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Chapter 15 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary,

Chapter 15 from “The One That Got Away” for you. Links to the previous chapters and the link to purchase the novel on amazon follow the excerpt.

Chapter 15

         I couldn’t quite wake up. It was definitely morning. Dismal light seeped into Leigh’s family room. I could hear a hard rain pelting the outside of the house and wind whining pitifully at sporadic intervals. I could hear the chirping rise and fall of Anna and her cousins’ voices from the bedroom. I could hear Leigh moving about the kitchen and clanging various cooking tools in the breakfast production. The enticing smell of bacon filled my nose. I had an excruciating headache just now and my body felt achy and hot with fever. I groaned softly and threw the blanket off. I pressed my hands to my head trying to relieve the pressure. I needed my medicine. No one appeared to be within plaintive wailing distance. My head hurt so badly that I was having trouble focusing properly. It seemed more sensible to leave my eyes closed. I was sure that if I stood up I would pass right out. Didn’t really want to go there. I heard a child run jauntily into the room and purposefully skid with her sock enclosed feet. I squinted my eyes open and saw Kate across the hall searching the living room for some lost and needed object of play.

“Kate,” I croaked. She didn’t hear me. “Kate!” She paused, poised to move a chair to look behind it. She immediately abandoned her quest and scampered over to me.

“Yes, Aunt Wendy?” My six year old niece twisted a strand of her shockingly orange shoulder length hair and waited expectantly. Her eyes were large and green but her nose and her mouth were small and thin. What I loved most about her appearance was the generous smattering of freckles on her face.

“Can you bring me my purse and a glass of water, please? Thank you, Kate.” I smiled feebly at my niece. The selected piece of hair had now traveled into her mouth and she chewed as she answered.


Kate sped off into the kitchen, being sure to slide the last few feet. Leigh came through the doorway almost instantly, wiping her hands with a dish towel. This had not been my intention, but had been my prediction. Leigh took one look at me and announced matter-of-factly, “Wendy, you look like crap. I knew you were over working yourself….” Leigh kept going, but I tuned her out. I was sure it was more of the same lecture that I had heard before. Her voice seemed to make my head vibrate. Sounds seemed so loud and uncomfortable. I resisted the urge to bury my head into the pillow. I needed my medicine. I saw Kate appear behind Leigh tiptoeing with a large glass filled to the brim with water. Her face was screwed up in concentration as she tried to prevent the water from slopping over the edges. She was only partially successful. She set the glass as carefully as she could onto the coffee table. It ultimately ended up resting in a small puddle. She extracted my heavy, oversized purse from her diminutive shoulder and struggled to deposit it onto the table. It landed with a thud, causing additional water to slosh out of the glass. I watched as the puddle expanded and created a tributary heading straight towards my purse.

“Kate! You’re making a mess!” Leigh interrupted her own diatribe to scold her daughter. She immediately rescued my purse by flinging it into my lap and then swiftly mopped up the spill with the dish towel. Kate scurried away.

“Thanks, Kate!” I called after her and began rummaging in the contents of my purse for my medicine. After pushing aside two pens, three receipts, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a purple rubber frog, I located it. I pulled it out triumphantly and popped out two tablets. Leigh handed me the glass of water. I took it from her gratefully and drained the entire glass after swallowing the pills.

Leigh studied me with her hands on her hips. “You didn’t have the X-rays and blood work done, did you? I can’t believe I forgot to ask you about that before. What if you have cancer or something else serious? You can’t just bury your head in the sand about this, Wendy. I know that’s what you do. You think if you ignore things they’ll just go away. But they don’t, Wendy. You know Mom would have lived many more years if her cancer was diagnosed earlier. But you’re acting just like her! When she finally got medical help she was in such a mess that there wasn’t much they could do for her. You know this! Are you trying to do this to me again?”

Now she was crying. She sat down on the couch next to me and wiped at her tears impatiently. Mom was shut away in one of my other mental boxes. As long as I could remember, Mom had been a chain smoking, cantankerous loner. At some point I decided that I didn’t need anything from her. But it was very hard on Leigh. She needed much more approval and attention than my mother was willing to give. We never knew our father. I only knew that his name was Hal and that he was an ‘insufferable bastard’. I had found a picture of Hal and mom once when I was a child. In the picture they looked happy enough. I slept with it under my pillow for about a week until Mom found it when she was changing the sheets. She had never said anything, but, hard as I tried, I was never able to find it again. Watching Mom succumb to cancer was very painful. She complained bitterly about the whole process as she was subjected to horrifying amounts of medication and intensive chemotherapy. Her condition never improved. She was reduced to a beady-eyed shell of a woman by the time she finally died.  Oddly enough, that was when I went into nursing. I say oddly because my mother’s medical experience created in me a real aversion for this field. I have often puzzled over my determination to become involved it. I don’t think it was to try to make it better. Maybe it was to learn more about this demon and to flirt with it. After I got my nursing license I would only work in doctor’s offices. I was not willing to work in a hospital. As a matter of fact when I had to do training in the hospital it gave me the creeps. Of course I would never show this. It was something to be overcome and harnessed. Well, maybe there’s my answer. I also had much more of an idea about what was really wrong with me. I just wasn’t ready to admit it to myself yet. Leigh was right.

I reached to put my arm around Leigh’s shoulder. She rested her head there for only a fraction of an instant before she popped back up and slapped her hand on my forehead.

“Wendy, you are burning up!” she exclaimed. “Let’s get you to the guest room. Don’t you even think about doing anything but rest today.” She gave me the ‘evil eye’ and dared me to argue.

“I don’t have time to be sick,” I protested half heartedly.

“Who does?” Leigh retorted.

I really did feel awful. Maybe a day of rest wasn’t so bad. I wasn’t scheduled to work at Jake’s until tomorrow.

“Let’s go, girl.” Leigh was already halfway across the room. I hesitated. I really was afraid that I would pass out if I got up, but I didn’t want to say so.

“Leigh, I’m kind of dizzy. Can you…”

Leigh was back in a flash. Glad to be needed, I am sure. Why was it so hard for me to ask for help, even from my own sister? Leigh assisted me in walking to the guest room with her arm steadily around my shoulders. She said nothing as we slowly covered the distance. My vision swam a bit twice, but I was able to stay on top of it. As I lowered myself onto the bed and snuggled inside, I noticed that the bedspread was the same color blue as the couch in Alice’s parents’ house.

After Leigh was satisfied that I was appropriately settled, she informed me that she would be back momentarily with ibuprofen. She closed the door after her and I could hear her shushing the girls who were clamoring to come inside.

“She’s sick and she needs rest. Come on, breakfast is almost ready. Kate and Anna, you set the table and Franny, I want you to pour juice for everybody.”

The multitude of footsteps creaked down the hall. I tried to find a comfortable position. It was not easy. I felt so exhausted. I was almost asleep when Leigh came with more medicine. I took it dutifully and went back to the business of trying to go to sleep. I basically ended up sleeping the whole day away. Some parts were completely dreamless, but most of it was Alice’s life as Silent Willow. Snatches of her existence revolved and blended, jumped and scattered. The pieces were mostly uneventful and in a random order. They were like the little parts of memory that pop into your mind as you are doing something else. By stringing them all together they wove into a full quilt of a life. Alice lived out her days in the Indian village. She was given everything but her freedom. She never fully embraced the Indian ways, but accepted her situation as her lot in life. She became a valued and contributing member of the tribe. She performed her duties with poise, but was rarely known to laugh. Laughing was kept mostly for the children of the tribe and her own. She bore and raised four healthy children. When her first child became school age she started a school for all of the children. She taught them a mixture of lessons from her own background as well as some of the new skills she had learned from her Indian family. Towards the end of her life she became merely known as ‘Teacher’. As an old woman she contracted an illness which resulted in her death. The last day of her life she slipped in and out of consciousness. When she was awake, she kept insisting that her missing son was still alive. Throughout the many years that she lived with the tribe she had never mentioned her son again after that first year. Grass Blossom was with her almost constantly during her last sickness. Silent Willow would not be comforted until Grass Blossom promised to seek out her son. The promise was the last memory from Alice that I could find. After that there was nothingness. I searched within my dreams for Alice, but found only blackness. I settled into a deep, heavy sleep.

It was almost evening by the time I would consider myself fully awake. I felt hollow and alone. I knew that Alice was gone and that I would not dream of her again. I would miss her. Her pain and hopes had been so tangible. A life lived unimportant and unknown, but vibrant just the same. Throughout time people live and die, struggling to fulfill their destinies, experiencing exhilarating joy and deep sorrow and then it appears that it’s just over. History remembers some people, but most slide into silent oblivion without a ripple leaving only their name and descendents that have no recollection of them. Their experiences and life sparks were no less absolute than those living today. And what of those spirited individuals that glowed so brightly that they made a larger than life impact upon others? The ones that History remembers? They just disappear too. It somehow just didn’t sit right with me. It seemed there should be more to it.

