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Authors: Steven Manchester

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The Rockin' Chair

BOOK: The Rockin' Chair
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Early Praise for Steven Manchester's
The Rockin' Chair


The Rockin' Chair
is a tightly knit tearjerker—a work better than anything Nicholas Sparks has ever written.”

– Jon Land, bestselling author of
Pandora's Temple

“Move over, Nicholas Sparks!
The Rockin' Chair
is a literary gift. Captivating and endearing from the very first page, Steve Manchester weaves a tender and powerful story that you will not forget. Make way for this new writer at the top, and make room for more of his books on your shelf!”

– Susan Farr-Fahncke, Editor,
www.2theheart.com

“In
The Rockin' Chair
, Steven Manchester has created a book that can change the world. If only everyone would listen to Grampa John and express their love for each other, what a different world it would be.”

– Heather Froeschl, Book Reviewer,
BookReview.com

“The Rockin' Chair
is a fantastic read! From the opening chapter to the final page, it is a rivoting tale. I highly recommend it.”

– Dorothy Thompson, Editor,
The Writers Life

“The Rockin' Chair
is a wonderful story; one that I couldn't put it down once I got started. And yes, I cried in the end.”

– Elodia Tate, Author,
Open My Eyes, Open My Soul

“This exquisitely tender novel propels the reader into the soul of one old man who, while short on schooling, is long on heart. Each and every single character in this tale is lovingly crafted and drawn out. The prose, rich in sensory images and emotion, tweaks at the heartstrings and fills the eyes. This is one extraordinary novel, one that reaches out, pulls the reader in, and doesn't let go until the very last page is turned. Powerful, moving and ever so tender,
The Rockin' Chair
packs a thoroughly unexpected yet delightful and tender punch.”

– Denise Clark, Author,
Cross the Line

“Steven Manchester is a magician of words. One of my favorite authors, he is a writer with the flexibility of experience and imagination to take you from realms of supernatural encounters to thresholds of passion and places in between you've never imagined possible.
The Rockin' Chair
is a story that many of us will identify with, share memories, joys and tears. You cannot miss
The Rockin' Chair
!”

– Victoria Valentine, Publisher,
Skyline Literary Magazine

“If you enjoy a well-written, emotion filled book, this is definitely for you.
The Rockin' Chair
is a very touching book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and personally recommend it to everyone.”

– Carol Castellanos, Book Reviewer,
Midnight Reviews

Raves for Steven Manchester's #1 Bestseller
Twelve Months


Twelve Months
is an amazing book. The reading will bring out every emotion imaginable.”

– Single Titles

“An undeniable heart-tugging read that you will not forget and leave you with a feeling of serenity. An extraordinary read! Not only do I highly recommend this book but would absolutely state that it is a must read!”

– CMash Reads


Twelve Months
is a beautiful, heart-warming, and necessary read for all, especially those caught up in the monotonous schedule of work, food, TV (or other techno gadgets), et al. Steven Manchester writes about life as it really is and really could be! Terrific!”

– Crystal Book Reviews


Twelve Months
has got to be one of the most poignant and emotional novels I've ever read …. I loved this book and highly recommend it! Just make sure you have the tissues handy.”

– Minding Spot

And
Goodnight, Brian

“Steven Manchester has a gift for expressing through his writing the complicated and transcendent beauty of the human experience with poignant clarity.”

– Yolanda King, eldest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King

“Steven Manchester's
Goodnight, Brian
is a poignant, inspiring story about resilience and faith and one family's enduring love that should be a model for us all.”

– James S. Hirsch, bestselling author,
Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend


Goodnight, Brian
by Steven Manchester is a must, must read! Yes, I did say must twice. This is because this book should not be missed.”

– Cheryl's Book Nook

“I felt this book was AMAZING. Absolutely amazing. Anyone who has a heart will love this novel.”

– A Novel Review

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.

The Story Plant
Studio Digital CT, LLC
P.O. Box 4331
Stamford, CT 06907

Copyright © 2013 by Steven Manchester
Jacket design by Barbara Aronica Buck

Print ISBN-13: 978-1-61188-067-0
E-book ISBN-13: 978-1-61188-068-7

Visit our website at www.thestoryplant.com

All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever, except as provided by US Copyright Law. For information, address The Story Plant.

Also by Steven Manchester

Twelve Months
A Christmas Wish
Goodnight, Brian

For my father's grandchildren,
and for Paula—my love

Acknowledgments

First and forever, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. With Him, all things are possible.

To Paula, my beautiful wife, for loving me and being the amazing woman that she is.

To my children—Evan, Jacob, Isabella and Carissa—for inspiring me.

To Mom, Dad, Billy, Randy, Darlene, Jeremy, Jenn, Jason, Philip, the DeSousa's—my beloved family and foundation on which I stand.

To Lou Aronica and Peter Miller, for giving me another priceless opportunity to share my writing with the world. I cannot express my gratitude for Lou's patience, generous mentoring, and belief in my work.

“The truth has many perceptions, while attitude shall dictate the end of life's memories.”

– Evan McCarthy

CHAPTER 1

A
n
angry wind whipped down from the mountains and tapped Alice on the shoulder. With chattering teeth, she drummed up the courage to open one eye. There was no one there. She shuddered. This time the horrible sensation was the product of fear.
It's gettin' dark
, she thought.

A tree branch snapped in the wood line. “Mama!” she squealed out in terror. But still she was alone.
Simmer yourself
, she thought.
Ma'll be along soon.
While the wind wailed a haunting song, she forced herself to think about her friends.

She could envision them all nestled by a tribal fire, listening to one of the elders spin glorious tales of “great hunts and courageous warriors.” Memories of early winters flashed before her eyes—the beautiful sunsets, roasted chestnuts that led to snowball fights and kissing cute Bobby Simone full on the mouth. She looked up to find her ma grinning, while red-faced Bobby ran away.

