress when I hit the bed? Would there be blood and pain and strangers the next time I opened my eyes?

I went from one fear to the next, wondering what to do. I wished I had someone to tell me what to do. What do I need to do? What do I want to do?

I felt disgusting, nauseated by what had been done to me, and sickened by the fact that so many people had seen me in such a vulnerable position. I was repulsed that I had been touched, and violated, and bruised, and penetrated. I was disgusted I had been raped.

Raped.

The word made my head hurt. I had never heard the word spoken so many times before today. I heard it in my house, in the ambulance, in the hospital. A lot in the hospital. I heard it so many times it stopped making sense. It no longer had a definition, it was just a random collection of letters.

Raped.

Between the ache in my body, the silence in the apartment, and the deafening noise in my head, I couldn’t concentrate on anything.

Raped.

He had been on top of me. His hands had been around my neck. He had been in me.

In me…

I shot off the floor, ignoring the pain that pulsed through every nerve of my body. I ran to the bathroom, stripped off all my clothes and shoved them in the trash can. I turned the water all the way to hot and climbed under the stream of scalding water, weeping as I let the water burn me. I scrubbed at my skin with a loofah. I needed every trace of him gone. I scrubbed until my flesh was red and raw.

I screamed. Long agonizing therapeutic screams. Over and over again. I dropped to my knees. I wanted so badly to wash him from every inch of my body. I wanted to wash him from the most intimate place he had been. I wanted to scrub myself until the pain made me forget. But I couldn’t. I didn’t have the strength. And I didn’t have the stomach to see more blood, to watch it turn pink in the water.

Laying the loofah on my lap I held the side of the tub. My hands shook, my muscles spasmed, my stomach lurched, and I vomited into the drain.

Pathetic. I’m pathetic and disgusting and weak.

 

 

 

If you would like to read more about Catherine (as well as Tommy and Ms. Wallace) check out “Come Tear Me Down” on Amazon.

 

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My Everything

A poem from the book of the 1234 words by Brian Zuckerberg

My Everything

A poem from the book of the 1234 words by Brian Zuckerberg

My everything

My love is coming on

my love is growing bigger by the minute

my love is coming on

no man can put asunder, this type of love

Love beyond rebellion and repentance

you are my love.

You are mine and I am yours,

I will never let you go

because you are my sunshine

my very sunshine,

and my moon at night.

You are mine and I am yours,

I think of you when I am with others,

I think of you when I am alone,

I think of you everywhere,

I think of you everytime.

I cannot sleep without you next to me,

I cannot stop thinking of you,

you are on my mind

you are in my heart.

Your beauty,

your captivating beauty,

the best of all creation,

captivating every part of me,

baby, I love you, you are mine.

baby I want you,

I need you everywhere,

You are my oxygen,

my water,

I am dangerously in love with you,

I promise to inspire you,

you are my sunshine,

you are my rainbow,

I feel good when I am with you,

I feel warm when I am with you,

My problems fade,

my life makes sense,

your face is music to my heart,

all this is truth,

everything you do is cool,

you are my inspiration,

I feel your presence wherever I am.

I promise to inspire you,

I have you in my mind always,

amazing love, how beautiful!

Do you believe in love after love?

love is great!

you are a beautiful song,

you make me sing everytime,

shall we dance?

there is no end when I am with you,

I promise to inspire you,

You are my one,

my very one and only,

you are the one I was looking for

my all in all

you are everything I need,

I trust you my dear,

I cannot be without you,

I am an overcomer with you,

this is my quest; to follow your heart,

loving you makes me forget all my troubles,

you are stunning.

Time stops when we are together,

the world on its axis rests, for a while,

my everything is taken and saturated by you.

The colour of the spring in your eyes

makes me think of you all the time

the softness and the flow of your skin

keeps us warm in love

Caught on my mind everytime,

oh, how beautiful

the color of the spring in your eyes

just like the rainbow

amazing…

It is exciting, calming and ensuring

red, blue, purple, yellow – colors radiating from you

the color of the spring in your eyes

shining from your heart,

revealing hidden secrets,

deep and long forgotten secrets, exposed.

The sweet feelings I have for you

the dreams I have for us,

I see everything unfolding

I see us, my love

I see you, my love,

my one and only.

You are all my dreams,

When I think of you, I am inspired,

I am in cloud nine

soaring in the skies,

I feel like the light,

the bright summer sun.

How lovely you are,

how gorgeous, how beautiful,

a song in the spring.

I look forward to always being with you,

So my heart can always smile

you are indeed my love

my one and only, my lover

Fragrance of my heart

I am overwhelmed by your love

and your unfailing smile,

I fall in love again and again

like the flow of a river,

also like the waterfall,

gashing waters upon waters,

strong and blue scatters,

spreading all over my heart,

flowing through my being,

revealing to me, my love for you

over and over again,

you are the fragrance of my heart

a part of me,

fragrance of my heart

you are significant to me,

I look forward to a tomorrow because of you,

you are so Love,

my beauty, my love, I am in love with you

If I could write your name on the blue sky,

I would definitely do that,

I always remember our first kiss,

my heart leaped and synchronized with yours

I always remember the first time we met,

Give me your hand,

take me with you

I will not be without you,

my life is now meaningful.

I know you love me,

I see it,

love endures forever

Oh your eyes are brilliant,

I love you

you are my first and last

my everything

I am impressed with you,

distance makes my heart grow fonder

because love endures forever

I have Goosebumps,

I am speechless,

I know together we will reach the moon,

we will soar like eagles

and we will not grow weary of flying in love

We will soar above the storm, together,

Just as the waves belong to the sea, we belong together

I appreciate you

you are good beyond reason,

even the wind testifies this for you,

you are good,

you are beautiful

your love makes my love grow,

My love is coming on,

my love is growing bigger by the second,

my love is coming on.

It is like the first light at dawn,

brighter and brighter it grows,

bigger and bigger

my love grows for you.

My love is coming on,

My heart longs for more of you each day,

I remember the very first day I saw you,

the trees were staring at you,

the birds of the air were peering down at you,

the grass bent in honor as you walked through the vast.

I almost missed you,

yet I gazed at you.

I almost missed you in the present –

I was already seeing us together in the future,

seeing us live together,

walking arm in arm each day.

Today I am the happiest living soul,

I am the most privileged,

the luckiest, or should I say most blessed of mankind,

blessed to have you by my side,

my love is coming on.

You are beautiful, my love

Truly beautiful.

Delightful, beyond description.

None can be compared to you,

no description can truly match your beauty,

you are beautiful, my love

Your hair flows like the river Nile,

long, strong and fair.

I am captivated my your being,

your beauty, your everything

You are beauty itself,

a unique person

I am yours and you are mine,

my heart inside your heart.

We becoming as one.

I feel blessed to have you.

We are blessed together

and forever we will be united.

Forever I trust your love

and I am confident in you

you are beauty itself

my treasure, my love,

my all in all,

my true love

you are beauty itself

I am so in love with you

I cannot imagine myself without you

Loving you brings life to my life,

I will be there for you whatever happens,

I love you so much

I cannot be without you

being by your side always makes my day,

you are my life,

I have everything when I have you,

You are my sunshine,

my warmth in winter,

rich in love.

There is no one like you,

your physique, your eyes,

your being, your everything,

your unfailing love

my sunshine,

the light inside my heart,

the part that makes me glad.

My heart blooms like a rose

because of you

you are my sunshine,

my dearest friend

my loved one.

Your love is fire and ice

so powerful!

causing effect all over everything

my all in all

I love you

Remind Me

A short story by L.N. Cronk

Remind Me

A short story by L.N. Cronk

This stand-alone short story is a companion to the Chop, Chop series. If you’ve never read the award-winning, best-selling novel—Chop, ChopChop, Chop is a full-length, stand-alone novel.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26

~ ~ ~

MY MOTHER ONCE warned me that some men can smell vulnerability dripping from a woman like a wolf smells blood from an injured rabbit. Lovely imagery, I know, but I have found over the years that she knew exactly what she was talking about.

Holden smells my vulnerability right now. He doesn’t know exactly what’s going on between me and my husband, but he definitely senses that I’m unhappy and he is ready to move in for the kill. I’ve only known him for four days and he’s leaving the day after tomorrow, but I guess he figures that if he offers up to me whatever it is that David doesn’t seem to be able to give right now, I might drag him into my office and rip his clothes off or something.

I ripped David’s clothes off in my office once.

We had just moved back to Mexico City so that I could work for my old employer again and an office at the orphanage was one of the perks they had offered when trying to convince me to come back. It had been late in the evening after the orphans were asleep and he’d come to pick me up because it was so late that night. We only had four kids at the time and all were home with a sitter, safe and sound. David was seeing my office for the first time, and he was impressed with the fact that I had a locking door and blinds that closed . . .

There have been other clothes-ripping moments over the years, but lately David has annoyed me more than he’s excited me.

Holden comes toward me now with nothing but caring concern and compassion on his face. He’s a youth group leader and he has brought a group of teens here to teach them about helping others.

He wants to help me.

“You look tired, Laci,” he says, folding the legs of the table that I’m attempting to put away. “Let me help.”

“Thank you,” I respond.

I think he meant to literally help me – not to do the job all by himself – but I abandon him and head into the kitchen to check on the crew that has been assigned to wash dishes tonight. Holden’s group is from Minnesota and the other one is from Nevada. The kids on kitchen duty are a mix from both groups, but have spent enough time together during the week that they’re very friendly with each other and a soap bubble fight has ensued. I put a stop to it and they get back on task quickly. They, too, can sense that everything is not right in my world and they haven’t known me long enough to be certain just how I might react if they don’t do what I say. I go ahead and let them fear the worst because the sooner the dishes are done, the sooner I can go home.

Holden appears before me in the kitchen.

“All the tables are put away,” he says kindly. He reaches a hand out and lays it alongside my arm. “What else can I do?”

I think to myself, I’m flying back to the States to go through all of my mother’s belongings next week . . . wanna help with that?

David sure doesn’t. He said he would, but he’s found a way to get out of it. The engineering firm he works for is trying to get the contract for an addition to this very orphanage, and if they succeed he’ll be the lead engineer. That in and of itself is not such a huge deal, but he desperately wants this job because our oldest son will be the lead architect on the project and it’s David’s dream to work with him. I want that for him too. I want the two of them to work side by side on this place that has meant so much to our family for so many years.

But even more, I want David to help me next week as I tackle one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

“I’ll fly up on Friday,” he had promised. “I’ll help you all weekend.”

“But Thanksgiving is Thursday.”

“Not here it’s not,” he’d responded. “Here it’s just the day the proposal is due.”

Holden looks at me now, waiting for an answer.

“No,” I tell him, backing slightly away from his touch. “Thank you, though.”

“Are you sure?” he asks. “I don’t mind.”

“No,” I say again. “But thank you.”

He nods and gives up for a moment, reigniting the bubble fight with some of the youth. It’s important for him to show me not just how fun he is, but how much he loves kids. Somehow he knows that my life has always revolved around helping these children.

David loves kids, too, and he isn’t just putting on some show to get me into bed. He especially loves our children . . . would do anything for them.

Anything.

When I’m mad at him sometimes all I have to do is remind myself of this and my anger usually goes away.

But that’s not working right now.

I mumble something about placing an order and escape to my office. This is a huge mistake, because the next time that Holden finds me, we’re alone . . . in my office . . . with a locking door and blinds that close.

“How’s your order going?” he asks, stepping into my office and closing the door behind him in an amazingly casual, natural way.

“Fine,” I respond. I don’t even have anything open in front of me that I can pretend to be working on. I’m just sitting at my desk with my head in my hand.

He looks around my office and spots some of the pictures on my wall.

“Is this your family?” he asks, pointing to what is so clearly a portrait of my family that it is all I can do to keep from replying with a smart remark.