I still felt very sick. I rolled over and wiped some excess drool from the corner of my mouth. Ick. I flipped the pillow over to avoid the offending wet spot. Even this small procedure made my head spin. Okay. I would go have the blood work and X-rays done. I could feel myself filling with dread. I knew deep inside that there was something terribly wrong with me.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12 & 13

Chapter 14

“The One That Got Away” on amazon







Chapter 14 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary, 

Here is chapter 14 from “The One That Got Away”. Links to the previous chapters and the link to purchase the novel follow the excerpt. Thanks for your continuing interest!

Chapter 14

         The dress was quite handsome. It too was made from linen, but was styled in the Indian fashion. Moon Flower and her daughter-in-laws had embroidered intricate bead patterns in many colors. These glass fragment pictures told a story. There was one section that depicted Moon Flower and Grass Blossom caring for me in my sickness. Another was a scene of me sitting in my favorite spot by the stream. Another picture showed Straight Arrow and I holding hands in ceremony. Scattered in various positions were willow trees, wild flowers and ears of corn. These were symbols that had become associated with me.

I was seated on the floor of the home that Straight Arrow and I were to share as a couple. I fingered one of the wild flowers sewn onto my dress absently as Straight Arrow readied the ceremonial pipe. I was feeling a bit giddy from partaking in the first round of pipe smoking at the public ceremony of our joining. Up until today I had always declined any sort of smoking as any proper woman should. Moon Flower had insisted to me that I would not refuse the pipe during the ceremony of our joining. Its contents had a strange effect on me. I actually felt very content as a result. At the moment I was rather stuck trying to remember the last time I had felt at peace. It was certainly before the whole cross country trip had started. It was probably even before I had gotten married to Joshua. My mind wandered sluggishly over and around this thought as my eyes traveled to my new husband. Very odd that I should find myself in such a position. My former life felt as a distant dream. As my thoughts roamed into this arena it did not sear my heart or drop my stomach as it usually did. Worrisome things seemed not to matter so much at the moment. I could think about that later. My eyes beheld Straight Arrow’s profile as if for the first time. It struck me suddenly how very attractive he was. A beautiful man. He sensed my stare. He turned his head in my direction and a small smile played on his lips. He completed his preparations and then sat across from me. He placed the pipe between us on its ornamental stand. I eyed the pipe warily and reminded myself that this was the last time that I had to use it. Straight Arrow waited patiently for my gaze to return to his face. When it did, he gave me that slight smile again and took both of my hands in one of his large slender hands. With the other, he placed something smooth and cool in my palms. I held my hands closed for a moment, not daring to look. Could it be what I thought it was? I opened my hands just a little and saw the firelight glint off of the tarnished metal. Yes. My locket! Polly’s locket. I had thought it gone forever. I opened my hands fully and let the fire light play on its surface. I was mesmerized and afraid that it would suddenly disappear from my sight. I looked up at Straight Arrow with joy and touched his cheek quickly in thanks. My fingers fumbled and trembled as I opened the locket. I felt my heart would burst. Memories rushed at me as a tide when I peered at the tiny painting of my sister and I. I clutched it to my breast and thanked him once again. His large supple mouth pulled into a full grin and his eyes danced merrily.  I hastily latched the necklace around my neck. I pressed it to my skin, wanting its essence to sink inside of me. He was offering me the pipe. I took it and breathed in a full swallow. I choked and sputtered as delicately as I could manage and gave it back to him. He inhaled twice before placing it upon the stand. He fixed me with his deep set eyes and slowly reached over to finger my long pale hair between his thumb and forefinger. He seemed rather fascinated by it. I wondered as if from far away how this would go. I felt fuzzy and warm and more than slightly euphoric. I had seen the pipe smoking have this effect on others. I watched with detachment as Straight Arrow moved his fingers to the raw hide lacing at the front of my dress. He deftly and unhurriedly loosened it. He pushed his hands inside of the fabric and grasped my breasts firmly, forcing the shoulders of my dress to fall away. Each of his thumbs pushed at my nipples and his mouth found the crook of my neck. I gasped in surprise at the way it made me feel. The pleasurable sensation was deep and urgent and completely foreign to me. Joshua had never acted in this manner. My former sexual interactions had been very basic and lackluster. I closed my eyes as he continued to remove my clothing. His kiss extended downward and dwelled in the area directly above my navel. I found myself  cradling his head with my hands. This sensual experience was electric and new, but strangely familiar from somewhere else. I opened my eyes and looked over Straight Arrow’s shoulder to see a shadowy vision of a man. His sandy, disarrayed hair partially obscured his intense gray eyes. It seemed I always had to brush his hair out of his eyes to look into them. I longed to stroke his hair and to kiss his lips. I knew Ralf was not really there. I reached a hand in his direction. And then he was gone and I succumbed to the reality that I was currently participating in. The pipe would never pass between my lips again.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12 & 13

“The One That Got Away” on amazon


Chapter 11 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary,

Another intense chapter for you. Links to previous chapters and the amazon link to purchase the novel follow the excerpt. Thank you for your interest!

Chapter 11

         It was becoming dark and I was tired to the bone. I was sitting on one of the water barrels watching the sun seep down under the wide endless prairie. The festive autumn leaves were losing their dazzling brilliance and being replaced by shadows. I pulled my cloak tighter around myself but couldn’t quite wrap it closed because of my extended belly. I sighed. My breath entered the air in front of me as a tiny puff of smoke. My fingers reached for Polly’s locket around my throat and caressed it. Tears stung my eyes. How I missed my little sister. My hands traveled to my unborn child. Maybe if it was a girl Joshua would allow me to name her after Polly. But I would really call her Elizabeth. Or maybe Beth. I winced as my raw hands caught on the rough fabric of my cloak. The cold and the repeated scrubbing of the iron cooking pots was shredding the skin on my once delicate hands. One of the women traveling with us had offered me some sort of salve to apply to my hands, but I couldn’t stand the way it smelled so I would not use it. She had called me ungrateful and wasn’t currently speaking to me. I didn’t care. Though I was ashamed of myself that I didn’t. I wasn’t brought up to be impolite and sullen. I was just so tired and uncomfortable with this baby and the endless traveling. I wasn’t used to feeling drained and unmotivated. I had anticipated myself as being energetic and ambitious on this challenging journey. I felt that I had been cooperative and pleasant for the first few weeks of the trip, but then I had become so ill with my unexpected pregnancy. Several of the women in our party had plenty of advice to give, but much of it could not be applied to our current living conditions. I had told myself that I had made every attempt to be friendly and obliging to my fellow traveling women, but I just did not feel particularly connected with any of them. There were several family groups who already knew each other previous to our trip. Joshua was familiar with one of the men from a former business relation, but his wife was a peevish, high minded sort. At this point I was homesick, ill, sleepless and unable to perform almost any task without difficulty. I felt that if I could have a real bath, a real bed, completely clean clothes and Polly for just a few hours I would swoon with happiness. I sighed again and reached over to the wagon ledge where I had set my tin cup of coffee. I wrapped my fingers around it and felt that it was almost cold. I took a long drink of the acrid beverage and felt its warmth descend inside of me. The baby kicked suddenly and made me gasp in surprise. I readjusted my sitting position and tried to push the child’s limbs back into a less uncomfortable location. My belly felt unusually stiff to my touch and a painful cramping began low and moved upwards. I breathed unevenly until the sensation passed. The other women had told me that this was normal as one neared the end of a pregnancy. Their best guess was that I had one and a half months left until I bore the child. Joshua was quite determined that we reach our destination before the birth. I could tell that recently he had begun to doubt this outcome, but we did not speak of it. Our journey had been fraught with forced stops to repair wagons and detours to avoid particularly angry groups of Indians. In a couple of months winter would be upon us. I shivered and drained the last of the coffee. I wanted to write Polly again, but it was getting too dark.

Joshua appeared from the shadows.

“Come, Alice. Let us rest.”

His face was drawn and he looked almost as weary as I felt. He had been struggling with influenza and had spent most of the evening trying to fortify the spokes on one of our wheels. It had not been performing properly and Joshua was an advocate of prevention measures. He extended me his hand to help me ease off of the barrel. He then offered me the crook of his elbow. I placed my hand there gratefully and took a few awkward steps before suddenly doubling over from a sharp pain that laced its’ way across my abdomen.

“Oh!” I squeaked.

“Alice!” Joshua instantly placed his hands on both of shoulders to steady me. “You can’t be…is the pain strong?”

“I…uh…” I had to stop speaking for a moment to breathe. “It is painful…but…now it is ceasing.”

Joshua put one arm around my shoulders and held my hand with his other. “You must rest, Alice. It is not time.” The light was too dim to see his expression, but I could hear the poorly veiled nervousness in his voice. Joshua was one that needed to have order and planfulness in his existence. He was finding that there were precious few of these qualities on a venture such as this.

One of our neighbors queried Joshua about whether all was well. He answered politely in the affirmative. He carefully assisted me into the back of the wagon and made preparations for bed. I was so exhausted that I elected not to change into my nightclothes. Instead, I immediately settled into the straw mattress and pulled the blankets around me snugly. Joshua silently performed his pre sleep rituals and then lay beside me. He placed one hand protectively on my arm.

