Monday, February 27, 2017
Title: When the Black Roses Grow
Author: Angela Christina Archer
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: 2 December, 2015
Genre: Historical Romance with Paranormal Elements
Twenty-five men and women were accused.
Nineteen hung to their death on Gallow Hills.
One suffocated under bone-crushing stones.
All believed to possess the power of witchcraft.
In 1692 the fear of witchcraft is spreading around Salem Village. While those who are accused and sentenced face death, everyone else faces the risk of accusations placed upon them.
As Emmalynn Hawthorne, the daughter of a woman hung for witchcraft, places a bouquet of flowers upon her mother’s grave, a circle of black roses sprouts out of thin air. Dark magic, the roses strike fear through her heart when Mary Pruett and the handsome newcomer, James DeKane, spy upon her as they pass along the traveling road. Emmalynn flees and her panic soon turns into terror as another vine of black roses sprouts and grows throughout the inside of her home. Is she a witch? Will she be the next accused?
James DeKane has secrets of his own—ones that could prove deadly for him and anyone he holds dear. At fault for the untimely death of his parents, he must protect his hidden brother and dying sister, all while fearing that the haunting prophecy bestowed upon him at birth will come to pass. Desperate and fighting the monster deep inside of him, he’s searching for the one love who can alter his destiny.
Book Review by Nadaness In Motion
"No one who has been accused has ever been found innocent. No one who has been accused has ever lived to see their family and homes again. No one who has been accused has ever seen anything besides the bars of the prison chamber until they hung on the hill."
When the Black Roses Grow by Angela Archer is a romantic historical fiction novel with a hint of the paranormal set during the time of the Salem witch trials.
From the start, the reader is aware of the injustices plaguing Salem, particularly with the regards to the trials persecuting so-called witches.
I liked how the author kept me wondering if the book has actual paranormal events till the end.
"Suddenly, another stem sprouted before my eyes. In contrast, my limbs grew numb… My mind whirled, lost in a sea of unexplainable reasons and sheer terror, while the green vine curled through the air, and the leaves bounced and waved. Shadows closed in, hunting as they preyed on the pain pulsing through the deepest fears of my mind."
Emmalynn Hawthorne, the protagonist, is a rebellious character, for a woman during at the time. She often speaks before she thinks, although there are many other times in which she does her best not to retort. As a character, Emmalynn is quite relatable. Her struggle with sin versus love and desire is real, strong and down to earth.
"I care not for the judgements of anyone in Salem."
The sheriff later discovers that Emmalynn is both smart and has this rebellious side.
There is also the mysterious character of Mr. Dekane, whom Emmalynn secretly admires, and whom we meet bit by bit but cannot understand his true intentions.
"Contrary to what other men think, Emmalynn, I do not believe that women are the Devil's instruments. I believe they are wonderful creatures that should not be provided for but cared for."
I appreciate Archer's attempted use of archaic language such 'thee', 'thou', 'thine', to accentuate the historical feel of her fiction. However, there were a lot of inconsistencies throughout the novel, which irritated me. There were also many times that I felt the language is modern but with an archaic word or two wedged in here and there that just did not work out for me.
One of the lines that I just couldn't imagine being said at that period – around 1692 – is "Hath a seat." It's modern with an old use for "have".
There were many beautiful lines, quotes and images throughout the novel. Here's a reflection by Emmalynn:
"One can only be strong before strife consumes, breaking the ties that bind them and keep them tucked away from all around. My strength wavered every day, but today felt different. Today, the pain overwhelmed me more with the ever-present conflict of casting the façade that nothing perturbed me. That I lived a happy life in a town I loathed. That I did not wake every morning with the gut-wrenching feeling of loneliness."
At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to two strangers whose skin is very white. The warning: "Beware of the white colourless people for they are the devil and will devour thy soul" is reminiscent of an old wives' tales.
