Enchanted

The old glass door scraped as Clara pushed hard to enter Bygone Antiquities. Three old service hand bells jingled and clamored like small children, trying to outdo one another. She emerged into a fairytale wonderland,  stopped to turn this way, then that awestruck by the space the owner had created. In front of her stood a hexagon counter built from old barn doors and stain glassed windows lit from behind. The space was elevated and two steps above the showroom and was lit by a heavenly view of twinkling, sparkly chandeliers hung overhead.

chandelier

A thin man, smartly dressed in tailored trousers, dress shirt and orange cashmere vest and a bold orange and lime green, paisley bowtie walked down two steps, and extended his hand and in a crisp English accent greeted her.

“Welcome to Bygone Antiquities! To where can I guide you?”

Clara had preconditioned ideas about antique stores appearances, and this magical place and dapper gentleman left her pleasantly unnerved and a little off balance. She blinked twice and fluttered her head,

“Uh, nowhere, I mean, um, I called earlier, about a job? I’m Clara Pit…err, Clara Rosner.”

She’d decided to use Rosner rather than her married name Pittman. The divorce was inevitable and the name shift felt right.

His smile brightened, he reached out and grasped her hand in both of his,

“Clara Rosner, I’m pleased to meet you.”Hand released, he continued, “Come, let’s sit, have some tea and discuss employment,” and he gently guided her toward the counter.

She rose two steps to see a small organized kingdom separated into distinct realms; business – filing, register and phone; comfort – overstuffed chair, side table and small bookshelf, and necessity – bistro table, chairs, doorless cabinet that held a microwave and refrigerator, and electric kettle on top along with assorted mugs.

“Please, make yourself comfortable Clara Rosner. Sugar or cream in your tea?”

His mellifluous voice furthered the enchantment.

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I have been lamenting and beating myself up for ages because I’ve been uninspired, unwilling, unmotivated to write. When I posted a pitty party on Facebook a blogger friend SAM at My Write Side reminded me she had prompts. It took me a couple of weeks to get a twitch while reading a book to grab one. Part of Master Class, which she hosts on her blog is a weekly word challenge. The current challenge, Master Class Session 4 is the word “Precondition(s/ed) and the word limit is 320 words. Plenty to stretch out my writers brain and give some more life to my story “Faith from Ruin”. I also give you “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay because the lights I see in Bygone Antiquities look like twinkling stars.

Thanks for the nudge SAM.

To catch up on the story from the beginning you can go HERE

To pick up where I left off, last time with ”Faith from Ruin” ~ Divin’ In

Master Class -Badge

Divin’ In

BEEP BEEP BEEP

Clara clawed at the night stand, groping for her phone and swiped the screen to stop the noise. “God I hate alarms.”

She looked across the room at the other bed where a lump with a spray of messy blonde spilled across a pillow and wondered at her daughter’s ability to sleep through the blaring alarm.

“Luce. Time to rise and shine.”

An arm poked out, then two and then a muffled “whump” as she flopped the covers off.

Her voice wispy and scratchy from sleep she muttered, “Morning Mommy.”

“Hop to it kiddo. You’re going to Ida and Frank today. Mommy’s got to get an early start today if she’s going to find a job.”

~*~

After a good breakfast a cup of strong coffee and her stainless travel mug filled with more, Clara headed out. Ida and Frank put up a fuss about looking for work like she knew they would. It was time to really move on. Idling felt too much like freeloading and that wasn’t her style. She had decided Spencer was a good place to settle down with Lucy. It was far enough from Shane and her family and they could start clean.

She gleaned the want ads in the local paper and online while she sipped coffee and found a handful of places where she could apply. The Library in Gilbert, the town 10 miles North, had a full time position open, a couple of café’s in Spencer and Bygone Antiquities, the vast antique store on the edge of town.

She started at the library where she had a chance for more hours and benefits. Unfortunately, they wanted experience and a library science degree. She left applications at The Coffee Cup Diner and Chic Eats, unsure either would work because the unpredictable shifts could cause problems.

Discouraged, she drove through town and worried she might not find something as soon as she hoped. Pulling into the parking lot, she shut the car off. The effects of her lousy sleep washed over her in a wave of weariness. With eyes closed, she gripped the steering wheel and took deep breaths. When she opened her eyes the sun dazzle the blue Swarovski beads of her rosary that dangled from the mirror and she heard Mother Elizabeth’s strong, sure voice, “ Mind your prayer life sisters. ‘Go oft to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.’ Remember Emerson’s words. Prayer pulls the weeds so you can clearly see the path to God.”

The memory sparked a smile. Grabbing her phone and purse, she opened the car door and told herself, “This is gonna be the one. Come on Clara, take a leap of faith. OK. I’m divin’ in.”

