Ambitious Boots: Part 2 Of An Ugly Shoe Journey

Today is Thursday, folks. One day til Friday, and several days away from the day that I published the post called Ambitious Boots. (Click the title if you haven’t read it.)

BootsFor those of you who have been reading along, you know that I set myself to achieve massive goals this week; to finish painting a painting as large as I am, and to finish the first draft of my blog novel, Ascension Graveyard, before weeks end.

I am fiddling with cover ideas...this is my recent attempt.

I am fiddling with cover ideas…this is my recent attempt.

WELLLLLLL let me tell you!

First, the painting: It looks fantastic! It’s not quite finished…but then its only Thursday. I am very confident in the level of work that I have completed thus far even though I have to say I think it will take a few more days before it is no longer a bleep on my things-to-complete radar.

So verdict: Its not finished, may not be tomorrow, but I am satisfied.

Secondly, the Blog Novel, Ascension Graveyard: I have great news to report! I have written THOUSANDS OF WORDS! Grand words, great tension, beautiful fleshing out of characters. Hooray! Hooray to me! And Hooray to you for believing with me! And Hooray to Yeshua Jesus, from Whom all blessings flow!

I am BEYOND happy…the thing is (Yes there is a “thing”) none of those lovely, awesome, delicious words were written for Ascension Graveyard.

1425457267g4njkI know what you are probably thinking (actually I don’t, but let’s pretend I do.) “What in the world is that woman doing? I thought you had your “Ambitious Boots” on.

Well, I do. I am still walking, just not in the planned direction.

The thing about these boots is that they can sometimes have  a mind of their own. Its like Doctor Who’s Tardis, the Doctor sets a location with the intent of going to a specific place, and somehow he ends up WAAAAAYYY on the other side of the universe and time, in a destination either unknown, or slightly off form his intended target.

Does the Doctor mourn the change in plans? NO! Never!

Actually, he always makes the best of the situation and enjoys the new and unexpected moment that his “straying by chance” has created.

So, that is where I am. That Romance Novel that I mentioned in the other post just shot right out ahead of the race, and took the lead and priority over and above Ascension Graveyard…Sorry, Etta.

I couldn’t let those words and scenes slip away in my attempt to keep to the set path. I have never been a romance reader or writer, really, and this has been a challenge for me to try this genre, so off I go. (It is a Clean read PG, PG-13 at its most novel in the making.)

Anyhow I totally put on those boots, but they walked me in a completely different direction, one that I am super excited about. Lots of work has been done to that end and that brings me much pleasure.

Ain’t it grand?

I currently have no idea when Ascension Graveyard will reach its conclusion, and then slid its way into revisions, BUT I am confident that it will be soon. I can’t begrudge Etta and her story for needing a bit more time. All children are different. Some need more attention than others. That is just the way it is.

I leave you with a scripture, one that I know and love and tend to somehow forget more often than I should:

Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Basically, make plans, have a destination, but know that God has plotted a course and His way will ultimately win out. And honestly, I am okay with that.

Cheers! and Happy Creating!

I came for the soup.dpp widgets

Dreaming: A Quote…by Me

“Dreaming is not wasting time, its peeking into your future ahead of time.”

In all truth, even though I polished up the words to make them into a quote, they are actually the result of a conversation I was having with Messiah Yeshua 1428428874jlttb(Jesus).

I have said it a bazillion times, that I am a stickler for time. I like to make the best use of every second of every day…its akin to squeezing blood from a turnip the way I can be when it comes to time management.

This is not always a good thing, although I still stand on the fact that being wasteful of time is not good either. Once before, several years ago, also while having a conversation with God, the topic then being money, He asked me,

“What happens to a fist full of sand when you squeeze it as tightly as you can?”

My response, “The tighter you squeeze the faster it seems to slip away from you.”

His response, “That is exactly what happens when you squeeze your money.”

He wasn’t saying be a spend thrift, but He was saying enjoy the fruits of your labor. Trust in His provision.

So today, as I sat on Pinterest, pinning rooms to a board that I have set aside for my future home, I said to Him, “Gosh, I have just wasted a lot of time.”

Yeshua asked, “What are you doing?”

I said, “Dreaming.”

He responded. “Dreaming is not wasting time.”

Then the thoughts about planning ahead for the future flooded into my heart…I am certain that too came from Him. Dreaming is sowing seed.

I can’t help but say how grateful I am for His love and His conversations. I am grateful for His friendship and to know Him and to grow in knowing Him through the passing of each day, each trial, each second.

I pray these words, this quote, my conversation with the Creator of all things, has encouraged your heart to dream. Even more, I encourage you to dream with Him if you haven’t started to do so already.

He is full of great ideas!

Cheers! and Happy dreaming!

I came for the soup.dpp widgets

Out of the Storm: #Blogbattle Free Write: focus word “Blonde”

(Hello all! Below are my results to the #Blogbattle, hosted by blogger and writer, Rachel Ritchey! To check out her blog and future Blogbattles, visit her blog by clicking HERE! This weeks word, “Blonde.” I hope you enjoy my results!)