“How do you feel?” he asked, trying to keep the apprehension out of his voice.

“All is well,” I answered sleepily.

He allowed himself a sigh and turned to face away from me so as not to expose me to his cold.

“Good night, Alice.”

“Good night, Joshua.”

I slept fitfully. The portable bedding that we slept upon would be uncomfortable even if you did not have a large, protruding belly. I tossed and turned and tried to ignore the fact that I had a pressing urge to urinate. I could finally contain this need no longer. I extracted myself from my bed and stood slowly and carefully. I tiptoed to the edge of the wagon so as not to awaken Joshua. Poor man needed his rest. He was snoring unusually loudly due to the influenza symptoms. I shivered and wrapped an extra cloak around my shoulders before attempting the arduous task of descending out of the wagon. As I alighted, I took a moment to smell the October air. I loved the distinct scent of fall. I adjusted the awkwardly positioned cloaks before starting the short trek to the line of trees on the edge of our camp. I was thankful that I had been too lazy to even remove my boots last night. Donning and lacing up my boots had become quite a difficult task as my girth had grown. I smiled to myself thinking about how appalled my former self would have been to know that months later I would actually be sleeping in my clothes and boots. I looked up at the stars and reminded myself to appreciate their beauty. Morning was extending her fingers over the horizon. Then the endless travel would begin again. I emitted a sigh as I entered the fringe of trees and prepared to relieve myself. I would never become accustomed to doing this in the grass. Upon the conclusion of my business, I stood up awkwardly and felt something catch in my side and heard a faint simultaneous popping sound. Liquid gushed down between my legs and created an instant puddle at my feet. I froze in shock. Disbelief pushed everything out of my mind. How could? Why? Then realization dawned on me and a flutter of anxiety immediately after that. My waters had broken. The baby was coming. My mind raced as I tried to place my cloaks in a way that hid my very damp state. I could still feel a slow trickle and my belly felt extremely tight. Mary Franklin would be the one to go to. She seemed to have the most experience and knowledge about birthing babies. She had been quite helpful to another woman that had given birth on the trail. However, we had been on the outskirts of a town when this woman had begun her labor. This was not the case at the moment. We were far from any sort of town. Of course the first thing that I needed to do was wake Joshua. He would be distressed that the baby was early and would be born without the comforts and facilities that a town would provide. I stifled my growing fear for the welfare of my child. No. I was determined that this child would thrive. I would do all in my power and then more. As if on cue, I saw Joshua’s sleep tousled mane of blonde hair emerge from the back of the wagon. He immediately looked in my direction anticipating the reason for my absence. I was too far to see his expression, but I was sure that it pictured stern disapproval. He always insisted that I let him accompany me for safety purposes if I had to venture outside camp for such reasons. But I was rather stubborn about this particular subject. I felt very uncomfortable performing this need while he waited nearby. Joshua jumped lithely out of the wagon and took a total of two steps in my direction before stopping dead in his tracks. I was puzzled for the merest fraction of a moment. I heard it before I saw it. It pierced my mind and soul before I even knew the origin. A blood curdling wave of high pitched voices combined as one. I had lifted my skirts and had been about to step into the brush to head back to camp, but dropped them and my foot abruptly upon hearing this unearthly wail. My legs almost buckled in fear. I watched in pure horror as a deluge of brightly painted Indians descended upon our sleeping camp. This area was not known to be defended by Indians. Joshua gestured wildly for me to go to the woods behind me. Then he jumped back to the wagon and reappeared with his rifle. I didn’t move. I felt paralyzed watching the scene playing out in front of me. Joshua fired off three shots before he was shot himself and overtaken by several of the mob. Then the terrified screams of women, children and men began. The sound built and rose until it was as loud as and intertwined with the war cries. I covered my ears and pushed hard trying to force the horrifying sound out of my head. Some of the families had started to come out of their wagons to defend or flee. Some never even made it out. The Indians were fierce and efficient. Suddenly, I was knocked to the ground by the force of a bullet lodging itself into my left shoulder. This seemed to awaken my sense. It gave me the adrenaline and gumption to jump into action. I scrambled desperately to my feet despite the searing pain in my shoulder. I half stumbled, half ran into the forest. I began to sob uncontrollably. I hurtled myself into the unknown. Where would I go? This thought seemed almost beside the point. The sheer instinct to survive pushed my feet forward amazingly swiftly for a woman in my condition. I don’t know how far I ran before I was abruptly grappled by intense abdominal pain. It brought me instantly to my knees. I emitted a low guttural cry before clamping my hands over my mouth. Quiet! I must be quiet! The burning pain in my shoulder blended with the unbearable cramping that squeezed my belly. I bit down hard on my own palm to prevent myself from screaming. The baby was coming! Could not be coming! My body pushed without thought of timing or circumstances. I lay on the ground panting and writhing in agony. I drew blood from my own hands in an effort to remain silent. I began to feel light headed and had to remove my hands to gulp in more air. The baby was coming. I hastily ripped my pantalets away and lay back on the damp musty leaves. Their scent filled my nose as I clenched my teeth and focused fiercely on the brilliantly colored foliage above me. I dug my fingers into the dirt and leaves beside me and pushed with everything that I had. The baby slid out onto the blanket of leaves. I immediately struggled to a sitting position and frantically pushed my filthy skirts away. A small groan of surprise and dismay escaped my lips and I felt additional panic rising upon my already agitated state. I was not expecting my baby to be coated with blood and slime. A boy. But he was not moving.

“He’s dead. He’s dead. He’s dead,” I found myself whimpering pitifully. All purpose and hope seemed to leave me and tears streamed down my dirty cheeks as I stared at my still child. I picked him up and gently plucked away the two burgundy leaves that were stuck to his face. I wiped at the viscous fluid that covered his features. He was still warm. I had to keep him warm. I had lost one of my cloaks in my dash across the forest, but I used the other one to carefully clean him. I blocked everything from my mind and concentrated on cleaning and caressing my newborn son. I had heard the women talk of the long tube that connects a child to his mother and that it needed to be severed. With one hand I rummaged in my immediate vicinity for a stick sharp enough for the task. I sawed and poked and pried with the inefficient utensil until it came free. I somehow managed to knot it. My heart ached as I hummed a tuneless, comforting song for my child. And then without warning he gasped in a gurgling breath of air, sputtered, sneezed and began to wail loudly. I almost dropped him in shock and surprise, but I quickly regained my sense and pulled him tightly to my bosom. His cry seemed to echo amongst the beautifully colored trees insisting that he live. That this small life was important in the midst of the turmoil and death that surrounded his birth. I clutched him more firmly and began to rock to calm him. As he quieted, I pulled him back a little to gaze upon my miracle. I was quite startled to observe additional fresh blood smudged on his face. My first panicked thought was to search his small body for a wound, but then I realized that the blood’s source was my own shoulder. Strangely, I had almost forgotten about my shoulder. The pain quickly reregistered in my brain and its’ throbbing intensity became quite excruciating. Once again I ignored it to attend to more important matters. After removing my blood from my son’s face, I held him close to my other breast. I patted his back soothingly and rocked as I sat in a pile of leaves in the middle of an unknown forest. I began to wonder what my next step should be. My thoughts did not get far before I became aware that I was not alone. I had not heard them approach. As if from nowhere, two Indian males stood before me, guns cocked and pointed. There was not a shred of kindness in their eyes. I froze. The only movement seemed to be my heart beating violently in my throat. The only sound was the blood rushing madly in my ears. I felt myself begin to faint, but I forced it away. I needed to protect my baby.  The older one motioned to the younger one and uttered two guttural syllables. The younger one slowly lowered his weapon to the ground and then swiftly lunged at me, graceful as a cat. I did not know exactly his intention, but I was certain that it was not good. I covered my child with my body and tried to move away from him. At the touch of his fingertips I screamed deeply, loudly. He yanked me to my feet so roughly that I almost dropped my baby. I tightened my grip. Dizziness and pain from my wound exploded into my head. The two men seemed to swim in my vision and I would have toppled to the ground had not the young Indian been holding me up. They exchanged a few words while I swayed on my feet, desperately trying to focus and concentrate on clutching my child. I noticed vaguely that the entire left side of my bodice was crimson with my own blood. At the conclusion of their conversation the man released my shoulders and quite easily yanked my baby out of my determined grip. I collapsed immediately to the ground empty handed.

“Noooo!” The anguished scream rose from the pit of my being. I flailed amongst the leaves and brush trying desperately to follow as they walked quickly away. I struggled to stay conscious as my vision became smaller and more blurry. The dizziness and the throbbing pain in my shoulder was overwhelming. I was also vaguely aware of additional cramping needling my abdomen. And I kept screaming. A long undiluted wail that would only cease for a few seconds as I gasped another breath to continue screaming. From somewhere out of my sight and comprehension the young Indian returned. He forcibly grabbed my hair with one hand and with vicious skill sliced out my tongue with the other. I immediately fell silent, gurgling and choking as blood filled my mouth. He threw my tongue carelessly into the forest as he swiftly rejoined his companion. I could stay conscious no longer.