Emmalynn is fairly well-developed character; still, there was some character development towards the end. Despite the significant amount of sobbing, she becomes aware that to look weak, makes the sheriff and the deacons even more vile. "I would not allow them to drag me to my death. I would walk to it."
Another thing I liked in the book is the author's ability to show through speech.
Overall, When the Black Roses Grow would have received a 4.75-to-5-star review from me if it weren't for the attempted use or rather misuse of archaic language. Still, it is highly recommended.
So the overall rating is: 3.5 stars.
Note: I received a free copy of When the Black Roses Grow from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Add the book on Goodreads.
Friday, February 24, 2017
Book: Murder by the Book
Author: Devorah Fox
Author: Devorah Fox
Publisher: Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc.
Publication Date: 27 February, 2017
Publication Date: 27 February, 2017
An ordinary work day at the western Massachusetts Sugarloaf Inn turns more chilling than the winter weather when staff member Candy Wadsen makes a gruesome discovery. Her day goes from bad to worse when Candy realizes that Detective Sergeant Dan Petrowski suspects her of committing the crime.
Book Review by Nadaness In Motion
Murder by the Book by Devorah Fox is a short cozy mystery and exciting novella, and what I hope would be the first in a series.
The main character Candy is an average person, who is seen by her colleagues as naïve and sheltered.
She goes to work one morning to discover her boss dead on his desk. After she calls the police and other work colleagues start filing in, Candy begins to see that her boss was not simply mean but that almost each of her colleagues had a reason to want him dead.
"No sign of forced entry. No sign of a struggle. Seems to me it had to be done by someone who could just walk into his office, pick up the letter opener, and get close enough to him to stab him. That'd be you, wouldn't it?"
Candy has a sarcastic side, that is very realistic especially about the work place. We are told that Candy is always the first one in the office every morning.
"The door to her boss's office was ajar. Sleink himself in early? Incredible, Candy thought."
Her conversations with each of them, and the way each worker in the hotel expects another to have committed the murder, open her eyes to the dark side of her – now – former boss.
I related to Candy immediately after I discovered she was a bookworm with an interest in mystery novels.
"Innocent or guilty, the accused in the mystery novels she read always "swore" that they didn't do it. Candy never found that particularly convincing and yet here she just did the same thing."
The novella is too short for much character development, but at least Candy has had to learn the truth about her boss and all her colleagues, although most truths weren't nice ones. There may also be a possible romance with the new police officer, Petrowski.
Murder by the Book is an interesting book title. I particularly liked how Candy and Petrowski solved the murder.
"The alcohol in Edna's breath told Candy that the woman had more likely spent the morning with Jim Beam than with Earl Grey."
Murder by the Book is a highly recommended novella by Devorah Fox, a first time author for me, but definitely not a last time one.
Overall rating: 4.5 stars
Note: I received a free copy of Murder by the Book via Escape with Lori's Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review as a part of a blog tour for the book.
About the Author
|Devorah Fox, Author of Murder by the Book|
"What if?" Those two words all too easily send Devorah Fox spinning into flights of fancy. Best-selling author of an award-winning literary historical fantasy series and several thrillers, she also penned Mystery Mini Short Reads and contributed short stories to popular fantasy anthologies. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with rescued tabby cats ... and a dragon named Inky.
Connect with Devorah via her Website, Twitter, Facebook page, Amazon author page, Smashwords, Youtube, Google+, Pinterest, Authorgraph and Goodreads.
Purchase the book via AMAZON and Smashwords
FOLLOW THE TOUR
Laura's Interests – REVIEW
The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT
Must Read Faster – REVIEW
Community Bookstop – REVIEW
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
fuonlyknew – REVIEW
Socrates' Book Reviews – REVIEW
Mythical Books – SPOTLIGHT
StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
Cassidy's Bookshelves – REVIEW
Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW
Sapphyria's Book Reviews – REVIEW
The Broke Book Bank – REVIEW
Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
Brooke Blogs – REVIEW
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.