Instead I nod.

“How many did you adopt?” he asks, peering at the picture and obviously counting Latino faces.

“Six,” I say. This particular photo includes our three Latino children, our three white children, and our first four grandchildren who are of varying age and color. I don’t bother to help him out with the math.

Holden points to our oldest.

“He’s your son?” he asks, incredulous. “How are you possibly old enough to be his mother?”

“We were young when we adopted him,” I shrug.

“What’s his name?”

“Dorito.”

“Dorito?”

We always get that.

“It’s a nickname,” I say, shrugging again. “His real name is Doroteo.”

Holden nods. My head hurts.

He cares about me so much that he wants to know everyone’s name. Dutifully I tell him about everyone in the picture, winding up my little show-and-tell with David.

“He’s a lucky man,” Holden says wistfully.

“Thank you,” I say, sitting back in my desk chair. I rub my eyes, hoping to make my headache go away – hoping to make him go away. Instead he moves behind me and puts his hand on the back of my neck.

“You seem so stressed,” he says. And he starts massaging.

I now have several options.

One thing I can do is stand up and tell him that I’m not interested. I don’t feel like saying that right now, however, because I know he’ll just pretend that he doesn’t know what I’m talking about. He’ll act as if he had nothing but the most innocent of intentions in mind and somehow make me feel as if I’m the one with inappropriate thoughts.

Another thing I can do is stand up and make yet one more excuse to get away from him and hope that he doesn’t follow me again. This usually works well if I keep at it long enough, but for some reason I have no desire to let this man chase me out of my own office tonight.

Tonight I’m dreading spending Thanksgiving with my father and his new wife.

Tonight I’m dreading going through all of my mother’s things.

Tonight I’m dreading saying goodbye to the home I grew up in and I’m angry that my husband isn’t going to be there to help me get through it all.

Tonight I choose something that is totally uncharacteristic of me.

When I don’t react to his advances one way or the other, Holden becomes braver and begins massaging with his other hand as well. Eventually he leans down and I can feel his breath, warm against the side of my head. He slowly runs his hands down my arms and his breathing picks up.

A wolf, panting as it secures its dying prey.

I try not to shudder.

Holden moves his mouth near my ear and whispers.

“Can I tell you a secret?” I don’t answer, and he must take this to mean that he can, because he goes on. “I’ve never felt like this before.”

I am never mean.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I’m never mean.

Never.

I am sweet.

Kind.

Generous to a fault.

But tonight I wait until he kisses my neck . . . wait until there is no way he can explain away his actions and somehow manage to save face.

“Do you want to hear a secret?” I whisper back, closing my eyes for effect.

“Mmhhmm,” he moans hungrily.

“If I were going to have an affair,” I say, opening my eyes and swiveling around in my chair to face him, “it wouldn’t be with you.”

He freezes, obviously not sure if he has heard me correctly. I stare at him icily to make sure he knows that he has.

He looks surprised for only a moment before lowering his eyes and walking out of my office without another word.

~ ~ ~

IF I WERE going to have an affair, it would be with Tanner—my husband’s best friend.

Okay, that sounds far worse than it actually is.

I think.

I’ve known Tanner as long as I’ve known David. We dated while we were in college.

Tanner was my first . . .

Well, I’m not sure exactly what he was the first of.

He wasn’t the first guy I ever dated. That would be David.

He also wasn’t the first guy I ever loved. That would also be David.

I guess Tanner was the first guy I ever felt like I wanted to rip his clothes off (not that I ever did).

David was my first boyfriend and – even though I was a senior in high school when we dated and even though we were in love – sex wasn’t really on my radar. (It might have been on David’s, but if it was, he didn’t let on.)

David and I broke up when our best friend had been killed.

And after that, everything had changed.

After that I no longer believed that my life was going to be a fairytale.

I no longer believed that God wanted me and David to spend the rest of our lives together.

I no longer really cared what God wanted anyway.

When Tanner and I got together a year and a half later, suddenly sex was on my radar. We didn’t do anything – well, nothing much – but it was the first time I’d ever really felt like doing something.

It was more than just wanting to rip his clothes off, though.

Tanner loved me in a way that I had never been loved before. With every ounce of his being. No one ever loved me the way Tanner loved me.

Before or since.

And Tanner would do anything for me.

Anything.

Just like David would do anything for our kids.

On most days – when I’m feeling sacrificial and like the Godly woman I’m supposed to be – I prefer the latter.

But on days when I’m feeling sorry for myself, it’s nice to think that someone loves you with everything they’ve got.

Like Tanner did.

Like he still does.

He has never stopped.

From time to time David worries about this and I tell him that Tanner has moved on.

But this isn’t true, and I think all three of us know it.

Tanner doesn’t ever really look at me.

If he was over me, he could look.

For the record, I don’t really look at him, either.

~ ~ ~

THE PLANE LURCHES. It drops a few feet, or maybe a few yards . . . it’s hard to tell.

It bounces back up.

The sky is turbulent.

Like my emotions.

I force myself to stop thinking about Tanner and turn my thoughts to David instead.

I wonder for the millionth time what’s wrong between the two of us.

Something is different.

David is different.

I’ve tried not to think about this – like I try not to think about Tanner. Since the first few notes of worry started playing in my head, I have managed for the most part to keep my mind on other things. Work mainly. There’s always something to do, always something to think about. But now the mundane concerns of the orphanage are behind me and I’m faced with five hours of flying time. If I’m not going to let myself think about Tanner and I don’t want to let myself think about my mom being gone or about my dad and his new wife, then it’s probably time to try to figure out what’s going on with my husband.

It started this past summer, right after my mom died. (And yes, my dad did get remarried awfully fast, didn’t he?)

I came home in the evening to find David taking a shower. For thirty years he had taken his shower in the morning, unless he’d gone for a run or something.

Why would he suddenly take a shower in the evening?

He had no explanation for me – seemed confused that I would even ask.

Two days later I made dinner for the two of us and he wouldn’t eat.

Again, with no explanation.

Even worse, the man who had held me and let me cry against him every day while my mother had been dying now suddenly didn’t seem to get that I was still grieving . . . that I still needed him.

I called him in tears when I found out that my dad was getting remarried and he acted perplexed, wondering out loud why I had called.

At least he had answered his phone that day – more and more I couldn’t even count on that.

David missed a deadline at work, too. I don’t think he had ever missed a single deadline in all the years we’d been married, but two weeks ago I read an email from his boss saying that he had.

What was going on with him?

Of course the only reason I had even been checking his emails was because I’d been trying to find an explanation for his bizarre behavior.

But deep down I’m afraid to discover the reason . . .

Because if he’s not being there for me, who is he being there for?

~ ~ ~

I AM STAYING at Jessica and Chris’ house. Jessica is David’s sister and I’ve known her for my entire life. We have always been friendly, but never particularly close – mostly because we haven’t had lots of chances to spend time with one another.

She and Chris are supposed to pick me up at the airport, but something comes up at the last minute and they send Tanner (of all people) to get me instead.

He greets me with his usual bear hug and platonic kiss on the cheek and carries my bags to his truck, making small talk along the way about my flight and the weather. He throws my luggage into the back seat and then holds the door open for me. I climb in and buckle up. I sit much closer to the door than I need to.

I don’t look at him.

“Everything okay?” he asks after we’ve ridden along in relative silence for a few minutes. I nod and he must decide that I’m just worried about going through my mom’s things tomorrow – which I am.

But I’m also worried about the fact that I’m alone with Tanner and more vulnerable than I’ve been in years.

I’m worried that if Tanner suddenly decides to act wolfish, I’ll be dead meat.

~ ~ ~

TANNER BRINGS MY luggage in when we arrive at Chris and Jessica’s. Jessica is just arriving home, late from work, and apologizes profusely to Tanner for making him pick me up at the airport. He assures her that it’s not a problem and when Jessica invites him to stay for dinner, he accepts. Tanner has never turned down food.

I’m quiet during dinner, trying not to think about how Tanner would do anything for me. I focus instead on the fact that he is my husband’s best friend and that he would do anything for David, too, and I stop myself from wondering what he’ll do if he ever has to choose between the two of us.

I don’t want to know.

When we’re finished eating, Tanner gives both me and Jessica the same kind of hugs and kisses he greeted me with at the airport and then he leaves.

Jessica comments on how tired I seem. I agree with her and use her remarks as an excuse to go to bed, even though it’s only eight-thirty.

I brush my teeth, change into my nightclothes, and crawl under the covers.

I think about tomorrow.

And I try to pray.

I do not want to do this alone.

Normally I could ask for help from my two best friends, but they’re in Israel with their husbands right now.

David and I were going to go too, but Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just as we’d started making plans and I’d told them to go on without us, certain that by this time Mom would need me to help her with her recovery.

Or, at worst, maybe helping her get through a second round of treatments.

Not this.

I do not want to do this alone.

None of the kids can help right now, either.

Our youngest, Marco, lives in Australia and won’t be visiting until Christmas.

Lily is spending Thanksgiving with her in-laws and she and her husband and kids are driving to St. Paul tomorrow.

My daughter Grace is in California. She’s flying in to Cavendish tomorrow and my other two daughters, Meredith and Amber, are picking her up at the airport. The three of them are half-sisters and they’ll spend the afternoon and evening with their biological mother, making pies and casseroles in preparation for Thanksgiving, which is the next day.

Dorito is still in Mexico with his wife and kids. Like David, they’re all flying in on Friday, and Saturday will be our big family celebration.

Until then, I’m on my own.

If I could just wait until Sunday to pack things up I’d have plenty of people to help me, but Dad and Linda are all rush-rush – like they’ve been about everything since they met: getting married before my mother had even been gone three months . . . selling Linda’s house and having her move in before they were married . . . and – I suspect – seeing each other before my mother was even dead.

I have been told that if I want anything, I need to get it out of the house by Monday or it’s going to charity. I can’t put off going through her stuff until Sunday . . . there’s too much to do. Too many memories to sort out.

I do not want to do this alone.

Tanner would help me in a heartbeat, but it would be inappropriate for him to help me with something so intimate . . . something so personal. Something that my husband should be here helping me do.

I do not want to do this alone.

Suddenly there’s a soft knock at the door.

“Come in,” I say, sitting up in bed. Jessica opens the door as I turn on the bedside light.

“Sorry,” she says.

“No,” I assure her. “You’re fine.”

“I was just wondering,” she says, “and please don’t feel like I’m going to be offended if you’re not interested or whatever, but . . .”

Her voice trails off and I look at her, waiting.

“I just wondered if maybe you wanted some help tomorrow?” she asks quietly. “I mean, if you want to go alone, that’s fine, I totally understand, but . . .”

Her in-laws, children, and grandchildren are coming for Thanksgiving. There’s no way she doesn’t have a ton of stuff she needs to be doing tomorrow instead of helping me.

I feel tears spring into my eyes.

I nod.

“Okay,” she says, giving me a smile.

I think she understands that I can’t smile back . . . can’t even speak.

But after she leaves, I pull the blankets to my chin and I pray again.

Thank you, God.

And then I do smile.

~ ~ ~

IT’S A GOOD thing that Jessica is with me today. When we arrive, we find that Dad and Linda have already moved everything they’re not interested in keeping out to the garage.

Things have been tossed carelessly wherever they could find room. All of my mother’s books are piled near the freezer. Her art supplies have been stacked by the lawn mower. Her clothing tossed onto the workbench. The queen-sized bed that she shared with my father leans against some shelves. Even toys and other items from my childhood that Mom kept for my children and grandchildren to play with when they visited are part of the rubble.

“Open house is Wednesday,” Linda explains as I survey the mess. “We had to get things ready.”

“Don’t touch any of my tools,” Dad adds as the two of them turn to go into the house.