I lost sense of time and place. I drifted in and out of reality. In actuality, I don’t even believe that I registered reality at all. There were periods when all that I could acknowledge was pure pain. Other times I was aware only of the cold and the details of the forest. During these moments it seemed as if the forest breathed and that I was merely a part of it as much as the trees, the grass, the insects and the dirt. Sometimes I would also slip into warm and comforting memories of Polly, my childhood, and my budding career as a teacher. The worst periods were when my mind cycled again and again over the events of the torturous day. My soul screamed in silent despair and anguish with no voice or sense of direction.

My most lucid moment took place as evening fell. I am unable to say if it was at the end of that horrifying day, or if it was perhaps on another day. Time had no relevance or position. At this moment I was starkly awake. The cold felt harsh and my body pulsated with involuntary shivering. My mind was crazy with physical and emotional pain. All of my senses clicked into their proper places for a short while as I gazed up at two faces peering down at me. Concern and compassion radiated from them. A young girl and her mother. Indians, but with different dress and markings than the first pair I had encountered. Their expressions registered surprise at my awakening. I immediately tried to question them about my son, his whereabouts, his well being. No words formed. Only gagging and choking. I had forgotten that I no longer had a voice. The frustration and despair welled in my eyes, but no tears fell. I had no tears left to cry. How would I find my child if I couldn’t even speak? What if they had harmed him? The thought was more than I could bear. But still I could not cry. The woman lifted my head delicately and turned it to the side to facilitate my breath and expectoration of the clotted blood residing in my mouth. She gently returned my head to its’ former resting position and began to chant. The girl joined her. They placed each of their hands on me and continued in the soothing sing-song tune. Their hands permeated warmth into my being. In my mind’s eye I could almost see the warmth becoming light and twisting and twining within my body. I stared at them soundlessly, blankly. Their edges became blurred and white light seemed to be seeping slowly around them. Wearily, I let my eyes close. All was warm. All was still. Their song echoed in my brain and I drifted into comforting blackness.

I opened my eyes again. I found myself looking up at Anna and the violet eyed woman. They were not chanting, but I could still hear the faintest echo of the song receding into a corner of my mind. For a moment I thought that I could not speak. Then I remembered that I could. But then I did not know what to say. I lay there staring at them dumbly.

“Mama?” Anna ventured. She looked questioningly at the woman next to her.

“Anna, she is fine right now, my dear.”

The absolute absence of pain felt bewildering to me. The dream had felt so real, so wretchedly real. I stifled the urge to check my shoulder, check my tongue, check what I was wearing, check the mirror. I knew what I would find. I strained my inner ear for the Indians’ song and almost thought I heard a note here and there. But then it was gone. I realized that I didn’t even have a headache any longer. But the heartache was intense. The deep sense of loss lingered heavily. Thoughts of you wandered into the mix and it all became a muddle. I finally focused my attention on Anna and the woman. I was quite startled to find them in the same position and with the same expressions as the Indian females in my dream.

“Wow,” I muttered and elevated myself to my elbows. I shook my head slightly and rose to a sitting position. Anna did not jump into my lap as I would have expected. Instead, she studied me with intense compassion. Her small ashen face held an expression meant for adults.

“Mama,” she whispered. “The baby will live.”

I stared at my daughter, struck completely speechless. The silence between us seemed to hold so many words. Then the violet eyed woman spoke.

“Wendy, she can see.”

I switched my gaze to the woman. She looked so familiar and yet I didn’t even know her name.

“What? Why should she see what I dream? That is crazy.” There I said it out loud. The crazy part. And it was directed to her, not at me. I paused, and then added, “And who are you, by the way?”

She somehow managed to smile warmly and mysteriously at the same time. I studied her face and found nothing particularly remarkable except those piercing odd colored eyes. They seemed fathomless and enduring. Her mouth and nose were not too big and not too small, but fit perfectly in her quite ordinary face. Her hair was mousey brown with white at the temples and pulled back into a skillful bun.

“I am Sara Kislin. You have just moved into the apartment directly below mine.”

“Mama,” Anna interjected, “can she babysit me sometimes? I like her.”

Oddly enough, Anna did seem rather snuggled up to her sitting there on the floor. I experienced a pang of jealousy and beckoned Anna to my lap. Anna obliged immediately and wrapped herself within my arms.

“Well, I’m Wendy Parks,” I started, “but, I guess you know that. But how do you know that? Wait. No, never mind.” My brain felt too full at the moment. I wanted to sift it all around before adding more. “Thank you for…” I was abruptly halted by a fragmented vision flashing before my eyes. I saw the Indian woman tirelessly caring for me over an extended period of time. Her face was eerily similar to Sara’s, sans violet eyes. My mind wandered into a different plane and I heard myself saying “…so much to be thankful for.”  I blinked and started stuttering “I …uh…” I had lost my train of thought, or perhaps crisscrossed trains.

Sara smiled cheerfully and matter-of-factly helped me to my feet. She touched Anna fondly on the shoulder and exchanged a knowing look with her. “If all is well, I must be off to my rehearsal.” She stated briskly. “I will be seeing you. Have a pleasant evening.” With that, she slipped quickly and quietly out the door. I didn’t realize that I was staring at the door until Anna tugged impatiently at my hand.

“Mama, let’s go to Auntie Leigh’s house. I’m hungry.”


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

“The One That Got Away” on amazon


Chapter 9 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary,

Oops! I somehow forgot that yesterday was Monday, so chapter 9 from my novel is a day late.  Please excuse me!

Previous chapters and the amazon link to my novel follow the excerpt.

In other news, I will be having a reading and book signing for “The One That Got Away” on September 30th at 12:30 in the Starbucks located at 457 Avalon Park N. Orlando FL 32828. If you are in the Orlando area, please stop by!

Chapter 9

         When I awoke from the Alice Dream, I awoke with a mission. I knew what I had to do. The anxious confusion and disbelief didn’t seem to be the point anymore. Immediately upon awakening I began rummaging through the half packed boxes in my bedroom until I found a partially used spiral notebook. Anna was all up into what I was doing.

“Mama, wadar you looking for?”

“Well, right now, a pen,” I answered absently.


I didn’t answer. I was embroiled in my search for a writing utensil. There must be an obscure place somewhere that everyone’s lost pens congregate. Along with the missing sock mates.

“Mama!” Anna was insistent.

“Calm down, Missy,” I retorted. “I am going to write a letter.”

“To who?”

I was seated on the floor at this point pulling office type objects from a box. I paused for a moment and looked at my child. “Well, Anna, that’s a good question. I’m not actually sure yet, but I need to get started anyway.”

“I will get my color books and crayons,” Anna stated matter-of-factly. She propelled herself out of the room using a skip-hop combination step.

I could feel a headache creeping in from the back of my brain as I finally put my fingers around a pen. I was never much interested in writing but it seemed to make sense to me to at least jot down notes about my dreams until I figured out who they were for. Perhaps a letter would be best since I really was not much of a talker. It seemed weird that I actually felt the need to act upon this urge. But then again, why not? I decided that I would feel less stressed about it if I wrote it all down instead of having it float around in my head. For better or for worse my reality seemed to be changing.

I became quite dedicated to jotting as many details as I could remember concerning the dreams of Roese and Alice. I would often go back to record pieces that I had forgotten previously. It seemed that my memory was not what it used to be. I used to have an excellent memory. It was very linear and I had been able to access extreme detail with only a quick and pointed backward thought. Now there were gaps as if there were broken bridges in my mind between thoughts. I would be traveling along a memory and be missing parts of the scenery. Even worse, I would suddenly come to a place where I was grasping blindly to find the next connection on the memory path. I would need to retrace my steps and concentrate on what I did remember in an effort to reattach the missing parts. Normally, this technique was not successful. More often, the errant memory piece would pop into my mind at a completely unrelated moment. Some of the memory pieces never reappeared and seem to be lost in the recesses of my mind, unable to come forward.

For the next couple of weeks my dreams were mostly deep and dreamless or they were about you. The dreams of you depicted situations that were either extremely joyous or extremely harrowing, nothing in between. I would awake exhausted and more than a little wistful and anxious. I almost tried to call you twice but my fragile resolve crumpled imagining the cold rejection in your voice. So much to be said between us that nothing could be said at all. I had to steel myself, mop up the mess and put it all back in the box and securely latch the lid. Then I stopped dreaming of you and started dreaming of Alice again.