For this new writing prompt, I'm thrilled to be featuring one of my favourite Drama professors, Dr. Sally Hammouda and her artwork. While the piece is untitled, I felt that "Dancing to the Moon" would make a suitable name for the image.
Without further ado,
Your newest prompt awaits!
|Artwork by Sally Hammouda. Please credit artist.|
Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.
· No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
· Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
· Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
· Multiple entries allowed
· It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
· Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Today, I'm excited to be featuring a new author. Meet Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias, author of The Good Dictator (The Birth of an Empire), the first book in a trilogy, originally published in Portuguese.
Gonçalo has answered a few questions and provided excerpts from his novel especially for Nadaness In Motion.
Book: The Good Dictator (The Birth of an Empire)
Author: Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias
Publication date: 25 November 2016
Genres: Action, Adventure, sci-fi, dystopian/utopian
An unidentified object parked on the moon - and no one seems to know where it came from. Gustavo, a middle-aged computer programmer with a comfortable and grey life, decides to make a list of what he would need to survive a hypothetical attack. He becomes obsessed with the list, spends a fortune, robs a drugstore: his own family thinks he is going insane. After the attack, it’s the insane who are well-prepared for a new era in society. First book of a trilogy.
Note: The Good Dictator was originally written and published in Portuguese. The book is currently available in both English and Portuguese.
Exclusive Author Interview with Excerpts
Nadaness In Motion: Tell us about Gustavo, the main character in The Good Dictator
Gonçalo Dias: Gustavo, the main character, is a regular person with a comfortable job, nice house, and kids. However, he is no longer in love with his wife, Marta.
“… he had not loved her for some time. He did not think about getting divorced, Marta was a good mother for his sons, they had both gotten a good home, they even had a comfortable life; he was sure that. [Were it not] for the children, he would have already filed for divorce.”
“He had committed many mistakes in his life, he had failed in many aspects, but he wanted to be a good father, and the best thing for his kids was to be close to their mother, even if this meant he had to spend the life with someone so futile like Marta.”
Gustavo is also a competitive person, even with his friends:
“Everybody turned to Gustavo waiting for a serious answer, without jokes. Everybody knew he was calculating, practical and very logical. Gustavo, in turn, was sometimes rather competitive and knew that if he exposed his theory, they would want to do the same and this could lower his percentages of survival. At this very moment, he hated himself for thinking in such a selfish and competitive way with his old friends and that he probably would not see them again.”
When the object got parked on the moon, he got obsessed with the list:
“The creation of the list had brought some adrenaline to his life, some hope in something new, in some sort of change. And now, there he was in one of his favorite places, was thinking that he had failed, that the poor emotion he had for life had led him to the exaggeration of spending too much money, putting at risk his work place, and even worse, risking his freedom after an unnecessary robbery.
While he was immersed in these thoughts, he saw his father open the old gate of the property and approach him. Gustavo sighed and thought that he would now have to hear his old father give him a moral lesson about life; accept your mistakes and don't fly into paranoia or exaggerations. That was exactly what he did not want right now, he had come to that place to be alone and now he would hear his father in a speech about common sense.”
Nadaness In Motion: What are Gustavo's strongest and weakest traits?
G.D.: Gustavo’s strongest aspect is probably his ability to quickly adapt to any new situation. He is also planner-type of person.
“Gustavo laughed again, he looked down with an amused look and saw the great hate that emanated from The Fatty.
- Do you know why it came down to this? You on your knees and me standing and observing your village in flames? Because you’re the weakest link. You know, you fatty, in the animal world, the ones who adapt the better to the environmental conditions are the ones who survive, and just between you and me, we both have the best example of it. You still think you are the GNR commander and that someone will come from the past to make me pay for my deeds, while I have quickly adapted to the new reality: as soon as the craft landed on The Moon, I made a list of indispensable things, I spent a lot of money in this list, I robbed a drugstore and was considered to be crazy by my family, but when the attack occurred, this crazy one was the one who had adapted the best to the new environment. And, let me tell you: I longed for this attack; I was fed up with living my comfortable and gray life behind a computer.”
