Friday, April 29, 2016

Hymns in the Hills - Fully Trusting - Part 4

Ah, my favorite Friday fiction fans!
You have come back! Does that mean you really like this story or you wanted to hear about my trip to Chicago? If you wanted both, that's okay. :)

The trip was so much fun! I loved the train ride. We sat in the observation car while we crossed the Mississippi river. I couldn't help trying to imagine being on that river in only a small canoe, paddling against the current and wondering were it started.
Chicago was a completely different world than what I'm used to. There were people everywhere! From all walks of life: Hindu, Muslim, European, Oriental, Indian, but I never heard Spanish. You had to pay to park anywhere in downtown. (And it was expensive.) And driving! I felt like I was in a canyon because of the huge sky scrapers on either side of the street. Not to mention many one way streets that left you mixed up, and did I mention the people? Oh, and the tracks for the elevated trains that you had to drive under were like tunnels. I have reached the conclusion that I am NOT a big city girl! :P Nope, give me wide open places, room to breath, places to park, and quiet.
But we did get to enjoy a 90 min boat ride on the river, we visited the lake though it was much too cold to wade. And my grandpa and I went up in Willis Tower. And yes, I went out on the sky deck (a glass box-like-thing) 103 stories above the street. I could see all the way across the lake to the state of Michigan!
Most of our time was spent about 45 minutes north of Chicago in Evanston. But there was nowhere to park there either. :P All in all, it made a very memorable and fun birthday trip. :)

As far as writing goes, well last night was the first time I had written in 10 days. Hmm. I guess I've been a little busy. But what do you want posted next week? Do you want more of the Hymns in the Hills or would you rather have more about the Woods, Dylan and Fern? Let me know in the comments if you have a preference. After my trip I came back with new ideas for some short stories. Now if I can just find the time to write them . . . But while I'm looking for that time, enjoy this next part.

Hymns in the Hills
Fully Trusting
Part 4

 “I’m Belle, and Mama was quite relieved to know you would let me come visit while–” The child’s voice broke suddenly and she drew a deep breath.
    “What are you talking about, Child?” Aunt Lillian held the girl off at arm’s length and looked at her. “You’re Lynn’s daughter all right, I can see that in yer face, but I ain’t never told yer mother we’d take ya.”
    “Oh, but you didn’t say I couldn’t come. And that’s what Mama wrote. She said to let her know if I couldn’t come, and there was never any word, so, of course, I came.” And Belle smiled brightly.
    Without answering, her aunt gave a tired smile. “Reckon yer hungry. Jest sit down at the table. Git ta the table, boys. I kept yer supper hot. Jess, Ali, serve it up. Riss, get Mattie, so’s Ez can eat.”
    Belle looked at her tall cousin. The little one, Mattie, they had called her, had nestled her head on her brother’s shoulder, her thumb in her mouth. The other arm was around his neck and she looked sleepy. It seemed a shame to wake her.
    “I’ll keep ‘er, Riss,” Ez said quietly, sitting down on the chair at the head of the table while Zeke sat on the bench opposite Belle. “I kin eat one handed, Ma.”
    When no word of protest came, Belle assumed her aunt had agreed. One of the girls, she wasn’t sure which one, set a steaming bowl before her. “Thank you,” she whispered with a smile. It smelled appetizing, and she was hungry after her long journey and the unexpected walk to the house. She noticed that Zeke and Ez had both begun eating right away. “Perhaps they forgot to give thanks,” she thought, bowing her own head for a brief moment.
    A low murmur was coming from the line of younger cousins, and Belle looked at them all. They all looked much alike, differing only in size, and length and color of hair. Most heads were covered with sandy colored locks, but a few bore darker tresses like Zeke and Ez. Some of them stared at the newcomer, and Belle smiled. It was going to be enjoyable getting to know them all.
    Aunt Lillian sank down into a rocking chair, and a little fellow ran to her, begging to sit in her lap. That seemed to be the move needed to release the other children, and they began to scatter about the large room. Belle, focused on her meal, wondered if she would be introduced to each one of her cousins later. Perhaps they were waiting for Uncle Benjamin to arrive.
    Her thoughts were startled by Zeke’s voice. “Kade, Rome, keep yer hands off what ain’t yers. Move along and leave yer cousin’s things be.”
    The two younger boys backed away from Belle’s luggage, glancing at their older brother.
    Zeke kept his eyes on them until they were on the other side of the room, before returning to his supper.
    “Zeke, Ez, when yer both finished, ye can set Belle’s things in the girls’ room. I reckon it’ll be a might smaller’n she’s used ta, but we ain’t got anywheres else.”
    “Oh, Aunt Lillian,” Belle exclaimed, dropping her fork in her excitement. “Do you really mean I can share a room with the girls? I have always wished I could share a room with someone.” The light of her eyes was unmistakeable and, giving a little bounce of delight, she quickly finished the last of her supper.