My second dream of Alice began with me being tucked apprehensively in a new bed with a new quilt that had been embroidered by my aunt. There were fresh new pillows and I was wearing a starchy white nightdress sewn by my mother. The lace collar was itchy on my neck. I had been married that day and was waiting for Joshua. I supposed that he was in the outhouse, although he had only told me that he needed to attend to some business and would be along presently. It crossed my mind at that moment that there would not be outhouses where we would be going. I wondered how we would manage that sort of thing with all of those people on the wagon train. My mind wandered to the prospect of sleeping in the same bed with Joshua as my husband. I was used to sleeping with Polly. The thought of sleeping with a man was more than a little uncomfortable to me. It seemed unfathomable that it would be so from this point forward. How long would it take for me to be at ease with him in my bed? For me to sleep well without worry of accidentally touching him in the night? And then there was that other thing. A few days ago Mama had taken me aside and told me that there was something very important that she needed to speak with me about. Polly had been very put out that she was not allowed to be included in the conversation. Mama had told her that it was not appropriate for her tender ears. This comment made her all the more determined to glean this information and made me wonder anxiously what it could possibly be that only I was able to hear. Mama grew quite cross at Polly and sent her to help Mrs. Lewis in the kitchen. Polly protested and pouted, but in the end she stomped off to the kitchen knowing that she had no other choice. Mama told me to sit on the sofa and to my surprise she latched the parlor door. When she seated herself next to me her expression looked as though she had eaten a bushel of lemons. I waited apprehensively as she calmly and slowly poured tea for us. The only other time that I remembered her seating me thus to speak to me was when I had first begun my menstruation and was convinced that I was near death. She had explained to me that I was not in fact near death, but that it was merely a natural process that God had cursed women with. Immediately afterwards I had confided this secret to Polly so that she would not be taken by fear and surprise as I had. I clenched my fingers as unobtrusively as possible as Mama prepared herself to speak. She was a woman of few words and this clearly was a subject that she was not comfortable with.

“Alice, there is a certain duty that a woman must allow her husband that will seem unnatural and shocking to you…as it does to all women of proper background. It is the necessary act that is needed to create children.” She paused to gather additional words. I saw that a blush was creeping into her cheeks. Now I was quite curious. I had asked her about this process years ago but had been thoroughly rebuffed from ever asking again.

“You know I don’t care to share these sorts of things,” she continued, “However, as a young, newly married maid I was quite distraught when your father…” she cleared her throat and began again. “My mother did not warn me of the nature of this act. She merely told me that as a wife I was to do whatever my husband asked of me. Of course that made sense to me, but when confronted with this act I was certain that this could not be included. I was quite appalled and out of my head about the whole business. I do not want this for you.”

I could not imagine my mother out of her head about anything. Now I was burning with curiosity and anxiety. What could it be? I forced my hands to be still and my features to appear patient as she took a moment to sip her tea. She held her cup for what seemed like an eternity before setting it almost silently on the table.

“A man and a woman’s private areas must be joined to make a child. You must allow him to do this. He will know what to do. There will be pain the first time. And bleeding. The times thereafter will not be painful, but must be tolerated.” She patted my hand briefly and gazed at me almost sadly. The gaunt, weary woman retrieved her tea cup and rose steadily. “I will ask you not to share these cares with your sister.” She turned and walked slowly to the door. After unlatching it, she gave me a small, half smile before leaving me to contemplate this new information.

I stared unseeing at the closed door trying to imagine how two people would perform this act.  And to allow a man…Joshua to see my private areas? And for me to see his? How odd for God to have it so! Of course Polly had insisted that I share every detail of our mother’s conversation. But I actually didn’t. I felt that I didn’t have enough information about the topic to impart it properly. This explanation did not go over well with Polly. She wheedled, insisted, and finally threw a tantrum complete with tears and then wouldn’t speak to me for a day. Polly. How I would miss Polly. I stroked the locket that she had given me as a wedding gift. Inside was a tiny picture that our mutual friend Andrew Huff had painted. It depicted Polly and I sitting under our tree in the meadow. In a little over a week’s time Joshua and I would be departing to a town in Northern Virginia to meet up with some other families that would be traveling with us to Sioux Falls. We would be adding additional families along the way. They said it would be much safer to travel in large numbers because of the Indians. My stomach turned wretchedly. I had eaten more than my fill at the wedding. The combination of the food, the coming departure, staying with Joshua’s parents and my imminent new bedroom experience combined to make me queasy. I heard Joshua speaking softly outside the door to his mother. Try as I may, I was not able to ascertain the content of their conversation. Joshua opened the door quietly and peeked in.

“Alice, are you awake?” The candlelight stirred and flickered as he pushed the creaking door wider. I tensed slightly and wanted to scratch frantically at the beautiful lace edging of my nightdress.


As he walked into the room I noticed that he was wearing night clothes.  He stood by the side of the bed for a moment looking at me like I was some sort of delectable dessert. I almost giggled at the silly thought in my head, but I didn’t. I nervously twisted the end of my long braid with my thumb and finger. He pulled the quilt back and his eyes lingered on my bare leg. Somehow my nightdress had hiked up to show one of my calves and the edge of my pantalets. I hastily pushed my nightdress back into its’ proper place. Without looking at my face he spoke huskily.

“You will need to remove those…your pantalets.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

“The One That Got Away” on amazon

Chapter 8 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary,

I am continuing my Monday chapter postings from my novel “The One That Got Away”. Previous chapters and the amazon link to my novel follow the excerpt.

Chapter 8

         I actually did make an appointment to see a doctor after the dumpster incident. I did not share my parking lot adventure with anyone. I described the headaches and the first fainting spell to the random doctor. He prescribed some super strong headache medicine and gave me all of the necessary paperwork to do lab work and x-rays. I filled the prescription, which cost way too much without medical insurance, and tucked the lab and x-ray referrals into the staggering pile of important papers to think about later. I was feeling rather detached. I was beginning to question my sanity because I was beginning to believe that the dreams and the woman were real in some way. I knew I would have more dreams. I wondered when. I was certain that they would not be about Roese anymore. I wondered who. I wondered how it was all connected. I wondered what the woman meant about limited time. I felt apprehensive about how I would tell this someone about all of this. I couldn’t see myself sharing this even if I did end up believing it. I am not one to share my regular thoughts, let alone thoughts as bizarre as all of this. I found a mental box for these crazy thoughts and stuffed them all inside. However, the lid would not quite close. Pieces were dangling over the edge into my daily life. It disturbed me that I seemed unable to tuck this successfully away like so many other disturbing thoughts that I had banished into my mental box gallery. I was desperate to focus on the mundane. And to focus on my Anna. My darling Anna. The sparkle of my life. She blossomed under the additional attention that I was giving her. She was no longer pouting and demanding. I pulled from the joy she so willingly exuded to bolster my sagging countenance. And kept going. Working and waiting.

The first dream about Alice began in the kaleidoscope fashion while I was sleeping. I was grabbing a much needed nap with Anna on an unusually lazy Sunday afternoon. A young woman with a thin face, sea green eyes and a mouth that was slightly quirked on one side. Her body was slender, but strong. She was attractive, but not in a classic sort of way. Hers was a simple, wholesome pretty. Her sandy hair was long and straight and almost always tied back. As a child she carefully braided it, as an adult it was always in a proper bun. The only exception was when she was in the meadow outside of town with her younger sister Polly. Polly’s name was officially Elizabeth, but she was never really called that. At these times it seemed necessary to have one’s hair flowing freely to fully experience the breeze, the sun, and nature’s simple pleasures. The girls would spend any snatches of free time under their favorite tree weaving, drawing, reading, talking and dreaming. This was their private spot away from their parents’ busy inn and Alice’s newly acquired position as the town’s school teacher. Alice was particularly fond of catching grasshoppers and toads. This pastime came to a halt when she became a teacher because Alice felt that it did not become her position. Instead, she was quite apt to provide excellent instruction to enable her students to do so and was quite bursting with scientific information concerning the small beasts. Alice also felt drawn to the families of mourning doves that would nest in the girls’ tree. Their song pulled at her heart. It sounded both sad and hopeful simultaneously. Perhaps it was like an endured sadness that knows that hope is still eternal.

The stray thoughts and images began to slow and solidify. I found myself once again studying the reflection in the silver framed mirror and firmly tucking errant strands of hair back into their proper place. I tried to make my mouth a completely straight line. It didn’t work. One corner was always slightly quirked upwards as if ready to blossom into a full smile at any moment, or as if it was waiting for a small kiss to be planted there. I pushed my mouth into a dramatic frown and the quirk disappeared.

Polly suddenly clasped my waist from behind in an excited embrace. I dropped the mirror.


Polly was undeterred. “Mama said I could bring in the lemonade,” she quipped cheerily.

“Maybe he doesn’t like lemonade.” I feigned annoyance and stooped to retrieve our grandmother’s mirror. It was hard to be cross with Polly. Her exuberance was so catchy and heartfelt. I felt a small quiver of excitement. I smoothed my hair one last time.

“Of course he’ll like Mama’s lemonade. Everyone does, Alice!” Polly exclaimed. She flitted over to the window and craned her neck to peer down the cobblestone street. “I don’t see him yet.” She turned to face me and braced her arms to lean against the window frame. “Alice,” she began in her most serious voice that was quite ruined by her twinkling eyes, “do you love Joshua?”

