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.

Journey’s End?

In my prior post I promised to share information about my present project-a novel entitled Alley Rose. The title, as I recall, came to me before I wrote the first page. Odd because it was the opposite with my first novel- Keeper of the Stars. I didn’t decide on that title until the last page. (Unfortunately, after my book was published a well-known writer wrote a novel with the same title- and a subtitle.)

The setting of Alley Rose begins in a rural town in North Carolina in the late sixties. The main character is a young, red-headed girl named Savannah who feels misunderstood and disconnected from her parents.  She loves visiting with her Christian grandmother, who lives in another state, but a serious disagreement mars their close relationship.  As she and friends Ellie and Frankie journey through racial and societal prejudices in the tumultuous 70s, she searches for freedom to become who she was meant to be. If only she knew who that was.

My writing journey lately has been somewhat productive. There’s been obstacles here and there but progress has been made. Not the amount I’d like to see- but I’ve written a few more scenes, plotted a bit more, and fleshed out and defined a few characters better. Still, if I look up the road I see much more that needs to be done for me to reach  my destination and my expectations. Paths to be discovered. Rocks to be moved. Bridges to be constructed. And then crossed. Oh bother! I think Winnie the Pooh is whispering in my ear. Lol! Guess I need to talk to Christopher Robin so he can teach me to have courage and keep traveling on.

Yet,  once I look behind me and realize how far I’ve come, I am encouraged. Why? Because I’m not the same place I was last month,  last week, or yesterday.  I have traveled a few more miles on the journey and I like the progress I see. It inspires me to put one foot(or letter, or word, or sentence) in front of the other until I see the finish line(last chapter, final page). This makes me think of our pilgrim journey as followers of Jesus Christ. It also reminds me of the lines of a song-“sometimes I get a thrill when I look back down the hill and see just where the Lord has brought me from.”

And He has brought me a mighty long way. The obstacles have been continuous. The stumbling blocks have been both big and small. He’s held my hand often and carried me when I didn’t realize it. He made a covenant with me and He has faithfully kept it. I’ve failed Him yet He’s never failed me. If you know Jesus like I know Jesus then this is true for you also. And if you don’t know Him as your Savior, Father, and soon coming King then today is the day to change that. He is no respecter of persons. His suffering and sacrifice on the cross was as much for you as any other human soul.

Will you follow where he leads? Remember heaven is the destination. And no sin can enter in. This life is only for a little while. We’re just passing through. Get on the path of faith in Jesus Christ. Eternity awaits us all. Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate. What if tomorrow was your journey’s end?

 

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; Hebrews 2:3

 

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. I Peter 1:23-25