#My52 “The Price of a Life”

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#My52: Week 2

Word prompt: wheelchair

Word count – 503

Reading time – 2 mins, 4 secs

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Part I

A thick layer of dust covered the piano his mother forced him to practice thirteen years ago.

Dex ran his hand over the keys.

I hated this piano. I hated practicing.

His shoulders slumped as he plunked a key.

The stiffness of the key and the angry tone of the chord spoke to the years of disuse.

Like him, the piano sat, waiting for concern and interest from anyone.

Dexter Morgan wandered into the kitchen and felt like he’d traveled back in time.

Everything was the same… the linoleum, countertops, cabinets… even the toaster. The only thing missing was the thirteen-inch television he watched cartoons on while shoveling down spoonfuls of Malt-o-Meal.

Dex pushed through the swinging café doors and took in the once bright and sunny dining room.

Heavy, dark green drapes hung on the far wall of glass, blocking out any hint of daylight. A worn, wooden rocking chair sat in the corner, covered in as much dust as the piano.

A hospital bed sat in the room’s center, stripped and unplugged.

He was ready to leave this room… to leave this house, but the bed called to him like a siren luring him closer.

He grazed his hand over the plastic mattress, and it felt as cold and empty as his heart.

His mother told him his father had died eleven years old—two years after she dragged him from this house. They were going away with Simon; the man Verna Morgan started an affair with after his father deployed again to the middle-east.

But she lied.

Verna lied about everything and made him endure a hellish childhood, all for money.

His father’s money. The price he’d put on his own life.

Dex remembered the last time he saw Proctor Morgan—sitting in his wheelchair in the front doorway.

Father and son exchanged one last glance, both their faces wet with tears, before Verna shoved the twelve-year-old into the back seat of Simon’s Ford Explorer.

“Dexter, please stop crying. This is for the best. Your father will be fine.”

“We’re leaving him all alone, mom–”

“He has nurses and caregivers to help–”

“I don’t want to leave him–”

“Enough! Your father will spend the rest of his life in that wheelchair and he can barely use his hands. Am I just supposed to sacrifice the rest of my life to feed him and wipe his ass?”

She’d leaned in close to her son, speaking low and slow.

“I deserve a life, Dexter. I deserve nice things and traveling to new places. I deserve a man who’s a man. Simon will give me that life. Now, I don’t want to hear any more about it.”

Dex winced and leaned on the bed, the memories still fresh and painful.

Simon’s good life had been a new address every six months. The wannabe-gangster ran cons, scams, and lost big playing poker.

Every time he lost, Simon took it out on Verna, and she would pass the bruises on to Dex.

To be continued

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©2019 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

#My52 Writing Challenge 2019

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It’s a brand new year… are you ready for a new writing challenge?

In 2017, I participated in the 52-Week Writing Challenge (and was the randomly chosen winner) and in 2018, I did the #52weeks52stories Writing Challenge.

When I asked around about a writing challenge for 2019, none popped up, so I decided to go my own way, and you’re invited to join me!

If you’ve participated in any type of writing challenge, you’re already aware of what a useful writing tool they can be. If you’ve come to an impasse in your current WIP, stepping away for a moment to focus on something else can sort through the cobwebs, flick on the light, or move the forest so you can see the trees.

Parts of a current WIP can also be used in a writing challenge. The difficulty of character profiles, scenes, world building, and even book blurbs can disappear when task are tackled as flash fiction.

As the Queen of Many Wurdz and champion of the run-on sentence, I took part in challenges to focus on short stories.  I needed to focus on telling a complete story in as few words as possible. I’m partial to longer standalone books, but not everyone wants to read a 180K epic psychological family saga.

Okay, I lied. I don’t either.

So, after 70+ short stories, how am I doing? It’s an ongoing process. 🙂

What I enjoy most about writing challenges is the accountability. Someone is watching, keeping me honest, cheering me on during the good weeks, and talking me off the ledge during the bad ones. Writing is a solitary endeavor, but many times it helps to get out of your own head.

What are the rules for #My52? That’s the best part—there aren’t any.

  • Writing in any form counts. Haiku, Poetry, Drabble, Flash, short story… they’re all welcome.
  • Genres are also limitless. Suspense, Mystery, Romance, LGBT, Fantasy, Science Fiction, YA… it’s your choice.
  • The writing week is Monday through Friday with postings on Saturday and Sunday. (Posting earlier in the current week is acceptable too.)
  • Tweet a link to your post with the hashtag #My52 for retweets and likes

OR

  • Grab the banner at the top and link back to this page and I’ll feature your post during the challenge.

Don’t let the word challenge stress you. It’s not a contest and the challenge is only against yourself… to keep you writing-focused.

Life gets crazy and cluttered, so do not beat yourself up if you miss a week. Keep writing!

Word counts can be anywhere from a 17-syllable Haiku to a multi-week short story.

Have fun with it. Write outside your form or genre—I’m not a paranormal writer and I wrote paranormal stories last year and enjoyed doing it.

If you have questions, leave them in the comments or find me on Twitter – @MsFelicia, or Instagram – @fle_d.

Happy 2019… and happy writing!

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#52weeks52stories “Frozen in Time, Part III”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 47

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 724

Reading time – 2 mins, 14 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part III

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Luci Gwynn yammered on about sanity napkins and belts as Petra huddled in the sofa’s corner clutching a hot water bottle against her stomach.

Neither of them heard Vance enter.

“What’s wrong with her?”

Startled, Luci looked up at her husband then smiled toward her daughter.

“My little girl’s growing up and entering womanhood.”

“Damn. Now I’ve got to keep an eye on her little hot ass, so she doesn’t go whoring around like the rest of the women in your family.”

Luci’s mouth gaped open in surprise and outrage, but she never got to respond.

Propelled forward by hate, disgust, and a new influx of hormones, Petra pounced on her father, hitting, biting, and scratching in a frenzy of rage.

Caught off-guard and stunned at first, Vance swept his arms down his body, knocking Petra to the floor.

She rose to her knees, panting like an animal ready to attack again, but Vance backed away looking at his hands and arms and feeling his face.

Undeterred, Petra tried to advance on him, but Luci wrapped her arms around her from behind, holding her back.

Vance left the room without a word, the only sound being the opening and closing of the front door.

Loosening her grip, Luci spun her daughter around. “What is wrong with you?”

Still shaking while hostility and loathing coursed through her, Petra was defiant.

“I hate him.”

“But what if he doesn’t come back?”

