New Beginnings

The hectic morning was full of firsts. Clara’s new job and Lucy’s new school; both began that day. Lucy gathered her backpack, and Clara grabbed her purse, keys and their jackets and whisked the two of them out the motel room door and headed toward Frank and Ida’s home in the back of the motel’s office.

The night had been draped in a deep fog, leaving the morning sparkling with ice crystals that hung in the air like shards of glass, and the trees were coated in a fur of frost. Walking with quick yet tiny baby steps to avoid slipping on the skim of ice left behind, they rushed through the kitchen door greeted by the smells Ida’s home cooked breakfast.

Pulling the dish towel draped off of her shoulder Ida wiped her hands, and instructed, “Come in! Come in! Lucy there’s a glass of cold milk waitin’ at the table for ya and Clara there’s fresh coffee in the pot.” and turned back to the stove, where a skillet of scrambled eggs cooked. She scraped and turned the eggs and monitored another pan where bacon sizzled and popped.

Lucy dropped her backpack at the door and skipped to the table, sat down and drank deep from the glass, then emerged with a grin and a white line of milk on her top lip. Clara set her bag down alongside Lucy’s and hung their coats on the hooks behind the door. She pulled a heavy McCoy brown stoneware mug off the shelf and poured her coffee, inhaling the deep rich smell of the fresh strong brew. “Thanks Ida. Boy, do I need this today. It’s so cold out there. Did you see all the frost in the trees? It’s just stunning!”

Ida’s face turned and with an approving, warm smile. “I did…oh my! You look so pretty this morning! You look all ready for your first day at the antique store with Mr. Atherton. Frank and I are so proud of you sweetie.” Clara returned the smile, thankful for the blessings Frank and Ida were to her and Lucy. In their short time in Spencer, they had made them feel like family, a belonging she’d never had in her life.

“Thanks Ida. I am ready. I’m really starting to feel like I’m getting things together. It’s the beginning of something better for Lucy and me.
”Can I help you with anything? Set the dishes? Get the food to the table?”

“Yes dear. The plates are on the table just need to be put in place. Here. Take the bacon and set it down since you’re headin’ that way.”

With her head tipped back she hollered, “Frank! Breakfast’s ready!”

Frank wobbled into the kitchen, and each took a place at the table. Ida bowed her head, raised her right hand to her forehead and began “In the name of the Father (paused briefly for the others to catch up) and the Son and the Holy Spirit”, and all followed, blessing themselves.

Then together, “Bless us oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, Amen” and while crossing themselves again, a hasty “FatherSonHolySpirit.”

Dishes of food were passed around with pleasant chatter between the adults and giggles from Lucy when Frank asked her if she’d like some brussels sprouts with her eggs or teased her about boys.

Clara tried to help with dishes and Ida gently scooted her away.

“Honey, put that down. I’ll take care of the dishes. Open that fridge and grab those lunches I made for both you girls.”

“Ida, thank you so much. That’s such a big help.

Lucy, come grab your lunch and put it in your backpack.

We’ve got to get outta here so I have time to drop you off at school and make it to work on time. I’m so excited! Are you excite Button?”

Lucy slid off her chair into a leap, clapped her hands and declared, “Yes! I am very excited Mommy! Let’s go let’s go!”

Beaming at her daughter she leaned in to Ida and muttered with a little laugh, “I guess she’s ready.”

Bags packed, and coats donned, Lucy bounced first to Ida and pecked her cheek, then to Frank, jumped into his arms, and snuggled into a hug, then ran back to the door with her mother and waved, “Bye Ida, bye Frank.”

Clara waved as she closed the door. They walked to the front of the building where the car was parked. With her head down listening intently to Lucy, she turned the corner and nearly collided with Shane.

”Shane!”
Lucy slid around to hide behind Clara ”Mommy?”

He didn’t expect this abrupt encounter and stammered,  “Clara….I….I….”

