Today, I will be sharing a different sort of fiction writing. Thanks for dropping by to read a story I’ve written.
A bit of background: I’m beginning the revision process on my next project. It’s a collection of interrelated short stories.
Although I’m still working on a title for the collection, here’s a rough draft of the blurb:
Operation Victoria was her final wish.
Mercedes Bloom’s deathbed promise to Grandma threatens her secrets. The trip they planned aims to reconcile her aunt and mother. How can a girl with no plan and a useless degree keep her promise to Grandma?
She has nothing to lose.
Disillusioned after her divorce and the death of her mother, Lacey Bloom avoids her sister until doing so threatens to disappoint her daughter. Maybe a magical trip through a rose garden will heal her broken heart.
The truth can set her free.
Krista Feely assumes she can’t land her dream job because she selfishly pursued her degree while her mother was dying. Maybe God punishes her for the desperate plea made the day of Mom’s death. If she confesses her secret relief and makes peace with her sister, will God forgive her?
Can one woman’s plan unearth secrets and broker reconciliation?
A collection of connected short stories about grief and loss set against the backdrop of beautiful Victoria, B. C.
Would this be something you’d pick up to read?
If you’re not sure, I’ll be dropping excerpts from different stories every few months right here on this page. This project is near and dear to my heart because I’ve been working on some form of it off-and-on since 2014!
This is the last portion of the first short story. This is the only story written from the mom/grandma’s perspective.
Excerpt from “Mastermind”:
While she roused herself and brushed her short hair, he made lunch. She nibbled at the half sandwich and polished off the bowl of chicken and vegetable soup. Across the narrow table, her husband sipped a cup of coffee and filled her in on the work progress. After washing the soup pan and loading her dishes into the dishwasher, he headed to the garage to put his tools away.
Back at her desk, she had her computer read scripture aloud while she played several games of Spider Solitaire. Of the many things she’d had to give up, she missed reading and gardening the most. But she couldn’t concentrate well enough to read print. So she’d learned to appreciate audio books.
It was close to 3:30 when the phone rang. She picked up the receiver with a brief prayer on her lips.
“Mom, hi. Todd said I missed your call.”
She nestled the phone closer. “I thought you might be in class but I wanted to call while I was thinking about it.”
Krista hummed with agreement. “What were you thinking about?”
Well, well. Krista wasn’t going to ask how she was feeling today. Warmth spilled into her stomach, and she took that as a good sign.
“Merci and I had our annual shopping trip yesterday.” She went on to explain it without any negative input from Krista.
“So what’s this great plan you two cooked up?” She could almost hear the smile in her daughter’s voice.
“It involves the four of us girls traveling together.”
A brief pause. “Traveling where?”
Lord, please keep her mind open. Don’t let Lacey be right about this.
After she swallowed a sip of water, she said, “Victoria, B.C.”
Krista gasped. “I would love to go there. Do you think we could do the high tea you told us about?”
She smiled, cast her eyes heavenward, and relaxed into her chair. “Most definitely. We’ll have to have hats for the occasion.”
Krista groaned. “Not a hat, Mom. I can’t wear hats.”
“You most certainly can wear hats.”
Her lips twitched at this old argument. Krista wore baseball caps on rare occasions and stocking caps in the winter when weather required it. Otherwise, she didn’t wear hats. Not even when her mother volunteered to buy her one for a special Easter event a few years ago.
“You look fantastic in hats, but I look ridiculous.”
“Pshaw.” She sipped her water. “I’m not going to argue with you about it.”
Krista huffed, her sign of capitulation. “I’ve got class until the middle of August and then a couple weeks off before the next phase of classes. I’m finally getting into the student teaching portion.” Her joy and energy played in stark contrast to Lacey’s lack of enthusiasm. “It looks like I’ve been approved to work with the language arts teacher at our high school.”
“Wonderful news.” She cleared a sudden lump in her throat. “This trip is the first week of August next year.”
“Next year?” Silence buzzed between them.
“Yes, and you’ll be done by then. Graduated and licensed and employed, I’m sure.”
Krista sighed. “I hope so. The first week of August is before the start of the school year.”
She heard the rumble of a male voice. Then Krista must have covered the receiver because she heard nothing. She tapped spotted, wrinkled fingers on the water bottle.
It was true. She really was getting old.
“It’s better than the alternative,” her husband Dale always said.
When the pain burned through her bones, she didn’t agree. Heaven meant the end of pain. But she needed to take care of this situation first.
Krista was back. “Todd says I should definitely go. And take notes on what he needs to see when we go in a few years.”
“Todd’s a smart man.” Generous. Kind.
Krista grunted playfully. “You always did love him better than me.” Another old joke.
Except she didn’t think it was funny any more. Not when she suspected that her youngest daughter truly believed those words.
“I’m not taking him to Victoria, so I think that settles the issue.”
After a brief pause, Krista asked, “Lacey agreed to this?”
“Why wouldn’t she?”
“And she knows you’re inviting me?”
She closed her eyes and rested against the headrest of her office chair. A deep ache bloomed in her chest. She would not have her daughters estranged. Family stood together.
“Yes. She’s excited to see the gardens, and she’ll love the tea, too.” A wave of fatigue blinded her. She would ask what this was all about. But not today.
Another moment of silence before her daughter said in a more subdued tone, “I’m looking forward to it, Mom. This is a great idea.”
“I think so, too.”
After assuring each other they’d talk at church the next day, she hung up the phone.
If she couldn’t get her daughters back together before then, Operation Victoria Girls’ Trip would provide ample time and a perfect atmosphere.
She sipped water, gaze glancing over the wall of photographs, stroking the features of these people she adored.
Mission accomplished. Now she could rest.
If you’re excited to read more, comment below. And watch this space for a cover reveal and tidbits from other stories in the collection.