“Good.”

Luci’s anger grew to match her daughter’s.

“Good? What’s good about it? What about me, Petra?”

The teen sneered. “No more beatings and bruises.”

She knew the slap was coming and didn’t flinch.

Horrified by her own actions, Luci yanked her arm back, clutching her hands to her chest.

“Petra, baby, I’m so sorry.”

Petra back away, her sneer replaced by a smile, then giggles.

Luci reached out for her daughter, but Petra stepped back farther. Her giggles grew to roaring laughter.

“Petra… -”

Wrapping her arms around her stomach, Petra doubled over and tried to speak through gasps for air.

“This… is great. Daddy gives you a black eye for… something as dumb as wearing the wrong dress… and you take it. But you have no problem slapping me for standing up to the big bully.”

“Petra, baby… you don’t understand -”

“Shut up! Don’t say that! Don’t tell me I don’t understand.”

Her laughter abated, Petra rose to her full height.

“Me, Arnold and Leonard have tried to understand our entire lives. We sneak into each other’s rooms and cry together. We’ve been to the library, digging through books on domestic violence because we can’t tell anybody. We can’t ask for help, because we’ll be separated, and Arnie and Len are all I have. So, we decided you put up with daddy to protect us.” She scoffed. “But now I know we were wrong, mama. We’ve always been wrong. It’s about you, only you.”

“No, you’re wrong, baby. I do it for you and your brothers.”

“None of us should have ever been born. This isn‘t a family, it‘s a prison camp.”

“Don’t say that! You kids are everything to me.”

She hung her head in shame.

“Yes, your father hits me, but he’s never hit you. He’s never hurt any of you.”

“Hurt me? Did you see him, mama? I’m his daughter… a thirteen-year-old girl. He didn’t hit me—he didn’t fight back, and not because he’s some noble father. That was fear in his eyes. He’s not used to being challenged. Not used to anyone fighting back. You should try it sometime.”

Luci’s face crumpled at the truth of her daughter’s words.

“But you know what, mama? You don‘t have to use fists to hurt someone.”

Her words were heavy and toneless, and her body sagged, the emotional burden taking its toll.

Repeating her father’s movements, Petra backed toward the doorway.

“But he can’t hurt me anymore, mama. And he’ll never hurt me again.”

Reaching the doorway, Petra glared at the woman who’d given her life.

“And neither will you.”

“Petra!”

Ignoring Luci, she turned and left the room, not stopping until she reached the sanctuary of her bedroom.

Petra Gwynn remembered that day, not for the onset of her periods and the first step toward adulthood, but as the day both her parents no longer mattered to her.

 

 

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Frozen in Time, Part II”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 46

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 414

Reading time – 1 mins, 43 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part II

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Vance Gwynn was a mountain of a man who used his bulk to intimidate his wife, Luci.

When his size and words failed, he pummeled her plus-size body with his massive fists.

Luci not only took the beatings, but she’d also always apologize and promise to be a better wife.

She shielded and protected him from law enforcement and concerned neighbors and praised him to their three children.

To no avail.

By the time Petra was eight, she had a deep, soul-wrenching hatred for her father, as did her two older brothers, Arnold and Leonard.

Vance saved the physical abuse for Luci, visiting verbal and psychological tirades on his children instead.

Regardless of how much they grew, the Gwynn children only received new school clothes every other year. Their ill-fitting apparel made Petra and her brothers the targets of abuse and bullying at school. The thrift store items Luci bought to bolster their wardrobe only worsened their plight.

Birthdays and Christmas weren’t recognized, and Vance’s practice of destroying any gifts sent by extended family ceased the flow of gifts… and communication.

The siblings grew closer, bound by their misery, their confusion about their mother’s complacency, and their intense hatred for their father.

At the end of his last year in junior high, Leonard received an engraved plaque for maintaining a perfect 4.0-grade point average—the only one in the district at the junior high level. He was on-track to receive multiple scholarships for college.

He beamed with pride when he presented the award to his mother that evening. Leonard refused to allow her blatant indifference to steal his joy.

Vance took care of that.

Snatching the plaque from Luci’s hands, he banged it against the kitchen sink then dropped it in the trash.

“Stop acting like a girl. It’s just a hunk of wood and means nothing. You’ll still end up cleaning hubcaps down at Remington Car Wash… you and your brother. That’s all you’re good for.”

Standing at just under six-feet-tall, Leonard was bigger than most of the boys in his ninth-grade class, but he was almost a hundred pounds smaller than his father.

Still, his murderous glare that followed Vance as he sauntered from the kitchen both scared and excited Petra.

She didn’t want her brother to get hurt, but had he grabbed a knife from the butcher block and ran after their father, she wouldn’t have stopped him.

Just as she couldn’t stop herself two weeks later.

 

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Frozen in Time”

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It’s week 52 and the last post of 2018!

It’s been quite a writing year for me. I didn’t publish the books I’d planned but I’m good with that because the year was a giant leap forward in finding my writing voice.

Challenges like #52weeks52stories coaxed forced me out of my comfort zone and I haven’t looked back.

My last post is a serial in six parts that I have to complete and post by 11:59 PM Monday.

This should be fun!

Have a great Sunday!

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#52weeks52stories: Week 52

Word prompt: smack

Word count – 429

Reading time – 1 mins, 42 secs

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Frozen in Time, Part 1

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“Please don’t come here again.”

The battered woman trailing police to the front door turned and whispered in a hard voice, “You don’t understand. This was my fault. I shouldn’t have pushed Elliott about coats for the kids.”

Petra Gwynn smirked. “You remind your husband your three children are wearing nylon jackets in freezing temps and he has the right to smack you around?”

Sonia Milan glanced over her shoulder at the cops standing next to their squad cars.

“Elliott’s been through a lot. He lost his mom at a young age… lost friends while serving in the middle-east and got an injury that ended his military career. He has to be handled a certain way.”

“Bullshit! He’s not the first person to lose someone or get injured in combat. Those are excuses, Sonia.” She turned her neighbor toward the hallway mirror. “Look at your face. That’s not how you treat someone you love.”

Sonia’s temper flared, and she whirled around to face her neighbor.

“Don’t you dare judge my husband. You have no idea what it’s like for him. Keep your opinions to yourself and mind your own damn business.”

Petra clenched her fists hanging at her sides.

The freakin’ nerve!

She approached Sonia until their noses were almost touching.

“That’s exactly what I was doing until you banged on my door. You cried out for my help. You begged me to call the police.”