I feel Jessica grip my elbow.

“It’s okay,” Jessica whispers into my ear, but I just shake my head, my mouth gaping open and tears filling my eyes. She pulls out her phone and steps away. I hear bits and pieces of what she is telling Chris. She lets him know what’s going on and tells him that he needs to come and help.

“Bring a lot of boxes,” Jessica says to him before she hangs up.

“I think the thing to do,” she says gently when she returns to my side, “is to just pack everything up for right now. We’ll put it in our basement and every time you and Dave come visit you can go through a box or two.”

I am still staring at the garage in disbelief at what lies before me and I think that if I do what Jessica is suggesting, it will take me over twenty years.

“I just think you need to be able to take your time,” she says.

I manage to nod.

We begin by taking the larger pieces – the things that don’t need to be boxed – and put them out in the driveway. I’m glad it’s not raining or snowing.

All of Mom and Dad’s bedroom furniture is out here – two dressers, two nightstands, and the bed. Dad and Linda are using a lot of Linda’s furniture from her first marriage (which, incidentally, ended in divorce).

I wonder why.

In addition to the bedroom furniture, there is the patio furniture that we always used when Dad was grilling, the cedar chest that used to be my grandmother’s, the rocking chair that was in the nursery when I was a baby, Mom’s china cabinet (and all her china), two antique bookshelves with glass doors, the dining room set, and a small hutch that Mom had always kept craft items in.

Jessica and I struggle, but we’re able to move most of the larger pieces out into the driveway, a few inches at a time. We can’t handle the two dressers or the china cabinet by ourselves, but within an hour we have moved pretty much everything else and finally have a bit of room to maneuver around in the garage.

We both take sips from our water bottles before deciding what to tackle next, when a truck pulls into the driveway.

Tanner’s truck.

“I thought you called Chris!” I say, looking at Jessica in surprise.

“Oh, no,” she says, shaking her head. “Chris’ parents are coming in this morning. As soon as they get here, he’s taking his mom shopping so she can spend the entire day getting everything all ready for tomorrow.”

“You shouldn’t be here helping me,” I say guiltily.

“His mother never lets me do anything anyway,” she assures me, laying a hand on my arm. “Trust me. I’d really rather be here.”

She gives me a knowing smile as Tanner gets out of his truck. I smile back, and Tanner lumbers up the driveway with an armload of cardboard boxes.

The three of us work all day. I’m thankful that I don’t need to decide right now whether or not to keep my first tricycle, yearbooks from Mom’s high school days, her sewing machine, three boxes of Christmas decorations, or our wicker picnic basket.

I will decide later.

Right now, we just box everything up.

We make a million trips to Jessica’s house, carting things down into the basement past the smell of Chris’ mom’s cooking. Pies and casseroles appear in various assortments on the countertops throughout the day. Tanner doesn’t bat an eye.

When we’re almost finished, Jessica and Tanner work on arranging the last load a bit more securely in the back of the truck, and leave me alone to box up the last few things that remain. I sit down on the cold concrete near the hot water heater with an empty box next to me and grab a handful of loose papers. After I place those in the box, I reach for another handful, but stop short when I see what is on top.

An envelope. Addressed to my mother.

I pick it up and study it for a moment, smiling as I recognize the handwriting on the front.

My best friend’s mother . . .

She has always been like a second mother to me. She’s another person who I could have asked to help me today if she hadn’t been planning on going out of town. She is actually in Chicago right now with her daughter, and son-in-law (who, incidentally, is Tanner’s brother). Tanner’s mother is there, too. The only reason Tanner isn’t there with them is because he’s in charge of a Turkey Trot or something tomorrow morning. It’s not a big deal. They’ll all be at our celebration on Saturday, so he’ll get to see them then.

I look at the envelope.

It has been neatly slit open because Mom always used a letter opener – an antique one with a mother of pearl handle that had been her own mother’s. I got in trouble for “borrowing” it once when I was little (a few of my stuffed animals had been having a sword fight). I make a mental note now to be sure to ask Dad where it is. I wonder if he’ll be willing to part with it.

I inspect the envelope even closer and examine the postmark. It takes me a moment to make a connection with the date, but I suddenly realize that she mailed this letter on the very day her husband and oldest child died. Whatever she had written to my mother that day would reflect her thoughts and feelings just hours before her life had irrevocably changed forever. I stare in awe at what I’m holding.

Finally I reach inside and pull the contents out. Pictures and a note. I read the note first.

Fern ~ Took these a couple of weeks ago and thought you might like them! Many blessings ~ D

There are two pictures inside that Mom apparently never got into one of her scrapbooks. That’s not at all surprising, considering everything that happened.

I look at them now.

The first one is of me and my best friend. The two of us are standing behind a counter, wearing aprons and hairnets. A poster is taped behind us on the wall with a hand drawn turkey wearing a pilgrim’s hat and the words “Souper Turkey” written below. I smile, remembering how clever we thought we were to come up with that corny title. Our youth group had worked at the soup kitchen that Thanksgiving Day, serving turkey, green bean casserole, and rolls to anyone who needed a meal.

I study myself carefully. Except for the hairnet, I don’t think I have changed much. I realize I am completely deluding myself.

Next I examine my best friend.

That smile. Always smiling . . .

I smile back.

And I look for a long moment.

I miss you.

Finally, I look at the other picture. It is of me and David. I don’t recognize the location, but suspect it is probably outside, in front of the soup kitchen. We are both sitting on a wall, close to each other, but not quite touching. I am wearing David’s leather jacket – the one he had been given for Christmas a year earlier . . . the one he still keeps on the back of his office door.

I must be facing into the wind because all of my hair is flying out behind me. I am laughing, and I’m looking straight into the camera.

David is not facing the camera.

He’s looking at me.

He is on the verge of smiling – as if he’s checking my reaction to whatever I’m laughing at first before going ahead and smiling himself.

Suddenly Tanner is beside me.

“What’d you find?” he asks quietly, squatting down next to me.

I don’t answer, but hand the pictures to him.

“Wow,” he says softly, surveying the picture of me and David for a long moment.

He looks at the other picture, too, laughing at us in our hair nets. When he’s finished, he hands them both back.

“You should do something with that one,” he says, tapping the picture of David and me.

I nod and slide them both back into the envelope. Then I tuck them away into my purse.

~ ~ ~

DAVID HASN’T CALLED, even though he knew how hard today was going to be on me. When I call him, it goes straight to voicemail.

I’m exhausted from working all day but I can’t sleep, despite my fatigue. After a few minutes of trying I give up and turn on the light. I reach beside the bed for my purse and pull out the pictures that I found earlier today. I stare at the one of me and David and I study his face carefully for a long time, wondering what was going through his mind.

I wonder what is going through his mind now.

I wonder what he’s doing now.

I wonder if he’s alone, and sleep is a long time coming.

~ ~ ~

LINDA’S SON FRANKLIN and his family are coming in two days to celebrate a late Thanksgiving and Linda doesn’t want to cook twice, so I meet her and my dad at a restaurant in town. This is fine, because I have no desire to suffer through a meal at the house with Linda’s yippy little dog whining and pawing for food all through dinner.

When our food has been served, I remember to ask Dad about the letter opener.

“What letter opener?”

“Mom’s,” I say. “You know. The one she always kept in the drawer under the microwave?”

“With the mother of pearl handle?” Linda asks.

I nod.

“It’s there,” she says vaguely. “What about it?”

“I was just thinking that if you didn’t want it . . .”

“You just got a whole garage full of things yesterday,” she exclaims.

I don’t say anything.

“What’s mother of pearl?” my dad asks, mopping up some sauce on his plate with a piece of bread.

“You know,” Linda tells him. “It’s that shimmery white stuff they use in knife handles and jewelry.”

Jewelry . . .

My mother’s jewelry box wasn’t in the garage along with everything else that Linda didn’t want. I hadn’t even thought about that until just now.

Where is it? Does Linda want to keep that, too?

I make a mental list of the contents of the box and realize that there are only two things in there that I really, really want: the heart pendant I made my mom when I was in preschool, and the gold charm bracelet her sister gave her when she was pregnant with me.

The charm bracelet had only one thing on it when Mom had received it – a tiny gold baby ring – but over the years she’d added dozens of charms to represent special times in my life. There was a trout charm she’d bought when I caught my first fish, and a tiny ice skate charm for the time I had taken lessons downtown. The star charm was for the night she woke me up at two in the morning so that the two of us could lie on the front lawn and watch a meteor shower on the frosty grass, and the firefly charm was bought after I won the fifth grade science fair for my study on whether or not fireflies flash more when it’s warmer (they don’t). When I flew to Pennsylvania all by myself to attend volleyball camp, she had bought a tiny liberty bell, and she’d added a treble clef when I’d joined the choir at church. Mom had gotten a charm for each of the children David and I adopted, and one for the baby we’d lost. Most recently she’d been adding charms for great-grandchildren.

She always called it her “Laci bracelet.”

“Where’s my mom’s jewelry box?” I ask Linda now, not even bothering to address Dad.

“I believe it’s packed away,” she says, and for the first time, she avoids my eyes.

“Packed away,” I repeat slowly.

She nods and still doesn’t look at me.

“Can I get something out of it?” I ask.

“Like what?”

“Well, there was a little pink heart that I made out of a pipe cleaner–” I begin.

“I think I threw that out.”

“What?”

“I didn’t know it was anything important,” she says defensively. “It looked like trash.”

That heart had been the first thing I’d ever made for my mother and she had always made such a big deal out of it, claiming it was one of her favorite things in the entire world.

I fight back the tears that are stinging my eyes and I am so angry I can hardly speak.

I look at my dad and find he is apparently oblivious to the turmoil going on at the table . . . going on in my heart.

I manage to compose myself and look right at Linda again.

“I’d like to get my mom’s charm bracelet, please,” I say in a surprisingly controlled voice.

“We don’t have that anymore,” she replies in an irritated voice.

“What?”

“We sold it.”

I freeze, trying to comprehend what she has just told me.

“You sold it?”

She nods.

“What do you mean, you ‘sold it’?” I ask. Any control that was in my voice is now gone.

“Your father and I are getting ready to make a very expensive purchase in Florida,” she reminds me, defensive again. “Gold is at a premium right now. It would have been senseless to hold on to something as frivolous as that.”

“That was not yours to get rid of!” I cry. “My mom promised that to me!”

My hand flies to my chest where my heart literally feels as if it is breaking in two.

She meets my eyes before responding.

“You need to try to be a little less materialistic,” she says. “It’s really not becoming at all.”

I can’t even speak. I stare at her in disbelief for another moment before I stand up and run out of the restaurant.

~ ~ ~

I KNOCK ON Tanner’s door.

I pound and bang.

I push the doorbell.

Again and again.

He doesn’t answer.

I rest my head against the door.

I sob.

~ ~ ~

I STAND THERE, crying, for the longest time. Finally I drive back to Jessica’s house, where the driveway is full of cars . . . and Tanner’s truck. How had I not realized that Jessica would invite him for Thanksgiving since his own family is in Chicago for the day?

The meal has obviously just gotten underway and everyone is gathered around the dining room table: Chris and Jessica, my father-in-law, Chris’ parents, my niece Cassidy and her family, my nephew CJ and his family.

Tanner is spooning mashed potatoes into my father-in-law’s mouth, gently wiping his lips after every messy bite. I stand in the doorway and watch.

Jessica spots me first.

“Laci?” she asks. “You’re back already?”

She starts to rise from her chair.

“Can I get you a plate?” she asks.

I shake my head.

“I don’t feel well,” I say. “I’m going to go lay down for a bit.”

I don’t let myself look at Tanner again before I head down the hall.

He finds me twenty minutes later, knocking gently on the door.

