Friday, September 30, 2016

Neglected and Forsaken - Part 2

Welcome to the Literary Lodge!
Wait, this is the Friday Fiction room. Sorry about that. ;) You see, the Party is still going on over at Read Another Page and I've been caught up with all the visitors, answering questions, chatting with new friends, and reading stacks and stacks of book titles! It's been a lot of fun! We've even had enough people entered in the Grand Prize to add a 2nd place winner! We're still trying to get to 100 though before the day is over. So, if you have not entered, go do so! What are you waiting for? The books to disappear?

Okay, let's move on. I reached the end of TCR-6 "Together." And I wrote a little of "Finding Joy" and then last night I wrote "Hymns in the Hills." It's a little hard to focus on those stories though, when TCR-6 needs edited, the corrections for "The Old Mansion's Secret" need made and I'm hosting a party. :) But, we'll keep persevering.

I hope you enjoy this next part of this short story. And once you're done reading, come on over to the Literary Lodge for the final party day. :)

Neglected and Forsaken
Part 2

    The stooped shoulders shook with laughter, and the faded eyes grew bright with mirth. “Now that was a good one, wasn’t it, Frisco? Us, the highest court in the United States. It does beat all what folks’ll say. Of course at that time we did have, oh I reckon ‘bout four hundred-fifty people livin’ here. Speaking of the highest,” with stiff fingers the old man pulled out a yellowed paper from his jacket pocket. “You remember this here advertisement ‘bout Animas Forks, don’t ya?” After clearing his throat a few times he held the paper up and read:
    “Animas Forks, the most populated town in the world.” The old man grinned and held the paper closer squinting to read the fine print under the headlines. “At this altitude.” The grin turned into a chuckle which in turn grew to a full and hearty laugh. The rocky mountain slopes tossed the laughter back and forth until it seemed that they too had joined in the joke. The old mine creaked more loudly as a stronger gust of wind swept down the mountainside.
    For several minutes the old man, the mine and the mountains enjoyed their merriment.
    “Well,” the man said at last, wiping his eyes, “I won’t read it all to ya as the rest of it ain’t that interesting. It’s just about the town an’ the mining of galena and that silver-bearing grey copper. But we know all about that, don’t we, old girl? Of course this is jest an advertisement for the town. I kind a wonder if anyone took any heed of it. Ya know what I mean, Frisco? Well, all I’s got to say is ‘The Animas Forks Pioneer’ was a heap more interesting to read.” Saying which he folded up the paper and stuffed it back in his pocket. “I’ve been hankerin’ for that old newspaper, but since the press closed down I’ve had to do with Silverton’s paper. But it jest isn’t the same, is it?”
    The slamming of a loose board somewhere in the mine was the answer. And then followed a long silence.

    At last the old man stood up stiffly and slowly began to make his way around the aged mine. He peered in at the empty windows, shook his head at the loose boards and sighed. Coming back to the rock, he resumed his seat where he sat motionless for some time. Finally he began to speak.
    “You remember the blizzard don’t you, Frisco? That was the winter of 1884 . . .”

    “I say, Joe, jest look at that snow come down, would ya?”
    “I know. Ain’t it somethin’ to see! Ya know, Will, I don’t even want to try to make it back to my room at the hotel in this. It’s hard to see even the boardin’ house.”
    Will took another look out the window. “Say! This ain’t jest a little snow storm. I’m thinking we’re in for a blizzard!”
    The two men looked at each other. They both knew the danger of trying to go anywhere in a storm like this. The mine was closed for the winter, but Will always kept a stash of food supplies there “jest in case” he always said. Well, that “jest in case” had finally arrived.
    “I reckon we might as well jest make ourselves at home an’ wait for the storm to blow over.”
    Joe nodded in agreement. “It’s a good thing neither of us is married, Will.”
    “How’s that?”
    “Then we’d have ta try ta get home or the women folk would be all upset.” He grinned. “I know as that’s the way it is with my brother.”
    The two men passed the rest of the day talking or just sitting and watching the swirling white clouds of snow out the windows. By bed time the storm showed no signs of abating, and the men rolled themselves up in blankets near the stove and slept. The next day and the next the storm raged. Drifts piled high against the sides of the mine covering up the lower windows. The men upstairs spent the time in telling stories and in game after game of checkers.
    On the sixth day, the entire lower part of the mine was covered and to look out the upper windows gave the appearance of being on the lower level.
    “My, this is one mean snow storm, I’m tellin’ you Joe!”
    “Don’t tell me,” Joe growled, “I know. An’ I don’t mind tellin’ you that this here business of doin’ nothing but playin’ checkers, in which you always win I might add, has about drove me crazy. Can’t ya think of anything else ta do?”
    Will looked thoughtful, his hand scratching his head as it did when he was thinking. Suddenly his eyes lit up. “How ‘bout we try digging a tunnel to the boardin’ house?”
    The suggestion met with Joe’s instant agreement, and the two descended the stairs to the strangely dark and cold first level. After lighting one of the lanterns that was used in the mine, Will cautiously pulled open the door. A solid wall of snow stood before them. Will reached out and took a handful. With a grin he turned to Joe.
    “This is the perfect kind of snow to make a tunnel in. See how well it packs?”