She brushed past her clueless neighbor and stood by the open front door.

“And you are leaving my home… now.”

Kowtowed, Sonia turned for the front door.

Petra thrust her arm out blocking the woman’s path.

“He needs help, Sonia, before something even worse happens. But if you don’t care about yourself or somehow feel you deserve to be his punching bag, think of your children. They see everything and forget nothing. And it’s doing more damage than you can ever imagine.”

Sonia’s jaws tightened, and she pushed past Petra, storming down the walkway.

Closing the door, Petra sagged against it as the anger dissipated from her body.

I shouldn’t have lost my temper. Sonia needs understanding, not my contempt. Elliott has beaten her down so low, she believes she’s to blame for his shortcomings.

Petra slid to the floor, remembering the look of terror in her neighbor’s eyes when she’d first answered the door.

It was the same look she’d seen in her own mother’s eyes for most of her life.

To be continued

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “The Christmas Gift”

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“I last posted during week 44 and it’s week 51, which means I have six entries to post.”

One down, five to go! 😉

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#52weeks52stories: Week 45

Word prompt: journal

Word count – 281

Reading time – 1 mins, 10 secs

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“Wake up, sleepyhead! It’s Christmas!”

Gordie Williams bolted upright.

Aw, man. I overslept.

He rolled out of bed, brushing past his older brother.

Not slowing down at the top of the stairs, Gordie took them two at a time.

He raced into the family room and dropped at the foot of the Christmas tree, his eyes searching the piles of boxes and gift bags.

Finding the box with the Tompkins Fine Writing Essentials label-tape, the twelve-year-old’s heart leapt into his throat.

Gordie lifted the box with reverence and leaned back against the sofa.

Removing the top, his fingers caressed the faux leather journals. His lips twitched at the corners as he picked up one of the balanced pens.

No more one-subject notebooks. No more of his father’s cast-off legal pads with the scant few pages left, or dried-up pens from the 99-Cent Store left too long on the shelf.

Gordie fanned the pages of the matching undated planner wondering which story he should write first—the epic pirate adventure or the one about the magician’s son with low self-esteem.

He jumped when his mom knelt next to him, sliding her arm around his shoulder.

“Merry Christmas, baby.”

“Thanks, mom. Merry Christmas.”

Celeste Williams kissed her youngest son’s forehead.

“Mr. Lawrence is a great English teacher, Gordie, but never let anyone tell you your imagination is too broad or unbelievable.”

She reached out, touching the gift box.

“Write your stories, baby. Your way.”

Gordie dropped the writing tools and pulled his mother into a tight hug. It muffled his reply as he buried his face into her neck to hide the tears forming.

“I will, momma. I will.”

And he did.

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “One Last Christmas”

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Did I disappear or WHAT?

I knew participating in NaNoWriMo AND moving at the same time would be daunting… and I was right. I finished NaNo ahead of time and am all moved in and settled… and had a full-blown Fibro flare-up!

But I didn’t grab my blankie and Kindle and veg out in the recliner this time. Life has stolen a lot of writing time from me in 2018 and I wasn’t losing anymore. But fibro-fog only allowed me so much concentration and sacrifices had to be made.

Sorry #52weeks52stories challenge.

I last posted during week 44 and it’s week 51, which means I have six entries to post.

And I will… before 2018 takes its final bow. 😉

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#52weeks52stories: Week 51

Word prompt: inherited

Word count – 930

Reading time – 2 mins, 9 secs

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Myrna Simmons didn’t need to look at a calendar. She knew she was coming to the end of the six months her doctor had given her. Nothing more could be done for the heart condition she’d inherited.

She glanced around at each smiling face seated at the extended dining room table. Four generations of the Simmons family traded barbs and quips between mouthfuls of Christmas dinner.

The stings returned to her chest and she clenched the fist hidden in her lap. Myrna sipped her water to hide the pain in her face.

Please, not now, not today.

She’d prayed to see the new year, not for herself, but so Christmas wouldn’t be a time of sadness for the family she was leaving behind.

She glanced at the empty chair at the other end of the table. She lost her Jimmy two years ago when his diabetes refused to be controlled any longer. Her children couldn’t bear for anyone to sit in Pawpaw’s chair during family dinners.

Would they leave her chair empty too at the next family dinner?

She pushed such maudlin thoughts from her mind. A future without her in it was what had made her older sister, Bernice, so angry.

Plagued by the congenital heart condition from an early age, Bernice had undergone two major operations before she reached junior high school.

Dale and Lorna Spooner treated their oldest child as if she were fragile. Lorna’s own battle with the condition didn’t show up until Myrna was a kindergartner and considered mild in comparison to most.

Rebelling in her late teens, Bernice eloped and married Barry parks and gave birth to three sons in five years.

Her doctors threw up their hands in frustration and their parents were mortified. Dale and Lorna spent most of those early years pleading with Bernice to be reasonable and safe and slow down.

Myrna secretly cheered her sister’s bravado. She watched Bernice do all the things with her boys she’d been sheltered from

When Jimmy proposed to Myrna, Bernice was at her side planning the wedding and as her matron of honor.

The year after Bernice’s youngest started high school, he came home one day to find his mother unconscious on the living room floor.

Her time had run out.

No amount of surgery or medication could bolster her exhausted heart.

Anger radiated from Bernice as she’d sat in her wheelchair. Family and friends buzzed around her piling their plates high with cake and ice cream to celebrate her forty-second birthday.

But Bernice could only focus on what was being stolen from her… what she’d miss—college and high school graduations, military promotions, weddings… and grandchildren.

When she didn’t wake from a sound night’s sleep fourteen months later, it was almost a comfort to her family.

Her acidic comments and toxic behavior had worn down even the steadfast and loyal Barry.

Wincing, Myrna clenched her hidden fist again.

Schooling her features, she excused herself from the table to retrieve the powerful pain pills which were supposed to make her agony bearable.

She closed her bedroom door and slumped against it, her breathing now rapid and shallow.

Myrna knew she needed the oxygen hidden away in the back of her closet.

“Please, God, not today. Give me the rest of today. I’ll use the oxygen tomorrow. I’ll tell them tomorrow. Just… let me have Christmas, please.”

Stumbling into the bathroom on shaky legs, Myrna opened the pill bottle and swallowed two without water.

She hung her head, willing her pulse to slow down.

Raising her head, she stared at her reflection… and smiled.