“What’s up, Lace?” he ask after I tell him he can come in. I’m lying on the bed which is still made up. I haven’t even taken off my shoes.

I just shake my head like I did earlier.

He comes and sits down next to me on the bed. He looks at me for what feels like a very long time.

“I know this has been really hard for you,” he begins, and tears well up in my eyes again. “But guess what?”

“What?” I ask, choking on the word.

“I’ve got a surprise for you.”

I can’t imagine what it might be.

“What?”

He picks up my hand.

“I’m leaving in about ten minutes,” he says.

“Why?”

“Going to the airport.”

It takes me a minute, but then I ask, “David?”

He nods and gives me a smile, obviously very proud of himself.

“I called him last night and told him you really needed him,” Tanner explains.

“And so he just dropped everything and hopped on a plane?” I ask, doubtfully.

“Well, no,” Tanner admits with a small shrug. “He finished whatever geeky, nerdy thing he was working on and got an earlier flight. We didn’t tell you before because he was on standby and we didn’t know if he was going to get anything today or not.”

“He waited at the airport?”

“Since about four-thirty this morning,” Tanner nods.

I stare at him, speechless.

“So cheer up,” he says, squeezing the hand he’s been holding and leaning forward to give me a quick kiss on the forehead. “He’ll be here soon and then everything’ll be better, okay?”

I nod at him numbly and he leaves . . . to get my husband and bring him to me.

~ ~ ~

WHAT IF TANNER had answered that door?

I only needed someone to talk to.

What would have happened if he had been there?

Nothing.

You would have cried on his shoulder.

But nothing would have happened.

It was wrong to turn to Tanner instead of David.

David wasn’t here. That’s the whole problem. He hasn’t been here for me for a long time.

He’s coming now . . .

He should have been here before.

He was in Mexico – a place he despises. A place he has lived for over twenty years . . . for you.

I can’t think of an argument to that.

~ ~ ~

I PULL THE picture of me and David out of my purse again and I sob. If David was having an affair he wouldn’t be flying in to Cavendish tonight – he would be taking advantage of the fact that I wasn’t expecting him until tomorrow. He wouldn’t have spent the better part of the day waiting around an airport so that he could be with me – he would have spent it with . . . whoever.

I stare at the David and Laci of our youth and I think of all the things the two of us have been through in the past four decades. I think of how he has always put God and our marriage and our children and our family first and I wonder how I could have been so quick to question his love for me. A few missed phone calls and an unexplained shower and suddenly I’m ready to let Tanner solve all my problems?

I have always known that Tanner would do anything for me, but I ask myself now if there’s anything that David would not do for me.

And I can’t think of a thing.

I hate myself.

I cry some more, and I pray until Tanner and David arrive.

David says a quick hello to his father and his sister, but then he comes straight to the bedroom and opens the door quietly. He looks in to see if I’m awake and when he sees that I am, he sits down on the side of the bed like Tanner did a short while ago. I sit up and he wraps his arms around me tightly.

“How are you doing?” he whispers in my ear.

“Okay,” I say, nodding against him.

“Tanner said you’ve been having a pretty rough time.”

“I’m better now that you’re here.”

I mean it.

I love him.

I hope I don’t forget it again anytime soon.

After he holds me for a while, we go out into the kitchen and David helps himself to a bunch of leftovers. He compliments Chris’ mother on a wonderful meal.

Before Tanner goes home, he and David load David’s father into Jessica’s car so that Jessica and David and I can get him back to the nursing home. We say goodbye to Tanner and drive to the nursing home where we help my father-in-law get settled into his room. David says goodbye, telling him that we’ll see him again for another big meal in just two days.

“Everyone will be there except for Marco,” David promises. “And this time Jessica’s doing the cooking.”

He glances at her and then whispers to his dad, “You’ll probably want to load up on breakfast before you come.”

Jessica swats him playfully and he laughs, but his father doesn’t respond. David holds his father’s hand for a moment and then kisses him gently on the cheek.

I wonder if it’s as hard for David to have his dad not recognize him anymore as it is for me to have mine not care about me anymore.

Not that my dad and I were ever especially close. We got along okay while I was growing up, but that was due mostly to the fact that Mom constantly ran interference for the two of us and because she made him take me along whenever he went hunting or fishing (something he never would have thought up on his own). Now that Mom is gone though, it seems that he doesn’t even try . . . and Linda brings out the worst in me.

They met at the country club. Mom was in the hospital a lot toward the end and started encouraging Dad to go play golf whenever he could because she worried about him and thought it would make him feel better.

Linda made him feel better.

As soon as she came bouncing over to our house one afternoon with a strawberry salad nestled against her freckled bosom, I knew something was up. I tried to pretend it wasn’t so, but as Mom got worse and worse, Linda came over to comfort Dad more and more. When I saw her hanging on his arm at the visitation, it was all I could do not to drag her out of the funeral home by her bleached, blonde hair.

I think part of the reason Dad turned to Linda was because he was really upset about Mom and he didn’t know how to handle it.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

Grief and worry can make people do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do.

I, of all people, know this.

I, of all people, have no right to judge.

David and his dad always got along beautifully, and – because they were so close – I imagine that whatever David is going through with his father right now is a whole lot worse than what I’m going through with mine.

My heart breaks for him as I watch them together . . . and I love him even more.

~ ~ ~

THAT NIGHT, AFTER we are in bed, I tell David about the charm bracelet.

“I’ll talk to them about it tomorrow,” he promises when I’ve finished.

“Talk to them?”

“Yeah,” he says. “I figure if we find out who they sold it to, maybe we can get it back.”

“Get it back?”

“Maybe. It depends on who they sold it to.”

“What do you mean?” I hear hope rising in my voice.

“Well, you know,” he says. “Like if they took it to a pawn shop or something. We could see if it’s still there.”

“But what if it’s not?”

“I doubt they’d tell us who they sold it to,” he admits. “Confidentiality and all that.”

My heart sinks a bit.

“But,” he goes on, “the pawn shop would have a record of who bought it and they could probably contact them if they wanted to.”

“But you just said–”

“We could write a letter and ask them to send it to whoever bought it,” he interrupts. “And in the letter, we could tell them what happened and offer to buy it back . . . tell ’em we’d make it worth their while.”

“Do you think that would work?” I prop myself up on one elbow and look at him in the darkness.

“Money talks, Laci,” he says assuredly. “And it’s not like it’s going to already have sentimental value or anything to whoever bought it. Plus, Linda and your dad might not have sold it to a pawn shop . . . they might have sold it to somebody that they know.”

“You really think I might get it back?” I ask, believing for the first time since I found out it was gone that I might actually see it again. I can barely contain my happiness.

“I’m not promising anything,” he says, suddenly looking worried. “I don’t want you to get your hopes up.”

It’s way too late for that, but I nod. And I reach my arm around him and give him a huge hug. He hugs me back and kisses the top of my head.

“Thank you,” I say.

“Don’t thank me yet,” he reminds me. “I just said I was going to try. I don’t know if we’re going to get it back or not.”

“But we might,” I say, lifting my head and looking at him happily.

“We might,” he agrees.

I hug him with all my might.

~ ~ ~

THE NEXT MORNING, I’m so excited by the time we get to the house that my heart is pounding. David presses the doorbell and Linda’s stupid little dog starts barking and yelping, running to the door and scratching at it until Linda appears and lets us in.

The dog jumps and whines and paws at us. David reaches down to pet her so that she will stop jumping. She pees on the parquet.

Linda scoops her up and then my dad gets a towel and cleans up the mess. I roll my eyes when no one is looking.

David is carrying a bag filled with hash browns and country ham biscuits with gravy from Fauden’s Diner. I’m carrying the cherry-filled glazed doughnuts from The Donut Hole.

Linda is immediately suspicious of the fact that we’ve shown up with Dad’s favorite breakfast foods and undoubtedly is peeved that she gets no credit for his happiness. As we sit down around the kitchen table, she mentions how much healthier her hash browns are because she uses olive oil.

Dad ignores her and unwraps a biscuit.

David doesn’t beat around the bush. As soon as Dad has his mouthful of food, he dives in.

“So Laci says you guys sold Fern’s charm bracelet?”

“We had every right to sell that bracelet,” Linda snaps, slapping her hand on the table.

“Oh, sure,” David nods, reaching for a biscuit of his own and putting it on his plate. “I was just–”

“You should be thankful we kept everything that we did,” Linda interrupts, looking directly at me. “My Franklin was up here three weeks ago and offered to help us with the garage but I told him we wanted you to have a chance to go through everything so you could get what you wanted.”

“Thanks a lot for doing that,” David says. “That meant a lot to Laci.”

Linda glances at me and I try to nod.

“It’s been quite an inconvenience,” she says, turning her eyes back to David. “Norm and I are going to have to finish straightening things out in there all by ourselves, now.”

“We’re here until Wednesday,” David reminds her nonchalantly. “We’ll be glad to come over and help with whatever you need.”

“Well,” she mumbles, “We can probably handle it.”

David shrugs and turns to my dad.

“So I wish you’d let me know you were selling it. I would have gladly paid you for it.”

Dad now gives David his own shrug and pushes his biscuit through the gravy that is puddled on his plate.

“Didn’t know you’d be interested,” he replies.

“Who’d you sell it to?” David asks casually.

“It was through the mail,” Dad says, taking a bite of biscuit.

“Like, an ad or something?” David asks, sounding slightly confused. My own mind starts whirling as I try to figure out how we’re going to be able to track that down.

“No,” Linda answers, shaking her head. “We sent it to Five-Five-Five Cash Now.”

I know all about Five-Five-Five Cash Now.

Even if I hadn’t seen a thousand commercials on TV with their obnoxious spokesperson yelling how they pay top dollar for precious metals, I still would know about them. When David and Jessica’s mother died, they’d helped their dad sell some of her jewelry: gaudy pieces that she’d inherited from her grandmother that no one in the family wanted, but that were apparently worth something to the screaming announcer on TV. Jessica had sent the items in and received a check a short time later and then she’d called David and their dad and told them each how much the check was for.

The check was like an offer. If Jessica and David and their dad didn’t like the offer, they could simply send the check back and their items would be returned. If they liked the offer, however, all they had to do was cash it. As soon as Five-Five-Five Cash Now got the cancelled check, then they knew their offer had been accepted.

They wouldn’t melt anything down until the check was cashed.

“Did you already get a check?” David asks.

“Oh, yes,” Linda answers, nodding. “They sent one right away.”

“When?” David asks quietly.

Linda looks at my dad questioningly.

“When was that?” she asks him. “Last month?”

He thinks for a moment.

“Yeah,” he nods. “It was before your birthday.”

Her birthday was on October fifteenth. I remember because my dad had taken her to Chicago to see a musical.

“Did you cash it?” David asks, his voice even quieter.

“Of course we did,” Linda scoffs. “It was a very good offer.”

I think they saw A Chorus Line . . .

That had always been one of my mother’s favorites.

~ ~ ~

BY SATURDAYTHE day of our big Thanksgiving celebration – I am almost over the bracelet. I am so happy to have my husband back that it’s easy for me to put things in perspective and realize that a bracelet is just a bracelet. What really matters is that David hasn’t been acting weird since he arrived in Cavendish and he has been by my side ever since he arrived. He loves me and he cares for me and that’s a really good thing . . . because I love him, and care for him, too.

On Wednesday, Tanner drives us to the airport when it’s time for us to go home, and I don’t have any kind of a problem with that . . .

That’s what friends are for.

But after we check through security, we have to wait for over an hour before our flight is called. While we’re waiting, David hardly talks to me, and when it’s finally time to go, he doesn’t move. I stand up and pick up my purse and carryon bag and he still doesn’t move. He is just staring straight ahead.

“David?”

He doesn’t respond.

I wave my hand in front of his face. He raises his eyes and looks at me as if he is slowly focusing. He doesn’t say anything.