~*~

Last time with ”Faith from Ruin” ~ Tomorrow

I’m back with Write on Edge for their prompt. Clara is finding her feet and trying to move forward. A little extra inspiration from Steven Curtis Chapman and his song “Dive”. Write on Edge offered this as inspiration:

Use the quote as an opening/closing line, draw inspiration from a single word within it….

“Go oft to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tomorrow

The familiar comfort of Frank’s faux-leather recliner rocked and lulled while the TV blathered through the drowsy fog. Endless late hours finally caught up to her. Stress, worry and insomnia conspired against a good night of sleep. She pushed info on the remote; 12:37 a.m. Clara shut the TV and lights off and stumbled to the bathroom for a hot soak, and a little bit of “The Girl….” to soothe her into sleep.

She was running on empty. Trying not to confuse rearviews with sunrises.

Sinking into the steamy heat, head back, eyes closed, hand and kindle dangled.

“Tomorrow. Tomorrow.”

~*~

Last time with ”Faith from Ruin”  ~ Misplaced Hope

One year ago I began this story with a song, “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne. This week 100 Word Song had the same song chosen as a prompt. Maybe this is chapter Two. I still love this song and Jackson Browne. I close my eyes and feel 16 again.

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All Right

The screen door hit the jam with a loud SMACK as Clara and Ida entered the kitchen. Two little arms,  a pair of bright blue eyes, both open wide, raced into the room.

Lucy’s gleeful “Mommy, mommy!” greeted her mother, and her full speed hug nearly knocked her over.

Clara laughed at the exaggerated emotions and bent down to returned the hug in earnest. “Love you lollipop.”

Lucy’s expression turned sweet and tender as she smoothed hair from her mother’s face. “Love you lemon drop.” Then mischief grew in her eyes. She giggled and kissed Clara SMACK on the mouth.

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Last time with  ”Faith from Ruin”  ~ Turning the Corner

 

I’m writing with Velvet Verbosity this time. She gives us 100 words to use as we please as long as we use her word in the post. This weeks word is “Smack”. Do I get extra credit for using it twice? Added a little music with a great song by Gin Blossoms “As Long as it Matters”. Great lyrics to go with Clara’s new found hope.

100 Word Challenge #372

100 Word Challenge #372

Turning the Corner

”Faith from Ruin” last time ~ Reasons

” Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.’ ” Ida’s softly etched face smiled at Frank then Clara as she explained.

“I found that quote years ago. Do you know Tolkien? Oh of course you do. Well he wrote more than a story about a Hobbit and a merry band of misfits lookin’ for a ring. His poetry is magical. At a place in my life this quote brought me much comfort and today I’m giving it to you.”

Clara’s eyes pooled and spilled over as a deep sob escaped. Her lowered head swayed while she spoke.

“The last few months in Allentown were hell. No one knew what Shane was like. They all loved him. I didn’t have support from my family or friends. No one believed me!”

Ida crossed the room, retrieve  tissues from the window sill, handed them to Clara while Frank squeezed her hand.

“When I found you guys, it was, just too good to be true. I’m not sure how I deserve the goodness you’ve given me . . . us. We . . . I don’t know how we will ever repay you. It’s almost too much.”

Her head dropped onto crossed armed and she wept.

Ida stood, put her arm across Clara’s back, and urged her to stand.

“Frank, you keep little Lucy entertained for a bit. Dear, let’s get some fresh air.”

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

The screen door slapped the door jam as they walked away from the back of the  motel. Ida led her toward the greenness of the awakening farm fields where a furrowed double track country road began. There was a sharp edge to the air and the vividness of a thunderstorm brewing in the west.

“Honey, your road began when you left Allentown. Brand new, your future in front of you. Drove blindly in a direction and God’s hand led you here. To us.”

She swept Clara’s hand into both of hers and continued.

“You are our gift too. We missed out on kids and grandkids. It wasn’t in God’s plan.”

The brittle old straw rustled and swished beneath their feet and a brief silence held them.

“But we always had each other and I’ve never regretted the road I chose.”

Ida stopped and faced Clara. With heartfelt sincerity she pressed on.

“We have a chance to make a difference Clara and in this short time we’ve grown to love you and little Lucy. We want to help however we can even if it’s just a little room, babysitting and dinner every night while you get on your feet.”

A smile teased the corner of Clara’s mouth and with both hands she scrubbed away the tears. She turned and looked down the long  Iowa country road that disappeared in the distance.

“Ida, I promise, I won’t take advantage. I accept your gift. Lucy and I have found a new family. I’m ready to walk through that secret gate.”