    The evening passed in a succession of new things for Belle. She watched her older cousins take her trunk and bag through a door she hadn’t noticed before. The sun was nearly gone when Aunt Lillian said it was time for bed. There were no family prayers, and again Belle wondered if that was because her uncle wasn’t home. She hoped he was all right. Kissing her aunt good night, Belle whispered, “I just know I’m going to love being here, Auntie!”
    In her room with the other girls, Belle smiled. “You all know who I am, but I don’t know who anyone is. Except Mattie.”
    After tucking the covers over Mattie who was sound asleep, one of the girls offered a shy smile. “I’m Jess. That’s Riss and Tabby.” She pointed to the girl who had been carrying Mattie earlier, who was now engaged in helping get a very sleepy young one ready for bed. “Tabby’s jest four. This one here is Sade. She and Si is twins.”
    Sade stuck a finger in her mouth and clung to her sister’s skirt.
    Crouching down, Belle asked softly, with her most winning smile, “How old are you, Sade?”
    For answer, the little one looked up at Jess.
    “Reckon she’s ‘bout five.”
    “Five years old? You must be such a help with the little ones.” Sade gave no answer, but Belle didn’t expect one and stood back up. There was only one other girl in the room
    “That’s Ali,” Jess nodded. “She’s ten, an’ the two a ya kin share a bed.”
    None of the girls said another word as they prepared for bed. But when Jess would have blown out the lamp, Belle said, “Can’t we leave it on just a little longer, please? I haven’t gotten to read my verse yet.”
    At that, Ali sat up in bed. “Kin ya really read?”
    “Yes. Can’t you?”
    Ali shook her head. “Ain’t none a us kin read, ‘cept Ma a little an’ Pa. But he don’t like the idea of us trampin’ all the way ter town jest ta learn some letters an’ numbers. Said it’s too far fer the young’uns an’ Ma’s got too much ta do ‘thout us ta help out.”
    “Well, maybe if we have time, I can help you,” offered Belle, feeling that this visit was not going to be anything like she had envisioned. She opened her small Bible and read a verse aloud in a soft voice. Then, without taking time to think about what her cousins would say, she knelt down beside the bed and prayed as she had at her mother’s knee.
    After the light was put out and the house was still, Belle heard a soft whisper near her ear.
    “Belle, are ye awake?”
    “I’m glad ya came.”
    “So am I, Ali.” Belle hesitated a moment and then added honestly, “I wasn’t sure I wanted to come at first, but Mama and Papa thought it was best, so I had to trust that Jesus knew what was best for me.”

Would you want to learn to read if you didn't know how?
Which characters are you most interested in?
Do you want more of this story or about the Woods next week?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hymns in the Hills - Fully Trusting - Part 3

Happy birthday! To me!
Yep, today's my birthday, and by the time you are reading this, I will probably be on the train heading to Chicago! My grandparents have been wanting to take my sister and me up to Chicago for a few years and the timing was perfect for my birthday. One of my cousins is the stage manager for his college production of "The Tempest" which opens today. We'll go see it tomorrow. I'm not sure what else we'll be doing, but it will be fun.

