Friday, October 25, 2019

To Give Hope – Part 1

Good morning, Faithful Friday Fiction Fans,
It's a lovely, cloudy, rainy, chilly morning. I went to sleep last night listening to the light pattering of a gentle rain on the roof. And this morning the rain is still softly falling. It's 43º right now. Fall. Yesterday, since it was a rainy day and I didn't have a lot of pressing things to do, I curled up with a book and enjoyed some reading. It was quite lovely.

Guess what I've been doing this week? Writing! Yep, I'm writing again. I wrote for the first time this month on Tuesday and have written every day since. Of course that's only three days, but it's sure better than none at all! I'm hoping to keep going and get a few other short Christmas stories finished. Don't worry, I'm not starting any new ones. These are all ones that have been started but not finished.

I'm still working on stuff for the two Christmas plays for church. I made a list of all the things I need for props. And I'm starting to ask people if they have them. And I will be sharing the story for one of the plays with you in December. 

Today starts a new story. I was going to wait a week before I started it, but decided to just go ahead and start. It's only 3 weeks long. I hope you enjoy it. The idea for this story came to me when I was listening to a string quartet with my grandpa a couple months ago.

To Give Hope
Part 1

    Clara stared at the blank lines on the sheet of music paper before her. She had to write something! Her dark brown hair had been pulled back from her face several hours before, but wisps and curls had come loose and now framed her face. Frustration rose up in her as she fiddled with the pencil on the table.
    “I’ll try at the piano.”
    Sitting down on the bench, she lifted the lid and touched a few chords.
    “Ugh! Nothing works!” She looked at a framed photo that hung on the wall. “Grandpa, I can’t do it,” she whispered. “I can’t compose something for your quartet.”
    Tears gathered in Clara’s brown eyes, and turning, the girl buried her face in her hands and cried. Once the tears were spent she sat motionless, head still in her hands, and wondered listlessly if she would ever be able to compose music again.
    “Hi, honey!”
    Clara heard her dad’s cheery voice in the other room. He must have just returned from the conservatory where he taught music composition. The very thought brought renewed frustration, and Clara groaned. “His daughter is a failure at the very thing he teaches! Didn’t I learn anything?” She swallowed back another lump in her throat and listened to her mom’s voice.
    “. . . she hasn’t come out to eat lunch, and I haven’t heard any composing going on. I wish you’d go talk with her, John. You understand her better than I do when it comes to music and things like that.”
    Clara knew her mom was right; her dad did understand about music, but she doubted even he’d be able to help her. Nothing could help if she couldn’t compose anymore.
    A light tap sounded on the music room door before it swung silently open. Clara didn’t lift her head.
    “How’s the composing going?” Mr. Stillman asked.
    “It’s not.”
    Sitting down on the piano bench beside his daughter, Mr. Stillman rubbed her back a little. “What’s the problem?”
    With a sigh, Clara dropped her hands and straightened. “I can’t compose. There’s nothing there. It’s all dark, frustrating nothingness! How do you compose when–” She broke off and stared at the carpet.
    “When what?”
    Clara shook her head. “I don’t know. I look at the paper and see nothing. I sit down at the piano, and all I can hear, all I can play, are minor chords that sound terrible.”
    Mr. Stillman sat silently for a moment. “Clara, I want you to forget about music for a minute. What else is bothering you? What has you so tense that you couldn’t even play chopsticks without exhausting yourself?”
    Clara stared at the walls of the music room without really seeing them. They were a light neutral color. On one wall hung a few violins, her favorite viola, and a framed verse from Psalms. Another wall held a bookshelf filled with hymn books, music books, sheet music, and biographies of famous composers. The other two walls were empty expect for the large windows where heavy drapes could shut out the sun’s harsh glare or let in the warming rays. Music stands, a table, a couch and chair, and a variety of instrument cases occupied part of the room.
    “Come on, Clara, what’s bothering you?”
    The words seemed to come of themselves. “Paul and Ashley are splitting up. Emma is struggling with being a single mom with two children. Kale and Isaiah just lost their baby. Ginger seems to have lost all idea of how to communicate and only gives vague answers about the upcoming baby shower for Tiffany, and it’s all driving me nuts! And now Grandpa is counting on this new song that I can’t write.” She propped her elbows on her knees and rested her chin in her hands. “And yes, I’ve tried to put it all out of my mind, Dad, but I can’t.”
    Mr. Stillman rose without a word and crossed the room to the bookshelf. After a quick glance, he pulled a well worn music book down and returned to the piano. He opened the book and set it on the music rack. “Play this song for me.”
    Clara didn’t move. She didn’t want to play a song, but her dad took hold of her shoulders and slid her around until she faced the music. It was a simple piece, one she had learned many years before. Almost automatically her hands found the correct keys and she began playing.
    Her fingers stilled, and Clara sat staring at the music before her.
    “What’s wrong with the song?” Her dad’s voice was calm.
    Clara didn’t answer. She hadn’t paid much attention to what she was playing.
    Crouching down beside the bench, Mr. Stillman tipped his head and looked at her. “Clara, what was wrong?”
    Her answer was a shrug.

