Authors: K J Bell
Table of Contents
K J Bell
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Copyright © 2012 by KJ Bell.
All rights reserved.
Cover design by damonza.com
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: Audi; Q7; Dunkin’ Donuts; MGM Studios, The Princess Bride; Buick; Chevrolet (Chevy); Torrey Pines State Beach; The Mowhawk Trail; Kellogg’s Pop Tarts; Disney; Cinderella; Pocket Protector; E.M. Forster, A Room With a View; Rino’s Place; Charlie Parker, Freddie Hubbard; Ed Sheeran, Give me Love; Tim McMorris; ESPN, Sportscenter; NFL; New England Patriots; Tom Brady; Tedy Bruchi; Vince Wilfork; Drew Breese; Phillip Rivers; San Diego Chargers; Miami Dolphins; Oakland Raiders; Checkers; Hasbro Inc., Scrabble; Apple, iPod; iPhone; Skype; Jasper Beach, Maine; Toyota Camry; Band-aid; Windex; Victoria Secret; LL Bean; Ford Explorer; James Dean; Marilyn Monroe; Betty Boop; Elvis Presley; George Eliot; Karen M. Black; Thomas Moore; Katherine Woodward Thomas; Bruce Lee; Carolyn Miller; Linda Brady; Arielle Ford; Edgar Cayce; Richard Bach; Emily Brontë; Lurlene McDaniel; Sir Hugh Walpole; Erich Fromm; Kandra J Gardner; G.K. Chesterton; William Shakespeare; Mark Overby; Henry Van Dyke; Sanaya Roman; Paul Robear; Scott Peck; Douglas Pagels
I have to thank my family first. I couldn’t have written this book without their support; my husband for putting up with me and being ignored while I wrote. Also for not thinking I was crazy when I told you I started a book and was 250 pages in. Instead, you said you were proud of me. Those words were the motivation I needed to finish. I love you. My middle daughter for inspiring a story simply by being a child and waving at a cemetery with no people in it. I never imagined in the years to follow your innocence would stir up ideas in my head and create such an amazing story that would literally write itself. My first born, with all of your impulsivity and charm. Loyal and sweet, I couldn’t have written Reese without you in my life. The young man you have become is a wonderful thing to watch. My youngest daughter for playing quietly while Mommy wrote. You are officially a play dough master. My mother for supporting me in a way that only a mom can. I don’t know what I would do without you in my life. Your support kept me grounded. I love you.
Thanks to Nancy Fillip, who volunteered to proof-read (edit) my book, spending tireless hours reading and re-reading. For helping me bring the story to life. For asking the right questions, challenging me with a sense of humor and never making me feel inept.
Will the real eye-color please stand up?
There are no words of gratitude that can express how thankful I am to have you in my life. I love you.
Thank you to all my friends who stuck with me even though I ignored you while I buried myself in my words. For encouraging me and asking how it was going. Melissa, I promise I can help you finish that tree now. Kim, for when I told you about the book, I was ready to squash the project and you piped up excitedly, telling me how amazing you thought it was going to be. For your infamous snorting laughter, reminding me it should be fun.
And last to Vicki, Kirsty, Kim and my mom, the first to read it. Thanks for your feedback and your giddy excitement.
For anyone trying to figure out what their purpose is.
Life’s too short.
Whatever happens, it was meant to be.
“Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment, are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.”
– Deepak Chopra
itting in my car in the school parking lot, I felt anxious about starting my day. I considered going home and crawling back into bed. I wasn’t going to fit in here. I didn’t fit in anywhere. Grudgingly, I exited my car, drawing in and releasing a slow, reassuring breath.
Today will be different
, I thought to myself as I made my way through the crowded lot. I always thought this on the first day at a new school. I was the perpetual new girl.
Every couple of months, starting when I was four years old, my family would pack up, and find a new place to call home – moving from town to town – state to state. Sort of like drifters, on a cross country train, settling briefly to beg for money, eat and continue their journey. This summer brought my train to an abrupt halt on my aunt’s front door step – returning me to the home of my birth in Northfield, Massachusetts.
Approaching the school, I kept my head low, avoiding eye contact with any of the students around me. I found my locker and put my lunch in it, listening to the whispers of teens who thought they knew me. Grunting my vexation, I slammed the locker shut, and pounded my head into the hard metal repeatedly – wanting to run – wanting to forget where I was, and why I was here.
“That bad?” A voice asked, smooth, like velvet, and comforting, like cotton. Feeling the tension roll out of my shoulders, down my body, and far away from me, I sighed with relief. I had yet to turn around, but could feel him behind me as though some magnetic pull was holding him there.
“You’re Claire Blake, right?”
How does the stranger know my name?
“That would be me,” I answered timidly, turning slowly to face him.
The bright glow surrounding him should have sent me running. Instead, I relaxed, feeling completely at ease. His face wasn’t clear to me through the light, but I sensed he was friendly. I extended my hand in introduction. When his fingers slid between mine, all reality was lost – bliss enveloped the two of us – the only two people left in the world. I loved this boy and he loved me.
“It’s you,” he hummed expectantly, leaning in next to my ear.
“It’s you,” I responded in barely a whisper.
Obnoxious buzzing was blaring loudly in the back of my brain somewhere. More toward the front of my brain was a soft, familiar, female voice, calling me from my dream. I didn’t want to leave. I liked being with him, as I had countless times before when I dreamed of him. I missed him when I was away.