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Sometimes you have to slap your muse around and kick her in the shins to get things moving. This long spell of missing inspiration had to come to an end and sometimes you just need to do it. Start writing.

I found the wonderful Tolkien quote along with the photograph at Write On Edge. Their prompt gave me 500 words to work with and I pried out a new post for Faith from Ruin.

I liked the lyrics in Metallica’s song “Nothing Else Matters” but decided to find a good cover. This one by Lissie fit the bill perfect! The song sung by a woman seemed appropriate, and honestly? She kills it! Might like it better than the original.

Writing Prompt: 2014, Week 12

Reasons

”Faith from Ruin” last time ~ Hope Disappeared

Ida and Frank “kidnapped” Lucy for a trip to the grocery store. Frank, with a wink and sly grin imparted the advice, “stick close kid. Ol’ Frank’ll take care of yuh.”

Clara settled in the kitchen at the worn farm table still burdened by her overnight brooding. She clenched her eyes tight and shook her head vigorously, determined to brush off her trip down a slippery, jagged memory lane. With hands wrapped around a steamy mug of coffee sweetened with Ida’s homemade pumpkin spice creamer, she sipped and breathed in the sweet aroma and decided it was time to move on.

Her mind began to clear, and hunger edged in. She got up and  cut thick  slices of Ida’s homemade bread to toast and slather  with butter and honey. She crunched through the sweet buttery treat, giggling as the honey dripped down her hands and on her chin.

Lucy burst through the door chattering away as Frank and Ida bustled in, arms laden with bags of food. They visited comfortably as the pantry and fridge were reloaded. When they were done, Lucy was sent to the Lerner’s living room with a new pack of crayons, pencils and coloring books she and Frank had “snuck” into the shopping cart. A fresh pot of coffee brewed and mugs filled, the adults sat around the table.

Clara looked into her mug and began, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I want to be completely honest with you. You guys deserve that, especially since you’ve treated Lucy and I like family.”

Swallowing hard, she took a deep breath and continued. “Lucy and I are running, well not really running, um, we’re finding a new place. Lucy needs happiness and stability. So do I. The black eye was from my husband. I warned him but, um. God! He drinks too much and he’s an abusive ass!”

Clara quickly continued, cutting Ida off as she tried to say something. “Shane, my husband, is not Lucy’s dad, so we don’t have that and I haven’t done anything illegal. I just loaded us up, and, left. I didn’t have a place, just a distance; far enough he wouldn’t want to come after me. I’m so hurt and I have scars on my heart and I’m not sure I can learn to love again.”

Ida reached over gently grasped Clara’s hand, and smiled. “Honey, we could see clear as day you needed refuge. I told you the first night, stay as long as you need and don’t worry ’bout the money. There’s no guaranty in life and Lord knows we can’t always count on those we love.”

Clara looked at Frank who had grabbed hold of her other hand and pulled it toward him. He thought carefully while he slowly spoke. “Clara, love’s like a rock. Sometimes smooth. Sometimes rough. We surrender to it. We learn when it knocks us around so we decide to throw that rock away, and these hazards of love never more will trouble us.”

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This week at Write at the Merge, Write on Edge’s writing prompt, two quotes were give as inspiration. I chose  the quote in the image below and which is featured in the piece in bold itallics. I was able to work it into the much needed conversation between Clara and the Lerner’s. The P!nk/Nate Reuss song also had lyrics and a theme that fit where Clara is emotionally.

Hope Disappeared

”Faith from Ruin” last time ~ Bittersweet

When Clara met Shane, he was little off track. The year off college was meant to refocus his goals, but he never went back. She met him in a bar where he was a regular. He had a table in the back and with a tip of his head, the bartender delivered her a copy of her Chardonnay with a wet napkin and a nod toward Shane’s table.  His allure was like magic. She easily coasted into him. His embrace plunged them downward.

Hope kept her there until all she wanted to do was disappear.

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Above and Below

Above and Below

Flexing my writers muscles,I’m headed back to various prompts and 100 Word Song is one of my favorites.  Sharing a love of music with the creator, Sir Lance makes it a natural choice for me. I got all confused and originally clicked on the wrong post where he wrote with the song “Welcome to the Boomtown”. It is one of the best one hit wonders. Ever. Such a shame too because it was worthy of so much more from this duo. So I wrote to that song. Then I clicked over and saw my error. Found the REAL 100 Word Song choice was “Above & Below” by Bravery, which I found I really like lyrically and musically. With a little work I was able to rework this piece and include it into the story. So you get a twofer!

Boomtown fit Shane well with his drinking, abusive yet charismatic guy who pulled Clara into his orbit. Above and Below fit Clara for the last line.