I honestly didn’t know how to answer this question. He was a good, upstanding man. He was hard working and kind. He wasn’t exactly handsome, but he was easy on the eyes and well groomed. But I think most importantly, he was intelligent and I sensed that he had vision. I believed that as a total package, he was a satisfactory prospect.

“Love takes time, Polly,” I answered sagely.

“Oh pshaw! Alice! You can be such a biddy!” She flopped herself dramatically on our bed and stared up at the beamed ceiling twisting her strawberry blond hair absently. “I won’t marry anyone unless I am madly in love.” She sighed dreamily.

“And you are such a silly school girl!” I grabbed my shawl and threw it squarely in her face. “Who said I was getting married anyway?” I continued coyly.

“Alice!” Polly extracted herself from my shawl and sat bolt upright on the bed. “You know he’s going to ask you. I have it on good authority from his sisters and Penny Morris.”

“Penny Morris always has her pretty little nose far too much in other people’s business,” I teased as I turned to set the mirror in its’ proper place.

“Alice, don’t tell me that you don’t notice Mama acting all funny and nervous and Papa being so serious and all,” Polly wheedled.

“I guess we’ll see,” I answered. “Look. I think I see him down the street.”

Polly jumped up and bolted to the window.“Yes!” she squealed. “It’s him! I’ll go help Mama with the lemonade and cookies.” She rushed out of the room in a burst of bustling calico.

Did I really want to marry Joshua Davenport? I think it made sense. I did believe that he was going to ask me to marry him today. I twisted my hands twice and smoothed my gray charcoal print dress. I smoothed my mind and took a deep breath before following Polly out of our bedroom. I paused in the doorway trying to decide what I should pretend to be doing when he arrived. I stepped into the parlor and scanned the book shelf for appropriate reading material. I slid my fingers around a book by Benjamin Franklin and extracted it from its neighbors. I positioned myself on the window seat and arranged my skirts in a neat, yet casual fashion. I opened the book and browsed to find a passage that might spark an interesting discussion with Joshua if I needed such a distraction. It was always prudent to have an extra conversation handy to fill an awkward pause. I felt the sun shining on my back through the window. It felt warm and encouraging. I closed my eyes and let it seep inside of me. I heard Joshua’s measured voice intermingled with the inn guests and the town’s people that were gathered in the tavern section of the house. I could hear Polly’s breathless chatter and my mother’s infrequent interjections. I listened to the familiar and comforting sounds of dishes and silverware being dragged across them and to the constant song of moving feet and creaking chairs. I accidentally left my eyes closed too long and when I opened them, Mama, Polly and Joshua were standing in the parlor doorway looking at me. I had dozed off.

I cleared my throat lightly and tried to push the cobwebs and embarrassment out of my mind. Joshua gazed at me with deference, Mama with impatience and Polly looked as if she was about to burst out laughing. Mama sensed Polly’s imminent outburst and motioned sternly for her to exit. Polly clamped her hand over her mouth and hurried in the direction of the kitchen.

“Uh,…ah, Mr. Davenport.” I grasped at my composure and stood steadily to greet him. The forgotten book slid out of my nonexistent lap to the floor with a resounding thud. I could feel a blush creep into my cheeks. I bent to retrieve it, but Joshua rushed forward to assist.

“Please allow me, Miss Chester.” We found ourselves caught in an awkward position of both having a hand on the book, and our faces almost touching. I hastily straightened and allowed him to retrieve the book. I knew my face was scarlet.

“Thank you ever so much,” I murmured and scanned my hair with my hand for any escaping strands. Joshua’s face was flushed too as he handed me the book. I found my mind devoid of any helpful passage that Mr. Franklin might offer. And then I giggled. I couldn’t help it. Joshua chuckled softly in return and the moment was broken. Mama excused herself and we were left alone. We then found ourselves enveloped in that awkward pause that I had anticipated. “ I am truly sorry for you to find me sleeping…” I started.

“No, please don’t apologize.” Joshua interjected. “I am certain that had I your position as school mistress it would cause me to sleep every moment that I was not in the schoolhouse.”

“I know you to work hard on your father’s lands, Mr. Davenport,” I answered with a smile.

“Alice,…uh, Miss Chester, may I call you Alice? I must insist that you call me merely Joshua.”

“Well, if you insist, I will.” It was obvious that Joshua was becoming flustered. I smiled inwardly and vowed to make it easy on him. “And, yes of course you may call me Alice.”

“Alice, I am a straightforward man and do not like to trifle with walking around the point of a conversation. May I be frank with you?” Joshua’s face continued to be rosy and a thin veil of perspiration appeared on his brow.

“Yes, of course, Mr….Joshua,” I soothed. “Would you like to be seated on the sofa to continue this conversation in comfort?”

“No. I would prefer to stand.” Suddenly, he clasped my hands within his own. “Alice, would you do me the honor of being my wife?”

I was taken aback at the suddenness of his proposal. I struggled to remove the surprise from my features and to form an intelligent response. His hands were warm and insistent upon my own. I resisted the urge to pull them away. He seemed to read my thoughts and quickly released them.

“Forgive me for my forwardness, Miss Chester…Alice. I can be rather inspired by my ideas. I have approached this incorrectly and with haste. I have no experience in such matters.” He smiled wryly. “Perhaps we should seat ourselves on the sofa and begin again.” He positioned himself into a far corner of the pale blue sofa. I noticed absently that his eyes were the same shade of blue. I nodded slightly and perched primly in the opposite corner. I experienced a pressing urge to find something for my hands to do. Instead, I folded them properly in my lap.

“I should have begun this conversation in a different manner.” Joshua cleared his throat and continued earnestly. “I have the utmost respect for you. You are well educated, gracious and skilled in the domestic arts. I find your manner and face quite pleasing to me.” He paused to take a short breath. “I have recently been offered the opportunity to join a wagon train to settle in Sioux Falls, North Dakota. I would be honored if you would join me as my wife.”

My mouth went dry. Leave everything? I wasn’t expecting this part. Time seemed to stretch in front of me. I held my face blank while my mind raced. My stomach lurched with both excitement and dismay. My inner spirit yearned for the adventure and opportunity of venturing out on a pioneer train to North Dakota. But leave my family and my life in Virginia with a man that I hardly knew? I studied the man in front of me. The hope and fervor in his eyes nearly broke my heart. His commitment to this cause was magnetizing.  I broke his gaze and looked down at my tightly clasped hands. They would become quite rough and calloused. But this thought was merely vanity. I longed to prove that I was made of tougher material. But Polly. My dear Polly. A lump formed in my throat thinking of her reaction. She would encourage me to pursue this adventure, but the ever present sparkle in her eyes would not be there. She would remind me that opportunities like this come only once and when we are presented with them it is our duty and destiny to accept them. At fourteen, Polly was an incongruent combination of silliness and wisdom. I knew in my heart that despite my natural reservations that this was my intended path. I lifted my head and observed that Joshua’s expression was somewhat crestfallen in anticipation of a refusal from me. I straightened my back slightly.

“I accept your proposal.” The words slid simply out of my mouth.

Joshua’s face rushed red with relief and excitement. “I assure you that I will care for you with my life and my soul, Alice. You have truly blessed me.”

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

Chapter 7

“The One That Got Away” on amazon


Chapter 7 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary,

Here is chapter 7 of the “One That Got Away”. I hope you are getting at least a little bit hooked on the story…

Previous chapters and the amazon link to the novel follow the excerpt.

Chapter 7

         For a few weeks I had no dreams about Roese and friends. I was crazy busy. I was picking up additional shifts at the steak house. I was working long hours almost every day. This was helping my bill situation, but my energy was quite definitely waning. It was a tough job to do day in and day out and I was no spring chicken anymore. The headaches were almost constantly hanging on me now in varying degrees of ferocity. Of course I did not go to the doctor about my previous fainting spell. After a couple of weeks Leigh gave up pestering me on the subject. I didn’t tell her that I was still having headaches. I was also missing my Anna. She enjoyed spending time at Leigh’s house with her cousins, but with me she was becoming more clingy and ornery as my hours at work increased. Sometimes I would have an irrational flutter of panic that I would lose her too. Of course I would quickly dismiss the thought. I would insist to myself that I would never let that happen. At work, I found myself watching for that unusual woman with violet eyes to show up again. But she didn’t. I spent way too much time dwelling over the possibilities of what I could say to her. I had so many questions about the dreams and such. She seemed to know about it. I wanted answers and meaning. I was becoming annoyed at myself for what I viewed as obsessive thinking. This was not typical of my nature and certainly not conducive to anything productive. The shifts and the hungry people and the food and the dirty dishes and the side work and the cleaning all blended together into one seemingly continuous day. Anna and I spent most of my down time lounging in my bed watching cartoons and noshing on popcorn and gummy bears. Sleeping in crumbs and with an occasional stray gummy bear was not my normal forte. One day I actually went to work with a green gummy bear lodged securely in my hair. This was not an easy extraction. The mind numbing routine continued on. My brain became too sluggish to wrap around much else until I had another fainting episode.