“Shane, I don’t have time for this. I’ve got things to do.” She skirted around him with an arm behind her guiding her daughter along. “Lucy, get in the car.” Without taking her eyes off of him, she moved around to the drivers side, got in. After starting the car she quickly backed out, then drove away.

With a broad smile, and a brightness in her voice that covered her anxiety and fear she said, “Let’s get you to school Luce.”

As soon as Lucy was out of the car, she grabbed her cell and called The Lakeshore to warn Frank and Ida that Shane was in town. Frank assured her he had not come inside and  checked outside and told Clara he was gone.

She arrived at Bygone Antiques still rattled by Shane’s appearance. She jangled through the noisy front door, and when Nigel looked up he observed her wide-eyed, unnerved demeanor and quickly glided to the door to assist her.

“My dear, are you quite all right? You look rather unnerved.”

“I’ll be fine Mr. Atherton. Just saw someone I didn’t expect to see.”

“Do you need to sit down with a cup of tea?”

With a wan smile, she assured, “I think I just need to get to work.”

He ushered her into the back where a bank of antique school gym lockers served as a place to store her belongings and hang her coat.

“If I can store my lunch in your fridge, I’m ready to get started.”

 

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Last time with ”Faith from Ruin” ~ Icy Persistence

Todays installment of “Faith from Ruin” is inspired by the photo prompt in The Darkroom at Our Write Side.

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Icy Persistence

Shane’s persistence paid off. That and having her cell phone moved to his account when they got married. He’d sincerely meant it when he suggested they would save money by consolidating and Clara readily agreed.

After she moved in, he set up the wifi password on her iPad, laptop and phone and while he had her phone, he installed a phone tracker app, and he found a slick way to hide the icon so she was completely unaware. He hated the way other guys looked at her in “their bar”, The Shooting Star. She always smiled back. He told himself he was keeping her safe.

He never thought she’d run away. His own phone lay on the seat beside him with an address in Spencer Iowa where her phone had been for the past month. When he found she’d left, he spent a few days with emotions swinging ferociously from sadness and grief to anger and violence. He’d tell himself to let her go, it’s what she wanted. Then after a few drinks there was the red anger boiled to the surface. He knew she had replaced him and wanted to find her. Awakened the next morning with a hangover the sadness would return, the last, setting a resolve to find her and fix this.

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The Camero idled as he sat in the convenience store parking lot across from The Lakeshore Motel. He keyed the ignition off, opened the door and stepped out. Hands buried in his Levis his breath puffed like frosted clouds. His foot steps echoed on the crusted snow, and he walked with his head bowed low as he walked toward the Motel.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

My friend Lauren posted a writing prompt on her Facebook page,
“Footsteps echo on the ice crusted snow
He walks with his head bowed low…”

This post is where those words took me. A new post for Faith from Ruin. Shane has found Clara. What do you suppose he means by resolving to fix this? Hmmmm…. and a little ditty from The Police which is a little creeptastically appropriate for this post.

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.

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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

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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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Misplaced Hope

Shane plugged the address into his Samsung and tossed it onto the Camaro’s leather bucket seat. Calling WesLea’s was a good idea. He knew she’d give Clara up. She was weak and  had a soft spot for him. Of course Clara would eventually reach out to family, and she did.

He’d persuade her, bring her back with  flowers, candy, promises, whatever the hell she wanted. He still thought they were just two fools in love.

He muttered,  “God, I miss the honky tonks. Milk shakes at Dairy Queen, and 7-Eleven’s Doritos.”

580hp roared onto the highway,

“I must be crazy.”

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Last time with  ”Faith from Ruin”  ~ All Right

A new installment written with the 100 Word Song prompt at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. The song this week is (Nothing but) Flowers by The Talking Heads. Lots of material to work with in this song.

This installment finds Clara’s sister WesLea is creating issues for Clara consorting with Shane.

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(Nothing but) Flowers Talking Heads

 

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