Return To Evergreen

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If you like critiquing writing, feel free to comment on the first chapter of  a half-finished manuscript of mine- ‘Return to Evergreen’. (working title).

CHAPTER 1

Why am I doing this? What’s it going to prove-that I’m a masochist? I’m a liar already. Why did I lie to Gabe when I said I was going to a bookseller’s convention? He seemed so trusting too. But I have to know if I can take living in this town again after…Alex.

The deep blue, September sky was shrouded by a hazy fog that hid most of the evening sun’s rays and cast a shadow over the neighborhood homes and the gently sloping mountain ridge behind them. She stood staring bewilderedly up at the two-story wooden frame house ten feet in front of her. Except for a few golden and scarlet colored leaves being rustled by a soft wind, the sidewalk leading to the front porch was free of debris.

Why had she come here today? What possible reason could there be? From that devastating moment onward, all previous happy memories had been wrenched out of her soul and exchanged for the pain and loss that ensued. It was as though joy became a foreign concept to her –some ethereal feeling from another time or dimension that she could never hope to reach.

Slowly, methodically she retrieved the key from her pants pocket and climbed the concrete porch steps. As she reached for the weather worn screen door, a piercing scream echoed in her memory. Suddenly, before touching the handle, her hand froze in mid-air. Peering through the glass of the front door she saw another door beyond, near the back of the house. It was painted dark blue with a large football stenciled on it. How could she have imagined she would be willing or able to cross the threshold and relive such agony? Wasn’t the aftermath enough to have to endure?

At that instant she heard a car door shut in the distance. Turning around she saw that her old friend and former neighbor was approaching. Descending the porch steps she met up with Lillie Coffey, a plump woman in her fifties with a dark shag haircut and deep brown, luminous eyes. “Hi Lillie. It’s been so long…too long. You’re looking well.” She gazed beyond to Lillie’s driveway and noticed a dark blue van with green and yellow lettering on the side. “That’s a beautiful vehicle. It’s about time you got a new one for your business.”

“Yea. Well it’s mostly used to taxi my grandkids around to parks and different places. I take them on my day off from the café.” Looking slightly hesitant Lillie continued, “Come on and give me a hug Keokee. It really has been a long time.” After they warmly embraced, she asked, “So are you all moving back?”

Feeling transparent, Keokee replied, “Uh, it’s not definite yet but probably. I guess you heard that Gabe may be taking over as pastor at the church. He feels like it’s meant to be,” she finished with her voice trailing off as she averted her friend’s gaze.

“What about you? Do you think it is? Or do you want to come back?”, Lillie spoke earnestly.

Deliberately avoiding her gaze, Keokee faintly shook her head and replied with false cheerfulness, “There’s a reason for everything. Every day there’s a new opportunity around each corner. Makena says she wants to leave Lenoir. Says the school’s too big and the kids are too snobby for her. So that’s a positive I guess. How’s all your kids doing?”

“Pretty well I guess. Aubrie seems to be having things the hardest right now. She’s still trying to get over the divorce.” she shrugged. “The others are about the same.” There was a tense silence and then she quietly asked, “Will you be moving back here or somewhere else?”

The heaviness in Keokee’s chest increased as her mouth became dry. Attempting to speak, she had to clear her throat before answering, “Not here. Since the Henderson family moved out of it, Gabe is in the process of renting it out to some of his kin people from Cracker’s Neck. Their house was hit by the tornado that came through there last month. I came by here to…to just make sure everything was in fair shape. Of course, I guess you know his friend Marvin has been looking after the place since…,” she stopped in mid-sentence, a look of utter anguish displayed on her face. Quickly she glanced back at the house and then waved her hand nervously in Lillie’s direction as she rushed to her parked car. “Why? Why did I come here today?” she muttered to herself as she pulled out of the cul-de-sac too fast and almost hit a mail box.

Lillie Coffey, still rooted to the front yard, stared after her in disbelief. In the distance she heard the cranking of an engine and then a moment later her oldest son Landon pulled up in a riding lawn mower. “Mom, who was that peeling out of here like a maniac?”

“It was Keokee. She’s coming back home.”

“Home? Really?”

“To Evergreen Gap.”

Thanks for reading. Comments and critiques are welcome!

P. S. Hopefully I’ll have an update on ‘Alley Rose’ next time.

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