I had been schlepping a couple of enormous bags of foul smelling restaurant trash to the dumpster in the rear parking lot. This wasn’t normally one of my assigned duties, but the dishwasher guy was new and was taking forever to finish his responsibilities. I was particularly tired and cranky because my headache was quite fierce on this night. I was in the middle of a mental tirade about how clueless that new kid was when I literally stopped in my tracks. I could have sworn that I saw the violet eyed woman leaning against the fence around the dumpster smoking one of those fancy tipped cigarettes. I almost called out to her, but then I realized how ridiculous it would be that she was there in the first place. As I peered closer, I didn’t see her anymore. Only what appeared to be the remnants of cigarette smoke wafting towards me.  I blinked my eyes rapidly and tried to refocus. Was there fog? My vision became blurry and I felt the sensation of falling. I couldn’t feel my hands to put them out to catch my fall. I braced myself inwardly for the impending impact with the pavement. But I felt nothing. From far away kaleidoscope pictures whirled and tumbled into my mind’s eye again. Roese and Ralf, so poignantly happy in each other’s presence. Enchanting sexual scenes flitted before me. Passionate and purposeful discussions between them. Well received performances in a different theatre. From what I could piece together it appeared that Ralf had separated from Robert’s company and had gathered funding from other sources to establish his own playhouse. The shows were very popular and Roese was now playing lead roles. Life seemed happy and fulfilling for the couple until Roese turned up pregnant. Roese became prone to childish fits of anger and jealousy as her condition forced her to the sidelines. Ralf insisted that she rest and that performances needed to continue without her. Roese would not be reasonable. She continually lashed out at her lover and turned to alcohol for solace. She became quite a heavy drinker. Ralf was patient with her tantrums but firmly insisted that the show must go on. The images wound down slowly to a halt and I became engulfed once again in the dim bedroom filled with the death of my stillborn child. I was breathing shallowly. I was infernally hot, but trembling with cold. The blood felt so thick and sticky. I could feel that it was a leak that would not be abated. I was trying to awaken. Forcing my eyes open was almost more than I could bear. I needed to speak. To Ralf. The shame pierced me even in my half conscious state. The room was dark and blurry. The light from the candles seemed to stretch out in beams from their source but didn’t offer any real sight for me. Was it night or day? I thought perhaps I could see a bit of light between the window dressings, but I could not be sure. I struggled to turn my head. It felt heavy as lead. I could vaguely make out Ralf’s shape in a chair, slumped in sleep. My heart ached to see him. I tried to call his name, but only a hoarse croak erupted from my throat. He stirred and adjusted position. Then, suddenly he jolted awake.

“Roese!” He stumbled so quickly out of the chair that it toppled behind him as he knelt at the bedside. He gently cupped my face in his palms.

“Thank the Lord that you have awakened! I was afraid that you would not. They said….”his voice trailed off and he visibly tried to adjust his demeanor. His beautiful eyes were red rimmed from lack of sleep and weeping. His hair was filthy and hung in damp clumps at odd angles. He kissed my forehead and lingered there as if trying to breathe strength into my failing body. It took every ounce of my will power to force my hand to rise up to his cheek. At this, he dropped his head to my breast and sobbed jaggedly.

“Roese, do not leave me. I cannot be without you.” I held my hand upon his cheek as long as I could. Feeling the spark of his being. To keep it for always. My hand dropped suddenly. Ralf lifted his head in alarm and gathered me in his arms.

“Roese, please don’t….you have to…..” I could not hear him anymore. I wanted to tell him again how I loved him, but my lips were silent. I could only gaze at him with luminous blue eyes that were fading. The candlelight seemed to gather around his head and envelope him in a yellow haze. I watched him until he became the light itself.

Then there was blackness. I felt suspended and form free. Endless and timeless. I vaguely wondered if I was dead too. But who was I exactly anyway? These questions somehow did not seem important. After an unspecified amount of time I could see a pinhole size light that grew brighter and larger as I rushed towards it. Swift and windless. With a jolt I realized that I was now looking closely and critically at a set of pale green eyes flecked with brown. The lashes were long and the bridge of the nose was narrow. A strand of straw colored hair wafted into view. I was, in fact, studying a reflection in a silver framed, hand held mirror.

My mouth tasted gravel and blood. Scattered pieces of lettuce and a crushed milk carton stared back at me on the pavement.  There was pain in my face and shoulder. I was face down in Jake’s Steaks rear parking lot surrounded by what seemed like a sea of garbage. I lay there for a few moments listening to the silence that was occasionally punctuated by a passing car. A breeze stirred the air and coaxed the milk carton only inches from my nose. Time to get up. I gingerly moved my hands into push up position and winced as I put weight on them. A pair of petite pointy toed boots with a long black skirt hovering over them came into my line of view. I looked up in surprise and confusion to see the violet eyed woman. She was extending her hand to me for assistance. I clasped it gratefully and wobbled to my feet. She placed a diminutive hand on each of my arms to steady me and looked up into my face quite seriously.

“These things that you are being shown are to be shared with another. It has been attempted before, long ago. You will know the other when it is right. But be aware that your time is limited.”

I held her eyes silently. All questions and comments that had been stewing in my mind evaporated. I became sure that I had seen this woman before in a different setting. I soaked in her presence and words. She tilted her head slightly toward the kitchen door.

“The boy is coming,” she said. “He is quite grateful for how you have helped him. He will help you now and will not share this with the others.”

I looked in the direction that she had indicated and saw the dishwasher ambling through the doorway. The street lamp illuminated his curly red hair and gaunt frame. He was absently inserting a cigarette between his thin lips but promptly dropped it upon viewing the spewed garbage and my disheveled state.

“Wow! Wendy. What happened? You okay?”

I glanced back at the woman, but I knew that she would be gone.

“Yeah,” I answered. “Can you give me a hand? And keep it to yourself, okay?”

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5 & 6

“The One That Got Away” on amazon



Chapter 5 & 6 “The One That Got Away”

Dear Diary,

Two chapters this time because chapter 5 is so short. Just to warn you, chapter 6 is rather intense! Links to the previous chapters and the amazon link to the novel follow the excerpt.

Chapter 5

         All was dark at Leigh’s house when I arrived. I slid the key into the front door lock and turned it as quietly as possible. I saw Leigh slumped and asleep on the living room couch from the faint light emanating from the kitchen stove. I moved to the back of the house, treading carefully so as not to step on the particularly creaky spots on the wood floor. Leigh’s house was built over a hundred years before and had all of the charms and groanings typical of such a house. The girls’ bedroom door was ajar and I pushed it gently open. Anna was snuggled between her cousins in the queen size bed. Franny and Kate both slept facing their small cousin, arms placed protectively. Moonlight seeped between the blind’s slits creating a striped pattern on the slumbering figures. A pretty picture for sure.  Tranquil and timeless. I barely breathed as I watched them, wishing the peaceful moment would not pass to be interrupted by the worries of my regular life. Abruptly, I dismissed such whiny, wistful thoughts. I deftly scooped up Anna and walked briskly into the front room. I tapped Leigh on the shoulder. She stirred and squinted up at me sleepily pushing her blonde hair out of her eyes.

“Thank you, Leigh,” I whispered. Anna shifted and pulled me closer.

“Uh, okay…call me…K?” Leigh murmured and adjusted her position on the couch. She seemed uncertain whether to make the couch her bed for the night or to get up and go to the bedroom.

I covered the last few steps to the door, opened it quietly and turned the lock back into place before I closed it again.


Chapter 6

         In my bed at home I willed the dreams to come. I wanted to see more. In the beginning, my dreams that night were in fact like dreams. Fragments of events tumbling together in no particular sequence. But still, the dreams centered on Roese and her youthful debut into the world of eighteenth century theatre. She played only small roles, but with such poignant enthusiasm and zest. Her style bore the mark of an innocent girl trying to impersonate the true passion born only of experience. But that in itself had its own captivating charm. The audience seemed to embrace her. Flashes of jealous friction erupted from Mary in some segments. However, Roese would not retaliate. She would merely demure. This seemed only to incense Mary all the more. Advances from Robert were becoming increasingly prevalent and it was apparent that he was becoming frustrated and a bit angry with Roese’s polite rebuffs. Interspersed were many episodes of drunken revelry and sexual promiscuity among members of the troupe. Roese began experimenting with drink but shied away quite adamantly from the prolific sexual encounters going on around her. And Ralf. He was laced within it all. Stolen glances between the two of them. Accidental touches. Casual words spoken with deep underlying meaning hidden under the most skillful of facades. They seemed to burn in each other’s presence. Yet no word or action indicated as such.

Then the dreams began to take on a different feel. The kaleidoscope style shifted and became more clarified. Edges became sharper; sound became clearer and more sensible. I was no longer a spectator. I was Roese. I was in the prop room rummaging through a chest of costume pieces. Hadn’t I seen white gloves with an ermine cuff? I impatiently knotted my hair into a makeshift bun as it was impeding the progress of my search. Everyone else it seemed was in the dressing room partaking in spirits and becoming rather loud and rowdy. I was a bit tipsy myself. I was suddenly aware that someone was in the room with me. I paused and turned to see Robert holding the tawdry curtain aside with one hand, a goblet in the other. He looked very drunk.