I wrote on Monday. That was it. I was going to write on Tuesday, but the kiddos ended up coming over for supper and play. Then I was working in the nursery on Wednesday night at church, so no writing then. Thursday night I was helping set up for the Kansas City homeschool convention. No time to write.

I hope you enjoy the next part of this story.

Hymns in the Hills
Fully Trusting
Part 3

    Belle frowned thoughtfully. “I wonder why Uncle Benjamin didn’t come for me then? Mama wrote and said what train I would be arriving on. I hope the letter didn’t get misplaced.” There was genuine concern in the child’s voice and she looked from one cousin to the other. “What will I do if there is no room for me? Mama didn’t know about all the cousins.”
    “One more head won’t matter none,” Ez reassured. “Can’t never keep track of ‘em all anyhow.”
    “Let’s git.” Zeke took the carpetbag this time and, with grunts from both, the trunk was again lifted.
    Feeling only partly refreshed, Belle rose and followed. The path led downhill until it reached a bubbling stream at the bottom. Here, Belle paused in dismay. There was no bridge and no stones to cross over on. It didn’t look very deep, but still she hesitated.
    “Wait there.” Belle wasn’t sure which brother had given the directions, but she waited, watching as the sturdy boots splashed through the water.
    Once the brothers had crossed the stream, the trunk was set down, and Ez strode back across, lifted his cousin, and carried her safely across the water. Again he heard those sweet words, “Thank you,” but he said nothing.
    Belle hoped there would be no other streams to cross before the home of her aunt and uncle was reached. As she trudged on, she tried to distract her mind from thinking how her feet were beginning to ache and about how tired she was, by thinking of what the house would be like. Her mother had told her it was small. “But they must have added onto it with all those children,” thought Belle. “Oh, I wonder how much farther I can go!”
    The quiet of the woods was broken by her soft voice singing.

“All my fears I give to Jesus!
Rests my weary soul on Him;
Tho’ my way be hid in darkness,
Never can His light grow dim.

The voice grew stronger, more confident, as Belle reached the chorus.

“I am trusting, fully trusting,
Sweetly trusting in His word,
I am trusting, fully trusting,
Sweetly trusting in His word.

All my joys I give to Jesus!
He is all I want of bliss:
He of all the worlds is Master
He has all I need in this.”

    Then once again the air rang with the chorus of trust.
    As the final words died away, Belle fell silent, her spirit was refreshed, and her joy, which had begun to grow dim, was renewed.
    “Home’s jest a piece ahead,” Zeke volunteered presently.
    Belle made no reply, but tried to quicken her pace so as not to lag behind her cousins. The woods had been growing darker, and she had wondered if they would reach home before darkness completely overtook them. Then a new thought struck her. Soon she would be meeting not just her aunt and uncle, but more cousins than she had ever known anyone to have. Her heart beat faster, and unconsciously she slipped her hand into the work hardened one of Ez.
    Suddenly up ahead was a clearing, a large one, and to one side stood a house. But it wasn’t like anything Belle had imagined it would be. Made of logs, the building looked rough and dirty. A stone chimney on one end of the structure was sending smoke drifting heavenward. There were windows, but the panes of glass didn’t gleam in the setting sun.
    Shouts and cries sounded as the three cousins emerged from the shelter of the woods and began to climb the hill towards the house. They had not gone more than a few yards before the door was flung open and out rushed a horde of children of all ages. In sudden shyness Belle pressed close to Ez, thankful for the sheltering form of Zeke before her.
    “What’s that ye’s got?”
    “What’cha so late fer?”
    “What’s in the bag, Zeke?”
    “Hey, who’d ya bring with ya?”
    “Ez, do take Mattie. She’s been cryin’ and frettin’ so’s Ma’s jest fed up.”
    Belle felt her cousin’s hand on hers tighten a little and heard him say, “Can’t. Tote’er ‘long ta the house ‘n I’ll take her then.” She stole a glance at the girl lugging along a crying tot and wished she was acquainted enough to take the child herself, for she had always borrowed the babies of their neighbors as often as she could.
    “Kade, Rome, quit yer pickin’ fights with the young’uns. Git up ta the house. An’ the rest a ya’ll quit yer hollarin’.” Zeke issued his orders with a tone of command that left no doubt that he meant what he said. “Jess, Pa home?”
    Zeke said no more, but his few words were obeyed and Belle, wondering more and more what her stay with her aunt and uncle was going to be like, kept close to Ez.
    The children all reached the house before the newcomers and were all babbling at once. As Belle stepped up onto the wide porch she heard a sharp voice. “All a you’s git over there, si’down and stop talkin’. I don’t care if’n yer brothers brung home the president a the United States, nor a tiger from the circus, I can’t stand more a yer goin’s on!”
    There was almost instant silence as Zeke and Ez stepped through the doors and lowered the trunk to the floor. Zeke set the carpetbag on top while Ez nudged Belle forward, saying in his quiet tones, “We brung Aunt Lynn’s girl with us, Ma.”
    For a moment Belle hesitated. This wasn’t the introduction she had been expecting. The woman, standing by the fireplace, turned and looked from one of her tall sons to the other, and then her gaze rested on Belle. Instantly Belle forgot her shyness, for there was something in the woman’s face, though it was tired and old, that reminded her of her mother. “Oh, Aunt Lillian, I’m so glad I’m finally here!” cried the girl, rushing across the room to give her aunt a hug and kiss.

