Authors: Randy Mixter
Tags: #Mysterious, #Twists, #Everlasting, #Suspenseful, #Cryptic
A Novel of Mystery And Everlasting Love
Copyright © 2013 by Randy Mixter
All rights reserved.
Summer's Passing is a work of fiction. Any similarities between this work and persons, living or deceased, places or incidents, is purely coincidental.
Electronic book design: Sarah E. Holroyd (
It wasn't supposed to be a vacation. My intent was to simply take three months to try to write a novel in a place of seclusion, a place where I wouldn't be interrupted by the barking of dogs, the endless honking of car horns, and the annoying sounds of a typical day in the city.
I rented a beach house in Florida, a stone's throw from the Gulf of Mexico in the small town of Port Grace about fifty miles north of Clearwater.
I liked the location for two reasons, the most important of which being that it provided privacy. A close second was the proximity to a tiki bar on the grounds of a hotel less than a fifteen-minute beach jog away.
I had never written anything before, save for the occasional essay, but I was up to the challenge. Writing had always interested me. My mother told me that when I was younger she sometimes hesitated to wash my crayon ramblings off the walls of our house because they were so interesting, and while in high school, I won a short story contest based on the 9-11 attacks.
The idea for the trip manifested itself when I attended a party two weeks before graduation, my first true night out since prepping for finals. A few of my buddies had convinced me to attend. It didn't take much persuasion, the enticement of unlimited beer did the trick.
The party was a mild one by college standards. I'd been to some real barnburners in my day; I say that with much pride and perhaps a touch of embarrassment. Based on my four-year knowledge of such things, I can always classify a party's potential within seconds of entering the venue in which it's held. In this case, the party took place in a frat house near the campus, and when I opened the door, most of the guests were seated. Seated meant mild, but tonight, that was fine by me.
After a couple of beers, despite the lack of energy, I began feeling pretty good about things. My friends, who were lazy by nature, stayed close to the keg, while I rested comfortably on a sofa by a large active fireplace.
My lack of sleep over the last few days and the warmth of the fire were a potent combination. I closed my eyes and I believe I might have dozed off for a few seconds. A soft female voice awoke me.
"Are you here to tend the fire?"
I looked up to see an attractive woman, with hair so black it reflected blue in the firelight, staring down at me.
"What gave you that idea?" I asked her.
"Your proximity to the fire," she answered.
I decided to be playful. "So, if I stood by the beer keg, I'd be responsible for its distribution?"
"I would think so, yes," she responded.
"By the same logic," I continued, "I would be the evening's caterer should I find myself in the kitchen."
She turned to walk away. "You should have quit while you were ahead."
"Wait." I stood. "You're right, I should have finished with the beer keg. Don't leave."
She stopped and turned to face me. "Humility in a man. I like that."
She smiled and held out her hand. "Annie Adams."
"Doug Monroe," I said.
"Ah, a meeting of presidents," she said and we shook on it.
She sat next to me on the sofa. I let her have the spot closest to the fire. It was a chilly night, for late April, and the fire felt good.
We talked for a while. We stuck with the mundane safe stuff, dancing around the serious questions that would pop up if our relationship held out until night's end.
I found out her major was political science, a field in which I had zero knowledge. She wanted to see the world before she settled down to the grind of a full-time job. She told me this fully expecting a reprimand about responsibility to follow. I guess that happened to her quite a lot. When I didn't bite, she moved on quickly to her past, the pre-college years.
It turned out she had an interesting childhood. I won't bore you with the details, but, suffice to say, Annie had been through a lot. My childhood, by comparison, was tame, and she lost interest before I'd even made it through puberty.
"Let's change the subject," she said with an annoyed politeness. "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"A writer, but if that doesn't work out, a teacher, I guess," I answered.
"Tell you what." Annie handed me her empty beer cup. "Fetch me another beer and I'll get you started on your first story."
She began talking the moment I returned, and it seemed that barely seconds had passed when she finished.
"What do you think?" She asked me.
"It sounds intriguing," I said. "I have a question though."
Annie put a finger to my lips. "No questions. Figure out the answers for yourself."
She stood and stretched. "It's getting late and I must run."
I went to stand but Annie had already turned from me to the fire. "Better toss some more wood in there, Monroe, or it will soon be ashes. You see," she turned to me one last time. "If you're close to something, you must tend to it."
She left without saying another word, and I never saw her again.
Allow me to promote a theory, if I may. Life is a strange jumble of coincidences and fateful occurrences. Some things go your way and others don't. Walking in one direction may bring you great joy, another direction, heartbreak and despair.