Do you play an instrument?
Have you ever tried composing something?
Does everyone else's problems weigh you down sometimes?

Friday, October 18, 2019

He Answered My Prayers – Part 4

Good morning!
It's still dark here right now. There's a faint light in the east, but things are hushed except for one bird twittering in the stillness. It's chilly. Only 46º at the moment, but I think it's supposed to be in the low 70s today.

This week has had it's ups and downs. Something I thought was finished turns out to be not finished. But I did get a few other projects done that have been needing to be finished. I was able to get together with one of my heart sisters for a few hours. That was nice. I now have a violin song to work on for Thanksgiving. A few others at church were going to play and asked if I wanted to join. (We've played several things together.) I also worked on my website and blog posts. 

Oh, the sky is getting really pretty. On the horizon the sky is a rosy orange, and above that it's a faint salmon color before it melts into blue and purple. The trees are dark silhouettes before the color. So pretty!

Here is the final part of this story. I hope you enjoy it.

He Answered My Prayers
Part 4

    Somewhat to her surprise, Lacey found it enjoyable having someone helping her in the kitchen. It kept her mind occupied. Garrett could make his coffee and fry his eggs for his toast in the mornings, but that was the limit of his kitchen activity. Charlie mixed ingredients, washed dishes, sampled cookies, and talked now and then about life, or asked questions about the cookies they were making.
    When the kitchen table and the dining room table were both filled with the five different kinds of cookies, the dishes washed, and the kitchen back to its spick–and–span order, Lacey suddenly felt tired. “Now it’s time to go to bed.”
    Charlie gave a light laugh, glanced at the clock, and kissed his aunt’s cheek. “Going to bed at four-thirty in the morning after an early breakfast of cookies. I think I’m going to enjoy this visit. Goodnight, Aunt Lacey. Thanks for letting me stay up and help.” He turned off the kitchen light.


    When Lacey rose later, she was shocked to find it nearly nine. She never slept that late. Not even if she was sick. Quickly she dressed and made her bed. The house was quiet, but the morning sun shone in the window when she opened her curtains. The rain and clouds were gone.
    “I wonder if Charlie is still sleeping. Garrett is gone off to work, I’m sure, though I do hope he had sense enough to take more than cookies for his lunch! Cookies! How could I have left them out so long? They’ll all dry out.” Rushing from her bedroom, she stopped in the dining room and frowned. The table was empty. Had she just imagined getting up and baking all those cookies? Had she simply dreamed that Charlie had helped her?
    “Good morning, Auntie.” Charlie came up behind her and gave her a gentle hug. “If you’re looking for the cookies, Uncle Garrett and I put them away. We filled the three cookie jars and then found some old empty tins. Don’t worry, I washed and dried them carefully before putting cookies in them. We did eat a few.”
    “Did Garrett take more than cookies for his lunch?”
    The abrupt question seemed to startle Charlie for a moment, but he replied, “Yes, I heated soup up for him and he filled his thermos. Took a couple rolls and some cookies too.”
    “Good.” She walked to the kitchen. “Did you eat breakfast? Something besides cookies?”
    Charlie laughed. “Yes, ma’am. I ate toast and eggs with Uncle Garrett. If you’ll just let me run upstairs and put my Bible away, I’ll come cook an omelette or fry some eggs for you, if you want.”
    Miss Lacey turned her head quickly, only then noticing the Bible her nephew held in his hand. “Go ahead. I usually have toast and oatmeal, but since it is so late . . .” Her voice trailed off.