Would you like to be Belle?
Are you shy about meeting lots of new people?
Do you like to sing?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Hymns in the Hills - Fully Trusting - Part 2

Good morning Faithful Friday Fiction Fans,
Well, it's been quite a week since I last posted. The conference was a lot of fun even if it was slower than usual. I got to personally talk to and visit with a few of my readers. (Hello, Jesseca and Rishona!) That was fun. :)
We got home about 11:15 Saturday night. I was glad I was working in the nursery the next morning or I might have fallen asleep during church. :P
The rest of this week I've been busy trying to catch up on things and get things done that I need to get done before I'm out of town again! Yep, next Friday my sister and I, along with our grandparents, are taking the train to Chicago! I'm very much looking forward to it.

Yes, I have been working on trying to get the new Graham Quartet book finished. I'm making corrections, but am still waiting for one of my reviewers to get his review to me. (They were out of town.) Hopefully it will be available before I leave town. :)

As far as writing goes. This has been a good week to write. I've had every evening to write and am almost to my 5,000 word goal for this week already and I still have tonight and tomorrow! Maybe I'll get 6k or more written. :) And  . . . last night I returned to TCR-6. I had decided that once I reached a stopping place in the other story, then I'd go back to TCR-6. Last night it happened. I wasn't sure if I should continue with Dylan's POV or go to Autumn's. So, I went to TCR-6. And I'm still looking for any ideas or suggestions for TCR.

Oh, if you haven't gone to Read Another Page and taken the survey there, please do so. It will be a big help if you do.

I'm glad to hear that at least some of you are enjoying this story because here is part 2.