Suddenly, in her mind's eye she was a few years older—wearing her favorite peach polka dot dress. Beneath the whooshing of a weeping willow tree, she shared some nervous conversation with a tall, teenage boy named John. She rambled on and completely opened up, while he nodded his mop of dirty blond hair and hung onto every word.

When it was John's turn, she recalled him trying to impress her. “I was just about to save the calf from the icy pond …” he was boasting when his animated talk caused him to stumble over tree roots that ran across the ground. John threw out his hands in hopes of bracing the inevitable fall. At first, he didn't go down but his arms remained extended like a puppet master who had forgotten his toys. Red-faced, gravity quickly insured the rest of his embarrassment. She giggled at his awkwardness.

But that never happened
, she thought, her heart racing from the strange experience that had just played out in her mind. While trying to catch her breath, she searched her childhood memories for confirmation.
Never happened
, she told herself again. Then, like a runaway locomotive threatening to derail, one vivid and unexpected picture after the next headed straight at her.

Alice watched herself—now somewhere in her mid-20s—sitting at an old kitchen table. The telephone rang. She picked it up. It was Mrs. Lecomte, a teacher from the elementary school. Alice listened for a few minutes before replying, “No, Ma'am, I didn't realize Hank's had problems readin'.” She listened more and stood. “Well, I know it ain't 'cause he's stupid,” she snapped defensively. “And trust me, my boy's anything but lazy.” She tried to calm her nerves, allowing the woman to finish her spiel. “Yes, Ma'am, I'll do what I can to encourage him at home,” she promised and hung up the phone. She flopped back down into her seat thinking,
What are we ever gonna do with that boy?

The word
boy
echoed in another chamber of Alice's mind.
What boy?
she wondered.

In the next scene, Alice could feel herself crawling out of her skin from excitement. Gray-haired and liver-spotted, she nearly burst through the screen door onto the front porch. With bent fingers, she snatched the swaddled newborn out of the old man's lap—but not before stealing a kiss from him. “This baby needs to be with his grandma,” she teased, and started for the house with the plump little package nestled safely in her arms. Just inside the shadows, she paused to see the old man pulling a jackknife from his denim overalls.
He's gonna carve Georgey's name into the seat of that rockin' chair,
she figured, and felt a charge of pure love rip through her body.

An icy wind yanked Alice back into the present. She shook her head, trying to clear it from all the jumbled thoughts that were making her dizzy. She peered down at her trembling hands.
They look so old … and wrinkled from the cold
, she thought.

In the distance, someone's heavy breathing moved toward her. The footsteps were foreign and the breathing labored.
It definitely ain't Mama,
she decided, and a rush of panic shot out from her chest to all four limbs. The footsteps grew louder. She shut her eyes as tight as she could and held her breath.
Dear Lord, please let it be Mama
, she prayed.

“Oh God, Ma!” the approaching woman said, panting. “You had us all scared out of our wits!”

Alice felt someone blocking the last sliver of sun and slowly opened one eye. A pretty, young stranger was looking down at her, smiling. Alice took a deep breath and opened the other eye.

Elle bent before Alice and extended her hand. “Come on now. It's time to go home,” she said.

Alice shook her head and looked away.

Elle smiled, compassionately. “It's okay, Ma. I'm here to take you home,” she said and kept her hand extended.

Ma?
Alice thought and didn't know what to do—or think. Reluctantly, she took the stranger's hand. As she rose, her stiff bones creaked and complained. She felt wet and cold with the wind hitting her backside.

“I think you took another year off Pa's life.” Elle chuckled and finished pulling Alice to her unsure feet. The stranger's familiar touch surprised Alice but she didn't question it. Instead, she followed her every step.

As they made their way through the frosted meadow, Alice stopped short.

“What is it?” Elle asked, startled by the sudden halt.

“I ain't supposed to …” Alice began, but the thought of staying behind felt a lot scarier than following along. And then another thought hit her; a happier thought from a different place and time.

Alice was young again and holding hands with that lanky, blond-haired boy—John. They'd just arrived at a farmhouse and, except for the candle that burned brightly in one of the bedroom windows, they found it in complete darkness. John whispered to her, “It's my ma's way of welcoming you home.”

She smiled wide and then the truth hit her. “Your ma knows we eloped?” she asked.

John laughed. “Just wait here. I'll be right back.” He snuck in, blew out the candle and then led her into the barn.

Once inside, he turned to her and extended his hand. “May I have this dance, Mrs. McCarthy?”

“You're as crazy as a June bug, Mr. McCarthy,” she said. “I don't hear no music.”

John pulled her to him. “Well then,” he said, “you ain't listenin' hard enough are ya?”

While the moon poured through the loft and illuminated their silhouettes, they began to sway in each other's arms. The soft kisses turned passionate, while Alice helped John off with his shirt. He led her to a bed of hay where they lay together, naked. And for hours, they finally found out what it meant to be all grown up.

More confused than ever, Alice gasped for breath. She looked at Elle—who was still waiting patiently. Alice tried to speak but the words got stuck. It was all she could do to pat down the giant lump in her throat. “I'm just not sure about anything,” she finally admitted, while tears swelled in her eyes.

“It's going to be okay,” Elle said, rubbing her back. “We'll get you home and get you all cleaned up. You'll feel better after you rest … I'm sure of it.”

While Elle resumed the escort, Alice began to weep.
Somethin' ain't right
, she thought, and then everything became hazy again.

By the time the darkness had completely crept in, they were in someone's house. The friendly stranger gave Alice two pills and tucked her into bed. Alice was grateful but wondered,
Why don't she just take me home and put me in my own bed?

BOOK: The Rockin' Chair
8.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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