Have you ever made a tunnel in the snow?
Have you been to the Five Fall Favorites party?
Are you going to join us today?

Monday, September 26, 2016

It's Party Time!!!!

Just in case you forgot, the party over at Read Another Page has begun! Come join the fun! Enter to win the Grand Prize, find new books to read, comment and connect with other readers and let's enjoy the wonderful world of BOOKS!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Neglected and Forsaken - Part 1

I can't believe it is really Friday! This whole week has been crazy and it seemed that we already had Friday! And Saturday! I want to know where Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are! I thought perhaps the days had just gotten mixed up, but instead I'm finding duplicates. Who has my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday? I'll trade you one of those for a Friday or Saturday. :)

You see, we babysat all my nieces and nephews for about 5 1/2 hours on Monday. On Tuesday I taught writing class and then my grandparents came down and were here for supper before we went over to celebrate my oldest niece's 10th birthday! On Wednesday we met my brother and his family and my grandparents for breakfast before heading to a local nature center and enjoying time there the rest of the morning. Then one of my heart-sisters came to town and she and I went out for ice cream and visited.
I feel like I've been trying to catch up all week. :)

Yesterday my short story Fitting In was officially published! With all that's been going on, I really haven't had time to do much promoting of it. Thank you everyone who read and reviewed it!

Oh, and don't forget to come visit Read Another Page on Monday for the Five Fall Favorites party!

Perhaps you've already read this story. But perhaps not. It comes in 3 parts, so it won't take too long. I hope you enjoy it.

Neglected and Forsaken
Part 1
    A warm breath of air blew down the mountainside stirring the grasses and causing the branches of the pine and fir trees to quiver and sway. Summer was here again. The old weathered sides of the Frisco Mine creaked while a loose shingle slid down through a  hole in the roof to the floor below.
    An aged man, somewhat stooped, with grey hair and whiskers and leaning heavily on a stout stick, paused before the decaying building. His breath was short and panting as though he had just made an arduous climb up the side of a steep mountain. With a trembling hand he wiped the perspiration off his face with his worn handkerchief.
    “The air’s thin up here,” he muttered to himself. “Always was an’ always will be I reckon.” He looked up at the old silent building before him. “We know what it’s like, don’t we?”
    A creaking board was the only answer, but that seemed to satisfy the old timer, for with a tired smile he made his way over to a rock and sank wearily down on it.
    The sun shone brightly down from a pale blue sky. A few lazy clouds seemed to cling still to the mountain tops nearby as though reluctant to leave them in spite of the wind’s promise of future mountain tops. All around was quiet and still. No human voices were heard. No wagons rumbled by, No trains whistled. Everything was peaceful and serene.
    Slowly, with a sigh of contentment, the old man lifted his head and looked about. A faint smile crossed his face as he gazed at the mine before him. “We’ve seen a lot, you an’ I. Haven’t we, Old Girl?” His eyes took on a far away look, and it seemed as though he could see it all again, just as it was then.