Hymns in the Hills
Fully Trusting
Part 2

    “Dunno’s I am,” was the low reply, and a hand, dirty and hard, briefly touched the small one held out.
    “This here’s Ezra–” began the station master.
    “I ain’t neither,” broke in the youth with a growl. “I’m Zeke.”
    The station master threw up his hands. “How’m I supposed ta know which a ye was comin’. Ye both look so much alike–” His grumbling dropped to a mere mutter.
    “Ya could a asked.” Zeke didn’t say another word.
    Belle was looking from one man to the other, evidently confused. “Are you going to take me home, Zeke?”
    For the first time, the young man actually looked at the slip of a girl before him. “I reckon. Once Ez gets here.”
    “Is he a cousin too?”
    The station master grunted and disappeared into the tiny shack.
    “Will he be along soon or would you like to sit down on the bench with me and wait for him?”
    Instead of answering, Zeke looked back in the direction of town, then sat down on the edge of the platform.
    For a very brief moment, Belle hesitated, but then, setting her carpetbag on the platform, she sat down next to her cousin. “I didn’t know I had any cousins,” she began. “I’m glad to know I do. It will be so nice to have other children to play with. How many are there, please?”
    Zeke scratched his chin and then started mumbling and counting on his fingers. When he started on his other hand, Belle’s eyes widened, and it was all she could do to keep back her astonishment. Finally, Zeke shook he head. “I calculated there might be ten a us, but I reckon it’s jest as easy I could’a forgot one er two. Ez!” His shout was to another fellow, striding up the road. “How many young’uns we got over’t the house?”
    The young man addressed look so much like Zeke that Belle wondered if they were twins. She studied their faces carefully as this newcomer stuffed his hands in his pockets and wrinkled his brow in thought over the question. There was a bit of a difference in their features, but the difference was so subtle that a person would have to be on the lookout to notice it at all.
    In a slow drawl, Ez at last replied, “Reckon there’s ‘bout a dozen or so all told.”
    “I have twelve cousins?” Had Belle not been sitting down, the astonishment would have made her feel faint. “Are . . . are they all truly my cousins?” She appealed to Zeke. “All of them?”
    Zeke nodded solemnly. “Yep. Least ways if’n yer our cousin. Ez, this here’s another cousin.”
    Ez stepped closer and looked over the girl without offering his hand. “What’s ‘er name?”
    “Oh,” Belle cried, standing up quickly. “The station master didn’t finish introducing us, did he? He told me your name, Zeke, but didn’t tell you mine. I’m Isabelle Standish, but everyone calls me Belle.” She smiled brightly, offering her hand to Ez, who shook it with a little more feeling than Zeke had earlier. “There, now we know each other. Is it very far to the house? And what shall we do about my trunk?” She looked back at it with a puzzled face.
    “Reckon we’ll tote it along.” And Zeke rose.
    “It’s awfully heavy,” protested Belle, hurrying to take her carpetbag. Her cousins made no answer but each took one end and, with a grunt from one and an echoing grunt from the other, she watched the trunk lifted to the shoulders of her new kin.
    “Come on,” Zeke said, and they started off across the tracks and down the little path Belle had seen before.
    They hadn’t gone many steps before Belle broke the silence. “How old are you, please?”
    “Both of you?”
    “Then you must be twins, and, of course, Mama didn’t know anything about you or any of my cousins because she . . . she married Papa seventeen years ago.” There was suspicious quiver to her voice as she talked. “I’m sure she wished she could have come to visit–with me.” The break in her voice was more noticeable this time.
    Still matching strides with Zeke, who was in the lead, Ez glanced down at the girl and watched her shoulders straighten and her chin tip up. At that moment a feeling of compassion came over him for this young unknown cousin. “Le’me take that there bag fer ya.” He held out his hand.
    “I can carry it,” Belle said, smiling, though a few tears clung to her lashes and sparkled in the sunlight. “You are already carrying the trunk, and I don’t want to make it harder for you.”
    Zeke grunted.
    Without a word, Ez reached out and took the carpetbag. His steps never faltered and he didn’t look at her.
    “Thank you.” Those words were some of the sweetest that young man had ever heard.
    In silence the strange party continued on their way; the sunny slopes were behind them and the path now led through the woods and the ground became more rocky. Belle didn’t talk anymore, she hadn’t the breath to do so, for trying to keep up with her cousins’ long strides was proving more difficult as the terrain became more rough. How thankful she was that she didn’t have to carry her carpetbag!
    At last Zeke came to a halt, the trunk was lowered and the carpetbag set on top. Sinking to the ground, Belle drew in several long breaths. When she felt like she could speak again, she looked up. Both cousins were watching her. “Are we about there?”
    “Got ‘bout half an hour left ta go,” Zeke replied.
    “I’m glad you were both in town and could take me back with you. I know I would have gotten lost long before now if I had tried it on my own. Were you in town because you knew I was coming?”

What would you think if you were in Belle's place?
Do you know any large families?
Or are you from a large family?
What do you think happens next? 