OUT OF THE STORM

“I haven’t taken a shower in years!” The sound of elation could be heard over the weak patter of the lukewarm rain water that funneled its way through the shower head. “I mean I have bathed and such when I came across enough water too, but this,” There was a pause. “This is fantastic!”

Ella smiled as she listened to the young man as he shouted out to her from her bathroom. She was glad to see he was up and strong enough to even go and bathe himself. He had been out cold for three days and then took himself another two and a half to even get enough food and drink in him to communicate.

He was a mess when she pulled him out of the storm.

God was good the way He had spared the kid’s life, even when He didn’t see fit to spare others. The boy couldn’t have been any older than 17, wondering outside in the dust of Plymouth. Ella shuddered at the thought. It was bad enough out there for full grown, hardened adults but for a kid…

She wondered what had happened to him out there. She could only guess at the worst. He was so banged up, bloody and bruised, so exposed to the sun and elements that his black goggles had dug themselves into his skin so deep it seemed that his flesh bled each time she tried to pull them away.

She left them in place and told him before he showered and shaved that if he got them free she would tend his face right and good when he was freshened up. Having raccoon scars wouldn’t be so bad. It could have been a lot worse for him.

“At least he isn’t blond,” She whispered, folding his fresh washed clothes that she had pulled from the clothes line in her attic. There was too much dust to hang them outside. That was apparent by the mud that she had scrapped off of the boy when she was nursing him back to health.

She cleaned him up well enough to tend to him and to tolerate his odor, but not so much that the water would have been a waste.

By the dark hairs of his eyebrows, and the poor excuse for a man’s beard that sprouted from his chin, she reckoned the young buck was brunette through and through. Just like she had once been.

That was before she lost her Caleb, before the Lupine raid in Gareth’s Fork snatched her four year old son and his good for nothing daddy away. There was so much blood that oozed from the side of her baby’s face that she knew he he was gone to her.

Folks got crazy when the famine hit and even worse when the drought came. They didn’t recover when it mostly ended. Instead many of the folks near Garth’s Fork became savages, called themselves “Lupine,” created for themselves a god who said the rain was gone because of the pale ones. Anybody with blonde hair, no matter their race, was marked for death by the Lupine. They were the root of the curse.

Ella’s family was doomed because of such foolishness.

Ella didn’t mind loosing Roy to the Lupine. She had never wanted him in the first place, didn’t give a lick for his apple green eyes or his pale blonde hair. The man was retched. But Caleb, she loved her son even if he had taken after his father by way of color. Caleb had his daddy’s green eyes and all. But he was gone now.

Having the thought made her shoulder’s sag and the wound upon her heart that only God could see ache. Her boy would have been 17, just like the young man in her shower.

She brushed a tear from her cheek once she heard the water stop pumping. She should make herself busy instead of dancing with ghost. That never ended well. “If you want,” She called towards the bathroom, “I can scrap you up a bite to eat, put the kettle one for some Dandelion tea?”

The young man’s deep voice hollered back, “You’ve gone through enough trouble as it is, Ma’am. Please don’t bother over me anymore,” There was a hint of guilt to his voice. “I ain’t got nothing as it is to pay you back for saving my life. Heck I ain’t even got my own clothes no more.”

She could hear him closer now, could tell he was hiding behind the door frame. “There is a blanket to dry yourself off with on the shelf in the cupboard. Your clothes are in the room you were in. I will fetch em for you in a sec.”

“Why are you being so nice?” The boy asked, suddenly leery.

Ella understood him, as well as her motives. Caleb.

She waited until she heard the blanket sweep the floor and knew the boy was covered before she turned to answer.

Her heart seemed to stop upon sight of him and she stumbled back against the counter. No, God it could not be! The boy looked stunned as she for her reaction. He didn’t understand, but she did.

Wild, apple green eyes stared back at her. Hair as pale blonde as the day that she believed him dead, dripped wet against a clean shaven jaw that revealed a nasty scar that traced his cheek.

Feeling her legs give way, she screamed his name, “Caleb!”

His green eyes flashed again, this time with confusion. “H-how’d you know my na-”

His panicked question lost its audience as Ella fainted to the ground as her own words escaped her lips, “My baby has come home.”

THE END

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Thoughts and Quotes: Mental Framing for Artistic Success

A couple of weeks ago I created a post asking the blogsphere of novelist what their creative process was. Since then I have been really taking stock of my own failures and successes in order to come to a place of “groundedness” as I attempt to take my writing career to the next level.

In short, I have a TON of books yapping about in my head, and I would like to oblige their voices by putting their stories in readable form. That means I need to create a “process machine,” that allows me to create and be fed creatively.

This is what I came up with…so far…really these are the foundation to creating a working process.