“Let’s go,” I say. “They called our seats.”

He rises and follows me to the gate, only grabbing his own bag when I remind him to do so. He follows me hesitantly onto the plane and sits down where I tell him to. He barely talks to me for the first hour and then falls asleep for the rest of the flight.

I watch him as he sleeps and I start to worry again.

And I wonder . . .

What was preoccupying his thoughts so, earlier?

And what is he dreaming of right now?

~ ~ ~

IT IS ONE week before Christmas. Things have been the same as they were before Thanksgiving. By this, I mean that there have been good days and bad days. Days when David is himself and I can convince myself that nothing is going on and I remember how much I love him and I tell myself that he loves me, and days when he is clearly somewhere else, and I worry about exactly where that is.

One day, I call and he doesn’t answer his phone and I actually go home to see what’s going on.

His car is in the driveway and I am scared to death of what I’m going to find in the house. I open the door not quietly and I close it even louder. I stand in the entryway and I listen. I hear nothing.

I continue to stand there and listen and listen and then I finally get up the nerve to go down the hall. I pass his office. The door is open, but he’s not there.

I go hesitantly to our bedroom.

That door is open too. The bed is still made from this morning. I search the rest of the house. It is empty. David is nowhere to be found.

I call him again and I hear his phone.

I follow the sound to his office and find it lying next to his computer.

I stare at it for a long moment, listening to it ring until his voicemail picks up.

What is going on?

Suddenly I wonder if he has just simply gone for a run and I head quickly for his closet and look inside the door. My heart sinks when I see his running shoes and shorts in the spot where he always keeps them.

I don’t know what to do.

Should I call the police?

I have no idea what to do.

Just when I finally decide that maybe I’ll call Dorito, I hear the front door open and I race into the living room to find him standing before me, dripping wet.

“Where have you been?” I cry hysterically.

He looks at me in surprise, but doesn’t answer.

“Where have you been?” I ask again.

“I just went for a walk,” he replies vaguely.

“A walk?”

He nods.

It’s drizzling outside.

He’s wearing slippers.

“To where?” I challenge

“I don’t know,” he responds with a shrug.

And that’s when I make up my mind that I’m going to spy on him.

The next morning I leave for work as I always do, but instead of going to the orphanage, I buy a cup of coffee and walk back toward the house. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do . . . it’s not as if I can pace back and forth at the end of our street forever. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that I have no idea how to spy on someone and that I’m going to have to come up with a better plan than this. I’m actually considering hiring a private investigator, but before I can entertain this thought for too long, my phone rings.

It’s Dorito.

“Where are you?” he asks.

Spying on your father . . .

Yeah . . . that’s not going to sound too good.

I don’t answer him. Instead I throw the question right back at him. “Where are you?”

“I’m at your office,” he complains. “I thought you’d be here by now.”

“Why are you at my office?”

“I need to talk to you about something.”

“Is everything okay?” I ask, but I can tell that it’s not and I start walking that way.

“I’ll just talk to you when you get here,” he says.

“Okay,” I agree. “I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”

I hang up my phone. I pick up speed.

Dorito is waiting for me. There’s a small couch in my office and he’s sitting on it, but he stands up when I come in. He gives me a hug and sits back down, tugging my arm so that I sit too.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

He starts to answer, but then stands back up a second time to push my office door closed. He sits down one more time.

He looks at me for a long moment before he speaks.

“I’m really worried about Dad,” he finally says.

My stomach clenches.

“Why?” I somehow manage to say this innocently, as if I have no idea why.

“He hasn’t been acting like himself,” Dorito says. “I think something’s wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean . . .” he hesitates. “I mean . . . it’s like sometimes he’s not there. You know?”

I don’t answer.

“I call him sometimes and he doesn’t answer his phone,” Dorito goes on.

“Maybe it’s turned off,” I suggest.

“I was with him one day when it went off,” Dorito argues. “He didn’t even acknowledge that it was ringing. It’s like he didn’t even hear it.”

A hearing problem! Maybe he has a hearing problem. That would definitely explain some things . . .

“And he’s . . .” Dorito hesitates again.

“He’s what?”

“He’s not doing things right,” Dorito says.

“Not doing what right?”

“Like, we were looking at the chain survey,” he says. I have no idea what a chain survey is, but I figure he’s talking about the plans for the addition on the orphanage. “And we were calculating the secondary lines and . . .”

“And what?”

“And he wasn’t doing it right,” Dorito says, worriedly.

“Maybe there’s different ways to do it,” I suggest.

“No, Mom,” he insists, shaking his head. “This is basic math. He wasn’t doing it right. It was like he didn’t even know what he was talking about.”

I am unsure what to say. Unsure what to think.

“And I went over to the house the other day,” Dorito continues. “And he wasn’t there.”

“So he went out.”

“His car was there.”

Familiar.

“I started to leave,” he says. “I went out into the driveway and started to get into my car but then I decided to call him and . . .”

I wait for Dorito to go on.

“And I heard his phone.”

“Where?”

“Next door.”

My mind races to the neighbors. Mr. Silva is on one side. He’s about seventy and I’m fairly confident that David isn’t having an affair with him. On the other side is the young couple who moved in while I was gone so much . . . when my mother was sick.

“Which house?” I ask, holding my breath.

“Mr. Silva’s.”

I’m so confused.

“I walked over there,” Dorito says, visibly upset now. “He was . . .”

“He was what?”

“He was sitting in the back yard in the flower bed,” he tells me reluctantly. “He had a fork and he was just scratching the house with it.”

“What?”

“He was just sitting there, scratching this fork along the house.”

“A fork,” I repeat.

Dorito nods.

“What did he say?”

“Nothing,” Dorito replies. “I asked him what he was doing and first he acted like he didn’t even hear me and then when he finally realized I was there he just sat there with this blank look on his face.”

“Do you think maybe he’s having problems with his hearing?” I ask, not sure what other straw to grasp right now.

“No,” Dorito says, shaking his head.

“Well then what?” I ask.

He sighs.

“I called Uncle Mike last night.”

Chill bumps cover my arms. Uncle Mike is not Dorito’s uncle at all. David and I have known Mike all of our lives – he is an old friend. He also happens to be a physician.

“What did he say?”

“He thinks Dad needs to go see a doctor.”

“A doctor? Why?”

If it’s not his hearing . . .

“He thinks there’s something wrong.”

“Like what?” I ask in a panicky voice.

“He doesn’t know,” Dorito admits. “It could be a lot of things.”

I sit in horror as I listen to him rattle off a list of possibilities: psychiatric problems, dementia, brain tumors, stroke . . .

Suddenly everything begins to make perfect sense.

And I almost wish David was having an affair.

~ ~ ~

WHEN MY MOTHER was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I asked God for a sign . . . I asked Him to let me know that she was going to make it.

He didn’t give me a sign.

As the days and weeks went on I started making it easier and easier for Him to let me know that she was going to recover.

Let the elevator come before I count to twenty . . .

It was only one floor away and I counted extra slow, but I was almost to thirty by the time the doors opened.

Let me see a cardinal on the drive to the hospital . . .

You could hardly step outside without seeing a cardinal in Cavendish, but there wasn’t one to be found anywhere that day, no matter how hard I looked.

Let the stoplight by the skating rink turn red before I get to it . . .

I always got caught at that light. But no matter how slowly I went this time, it refused to change.

Of course God wouldn’t give me a sign that my mother was going to recover . . . because she wasn’t going to.

I want to ask God for a sign now.

I want Him to let me know that David isn’t really sick . . . or at least that he’s not very sick. I want God to let me know that we’re going to get this taken care of and that he’s going to get back to normal.

But I don’t ask.

Because somehow I know that he’s not.

The feeling I have in the pit of my stomach is the same one I had when Mom was diagnosed.

~ ~ ~

DORITO AND MARIA fly their family back to the States to celebrate Christmas with her parents and her sister. David and I will fly back the day after Christmas and have a huge get-together with everyone just like we did after Thanksgiving. Christmas day itself will be just David, me, and the kids at the orphanage.

And I’m not willing to have any of our plans ruined . . . there will be no talk of doctors or tumors or disorders.

I convince Dorito that we’re not going to say anything to anyone until after Christmas. I call Mike and talk to him myself and then I talk to his wife, Danica, too. Danica is a psychiatrist and one of my best friends. Both of them reluctantly agree that we can wait a little while before David gets to a doctor . . .

But not too long.

I have to promise them that we won’t wait too long.

~ ~ ~

FOR MOST OF our years together, David and I have spent our Christmases at the orphanage with the children, giving them presents that David buys.

He does this for me – always has. He buys a present for every single child and wraps it, and then lets me see their faces as they open them because he knows that it makes me happy. As the orphanage has grown over the years, so has this task, but David has done it year after year without fail . . . without complaint.

He always gives me something, too.

At first it was pieces for our manger – the one he gave me early on in our marriage – adding on to it each year. But lately – now that the kids are grown up and the manger scene is beyond full – he’s been buying something for a family in a third world country and giving it to them in my honor. He gives me a card that tells me what he got and what country it’s going to. It’s usually something like a pig or a cow or a flock of chickens. Some small thing that would be minor to us, but that is likely to change somebody else’s life forever. The first time he did it, I was so happy that he must have figured it was another sure thing – like the gifts for the orphans – because he does it every year now. He has finally stopped asking if I want something else – something just for me – because I’ve assured him so many times that I don’t.

I think he finally believes me.

But this year is different.

This year there’s something that I want.

Something just for me.

I was with my mom when she died.

It was just the two of us. I was sitting by her bedside, holding her hand. Her breathing got more and more shallow and then it just stopped and I stared at her for a moment, unable to believe that she was gone.

I pushed the button to call the nurse and she came in and confirmed what I already knew.

She checked her watch and then she started to unhook my mom from all the tubes and machines that hadn’t done her any good.

I called my dad to let him know that Mom was gone, too upset to even worry about the fact that Linda answered his phone. Then I left the hospital and headed to my car . . . all alone.

I usually parked near the back entrance to the hospital, and – whenever I did – I always passed by a set of dumpsters on my way to and from my car. There were a lot of feral cats that hung around those dumpsters, and one in particular was solid black. She was smaller than all the other cats, and she was also lame. I don’t know what had happened to her, but throughout the months I visited the hospital, that black cat was limping every time I saw her. I had tried on more than one occasion to get her to come to me, hoping I could take her to a vet where maybe she could get some help, but – even though she moved a lot slower than the other cats – I never could catch her.

As I left the hospital that night, I decided to give God one more chance.

Please let me know that my Mom’s okay, I prayed. If she’s okay now . . . please let me see a cat.

Because I always saw a cat when I went by the dumpsters.

Always . . .

But not that night.

That night I walked by the fenced in area with the dumpsters and I saw nothing.

I stopped and stared, waiting for one to dart by as they always did.

Nothing.

I called, “Here, kitty, kitty.”

Still nothing.

And I stared in disbelief.

God couldn’t give me this one little thing?

My mom loved Him with all her heart and I knew she was with Him . . .

But He couldn’t give me this one thing I was asking for?

I finally gave up and walked back to my car, sobbing, but trying not to be mad . . . trying to remind myself that I didn’t need a sign. My faith was stronger than that . . . or at least it needed to be.

I wiped my eyes long enough to see the buttons on my remote and I pushed the one that would unlock my car.

And that’s when I saw her.

The little black cat.

She ran out from under my car when the lights flashed, heading toward the dumpsters.

And when I say that she ran out from under my car, I mean she ran.

There was no limping.

No lameness.

She was not slow.

She was just running . . .

And she was completely healed.

That’s what I want now.

I want a sign from God that David is going to be all right. Even if he’s not going to be all right – even if he has something that can’t be fixed – even if I’m going to lose him – I want to know that God is holding my husband in His arms and that He’s going to take care of him. I want the same reassurance He gave me after my mom died.