P.S. Don't forget to take the survey at Read Another Page.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Hymns in the Hills - Fully Trusting - Part 1

Hello FFFs,
I'm writing this Thursday morning since I know I probably won't have time to write anything Friday morning. You see, there have been a change of plans. I was going to be at home this weekend babysitting Doodle Bug and Puggle Boy with maybe a few others, but the kids got sick. So, Sis-in-law is staying home with the kids except for Pickle Puss. (Really, I should call her Sissy now as she's rather outgrown Pickle Puss.) I told my brother I'd go with him to the Wichita conference and so, that's where I am. If you are going to be here, stop by Light of Faith and say hi. :) I'd love to get to visit in person with you.

I have been writing when I could. But, since I worked as an election judge all day Tuesday, I only wrote Monday and Wednesday nights. And sorry, I've been writing more about Dylan, Fern and the Woods. I hope you don't mind too much. :) I want to get back to TCR-6, but this other story was just moving, so I decided to keep with it this week.

This story idea came in a vague form to me when I was writing Christmas stories, and couldn't start it. Right now I have "2 chapters" written. Each one is 4 parts long. Hopefully you'll enjoy this story. Or at least the first part of it.

And, even though I'll be at the conference all day today (and tomorrow), leave me a comment and let me know what you think of it.

Hymns in the Hills
Fully Trusting
Part 1

    Taking her carpet bag from the conductor and thanking him for taking such good care of her, the young girl looked about. It was a tiny station, not much more than a platform with a shack on one side and a bench next to it. Her lone trunk stood rather forlornly by itself. No one was in sight except a man who she thought must be the station master, for he was inside the shack sitting at a desk and was not paying any attention. The girl, about ten years old, moved slowly over to the bench, though she didn’t sit down, and watched as the train picked up speed and, with a parting whistle, hurried off down into the valley.
    “Oh, what a lovely view,” the girl exclaimed, looking all around her. Across the tracks stretched rolling hills, piled one behind the other as far as she could see, some carpeted with nothing but grass and flowers while others wore a heavy blanket of trees. There seemed to be a path winding down through the meadows and disappearing into the trees, but she wouldn’t have thought to call it a road. To her left, the girl found only trees which blocked her view, so she turned at once to the other side. Here, around the corner of the station she discovered a road and several houses or buildings beyond. “I wonder if that is the town.”
    For several minutes she watched the comings and goings and wished she thought it right to go down and look about. “But it might not be proper for a young girl like me to go down there alone when I don’t know anyone. It would be different if I had been living here and knew folks.” A tear slipped from her eye and rolled unbidden down her cheek.
    Straightening, the girl tipped up her chin and winked back the mate to the first tear. “I won’t cry. It would be a shame for Aunt and Uncle to see me for the first time with red eyes. I will sit on the bench and look at the beautiful view and wait.”
    Resolutely she turned away from the action of the town and perched precariously on the bench which sloped slightly to one side. As lovely as the view was, it felt hard for the active child to remain in one place without someone to talk to for very long. After wondering where her uncle could be, the child began to sing. Her voice, pure and clear, though a trifle shaky at first, grew steadily stronger as the song went on.

“All my doubts I give to Jesus!
I’ve His gracious promise heard
‘I shall never be confounded’
I am trusting in that word.

I am trusting, fully trusting,
Sweetly trusting in His word.
I am trusting, fully trusting,
Sweetling trusting in His word.

All my fears I give to Jesus!
Rests my weary soul on Him;
Thou’ my way be hid in darkness,
Never can His light grow dim.”

    As she finished the line of verse, her voice quivered suspiciously, but bravely she kept going into the chorus.

“I am trusting, fully trusting,
Sweetly trusting in His word.”

