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Teaser from my WIP, Cora’s Journey

May 12, 2014

At the end of January, my laptop decided to try base jumping from the terrifying height of 18 inches. It failed. It landed on the hinges, and the screen was gone, as was part of the hard drive. Alas, I had no backup computer for two months when my older son unexpectedly received some money and bought me a new laptop. I am back, and trying to get back up to full speed again.

I am also hoping to write more again. I have had this WIP since 2008, when it was my NaNoWriMo project. I have rewritten parts of it, and will be changing more as I continue the story of Cora’s Journey. I have had a hard time writing the past two years, and I think I finally figured out part of the reason.

A few weeks ago in our Master Koda group on FaceBook, we were discussing what things we HAD to have to write. I realized that I haven’t been able to write much since my writing buddy, my tiny 5 lb. Maltese Max died. He would lie on my lap or at my feet while I wrote, and politely listen to what I had written, offering his approval with sweet puppy kisses. He was with me for almost 14 years. I had grown accustomed to his presence when I wrote.

After the discussion on Master Koda, I thought I should try  setting something that reminded me of my buddy where I can see it. Hopefully it will help. All I have here in Connecticut is the tiny cedar box containing his ashes, so that will be what I use.

Max on 13th bday cropped

(This photo was taken on his 13th birthday He had been wrestling with a kitten we were fostering. His smile says it all.)

 

On to Cora’s Journey. It  is the story of a woman’s journey through life and is loosely based on real events in my own family’s history. I am adding the first chapter here as a teaser, and hopefully, for me, it will be a motivator to start writing on it again. For those of you who don’t know, I write Christian fiction. Please enjoy the story as it begins.

 

                       

Cora’s Journey

 
Cora stood at the shore of the lake leaning on her old walking stick and watching the sun set as she had countless evenings before. Tonight was the last time she would stand here, and her eyes misted with memories. The breeze ruffled her silver hair as she pulled her blue wool sweater tighter around her. Ripples on the lake lapped at her feet in one last goodbye while the mourning dove’s somber cries echoed the melancholy she felt. As the last rays of light disappeared from the water, she turned and shuffled back to the house. She stepped up to the porch, and touched the railing as if it still held the warmth of her husband’s grip. Keeping her gnarled hand on the rail, she turned one more time and gazed across the lake where the last glow of daylight slipped over the horizon. She sat in her rocker and covered her lap with her favorite afghan. Stars poked through in their familiar patterns as she rocked. The memory of the first night danced with the reflection of the stars on the lake.

Moving In…

 
The grass was exceptionally green the spring they moved to the house by Lake Millicent. Huge patches of buttercups and wild geraniums bloomed everywhere they could see. Trees proudly rustled their new leaves in the soft breeze. Pines and firs stood as magnificent guardians over the woods. In their branches, the robins’ nests held small blue eggs ready to hatch, while tiny chipmunks and squirrels chittered and chattered from the branches. The vixen led her month-old cubs out into the warm sunshine for their first peek at the world outside their den. For only a moment, they stood at the entrance, bewildered by the new sights, noses twitched at scents coming from every direction. Then, as if something gave them a huge push, they all ran out, yipping happily as they explored every flower, tree, and hole. Somewhere nearby, a cricket played its rhythmic chant.

For the first years of their marriage, Cora and Matthew lived in the city, but they longed for a quieter place to raise their family. Almost every weekend during the summer they brought their family to the tranquility of Lake Millicent and camped near the boat launch and small store in Grove Meadows. They had admired the house on the far end of the lake from their first visit, so when they discovered it was for sale, they quickly bought it. Winter would pass and spring would come before they would move in, but just knowing it was theirs gave them much joy.

The old truck sputtered as they pulled up to the house as it had done many times the past month. A loud “BANG” announced their arrival. The children were excited to explore their new surroundings, but Matthew said they had to help unload the truck first.

When they were released from their unloading duties, Mark, Rose, and James ran out the back porch door with the admonition from Cora for the older two to keep a good watch on James, to keep the house in sight, and to stay out of the water. Baby Catherine happily played in her playpen and Cora peeked out the window to check on the others.
The first place the children headed was the lake’s shore where they discovered frogs and tadpoles, water skaters, and dragonfly nymphs in the shallow water. They poked sticks in the mud and watched them fill the holes up again, and they made a mud castle in the oozy muck. Small stones from the bank became windows and doors and a wall. A feather was the banner on top of the turret. The children were certain they would love their new home.

When they tired of the mud, they decided to follow the Lilliputian stream, icy with run-off, from where its narrow fingers trickled into the lake. They followed it up the slope as it wound through the woods. Mark and Rose kept looking over their shoulders to see the cabin. James ran ahead into the woods following a yellow butterfly as it kissed the buttercups in a helter-skelter pattern.