Her iron-gray twists fell to her shoulders, lining a caramel-kissed face almost wrinkle-free. Despite her pain, walnut-brown eyes stared back at her not distressed but content.

She looked good for her seventy-seven years of life and knew she was a blessed woman.

Myrna had lived longer than any member of her family cursed with the dreaded heart condition, hers not appearing and becoming troublesome until her fifty-fourth birthday.

Neither her grandfather or sister made it to their fiftieth year… and she’d had more than fifty years with Jimmy before she lost him.

Their five children had added thirteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren to the family.

And she’d been there for it all.

The stings in her chest eased and Myrna said a silent prayer of thanks.

Returning to the dining room, she stood in the doorway, taking in her family.

Her oldest daughter, Lois, looked on with pride as her oldest daughter, BreAnna, fed her three-month-old daughter, Malina.

Fraternal teenage twins, Archie and Andi, fought over the last dinner rolls, while her oldest child, Kirk, argued about computers and something called gigs with his brother-in-law, Grover.

He caught her eye and winked.

Myrna smiled.

She understood Bernice’s anger now.

Moments like this were to be enjoyed and cherished, not missed.

She returned to her chair.

“Ready for dessert, Granny?”

Myrna looked at her twelve-year-old granddaughter squeezed her hand. Alison was the spitting image of Myrna’s daughter-in-law, Gale.

Except for the eyes. She had Jimmy’s soft velvet-brown eyes.

“Yes, baby, I am. Bring on the cobbler and ice cream.”

Everyone at the table cheered. Alison ran to the dessert table, followed by her cousins.

No one could have dessert before Granny.

Myrna relaxed back in her chair, enjoying the melee surrounding the peach cobbler.

This would be her last Christmas. Her traitorous heart would see to that.

But despite its weak walls, leaky valves and inability to function correctly, Myrna was grateful her heart had always been full of love.

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©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Christmas is Love”

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This short story was so much better twenty-four hours ago before SCRIVENER ATE IT without having the decency to auto-save it the way it’s supposed to. I had to step away from NaNoWriMo and try to recreate it from notes and memory and well, you know who this brain works. I hope I recaptured the sentiment even if the words escaped me. (Thanks for nothing, Scrivener!)

#52weeks52stories: Week 44

Word prompt: family

Word count – 2662

Reading time – 8:37

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The holiday season held no joy for Mavis Landry.

The thirty-four-year-old stood in the supermarket check-out line cringing as Christmas carols blared from the store’s sound system.

The First Noel used to be her favorite carol, now she fought off tears and a panic attack as the second verse began.

She wasn’t always like this, in danger of becoming a soulless Scrooge.

Her earliest holiday memories were happy ones. George and Carol Landry believed in living life to its fullest, and the period from Halloween through New Year’s Day was one long holiday for Mavis and her older brother, Michael, with Christmas being the focal point. Carol Landry’s love of Christmas and its magic was unmatched and she surprised them all each year with a new tradition.

But life for the Landry family changed the year Mavis completed pharmacy school.

Living and working three hours from her parent’ home, Mavis coordinated her arrival with Michael, who lived two hours away on the other side of their parents, as a surprise for George and Carol.

When she arrived just before five on the evening of the twenty-second, Mavis wasn’t concerned Michael wasn’t there yet. Despite living closer, her brother was from a more metropolitan area and had more freeways and traffic to contend with.

But worry did creep into her thoughts as each hour passed and her calls to his cell went straight to voicemail.

George talked Mavis and her mother into sitting down to dinner at eight but they hadn’t finished their salads when a knock at the door lead them to find two highway patrol officers in the doorway.

Mavis would never forget her mother’s mournful wails.

Two SUVs engaged in racing and road rage caused a multiple vehicle accident which took five lives, including twenty-eight-year old Michael Landry.

Mavis spent Christmas Day waiting for the medical examiner to release her brother’s body.

The Landrys went on because that’s what families do. George and Carol still decorated and Mavis still made the trip home but the holiday was like re-opening an old wound that would never heal.

Four years after Michael’s death, Mavis cut her holiday trip short. Instead of staying through New Year’s Day, she was going home on the 27th to ring in the new year with a new man in her life.

George went out to clear the walkway of the overnight snowfall and never returned.

Carol’s mournful wails became the center of Mavis’ nightmares.

She didn’t return home for three weeks, seeing her mother through the autopsy and funeral.

Altering her work schedules, Mavis made monthly visits to see her mom, whose depression appeared worse with each visit.

Inspired by her boss, who’d lost his wife to breast cancer, Mavis took a six-month leave of absence from work, moved in with Carol Landry and got them both into family counseling.

The slow process was cathartic for the Landry women but bought them back to the land of the living. Two years after George’s death, Mavis took her mom to Paris for Christmas. There was still tears and grief but Mavis was grateful they were together sharing new experiences instead of locked inside the family home sharing space with ghosts.

With her sixtieth birthday approaching, Carol went back to volunteering in the community and surprising the neighborhood with baked treats.

Mavis returned to work with a new outlook on life. She still felt the loss but refused to allow it to drag her down. Her father and brother wouldn’t approve.

There was humor and fun in the Landry home again when Mavis took James home with her for Thanksgiving.

Mavis knew her mom was excited over her relationship and hopeful for the future.

But futures aren’t guaranteed.

After speaking with her mother last on the twentieth, Mavis and James loaded his Range Rover the next day and made the three-hour-trip to Carol’s.

Mavis’ pulse quickened when they pulled up in front of the Landry home.

Unlike every other home on the block, the recent snowfall still covered the driveway and sidewalks.

Even after George’s death, Carol was still fastidious about keeping access areas free of snow during the winter.

Mavis trudged to the front door, dreading each step.

Using her key, Mavis entered the house, not bothering to remove her boots. Carol’s anger over wet floors was the least of her concerns.

Mavis stood in the foyer as James came inside.

“Mavis, where’s your mom?”

She didn’t respond.

“Mavis?”

She walked into the living room and her heart sank.

The Christmas tree stood in the corner…dark. Neither Santa’s Village above the fireplace nor the nativity scene on the floor next to it was lit.

Mavis knew.

She turned and raced down the hallway to her mother’s bedroom, but she froze when she reached it, resting her forehead against the door.

James’ arms slipped around her waist from behind. “Do you want me to do it?”

Mavis clasped his hands and squeezed. “I have to.”

She opened the door, surprised to find both bedside lamps on, but not surprised by anything else.