    When the song was ended, the child, still humming the tune, swung her feet and looked up into the clear blue sky.
    “Where did ye come from, miss?” a gruff, but not unkind, voice asked.
    Turning her head, the girl smiled up into the face of the station master. “I came on the train, sir, but you seemed busy so I didn’t bother you.”
    “Humph. What’s yer name? And what’er yer waitin’ fer?”
    “My name is Belle Standish, and I’m waiting for my uncle to come for me. His name is Benjamin Russum. If I knew the way to his house, I might be able to walk there and save him the trouble of coming for me. I’m a good walker, but I don’t know what I’d do about my trunk.”
    “It’ll be safe enough here till it’s sent fer. Russum, did ya say yer uncle’s name is?”
    “Yes, sir. And Auntie’s name is Lillian. Isn’t that such a lovely name? Do you know where they live?”
    “Reckon I do,” was the answer, but the man looked queer. “It’s a might too far fer ye ta be walkin’ that ways alone. But I might could fetch one a yer cousins to go ‘long with ye.”
    At that, Belle looked astonished. “Cousins? I have cousins? Why, I didn’t know that! How many have I got, please?”
    The station master gave a shrug of his shoulders. “Ain’t fer shore, never was able ta keep count. Reckon ye can can ask yer cousin. He oughter know.”
    “Oh, yes, that would be good.”
    Giving a slight nod, though his face still wore an expression Belle didn’t understand, the man turned away and limped down the road.
    “Cousins. Maybe my visit won’t be so hard after all.” And Belle, clasping her carpetbag with both hands, let it swing with her feet as she sang, “I am trusting, fully trusting, Sweetly trusting in His word.”
    She had sung her song twice through before the heavy tramp of feet was heard, and Belle looked around eagerly.
    The station master came around the corner of the station, a young man beside him. The youth had brown hair, much the same color as Belle’s own, but his looked like it hadn’t seen a hairbrush for a week. His clothes were too small for him, and his boots needed polished more than any pair Belle had ever seen. As Belle’s eyes moved to the new face, she smiled; the young man’s eyes seemed kind, and if she had felt any dismay at the first sight of him, it vanished. Standing up, she held out her hand with a pretty air and a sweet smile. “Oh, are you one of my cousins?”
    “Dunno’s I am,” was the low reply, and a hand, dirty and hard, briefly touched the small one held out.

Have you ever met cousins you didn't know you had?
What do you think of this story?
Will you be back next week?

Friday, April 1, 2016

What's Wrong with Caleb? - Part 3

Happy first for April, FFFs,

One time April first fell on Friday, I added a little part to the longer story I was posting (part of The Unexpected Request) and "killed off" the main character. I was also gone all day to a homeschool conference, so I couldn't reply to anyone until that evening. Boy, did I have some comments. ;) I did have several people who were suspicious because of how I had done it.
But don't worry, I didn't do anything like that today. This story is exactly how I ended it to begin with.

I did do something different this week. On Wednesday, I was able to go with some friends and a group they had gotten together to help out at Voice of the Martyrs for the day. I spent all day stuffing the large envelopes and getting them ready to mail. So, if you get Voice of the Martyrs, I might have gotten it ready for you. Of course there were still thousands to do, but we did make good progress.

And the other news for this week is that I've finally been able to get a good bit of TCR-6 written. Not as much as I would have liked, but the first chapter is probably done. Last night I did switch stories and write some more about Dylan and Fern. :) Hope you don't mind. ;)

Here is the end of this story. Now just remember I told you I overdid the emotion just because I was trying things out. Enjoy and tell me if your guess was correct.