    A sharp pull at the string and the whistle blew announcing noon. Men seemed to appear out of no where into the open air. A steady stream headed for the nearby boarding house. In the town, voices floated back and forth as the people headed home or to the hotel or saloon, whichever suited their fancy for their mid day meal.
    William Croften leaned against the side of the mine near the whistle string he had just pulled. “It’s hard ta believe, ain’t it Frisco,” here he looked around at the sturdy walls of the mine with its gleaming glass windows and dark roof. He went on. “Hard to believe that only three years ago there was only one log cabin here abouts. An’ now in ‘76, would ya jest look at that town. I counted thirty cabins now an’ that don’t count the hotel, saloon, general store nor the post office. I reckon this is an up an’ comin’ place. But ya know, Frisco, it’s odd when ya come to think of it, jest how much the folks around here depend on your whistle.” William gave a grin, glanced at his watch and then strode off for his own cabin not far away.

    A small stone rolling down the mountain brought the old man back to the present with a start. Reaching down he picked up a handful of rocks and stared at them. “I reckon you recall, old girl, the day . . .”

    “Hey, Will!”
    “Did ya hear the news?”
    “What news?” Will glanced up from his desk.
    “We’ve got the highest court in the land.”
    Will snorted. “Ah, you expect me to believe that, Joe? Go along with yer foolin’.”
    Joe chuckled at something vastly pleasing as he dropped into an empty chair in the office of the Frisco Mine. “I ain’t foolin’ this time. That’s the sure ‘nough truth. It has ta be true, the judge jest said it.”
    At his companion’s incredulous look, Joe chuckled again. “Ya should ‘ave been there at the trial, Will.”
    “I know it, but the mine won’t run itself,” he glanced out the window and down towards the town. “So, what happened?”
    Joe was all eager to tell. Since this was the county seat, there were many trials held there, and Joe liked nothing better than to attend them. “Some day,” he liked to tell his friend Will, “I’m going ta be a lawyer, then you be sure an’ come an’ listen to the verdict.” Since he wasn’t yet a lawyer, he had to be content with sitting in the court sessions.
    “And so,” he wound up the story of the trial, “the judge fined him ten dollars and court costs. ‘Course Tom didn’t like it a bit and said he, ‘I’ll take this case to a higher court.’ He was right mad, but the judge jest looks him square in the eye an’ says cool as snow, ‘Man, there isn’t a higher court. You’ve jest been tried and found guilty in the highest court in all the United States.’ Now I call that something.” Joe paused out of breath.
    Will scratched his head and frowned in puzzlement. “How’s that, Joe? I must be gettin’ slow from all this book work.”
    Joe grinned. “Will, this town of Animas Forks is 11,300 feet or so above sea level. Now, do you know of any other court that is that high?”

Have you read this story before?
Do you like old buildings?
Are you coming to the Five Fall Favorites party?

Friday, September 16, 2016

An Autumn Path - Part 2

This is quite strange. I feel like I'm talking to myself. I am sure that there are some readers still left who will read this post, but sometimes, like today, it feels like I am the only one here. I could tell secrets and no one would know but me. Hmm. But you know, I have a funny feeling that if I were to say something like I was going to just not post here anymore, than I'd get all sorts of comments begging me not to. Funny isn't it? Oh, well, I guess it just goes to show that you can't always tell who is reading what.

Yesterday I was working on trying to get models/pictures for my illustrator to use making the illustrations for TCR-6. I'm still looking for some. I need a picture of a toddler (girl) standing on the ground kissing a horse. Yeah, I know, cute. But I haven't found one yet. And I don't have any toddlers who could pose for me.
And I'm still writing. I only have about 10 more parts to write!!!! If you are reading this, pray that I'll be able to get them written! Next week I'll lose two writing days, and I'd really, really like to get everything written before the end of the month! And I still have to figure out the rest of the pictures, and correct other parts of the story.

I'm also working on this Blog Party! :) It's going to be fun! I hope some of you, at least, are planning on attending! :)

But that is then and today is now. Why don't I just give you silent readers something worth reading. :)