Surrounded by books, magazines, and with a notepad on her lap, Carol Landry appeared to have fallen asleep while making holiday plans.

Mavis crawled onto the bed and pulled her mother’s stiff, cold body into her arms… and her mother’s mournful wails from the past became her own.

James sat on the bed behind Mavis and held her as she cried.

He knew he should call someone, but he also knew they would separate mother and daughter. Mavis needed this time with the last member of her family.

Losing Carol broke Mavis, but she didn’t sink back into depression. Mavis’s anger boiled over and she lashed out.

When the medical examiner told her that like her father, Carol, too, had died from a sudden, massive coronary, Mavis flew into a rage and railed about how two people living a healthy lifestyle didn’t just die because of bad hearts.

She screamed about the inability of two people to share a road made for everyone taking her brother from her.

Exhausted, she’d fallen into James’ arms and it was only because of him, Mavis got through it all.

But as the newness and rebirth of spring arrived, Mavis was still angry and pushing James away.

Having lost his own mother, and only family member, while in high school, James knew what Mavis was going through and stuck by her side, enduring her hurtful comments and apathy. He also hung onto the engagement ring he’d planned to give her right after dinner with her mother.

Guided by fear, Mavis refused James’ offer to spend Christmas together. Saying she needed the time alone, Mavis made the solemn journey to the family home she refused to part with.

“Merry Christmas! How are you this afternoon?”

Pulled from her thoughts, Mavis realized it was her turn in line and stepped forward.

“All set for Christmas?”

Mavis considered the woman, close to her own age, in her red sweater and matching Santa-hat. Her name badge read, “Patty”, and Mavis also didn’t miss the wedding rings on Patty’s left hand. Patty, no doubt had a perky husband and 2.3 perky children waiting for her at home.

“Yes, thank you.”

After swiping her debit card, Mavis took her bag from Patty, anxious to flee her cheery presence.

“Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!”

Mavis didn’t turn around or respond, but guilt and shame hit her in the face along with the frigid temps as she left the store.

“Would you care to make a donation to We’re Rollin’?”

Glancing to her right, Mavis saw a young woman bundled against the cold seated at a table.  She was in a wheelchair, as was the older man next to her.

“Excuse me? We’re Rollin’? What’s that?”

“We’re a local nonprofit organization that provides free rides to medical appointments for seniors and the disabled.”

“Free?”

“Yes, ma’am. Not everyone can afford the fee-based transport services. They’re income-based and there are forms and a process applicants must go through. Many get denied because their monthly income is over the required limit, but full fares are still out of their reach.”

Mavis approached the table.

“Sounds like a good program but I’m sure you get taken advantage of.”

The old man laughed. “There’s always someone who going to game the system, young lady, but we know they’re outnumbered by good folks who need a service like this one. Even though they can’t afford fee-based rides, most folks always make a donation. They’re glad we’re here, so we never turn down anyone.”

The sincerity in his eyes brought a smile to Mavis’ face. “I’m sure your dedication is appreciated.” She pulled out her wallet.

“Thanks, young lady, but I owe this program to my wife, Marianne. She was a retired nurse and a doer—always lending a hand to someone somewhere—providing rides to doctor’s appointments and taking up collections to help someone meet their prescription copays.”

Mavis had lost count over the years of the prescriptions she put back on shelves because customers couldn’t afford them.

“Even after I lost my legs to diabetes, Marianne took care of me, our home, and half the neighborhood. She was something else. When I lost her five years ago, I didn’t think I could go on. I just sat in my house waiting to die. This story came on the news about the increase in local 911 calls because people didn’t have any other way to get medical help, and most of those folks were seniors and the disabled. I heard Marianne in my head saying, “So? What are you waiting for?” He laughed again. “In a month’s time, I had a van and a volunteer driver. After one year, we were a registered 501(c)(3) with three vans and more volunteers than we can use.”

Excited, the young woman finished the story. “Now we have eight vans and sponsorship from local businesses that take care of insurance and vehicle maintenance, but we still fund-raise to cover fuel expenses so rides are always available when needed.”

“And the name, We’re Rollin’, how did you come up with that?”

“It’s what Marianne said every time she got behind the wheel.”

The chains of grief eased their grip on Mavis’ heart. Ignoring the loose bills in her wallet, Mavis pulled out the two bills hidden behind her driver’s license. Unfolding them, she handed the bills to the young woman, whose eyes widened.

“Ma’am? All of this?”

Mavis winked at the old man. “Yes, for Marianne.”

She dropped the two one-hundred-dollar bills into a money pouch, then reached for candy canes to show their thanks. But the old man stilled her hand, and instead handed Mavis a red envelope.

“Merry Christmas to you, young lady, and thank you.”

She accepted the envelope. “You’re welcome and Merry Christmas to you both.”

Mavis headed to her car, her steps a little lighter, her mind not as weary.

She wasted no time starting the SUV and turning the heat up to high. As she waited for warmth, Mavis opened the red envelope and pulled out a Christmas card.

The photo on the front showed a group of smiling people posed around a Christmas tree. In the center of the group was the old man in the wheelchair.

“Merry Christmas from Mitchell Pierce and the dedicated volunteers of We’re Rollin’!”

She opened the card and one side read, “May the joy and warmth of this holiday season be with you now and always”, and the opposite side had three linked candy canes and above them were the words, “Peace, Love, Joy.”

Tears erupted from Mavis Landry… and she leaned her head back and let them flow.

Clutching the card to her chest, Mavis didn’t cry for her brother and parents, but she cried for what she’d allowed her loss to steal from her. She cried because she’d forgotten the joy and peace of mind that came from love of family. She cried because she’d allowed her grief to blind her to all the good around… and inside her.

Wiping her eyes, Mavis knew she had to do better… try harder, and she headed home, grateful for meeting an old man who’d found strength in his grief to help others.

James.

She glanced at her watch.

It was getting late and traffic would be heavy in all directions. She had no right to call James and ask him to make the trip down, but she could go to him. All he’d ever done was love her and stand by her side and she’d pushed him away. James had proven the kind of man he was and what Mavis meant to him, now she had to step up and do the same… and pray she hadn’t lost him.

Pulling into the Landry driveway, Mavis felt joy for the first time in months.

James stepped out of his Range Rover and walked to her car as she jumped out.

“I know you said you needed to be alone, but I needed to be with you more.”

He didn’t have time to say anymore. Mavis launched her body at him and they fell over into a snowbank.

She covered his face in kisses, all the while apologizing for blocking him out and not considering his feelings.