But I don’t want to wait.

I want it now.

So on Christmas morning, I wake up before David does and I turn quietly in our bed so that I am facing him, and I pray.

I pray that God will take care of this sweet, caring man who has spent his entire life helping other people and loving me. I pray that God will give me the strength to get through whatever lies ahead. I pray that He will give both of us peace.

And then I ask Him to give me a sign.

I love the gifts David gives me, but I’m asking You to let him give me something else this year.

Not something in my honor for another person, but something that I can hold on to during whatever lies ahead . . .

Something special so I’ll know that You’re with me . . .

That You’re with us.

If he doesn’t give me something else, it’s okay . . .

I won’t let go of my faith no matter what.

And I’ll remember that You love me . . .

But if You could just remind me one more time . . . I really would appreciate it.

~ ~ ~

AFTER BREAKFAST, WE lug all the presents David has purchased to the orphanage and spend the morning handing them out. We’re short on volunteers and David and I both work in the kitchen to get lunch ready and after everyone eats we help get the little ones down for their naps.

Once things are finally settled down, I lead David into my office and close the door.

“Sit,” I tell him, pointing to the couch.

He sits. I go to my desk and reach into the top drawer, pulling out a package I have stored there. I walk back to the couch and I sit down too, and then I hand him the package.

He opens it carefully and looks at it for a long moment. It’s the picture of the two of us in front of the soup kitchen.

Enlarged. Matted. Framed.

“Where’d you get this?” he asks softly.

I tell him and he looks at it a bit longer and then puts his finger on the glass.

“I love it,” he finally says, and I can tell that he really does.

And I love him.

I’m going to love him, no matter what.

“I’ve got something for you,” he says with a smile, reaching into his jacket pocket. The same jacket I’m wearing in the picture.

He pulls out an envelope with my name on it and my heart drops.

It’s the same kind of envelope my gift has come in for the last few years, and it’s impossible that it contains anything special.

At least anything special to me.

It’s geese.

Or cattle.

Or seeds.

It contains nothing that I can hold on to that’s going to help me to get through whatever lies ahead. Nothing to remind me that God is in control no matter what. Nothing to let me know that He’s going to take care of David, or that He loves me.

But I promised God it would be okay if He didn’t give me a reminder, and I make up my mind that I’m going to keep my faith no matter what.

God loves me, and God loves David, and God is in control . . . and I don’t need a special present to remind me of that.

“Thank you,” I smile, taking the envelope from him. He smiles back and watches as I open it and read what the gift is. He watches as I read the Scripture.

A well in Zambia.

That’s what David has purchased in my honor.

A well.

Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Eternal life.

David and I are going to have eternal life because God sent His only Son to die for us . . . and I need a reminder?

Tears fill my eyes.

“Thank you,” I say again, crying and laughing at the same time.

I bring my hand to the back of his head and pull him to me. My lips find his and I kiss him for a very long time.

“Are you okay?” he asks when I finally let go, obviously puzzled by all my crying and laughing and kissing. I glance down one more time at what I’m holding in my hands before I look back up at him happily and nod. He eyes me uncertainly for another moment, but then reaches into his jacket again.

“I’ve got something else for you,” he says with another smile.

And he pulls out a small, wrapped box that he hands to me.

“Thank you,” I say yet again, taking it from him and giving it a gentle shake. “What is it?”

“No idea,” he shrugs.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know,” he says, shaking his head. “Your dad sent it to me already wrapped and told me to put it under the tree.”

“My dad?”

He nods and I know instantly that he’s lying.

I also know exactly what it is.

My hands begin to shake as I tear the wrapping paper and I’m trembling so badly that I can barely get it open, but I finally succeed and remove the lid . . .

I lift my mom’s charm bracelet from the box.

I start sobbing uncontrollably and throw my arms around David. He doesn’t say anything, he just holds me like he did every day when my mom was dying.

He lets me cry for a long time.

“How did you do this?” I ask when I finally stop. I wipe tears from my cheeks with the back of my hand.

“I didn’t do it,” he insists innocently. “It’s from your dad. I guess he got it back somehow.”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. “This is from you.”

He looks at me carefully.

“Your dad loves you, Laci . . .”

“I know he does,” I agree. “But this is from you. How did you get it?”

He’s quiet for a moment, but finally decides to tell me.

“I thought maybe they might keep things on hand for a while,” he says. “You know, like in case someone changes their mind or something? Kind of like buyer’s remorse in reverse.”

I stare at the bracelet again in disbelief.

“But your dad does love you, Laci,” David states one more time, reaching out and putting his hand under my chin. He tips my face so that I’m looking at him. “I just think he doesn’t have any idea how to show you.”

I nod at him.

“And you love me, too,” I say. “Don’t you?”

“Of course I do,” he answers, touching his hand to the side of my face. My lips find his again and I kiss him as if he’s everything I could ever want.

Which he is.

I finish and whisper quietly against his lips. “And you’d do anything for me, wouldn’t you?”

He sits back and looks at me as if this is the strangest question . . .

One with a most obvious answer.

“Of course I would,” he replies. “Why would you even ask that?”

I smile and pull away from him, standing up. I walk over to the window and close the blinds.

“I just like to be reminded,” I say.

And I lock my office door.

~ ~ ~

The End

~ ~ ~

Author’s Note: Readers of the Chop, Chop series know that David is indeed about to be diagnosed with a devastating illness that will test not only his faith, but the faith of his family and friends as well.

Chop, Chop, (and the first six books in the series), are told from David’s point of view and begin when David, Laci, and Tanner are in the seventh grade. Book seven is told by Tanner’s brother, and book eight is told by Tanner himself. Even though it is the first in a series, rest assured you don’t have to buy any sequels: the first free book in the series—Chop, Chop—won’t leave you hanging!

 

 

Other Books by L.N. Cronk:

 

Chop, Chop ~ The Series of a Lifetime©

 

Chop, Chop – Book 1

Day-Day – Book 2

Pon, Pon – Book 3

The Other Brother – Book 4

The Other Mothers – Book 5

Gone – Book 6

Not Quickly Broken – Book 7

Alone – Book 8

What I Want – Stand-alone Companion Novel

Remind Me – Stand-alone Short-Story

 

Also available:

 

The Pirate’s Revenge (historical Christian fiction with Heather Frey Blanton)

Be sure to look for releases in L.N. Cronk’s The One I Trust Series (a companion series to the Chop, Chop books).

COPY THIS & SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE

Stories Of How Other Couples Saved Their Marriages In 31 Days

By Brian Mulipah

COPY THIS & SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE

Stories Of How Other Couples Saved Their Marriages In 31 Days

By Brian Mulipah

Communication

Most of us tend to think of communication as just exchanging words or information. Great communication will then be at a 50- 50 level where I say something, I shut up then you say something then you must shut up and the cycle goes on. Unfortunately this is where we err!

Communication is from the Latin word "Communicare" meaning to impart, share or make common. The key root is "mun" and it is related to such words as munificent, community and meaning.-1. So, in this regard when we talk about communication or when you think of communicating, think of it as the science of impartation of yourself! Think of it as you sharing yourself! And think of it as you making yourself common to whoever you are communicating with. This does not work at a 50- 50 level. It demands 100 percent of you. It is either 100 percent or nothing. Half-hearted communication doesn't get you anywhere.

Jim and Jane’s story

Jim left his wife when she was just two months pregnant. This was eight months into their marriage. Jane, his wife, struggled alone until giving birth to their healthy baby boy Tyler.

Jane called me when she heard of the type of work that I do. I met with Jane on January 12, 2013 and we had a long talk. Jim had left her, and was now living with another woman. She had called Jim on several occasions to try and understand what had gone wrong. She did not understand this sudden turn by her new husband. The two had dated for four years prior to their marriage. They were the best of friends. Jim was a lecturer at a local University while Jane was a teacher at a Junior School.

Jane loved her husband and really felt she needed him back at least for their son. Soon Jane and I put down this intervention strategy where she would read through the book of Proverbs one chapter per day and start sending Jim one text message per day for the next thirty one days. We agreed that at least for the first two weeks, she would only send a text message after confirming with me. I had to screen the message first, and then she would send it.

On January 15, at nine o’clock in the morning, Jane sent her first intervention plan text message to Jim. It said “I Love you Jim”. There was no response from Jim on that day. She was not surprised that he did not reply. On the second day, after reading Proverbs chapter two, she sent another one saying “You are the world’s greatest husband” and again there was no response. She called me and she was mad! Lucky for me, I do not charge for any of my services! She was mad at Jim, me and life! She was mad that life had not been fair to her. She had been a faithful and honest person and in return she married a shoddy husband.

After she had calmed down, we agreed that she would continue with the suggested intervention plan. The next day was a Thursday and she sent another text message at the same time her previous texts had been sent. It said “You are my best friend”. And the phone rang in the very same minute! She could not answer it! She was not prepared for it. She was in shock. She did not pick up. The phone rang three times and Jim continued calling her. In the midst of all this, Jane called me and said “He is calling me! What should I do? What do I say?” She sounded excited and scared at the same time. I congratulated her and told her to pick up the phone NOW. Finally, she picked up the call, and they had their first talk in a long time.

Thirty minutes later, Jane called me to tell me that he called to ask how she was doing to which she answered she was doing very well. On the fourth day she sent another text message and got a response almost immediately. It said “What is going on? Are you okay?” to which she did not respond. On the fifth day she sent another text message and she got a response five minutes later. The text message was filled with profanity which basically described her as a dog and said “stay away from my husband.” The message obviously came from the lady who was now living with Jim. Seven hours later, I got another call from Jane “Brian, you will not believe this! Jim is outside my gate! He is here! What should I do?” I told her to switch off her phone and go to her husband. She complied. She later narrated to me that Jim looked very embarrassed and ashamed of himself. They spoke for a couple of hours and then Jim went to his new place. From there, he called her and asked for forgiveness.

On the next day Jim returned to Jane’s house and asked for forgiveness again and promised her that he would sort out his mess and take responsibility. He asked if Jane would take him back. After a couple of weeks, Jim moved back to live with his wife Jane and their son Tyler. Today there are dozens of couples that have reunited through the use of the simple principles listed in here. I hope you too will SAVE AND TRANSFORM YOUR MARRIAGE and be joyful as a couple.

Michelle and Brian’s Story

Michelle was referred to me by her sister. Her husband was filing for divorce.

I met with Michelle for the first time in December of 2012. She had confessed to her husband that she had cheated on him and now he was filing for divorce. Prior to Michelle’s unfaithfulness and confession, Brian had impregnated Michelle’s sister, Shaniqua and was helping her in her pregnancy. He had also been accused and confessed to being unfaithful to his wife with three other women of whom one was Michelle’s close friend.

Michelle narrated that she had started flirting with one of her co-workers at the company she worked and one thing led to another.

Through tears in her eyes, she sobbed and couldn’t understand why her husband could not forgive her for being unfaithful just once when he had been unfaithful at least four times.

Michelle and I soon came up with an intervention plan where Michelle was to humble herself and be the fool for the coming 31 days. She was to “Treat a man as he ought to behave so that he would rise to that standard.” Our plan had eight points:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Stop looking miserable when Brian came home.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Stop being and looking afraid of him.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Stop apologizing to him. Replace that with the respect that is due to him as a man.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. If he shouts at you, don’t talk back. Silence is golden.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Treat a man as his actions deserve and his actions will remain as he is, but treat a man as he ought to behave and he will rise to that standard.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. The fact that you forgave him does not automatically mean you should also be forgiven. You made a choice to forgive him and he also has a choice. He may be inconsiderate but it is still his choice.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Hope for the best.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Humble yourself. You have done wrong and you need forgiveness. Do not start bringing up his sins each time you have an argument. Right now it is about your sins, so let it stay that way.