“James! Stop! Mama said we had to be where we could see the house all the time.” Rose’s face grew red with frustration. At the sound of his sister’s voice, he looked up and grinned. No one could resist that smile, and Rose was always the first one to succumb to her little brother’s charm.
“James, you know what Mama said. Come back here.” She pretended to scold.

The younger boy stood up tall, stared at her, still grinning, and took a giant step backwards. He fell flat on his back in the tiny streamlet. Instantly he gasped from the cold, but turned his gasp into laughter. Rose and Mark laughed, too. Mark reached out a hand to help his brother up, but when he grabbed his hand, James gave a quick jerk and pulled Mark into the mud and water. Now both boys were covered with mud and sitting in the icy water.

Rose stood on the path, hands on hips, and did her best to mimic Mama when she was angry. “You boys get outta that mud this minute and git yerselfs home!”

Both boys grinned, and Mark picked up a handful of mud and gently tossed it at his bossy younger sister.

“We don’ wanna!”

Rose got red in the face and stomped her foot. Mud and icy water splashed over all three children. After the initial shock of the cold, they all burst out laughing, and threw globs of mud at each other.

“Maaark! Rose? James! It’s time to come home. Hurry up, now.” Mama’s voice rang through the woods. The three children stopped instantly and looked wide-eyed at each other, knowing they all would be in trouble for being so muddy.

“Uh-oh. We’re gunna git it now.” James muttered as he struggled to stand, sliding in the muddy stream bank.

Cora stood at the back door with her hand shielding her eyes from the sun. She watched the three muddy figures come down the trail. She knew she shouldn’t laugh, but she couldn’t help it. She knew the water and mud would be too enticing for the kids to stay out. She crossed her arms and laughed. The children could only see her, and weren’t sure if Mama was angry or not. They cautiously looked at one another as they opened the gate and stepped into the yard.

Three muddy children stood looking at the ground, peeking up cautiously at their mother. She stepped outside and put her arms out, welcoming her children home. They all ran to her and hugged her, leaving mud on her face, her dress and apron. She marched them into the back porch and gave them orders to stay there and remove their dirty clothes.

Cora poured hot water from the tank on the side of the wood burning stove and poured it into the washtub on the kitchen floor. After plenty of soap and scrubbing, the kids were clean. Fresh clothes followed, then Cora put them to work helping unpack.

“Daddy will be back soon with the last load, so we need to get the rest this put away before he gets here. Mark, you and Rose take those last boxes of your things upstairs. James, you can take the pillows, but only one at a time. Don’t want you falling on the stairs! Scoot now!” She playfully swatted their behinds as they picked up the boxes and pillows.

Their bedrooms were above the parlor and bedroom on the main floor. The stairway was beside the door from the parlor. Generations of children spied on adults downstairs from the narrow spaces between the slats. Years of the small hands gripping the top railing wore it smooth and shiny.

James tossed the pillows on top of the fluffy, warm quilts that adorned each bed. Mark and Rose quickly put their things away as James made his final trip up the steps and plopped face down on his bed.

“Whew!  I’m tired!”

Just then they heard the sputter-sputter song of the truck’s engine. Dad was back with the last load, and they would be all moved in! They had been moving in for a couple weeks now, and before that they had come up to do repairs. Now they were finished. All three kids scurried down the steps to help Matthew unload the truck.

After dinner, the family settled in the parlor, weary but enjoying their new home. Matthew sat in his overstuffed chair, staring into the fire. Catherine slept with her head snuggled on Cora’s shoulder as the rocking chair made the comforting creak-scrawk that lulled babies to sleep. Mark, Rose, and James, now pajama clad, descended from their rooms and snuggled onto Matthew’s lap.

“Daddy?” Rose said. “Will you tell us a story?” She rubbed her soft hands on his stubbly beard.

“Yeah, Daddy! Tell us a story! Make it a long one!”

Matthew smiled, knowing full well his children would soon be asleep, no matter how long the story was.  “First Bible reading, and prayers, then a story,” he told his beloved little ones.

# # # # # #

After the children were tucked in bed, Matthew and Cora stepped out on the porch and stood by the railing. They watched the sun set over Lake Millicent and disappear over the horizon. One by one stars appeared in the blue black sky above them. Matthew reached out and took Cora’s hand.

“This is home, Cora. The one we’ve wanted. I hope we will be here for a long, long time.”

“Me, too. Everything feels so perfect right now, and so peaceful.”

Matthew put his arm around Cora’s shoulders, drawing her close as they watched the night deepen and listened to the quiet lapping ripples of the lake against the shore.

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One Comment
  1. Linda Lee Greene, Author, Guardians and Other Angels permalink

    Hi DeEtte. Welcome back. I relate to your writing dilemma. I also have been away from writing for a long time due to personal issues. I’ve missed communicating with you. This is a very nice beginning to an intriguing story which I hope to read someday.

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