The buzzing grew louder, along with the woman’s voice calling to me. The soft glow of the boy that owned my heart, stretched to a stream of light, peering into my room between the curtains that lined my window.
“No, please,” I cried, aware that reality was about to disturb my dream and take him away from me again.
“Claire, honey, time to wake up,” Aunt Maggie called from the doorway of my room.
Squinting through one eye, I rolled over and pounded on the annoying box screaming at me from the night stand. As though it was taunting me, the buzzing continued, while my fingers fumbled around it trying to push the right button. I felt for the cord and ripped it from the wall, finally silencing the evil thing.
Sunshine filtered into the room as Maggie drew the curtains open. The bright rays of light nearly blinded me, and I pulled the covers up over my face groaning.
“Come on, Claire Bear, rise and shine,” she sang, a little too loudly. Maggie was a morning person. I on the other hand, was not.
My only reply was another loud groan.
Pulling the covers away from me, Maggie laughed. “You don’t want to be late on your first day, do you?”
I buried my head in the pillow. Late? Hell, I didn’t want to go at all. Did she have to remind me the summer was over and I had to start a new school, yet again? I had lost count of the schools over the years, always assuming the next time would be easier. It never was. I was always hopeful, but hopeful usually turned to hopeless by lunch. Why was being the new girl always such a display?
The first day of school was always a disaster, no matter where I lived. Starting with the mortal embarrassment of the introduction – the nerdy kid that was really sweet, but overly anxious to be nice to me, as I was the one girl that had not rejected him – the very cute boy who was totally unapproachable – it was always the same. If I was completely honest with myself, I would not have gotten close to any boy, even if I could muster the courage to speak to one. I never had a boyfriend and I most definitely had never been in love – other than the faceless boy from my dream, of course. It was a bad idea for me. We moved so often while I was growing up, and I never wanted to deal with the pain of having to say goodbye to someone I had feelings for. And there would always be a goodbye.
The girls were always the hardest. The bonds they shared were already formed, usually since early elementary school. Girls my age were not looking to make new friends, especially with someone who couldn’t relate to their favorite music or shade of finger nail polish. Not that I didn’t meet any nice girls. There had been a few. I would not allow myself to get close to them, rushing into some sort of judgment about them so it would be easier to split when the time came. Like I said before, there would always be a goodbye. Having no friends meant when it was time to move there would be no worries of how we would keep in touch. No attachments had made my carnival of a life a much smoother ride. I suppose some psychiatrist would say I had a disorder of some kind, anxiety or something. Who knows, maybe I did.
Maggie pulled the pillow out from under me and set it at the foot of my bed. “Claire, you have to get up. Come on, now,” Maggie ordered, picking up some of my clothing from the floor and leaving the room.
“All right, all right,” I grumbled, sitting up in the bed, feeling much too sleepy to actually get up.
I rubbed my eyes and stretched, peeking over at a photograph sitting on the dresser. I let out a heavy sigh. It was my parents – Wes and Shelby, on their wedding day. They were much younger compared to the last time I saw them. I was a mix of both of them, sandy blonde hair and green eyes from dad, fair skin and petite frame from mom. I slid out of bed and went to the dresser, brushing a finger along the frame of the photo, holding strong against the river of tears that was building up behind my eyes. I missed them so much.
It was back in July when I lost my parents. We had been living in Solana Beach, a city north of San Diego. My parents left for the evening to watch the horse races in Del Mar. I had a ton of homework so I stayed home, assuring them I would be fine. I was thrilled they were doing something together, getting some adult time – and they had been enjoying the thought too.
Rain started to fall around 6:00 pm. Given it never rains in San Diego, the weathermen failed to predict it and I expected my parents would end their evening early. At eight o’clock, I was pacing the apartment wondering why I had not heard from them. The knock on the door came at 8:42 pm. Two uniformed police officers greeted me. They asked if my parents were Wes and Shelby Blake. Apparently, traffic had come to a standstill on interstate 5. Somehow, a diesel lost traction in the mix of water and oil on the highway, slamming into the back of my parents Camry, squishing it like an accordion.
The memory was still so clear to me, as though it happened yesterday. After the shocking news, I was taken to a group home where I spent the night. The next morning I anxiously waited for Aunt Maggie to arrive. I sprinted to her arms as soon as she walked through the door. I cried from the moment she arrived and all through our twelve-hour journey back to her home in Massachusetts. She could have rung out her blouse from the tears it had absorbed while I wailed on her shoulder.
The day of my parent’s funeral, I didn’t want to go through with it because somehow that made it all real. I had chosen my father’s favorite poem to read.
To Remember Me – a poem by Robert N. Test
Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face,
or love in the eyes of a woman.
Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.
Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.
Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.
Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.
If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses, and all prejudice against my fellow man.
Give my sins to the devil.
Give my soul to God.
If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.
Remembering how I stared at the beautiful words on the paper for a long time, I had composed myself to deliver it the way it sounded when my father used to read it to me. Breathing in deeply over and over, I attempted to gain control of my emotions. But in the end, they had won. I didn’t make it through the first verse before I started sobbing. Grief overcame me – an unwelcomed search warrant for my heart. Aunt Maggie had finished the poem for me as eloquently as she did everything else in her life.
Standing back from the few people that gathered around the caskets, I heard a voice from behind, startling me, and I turned to see an older woman smiling at me. The term “little blue haired lady” came to mind as she stood there watching me.