Authors: Sarah Mullanix
All rights reserved.
2013 by Sarah Mullanix
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters
to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Cover Design: Sarah Mullanix
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This is what life is like --- what a real life should be like --- perhaps. A life full of adventure, terror, joy, secrets, and of course family. I knew that this world, which I still had not fully processed or accepted, was what I had been waiting and hoping for all my life. Still a burden, certainly, but one that I now carry willingly; for this is my family and my legacy, without which I would be nothing.
Beloved Lydia, thou art gone,
Thy conflicts and thy toils are o’er;
And I am left to sadly mourn,
For one I’ll meet on earth no more.
Dear Lydia, now I deeply feel,
Thy lofs, for thou wast mild and pure;
No earthly joys the wound can heal,
But Christ can all our sorrows cure.
He’s promised we shall meet again,
Beyond these realms of sin and woe;
Where pain and death can never reign,
And life’s pure stream forever flow.
A few more days and we will meet,
In that celestial land above;
Our blood-washed spirits take their seat,
To singWhy should I tremble then to lay,
Why should I tremble then to lay,
Thy lifeless clay beneath the sod;
For guardian angels will convey,
Thy spirit home to dwell with God.
-Lewisburg, June 1856
W. Paine (selected & changed)
Old & New
1. Having lived for a long time; no longer young.
2. Made or built long ago.
It was just there.
They had always just been there when I woke. They arrived with no warning, no sound, no messenger or deliveryman. And only during the night.
“Crazy,” I mumbled.
I read over the letter a second time, brushed my fingertips over the indentations left by the sharp point of the pen, then wadded the parchment-type paper into a ball and tossed it sideways into my trashcan. The letter swirled around the rim, hung in mid-air for a second, then finally landed with a soft crunch at the bottom of the metal basket.
The lines swam through my mind:
‘I so miss my heart’s desire’
‘why did you have
to leave me alone so soon?’
, and the most cryptic of all:
‘even if it takes one hundred years, I will find you my love’
Can you say, stalker?
“I truly have crazy friends,” I mumbled to myself. Apparently, friends with way too much time on their hands.
The letters had been coming once per month for a few months now. The one that sat at the bottom of my trashcan was the third. They were all similar, made to look old, and all a little off-kilter in the love department. The letters miraculously appeared on my dresser, left lying there, drawing me in like a magnet when I woke. I never saved one, and I never spoke a word of there existence to anyone. Heaven forbid I take them seriously and become the laughing stock of my tiny little town. I simply chalked up their appearances to teenage hijinks.
I shook the words from my memory, continuing with my morning routine. I put on a final touch of blush as I looked at myself in the dresser mirror. A small stroke of faint, pink powder rested on each of my cheeks as I admired my reflection in the same mirror that my mother had used when she was my age.
The antique cream-colored dresser and mirror that had been given to my mother as a child by her mother, was now my bedroom dresser and mirror which I looked into every morning while I readied myself for school, somehow always admiring and disapproving at the same time.
I resembled my mother --- very much so, in fact --- with my tall 5’9” and still growing frame, long legs, the same mahogany colored hair only mine was cut in a shorter layered style, tanned olive skin from a long summer of swim team and life guarding at the city pool, and bow-shaped cherry lips. Even though I resembled my beautiful mom, I still couldn’t quite come to grips with being able to consider myself as anything more than just ordinary.
“Becca?” I heard my mom call from downstairs.
“I’m just putting on my shoes,” I called back.
Even though I was completely dressed and packed for school, I just needed an extra moment to mentally prepare myself for another day at Sycamore High School. Another day of the same old everyday routine in this small town. Fairview, Indiana was not unlike your typical small-town USA, but I still needed the extra moment to ready myself for the upcoming inconsequential events of the coming day: the roll call in homeroom, trying to look interested as the teachers spoke of whatever lesson plans they would attempt to teach that day, and the lunchroom with its barely edible food and incessant chatter bouncing off the walls making it sound as if there were a thousand students crammed inside its cinder-block walls instead of just the mere three hundred fifty-two that made up the student body.
Simply playing the part of a normal, well-adjusted seventeen-year-old girl --- young woman --- whatever this intense and confusing age was called, was so completely exhausting in and of itself. I needed the few additional moments to mentally prepare myself for more of the same daily goings-on that I’ve known my entire life.
I took a deep breath, as I contemplated all of my racing thoughts, then sighed as I wished so desperately for today to be different than every other day. Even if that meant the only variation was that the cafeteria served cheeseburgers on spaghetti day, then that was fine with me. Just something,
“Becca!” I heard my mom call for me again, a little more anxious this time.
“I’m coming down right now, Mom,” I answered quickly, shaking off my reverie.
I knew that this second warning would be the last before my mom would go into complete panic mode. I pulled myself up off the edge of my bed, grabbed my school bag, neglected a final look in the mirror, and headed out of my perfectly appropriate teal and green teenage girl bedroom --- decorated by my mom, of course, because she lives for that sort of thing --- and quickly made my way down the hall toward the stairs.
I hit the top of the staircase and smelled the coffee brewing from our kitchen below. The same coffee that my mother drank two cups of every morning with an extraordinary amount of cream, and the very same coffee that I’d grown to enjoy on occasion myself. We had a tradition of passing things through our family: the dresser and mirror, our love for coffee heavy on the cream, and the mahogany tint in our hair among many other shared family traits and possessions.
By this time my mom had become so desperate by my tardiness that she had resorted to waiting for me at the base of the staircase and held a glass of juice with her
“hurry up you’re gonna be late”
expression. I took the juice from her as I passed
and we both walked into the kitchen.
Today, like most mornings, I grabbed a pack of Pop-Tarts from the pantry, dropped them into the toaster, and sipped my apple juice as I stared out through the kitchen window. I gazed beyond the neighbors’ houses to the thick woods just a short distance away.
The expansive wooded area behind our house had always been a peaceful retreat for me. There was something special about the quiet noise from the breeze, the birds, and whatever other sounds existed there that contributed to the elaborate choir of peacefulness that made this woods feel like a kindred spirit of sorts and a second home. I loved to watch the sunset from just inside the tree line, and even --- which most people found a little strange or slightly disturbing --- found it serene to observe the bats as they would begin to come out at dusk for their evening feedings and flights.
Although the distance to the front line of trees, which had begun the entrance to the woods, was not a great stretch from my home, it was still far enough away to add an element of eeriness and mystery which for me only added to the intrigue of the forest.
I broke my stare, ending yet another early morning daydream, and looked down from the kitchen window to the toaster. I pulled my Pop-Tarts from their heated slots and laid them out on a paper towel, wrapped them up, and made my way to the back door.
“Bye, Mom. See ya later.”
“Bye, hon. Love you,” my mom responded as she did each and every morning. She followed behind me, passing through the back door out to our gravel drive, climbed into her minivan, and headed off to her shop.
I crossed over the damp, dew-drenched lawn toward my car. As I approached the driver’s side door, I checked my hair one last time in the reflection on the window. The red paint job on my convertible 1976 Volkswagen Beetle --- the car my father and I had bought rusted and rundown, then fixed up together --- had always made my lips appear entirely too cherry-colored than they actually were.
I never really liked that.