Though the two were still living together, there were not on talking terms. Brian came home from work around 7pm every day, did not eat the food she had prepared and went straight to bed.

Because of the nature of their communication, Michelle decided that she would send him text messages every day as part of her intervention plan.

On December 12, she sent her first text message saying “I love you” and just as expected, she got no response. When Brian came home that night, she tried to hug him and he pushed her away. I advised her not to try to hug him again. From the second day to the eleventh day, Michelle continued to send her text messages, say good morning, how was your day and good night but got no response. On the twelfth day, Brian came home and for the first time since Michelle’s confession, they had moments of intimacy. After being intimate, Brian whispered “you are beautiful” to Michelle. The following days, Michelle continued to send her messages and communications. On the nineteenth day, Brian came home, ate the prepared food and said to her “You are full of crap, but I love you.” Later, on another evening, they discussed and agreed that Michelle was to leave her job and work from home for a while. Brian has since cancelled the divorce plans and become more involved with his family as they rebuild their trust for each other.

Dion and Priscilla’s story

Priscilla was 5 months pregnant when she called me to say that she had done the most horrific thing. She had smashed a beer bottle against the wall, and proceeded to cut her husband’s chest and back as he tried to run away.

Prior to this incident, Dion and Priscilla had been married for three years, when Dion started coming home late most nights. Sometimes he didn’t even come home, spending his time at local night clubs. Priscilla narrated that Dion would verbally and physically assault her if she dared to confront him about his behavior. From the bruises on her face, it was evident that Priscilla had received many punches to her face.

The backdrop of this story is that, like any other couple, Priscilla and Dion had their fair share of marital challenges. Their reaction to their challenges, though done in an attempt for fix their problems, made things worse.

Among other things, Priscilla reacted to their marital situation by withdrawing sex and respect from her husband. In her anger, she thought if she could embarrass him publicly and also show him how unhappy she was with him by withdrawing sexual intercourse from him, he would change. Dion reacted violently and by also having extra marital affairs. In his frustrations and anger, Dion also thought that if he could control her by beating her and if he showed her that she wasn’t the only he could have sex with – she would start paying attention and obey him. Both their strategies obviously didn’t produce the expected results.

Three months prior to the horrific incident, Dion had reportedly impregnated one young lady who lived a few blocks from their house.

After a week of using the agreed upon intervention strategy which included the following points, Dion and Priscilla forgave each other:

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Respect your husband for who he is, not for what he does for you. He should never have to earn your respect.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. 1 Corinthians 1:3- 6; (NIV) ‘’3 The husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command.’’ Your husband should never have to earn sex from you.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. You do not have to talk back to your husband when he shouts at you.

There was no more violence in their relationship, and they continue to build their marriage. I met with Dion later on and now as part of his personal development; he is part of Alcoholics Anonymous, a self-help group for people who struggle with alcohol addiction and have a desire to stop drinking.

Dion and Priscilla have learned through their terrible experiences that communication should be about connecting with each other, not just to be heard or get a list of facts across.

BRAIN FREEZE

by Victor J Porter

BRAIN FREEZE

by Victor J Porter

CHAPTER ONE

Brain Freeze

Sara was excited! She’d just left the Future Talk Shop and had casually tossed her old phone into the recycle bin outside their door, along with her charger and all the extra cords she had for her car, her ex-boyfriend’s apartment, her parents’ house, and her new office. She wouldn’t be needing those anymore!

With a sense of wonder, she made her first call. She tapped her temple just where her left ear met her temple with her index finger. In her mind, she heard “Number please.” She thought back “Mom and Dad.”

“No contact of that name.” She mentally heard the reply. She thought of her favorite mental image of her Mom and Dad and thought “mindPhone Add Contact. Mom and Dad.” Then projected the image and their address and phone number. “Contact created.” Came the reply.

A ringtone sounded in her mind and felt strangely thrilling! No one would know she was on a call and no one would hear even her side of the conversation no matter how close they may be! Finally, she would have the privacy of her communications that she so desperately craved!

“Hello?” Her mother’s usually sweet voice was unusually loud and had a slight ringing sound to it! Quickly, Sara pulled at her left ear lobe and softened the volume.

“Hi, Mom!” She thought.

“Oh! Hi, honey! I didn’t recognize the number. When did you start using a 666 area code?”

“It’s my new mindPhone! I took the plunge and had it implanted this morning. I also have the text and GPS wrist addition so Dad should be happy about me always having directions to all those meetings he invites me to.” She was amazed at how she adjusted to thinking in a conversational speed versus the wild melee of her normal thoughts. “Great! Now I’ll have to figure out another excuse!”

“Honey! You’d better not let your Dad hear you say something like that!” The genuine shock in Mom’s voice cut Sara to the quick. She realized that the thoughts she had thought personal had been conveyed through the mindPhone, this will take some getting used to.

“I’m sorry, Mom. I need to get used to how this will work when I’m thinking of one thing while talking about another. I didn’t mean any disrespect to Dad. But, seriously, I’m not all that interested in whatever group meeting he is going to be involved with. I have a lot of new responsibilities and I figured having this new set of tools would help. I guess I have a lot to learn first though.”

“I know, dear. And we are very proud of all you have accomplished! I just wish that you knew how much your Dad dotes on you and wants to be sure that he’s still a part of your life. These groups he joins are usually because he thinks you’re still interested in their topics as you were in school.” The hurt and concern were still in her voice, but it was quieter now and patience had replaced them almost fully.

“I know. Just tell him that I love him always to the moons of Jupiter and back! The same goes for you too, Mom. I am just so focused on my career and the pay offs are starting to happen and hopefully my time will soon be more of my own.” It was true, her near meteoric rise after college had her chasing goals that even six months ago would have just been dreams. But it did come at the price of free time and she missed more weekly dinners in the last three months than she did in all her college years.

She ended the call with her Mom and continued back to her office. She tested the GPS in her wrist, still getting comfortable with the SLV, or Skin Limited View screen that allowed her to view the screen as a projection on her skin but nearly invisible to anyone other than her. Just as she made the last turn towards her building, the screen split and a text displayed. “Meet me at the coffee house, you need to hear this – J”

She was excited because the forwarding from her old number to her new number seemed to be working, but Jason never asked to meet her somewhere other than the office regardless of the topic to be discussed.

She tapped her temple and thought “mindPhone Send text to Jason”, the text side of the screen went blank. “J – will be at coffee house in five minutes.”

“I’m already here, ordering your usual.” The reply came through nicely and showed her response and his. She slid her index finger down her wrist from outside to inside and watched the messages scroll up so she could see the entire conversation. She would have some fun learning her new technology!

Jason sat at a booth near the back, almost invisible to Sara except for the ball cap he habitually wore. She slid in across from him and sipped at the straight black coffee, something that always caused Jason to cringe. She was sure he ordered that overly sweet, nearly no coffee mix of caramel and mocha, the idea of toning down coffee nearly made her cringe in return.

“So, that Mike guy you met for dinner last night and turned out to be such a jerk?” she nodded. “Well, he came by your office this morning and left with some sour comments to Val about you and your whereabouts!” He was looking down and seemed genuinely concerned and angry.

“I’ll have to apologize to Val, but surely it was a one-time thing.” She felt bad that Val had to put up with something like that, she was a good assistant and Sara appreciated her help and organizing skills greatly!

Her internal ringtone went off. “Just a sec Jay.” She tapped her temple enabling the mindPhone to answer without a mental command.

“I can’t believe you would leave me like that!” The screaming voice was Mike. They had only a single dinner together but she could tell immediately it was him.

“Now is not a good time. In fact, I don’t think there will be a good time. Do not call again!” She mentally screamed at him and tapped again to hang up. She also took the added precaution of thinking “mindPhone Block Last Caller.” The word BLOCKED appeared in her mind’s eye.

“What was that?” Jason asked as he saw the focus return to Sara’s eyes.

“I got the new mindPhone and that was Mike calling.” She sat back against the cool seat of the booth and slumped a little. “I guess that wasn’t the best way to handle it, but I blocked him after the call.”

“Wow! The new mindPhone! How cool is it? Can it do all that they say?” His excitement was contagious and she instantly felt better talking about the procedure and all the new and fancy things she could do!

Then her ringtone set off again. “mindPhone Caller Id”

“Unknown Caller.” And a number flashed through her mind’s eye, she didn’t recognize it.

“Answer.” She thought and waved at Jason to let him know she had a call. “Hello, this is Sara.”

“You bitch! You can’t hang up on me and block me! Do you know who I am?!” Mike must have a second phone!

She tapped her temple hanging up on Mike and thought “mindPhone Block Last Caller.”

“He called again. I blocked him the first time and this time, but I’m surprised at his tenacity!” Jason could see the real concern in her eyes and patted her hand.

“He’ll stop now. Surely he doesn’t have three phones!”

Her ringtone sounded again. She glanced at her wrist. The message was the same as her last mental request, Unknown Caller.

“I think it is him again.” She said, looking at Jason and let it ring to voicemail.

“It’s kinda freaky! I mean it’s easy to see that you’re involved with something but no real visual clue that it’s a phone call.” Jason had a look of both amazement and confusion on his usually consistently stoic face.

“Yes. And the strangest part is how I can use a tap to my temple or just think mindPhone followed by a command or use the wrist pad. I do admit, it is kind of fun to do and I’m looking forward to playing around with it at the office later!”

The ringtone again. She immediately thought “mindPhone Send To Voicemail.” And the ringtone stopped.

“But, there are some drawbacks already.” Sara put her hands up to her head and ran her fingers through her long, dark hair. “I mean I was talking to my mom and thinking of something else and she heard all of my thoughts, not just those concerning the conversation. So, I guess I need to learn to multitask my thoughts.” She leaned forward and sipped at her coffee, letting her hands rest on the sides of the cup.

The ringtone again. She sent it to voicemail once more. If it was important, she would be back in the office in another fifteen minutes, if not… Well, if not, then it will definitely wait.

“What should I do about this Mike and his calls?” She pleaded with Jason, hoping that he would have an actionable answer.

The ringtone again. She glanced at her wrist, three missed calls from the same number, two voicemails and the current call from a different number. She held up a finger to Jason, “mindPhone Answer. Hello, this is Sara.”

“Hi, it’s Mike. I’m sorry. I’m not sure what’s…” She cut him off by tapping her temple.

“mindPhone Block Last Caller” That made three different phone numbers and she was willing to bet the voicemails would prove four. She began to wish she had not forwarded her old number and had spent the extra hour for the techs to transfer her old contact list to her new number and let her notify her friends and family, but she went for convenience over time.

“That was him again. I’m getting worried. I can’t just block every call or send them to voicemail.” She could feel her resolve and professional demeanor start to slip.

“Well, can you have your old number cancelled?” Jason was searching for a solution, she could see it in his eyes. Why couldn’t she find someone that cared for her as much as he, but was truly attracted to her?

The ringtone again. “mindPhone Send To Voicemail.”

The ringtone again. “mindPhone Send To Voicemail.”

The ringtone again. “mindPhone Send To Voicemail.”

“Sara! Are you with me?” Jason was leaning across the table grabbing her arm. She didn’t feel it. She could see him and his actions, but she didn’t feel his grip.

The ringtone again. “mindPhone Send To Voicemail.”

The ringtone again. “mindPhone Send To Voicemail.”

The ringtone again. “mindPhone Send To Voicemail.”

The ringtone again. She could sense her mind had entered into a loop and blackness started to take her. The ringing seemed to go on forever. Where was Jason? Why couldn’t she hear anything other than that ringtone?

Chapter Two

Mike went to Sara’s office. He liked her, he really liked her. She had listened to him. She knew him like no one else! Sure, it was only a dinner and she had been called a way early, but he knew she knew him and that the connection was real this time!