  1. If you have time to blog, then you have time to read the blogs of others: It is important to remember the glory of community. A net is only as strong as each of its individual knots. In order to have a supportive community, one must “support” a community by being active in the works of others.
  2. If you have time to write then you have time to read: Reading the completed works of others is extremely edifying. There is a wealth of rewards to reading the works of others that include:
    • Bettering of your grammar
    • Learning new ways to communicate ideas
    • Challenging yourself to do something different with your writing
    • Being Challenged and INSPIRED to complete your own writing
    • Entertains your socks off (I literally read over 9 novels in the last 2 weeks…that is another blog all to itself)
  3. (This goes in hand with point 2) If you don’t have time for one then you don’t have time for the other. You have missed the point of both. You have to be well nourished if you intend to feed others. If you are not being inspired then you can’t inspire others. How do you get inspired? One way is to read!!!
  4. Take time to dream, but wake up in time to make that dream come true: Take it easy but don’t be lazy.
  5. Enjoy what you are doing and don’t take yourself too seriously. If you lose the enjoyment of the craft then maybe you have lost sight of why you began writing/blogging/creating in the first place.

These are the thoughts I have had since a couple of weeks ago, and honestly I feel lighter for having mulled over them as well as more fire up to make magic happen with my imagination and keyboard.

I leave you with this quote about writing by Melinda Haynes

Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.”

Cheers!

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I’ve Got My Ambitious Boots On!

In case you didn’t know (which I am sure you didn’t, because I just decided this myself) I have put on my Ambitious Boots.

BootsNo, they are not the sexiest things, not to say that my goal is to be sexy, but I would also like to make it known that I am not fashion-challenged either. That being said, I have on my boots.

Although the boots are more theoretical and not literal, the reason I have donned them remains the same. I have decided to challenge myself in a SUPER way. Honestly, I have whined quite a bit over the fact that it has nearly been a complete year, and Ascension Graveyard’s first draft is STILL. NOT. FINISHED! It absolutely grates my nerves even though I know art needs time.

I am fiddling with cover ideas...this is my recent attempt.

I am fiddling with cover ideas…this is my recent attempt. I am still not sure what direction I want to go..this way or the other way next door, or some complete opposite way once the story is finished. Choices, choices.

These images include the photo, "Craney Island (080213-A-5177B-008)," available under the Creative Commons Attributions License 4.0, ©  U.S Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District. The original work has been modified and in no way reflects the views or any endorsement of they original owner.

These images include the photo, “Craney Island (080213-A-5177B-008),” available under the Creative Commons Attributions License 4.0, © U.S Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District. The original work has been modified and in no way reflects the views or any endorsement of they original owner.

Having the knowledge doesn’t make me feel any better, but at least I am not feeling worst. Actually, I feel…AMBITIOUS! So ambitious that I have already planned my next few novels. (One is a modern day Clean Read Romance! WHAT?! Who would have thunk it? Me, because I am ambitious and not afraid to veer out of my comfort zone.)

My goal is to not only complete this extremely large painting of Bobbie Gentry (It’s 3×5 feet, mind you I am 5’4…A giant among men and women, really) BUT I want to also complete Ascension Graveyard’s writing, in its entirety by this Friday.

Can I do it? Well, I am a firm believer all things are possible to him who believes and through Christ who gives me strength. It just means that I might…big emphasis on might, be doing more musing and less freewriting this week.

Do remember that this is a first draft. I already have my “quilting” plan, highlighter and pen, set and ready to go for the revisions and rewriting process of this novel. But I have to finish it before I go down that road.

So wish me luck, ya’ll. I have a lot of mud-stomping to do from here until Friday!

Cheers!

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Tiny Specks of Light: A free flow write

“Little tiny specks of light. Shining fiercely, shining bright. Open up the darkest night and guide the wayward home.” Lizzy sang the tune under her breath as she scowered the bottom of the copper bowl. Splashes of grey, sudsy water speckled her drawn up sleeves and left little rings where others had dried.

She dunked the bowl in fresh water and held it up in front of her, staring at the center of it to make sure that it shone as clear as a looking glass. Mr. Beezly would have it no other way. Any particle left in the pot could ruin his next batch of sweets, and there was no having that.

“Looks clean to me,” Carl Beezly’s face smiled in the reflective bottom of the pot, startling Lizzy so that she nearly dropped the bowl to the ground. It would have fallen to the ground had Carl not caught it.

“Easy there,” He said with a chuckle, sliding the bowl away from Lizzy’s searching hands.

Lizzy let out a breath, trying to calm her heart from the scare and if she was honest with herself, which she certainly had no intention of being, she needed to calm her heart from the way Carl’s smile had kicked up a fit in her belly.

Oh he was handsome. Hands akimbo, and all evidence of her silly crush tucked away she said, “Carl Beezly, what in the world are you doing down here?”

She opened her eyes to see him leaning back against the counter, rubbing the back of his thumb nail against his full bottom lip, a habit of his. Lizzy looked away as he began to smile. “What was that you were singing?”

“Huh?” Again she looked at him, this time with shock in her eyes.

“That song, about tiny specks of light, what’s it called?”

Lizzy felt heat rise in her cheeks and it wasn’t from the steamy water. That song was hers, meant only for her ears and her heart to hear. It was her hope, something she dared not share with anyone, least of all Mr. Beezly’s precious son, no matter how wonderful she thought he was.

She shrugged her shoulders and dunked another copper bowl into the water. “Oh its nothing, just something to pass the time.” She lied.

