Authors: J.A. Owenby
The Truth She Knew
By J.A. Owenby
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products 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.
Copyright © 2016 by J.A. Owenby
Published by Kindle Direct Publishing
All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting J.A. Owenby. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
Edited by Molly McCowan
Cover Art by Andrew Brown
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To my husband, you made this book possible.
and I love you muches, and muches, and muches more than that.
To my kids, no matter what, I love you always.
Mom, thank you for sharing your gift. I miss you.
Molly McCowan, my
stuck with me now. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and all the tears you made me cry as my story and
been a beautiful thing.
Sheri Kaye Hoff, I
have done it without you. Thank you for believing in me and helping me believe in myself. You have value beyond
blessed to have you in my life. Here’s to Vegas!
To the real Emma and Joss, you’ve stayed in my heart no matter where my path led. Thank you for never giving up on me.
To my wonderful and crazy friends who have supported me through all the stages of this book. I love you all: Jeannie and Dale Kemper, Cheyanne and Taylor Wright, Aubrey and Sundance Minear, Stan and Merry Furgison, Jason and Jessica Pavelka, Ed Julian, Gabe Jones, Tina Mattern, Jenny Cornwell, Angie Fowler, Sissy Plummer, and Kara Long.
Xena the Warrior Princess, I know I’ve driven you a bit crazy at times, but thanks for being such an amazing friend.
not sure I could have done it without you making me laugh and pouring wine down my throat.
To the Lake Hamilton High School class of
awesome! Thank you for the wonderful memories that stayed with me, and for all of your support.
I hate spiders and scorpions. Hate them. Hate . . .
Mama didn’t want me. In fact, she would’ve traded my soul back for someone different if God would’ve let her, but he didn’t, so she was stuck with me. She reminded me of this on a consistent basis, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t change her mind. Finally, I had to make a choice: her or me.
My heels clicked against the cold tile floor of the hospital and my heart fluttered as I searched the room numbers.
I rubbed my clammy hands against my jeans as I saw the ladies’ restroom and hurried toward it. I needed a minute before I reached her room. I pushed the door open and scanned the bathroom for anyone else. It was empty.
My purse landed with a thud on the bathroom counter. I turned the cold water on, splashed it on my cheeks, and wiped my face with a paper towel.
Breathe,” I muttered. “She can’t hurt you anymore. You’re grown.”
My pep talk wasn’t working. Fear was gnawing at my stomach.
I reached into my bag, grabbed my powder compact, and touched up my makeup. My green eyes shone brighter against the redness left from my tears. I ran a brush through my long, blond hair and dabbed a hint of gloss on my lips, more out of habit than need.
Let’s do this, Lacey. Suck it up,” I said to my reflection. I released a slow, deep breath and headed out of the restroom and down the hall toward the ICU.
My hand trembled as I approached her room and reached for the door handle. I didn’t know what to expect. What would it be like, seeing her after all this time?
The door opened and closed behind me without a sound. I pulled the curtain aside and tried to comprehend what was in front of me.
The room was silent except for the rhythmic
of the breathing machine. The ventilator had left its mark on Mama’s face, and her upper lip was swollen and bruised.
As I pulled the chair closer to her and sat down, I half-expected her eyes to flutter open and her lips to whisper what a bitch I was. But she lay still.
My goodbyes had been said years ago, but this was different; this was final. There were no more second chances, or third. None, ever again.
I stood up and paced around the tiny room. I should have been holding her hand and begging her to wake up so we could forgive each other, but I couldn’t. It didn’t matter how many years we’d been apart—every time I thought about her I remembered how she had cost me everything. And not once did she ever utter the words
. In her mind, it had all been my fault.
I leaned against the wall and tucked a piece of hair behind my ear. In spite of my resistance, tears pooled in my eyes.
Are you happy now?” My voice quivered and only the sound of the ventilator responded to my question.