Gustavo’s weakness is probably his inability to improvise.
“Gustavo remained quiet, feeling uncomfortable that Ramiro was better prepared than he was. He would've liked to have had a few minutes to think about some excuses, but he remained still, with no excuses, awaiting another wave of accusations and with some fear of what would come.”
Nadaness In Motion: Is The Good Dictator a dystopia or utopia?
G.D.: I think dystopian and utopian at the same time, and depends on the perspective of the reader. When the book was released in the Portuguese market, some said: it’s a post-apocalyptic novel, others a dystopian, while others claimed it was a utopian novel. Gustavo and his friends can be seen as utopian, because they try to build a better society. In one of the instances in the novel, Gustavo says:
“- I don’t do this for the power, Ramiro, I do this for our children, so that the future generation doesn't have to live in an unequal, corrupt and unprincipled society. I don’t want to be in power forever, I’m in favor of creating a law that one will only be able to be in public positions no more than eight years; after which, no privileges or special treatment are reward so that they have to go back to their work. Politics will be seen as a contribution to society and not as an opportunity to get rich and find well-paid state jobs for your friends. I do this so that your daughters and my children only hear about Swiss banks, tax havens and stock exchanges, like Wall Street, as things of a dark and greedy past from a lost society. I won’t allow you and your friends to change my view of the future.”
Add the book on Goodreads.
Purchase the book (in English or Portuguese) via Amazon. The English version is currently FREE for kindle and the Portuguese one is for $0.99 (as at the date of publication of this post).
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Today, I’m very excited to be featuring author M.N. SNow and an excerpt from their novel THE HELPER.
A tale that combines contemporary, speculative fiction with an ambiguous spirituality. The book explores relationships between lovers, friends, families, and what Powers of Good there may be.
John Sloan is an ex-Marine with a life-long secret that is haunting him. He is a conduit to a healing light that draws him to people on the brink of emotional disintegration, people who are then healed and Helped by this light. His blue-collar world is shattered when he finds that his connection to this anonymous portal has vanished. He is alone, seemingly beyond aid, and in desperate need of a Helping himself.
The book tracks the intersecting lives of John and two other Helpers. His lifelong friend Dusty Hakalla is a mixed-blood Ojibwe, with a secret of his own. His power to Help is remarkable, but was once destructively misused. A career Marine, his scarred childhood and momentary abuse of power have left him jaded and bereft. Deena Morrison, also a Helper, is John's girlfriend. Adopted as an infant, she flees John to find her birth-mother, while carrying within herself her own secret. Another character shadows their lives as narrator, Nan'b'oozoo, the trickster god of Ojibwe legend—at times sarcastic and petulant, at others insightful and humorous.
The novel travels from the gritty Lake Superior port-cities and Indian Reservations of northern Wisconsin to the Jewish neighborhoods of North Miami Beach, Florida—from Parris Island to the war zones of Kuwait and Afghanistan.
Excerpt: Section from Prologue
Coyote peered through the bushes and watched the scene unfold. The four legged Trickster knew the humans needed his help. He just didn't know if he wanted to give it. They could certainly use it, but would it be the best for all concerned? And, would helping them provide him with the most satisfaction? He would just have to watch and wait, as they would. Helping, hurting, hot and cold, part god, part animal. The Trickster.
The Ojibwe, or Chippewa, of northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada didn't have a Trickster that walked on all fours. Nope, theirs stood upright on two legs. Part god, part human. Many of the tribe thought this a better figure, more appropriate given the Trickster's nature. Especially the human part. Prone to fits of anger, jealousy and resentment. Able to alter events in a way that only a god could, but given to episodes of what can only be described as Trickster-ness. That could only be described as, well, human.
His name is Nana'b'oozoo. A child of the heavens and of the earth, growing up parent-less.
Trickster tells his tale…
The first time John Sloan Helped someone was in 1971. He was four years old. He already had a sense that he was different but was too young to know anything more.