An Autumn Path
Part 2

    The years slowly rolled by and found Sammy growing to actually enjoy his work, at least most of the time. No longer did he criticize his cozy upstairs room, for he had grown fond of it. There was no school nearby for Sammy to attend, so Grandfather, himself quite well educated, taught Sammy all he knew. Sammy learned rapidly and never tired of listening as Grandfather pulled words out of the air to paint beautiful pictures for his mind’s eye. Grandfather, watching the boy’s eyes glow as he talked, smiled to himself. “That boy is going to make a fine man someday if he doesn’t go out and get spoiled before he is ready.”
    One day in early spring, Sammy sat at the kitchen table with his paper and pencils. He was supposed to be working on his arithmetic, but instead his thoughts were on the story Grandfather had just told him. Absentmindedly, he began to sketch what he saw in his mind. Rapidly the picture took shape, and to his great delight, Sammy could actually begin to see before him a little lake nestled in the valley between some high hills. So busy was he that he didn’t hear his grandfather enter the room.
    “What are you up to now, Sammy?”
    Sammy looked up. His cheeks became scarlet as he attempted to cover his drawing with his hands. “Uh, . . . I . . . uh,” he floundered, his eyes dropping to the table.
    Without a word Grandfather held out his hand. What was Sammy trying to hide? Grandfather had begun to place great trust in the boy; was that trust premature?
    For an instant Sammy remained still, then slowly, with eyes still down on the table, he placed his drawing in Grandfather’s waiting hand. Would Grandfather be angry? Would this mean another whipping? He hadn’t meant to disobey, he hadn’t even meant to draw. It just almost drew itself. Could he make Grandfather understand? At last, as the silence lengthened into minutes, Sammy glanced up. His grandfather was staring from the picture to Sammy and then back again to the picture.
    “Sammy, where did you learn to do this?” Grandfather’s voice held only wonderment in it.
    Sammy shrugged. “It just did it itself almost. I could see it in my mind, and my fingers just took it out.”
    Grandfather shook head. Never had he seen such marvelous work for someone who had no training. At last he spoke. “You drew this from what I had told you?”
    Sammy nodded.
    “Get out another piece of paper. Let’s see if you can do it again,” Grandfather directed sinking into a chair while he continued to stare at the picture.
    In surprise Sammy obeyed. His arithmetic was shoved gladly out of the way. There would be time for that later.
    For several minutes Sammy just sat and listened as his grandfather began talking, then his pencil began to move across the paper. Under his fingers there soon arose a ship with sails unfurled as it rose on the crest of a wave.
    Arithmetic was entirely forgotten and for several days Sammy spent hours drawing picture after picture.
    A few mornings later, when Sammy came into the kitchen for breakfast, Grandfather sat frowning at the table.
    “Sammy,” he ordered, “I have to go into town today. While I am gone you are not to draw anything. You are to work on your arithmetic! Is that clear?” Though his voice sounded stern, he could not hide the twinkle in his eyes.
    Sammy grinned. He’d work on his arithmetic.
    When Grandfather returned, he brought with him some paints and brushes.
    Sammy was thrilled. After a little practice he found he could mix the paints to get whatever color he wanted. He practiced his painting any chance he got and reveled in watching the colors mingle to form mountains, sunsets, flowers and trees. His eagerness was so great that Grandfather took time to show him the beauties of tiny insects, of animals and birds. For a time all Sammy wanted to do was draw or paint, but when he suddenly noticed Grandfather moving more slowly than was his want, he knew his work had to come first.
    The years passed. Sammy and Grandfather were content to stay on their small farm together. Theirs was a happy and peaceful life, for they had come to love each other dearly. They seldom left the farm except for church. And their trips to town were so few that they remained strangers to most of the folks there. Sammy had begun to sell his artwork through a friend, yet none who saw him in town would have guessed the talent that lay in his fingers. Grandfather encouraged him to keep working to improve his work, telling him that one day he would have to go out into the world.
    “But never forget, Sammy,” he always added. “That God makes the loveliest pictures. Always draw and paint to please Him. Men ought to take more time to notice His artwork, but since they won’t, it is up to you to bring it to their attention.”

    A wind sprang up and ruffled the hair of the young man. He sat up. His eyes looked again at the glorious colors about him. Slowly he stood and picked up his pack. “I will go on Grandfather,” he whispered, glancing back at the road behind him. “I will make them see the beauties that God has made.” In his mind’s eye he could see the old farm house and barn and up on the hill a newly formed headstone. “I’ll take God’s loveliness into their homes and business.” He swallowed hard. “I can’t ever thank you again, Grandfather, for taking me in, but I’ll never forget it.” With those last whispered words he set forth down the path of brilliant colors.