It was far more than that. It was a promise,  not just one made of faith but one made of a present future. Home was somewhere beyond those tiny stars above and one day, one day she would get there.

No, she didn’t mean beyond the heavens. That was for another day, but in those days, while her skin was still warm and breath filled her lungs, she would believe for an earthly home where love and friendship was sweeter than any caramel candy that Mr. Beezly could make. Or any smile Carl could give unless he was the one who made a home with her.

Such foolish wishing.

Carl stepped closer to her. “It doesn’t sound like nothing.” He said looking over her shoulder as if to make her meet his gaze again. “You sing it all the time-”

“How do you know that?!”

He smiled again as if he had gotten his way when her eyes met his.  He pointed his finger upward after rapping his knuckles against the pipes on the wall. “Your voice carries clear into the upper kitchen and sometimes into the store. Everybody can hear you.”

She felt herself blanch. How many colors would she turn in front of him?

Carl touched her shoulder and shook his head as if he too was as worried as she. “Oh, its nothing to be ashamed of, Lizzy! Your voice is prettier than a birds.” His face was the one to flush this time.

He stepped back and cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his neck, face turned away from her. “I-I mean, everybody says so. We have the most customers in when you sing. It’s why Papa has you do the dishes and no one else. That, and you are the only one who knows how to wash them like he does.”

Lizzy touched her belly. All this time she thought the old particular man just didn’t care for the likes of her and was giving her a hard time, putting her away in the dark little kitchen. It felt surprisingly good to be wrong. “Oh?”

Carl smiled again, this time more shyly. “Yeah, he says you are a real gem. Hopes you have no plans of finding your way beyond those stars you sing about. Who knows, maybe you could find a home here. Keep singing if you want.”

Lizzy blushed again. “Maybe, if I make a home was with the right person.” She smiled. “I’d like that.”

With the swiftness of a little boy of six and not a man of twenty, Carl kissed her cheek before leaping towards the stairs. “Me too!”

THE END

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Sable: A Free Flow Write

They named her Sable. Not for any other reason besides that of her sable skin. Such a prize she was, a beautiful token. She had heard people say about her whenever she passed.

Her father told her that she was a sign from Heaven. Sable didn’t know how to take such weight upon her shoulders. She was only eleven years old. It didn’t help at all that she couldn’t help that her head was always in the clouds-a habit that often earned her chastising words from her mentor.

“Focus, Sable! Focus!” Gareth was only 18, but he was one of the best warriors in Rilanbow. If she didn’t focus, if she allowed her mind to wonder off, as it often did, she would have another set of bloody knuckles to show for it, and rubbery legs before it was all said and done. Gareth would make her run a mile for each cut she carried.

She was glad that today she would not have to focus. Dreaming was in her blood, not war. But because of her sable skin, and her awkward height, she was expected to do just that-war. And more than war, be a general and eventually a matriarch to her tribe, and all for no other reason than the fact that she had been born a deep brown and managed to grow a foot taller than other children her age, almost as if over night.

For reasons beyond her control, she had been seen as an icon, the progeny of the great Ulysees.

She sat in the thick grass and ran her fingers up her veins, gulping as her head began to swim. It hadn’t happened too often, but it had started to do so more and more as of late. Her violet eyes would shift and focus like that of a Nepron-the massive stone birds with iron wings, and the heads and torsos of men.

Nepron blood also ran in her veins among other things. She was after all a distant relative of Ulysees.

Sable closed her eyes and spread her body out as warm wind blew over her frame, the grass rising above her hiding her from everyone’s view.

Living up to someone elses triumphs was not part of Sable’s plan. In all truth, she didn’t have a plan. She was only a child. The only thing she wanted to do was dream today, and that is what she did even though she could hear Gareth calling her name above the rustling of the wind.

THE END…FOR NOW!

I have to give glory to God for such a great week! I have so many narratives that I have thought about over the years and just have not had the time to sit down and breathe life into them, and this week, after much prayer, the stories have just been tumbling out. This is the start of one of them. I hope you enjoyed it thus far. There is definitely much more to come, three books actually, maybe even four!

Cheers!

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Lucky: A free flow write

Nothing is set in stone…nothing. The words, branded to the forefront of her mind sounded off again with as much volume as the car horns during midday traffic.

Looking upward, having pried her gaze from her feet, she shielded her eyes from the sun and scanned her surroundings. It was…different. Loud, but it was a different place which is what she wanted, needed. And it was…safe.

13838529803evnaSafety had been an elusive dream for most of her life, and yet she found herself chasing after it with the same determination that a starving wolf would a bloody stake.

Remembering the words that had been etched into the pavement, wanting desperately to believe it was a sign and that she for once in her life could simply breathe, she yet again thought the phrase, Nothing is set in stone…nothing. 

Somehow, the word at her feet, “lucky”, would not allow her peace. It was there. It was in stone, set even and although she found some kind of bizarre comfort in her pessimism she had to accept the fact that she was one of the lucky ones.

She had gotten away.

It had cost her much. It had actually cost her everything, but she had no regrets. Others had tried and had failed. Failure wasn’t the worse part. Being found alive at the end of your failure was.

She had heard, not only by word of mouth, but with her own ears. She remembered the screams of those slowly tortured, paying the price for trying to get away.

The scar that snaked down her arm from her elbow to her wrist began to itch and ache as if it were freshly made as the memory of her escape and how close she had come to failing played across the eyes of her mind.

No, nothing was set in stone, but she was indeed on of the lucky ones.

She shook her hand in the air and stepped off of the curb. “Taxi!”

THE END

I think I only spent ten minutes on this…It seems whenever I get half way through the phone rings. Anyhow. There were several branches that I considered taking as I wrote this story. It was kind of putting me in the mind of those “create your own adventure novels” from when I was  a kid. You know the ones where you could choose the ending of the story by jumping to either page 96 or 104. Anyhow, part of me still feels like there is a lot more “science” to this bit of “fiction.” Like this character is not even from this world but somewhere else. Maybe she day dreams more, dreams of war, dreams of another planet.

Right now as I punch these keyboard keys I envision a dome on a planet where the sky is a shade trapped between aubergine and grey. The ground is parched and black and the water is something akin to liquid mercury. There is also a ship and a lot of explosions.

Anyhow that is what is in my head but what I have written is what I have written. There is always room for future exploration, right?

actually, now that I think of it. I already know where this story and this character needs to go. So THE END…FOR NOW!

Cheers!

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Chapter 42: Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 42

To say he felt like he was committing the worst kind of betrayal was an understatement. All of this was going completely against his character, and that still quiet voice that kept nagging at him, prodding him with the words, “Things are not as they seem.”

Jørn wanted to believe it was true, but there was just that part of him that warned it was better for him to have a safety net, be prepared to ahead of time to break his fall rather than letting the fall catch him off guard.

That was the problem with walking by faith—being all in.

He chewed the inside of his lip and pressed against the ache that had punched at his heart with unrelenting fist. He had been honest that morning, he told Etta the truth, he did not trust her. There was no reason why she should have been surprised by that, let alone hurt. And Etta had been hurt. The look in her dark eyes, the strain of her usually well-oiled tone as she called after him had unmasked the truth of her heart. She was choking down her tears.

Had he no self control that morning, he would have found himself on his knees, apologizing and attempting to soothe her with his words.

His fist clenched and he bit back a word that was very close to a curse. Loving her was making him crazy. He couldn’t be objective when his heart was so tightly knit to hers.

He was glad that Arnold needed to take a bathroom break. He didn’t know the man and the last thing that he wanted to do was let his guard down with him. Gaining information was one thing, spilling his own was another.

So far the only thing that Arnold was interested in doing was interrogating Jørn. Suspicious, Jørn took his time in answering each question, of course after first letting it be known that he had no intention of sticking around much longer for this. He had come because Arnold had told him he could help him.

Arnold insisted that the questions were not a part of some ulterior scheme, but a means to glean what Jørn already knew. “No need in repeating things you already know.” He had said.

Jørn had played along in the hopes that he would get some answers of his own. He didn’t want to waste time with playing the defensive end, but from the very first moment that Arnold stated that Etta had murdered Baldwin, that is exactly the role that he took.

Arnold had leaned back and considered him with a scrutinizing eye, but also one with a lot of compassion. The man had been down this road before. He obviously recognized that the truth was hard for loved ones of victims and perpetrators to hear. In this case Jørn was also wearing both of those hats as well.

They were certainly not off to a good start.

He tapped his fingernail against the concrete table top of the hotel room Jørn had rented out. The hotel was nearly an hour out of town, just about fifteen minutes away from the exist that led to Maryam’s home and office. That was convenient. Should anything else the man had to say or show make Jørn go crazy he could quickly seek mental help. Arnold told him over the phone that it was safer for them to meet in a room that wasn’t under Arnold’s name. He tactfully, but discreetly, mentioned that Sergeant Henley had been watching him, knowing who Arnold was. Jørn agreed and got the room.

Now he wagered should things really go south with Etta he at least had a place to hang his hat; close enough to keep his commitments with work, far way enough from probing eyes.

Arnold emerged from the bathroom, his brow raised. “Sorry about that. My guts haven’t been right since eating this chicken sandwich from the other day.”

Jørn’s brow rose as well. “Are you taking anything for your,” He jutted his chin towards the bathroom. “…condition? You could dehydrate and that is not safe for anyone, least of all a man of your age. It could lead down roads you don’t want to go, cardiac arrest being one of them. No offense.”

Arnold sighed, resting his hand across his stomach, his fingers splayed out like a fan. “None taken. I am no spring chicken.” He managed a smile.

“I can recommend a few over the counter products before I leave, but I think if you are not yourself come tomorrow you really ought to get to an urgent care facility.”

“Noted, now back to why you came out here. I know a lot of people out here have their own agendas against your wife. She is some what of a super hero to most, a means to an end for others, but that is not me. The only thing that I want, the only thing that I have wanted, is for that boy, your cousin to be able to rest in peace.” He tapped his finger against the folder that he had given to Jørn. “The last time that I saw his case I didn’t get a chance to really dig like I wanted to. I did dig enough to come to the conclusion that he was in fact dead, however. And I am sorry to be the one to tell you that.”

Arnold paused. He must have noticed the tensing in Jørn’s jaw, that or his guts were rolling again. Jørn was actually grateful for the short lived silent moment. He didn’t want to believe Arnold, especially in light of tracking down “Nobody,” the unknown person who resided at Westhaven, the one he was certain was Baldwin. He still hadn’t brought that up to Arnold. If the man was as good as his record showed, as good as he had claimed to be, then he must have had knowledge about Nobody, more so than Jørn.

If that was the case, he was playing his cards as close to his chest as Jørn was. He wasn’t offering the information and neither was Jørn.

Arnold spoke again. “I don’t in any way claim to be some cyber genius,”

“Baldwin is. He was always gifted with that kind of thing.”

Arnold nodded and raised his hand, continuing on as if he had not been interrupted. “…but I do know how to follow cyber trials. And I know others who are much better at it than I am. I am also fluent in the language that people speak when they plan to fall off the radar, as is being suggested by your wife in regard to Baldwin. There are telltale signs, patterns. The thing is Baldwin Falk has no such trail, or “red flags,” if you will, that would indicate anything like that. Actually the only thing that we have is a dead end.”

“But that doesn’t mean that he is dead.”

“I know you don’t want to believe that. Nobody wants to believe that about a person they love. But it doesn’t change the facts. If Baldwin were alive,” He dove right back into where he had left off prior to his emergency run to the bathroom, shooting out his list of facts with enough detail to make Jørn’s head explode.

Nearly five minutes later, Jørn broke into his neatly detailed explanation. “So you think this all incriminates Etta, how?” There he was again, back on the defensive. He needed to check himself, hear the man out. At the end of the day he didn’t know who was at Westhaven, not for sure. What he did know was that Baldwin was still a no show, Heidi was dead, and that Etta had somehow managed to control the Lotus, the very things that had killed Heidi. She could have been controlling them all along.

Arnold didn’t even seem to blink. Instead he reached into his briefcase and pulled out another stack of papers. The man was very old fashion in his way of sharing information. Opening it up, he pulled out several legal documents.

“What are these?” Jørn asked, nearly reluctant to pick them up. Arguing down speculation was one thing, arguing against documented proof was another.

“Look at them, Jørn. These are the legal forms for bank accounts, executorships, etcetera. All signed by Baldwin Falk and even notarized.”

They were bank statements, forms indicating that Baldwin had put everything that he owned in Etta’s name, bank accounts, ownership of the apartment, even stocks that he owned in companies that weren’t really worth that much; it was all transferred into her name.

He felt his heart drop and his fingertips grow cold. The cotton that had formed in his mouth and throat was too much for him to swallow down, and left him barely able to chew.

“Notice the dates on those, they are all signed by Baldwin about two years after Etta was accused of murdering him.” That was around the time Jørn had shown up and was trying to get her to vacate the premises.

“Okay?” Jørn managed, his eyes skating over the pages.

“Well there are two very big problems with those documents. The first is the person who signed these documents, Harriet Lembanks, had a stroke and lost the usage of her motor skills in March of that year. She quit notarizing documents immediately after that, however all of these forms are signed and dated sometime after September of that year.

“It could be a convenient misunderstanding since Mrs. Lembanks died in December of that year and all of her notary instruments were “misplaced,” during her husbands move out of town.”

Jørn’s throat constricted.

“Now I am sure that you are thinking, speculation again, that there is no way for me to prove anything is out of order here. Well,” He slid another document across the table. “These are scanned copies of Harriet and Baldwin’s signatures. The ones on Etta’s forms are not only forgeries, but really bad ones.”

Jørn finally looked up and met Arnold’s gaze. Arnold let out a long and compassionate sigh. “Now if your cousin were indeed alive, and was indeed working with Etta on some campaign against the sequence and the ascensions, ask yourself why would he, and why would she for that matter, go to such lengths of fraud when all he had to do was just sign the papers? One reason. There is no Baldwin to sign them.”

Jørn finally shook his head, pulling himself free from the crippling paralysis he had fallen into. He had not intended to throw the ace from his sleeve about Westhaven, but what choice did he have?

Heaven knew he didn’t want to believe Etta was guilty of murdering his cousin, of murdering Heidi. This was his last ditch effort, and he was going to try it for his own hearts sake. “I see all of this Arnold,” He slid the papers neatly together. “And, I am not trying to, nor can I, try to justify any of what you are showing me,”

“There is more.”

Jørn pressed his lips together and let out a breath through his flaring nostrils. “I am sure there is, but, I still believe that there is a chance that Baldwin is alive.” He pulled out paperwork of his own, showing the cell phone bill with the highlighted number on it. Before he could say a word, Arnold spoke.

“Westhaven Psychiatric. I know the number. I looked into that myself.”

“And?” He didn’t want to sound too eager lest the man choose to clam up on him.

Arnold wiped his face with his hand just as a pained grimace caused the muscle in his cheek to twitch. He spoke with paced words. His stomach was eating at him again. That wasn’t good. “And it is not Baldwin who is there. I had hoped it was, but it was not. Good lord!” He managed to get out before his face became ashen and he rushed back to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.

Jørn let the professional in him take over his mind and emotions. He almost wanted to scream at the timing. Right when he was getting some truth, his only source was stricken with illness. What were the odds?

“Arnold?” He knocked on the door, grimacing himself as he heard the sounds coming from behind the door. The man was erupting from both ends. He needed to get to the hospital. “Arnold, I am going to pack up your things. I am taking you to the hospital—”

“No!” He hacked a bit more and then the toilet flushed. “Just, just call me an ambulance or I can get one myself. If Henley finds out we were together he is going to want to know why. That is no good. I will be alright.”

“Let me be the judge of that.”

A few moments past before Arnold opened the door. He was covered in perspiration and looked beyond ill. Jørn checked his pulse unhindered by the mess from where his vomit had missed the garbage, or the pungent odor of both types of his waste. Dissatisfied with his numbers, Jørn started to pull him up from the ground. “Let’s go, Arnold, the sooner we get moving the sooner—”

Arnold made it to the bed and pulled his arm free. He pointed a sharp finger at Jørn and an even sharper gaze. “I said no! I am not going to let you mess this up! I have already called an ambulance,” He showed Jørn his cell phone. “They are on their way. I can assure you that I am not going to die within the next fifteen minutes so, do us both a favor, no do us all a favor; you, myself, and your cousin, and get out of here. If Henley finds out I met with you, he will be on me like white on rice and that won’t help either of us get to the bottom of this.”

Jørn growled, irritated at the circumstances and irritated with Arnold’s constant mentioning of Rick Henley. “What does Rick have to do with any of this?!”

Arnold blew out a breath. “More than I can say right now. Suffice it to say I do not trust him, and neither should you. Now, get me a bottle of water from the fridge and go. I will call you when I am less of an embarrassment to myself. You have my word.”

Jørn waited until Arnold was resting back against the pillows of the bed and a full bottle of water had been consumed. He tried again to wait for the ambulance, but finally relented to Arnold’s demand especially when he told him he would not help him any further if he didn’t leave.

Feeling like his head had been caught in a swarm of bees, he gathered up his papers, jumped in his car and gunned it down the freeway. He was not surprised at all to see that he was making his way towards Maryam’s exit.

*          *          *

Etta had hidden away in her office, taking her time with the managing of accounts and bills for the store, leaving the floor and customer care all in Kyle’s hands. He seemed less frazzled when she briefly saw him before pulling herself behind the office door. Usually if the kid needed her help on the floor he was beyond willing to let her know so. Also, the accounts had been neglected and the last thing she wanted was to find herself without an income and store to keep when the war over the sequence was over.

Life would go on when this was finished and the less fragments she had to put back together the better.

Being in the office also helped her head. She didn’t know what Clive had going on down in the chapel, but the frequency of his activities was so amplified and assaulting to her senses that she could have almost sworn it was coming out of her very store. She pressed her eyes shut and deepened her concentration, allowing the vibrations and frequency from everything else in the room to build up a barrier of white noise.

Hearing the tick of the old clock on the wall, she pulled her eyes opened and sighed with relief. She had thirty-five minutes to get to Doris’ for dinner—a much needed reprieve and safe haven from a day that had tried to gut her from its very dawn. She would even allow Doris to feed her a mixing bowl filled with egg salad just as long as the woman gave her a hug. She really needed one of those after the way Jørn had bruised her heart that morning.

She frowned as she thought about what Jørn had said to her. He didn’t trust her, and maybe he had good reason, but that didn’t take the edge off the pain it caused her in hearing it. More than anything, it was the coldness to his tone and the fact that the he was having an affair—

“Something is wrong with Kyle.” Baldwin’s voice broke through her thoughts.

Etta shrugged. “I know. He has had it hard around here. I feel kind of bad for him, but he knew what he was getting into. What we are doing comes at a high price. We are screwing with some alien entity who tends to take everything very personally, and with that comes back lash. I don’t think he likes his new car that I got him either. That could also be it too.” She turned her desk chair around and fed several papers through the shredder.

Baldwin came closer. “That is not what I mean. There is something wrong with him. Like he is, he’s,”

Etta narrowed her eyes at him, her stomach suddenly soaring. Baldwin had not said it, but Etta knew what he was alluding to. She slowly shook her head as if beyond exhausted. She was. “Don’t tell me that.”

“He is not himself, Etta. I have been watching him since we’ve been here. There are little things off with him, like there were with Mr. Albert when he first—”

“What is wrong with the men in my life?!” She cut him off and thrust her arms out dramatically before letting out a heavy sigh. “Okay.” That was all she could manage. Suddenly frustrated, shot up from her chair and began to grab her things. She didn’t have the head to deal with this, but she could at least find out for sure. If Kyle had been changed, had been the Pulse’s recent convert, she shouldn’t be surprised. She had taken three people out of the Towes hold. She knew They would strike back. “We can talk in the car. I need to be at Doris’ in the next thirty minutes.”  She needed it now more than ever.

Masking herself as if there was nothing wrong, and kicking herself for not paying closer attention; for not considering that the ruckus she was experiencing was indeed coming for the shop and not from a floor below, she exited her office and immediately caught Kyle in her sights.

He turned and met her gaze, the assaulting sound that she had tried to avoid radiated violently from him. Etta rolled her head around her shoulders suddenly wishing the Pulse was actually there for her to beat into a pulp for what it had done to him. Etta didn’t want this for Kyle, she didn’t want this for anyone, but she knew there would be casualties in this war.

“You heading out?” Kyle asked. He stood in front of the display of Secret Keepers, restocking them. The foul grey of his once brilliant aura taunted her.

Etta narrowed her eyes and smiled. If Kyle knew what the Secret Keeper dolls really were, then the Pulse certainly did now. The only thing left was to figure out what They intended to do about them. She said, playing dumb. “Yes. I told you have a dinner date with Doris.” There was a strange glint in Kyle’s eyes at the mentioning of Doris’ name.

Etta’s hand tightened around the thick strap of her leather purse. Not Doris, too. “There is still a bit of maintenance that I obviously didn’t get to today, Kyle, so if you could stay a little afterward and take care of that?” She raised her brow, her usually antics in getting Kyle to do more work than he wanted to do. He always huffed and made some snarky remark about being the only one who actually worked the store anyway. This time he did not.

Instead he only shrugged. “Sure, no problem.” He started putting more dolls on the display. “Have fun with Doris.”

Etta turned and headed for the exit, her chest constricting.  “Thanks, Kyle. You’re a real doll.”

He chuckled. “Thanks. Have a good night.”

Etta snarled and grabbed her keys from her purse, whispering under her breath, “You were supposed to say, “I hope not.””

It Kept Them Together: A Free Flow Write

“I didn’t hit him, Mom! I swear!”

Eliza felt her dark brown eyes roll sharply up in her head of their own volition just as an exhausted sigh brushed past her lips. Garret and Troy were only six. “They are only six,” She even let the words, now made a mantra come forth, massaging her back into a place of calm…at least mostly.

Troy, whose face was just as twisted in frustration as the crumpled clothing of Garret’s shirt, trapped with in his fist, hollered just as loudly. “Yes you did! Ma, he’s lying! You are such a liar, Garret.”

Eliza would have laughed at the way Troy said his twin brother’s name, unintentionally exchanging the ‘r’ sound for that of a ‘w,’ transforming his brother’s name into something akin to “Gaywit,” but instead she reached forward and pried the two apart, only for them to rush back together again in a tangle on the floor.

It was a daily routine, as soon as she walked in the door, after a hard day of work, pulling the twins apart and off the floor. Soothing bruises with kisses, chastising when the need arose, which was also daily, but receiving and giving hugs wrapped in “I love you.”

It was something that was also needed-it more than anything else.

It kept them together…in a good way.

It had been thirteen months. Thirteen months, sixteen days and nearly eleven and a half hours since their world, Eliza, Troy and Garret’s, had been shattered, when she became a single mom to twins who were not her own, and a widow to a man who had left his sons far too soon. He had left her far too soon.

Thinking about it made the back of her eyes sting and her lip draw inward as she fought off the tears. They came far less often than they once had. Back then she nearly drowned in the liquid that sprang from her eyes.

She hadn’t noticed that the boys had stopped rolling across the floor, pummeling each other, until she felt their warm hands take hold of hers. Garret’s wet lips kissed her palm. “Sorry, Mom.”

“Yeah, sorry, Mom.”

She smiled, hearing yet again the absence of Troy’s r’s.  She knelt down and pulled the boys into her arms and squeezed them until they complained and wiggled out of her grasp, but only after they had exchanged their kisses. They looked so much like their father…and their father’s mother, Dina.

It was amazing how God worked things out, how He could mend a broken thing with something else that was broken.

Dina had never liked Eliza, had made every attempt to voice her opinion about it and her disdain for her son having married her. It had pushed Peter away from his mother and yet it was Peter’s death that pulled Dina to Eliza.

Dina, she was the one who shook Eliza out of her stupor. She was the one who told her she didn’t have a choice but to live, wouldn’t leave Eliza’s house until she had made it clear that she would live again. She was the one who told her she was too young to give up, that love didn’t die and that Peter’s love didn’t die for her.

It was Peter’s loved that pushed them together and Gods love that kept them together.

Dina came out of the kitchen just as the twins ran into the family room and Eliza rose from her knees. She tossed the dish towel in her hands over her shoulder, and just like she had for the last seven months, brushed the hair from Eliza’s eyes, cupped her face and kissed her cheek like only a mother could.

She then smiled at her as she patted her cheeks. “You get those boys a father and they won’t be such a handful.”

And like every time Dina said those words, and every time Eliza tried to refuse the thought, Dina’s hand would press against Eliza’s heart. “That heart is ready for love. It’s love that has kept it together.”

THE END

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