Authors: Neta Jackson
Tags: #ebook, #book
who do i talk to?
Other Novels by Neta Jackson Include:
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Series
The Yada Yada Prayer Group
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down
The Yada Yada Prayer Gets Real
The Yada Yada Prayer Gets Tough
The Yada Yada Prayer Gets Caught
The Yada Yada Prayer Gets Rolling
The Yada Yada Prayer Gets Decked Out
The Yada Yada House of Hope Series
Where Do I Go?
who do i
Â© 2009 by Neta Jackson
All rights reserved. No portion of this book maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meansâelectronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any otherâexcept for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Published in Nashville, Tennessee by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a trademark of Thomas Nelson Inc.
Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, e-mail [email protected]
Published in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920, www.alivecommunications.com.
Scripture quotations are taken from the following: the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
. Copyright Â© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
, New Living Translation, copyright Â© 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
THE NEW KING JAMES VERSION
. Copyright Â© 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The KING JAMES VERSION of the Bible. Public domain.
“I Go to the Rock,” words and music by Dottie Rambo. Â© 1977 New Spring, Inc. (ASCAP).
Administered by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
“Lord, Prepare Me,” words and music by John W. Thompson and Randy Scruggs. Â© 1982 Whole Armor Publishing Co. Administered by The Kruger Organisation, Inc. (TKO). All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
“'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” words by William Kirkpatrick, 1883â1921. Public domain.
“I'll Fly Away,” words and music by Albert Edward Brumley, 1905â1977. Â© 1932 in
by Hartford Music Co. Renewed 1960 by Albert E. Brumley & Sons/SESAC (admin. by ICG). All rights reserved. Used by permission.
This novel is a work of fiction. Any references to real events, businesses, organizations, and locales are intended only to give the fiction a sense of reality and authenticity. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Who do I talk to? / Neta Jackson.
p. cm. â (A Yada Yada house of hope novel ; bk. 2)
ISBN 978-1-59554-524-4 (pbk.)
1. Christian womenâFiction. 2. Shelters for the homelessâFiction. 3. Chicago (Ill.)âFiction. I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
09 10 11 12 RRD 6 5 4 3 2 1
To Brenda Williams,
outreach coordinator at the Joshua Center in Chicago,
who dispenses no-nonsense help, hope, and love
to women both on and off the street . . .
“ Because,” as she says, “I've been there.”
Springs protested in the darkness as a lumpy body turned over on the bottom bunk. From another bunkâone of four lining the walls of the small bedroomâa pair of nearsighted eyes peered anxiously into the shadows, making out the dim outline of her roommate trying to get comfortable on the narrow mattress.
“Lucy?” The voice was tremulous, a cracked whisper. “Are you awake?”
“Mmph.” The springs groaned again.
For several moments all was quiet. Thenâ“Lucy?”
A long sigh. “Whatchu
, Miz Martha? It's late.”
“Is Gabrielle asleep?” The anxious whisper poked the darkness.
“Fuzz Top? Think so. Ain't heard nothin' from her bunk. But if you don' stop talkin', you gonna wake her up.”
“But she was crying. I could tell. A mother knows.”
“Why was she crying?”
A snort from the other bunk. “She got her reasons.”
“But . . .” The unsteady whisper trailed off. The elderly woman reached a hand out from under the blankets provided by the homeless shelter until she touched thick doggy hair, newly washed and silky. A rough tongue licked her fingers. Now the voice choked up. “I was just so happy you and Gabrielle found Dandy, I didn't ask why she's sleeping at the shelter tonight with me. Shouldn't she be home with her boys?”
The woman named Martha slipped her hand back under the covers, pulled them up under her chin, and closed her eyes. Her slight body made only a small ripple under the blankets. It was her first overnight at Manna House. She felt a little strangeâbut her daughter had come to stay with her a night or two, that's what she said. Martha was glad, even though she didn't know why Gabrielle was sad. And her new friend Lucy was “sleeping over,” too, just like a slumber party.
Martha giggled. A homeless shelter! Noble would roll over in his grave if he knew where she'd ended up. But she wasn't lonely here, not like she'd been in the big old house in Minot. And Dandy was asleep on the little rug by her bed, just like always. He'd been lost all day . . . but she couldn't remember exactly why. Had he run away? No, Dandy never ran away. Well, it didn't matter. He was safe now, snoring gently beside the bunk bed. But . . .
Her eyes flew open, staring at the bottom of the upper bunk overhead. Somebody had said,
“What's that dog doing here? Manna House don't allow no dogs!”
Oh dear. Would the shelter let her keep Dandy? Oh, she couldn't stay another day if Dandy wasn't welcome.
She rose up on one elbow. “Lucy! You still awake? Do you thinkâ?”
“Miz Martha! If you don' shut up and go to sleep, I'm gonna come over there and bop you one.” Martha's roommate flopped over, turned her back, and the springs groaned once more. “Wonkers!” The gravelly voice settled into a mutter. “I get more sleep out on th' street than I do in a roomful of talky wimmin.”
A lawn mower rumbled through my dream, shredding it beyond remembering.
Semiconsciousness rose to the level of my eyelids, and they fluttered in the dim light.
Uh-uh. Not a lawn mower. Snoring.
Philip was snoring and popping like a car with no muffler. I reached out to roll him over onto his sideâ
My hand hit a wall. No Philip in the bed. Something was wrong. What was it? A heavy grief sat on my chest, like someone had died.
I struggled to come to full consciousness and half-opened my eyes. Above me, all I could make out in the dim light was a rough board. I stared, trying to make sense of it. Why was I lying underneath a wooden board? Was
the one who died? Was I inside a wooden coffin?
A surge of panic sent me bolt upright. “Ow!” I cracked my head on the board, and the snoring stopped. Rubbing the tender spot, I squinted into dimly lit space and made out three bunk beds, one against each wall of a small room.
Mine was the fourth.
Blowing out my relief, I swung my feet over the side of the lower bunk but was startled as a hairy face pushed its cold nose against my bare leg with a soft whine. I reached out and touched the familiar floppy ears.
My mother's dog . . .
And suddenly all the cracked pieces of my life came into focus.
I'd just spent the night at Manna House, a homeless shelter for women, where, until yesterday, I'd been on staff as program director.
The small lump in the bunk across from me was my mother.
The bigger lump in the bunk next to her, producing the high-decibel racket, was Lucy, a veteran “bag lady,” who for some odd reason had befriended my frail mother.
Mom and I were “homeless” because yesterday my husband had kicked both of us
the dog out of our penthouse condo along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, changed the locks, and skipped town . . . taking my two sons, P. J. and Paul, with him.
As reality flooded my brain, I fell back onto the bunk, bracing for the tears I knew should follow. But the well was dry. I'd cried every drop the evening before and long into the night. Now raw grief had settled behind my eyes and into every cavity of my spirit.