John’s mother Roberta had dragged him, along with his five-year-old brother James, to James's kindergarten class. Roberta was always dragging extra kids along—always a bit behind, as is the case with mothers of children who have husbands who earn their wages over the road. Darn good wages both Roberta and her husband Hugo would agree, but nonetheless things like kindergarten fell upon Roberta's shoulders much more squarely than Hugo's. At that time, they numbered five children, from ages two to nine, with one more to come in another year or so.
Tall Roberta, five-feet, seven-inches of dark flowing hair, red lipstick, and flashing brown eyes, lugging John along with James to school on that gray, northern Wisconsin, December day. They were late for the four-hour, afternoon class and Roberta went over to Mrs. Hinkley, James's teacher, to explain how Theresa, the nine year old, had spilled Campbell’s tomato soup on Tracey the two year old and a chain of events had started. Theresa was home sick from school, and should have been in bed, but she wanted to help her mom and it had all gotten out of control so very quickly, as Mrs. Hinkley knew so well. She had twenty-six little potential soup spillers that could quickly bring schedules to a halt.
While Roberta was laughingly commiserating with Mrs. Hinkley, John had wandered over to the brightly decorated Christmas tree that a few of the other children were admiring. He stood back a bit from the others and he smiled. And he felt it. What he was to come to feel quite often during his life. His "extra-ness", his "special-ness," stood up a bit inside of him and said, "watch and wait." Goose bumps broke out on John's arms and back. So John did as he was told. He watched and waited... and he glowed.
Three little girls and one little boy were carefully stepping around the twinkling Christmas tree. They were playing a guessing game. They were guessing which of their classmates had brought in which decorations. They would point and touch an ornament and say, "oh, that's from Terry Archambault. And that star is from Ruby Cerdich."
One of the girls was being extra careful. She had straight, jet black hair that spilled all the way down to her lower back and a smile that was all the more beautiful for it's missing front teeth. Her name was Lorraine, but Lorraine wasn't smiling much these days. No, life was not a big barrel of grinning monkeys for little Lainie as of late. Lorraine, or Lainie as her dad used to call her, had a secret. And she couldn't tell anybody about that secret. Nope, she couldn't tell a soul, and if she could have put it into words she would have said that the secret was killing her.
Lainie had brought in a beautiful stained glass angel that hung from a silver string. Lainie's mother had made that angel for last year's Christmas tree. That turned out to be the last piece of stained glass that Lainie's mother Evelyn was ever to make. Evelyn was diagnosed by the middle of January and had lasted until spring. This was Lainie's first Christmas without her mother, and Lainie shouldn't have brought the stained glass decoration to class. It belonged in the basement. Lainie's father Douglas had been very firm about that. Lainie was not to touch any of her mother's things. They stayed in the basement! The very back of the basement. Crouched, dusty, hidden.
Douglas had been so devastated by Evelyn's death that he had taken everything connected with her, boxed it up and trundled it all down to the basement where it was now stacked in the darkest recesses of the musty, dimly lit cellar. Every article of clothing, every brush and comb, every picture that included Evelyn was grimly boxed up and taped shut. Especially the pictures. Douglas had sent Lainie to her aunt Agnes's house one Sunday shortly after the funeral and finished the chore in an afternoon. Anything that included death's hollow scent was now shut away down-cellar. These boxes included all of the stained glass pieces that Evelyn had so lovingly crafted. And the boxes were not to be touched or spoken of. Lainie's father was very clear on that fact. He had sat Lainie down that Sunday evening and told her not to touch the boxes and not to speak of the boxes.
"Mommy is dead", her dad had choked out. Lainie could still see her father's empty eyes staring out the window and hear his haunted voice, so unlike the voice she knew, tell her in no uncertain terms that "she wasn't to touch anything in the back of the cellar. Ever!" That was the last time Lainie and her father had spoken of her mother. Her dad had changed.