What's Wrong with Caleb?
Part 3

    Not feeling hungry, Caleb sat fidgeting, shifting around in his seat, picking up imaginary crumbs and putting them on his plate. He tugged at the neckline of his shirt and fumbled with it as though trying to find a button to undo. His eyes darted around the room, carefully avoiding one corner of the counter where the pile of mail still sat.
    When Robert was finished, he spoke. “I’m done now. You want this pizza in a bag?” Caleb gave no reply and Robert touched his arm. “Caleb?”
    Jumping, Caleb whirled around as he sprang to his feet, his breath coming in gasps and his eyes wide. Sweat dotted his forehead. “What?”
    “I said I was done. Are you feeling all right?”
    “What? Oh, yeah. I’m fine. Pizza. Right. I’ll get it put away.”
    Robert didn’t answer,for he had his phone out and was busy with it.
    It wasn’t until the kitchen was clean and the cousins were sitting back at the table that Robert’s phone buzzed. He checked it quickly and sent a reply. “So, what’s been making you so jumpy?”
    Robert looked around the room. “Think I’m talking to myself? Come on, now. Out with it!”
    Caleb’s lips parted, but no sound came out. Only the steady tick, tock, of the clock was heard.
    “I’d start talking, if I were you.” Robert’s voice was quiet. “Dad’s on his way over here.”
    “He shouldn’t come. I haven’t broken any law. I–” Caleb’s eyes darted about the kitchen, almost resting on the mail, but always moving away quickly.
    “How’s work going?”
    “How many yards are you mowing?”
    “I don’t know.” He made a vague motion with his hand.
    “Caleb!” growled Robert with growing exasperation. “Does this have anything to do with your lawn care business?”
    For the first time that evening, Caleb turned and met his cousin’s gaze. “No!”
    “Then what’s going on?”
    “Oh, it’s nothing. Just forget it.” He ran his fingers through his hair again.
    “No, I’m not going to forget it. Caleb, something is going on. You’ve been acting strange all week and I’m not leaving until I find out why. Now–”
    A sharp rap sounded on the back door and Caleb jumped.
    “Relax, it’s just Dad. I’ll get it.” And Robert stepped over to let his dad into the small kitchen.
    “This was not a good idea,” Caleb muttered, backing towards the open doorway leading to the rest of the house, as though meditating flight. Looking at his uncle as he came in, he breathed a sigh of relief; at least he wasn’t in uniform. There was just something about a police uniform that made him clam up.
    “Come back and sit down,” Robert called to him. “You aren’t going anywhere until you’ve spilled everything.”
    Reluctantly, Caleb made his way back to the table and sat down. His uncle was across from him, his arms crossed on the table.
    “What’s going on, Caleb?”
    “I don’t know! I–I just can’t look.”
    “Can’t look at what?” Robert was standing, resting his hands on the back of a chair.
    Caleb didn’t reply. His eyes darted across the room towards the mail before he swallowed and turned his face away.
    Robert had caught the direction of the glance, however, and asked, as with one long stride he closed the distance between the table and the counter, “Something in the mail?” When no answer came, Robert picked up the entire pile and returned to the table. “Don’t tell me you got all this today!”
    “And whatever it is that is bothering you might be in here?” Caleb’s uncle asked, looking keenly at the young face dotted with perspiration.
    “I didn’t look.” Caleb’s voice was almost a whisper and he wiped his arm across his face. “I’m not sure I want to know.”
    Robert, sorting through the mail, gave a snort. “Okay, so what is it you don’t want to know about? Hey, here’s a letter from Missouri Southern; isn’t that the university you applied to?”
    Pulling at the neckline of his shirt, Caleb nodded.
    “Here, check and see,” And Robert tossed the envelope onto the table in front of his cousin.
    Robert exchanged a glance with his father. “Man, is this what’s been eating you? Good grief, Caleb, just open it already and get it over with! They aren’t going to eat you.”
    Caleb’s breathing quickened and he swallowed hard several times. Twice he wiped his palms on his jeans and then shook his head. “I can’t. Someone else has got to. They might have rejected me!”
    Without a word, Caleb’s uncle took up the envelope and opened the flap. He pulled out the letter, read it through rapidly and then said, “You’ve been accepted.”
    “What?” Suddenly Caleb was all attention. “Say that again!”
    “You’ve been accepted. Here, read it for yourself.”
    “Read it to me, Robert,” Caleb begged his cousin. “My hands are shaking so badly I wouldn’t be able to hold the page still.”
    Robert did as he was requested though he didn’t put much animation into the reading of the boring form letter.
    “Wahoo! I’ve really been accepted!” Caleb sprang from the table in his excitement. “I didn’t think I would, but I was! Yes!”
    With a sigh, Robert, ignoring the exuberant celebration of his cousin, turned to his father and said, “He could have saved himself a week of misery, that letter was next to the bottom in the stack.”

The emotion I used was "Agitation" though others would work.
Would you have felt like Robert?
Were you expecting that ending?
Will you be back next week to see what is here?