Did you enjoy this short story?
Will you come back to read next week's story?
Are you excited about TCR-6 getting done?
Did you even read this post? 

Friday, September 9, 2016

An Autumn Path - Part 1

Hello Faithful Friday Fiction Fans,
Are you ready for a different story? I told you "By Bus with Vicki" was going to be long. You should have listened. :) This story won't be long. I promise. It's only a two part story. And, if you've already read it, you can read it again. I did write it 6 1/2 years ago! Do you think my writing style has changed? This is the first time I've re-posted something like this since I started this blog. I just haven't had time to write short stories!
And I'll tell you why. 

I found out from my illustrator for the TCR books that she can only do my illustrations next month. So, if I want this book published by Christmas (Did I just hear agreement?) then I have to get TCR-6 written by the end of this month, so I can figure out the illustrations. You can all be praying as I have about 16 parts or more, left to write. This also means I've had to set "Finding Joy" aside for now. :( I'm hoping I can pick that book back up next month and maybe finish writing it! Wouldn't that be fun?

You want some other exciting news? I should have a new kindle Christmas story ready for publication before Christmas! And this is a story no one has read! (Right now I really mean NO ONE as my editor hasn't even read it. :P )

And  . . . "The Unexpected Request" is being recorded for audio! The contract was signed on Wednesday and it should be out before the end of the year if all goes well! Yikes! This will mean I should have 5 new audios coming out this year! How many have you listened to?

Now we'll move on to this story.


An Autumn Path
Part 1

    With a long look around him at the trees glowing with brilliant autumn colors above him, their branches meeting and twining together to form a roof of flaming orange and yellow, he paused. The trunks were dark, contrasting sharply with the leaves and the golden brown grasses and ferns about their base. Here and there pine and spruce trees added their dark green to the stunning picture of fall glories causing the young man to catch his breath in wonder and awe. For several minutes he stood in silence.
    “It’s beautiful,” he said to himself. “No, that isn’t the right word, it’s too common. Charming, wonderful, glorious,” he shook his head with each word. “I just can’t describe it. The words won’t come. Now Grandfather could--” The young man bit his lip suddenly and blinked back the sudden rush of tears. “No!” he ordered himself firmly. “I will go on. I promised him I would. I’ll go straight down this path and out into the world where men rush hither and yon with hardly a pause for the Creator’s magnificent designs. This will be the first picture I’ll paint.” Sitting down suddenly in the middle of the old rutted path, he gazed steadily at each color and shape so as to fix it forever in his memory. For a time this took all of his concentration, but eventually, as so often happens to even the most dedicated thinkers, his thoughts began to wander. Back they drifted to another autumn day. The young man closed his eyes, lay back with hands clasped under his head and lived that day over again.