He kissed her then stroked her cheek. “Mavis, why are we laying in the snow?”

She giggled as he stood and pulled her up, but realization dawned on her when she glanced at her watch.

Grabbing James hand, she dragged him toward her SUV. “C’mon! We have forty-six minutes before stores close and there’s nothing in the house for Christmas dinner.”

James laughed, stopping Mavis in her tracks.

Leading her to the back of the Range Rover, he opened the hatch and she was floored by the bags of food. He even brought firewood.

“I kind of figured you’d try to get through the holidays on pizza rolls and coffee.”

Mavis bit her lip, remembering the two bags of pizza rolls she’d just bought.

He shook his head laughing. “Let’s get this stuff inside. We’ve got a tree to decorate.”

“Tree?”

James pointed toward the front door and she saw a large, bound Douglas Fir leaning against the door. When she glanced back, he was already filling his hands with bags and Mavis joined him.

After everything was inside—including the pizza rolls—James went to work building a fire.

In the kitchen, Mavis emptied shopping bags, in awe of James’ attention to detail. There were even bottles of champagne for New Year’s.

She hadn’t lost her chance and she wasn’t alone.

Mavis had a sudden need to be close to James. Abandoning the groceries, she headed for the living room.

Her steps slowed in the hallway. She’d almost trapped herself in a dark place, consumed with all she’d lost. She caused herself pain by hanging onto nonexistent ghosts instead of letting go and reaching for what was right in front of her.

Michael and their parents loved her and that’s what she needed to show. People needed to see them live on in her and through her.

James had a fire going and was opening boxes of decorations when Mavis entered the room.

Kneeling at his side, Mavis opened a tote. Her chest tightened but a smile graced her lips as she pulled out the mahogany box. It contained one of Carol Landry’s most treasured decorations, a gift from her mother-in-law, Granny Helen when Mavis was still in her teens.

Opening the box, Mavis ran her fingers over the inscription on the mirrored candle tray’s edges and knew she would be okay.

James looked over at what she was holding. “What’s that?”

“Wise words I’d forgotten.” She held it up for him to read the words that held so much meaning for her this year.

“Christmas is about family; family is about love. Rejoice in Love.”

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “…a time to every purpose under heaven”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 43

Word prompt: superhero

Word count – 2180

Reading time – 7:07

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Being a superhero had its off-days.

Setting the city bus filled with passengers down in the center of the street, Dex winced at the sharp pain in his right hip.

Shaking off the discomfort, he approached the mangled guard rail. Gripping the jagged, twisted metal, Dex pulled the ends together and squeezed them tight within his fist, creating a seal better than any welder.

Dex found it difficult to open his clenched fist and release the railing. He rubbed his fingers over the knuckles on his right hand.

Dex couldn’t remember the last time he felt pain.

Well, he could but it wasn’t important. He turned and approached the bus passengers gathered outside the bus. They cheered and called out his name, some with tear-stained cheeks.

They loved their hero.

Tilting his head to the left, Dex heard the sirens of the first responders.

After finding no injured passengers, Dex assured the frazzled bus driver help was moments away.

He waved to the crowd and turned to leave when a blue-haired senior citizen stepped away from the crowd, calling his name.

“MegaDex?”

Puffing out his chest, Dex flashed his winning smile. “Yes, madam? How may I help you?”

She walked right up to him, her movements agile and fluid for a woman of her years. Standing on tip-toes, she reached up and cupped his cheek.

“Young man, are you okay?”

His eyes widened in surprise. “Yes, ma’am.” He pointed at his chest. “MegaDex, remember? Nothing can hurt me.”

“Yes, dear. I know your personal superhero mantra, it’s just…” Her voice trailed off.

“Ma’am? You were saying?”

“Well, it’s just my Harold had that same look in his eyes you have… right before he got sick.”

Dex’s heart went out to the old woman. Her husband was ill, and she was seeing sickness everywhere. He took one of her frail hands into both of his.

“I’m sorry your Harold is under the weather, ma’am, but I assure you I’m fine.”

“Oh no, dear, he isn’t sick, Harold died ten years ago.”

Her response shook him and he heard conversations in his head from long ago but pushed them away from the front of his mind.

“I’m sure the two of you enjoyed a wonderful life together, but I can’t even catch a cold. MegaDex is fine, but I am touched by your concern.”

She smiled as she flipped her hand over in his and squeezed, but it was sadness he saw in her eyes.

“Take care, dear.”

He watched her walk away to rejoin the others waiting for first responders.

The gentlewoman stopped, turned her head and spoke over her shoulder. “But I know that look when I see it. I’ll never forget it.”

She disappeared into the crowd as unease settled in the pit of his stomach like a rock.

Dex saw the news station helicopters before he heard them and his inner turmoil grew.

Not wanting another microphone shoved in his face by an over-eager reporter looking for the big story, Dex turned to leave the scene.

Instead of being satisfied with saving several lives from disaster, Dex’s mind hummed with confusion.

I heard the first responders when they were still six miles away. I heard the old woman’s soft voice, and she was twenty-five yards away.

How did the helicopters get right on top of me before I knew they were here? It had to be the old woman. I was thrown off and unfocused.

Dex was moved. Her concern appeared to be genuine, and it had been a long time since anyone had cared about Dexter Richard Jacobs.

He smiled remembering she’d called him young man and wondered how she’d gotten that wrong. Everyone knew MegaDex was the oldest living human.

If he was still human.

Convinced his creation was ready, Earlie McGinty asked Dexter Jacobs to grab a pair of his dungarees from the clothesline for testing.

Just as Dexter opened the door to the workshop behind Earlie’s barn and stepped back inside, he heard Earlie laughing with his two brothers. “How could I forget the secret ingredient?”

Earlie held a jar of red liquid over the boiling vat and poured.

And Dex walked through hell.

The blast of the explosion doused him in Earlie’s secret formula and blew him into the far wall. He crumpled to the floor in a heap. A deafening cacophony of bells blared through Dexter’s brain bringing with it a wave of nausea. Dexter clamped his hands over ears and cried out at the pain the movement caused. Something wet caused his hand to slip off his ear and Dexter stared at his hand for several seconds trying to focus before realizing it was blood. His blood.

The ringing in his ears died down only to be replaced by screams.

Still unable to stand, Dexter propped himself on one arm and looked across the room. He froze in horror. The three McGinty brothers twirled in circles and writhed on the floor… engulfed in flames.

A second explosion blew out the wall near the vat and took one of the brothers with it.