    “Aunt Lacey,” Charlie stood leaning against the door into the kitchen while his aunt hung a fresh towel and took off her apron. “Won’t you go for a walk with me? The sun is shining and it’s not really cold. Come on, let’s go see what that path is like.” His smile was bright and coaxing.
    Miss Lacey, feeling the need to get out of the house too, gave in quickly.
    Charlie was delighted, and soon the two arrived at the much wondered over path. The hard packed trail wound around through the pine and elm, oak, maple, and walnut trees, past scarlet sumac, a few late black-eyed susans, and other plants Lacey couldn’t name. For a while Charlie chatted about the sights and how much he thought he would enjoy his stay, but when no reply came, he gradually fell silent, and they strolled together for several minutes without a word.
    Seeing a bench up ahead, Miss Lacey walked over and sank down, not caring if it was still damp from the rain. A squirrel chattered from a nearby walnut tree, and a bluejay scolded from an oak. There were no other hikers to be seen or heard. Sunlight filtered down through the leaves of the trees.
    “Do you believe the Bible is true?” Miss Lacey asked suddenly.
    Charlie blinked but answered quickly. “Yes, Aunt Lacey, I know it is.”
    Pulling her light coat a little closer though she wasn’t cold, Lacey remarked softly, “So does Garrett. And Jenny.” She went on as though talking to herself. “I know all the stories. I’ve heard what Jesus did on the cross, but I’ve never believed. I’ve never wanted to believe. I wanted to do things on my own.” Absently she picked up a red and orange leave that had fallen into her lap. “I was going to go to college, get married, and live in the city. I didn’t need a crutch.”
    “Jesus isn’t a crutch, Auntie,” Charlie said softly.
    “No,” Miss Lacey agreed in almost a whisper. “He isn’t a crutch, and religion isn’t just something you do on Sundays. It’s a brother living everyday with his sister, bearing with her and still loving her when she’s moody and grumpy. It’s an old friend who used to scoff about it all telling you that Jesus has forgiven you. It’s a nephew not being ashamed of the Lord before his old aunt and uncle, and–” Tears had begun to trickle down her thin cheeks. “Charlie, I know the story of Jesus, but tell it to me again, because I want to believe.”


    After supper that evening, Miss Lacey sat in an easy chair in the living room and watched the flames in the fireplace. Garrett sat in his favorite rocking chair and toasted his slippers before the fire while Charlie relaxed on the couch.
    “Garrett,” Miss Lacey said at last, breaking the quiet of the room, “I wish you would bring out your Bible and read a bit.”
    The rocking chair stopped moving and Garrett looked at his sister.
    “I really mean it, because–well, because today I let myself believe. I fought against Jesus Christ for years. You know that, Garrett, but God didn’t let me go. He–”
    Garret rose and crossed the room. “He answered my prayers, Lacey,” he whispered in a choked voice as he stooped and kissed her cheek. “He answered them.”

Did this end the way you thought it would?
Did you see the sunrise this morning?
How was your week?

Friday, October 11, 2019

He Answered My Prayers – Part 3

And now we return to our regularly scheduled program.

Good morning!
It's dark this morning. Cloudy and 39º.  We had rain last night and wind. And a bit of hail. Fall is certainly here. It's only supposed to reach the 40s today.

All 7 of my nieces and nephews are here. But right now they are all still sleeping. Maybe because it's darker and chilly. Even Buster who seems to wake up at 6:45 is still sleeping. Yay! Two year olds need sleep. ;)

This week has been busy. The 2nd Christmas Play has been approved, and I gave parts out to almost all the kids. This is going to be an interesting play since, to quote one of the cast, "There's not going to be any grownups!" ;) Nope, just 5th & 6th graders.

I also got a short Christmas story up for pre-order and worked on covers for the 3 Christmas Collection stories. I can't wait to get my proof copies of these books. :) But, as far as writing anything new, that hasn't happened. I keep wanting to, but haven't done it.

Here's the next part of your story. I hope you enjoy it.

He Answered My Prayers
Part 3

    Lacey shrugged and carried her dishes into the kitchen. As she began putting the leftover food away, Charlie cleared off the table and filled the sink with hot, soapy water. With someone helping, Lacey found that the dishes didn’t take long at all.
    “Now what?” And Charlie dried his hands on a towel and looked about the neat kitchen.
    “Go visit with Garret. I’ll get your bed made up.” She wouldn’t listen to his protests or offers to help but waved him away to sit before the fire as she mounted the narrow stairs. It was seldom that she had cause to go upstairs, for her bedroom and Garrett’s were on the ground level.


    It was some time before she returned to the living room to find Garrett and Charlie deep in a game of chess. “Your room’s in shape now.” It was the only comment she made about it. “Are you two ready for pie?”
    “Yes.” The answer was simultaneous from both men.
    “Well, which do you want? There is pumpkin and Dutch apple.”
    Charlie looked up quickly. “Dutch apple? Aunt Lacey, you are a genius! That’s my favorite kind!”
    “Pumpkin for me, Lace,” was Garrett’s answer.
    The slices of pie were large, and Miss Lacey blinked back tears as she picked up the plates. “I’m a silly, old woman,” she muttered to herself. “If a compliment makes me sentimental, then it’s a good thing I don’t get them but once in a blue moon.” But she wasn’t sure it was just the compliment that had her fighting tears.