It amazed me how I could love her and hate her at the same time. I knew I was supposed to love and honor my parents, but how could I when she had almost cost me my life?
My mind raced with dark memories and then I realized that for the first time in my life I was minutes away from being free. Relief washed over me as the tears flowed down my cheeks. I pushed the memories away. With freedom just around the corner, I needed to say what I felt even if it was locked away deep in my heart.
I approached Mama and brushed her thin, brown hair away from her forehead. I stared at her, her image burning into every part of my mind. Her eyes were closed with no movement and there was no response to my touch. She’d already left—her body only remained breathing due to the machines.
I’ve missed you, Mama,” I whispered. “As much as I hate you, I love you more. I wish things had been different. I wanted you to love me so badly. Maybe now you finally will.”
I kissed her forehead and stepped back, wondering if death would finish the job quickly. Knowing Mama, she would hold on as long as she could to capture everyone’s attention for her grand finale. The doctor thought it wouldn’t take any longer than a few hours for her body to stop breathing on its own. I hoped it would happen sooner.
I left Mama’s room and walked down the hall to the ICU waiting room. My older sister Krissy, the golden child, was leaning against the wall as she stared out the window.
Krissy,” I said as I approached her.
She turned toward me, her eyes rimmed with redness. We stared at each other for a few moments, and then I nodded.
Lacey, are you sure? You don’t need any more time?” Krissy asked.
She pushed herself off the wall, wiped her eyes, and turned away to find the doctor. It was time to disconnect the machine.
With my goodbyes said, I walked toward the hospital exit. I burst through the sliding doors and came to a quick stop as the fragrance of the spring rain filled my nose. The walkway was lined with bright green grass and an abundance of red and pink tulips. The last drops of rain slid off the tree leaves as I breathed it all in. It was breathtaking.
I was finally free
It was my favorite day of the week: Friday. Classes were over, homework was finished, and I was minutes away from clocking out at work. The party had been planned at our student center during the first week of college, and by week three, we were ready.
Jocelyn’s mom didn’t care if we partied at her house; in fact, she said she preferred to keep an eye on us since most of us were eighteen and nineteen. She figured if we were going to drink we should be somewhere safe, and we didn’t want our parents to find out. That was the ultimate downfall of attending the local community college—most of us still lived at home.
I knew if Mama found out, there would be hell to pay. It didn’t matter if I drank or not; just being there would get me put on lockdown. That’s why I usually spent the night with Jocelyn.
Mama somehow knew more about my private life than I did. She said God talked to her. Although it was irritating when God ratted me out, I secretly wished he would talk to me a little bit too.
The time clock punched my card, which read
Jack’s Department Store
in bold letters across the top. I replaced it in the time card holder and said goodbye to my coworkers as I made my way down the employee hall and out the back of the store. Car lights shone in my face as Jocelyn honked her horn. I waved as she pulled around the parking lot. The backseat of her maroon Camaro was filled with giggling friends as I slid into the passenger seat.
Hey, Lacey!” they all chimed.
Hey, y’all. I’m so glad I’m done working. Oh my God, if I had to listen to one more whiny child in the store I swear I was going to smack the hell out of someone.”
I have no clue how you do it all. You work, go to school, edit the college paper, and still find time to party on the weekends,” Tammy said.
I wouldn’t call watching you fools get drunk partying, but I do love hanging out with you, especially when the guys show,” I said.
One of these nights we’re going to get you so drunk! No more of this, ‘no thank you’ shit,” Tammy chided. “What’s your reason for not drinking again?”
My reason? I like my teeth in my mouth and not scattered across the floor,” I replied. “My mom would beat my ass.” My jaw clenched at Tammy’s constant nagging.
Y’all leave Lacey alone,” Jocelyn said. “If she doesn’t want to drink, she doesn’t need to. Just because y’all are drunks doesn’t mean she needs to be lying on the floor next to you.” She laughed, her blue eyes dancing as she glanced at me.