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Authors: Terry Lee

Tags: #Humor, #(v5), #Contemporary, #Fantasy

Saving Gracie

BOOK: Saving Gracie
10.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Saving Gracie





Terry Lee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, 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, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © Terry Lee 2012

Licensing Notes

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.

Cover: Julie Hansen

Editor: Maxine Bringenberg

Publisher: Featherstone Creations



-In memory of my mom, Bettye Walker Lee-


Saving Gracie is dedicated to my mom, my daughter, and my granddaughter. For clarification, the only similarity between my mom, Bettye, and Kathryn is: 1) loving her daughter and 2) not being able to carry a tune in a bucket. After that, Kathryn is on her own. To Ashley, who I can only hope I haven’t been too much of a “Kathryn” and allowed her to find her own way. And to my Toodle Bug, Taylor, who typed her own version of Saving Gracie back in 2006 while staying with us for a week…she was nine.

I’d like to give a heart-felt thank you to a very special group of people: Julie Tuovi Baker Hansen (Jules), Lauren Hennessy, Jeremiah Takahata (Jay Jay) and Kristi Pritchett. They have taught me so much about writing. I value each of you (group hug). These are the brightest, most fun-loving, talented young adults I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around. I also need to mention Jules created my wonderful book cover. As the oldest in our critique group, I’m referred to as Adopt-O-Mom, and I hold that title close to my heart. They are my adopt-o-kids… I’d also like to thank George Lasher for his support and leading me to World Castle Publishing and to my editor, Maxine Bringenberg, for taking my hand and gently leading me through the editing process.

I’d also like to thank my husband, Rich, the constant in my life who taught me what trust and love look like. The one who has always offered his encouragement and instead of asking why, simply asks why not? Thanks honey 

And a final thank you to Linda Bowers and Sherry Ringo who braved the original manuscript in its roughest form. Ouch…




“The book club should stick with general fiction, don’t you think?” Kathryn stirred her coffee and switched the cordless phone to the other ear.

“I liked it,” her friend said.

“Seriously?” Kathryn yanked the tie on her bathrobe. “What is this anyway?” She grabbed the book off the kitchen counter and flipped it over. “Sci-Fi?”

Before her friend could reply Kathryn heard the familiar call-waiting beep. “Oops, there’s Gracie.” She clicked to the other line, not bothering to offer a courteous good-bye or even check the caller ID. Hearing her daughter’s voice, Kathryn’s fingers touched the tightness in the middle of her chest.

Kathryn Broussard, fifty-nine years old, lived in a small condo in Houston with just enough space on her tiny patio to manage a small garden. The realtor insisted a garden would never work, but Kathryn knew otherwise. That’s what she did best…force ideas into submission…in a nice way, of course.

“Set out the lasagna a couple of hours before you bake it,” she instructed. “I’m sure I’ll talk to you later.”

An understatement.

Kathryn returned the phone to the charging station and moved to the bedroom to dress before Gracie’s next call. She flipped the television to Turner Classic Movies, threw the remote on the bed and entered her walk-in closet.


“He's stuck, that's what it is. He's in between worlds. You know it happens sometimes that the spirit gets yanked out so fast that the essence still feels it has work to do here.”


Kathryn backed out of the closet. There was no mistaking Whoopi’s voice as Oda Mae Brown in the movie, Ghost. She grabbed the remote and hit mute before finishing the buttons on her blouse.


“I don't think I'm rambling, I'm just answering the question. He's got a' attitude now.”


Her eyebrows pulling together, she picked up the remote and pushed mute…again. Oda Mae kept talking. She slapped the device hard against her hand.


“No, you relax. You’re the dead guy.”


Kathryn squinted at the television and hit the power button, which actually worked, silencing Oda Mae.

Back in the kitchen she sat at the table with her Day-Timer looking over the past week. The book club meeting had been disappointing. She thoroughly enjoyed discussing books with the members, but found the current selection about some life-after-death rubbish to be a waste of good reading time.