Dexter leaned over, emptying the contents of his stomach in violent heaves.

He caught one last glance at the angry flames dancing toward him then passed out.

Dexter awoke thirteen days later in a hospital bed surrounded by faces hidden under surgical masks.

He stared back at the eyes full of curiosity and what appeared to be surprise. When his eyes found the lone female eyes in the room, Dexter relaxed. They belonged to his wife, Janet.

“How are you even alive?”

The question didn’t come from Janet but a tall, bearded man next to her.

He considered the man. “I don’t understand.”

Janet Jacobs gripped her husband’s hand as the man recounted the last thirteen days to Dexter Jacobs.

The McGinty workshop burned to the ground. Even the bones of Earlie and Elliott were little more than charred ash. Brass buttons on his coat identified oldest brother, Eason, blown through the wall by the blast.

Janet told the authorities her husband was headed to the McGinty’s when he left home earlier that day, so they assumed Dexter had perished with the brothers.

However, four days later, after the site had cooled, volunteers went through the debris searching for clues to the explosion… and something for the McGinty widows to bury.

Moving a large mangled section of the tin roof, workers screamed for the coroner several yards away supervising the packaging of bone fragments.

Dexter Jacobs was found… alive. Other than singe marks on the cuffs of his pants, Dexter showed no signs of being in a fire.

The year was 1865.

Dex reached his Kawasaki Ninja H2R but paused before mounting the powerful machine. Bitterness mixed with regret consumed him. The memories of all the years he was studied and tested, all the questions about what Earlie was working on and if it was a weapon, of all the time spent away from Janet and the boys caused Dex to bury his face in his hands.

When Dex’s condition couldn’t be explained, doctors gave up and researchers stepped up efforts to duplicate Dex… make more men like him. They were never successful, and more men showed up wanting to send him on missions for the good of his country.

Dex had enough and walked away. His strength had increased to immeasurable levels and efforts to stop Dex from leaving… by any means necessary, failed.

He tried to live a quiet life, returning to the profession of his father and opening a small lumber mill. But there were always shadowy figures around, lurking and watching. Some even approached him with satchels of cash, and others with threats against his family. He made it known any harm to his family would bring devastation no one wanted… or could stop.

Dex’s family had been his pride and joy. His boys, Rowan and Maynard, grew into fine young men who attended college and distinguished themselves. Janet was his rock, supporting his decisions in his new life. When Dex was inundated with offers, requests, and threats, it was Janet Jacobs who stood at the front door and dared anyone to cross the threshold.

In a newspaper interview, Dex said while Earlie’s concoction had changed him biologically, his true strength came from his wife who was a force of nature all her own.

Which is why it was even more heartbreaking when Dex and Janet, at last, broached the subject they’d both been avoiding.

Janet was aging—as she should—but Dex wasn’t.

The years passed and Dex watched his sons marry and become fathers—as his wife looked first more like his mother, then his grandmother.

Janet tried to send Dex away to start a new life, but the thought horrified him. He could not leave the woman who had been a part of his heart since he’d first laid his fourteen-year-old eyes on her at the county fishing contest—the only girl to enter.

He would never leave her side.

And so it was in his arms Janet died on the morning of April 18, 1906, her seventy-fifth birthday.

Dex could only shake his head days later when he learned his beloved Janet passed away at almost the same moment an earthquake devastated San Francisco and northern California.

One force of nature unleashed as another was extinguished.

He mourned with his boys but it wasn’t easy. They were aging too.

He lost them both before Hitler invaded Poland.

Dex’s three granddaughters were now grandmothers. He stopped calling them and dropping by twenty years ago. What was the point? He had all these powers that were useless to save those he loved most. He couldn’t watch another generation die.

He lived as a recluse, selling lumber from his property, only venturing to the city for supplies.

Returning from one of his trips into town, Dex came upon a flurry of activity at the Hadley farm. He slowed his old Ford pickup and figured out they were trying to upright an overturned tractor.

Not wanting to interact with people, Dex moved his foot from the brake to the accelerator but his conscious stopped him. Pulling over and parking the truck, Dex headed into the field.

No one saw him approach. Four men and two young boys called out to each other as they positioned two-by-fours under the tractor. Miriam Hadley stood on the edge of the commotion crying. When Dex reached the tractor, he understood.

Both Jonas Hadley’s legs were pinned beneath the tractor.

In one move, Dex lifted the tractor and set it down several feet away. When he turned the men and boys all stared at him, their mouths agape—then they cheered.

But Miriam was on the ground next to Jonas, her arms wrapped around his neck, still crying.

Despite his obvious pain, Dex watched the man lift his hand to pat his wife’s arm, comforting her.

He found his mission that day. His calling, his purpose.

Jonas made a full recovery and went back to working his fields with only a slight limp. He and Miriam added two more children to their family.

Dexter Richard Jacobs sold his lumber mill and moved to the city.

Sitting on his front porch, Dex focused his hearing, listening for accidents, explosions, fights, and calls for help.

It wasn’t the praise and hero-worship that motivated and spurred Dex on and it wasn’t simply saving lives.

Everyone had someone waiting for them somewhere and he didn’t want them robbed of time together.

Dexter Richard Jacobs became MegaDex, superhero to all, for love of family… and the loss of his own.

He mounted the bike, wincing again at the hip pain.

Those people with clipboards and test tubes and medals on their chests all those years ago had part of it right.

Earlie McGinty’s formula was intended for the military, but not as a weapon, because if it worked, he’d also planned to approach the garment industry, and farmers, law enforcement, firemen—anyone who wore a uniform.

After his wife’s many complaints about the endless mending of work clothes, Earlie, infamous in the county for his tinkering and crazy inventions, only sought a way to make fabric more durable and lasting.

Dex wished he could tell Earlie his invention worked… on him.

He fired up the engine but instead of riding off, Dex looked over his shoulder.

Back up the road, the scene was much calmer and shuttles had arrived to get the passengers to their loved ones.

But she was still there, standing apart from the crowd again, as though she’d been watching him the entire time.

She waved, and he returned the wave, then turned the bike toward the mountains and his secret retreat.

Her words ran through his mind.

“But I know that look when I see it. I’ll never forget it.”

He thought of his new aches and pains and all the human things happening to him.

Earlie’s formula had made him durable and long-lasting.

But nothing lasts forever.

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

#52weeks52stories “Like Minds”

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#52weeks52stories: Week 42

Word prompt: schizophrenia

Word count – 1313

Reading time – 6 mins

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Anna Furlong was a weirdo.