    Quietness had settled over the house, and the old clock had struck eleven some time before. Lacey had been in bed for several hours, and the house was dark and still. Usually she didn’t have any trouble falling asleep, but that night she tossed and turned. She fluffed her pillow and then flattened it. She pulled the covers close about her and then kicked them off, only to pull them over her again because the room was chilly. Finally she sat up. It was no use trying to sleep; she just couldn’t sleep and she didn’t know why. Well, she guessed it had something to do with the letter from Tammy, but she refused to give that idea more than a passing thought.
    “Maybe Charlie’s coming unsettled me,” she thought, tossing back her blankets and standing up. She shoved her feet into her warm slippers and pulled her bathrobe around her, knotting it firmly about her waist. “If I can’t sleep, I might as well be doing something useful. Humph! I don’t know what’s gotten into me!”
    Leaving her room, she shuffled softly down the hall and into the dining room. The moon had broken through the clouds and sent a beam of light through a crack in the dining room curtains. With a shake of her head, Lacey opened the curtains and gazed for several minutes out into the rain–soaked yard where the moon cast a shimmery glow about everything.
    For some reason the sight caused the older woman to catch her breath and swallow back a lump in her throat. “I’m being ridiculous!” she told herself. “I’m acting like a sentimental fool! I’m becoming as bad as Anne Shirley with all her sentimental twaddle.”
    Turning her back on the enchanting scene outside, Miss Lacey stalked to her kitchen and flipped on the light. Planting her hands on her hips, she stood looking about. “I need to clean out my cabinets, but that would wake the others.” Finally she began pulling items from the cabinets and the pantry shelves before grabbing her apron and tying it quickly about her waist.
    Before long the smell of molasses permeated the kitchen. Sliding the first pan of ginger snaps into the oven, she glanced at the clock. “Goodness gracious!” she muttered. “It’s almost midnight and here I am baking cookies. Humph!”
    More ingredients were pulled from the pantry and fridge, and by the time the last of the ginger snaps had come from the oven to cool on racks, another kind of cookie, batcher’s buttons this time, were waiting to be placed on the sheets and baked.
    “Lacey Redhead, what on earth are you doing?” Garrett’s sleepy voice interrupted her work.
    “What does it look like?” she snapped back. “I’m making cookies.”
    “It’s the middle of the night!”
    Lacey glanced at the clock again before sliding a filled cookie sheet into the oven. “After, actually. It’s morning now. Go back to bed, Garrett.”
    “And leave you up making cookies? Hardly.” And Garrett pulled out a chair and helped himself to a fresh ginger cookie. “Are you all right? You’re not sick, are you?”
    Lacey made no reply except for a short sniff.
    “Making any ranger cookies?”
    “I was going to make them next.”
    Garrett shook his head. “I was just joking, Lace. They can wait.” He yawned widely.
    “Hey,” a new voice interrupted sleepily. “Is this when you two usually get up? I mean, I remember getting up early when I stayed here ten years ago, but–” Charlie’s words were cut off by a gigantic yawn, and he rubbed his hand over his face. “Boy, cookies for breakfast, Aunt Lacey? You really are the best!”
    “Help yourself, Charlie,” Garrett said, motioning to the cookies that were cooling. “And no, we don’t usually get up in the middle of the night. I don’t know if it’s your coming that has set Lacey off into a cookie frenzy at such odd hours, or the rain yesterday, or something else.” He yawned again.
    “Garrett, go back to bed. You have work to do tomorrow.”
    “Can I stay and help, Aunt Lacey?” Charlie’s voice was pleading around the large bite of cookie he had just taken. “I don’t have to work.”
    Lacey shrugged. “There’s another apron behind the door of the closet.”
    Garrett gave a half chuckle. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. Two people up in the middle of the night baking cookies. I’m going back to bed.”
    “Goodnight again, Uncle Garrett. Or should I say good morning?” Charlie’s voice had lost all sign of tiredness. “What can I do?”

Have you had really cold weather yet?
Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night to bake?
Do you get up an do something if you can't sleep?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Five Fall Favorites

We interrupt this program, eh, story, to remind you that the Five Fall Favorites is happening right now on Read Another Page.

And, since it can take a while to get through all 10 blog posts, I decided not to add another one today. (Besides I didn't really have time to write the usual introductions.) So go check out today's books, enter the giveaway, and let your friends know about it. Today is the last day to enter the giveaway.

Next week we will return to the story next Friday.