A new story to share

Here are a couple of clips from my latest piece of fiction.  I wrote this after taking a travel writing class in England and visiting the Roman Baths there.  I apologize for the length; blog posts shouldn’t be so long!  But the clips go together and the story wouldn’t be much of a read without them both.  Let me know what you think of the piece.  I believe in editors, so don’t be afraid to criticize where needed!

Aquae Sulis

            The atrium was Helena’s favorite place in the house.  Its homey atmosphere comforted and relaxed her in these troubling days.  Large columns held up the roof that arched high over her head and a beautiful fountain took up the center of the room.  Helena’s eyes roamed to the bed in the corner.  Not many months ago, Quintus placed her upon it during their marriage ceremony.  It now stood empty but sacred—the sanctity of their marriage a symbol for all their guests to see.

          Her husband lay on the couch before the hearth.  “Kaeso grows moodier each day,” Helena said conversationally, kneeling before him.

         “He’ll come to peace eventually,” Quintus responded.  He gazed at his wife thoughtfully, before running a finger through her thick, dark hair.  He pushed it back from the right side of her face, where it was hiding her bruise.  “He hasn’t hit you again, has he?” her husband asked, gently running his thumb over the tender spot.

       “No.  Today his mood is somber.”  Her brother’s attitude concerned her; he wasn’t himself.

        “I think he should be brought to Aquae Sulis,” she said casually, watching her husband’s reaction closely.  She knew how he felt about such things.

         His hand stopped.  Quintus shook his head.  “It would be a waste of time,” he responded. “Plus the journey would be difficult on Kaeso.

          “But Quintus,” Helena leaned forward, her perfume dancing beneath her husband’s senses.  “It’s Kaeso’s only hope.” 

          “A false hope.”  Quintus gently kissed her bruise, wishing he could heal it.  Distracted, he then traveled down the side of her neck, his lips rough on her tender skin.  Silently—skillfully—Helena said nothing, merely twirled her fingers in her husband’s short hair.

            “Mmm.”  Quintus’ senses filled with the eucalyptus that Helena had bathed in earlier. 

            She let her plea go for a few minutes as Quintus became too distracted to focus on her request.  Finally, after he lay back against the couch, she rose and, standing behind him at the couch’s one armrest, began to rub her hands over his shoulders and back.

           “Quintus, I’d consider this a personal favor,” she whispered.

           “Consider what?”  He was genuinely not following.

            “Take my brother to the Bath in Aquae Sulis.”

            “Why?” Quintus rotated his neck, cracking out kinks as his wife’s hands worked calming wonders.

            “Many people travel there for healing, Quintus.  Just because you do not believe in the goddess does not mean she has quit healing.”

            “The gods already made their judgment on Kaeso.  The best way to keep them appeased is for Kaeso to accept his lot and not challenge them.”

            “But what if it was an evil spirit that befell Kaeso, not the gods?”

            Quintus sat up.  He immediately missed his wife’s touch, but facing her was more important.  “Helena, the journey is tough.  It is neither for weak, invalid men nor idealistic women. People don’t just travel that far on a whim.  Inns are dangerous, roads are crowded.  It would be too difficult, too expensive and Kaeso would be disappointed in the end.”  Quintus stood.  “Sulis does not have healing powers.  Sure, many pray to her, but how many have ever been healed?”

            With that, he walked out of the room, signaling an end to the conversation.

            But Helena loved her brother too much to let the issue go.  Her sandals padded against the stone floor as she followed her husband out to the Peristylium.  The outdoor gardens held many flowers, stone statues and fountains.  Giant rose and lilac bushes rose nearly as tall as Helena herself.  She walked among them till she caught up to her strolling husband.

            “Quintus, where is your compassion?” she demanded.

            Quintus stopped and turned to her.  He placed his hands on her arms, willing her to understand.  With gentle authority, he said, “It is my responsibility I must think of instead.  I cannot allow you to make such an arduous journey.”

            Helena shook her head.  “I don’t have to go.  Just take my brother.”

            Quintus threw up his hands.  “No!  I can’t be responsible for taking a weak, sick invalid man all the way to Aquae Sulis.  It’s not safe for him, either.  You are to forget this foolish notion and will accept the lots the gods have placed upon us.  They meant for your brother to lose the use of his legs, for you to be his nurse and for myself to support and be responsible for him.  We will do no less!”

            Quintus remained silent as Helena whirled away and stalked back into the house.  So content, was he?  Well, she would just beg the goddess Sulis without the help and protection of her husband.  She would not watch her brother suffer another day. 

            Helena went straight to her brother’s room.  She stood in the doorway a moment, calming down her temper.  It would not due to have her brother pick up on her attitude.  Kaeso was morose and silent today. At times, she feared this mood more than his anger and bitterness.  At least when he was upset, he looked alive.  “Kaeso,” she called softly.  He looked over at her from his place in bed.

            She hustled into the room and sat down on the edge of his bed.  “I have a plan,” she confided.  “Are you interested in hearing it?” 

            “What are you talking about?” he asked.

            “I know how to get you to the Sacred Spring.”

            Empty eyes filled slightly with curiosity.  “Quintus didn’t agree, that I am sure.”

            “No, he didn’t,” Helena acknowledged.  “So we’ll go without him.”

            “What?”

            “Quintus leaves for the Colosseum the seventh day before Kalendae of March to watch The Games.  He’ll be gone all week, plenty of time for us to sneak out of here! ”

            Kaeso crossed his arms and looked at his sister skeptically. “He’ll come after us.”

            “He hasn’t a chance of catching up to us before we arrive at the bath house!  By then, you will be healed.  All will be well.” 

            “He’ll be furious.”

            “I can handle him,” Helena assured her brother.  “Besides, how could he not be delighted at your recovery?”

            Kaeso looked away, hesitating.  Finally, the man admitted, “He won’t just be mad at you; he’ll take it out on me.” 

            Helena’s eyes closed in painful despair at her brother’s confession.  Slowly she reached for him and gathered his head to her breast.  She was no longer concerned for his physical healing; it was his mental health that made her disobey her husband.  How could her brother be so tough and angry one day and so pathetic and child-like the next? 

            “Never, Kaeso,” she crooned.  “Quintus won’t be upset with you.  You are forgetting that when you see him, you will be standing on two strong feet once again.  He will be too relieved to have his friend and brother back to be upset.”

~~~

            It was mid-day when they arrived.  The baths were packed with people.   Helena gaped at the large temple, whose steeple stabbed a clear, blue sky.   Sulis was also the goddess of curses and Helena didn’t need any more of those.  She let out a ragged breath, attempting to exhale her fears, as well.

            She turned to the slaves still holding the litter.  “Carry on,” she commanded and started ahead, elbowing her way through the crowds.  The doorway arched high above Helena’s head as she walked in and turned to go around the large column that stood in her path.  People swarmed around her and she cast anxious looks behind her to make sure Kaeso’s litter was still following.

            She knew exactly where to go.  The Sacred Spring was supposed to be in the center of the Bath.  Helena walked up the three stone steps that took her to the entrance of her destination.  A white haired woman and her big, Ethiopian slave blocked Helena’s view.  Skirting around them, Helena fought her way to the open courtyard by the pool.  Once in the open, she stopped, gazing in awe of what she had come so far to see.  Steam rose from the green water in light drifts.  Many people sat in the pool, some near the edge, others walking about in the middle.  Some people stood near tossing coins into the water.  Tucked back in little cubicles notched in the wall, a few men sat carving into stone tablets.  Helena knew those were curses being written, and she quickly looked away.  Walking to the edge of the pool farthest from the curse-carver’s, she picked a spot to wait for kaeso’s litter to catch up.  It was not far behind her.

            The slaves walked the litter up to her.  “Set him into the pool,” she commanded.   The slaves nodded and set the litter on the ground.  Bending, one lifted Kaeso by his torso, the other by his still legs.

            “Careful!” a nervous Kaeso barked at them.

            Without speaking, the slaves gently lowered his legs into the water and let his body slip in after.  Kaeso gripped the edge of the pool nervously.

            “You’re dismissed,” Helena told them.  “Wait for us back at the inn.” 

            As the slave scurried away, Helena sank down to sit on the stone floor by the water.

            Kaeso’s body slowly grew accustomed to floating and as he started to relax, Helena silently began her prayer.

            “Dear Sulis, hear my plea.  You are a woman—pity me.  Surely you understand what I went through to reach you.  You must know the danger I faced—and still do face—in my effort to be blessed in your sacred waters.  Yet, it is not for my sake that I crave your healing power, but for my brother.  He is a good man—or once was—but whichever god hath cursed him has seen fit to take what kindness Kaeso had, as well.  He is now afflicted in the mind as well as the body.  He needs your touch upon him.  Please take these coins as tokens of appreciation for the miracle I know you are going to do on Kaeso’s behalf.” 

            Caesar’s face stared unblinking at her until, one by one, she tossed her coins over her brother’s head and into the sacred spring. 

            The crowd thinned as the day progressed and by nightfall, Helena and her brother were left with a senator and his crowd of staff, and two slaves standing guard over a young girl about Helena’s age.  When darkness fell, lanterns were lit in the Upper rooms and their holy light caused a warm glow to shimmer against the stones and reflect in the Sacred Spring below.

            Helena held her breath as she felt the mood of the place change.  They who had waited faithfully were about to be rewarded.  She looked anxiously at her brother, his head resting on the side of the pool, body submerged.  His eyes were closed and he was the most relaxed she’d ever seen him—even before the accident.  She prayed he’d fall asleep in the warm water and wake mobile and healed.  As the ambiance shifted, Helena began to pray once more.

            “Oh Sulis, come now, I beg thee—“

            “Woman!”

            The yell pierced the room and ricocheted off the stone walls.  The young girl across the pool gave a startled shriek and the senator’s frightened jump caused the water to ripple down around Kaeso on the opposite side.  Helena remained still, however.  She knew that voice.  Her husband had caught up with them.  Without acknowledging Quintus’ presence, she cast a sidelong glance at her brother.  He remained unchanged in the water.  How could he not have been disturbed by the interruption?  Could the goddess be healing him?

            “Please,” Helena prayed.  “Heal him fast!”

            She had barely finished speaking to the goddess when she felt herself yanked to her feet.  “So I finally reach you!” Quintus glared at her over a furrowed brow.

            “Don’t be angry, Quintus,” Helena begged.  “I had to come.”

            Quintus did not respond.  Instead, Helena felt herself fall into the arms of two of Quintus’ slaves as he flung her aside.  He stalked over to the water where Kaeso still lay calm.  Bending, Quintus dipped his fingers into the pool.  Glancing at Kaeso, the young man then splashed water at the resting sick man.  “Kaeso, get up!”

            “No!” Helena cried, breaking free of the slaves holding her and rushing to her husband.  “Stop, Quintus.  The goddess is healing him.  Don’t interfere!”

            Quintus shrugged her off his arm.  “Bah!  He sleeps, that’s all.”  Annoyed, he turned to his slaves.  “Get her out of here,” he commanded.

            Several more of Quintus’ entourage stood in the doorway.  He motioned a couple more slaves over.  “Lift him out of here,” he told them as the former two obeyed their master and took hold of Helena’s arms.  She fought them, not caring that everyone in the pool was witnessing her family’s scene with wide eyes. 

            “Quintus, we’ve come too far.  Give him more time, please.  Please, Quintus.  What’s the harm in waiting?”

            Her husband ignored her as Kaeso was hauled from the water.  At this invasion, her brother awoke.  “What?” he tossed glances at his surroundings, disoriented.  Kaeso began to shiver as a slave picked his tunic up off the floor and draped it over him.  “No,” Kaeso moaned, his head weak, chin falling to chest.  “Can’t g-go,” he babbled senselessly to the floor.  “Goddess—heal—“

            “What’s the matter with him?” Quintus demanded.  “Kaeso!” He approached Kaeso and lifted his chin.  “The man’s burning with fever.  What did the water do, poison him?”

            No one noticed the senator and the young girl immediately spring from the water as if its heat suddenly scalded them.

            “He’s merely overcome by the power of Sulis,” Helena stubbornly defended.

            Enraged, Quintus whirled back to face her.  “For the last time, get her out of here!” He bellowed at his slaves, thrusting a finger at the doorway.

            Knowing she was beat, Helena allowed herself to be led away.  She wept angry, heartbroken tears of one whose faith was stripped and crushed.

(C) Emily Grace 2010

 If you made it all the way to the end–thank you! 🙂 

Blessings,
Em

p.s. Remember: Character matters!

New Dreams

Travel writing is a new goal of mine.  My boyfriend mentioned it as a life goal of his once, so I figured… hey, I better get on board with this idea!  Then I took a travel writing class to England and now I’m completely sold.   For a girl my age, I am well-traveled, but the thought of travelling for a living never ocurred to me as a possibility.   I just love home too much.  When I stand before an English meadow, or inside a cave deep in Mexico and think “Gee, I miss the wheat field east of the house,” it becomes pretty obvious where my loyalty lies.  I’m a simple American farmgirl.  Me, a world traveller??  But here was the clincher for me:  I love people.  I am a writer always on the lookout for characters.  People make me laugh; they make me question; they make come alive!  And as (one of) my favorite quote(s) says:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Unknown

What is more exciting than sitting in a foreign pub, deep  in conversation with a complete stranger?  (Well, maybe sky diving?) 

I am a regional writer.  I write about the place I live; its where my passion lies.  Travel writing was a huge stretch for me.  It meant I had to go somewhere unfamiliar and write about that place and do so as if I was a native.  What great practice for a writer.  What a way to educate myself.  Examining new things makes one grow as an individual as well.

Life as  a travel writer would be an adventure.  My life has always been a crazy ride; I welcome the memories.  Life moves and I wish to move with it!  Very few things in life are constant; that was a lesson I learned early in my childhood.  Perhaps this is what I was being prepared for? 

Obviously, I am talking into the future here.  Right now, I am loving home and need to finish school.  And one doesn’t just “become” a travel writer.  I am realistic; I have done my research.  If I am serious about this, it will mean a lot of work and a lot of luck.  But this probably won’t be the last you hear of my new goal.

So now I have recorded it: Emily Grace’s career goal has experienced an addition.  For the first time in ten years, she has altered her goal of being a novelist.  On her way up the ladder to published fiction, she may (if opportunity provides) take a detour on the travel writing rung.

Blessings,
Em

p.s. Remember: Character matters!

contradictions

I’ve received several heart-warming comments from some of you lately in reference to my blog and just wanted to say “thank you!”  Comments are always, always, always appreciated.  Any of you who have your own blogs know how relieving it feels to be assured you’re doing something right.  I’m grateful that things I say strike a chord with people.  That is one of the reasons I do this. 

One thing I am sure I will never be complimented on, however, is my blog schedule or the timeliness of my posts.  I haven’t written a word here in several weeks!  Part of that is due to a busy schedule with college, but a lot more is due to laziness.  I find myself mulling over what I should blog about, then scratching all my ideas because they aren’t profound enough. Then I realize that trying to be “great” or “profound” is killing my blog.  Striving leads nowhere.  So, I’m going to jump on something rather random today and ask for some feedback.

I attended a lecture on the craft of writing this afternoon.  The lady speaking shared her favorite quote by Walt Whitman. 

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”  ~Whitman

I am not a big fan of poetry, but Whitman’s poetry would rank as some of my favorite.  I feel this quote to be somewhat cocky of Whitman, but I couldn’t help but empathize.  As a writer, I have so many ideas running through my head that it is very hard to keep them all in perspective. 

eye of the beholderSo what do you think?  Is the great Walt Whitman merely speaking of the dichotomy that exists in the human mind…or is he bragging about his own greatness and ability to be above average?  (To get this quote in its context, read “Song of Myself.”)

Thanks in advance for any and all opinions!

Blessings,
Em

two poems

I wrote a couple poems for my creative writing class.  Neither have rhyme or meter.  The first does have a line scheme, but the second is a prose poem in block (or paragraph) form.  I thought I would share them with you.  Feel free to critique, or let me know which one you prefer. 

Also, side note, the first poem, “Trust” is not meant to have political implications.  Yes, it is written in 2009 and I emphasize the word “hope”, but that is not me parroting Obama’s campaign.  I may need to change it slightly, due to that.  Let me know if you feel it comes across as political.

Trust

If trust equaled faith, equaled
hope, I would be a mess.
How thankful I am
It does not.

Trust did not leave me
Abruptly,
waving out the window of a car
driving away.

Instead, he became emotionally distant.
It took time
And loss
And pain.

A friend in the Psych ward
A government without Bin Laden’s head
A school teaching fabricated facts
Prayers that seemed ignored.

LIES!
My heart built up defenses
And could not take people at their word,
Cynical was what it became.

And yet…
Trust does not equal faith
nor hope,
Both of which I cling to.

(C) Emily Grace 2009

Grandpa’s Garden
Light and coarse, cascading between the cracked skin of his fingers, the dirt trickles down like a waterfall.  Groaning, my grandfather bends knees that are stiff with age and old war wounds.  I mimic his actions and drop the tiny seeds where he instructs.  As my bare feet lay in the impressions the old man’s shoes have made, the squishy material between my toes clings to my skin, latching like a leech.  I follow grandpa’s trail up and down the sod rows.  When we are done planting, I veer off his path, into the lush, cool grass.  As I glance back, I see my own dirt marks in my wake.
(C) Emily Grace 2009

My latest story clip

WIPTo say Alex wasn’t bothered by the return of her husband’s old girlfriend would be a lie.  To the world she appeared mature and capable of dealing with this, even bordering supernatural reactions.  But inside…inside, Alex was a mess. The reason is not hard to understand once familiar with her culture.

The northern tip of Minnesota was inhabited by traditional folks.  They were all white, all Scandinavian, all religious and all stubborn.  While the rest of the country moved forward in what is called progress, these people still emulated much of what was taught by their first generation ancestors who originally emigrated to the free shores of the USA.  In other places, stretching from sea to shining sea, young people were in the phase of experimentation.  They slept around with several people–of all nationalities, religions and sexes–to discover what suited them best before finally settling on a “life-partner,” which really only lasted an average of 8 years of that “life.”  Not so up in the backwoods of Minnesota.  Oh, teens still slept around, as Kenny and Lyn proved.  Human nature took over even stubborn Baptists, Catholics and Lutherans.  But ethics and morality ran so deep that those who danced too soon kept that knowledge hidden, refusing to flaunt it, and over ½ of the population still went to the altar as virgins.  To them, there was no need to experiment and “try it out” on others; when they were ready, by George, they were ready and knew it. 

Alex was one of those virgins.  She had saved herself for the man of her dreams.  To find out, years later, that he hadn’t seen the need to do the same, crushed her.  And if that wasn’t enough, this news of her husband’s sex life was public.  This wasn’t some sin that the local priest heard via the confession booth!  The minister’s wife knew.  The old gossips in the ladies’ aid knew.  The WWII veterans in the horse shoe club knew.  The business owners, the school kids, even the Swan Man and the UPS deliverer knew.  Her husband hadn’t just got too far once with his high school girlfriend, when hormones were raging and inexperience in charge.  Lyn’s return had brought with her Kenny’s unknown kid.  And if that wasn’t enough, this didn’t simply thrust Alex in as a step-mom in a dysfunctional family.  The discovery of dear little Sarah was a two-fold blow in that it revealed that the child’s saintly mother had become a  prostitute.   

The long-ago sins of her husband had returned, not only to bite him but to strip away Alex’s world as she knew it.  There would not be a public building for 30 miles in which she was not the center of discussion.  The hair salon, the library, the school cafeteria, the church basement…every time people met, it was her they would be discussing and her they were impatiently watching.  Everyone wanted to see her reaction.  They expected her to blow up, they expect tears, they expected a divorce. 

But they didn’t understand: her turmoil was inside her.  It was there that she yelled and cried and cursed.  She knew what she was facing.  Alex Erickson was a smart girl–she knew exactly what she was up against.  But she was just as Scandinavian as they and would not wear her heart on her sleeve for her vicious neighbors to see and peck at!

The Lutheran pastor had paid a house call.  Why didn’t someone remind him that Alex wasn’t Lutheran?  He had wanted to pray with her and told her that she was welcome at his church.  Said that he knew how difficult and confusing this time must be for her (did he really?) but the church could offer the guidance she was seeking.   Alex had remained polite the entire half-hour he stayed, even serving him cookies and asking about his wife, who was a very ill lady.  By the time he left, Alex felt as if she’d been the one actually ministering.  But, it was like her dear grandmother’s adage:  nothing brings about Christian solicitors like a tragedy. 

“But it’s not a tragedy!” Alex thundered out loud, stacking the reverend’s used dishes in the sink.  “No one has died.  We’ve been given a child, a new life.  This should be a celebration.” 

And it was.  For Sarah, who was getting a father and a stable family for the first time in her life.  For Kenny, who was granted this gift of a daughter and now able to try his hand at fatherhood.  

The tragedy belonged to Alex alone.

(C)  Emily Grace 8/6/09

Character Development

WIPI was inspired to return to an older manuscript I’d started writing several years ago.  This story is the dearest to my heart and one I’ve spent the most time on.  Its taken many changes over the years, making my head spin, but hopefully they’ve been good and necessary adjustments.  Right now I’m trying something I’ve never done before.  I’ve decided to use my main characters to “show off” and emphasize a secondary one.  I’m not sure if I can accomplish it, but am excited to try.  It’ll be the epitome of the “show, don’t tell” rule.  The reason I am doing this is to avoid “preachiness.”  I want this secondary character to emulate spirituality, but only as seen through the eyes of my main characters.  In this way, showing the spiritual through others’ eyes, I can give a good view of what proper faith looks like.  Not what it is, or what struggles there are, merely how it should come across.  It won’t distract from my story and will also show how the spiritual really weaves throughout all life in a behind-the-scenes way.  Plus this character is a binary for other characters I have, who epitomize religion and the errors faith has taken.  My story deals with a lot: prostitution, religion, lost love, dysfunctional families, teen sex.  Its important for this story to be realistic.  But I always write with a purpose.  And I want that purpose to subtly shine in, to be there in the form of this selfless secondary character, waiting for my readers to make the connection on their own.

So anyway, I am working, and this is what I’m working on.  Actually, I’ve been doing more thinking about this change than writing it. (not a good thing!)  Any recommendations from writers out there?  Can you think of the best way to accomplish this mirror effect I’m trying my hand at?

Blessings,
Emily Grace

WIP–June 2009

The following is my Work in Progress for this summer.  Its been awhile since I’d posted any of my writing, so I figured I’d remedy that today!  This shows what I do with a lot of my summer days!  The story’s title (for now) is “Undefiled Religion.”  This is my intended prologue.

I don’t remember much about that day.  You’d think I would.  Aren’t the tragedies that occur throughout the course of life supposed to be embedded into a person’s subconscious?  I always thought that was why dreams and nightmares about those moments happened, why you remained haunted and saddened for years after the fact.  That didn’t happen for me, though. At least, not the remember part. I wish it did.  The more I remembered about that day, the more information I could have given to the detectives assigned to my case. Instead they made do—and did very well—with the little I could offer.

I remember punch.  Raspberry punch served out of a gold bowl.  In fact, I remember the color gold in general.  You see, it was my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary, so everything was gold.  But I also remember standing by that bowl and laughing with Jamie.  Jamie was my neighbor’s niece.  My neighbor, Mildred, was nearing 70 at that time, and Jamie had spent every summer with her for…oh, I believe it was six years.  Jamie was 16 at the time.  Just 16.  Can you imagine dying at 16?  You’re just starting to live then!  Dating, driving, all-nighters with your girlfriends . . . it’s the heart of the teenage years.  Is it too old-fashioned and traditional for me to mourn the fact that she never got married and had kids?  I know that in today’s politically correct society I am supposed to find fulfillment in more than just that. . . but I knew Jamie.  We weren’t best friends…but we were still friends.  She was a beautiful girl who longed for a simple, traditional life like that.  In fact, that’s the other thing I remember. 

We were discussing boys.  I was 18 and had just graduated from high school.  My boyfriend’s name was Mitch.  Jamie wasn’t dating, but she had her eye on a guy: Alex Freeman.  I didn’t know much about Alex because he lived in a city two hours from my small hometown.  Jamie had met him the summer before through some acquaintances of her aunt’s. 

Alex wasn’t at the celebration that night, as he did not know my grandparents.  I don’t even think he was interested in Jamie, since the two barely knew each other.  He stayed in that same city all his life, eventually managing a locally-owned restaurant.  I’ve seen him occasionally throughout our lives.  I’ve also seen his wife and kids.  Never met any of them, though.  I avoided him whenever I saw his family around.  I just couldn’t bear to see who was taking Jamie’s place.  And you know what?  After 12 years of marriage and three healthy children, they split.  I heard it was an ugly divorce and she got almost everything.  I may be foolish, but I’m convinced it was because the union was never meant to be.  After all, Alex Freeman’s true soul mate had already died.

But that’s Alex.  My “bf”,as we referred to them in those days, did not have the opportunities of Alex Freeman.  Mitch was at my grandparent’s party.  He loved my grandparents and wanted to wish them well.  He was there for them, yes.  But never in all my life have I been able to get over the fact that he was also there for me.  No amount of love, support—even the professional counseling I received—has been able to help me heal from that.  They were my grandparents.  He met them because of me and he stayed all day long to help me greet guests.  He truly played the part of one of the many in-laws.  He acted like family.  He made rounds throughout the room, visiting with people who had come alone, he refilled the salad bowls when they started getting low, he helped serve coffee…that was Mitch.

It didn’t surprise me that he acted so mature.  I knew my “bf” well.  That’s how he was: punctual, reliable, a hard worker and an honest man.  He acted well beyond his 18 years.  In high school, most of my peers went to the movie theatre on dates and made out—not only there—but whenever and wherever they could find privacy.  But us?  Mitch was never really “into” movies, so I had to rent something I wanted to watch in order to get him to enjoy it with me.  Then, instead of snuggling on the couch, I’d end up sitting on the floor, my back against the couch, and Mitch would stretch out perpendicular to me, his head in my lap.  Of course, you can’t really see the TV like that.  Normally Mitch would fall asleep while I enjoyed the movie.  Many of my friends teased us for acting like an old married couple.     

If it sucks to die at 16, imagine 18!  Like myself, Mitch was just two weeks out of high school.  He’d literally just gotten his diploma and was about to take on the world.  Mitch was planning on attending the local tech college to get a degree in agriculture.  He planned on farming with his father.  I feel responsible for denying both he and his father that. 

But back to that night…I remember having the “boy talk” and laughing till tears filled our eyes!  (Yes, the boy talk can be funny.  It’s not always has serious as is stereotyped!)  The next thing I knew I was in a hospital bed surrounded by white.  I remember no explosion, no crying, no shouting, no sirens…nothing.  Because I had blacked out, my mind never computed those sounds.  My psychologist told me I was lucky to have missed that, but to this day I haven’t decided whether or not I agree with her.  Because one minute I was having the boy-talk like your average American teenage girl and two minutes later, with no warning, no transition and no way to prepare, I had lost nearly everyone I loved.  My life was forever changed and altered; it became full of pain, confusion and heartache because of a violent decision made by a stranger.  A decision that would take years to understand and figure out, denying me also the chance of closure and the healing it could have brought.  Knowing nothing is really what I remember most about June 2, 2005.

(C) 2009 Emily Grace
If used, please give credit to “Footsteps of Life”
Thank you!