At least, that’s what she’d been called for most of her thirty-seven years.

Sometimes people were kind and referred to her as offbeat or quirky, but no one had any use for kindness or manners in the new social climes. Taunts of kooky, strange and crazy no longer fazed her.

Anna knew she was special. Her Aunt Sadie told her so… right before the family had her aunt committed to a mental institution. Sadie Preston was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with a high probability of being a danger to herself and others.

Anna’s thirteen-year-old heart broke watching her beloved aunt sit in the straight-back chair in the corner of the family room while her parents, Tarla and Deacon Furlong, gathered the few things Sadie was allowed to take with her.

Motionless as a Greek statue, Sadie did turn her head when Anna stepped on that one squeaky floorboard across the doorway.

The stone face disappeared, replaced by the sparkling eyes and the mischievous grin Anna loved so much.

They held each other’s gaze for only seconds before Sadie held out her hand to the young girl.

Anna rushed to her aunt, wrapping her arms around her neck.

“I was hoping I’d see you before I left, Anna-banana.”

“I don’t want you to go, Sadie-milady.”

“There’s nothing can be done about that now, child. I doubt they’ll bring you to visit me, so never forget how much I love you. You are the daughter I was never blessed with.”

Anna pulled away, her face wet with tears. “I don’t care what they say, milady, you’re not crazy as a road lizard.”

Sadie chuckled and swiped at the tears on Anna’s cheeks with her thumb. “I see my brother-in-law still isn’t shy about sharing his opinion of me.” Her smile faded. “Anna, I am sick -”

Anna tried to protest.

“No, let me finish. I’m sick and everyone knows it, even you, Anna-banana -”

“But, milady -”

“Please, child, hush. We don’t have much time. I’m not going away because I’m dangerous. They’re locking me away because I’m an embarrassment. The old pills don’t work for me anymore, Anna, and I need such high dosages of the new pills I can’t think, can’t function, so I stopped taking them.”

Images of her aunt arguing and railing at voices only she could hear flashed through Anna’s mind.

“Ever since I turned twenty-three, I haven’t been quite right in the head, but it’s not only me, Anna..” She grasped both of Anna’s hands and pulled her close. “Several of the women in our family have dealt with or are dealing with different levels of schizophrenia. As far as we can tell, it began with your great-grandmother—the one you were named after—Anna Preston.”

Anna stiffened in horror and tried to pull away from her aunt, but Sadie held on.

“I know this is a shock, baby, but you have to listen. I left a journal in your closet under the black shoe box. It contains some of our history… of those of us who are… sick. Your great-grandma, her cousin, Bertha, Bertha’s daughter, Lois Jean, me… and your mother.”

Anna’s face crumpled. “Mama? I don’t understand, milady. Please -”

“I wish I had the time, Anna-banana, but you must read the journal, and don’t let your mother see you with it. I told her I burned it by mistake twelve years ago.”

“I’m scared, Auntie.”

“I am too, baby. I wish your mother had talked you last summer when you complained of headaches and hearing voices. But, she’s lived in denial most of our lives and said you were too young for it to be schizophrenia. When you didn’t say anything else about hearing voices I thought she was right.”

Anna averted her eyes and her aunt shook her. “Anna, no! It did happen again, didn’t it?”

She turned back to her aunt as her eyes welled with tears again. One simple nod caused the tears to spill, leaving new tracks on her face.

Sadie pulled her into a tight hug. “I’m so sorry, baby. So, so sorry. I hoped and prayed this ugly thing would never touch you.”

She paused, hearing footsteps in the upstairs hallway.

“We’re out of time, Anna. Promise me you’ll read the journal. Promise me!”

The lump in her throat made speaking impossible right then and another nod was all she could muster.

“It’s time, Sadie.”

They both turned to see Deacon Furlong’s massive frame fill the doorway.

Sadie averted her eyes as the voices told her Deacon was Satan intent on killing them all and she had to kill him first. To stay safe. To keep Anna safe. Instead, she shook her head and stood, pulling her beloved niece into another tight embrace.

“I love you, Anna Rose Furlong. Never forget that.”

She released her niece and strode across the room with her head held high. She pushed past her brother-in-law in the doorway without a word and walked out the front door to the car.

***

Anna closed the journal.

Now in her possession for over twenty-five years, she’d had the family keepsake longer than any other family member.

She caressed the dark burgundy flowers hand painted on the thick fabric cover. This beautiful book held the story of her family and its joy and celebrations, births and losses from three different centuries.

It also bears witness to the anguish and cost of mental illness to women with like minds and tortured souls.

From Anna Preston who was seen as fragile and eccentric and lived most of her life on her own terms, to her cousin, Bertha Riley Williams who never acknowledged her illness and lived life in a riotous circle of confinements to prisons and mental institutions until drinking herself to death before her sixtieth birthday.

Bertha’s daughter, Lois Jean, took her own life after her diagnosis of schizophrenia and the man she loved walked away.

Anna’s mother, Tarla Furlong, with a few exceptions, lived a normal life on medications that affected everything from her temperament to her weight. But her need to control and fear of being ostracized ensured Tarla never missed a pill right up until her death last year.

Unlike her sister, Sadie Preston, who grew weary of higher and higher dosages just to be normal and gave in to the mania… and lost her freedom. The irony was that after Sadie’s committal, she was medicated every single day, only showing the presence of mind during Anna’s visits.

After Sadie was sent away, it took another eight years for the disorder to fully manifest itself in Anna. Because she had the misfortune of finding doctors who believed in less traditional medicines and more homeopathic treatments, it took another two years for Anna to find new doctors and have a manageable life.

She finished college with a degree in library sciences.

She met a man and they planned to marry, but his family didn’t rest until they’d torn the couple apart.

Always upfront about her illness, Anna had a small supportive group of friends who made the taunts and shunning from others bearable.

And she had milady, never missing a weekly visit in seventeen years.

But there would be no more visits. With only Anna at the graveside, Sadie was laid to rest yesterday morning.

And now Anna was not only alone, but she was also the last family member diagnosed with schizophrenia. She had five distant female cousins who were living happy, healthy lives. While men aren’t immune to the disorder, none in her family had ever shown any signs.

Folding the journal in her arms, she hugged it one last time then slid it into the desk drawer.

Anna hadn’t decided which cousin she’d pass the journal on to but it would be passed on because life goes on.

~~~

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved