Authors: Shelby Rebecca
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, businesses, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Any trademarks mentioned herein are not authorized by the trademark owners and do not in any way mean the work is sponsored by or associated with the trademark owners. Any trademarks used are specifically in a descriptive capacity.
All songs and/or quotes are the property of their copyright owners.
“You Are My Flower” by A.P. Carter. Used by permission of Peer International Corporation.
“Greensleeves,” poss. Henry VIII of England, 1500’s.
“Amazing Grace” Lyrics by John Newton (1725-1807).
“Down By the Salley Gardens” is a poem by William Butler Yeats published in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems in 1889.
“What Are They Doing in Heaven Today” by Charles Albert Tindley published in 1901.
“Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars.
“Make You Feel My Love”
“Don’t you Remember?”
“One and Only”
Scriptures and quoted material
All Solomon’s Song of Songs Scripture quotations, in this publication are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ® NIV ® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®. Use of either trademark requires the permission of Biblica, Inc.®.
All other scripture quotations in this publication are from the NEW INTERATIONAL VERSION website, the KING JAMES version of THE BIBLE.
Five word excerpt from the Ann Landers column, “Love or Infatuation” in the epilogue of this work reprinted by permission of Esther P. Lederer Trust and Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Copyright © 2013 Shelby Rebecca. Previously published on FictionPress under pen name, Beeshel. All rights reserved.
Edited by Stephanie Lott of Bibliophile Services
Cover Art & interior design by
This book is for victims of sexual abuse or violent crimes. You’re not alone. It’s not your fault. Reach out for help. Healing is possible.
Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network
800.4 A CHILD
800 422 4453
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Notice: This book is meant for readers 18 years and older due to adult content, conflict, violence, language, and sexual situations.
Chapter One—That Day
I do my best not to think about West Virginia. But, the past—it owns me. It pulls, and I’m forced to go backward in my mind—always to that day, that moment when my pain and fear linked me to
with a rope as thick as steel.
There are triggers everywhere.
Sometimes all it takes is the feel of the wind as it passes over my skin or the way it churns my hair around in circles and I’m there again in my mind. The wind always blew in our part of the Appalachians. It couldn’t help itself. It was so happy to be there, near the top of the world.
Sitting next to the open window, the wind jerks my concentration away from the red laptop propped on the table and over to the grass in the field lying in wait. What I see pulls on a string attached to
memory in my brain. My hands shake as I fidget with the buttons on my white shirt. I run the tips of my fingers along the annealed scars on my neck and a rumble of adrenaline pushes through my blood stream.
I tell myself, but I know I can’t. The pull is too strong. The past will never change and it is always with me.
I’ve completely focused on the flicks of sunlight out there on the grass—part real, part memory, like two photos that got developed one on top of the other. I shudder and grasp the edge of the table so hard my knuckles turn alabaster white.
I can’t even blink. I know it’s coming. And just like that day, I fight for a little while. But, eventually, I always succumb. Just like then, like now.
I start to shiver. There is nothing I can do. My mind, it tortures me. Reminds me like a demon breathing down the back of my neck. Numbness takes me swiftly, like a merciful enemy—making me feel nothing. Cold. Distant.
You see, it was the way the sun came down and shone on the tall wispy grass back home that has never left me. The horses hadn’t gotten to it yet so it was windblown and long, just like my hair. Mosquitoes were swarming all throughout the chilly air as I stood in the dirt on the edge of the property. I was near the stable curtailed by the square horse fence waiting for him—waiting for Dillon, my neighbor who had been my best friend since, well, I couldn’t really remember a time before Dillon. A far as I know, he’d known me all my life.
Between my fingers I can still feel the grit of the West Virginia dust as it curved over Monty’s black fur. I loved being with him. Brushing him like I was that day, back when life had grace and dignity. Momma had told me to pray for a horse and I had, every night I prayed—for years. Momma always said to keep my faith strong, to be good, and God’s will would be done.
I already had Frosty; she was a white, mountain horse. But Frosty wasn’t too capable of being friendly. She had been bitten too many times by other horses and had to fight too much for food at the boys’ ranch my daddy had gotten her from. Poor Frosty was stuck in a perpetual state of fright—sort of like me, now.
Everything scared her: the grass if it moved too fast in the wrong direction, a mud puddle that was bigger or smaller than yesterday, a dragonfly with its bull-dog face roaming too close to her tail. All or any of these things could produce a strong guttural reaction in her. She might buck around or run, neither of which, in my opinion, would be good while on her back. That’s why I loved Monty so much. He was safe.
Pulling on the hem of my pretty, little-flower-dotted dress Daddy told me I couldn’t wear anymore since it was too short, I walked back to the stable crunching dirt with my brown faded boots that used to be my sister Missy’s when she was my age. Then I buttoned up the old denim jacket that was daddy’s when he was a rebel teenager.
Since it was Friday, Daddy was, no doubt, pacing the front of the church, his fist pounding into the cover of his Bible, in preparation for next Sunday’s sermon—he wouldn’t know what I was wearing anyway, I surmised.
Standing by the stables, I watched as Dillon’s brown boots stroked the ground on his way up to me. His slow, shy smile was contagious. He always looked at me as if he was seeing me for the first time. I know I was mirroring his look as he motioned for me to come over to where he was.
“Look, Sadie,” he said, pointing to a spider web that had been engineered in between two bushes near where he stood.
“That’s neat,” I said, patiently, as I opened the gate and trotted over to him. I knew he would explain it to me as he pulled my arm down and squatted with me. He always loved to teach me things. He appreciated nature. He knew a lot about all the little creatures most of us would swat with a broom or a hand because he was always reading science-type books.
As he talked about the spider, I gazed up at him, putting his face to my memory. I didn’t want to forget the way he looked. It was a strange compulsion; as if I’d intercepted an odd feeling about how that day would end from the moment I’d opened my eyes that morning.
He was a fine sight with his crooked just-for-me smile. My eyes moved up those faded, long jeans that hung on his hips just so to the dark blue button-up shirt over his broad shoulders. His messy hair, the color of the hay in Monty’s stable, was catching the fading daylight, shimmering like stars at night.
“This is a Micrathena gracilis,” he said, as he took his ocean blue eyes off the spider and placed them somewhere on my face. I was looking at his mouth, still thinking about the way his tongue caressed the two long words
. I smiled at him with my eyes.
Just then, I caught him as he glanced down at my upper thigh that was peeking out from my short summer dress—although it was one month from summer and I was cold, I wore it for him. He blushed slightly and pursed his full lips. “Haven’t seen that dress for a long while,” he said.
“It’s still pretty, ain’t it?” I pulled the hem of my dress down to no avail. It was just too short, but I didn’t care. And besides, we were going to get married. This dress could be for his eyes only.
“Yeah, it is,” he said, through a little nervous chuckle.
The first time he said he was going to marry me I was five years old and he was eight—almost nine. It wasn’t like he asked me to marry him. He just said,
“I’m gonna marry you someday and buy us a big white house with lots a’ rooms for all our babies.”
I didn’t say anything. Being so young, I thought marriage to Dillon was either gross, or super perfect. I remember I smiled trying to hide my feelings. But, he knew.
I ran my finger over the little cloth ring I always wore. He made it by braiding green and white strings together. He said it was a promise ring. I still have it to this day. It’s one of the only things I brought with me when I left Appalachia.
I’ll never forget him telling my parents for the second time, on my birthday six months before, when I’d turned fourteen, that he was going to marry me someday.
“Not now, Sir, but when she’s older—I’ll be ‘a waiting for her to be my wife. I’ll wait as long as I have to—’till she’s ready.”
I can still hear his earnest voice in that West Virginia accent when I close my eyes, even now. The words still make me swoon inside, like women do in the old black and white movies.
As Daddy answered in his stern pastor voice, I distinctly remember watching Dillon’s older, huskier brother Donnie make a sour face like he ate a bad blueberry.
Donnie got up and murmured something I couldn’t hear and walked off. His black hair bounced with each step he took. I never knew he liked me—that was what stood out in that moment. It was clear that he was upset about Dillon’s announcement, but I felt like I was missing something.
Donnie was always shy around me, too quiet, broodingly so. I don’t think he’d ever stuck more than a few words together toward me in all my life. He was a lot older than me so we never really spent time together. But the times we did, I knew I didn’t like the way he looked at me, like I was a dead butterfly pinned into one of those glass boxes. And, I didn’t like his scent. I always bristled when he was near.
“It’s a spider that’s okay with being out during the day,” Dillon said matter-of-factly.
I mean, who would know a thing like this?
He always amazed me with his smarts.
“See its back end?” He pointed at the odd shape of the spider’s body. “It looks like a pokey rock attached to its body, don’t it?” he snorted.
“Yes, it does,” I said with a giggle as he turned to look at me again. In his eyes I saw an emotion I didn’t understand quite yet, being as young as I was, but it made my mouth dry and my eyelashes flutter. Now, as I think back I realize it was
love I saw in his eyes all those years ago. The I-would-do-anything-for-you kind of love. The kind of love that happens when two people know each other so well and for so long that they become a part of one another.
“Come with me?” he said, intently, standing up. He wasn’t telling me, he was asking.