“Oh! Hullo Robert. You startled me.” I smiled uncertainly. I felt very uneasy. There was something… I didn’t like the look in his eye. It reminded me of the way Jared the field hand at my Papa’s farm had looked at me before he…A flutter of panic rippled through my chest. I suddenly felt like a cornered rabbit. How would I get past him through the doorway? Could I talk my way out of this? Or should I surprise him with a hard shove and run down the corridor? And then what? Have no employment? I had to handle this delicately and with skill. I fought the fear that was seeping into my pores and clenched my fingers quickly before I forced a casual smile.

“Ah, so delectable you are, Roese. Like the sweetest of crumpets,” Robert drawled as his eyes seemed to probe every part of my body. “How I’d love a taste.”

I emitted a silvery laugh. “Ah, Robert, what a charmer you are! You must use that line in your next play. Let us go join the others. Me-thinks your goblet is empty.” I assertively twisted the cup from his grasp with the intention of breezing through the doorway, but he swiftly snatched my other hand in a vice like grip and forced me to step backwards into the small room. He pressed his mouth to my ear and I could smell the stale wine on his breath.

“Let us not go join the others. It is time that you joined with me,” he slurred huskily and slid his tongue sloppily into my ear.

“Robert, stop!” I gasped and struggled vainly to extract myself from his tight grip. The goblet slipped from my fingers and struck the floor with a resounding clang as he used both of his hands to maneuver me a few more steps backward.

“Robert, please…” I begged. He was so strong. I knew I could not wriggle free. And oh dear Lord! Not again! Jared’s filthy, toothless face floated before my eyes for a moment. I shuddered at the memory and the panic became pure. “Robert! No!” I squealed desperately as he attempted to push me down onto a heaping pile of costumes. I struggled frantically and began to scream. He clamped his hand so hard over my mouth that I could not even bite, or barely breathe. This action caused the costumes to topple and I ended up hard on the splintering floor with one arm lodged under my body. My other hand was useless against his strong frame. His free hand rummaged under my skirts and tugged forcibly at my undergarments. I squeezed my eyes closed and tears ran down the side of my face and into my ears. My arm throbbed, splinters pushed into my skin and I felt dizzy from the wine and lack of air. He ripped at my linens and I felt his fingers fondle me roughly.

“Ah, there you are. That’s what I’m looking for.” I jerked at his touch. “There, there, Roese. Why do you struggle so?  Open your eyes and gaze upon the man that will have you.”

Then I heard laughter. I squinted my eyes open and looked past Robert’s head to see Mary and Mabel laughing hysterically at the sight before them. Mabel was so intoxicated that she could barely stand. Mary was not. Her laughter was harsh and deep felt. Her eyes glinted maliciously.

“Go on, Robert, ride that horse,” she jeered.

“Yes, I will,” Robert answered and began fumbling with his trousers. I used this distraction to attempt to free myself, but this merely angered him. He slapped my face hard which also had the additional effect of slamming my head to the floor. The edges of my sight became fuzzy and dark. I felt myself go limp. Robert removed his hand from my mouth and attended to his trousers. I felt cool air rush into my lungs as I gulped it in, unable to do anything else but breathe hungrily.

Somehow, suddenly, Ralf’s face appeared to hover over Robert’s head. His features were twisted in rage and his eyes sparked gray fire. I believed that I was having a vision, but then Robert’s body was yanked off of mine.

I cried out in relief and forced myself to scramble to a sitting position. I scooted the few inches to the back wall and curled myself tightly, face into my knees, arms laced securely around my legs. He would have to break my arms and legs to get through. These fiercely determined thoughts were interrupted by the commotion going on around me in the small room. I peeked warily around my knees and saw Ralf land a fist squarely on Robert’s jaw. Robert staggered, cursing vehemently and lunged unsteadily at Ralf. The two scuffled while Mary and Mabel yelled at them to stop. Robert emitted a long colorful string of obscenities as three actors raced in and struggled to break them apart. Katherine, another actress, tottered over and tried to squat on the floor next to me. Drink had robbed her of her balance and she almost fell. She steadied herself on a nearby chair and reached to put a hand on my shoulder.

“Don’t touch me!” I hissed as I buried my face back into my knees.

“Aw, Roese, I know it’s a fright, but these things happen. It’ll be alright, dear.” In my mind’s eye I could still see her rheumy, watery eyes filled with pity and her thin crooked mouth stained with endless applications of lipstick. She patted my shoulder anyway. I flinched and was about to push her away, but realized that she was taking her leave. Unsteadily, she maneuvered herself to a standing position and wandered after the men who were forcing Robert into the hallway. Mary and Mabel followed, chattering excitedly. Only Ralf and another actor named Harold stayed behind. My eyes were pressed so tightly into my knees that they ached. Ralf and Harold spoke quietly for a few minutes and then Harold left, leaving only Ralf. I could hear him panting slightly from exertion. He took a steadying breath and squatted beside me. I would not look up.

“Leave me alone,” I told him firmly. He did not leave. Silence hung between us. After several long moments he cleared his throat.

“Roese,” he said softly, “how do you fare?”

A million angry or pitiful replies rushed through my mind at once, but I said nothing. I became aware that my head was throbbing and that my arm was probably bleeding. I didn’t care to check for bumps or scrapes. I remained tight and still.

“Roese,” he repeated. This time his voice caught a little. A sliver of surprise slipped into my misery at the depth of feeling he had injected into my name. His fingers lightly touched my arm. The contact was electric, but still I tensed and repelled.

“Don’t touch me.” My voice was muffled and not quite as forceful as my last statement.

He pulled his hand away immediately. “Shall I have Katherine tend to you?” he asked doubtfully. “I will not leave you here alone.”

“No,” I answered realizing that I didn’t actually want to be alone either. What if Robert came back? I forced myself to peer over my knees at Ralf. “I…I am ashamed for you to find me in this state.” I spoke hoarsely.”But, please, I mean, thank you ever so much for coming to my assistance.” I swiped at the tear streaks on my face impatiently and glanced around for something to use as a handkerchief. Ralf offered his own.

“I could not let this pass,” he replied simply. But his eyes said much more. In the past I had been afraid to look in his eyes too closely. Afraid for what mine would say to him. Afraid that I might not find the same feelings that I held for him there.  Or afraid that I might find the shadowy sexual beast lurking there. He was too perfect.  I wanted him to stay that way. Unsullied by my expectations or false hopes. But this time, I looked. I saw tenderness. And uncertainty. And hope. He peered closely at me with those beautiful wolf-like eyes and then seemed to readjust his gaze to look even closer. Almost unconsciously my fingers rose to touch his cheek gently, hesitantly. He moved his face into my palm and pressed my hand closer with his own. He closed his eyes briefly as if to relish the moment. When he opened them again they were piercing and smoky.

“Roese, I do believe that I have fallen in love with you.”

My heart stood still. I could not say a word. I only stared in surprise. He moved to sit beside me. In an absent like manner he delicately guided tangled strands of hair from my face with one hand. His fingers found the nape of my neck and stayed there. He brought his face close to mine and his lips brushed my cheek as he spoke.

“I want to kiss you, Roese…May I kiss you?”

I only hesitated for the merest fraction of a moment. “Yes,” I breathed. And then he kissed me. Deeply, earnestly. He entwined his fingers in my hair and pulled me closer. My hands slid up around the back of his neck and he sighed with pleasure. The kiss was long and it was sweet and it demanded more. But Ralf stopped. He cupped my face in his warm hands and said, “Your arm is bleeding and I do believe you will have a bruised eye, little girl. We must tend to these needs and to other more serious consequences.”


I woke up abruptly. It was still dark. Anna must have crawled into bed with me, because there she was beside me. A fading white glow seemed to linger around her small body. At first I thought it was moonlight, but then it dissipated as I watched. It was then that I realized that I was actually able to see auras. I had heard about auras, but had never paid it much mind. I am the type that I need to see to believe. It seemed that I was seeing. But did I believe? I thought back to the other instances when I had seen what appeared to be auras. The multicolored hospital staff when I gave birth to you. Gladys was downright red after I had fainted. And Anna…well, again she was white. My gaze washed over my sleeping child and I wanted to touch her. But I didn’t. She was an extremely light sleeper and I was not about to be serving “brefast” at four am this morning. Instead, I carefully pulled the comforter over her bare legs. Unexpectedly, thoughts of you came flooding in. The pain of missing you and the mistakes I have made can be overpowering. It creeps up on me when my guard is down. I cannot have it in the front of my mind or I cannot function properly. So you have your own little box there in the back of my mind. However, the ache is always present. Most of the time it is like a dull itch unless it gets pulled to the front somehow. Dear Lord, how I miss you. But it cannot be, so back in your box you go. I slid out of my bed as unobtrusively as possible. I needed a cigarette.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

“The One That Got Away” on amazon


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