From that point on her dad had started fading away. Not only was Lainie losing memories of her mother, but it also seemed that her father was disappearing, bit by bit and day by day, right before her eyes. What did she do wrong, she thought? Why did God do this? I miss my mommy and why can't I crawl up into my daddy's lap anymore? Lainie thought that she might be disappearing too, and this really scared her. When she held out her arm and looked at her hand she could still see her fingers but she wasn't sure that they weren't fading a bit. She would stand in front of the full length mirror on the back of her bedroom door and stare at herself and sometimes see that she was not all there. No, she was not all there, at all. She thought that she might be turning into a ghost and that scared her so badly that one day she almost peed in her pants. Frozen white and swaying in front of the mirror she had seen nothing. Lainie didn't look in that mirror anymore, but she remembered.
This was the secret that Lainie carried hidden inside her that day in the classroom. This and more. Lainie had snuck down-cellar, found the boxes that contained her mother's stained glass pieces and found the angel. Her mom had made it 'specially for her and she just had to bring it to class for the tree. She had to bring it or she would disappear completely and no one would ever be able to see her again. She would still be alive and walking around, but she knew that no one would be able to see her.
As Lainie and the other children circled the tree looking at the pretty ornaments, “ormaments” Jimmy Tong called them, John watched. He felt the something swell up and glow inside of himself. He intuitively knew that he was there to Help, whatever that meant. He didn't know who he was there to Help, but he understood that something was coming on none the less. Lainie caught his eye, and in spite of the fact that she looked so sad, he felt good. No, not just good, or even great. John felt perfect.
Lainie spied her mom's angel hanging from the branch where she had placed it with Mrs. Hinkley's help. She stood still and looked at it, mesmerized by the light dancing out from the different colored pieces of glass inside of it. The light seemed to dance out to her and twirl around her. The shards of light that were coming out of the angel's eyes shot out and stopped right in front of Lainie's face and seemed to be looking at her. The other kids had moved on to the other side of the tree and Lainie was alone, frozen in her spot, surrounded by light from the stained glass angel. Lainie was petrified. She didn't think this was any angel anymore. Gosh no. She saw her mom's eyes and maybe something darker and horrible behind that. Bad eyes.
John watched all of this, and saw and felt it too. He now knew that Lainie was falling. She was falling into a dark pit in horrified slow motion. John was only four years old and didn't know this in words, but he knew it just the same. He saw it in pictures that appeared in his mind. In spite of it all he felt perfect. He felt a power plant swell through him, humming away and powering up.
John watched as the hypnotized Lainie swayed and started inching toward the tree. Lainie wanted to touch the angel. She was being drawn to the angel against her will. Her arm was outstretched and her pointed finger was moving toward the angel to touch it. It was right at this time that the children on the other side of the tree started goosing each other and when Jimmy Tong started tickling Rosemary Banks, Rosemary let out a shriek. A loud shriek. A fingernails down the blackboard shriek that shatters glass, and causes fillings to vibrate, kind of shriek. This shriek caused Lainie's feet to get tangled up and she tripped in her trance-like walk toward her mother's shining angel. The trip was turning into a fall as Lainie stretched out both hands toward the tree, toward the angel. One hand grabbed a branch and stopped Lainie's slow motion fall. But Lainie's other hand, her offending hand, had grabbed her mother's angel. Horrified, Lainie looked and saw that she was squeezing the angel with her other hand. She was squeezing it so hard that she was going to break it, and so because this was her mother's angel, Lainie's only link to her lost mom, she let go of it.
Things slowed down and John was able to see through Lainie's eyes. The stained glass angel came loose from the tree and was starting its fall to the floor. John was helpless to stop its flight and knew that this wasn't his job to do. John and Lainie watched as the twirling angel head-over-heeled its way to the brown tile floor. Just before its slow-motion descent reached the floor it was facing up and there were beams of colored light shooting out of its angel eyes looking directly into Lainie's. Nothing had stopped, the angel didn't hover and look into Lainie's eyes, but there was one split second, one nano-second, one moment where its eyes glowed beseechingly into Lainie's eyes. "Help," they said. And then the angel hit the tile floor and shattered.