“Excuse me?” Kathryn had voiced at the Wednesday gathering. “I assume you’re joking about believing in this horse manure.” She rearranged herself in her seat, ignoring the deer-in-the-headlights response from the women around her. “I mean, we should be reading something more believable than this fantasy stuff, don’t you think?” The meeting had quickly adjourned with most of her book-reading buddies leaving in silence.

“Okay.” Kathryn half-sighed, the most she could manage these days with the restriction in her chest. She re-read yesterday’s entry–Gracie: linen tablecloth, flower arrangement, lasagna. Today—Josh 6 PM. Keeping her nine year old grandson expended far less energy than repairing her daughter’s culinary disasters. She penciled in
replace remote
under Josh’s name.

Her finger skipped across to the next week and stopped on Friday. Doctor 1:00 P.M. She’d rescheduled twice before admitting the pain in her chest went beyond her control, a situation she usually found unacceptable. Her well-rehearsed manipulation and passive-aggressive maneuvers did little to ease the shortness of breath or vice-grip tightness in her chest.

The test results back, she knew the news wasn’t good. The nurse hadn’t said as much, but had suggested she bring a family member with her to the appointment. But who?
Gracie, her only family outside of her two grandchildren, was out of the question. No, she’d handle this her own way.

She never would have believed she, Kathryn Broussard,
Queen for the Day
in her own personal universe, could possibly be facing the end of her life. What would Gracie do without her?




Grace pounded a fist on the counter. Ten o’clock in the morning and she’d already called her mother…twice. Something she’d dropped on the floor caused her flip-flops to stick when she took a step. She looked around her. The kitchen resembled a war zone. Cracker crumbs, eggshells, utensils, and dirty bowls lay scattered across the countertops, fallen soldiers on a culinary battlefield.

“Shit, I’ve got to call her again.”

Her mother’s lasagna resided in the refrigerator, safe for the time being. Dessert? Not so safe. Emeril made it look so damn easy. She thought that at least she’d be able to make key lime pie. But no-oooo. The messy pretense of a crust stuck to her fingers, not the pie plate.

This is Adam’s fault, she thought. The whole dinner party had been her husband’s idea. And where was he? On the golf course, which honestly wasn’t so bad, considering his perpetual smiley-face temperament irritated the hell out of her sometimes. He never stumbled, never hiccupped; much like her mother.

“Good lord.” Grace shook her head to clear the comparison. Nuh-uh. Nope. Not gonna happen. No way would she ever put Adam in the same category as her mother. Except for the occasional annoying too-easy-going-attitude, her husband was Mr. Perfect.


“Sweetie, it’s only seven thirty. How long have you been up?” he’d asked earlier that morning.

Grace shrugged and refolded a linen napkin.

“Don’t go crazy over this tonight, okay?” Adam took a bite from a packaged blueberry muffin she had sat out for him. “These are nice people; friendly, low maintenance. Remember?”

She didn’t respond.

Adam kissed her cheek. “Looks great,” he said. “Be back by four. I’ve got my phone.”

“What should I do with the appetizers?” Grace yelled. “The coffee table or the bar?”

“Go with the bar, it’s easier,” Adam said before closing the back door.

Huh, easier. Not a word she knew much about. Look what she’d done to her kitchen. And for a stupid pie crust—which reminded her, she still needed to call her mother.

She rinsed her hands and attempted to scoot the cracker crumbs into a pile on the counter, but instead knocked the mess onto the floor. Fighting the urge to yell another obscenity, she grabbed the phone and opened the back door. Riley, the family’s shorthaired mutt and canine vacuum cleaner, entered and immediately attacked the gritty mound.

Barely readable from overuse, she punched *1 on the cordless phone. Adam, *2, thankfully never complained that his mother-in-law took top billing on his own home phone.

She waited for the call to connect and closed her eyes, imagining her mother’s response.

“I told you I could have made the silly thing yesterday.”

“Damn.” Grace paced the perimeter of the kitchen, wondering how her mother always had the right answer. “How does she do it?”

“Do what?” Kathryn answered.

“Sorry, Mom, just talking to myself.”

“I’ve told you a dozen times, that’s a bad—”

“Okay,” Grace interrupted. “Here’s the deal. The stupid crust won’t stick to the pie plate. What have I done wrong?”