    “Come on, Sammy, we still have a long way to go before we reach our supper tonight,” the voice was kind, but Sammy looked doubtful. He didn’t know this man, his grandfather, yet here he was going to live with him until he was ‘of age,’ whatever that meant. Slowly Sammy scuffled along in the leaves wishing he was back in the city with his aunt.
    Grandfather watched him out of the corner of his eye as he kept on striding forward. This boy of eight had been his late daughter’s only child. Not until this morning had he ever even lain eyes on the boy. How would the lad take to living in the country he wondered. It would certainly take some getting used to for both of them.
    The two companions tramped on in silence under the autumn leaves until they came to a small farm house set back at the base of a gentle hill. They had reached home, but the only one to welcome them was a dog who barked and wagged his tail as they came up the lane.
    “Here we are, Sammy,” Grandfather said setting the pack he had carried down on the porch.
    Sammy looked around him. He was not impressed. He had to live here? Even the dog was looked down on with disdain as it made friendly advances. There weren’t even any houses at all within sight. Sammy didn’t think he would like it. In fact, he made up his mind that he wouldn’t like it.
    Picking up the pack once again, Grandfather opened the front door, “Come on,” he gave a jerk of his head. “I’ll show you your room.”
    Listlessly, as though not caring if he ever saw his room, the boy followed. Up the narrow winding stairs and into a small but pleasant room he was led. The roof sloped down on one side of it and a brick chimney ran up near the wall. Two small windows with simple muslin curtains looked out over the barnyard and pasture hill. Sammy glanced around. Disgust was written in every look and movement as he unpacked his things after his grandfather had left him. “This is not a room,” he muttered. “This is a closet. Why Aunt Agnes’ cook wouldn’t even think of sleeping here!” Sammy didn’t know his aunt’s cook, but being a spoiled eight-year-old had given him a sense of knowing everything. Yes, I am sorry to say, Sammy was spoiled. His aunt had even called him a spoiled brat at times behind his back and was greatly relieved when his grandfather came to take him.
    That was how Sammy came to live with his grandfather, but it wasn’t easy for either one to adjust to the other. Sammy didn’t care about anything on the farm. He cared only for himself. Grandfather saw it was going to be a struggle, but he was determined to try his best at raising his grandson to be a true man.
    Only the day after his arrival, Sammy met with a great surprise. Grandfather expected him to work! He was told to bring in some wood for the stove and then to pump water for the cows. Never had he been told to do something he didn’t want to do. Sammy gazed at Grandfather and then turning, stalked out of the house.
    Grandfather watched him from the window. “That boy has got to learn to work. Why when I was his age I was milking the cows, bringing in the eggs, as well as fetching wood and water.” For over an hour the older man waited for Sammy to return with the wood. When he failed to return he went out to find him.
    “Sammy,” Grandfather spoke quietly but firmly to the boy sitting on a great rock. “I told you to water the cows and bring in wood for the stove. Now get to it.”
    “I’m not going to. I don’t have to do anything if I don’t want to, and you can’t do anything about it because I’m eight years old and too big to be punished. Mama said so.” Sammy spoke confidently and with a defiant toss of his head.
    “Anyone who talks that way to his elders is too young not to be punished,” was his grandfather’s reply and without another word he led his grandson to the barn. There Sammy received a licking he never forgot. And though it was by no means the last he received, it had it’s effect. For several days he was careful of the words he spoke.

Have you read this story before?
Would you like living with a relative you'd never met?
Are you excited about the new audio, Christmas book, and TCR-6?

Friday, September 2, 2016

By Bus with Vicki - Part 14

Good morning FFFs!
Welcome to September! Wait! Did I just say September? As in the month I always associate with apples, school and the leaves starting to turn colors? Wow!

This has been a busy week. (I think I always say that.) Trying to catch up on things after being gone for a week is always a challenge, but I think I'm caught up. Well, maybe not on all the blog posts because everyone seemed to get the message that I was out of town and decided to post multiple times. :P But, oh well. I 'm trying to get a lot of those little projects done. You know, the ones that really won't take very long, but you never think of them when you have time to do them. Yeah, those.

I have been writing. TCR-6 is now over the 1/2 way mark and I'm finished with the rearranging, adding, changing and stuff. Now I can just write. But . . . before you get all excited, I'm writing "Finding Joy" right now. It took me a little bit to get back into the story as it has been over 2 weeks since I worked on it, but it's moving now. :)

My other big project . . . Is a blog party! Yes, I mentioned Blog and Party in the same sentence. Some of you have probably heard bits about it, but others might not have. It's going to take place the last week of September and it's going to be so much fun! Here is a personal invitation just for YOU!

So, are you coming? Doesn't it sound like fun? If you know of anyone who might like to come, just copy this invitation and send it to them. The more people we have, the more fun the party is going to be!

Now, here is the final part of Vicki's bus trip. I hope you are as ready for her to reach her destination as she is. :) She's had a lot of adventures, but after a while they lose their excitement. So, enjoy this last part and then come back next week for . . . Well, for something different. :)