He thought he would surprise her, maybe take her to the coffee house near her office and see if they were coffee mates as well as soul mates. He knew she would be, just like he knew she would be so happy to see him!

He had thought about maybe just showing off a little bit and do a little hacking to send her a direct message like Trinity had sent Neo because that was the kind of flirty thing he would have enjoyed. But, he played it as a coppertop and went to her office instead.

She wasn’t there. How could she be gone? It was her normal working hours, she should be here! Maybe she had lied like the last one! Maybe she was out with someone else and maybe they were at the coffee house!

He concluded that he shouldn’t have yelled at the woman that tried to explain that Sara would be back soon. But she was probably just covering for the liar anyway!

Mike found himself at the coffee house. He ordered a Decaf, Soy Latte with an Extra Shot and Cream and made his way to a side booth. He thought of how Sara would have enjoyed sharing the same drink, maybe she’d go with a Grande instead of his Venti, but that would be alright.

As he was about to leave, she walked right by and sat down with some baseball cap wearing jerk at the farthest booth! What the hell? Should he go confront her?

He didn’t like public confrontation, especially if there were another man involved. He dialed her number.

As soon as she answered, “I can’t believe you would leave me like that!” he yelled in the loudest whisper he dared!

“Now is not a good time. In fact, I don’t think there will be a good time. Do not call again!” Her words had such force coming out of his little headset speaker that each one fell like a dagger on his ear drum and left him wondering if she might have ruptured the little membrane.

She hung up on him! That bitch! He hit redial. The line was blocked! But, he had his way around these things. He opened up his apps list and selected one of his first side projects, a number mimicker that allowed his phone to take on the number of any other mobile phone in the immediate area that had an open Bluetooth. After he had submitted PhoneClone to the app store and had it rejected, he modified it a bit and put a Bluetooth hack on it so that it didn’t matter if the cloned number was open or not.

He dialed again…“You bitch! You can’t hang up on me and block me! Do you know who I am?!” She hung up!

He tried again and was blocked. He set PhoneClone to find another number and called again, voicemail. “I can do this all day!” and he hung up.

He called back and went almost directly to voicemail, but at least he wasn’t blocked! “Seriously? Is this how you’re gonna treat your soulmate?” he whined this time and berated himself for the weakness.

He tried PhoneClone again and used a new number to call.

“Hi, it’s Mike. I’m sorry. I’m not sure what’s going on between us” and realized he’d been cut off again!

Well, it was time to play for keeps!

He set PhoneClone to loop as soon as each call is answered and to automatically dial her number once a new phone is mimicked. After the first one went to voicemail almost instantly, he didn’t even bother leaving a message, he just let the voicemail time out while PhoneClone went to work collecting another number to call from.

As he watched his phone cycle through numbers, a commotion caught his attention!

The pathetic soul with the ball cap was leaning over the table shaking Sara and yelling! “Somebody call an ambulance! I think she’s having a seizure! Sara! SARA! Come on, Sara!”

Mike picked up his phone and made his way out of the coffee house. He may never see Sara again, but his PhoneClone would never leave her alone…

The End

End of the Road

by: Judy Nickles

End of the Road

by Judy Nickles

Jolene thought of Roy’s oft-repeated mantra: I’ll come to the end of the road one of these days, and I won’t be where I was going when I started out. Now, it seemed, his self-prophesy had fulfilled itself.

They’d started school together in the square stucco building just across the railroad tracks from the town center. Why anyone would build a school on a barren tract of land like that, Jolene never knew. Most of the children had to cross the tracks, but she and Roy didn’t. They trudged up from the desolate street of thrown-together shanties which the city fathers threatened regularly to burn but never did.

Maybe they should have destroyed them. It was a poor excuse for a place to live. Most people didn’t live but rather existed. Day to day and hand to mouth, somehow they survived and eventually drifted away.

Jolene was luckier than most. She had two parents who literally gave her the clothes off their backs and food out of their mouths. “Learn everything you can, Josie,” her father always said. “Don’t end up like your ma and me.”

Roy, on the other hand, lived with his mother and whatever man she took in for what he could give her. Some of them ignored Roy; some of them knocked him around; some of them didn’t even know he existed because, after a while he started staying away from the house. He never said where he slept or what he ate, and Jolene never asked.

Maybe she should have. But, she reasoned, he wouldn’t have told her anyway. The one thing she knew was he came to school every morning. Some of the teachers looked beyond his unwashed body in ragged overalls, and some pretended he didn’t even occupy the last desk in the last row where he always ended up because his last name was Yancy.

Jolene, being an A for Akers sat in the second desk of the first row. The other girls didn’t speak to her, but she didn’t mind—much. She and Roy got along all right.

By the time they got to high school—which was on the right side of the tracks—they were considered pariahs. Jolene wanted to quit, but her parents said no. “Get that diploma, Jolene, and get out of here,” her mother said. “You know that’s what you got to do.”

Roy began to miss school more often. Jolene knew he was working so he could eat. The teachers didn’t seem to care if he showed up or not. At night he came by her place so he could catch up on what he missed. Somehow, he graduated with the class. The next day, he disappeared.

Jolene used her high school commercial course to get a job at the utility company, typing invoices, stuffing envelopes, and anything else the supervisor found for her to do. She gave her parents most of her salary, keeping out only enough to buy the kind of clothes she needed to work in the office.

When her father died two years later, and her mother a year after that, Jolene gave away or burned most of the stuff in the shanty and took a room with Mrs. Echols on Second Street right off the square. By the time she was twenty-five, she’d worked her way up to office supervisor in the water department.

Sometimes she thought about Roy, but not for long. With decent clothes and enough to eat, she blossomed into an attractive woman. Eventually she married Leon Morley, one of the linemen. They had two children, Eva Mae and Roy Lee, who went to the new school on the right side of the tracks and made plenty of friends.

Eva Mae was thirteen and Roy Lee eleven when Leon fell on a live power line and died instantly. His life insurance with the utility company finished paying for the house. Jolene went back to work, this time as a secretary in the district attorney’s office. That’s how she heard about Roy again after so many years.

~~~~~

“I read about how they extradited him from New Orleans,” Tilford Pollard said to the visitor in the outer office where Jolene worked. “He’d made a pile of money, hadn’t he?”

The other man nodded. “Unfortunately, he made it running guns and drugs.”

“Too bad,” the D.A. said. “He looked like a legit businessman until his wife went to the Feds.”

“Nah, wasn’t his wife, just his mistress. One of many. That’s what the problem was.”

“Oh, well, it happens. I went to school with a Roy Yancy. Don’t know why I remember the name. He wasn’t anything, just one of those shanty-town kids. Skinny. Dirty. Wonder whatever happened to him?”

How Jolene knew the extradited Roy Yancy was the same Roy she’d walked to school with and studied with for twelve years, she couldn’t say. But she knew. She was sure. And she followed every bit of news about the trial which dragged on for almost a year, because Roy Yancy could pay smart lawyers to keep him out of prison.

Unfortunately, they didn’t. When he was sentenced to life—mainly because he was behind some hits on his rivals—she wept. He’d gone so far—no matter how he got there—and now he’d lost it all.

It took some doing, but she found out where he’d been sent and wrote him a letter, mailing it from the next town over where she rented a post office box. He wrote back immediately.

“I never forgot you. You were a good kid. I was a good kid once, too. I never stole so much as a loaf of bread in those days, even when I thought I was going to starve. But you get tired of living with nothing. I won’t go into everything that got me here. Sure, there are things I regret, but it’s done now, and I can’t go back.”

When she wrote again, she asked if she could visit him. “I don’t know why you’d want to do that. You said you had a good job with the DA’s office and two kids to support. You don’t want to mess that up. By the way, I’m sorry about your husband. I don’t recognize the name. Guess he wasn’t from around there.”

But Jolene persisted, and finally Roy said she could come. She sent Eva Mae and Roy Lee to their grandmother’s house for the weekend and drove all night to get to the federal prison in time for visiting hours.

“Why did you come?” Roy asked as soon as she’d picked up the earphones.

“I wanted to. You look better than the last time I saw you.”

He laughed. “Yeah, I guess I do at that.”

“Did you really do everything they said?”

He nodded. “Everything. Maybe a little more.”

“Why?”

“I told you—I got tired of living with nothing.”

“I guess I can’t blame you, but I wish you’d come up with a better way to get what you wanted.”

“I didn’t.”

They talked about old times, not that those times were good to remember, but because they were a connection. Jolene asked if she could come again. Roy said she could.

She couldn’t go that often, but they wrote letters. She found out what she was allowed to send and made up regular packages for him.

Her secret life, as she thought of it, went on for seven years. By then, Eva Mae and Roy Lee were in college, and she could visit Roy more often. “No easy way to tell you this,” he said on one of her visits. “I have cancer. I opted out of any treatment, so the doc says six months.”

She didn’t cry until she got home, and then she lay in the middle of the living room floor and pounded the carpet with her fists and wailed.

On her next visit, he told her he wanted to come back home to be buried. “Not next to my mamma in a pauper’s grave. I want something that lets the town know Roy Yancy was there. But I don’t want you involved. You might lose your job. The DA’s secretary can’t be consorting with a lifer.”

She went back once more. This time he was in the prison hospital, but he got her in by saying she was his sister and only remaining family member. She thought the prison officials knew better, but they let her in anyway. “Remember when I said I’d come to the end of the road and wouldn’t be where I was going when I started out?” he asked in a voice so weak she had to bend down to hear him.

“I remember.”

“I was right.”

“I guess you were.”

“Don’t you be putting flowers on my grave,” he whispered.

She stroked his hand in silence.

~~~~~

He’d paid the local mortuary for everything. The newspapers got hold of the story and ran the headline

GANGSTER COMES HOME FOR BURIAL.

Tilford Pollard showed her the paper when he came to work that morning. “I never dreamed this guy was that scroungy kid we went to school with.”

Jolene shrugged because she couldn’t speak.

“Some story, huh?”

She shrugged again.

~~~~~

The marble monument topped with a little boy crouched at the feet of an angel and sheltered under its wings was the talk of the town. Jolene wondered where he’d stashed the money to pay for it, but she wasn’t surprised he’d managed to do it. Roy had always been resourceful.

Bibliography

Meet the authors

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p<>{color:#000;}. The World in Johnny’s Back Garden by Kurt Chambers – www.kurtchambers.net

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p<>{color:#000;}. Amanda By Alex McGilvery – http://alexmcgilvery.com

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p<>{color:#000;}. TORN by Nicole Tillman – Facebook- www.facebook.com/authornicoletillman Twitter- @ncotillman1 Blog- authornicoletillman.wordpress.com Email- [email protected]

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p<>{color:#000;}. My Everything: A poem from the book of the 1234 words by Brian Zuckerberg – Blog: www.briansblogthoughts.blogspot.com

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p<>{color:#000;}. Remind Me: A short story by L.N. Cronk – www.LNCronk.com

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p<>{color:#000;}. COPY THIS & SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE: Stories Of How Other Couples Saved Their Marriages In 31 Days By Brian Mulipah – Blog: www.UnbreakYourMarriage.blogspot.com Email: [email protected]

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p<>{color:#000;}. BRAIN FREEZE by Victor J Porter – www.victorjporter.wordpress.com or – https://www.facebook.com/TalesFromPurgatorium

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p<>{color:#000;}. End of the Road by Judy Nickles: www.judynickles.com


Remind Me: A Collection of Short Stories From Various Authors

  • ISBN: 9781310161230
  • Author: Brian Mulipah
  • Published: 2016-01-18 17:05:22
  • Words: 27999
Remind Me: A Collection of Short Stories From Various Authors Remind Me: A Collection of Short Stories From Various Authors