A kindergarten classroom has a certain level of noise to it. A buzzing murmur at the best of times, much louder at other times, but breaking glass has a tendency to get everyone's attention even if they are preoccupied five-year-olds. Then, quickly as you can say "Jimmy Tong said Patricia Barnes was full of crap", the room was silent. All eyes intuitively sought out Lainie, and as quickly as that, the buzz returned. It returned for all except Lainie. Inside Lainie all was silent. Lainie had shattered too.
Mrs. Hinkley was quick to rush to Lainie's side, somehow knowing that it wasn't Lainie's fault but also not knowing how important the angel had been to Lainie. John's mom Roberta also came quickly over and helped get Lainie seated in one of those small kid's chairs that we wonder how we ever fit in, and helped Mrs. Hinkley start the process of cleaning up the shattered stained glass pieces.
John found himself sitting in the chair next to Lainie. He saw her big brown eyes fill with tears and knew that she had lost. Not that she was lost, suggesting a situation from which one could be found. No, no, no. Lainie was only five years old and she had lost. Never to win again. Shit, never to lose again. Lainie was five years old, it was Christmas, her mother had died, her father was disappearing, and she had broken her mother's last present to her, that she wasn't supposed to touch. Ever! Lainie had lost. It was OVER and John knew it. Lainie had reached a pivot point and been catapulted in a direction from which there was no return. Five years old and already over. And if you think it doesn't happen, think again.
John sat in the chair next to Lainie and John's newly realized extra-ness sat down in it with him. He was only four years old, not five like Lainie which is huge to kids, but he knew what to do. He took his left hand and grabbed Lainie's right hand and said, "Hi Lainie. My name is John." He hadn't known what to say until that moment, hadn't known to clasp her hand until that instant, and yet that is what he did. That is when John felt it happen. In an amount of time that knew no time, John had the whole story—Cancer, death, a disappearing father, her fading mirror image, and now this. This is when the "little bit of extra", that was really a whole lot, did what it did.
Lainie looked into John's green eyes and it happened. John felt the flow pour out of him. A rushing, gushing, flow of good and of light and of Perfect that splashed back and forth over them. It felt like pure love and a lot more. It felt like crawling in bed with his mother and father times nine gajillion and John didn't even know his multiplication tables yet. Shoot he was still learning his adds.
No other words were spoken. John held Lainie's hand while Mrs. Hinkley and Roberta finished the sweeping up and the rest of the children got back to the business of being, well, children.
As John grew older there were often more words spoken and more time involved but when he was young the Helping rarely involved more than a greeting and two names. His and theirs. John realized he wasn't really doing anything. There just seemed to be a pipeline that poured out of him. It was good, and it washed, and it turned losers into winners. Or more accurately the Lost into the Found.
And Lainie knew. She knew that she was washed. And clean and loved and they both accepted in that instant that Lainie would not remember much of that instant and John would. That's just how it worked. Lainie had been Helped, with a capitol H, and for the first time, John Sloan was a Helper. John felt warm and good and older and perfect. He somehow grasped that no one would ever realize what had just happened. He also knew that because of this Helping, Lainie would go home and talk with her father and he would cry and she would cry, and that Lainie's dad would stop disappearing and Lainie could look in a mirror again, and that they would go on together as father and daughter.
It was good. That had been a long time ago, thirty-plus years, but John could still remember how very good it had been from that very first time on. Yes, being a Helper was good. The ability to Help was good. And now it was gone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
M. N. SNow's bio includes years as a public radio host and anchor, primarily in the south Florida market, but also for Wisconsin Public Radio. M. N. has had various short stories published and was a contributing writer for Reader Weekly, in Duluth, MN. M. N. is also a published cartoonist and a former Marine Corps NCO. After spending some years at home in the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN/Superior, WI, the author is currently back living in Key West, FL.