Annie became a part of my life for less than an hour on a cool spring night, but she left me with just enough words to spark my imagination. She gave me the framework for my first book, and with the blueprint came these instructions. "Start slowly. Teach your words how to walk before you teach them how to fly."
It was Annie's words that sent me to the Gulf of Mexico when I should have been pounding the pavement in search of employment.
My trip didn't have the blessing of my parents. Quite the opposite actually; they fought it tooth and nail. But I had the power of dreams on my side. It was a power I would not have for long and I took advantage of it. Eventually my mom and dad acquired a
let him get it out of his system
attitude and waved me on my way. My father even threw some money at me when my mom had her back turned. That, along with my savings, was enough to rent a beach house instead of an apartment in town.
I just loved the place. The house sat back from the street on a lot where dirt and sand mixed into a compound suitable for weed and sea grass and not much else. A gravel driveway led to the front door. The houses on both sides of mine were far enough away to provide some privacy. What little traffic noise one might hear from the house's interior was swallowed up by the sound of the nearby surf. The place consisted of just four rooms. A hallway barely wide enough for one person took me to the open area that served as a living room, dining room, and kitchen. Bedrooms faced each other on either side of the hallway: one smaller than the other due to a bathroom hogging some of its space.
What I really liked about the place was that four of the house's five windows afforded a nice panoramic view of the seascape But my favorite part of the house was the back porch, outside the kitchen door, which stretched across the entire rear of the house. It sat five feet above the ground on wooden stilts, and could very likely be the perfect place to write, or just to have a beer and watch the waves roll in.
I figured if I played my cards right, I could make it to mid-summer on the cash I had. The house cost the most, but I got a deal when I told the landlord I'd fix the place up for him. It was minor stuff mostly, some paint here and there, some new wood for old, but it gave me another two or three weeks before I would need to place the
call to my dad.
Still, after all had been said and done, I wasn't sure I'd made the right decision. But then I began to write and all doubts left my mind.
I made up my mind to write for at least six hours a day. I felt I needed to have this routine in order to discipline myself. I knew the lure of the sand and sea would be a temptation, so I'd attempt to write from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon, either skipping lunch or snacking while I typed. If I could adhere to that schedule, I'd have most of the afternoon to soak up the sun on the beach. I also devised a simple rainy day strategy; I would sleep in and write from mid-morning until early evening. I hadn't yet figured out my writing schedule on the odd days when the sun broke through the clouds at some point. I'd cross that bridge when I came to it.
On the first night I broke in the back porch. With a cooler by my side, stocked with beer from a local supermarket, I sat on a comfortable rattan chair. I propped up my feet on the porch's wooden railing and watched the Gulf swallow up the sun.
The sunset took me by surprise. It's amazing how beauty can just appear from nowhere. One minute the world is the same as you've always known it and then suddenly you're confronted by a vision of such magnificence that it steals your breath and makes your heart race. The dazzling panorama didn't last long. The night sky raced in from behind me and pushed the colorful display into the watery horizon, replacing the reds and golds with stars as bright as I'd ever seen.
I let my imagination run wild, as I often do when I'm alone. Annie, the girl who sent me here, planted a seed somewhere deep inside me, but close to my heart, I somehow already knew that the seed was simply an outline, a foundation for ideas to take root and grow.
A young woman, just eighteen years old, had run away from the only home she knew. She was frightened to do so, but she knew she must. A menacing evil had taken her mother and possessed her father, an evil so strong that her father could not fight it. She knew that eventually that evil would find her too, and so she ran into the night with only the clothes on her back, and she prayed that the cloak of darkness would hide her.
She walked for many miles until her bare feet were bloody and swollen. Eventually she came upon a cabin deep in the woods. It appeared long abandoned. Vines wrapped around its wooden frame, and held the decaying log walls in place. The cabin had no front door or windows, dark, gaping holes took their place.
The girl hesitated only briefly. She needed to rest her injured feet. It would have to do.
She walked inside. A crow that had taken refuge within the walls cawed loudly at the intrusion before taking flight through the open window. She looked around her. A chair rested against the far wall next to a brick fireplace. She hobbled closer. An abundance of sticks and kindling lay in the hearth and next to it, a lantern and matches.
The girl picked up the lantern and shook it. Oil splashed audibly against its insides. The air around her had grown cold, and the girl shivered. She took the wooden match and scraped it across the bricks. It immediately took to flame, and she lit the lantern before tossing the match into the hearth. She watched as the flame grew into a fire, feeding on the dead wood, and she huddled close to it.