I should have made the pie yesterday.”

Grace bit her lip and rolled her eyes. Pa-thetic.

“Read me the recipe card, Gracie.”

After hearing the instructions, Kathryn asked one simple question. “Did you melt the butter? If you don’t, it’ll stick to your fingers.”

She thanked her mother and ended the call, again.

“Shit. Stupid butter,” she growled. Shit currently topped her profanity list, although dammit ran a close second. Stupid wouldn’t normally count as a cuss word, but had been on the forbidden list when she was a child, so it counted.


Grace shoved the pie into the oven, turned toward the sink and jumped. Hannah, her sleepy-eyed daughter who liked spooking her mother, stood in front of her, hands flying in rapid movement. To the rest of the world, Grace’s daughter portrayed a typical thirteen year old, with one exception. Hannah was deaf, explaining why her finger dexterity allowed her to fly through sending a text, while Grace struggled with thumbs that felt like Lincoln Logs.

What’s up? Why are you cooking
?” Hannah signed.

Grace carefully stepped around Riley, who was finishing his breakfast, and walked to the sink to rinse her hands.

Company tonight
,” she signed. “
Is Josh still asleep

Hannah nodded.

Wiping down the counter, Grace turned to sign to Hannah but found the kitchen empty. She glanced in the family room. Her daughter sat cross-legged in front of the television, her hands flying in animated motion. Grace never regretted purchasing the video relay service. A connected webcam, specialized cable box, and phone line to the television allowed Hannah communication with friends, deaf and hearing.

Grace dropped onto a barstool and drummed her fingers on the countertop. “Oh God, what am I going to wear tonight?” She glanced at the phone, changed her mind, and headed to her closet.


Hannah had left to spend the night with Jennifer, her best friend, and precisely at 6:00, Kathryn arrived to retrieve Josh and make her final walk-through approval. Grace held her breath.

“Gracie, you really should put the appetizers on the coffee table, don’t you think?”

One of Kathryn’s many annoying habits ended suggestions with “don’t you think?” The tactic, Grace knew, allowed her mother to believe her suggestions were merely suggestions. However, everyone on the planet knew different.

A scream brewed inside Grace. “Yeah, we thought about that, but decided on the bar.” She mentally ping-ponged the appetizers between the bar and the coffee table; ping-coffee table: pong-bar. Maybe Mom’s right. No, Adam said the bar.

Kathryn paused and raised her eyebrows, as if actually considering Grace’s words held water. “I’m sure not
will be drinking. The coffee table seems to be the obvious solution, don’t you think?”

Adam walked into the family room. Grace felt sure he had heard her mother’s last
. She screwed up one end of her mouth and shot him the look. His response? Silence. He took the fifth. Good boy.

“Okay. Thanks, Mom.” Grace walked Kathryn and Josh to the door. “I’ll pick him up in the morning.” She helped Josh with his backpack and kissed his cheek, which he wiped off.

“Not too early, now.” Kathryn placed an arm around her grandson. “We’re going to the bakery in the morning, aren’t we Joshers?”

Grace nodded, resisted a sneer and closed the door.

“Not too early,” Grace repeated, her voice sounding like Minnie Mouse. Her mother always got in the last word. So annoying.

Moving the appetizers to the coffee table, she avoided Adam’s eyes. Ping.

“The inspector general has spoken.” Adam grabbed an appetizer from their new location.

“Don’t start,” Grace said.


The party ended and Grace slumped onto the couch, realizing the small event took almost two weeks of planning, tons of phone calls and her mother making the table arrangement
the entrée. The evening progressed smoothly except for the forkful of lasagna landing in her lap. What a klutz.

Her entire life she’d struggled with the love-hate relationship with her mother. Of course she loved her. Children are supposed to love their parents, right? But the hate part churned in her mind. Grace didn’t hate her mother; just the all-knowing role she played so well.

Adam locked the front door and flipped off the porch light. “You okay?”

“Piece of cake.” Grace attempted to snap her fingers. She closed her eyes and considered sleeping on the couch.

BOOK: Saving Gracie
10.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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