By Bus with Vicki
Part 14

    At a later stop, a young man in army fatigues climbed on the bus and took a seat right in front of the Greens. Vicki was interested at once. She struck up a conversation almost right away. “My brother, David, is going to join the army when he’s old enough,” she said. “He’s only fifteen now, but he won’t always be that young.”
    The soldier coughed slightly. “No, he won’t.”
    “Are you going to a different camp?”
    “Nope. I’m going to get married.”
    “Oh!” Vicki’s delighted cry could be heard the entire length of the bus, causing many heads to turn in her direction. “That’s so lovely!” She quickly changed her seat to sit next to the soldier. “What is her name?”
    “Why, that’s my name! My full name, not my nickname. Do you call her Vicki? That’s what I’m called unless I’m in trouble. I’ve never known anyone with my name who got married. Of course I know people who got married. My sister did. But nobody with the same name as me. I wish I could meet her.”
    “Where do you get off?”
    “San Jose.”
    “You should be able to at least see her then because I get off before you do.”
    At that bit of news, Vicki clasped her hands together and drew a long breath. Her eyes were starry and she said not a word.
    After waiting a moment and finding she didn’t speak, the soldier, asked, “So, where are you going, Vicki?”
    “What? Oh, to visit my sister. This is my first time to travel on a bus, but it will probably be my last time too.” Then she launched forth into the story of her bus trip so far, ending with, “And I’m so glad you got on because I didn’t have anyone to talk to except the Greens, and they are probably tired of me talking. People get tired of me sometimes.” She shrugged as though that was all a part of life. “But that’s okay because on a bus trip like this, there are always new people to meet. Do you like to meet new people? And would you sign my autograph book?”

    When the bus pulled into the next station for supper, Vicki’s new friend, Andrew, was invited to join her and the Greens at their table.
    Not feeling in the least bit sleepy when they got back on the bus, Vicki decided she would just stay awake until Andrew’s stop came. Seated beside him, she told stories and listened to him tell stories. The next thing she knew, someone was gently shaking her arm.
    “Vicki, this is where I get off. If you want to see my girl, you’ll have to wake up.”
    Bleary eyed, Vicki yawned and sat up. “Huh?” Seeing Andrew pull his pack down from the overhead compartment, she suddenly remembered. “Victoria is here?”
    Andrew grinned. “She should be. She said she’d meet my bus.”
    Quickly she scrambled to her feet and followed the soldier. She only had a few minutes, but she not only got to meet the other Victoria, but was delighted when she agreed to sign her name next to Andrew’s in her autograph book.

    Back on the bus again, Vicki fell asleep and dreamed of soldiers and babies with red balls carrying detour signs which kept her from reaching her sister.
    “Vicki. Wake up, Vicki. We’re in San Jose.”
    It took some time for the words to fully register in Vicki’s slumber filled mind. Yawning, she shifted in her seat and prepared to go back to sleep. But someone pulled her to her feet. “Come on, Vicki, I’m sure your sister will let you sleep once she gets you home, but you can’t sleep here.”
    Forcing her eyes open, Vicki stared up into Mr. Green’s amused eyes. “Did the bus break down?”
    Mr. Green chuckled. “No, but you’ve finally reached San Jose. Don’t you want to get off?”
    San Jose? She was really there? Suddenly all sleep vanished and Vicki was wide awake. “Oh, I didn’t know we had arrived. Where’s my purse, and my sweater and sweatshirt?”
    “They are right here,” Mrs. Green said, holding out the desired items.”
    “Oh, thank you.”
    The bus driver made his way up the aisle. “Come, little lady,” he said. “I’m going to make sure you reach your sister’s care. I don’t want to take you along farther than you wanted to go.”
    The lights of the station were bright, and Vicki blinked. She heard her name called and looked around. “Amber!” Dropping her sweater and sweatshirt, she rushed across the nearly empty room into her sister’s fierce embrace. “I’m here! I’m really here! Did you get my other luggage?” She tipped her head up to see her sister’s face. “It came on ahead of me because it didn’t get on the wrong bus. But it was so exciting!” Her sister’s arms didn’t loosen their hold of her, but Vicki didn’t care. It was good to be with family again.
    A deep voice beside them said, “We’ll pick up your luggage. But it looks like you lost a few things.”
    Vicki looked around. Her laugh bubbled out as she saw her brother-in-law, Richard. “I just couldn’t hang on to everything.” As Amber let go, Vicki hugged Richard before turning around. “I just have to get my things that I dropped.” She darted off before anyone could say a word. When she came back, the bus driver and Mr. and Mrs. Green were talking to her sister and her husband. To Vicki, who was eager to be away from the bus station so she could tell Amber and Richard all the adventures she had experienced on her first bus trip, it felt like hours before the grownups stopped talking, her luggage was retrieved and the three of them were on their way across the dark parking lot to their waiting car.
    Skipping beside her sister, one hand clasped tightly in hers, Vicki said, “It’s a good thing this bus trip was so exciting because I know Mom and Dad will never let me ride on one again.”

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