Visitation #Friday Fun Reads #Fiction

Carrie was fourteen years old and lived in an apartment with her mother in New York City. A year earlier, her father wandered into traffic one night while drunk and was killed by an oncoming bus.

He hadn’t always been drunk. Carrie remembered many times as a child when he picked her up after school while between jobs and took her to the park where they flew homemade kites, and he pushed her on the swings and waited for her at the bottom of the slide. When she joined a softball league at school, he bought her a used glove, ball, and bat and showed her how to pitch, catch and throw. He occasionally took her for ice cream.

As she grew older, his drinking bouts increased in frequency. He rarely took her places after school and was hardly ever home when she went to bed. She often found him sleeping on the couch in the morning.

Her mother, Dianna, constantly berated him. He kept saying he was sorry, that he would stop drinking and get a job and keep it. He never quit drinking, and he never kept a job for long.

Dianna worked as a secretary at a Baptist church. Carrie was used to getting by on the meager salary her mother received. Most of the time, it was their only source of income, barely enough to pay the rent on their small, shabby apartment, let alone buy food.

On the night Carrie’s father died, when he didn’t come home for supper, her mother packed his clothes and other items in a box that she left outside the apartment door with a note. He never claimed his belongings.

During the following year, Carrie and her mother were forced to move to an even smaller, shabbier apartment, and Carrie had to switch schools. Dianna threw herself into the many projects at the church to help those in need. These took up a lot of her time, and Carrie was often left to fend for herself when she wasn’t in school. She didn’t attempt to make friends because the squalor where she lived embarrassed her, and she never kept in touch with kids she knew from her previous school.

One day after school, she boarded the bus, resigned to yet another evening alone with the cockroaches and leaking roof. She hated riding buses, since her father was killed by one, but on this cold Halloween evening, it was getting dark, and she didn’t want to walk alone at night. As she’d done many times, she’d stayed after classes to study in the library where it was warm. Now, as the sky gradually darkened, she found a seat in the back of the crowded bus and stared out the window at people and buildings, as it bumped along, stopping every so often to pick up and drop off passengers.

Someone sat next to her. A hand fell on her knee, and a familiar voice said, “Hey sweet pea.”

She jumped and turned to see a man who looked just like her father, wearing baggy blue jeans and his favorite plaid shirt, the clothes he wore the day he died. She detected no acrid stench of booze but a whiff of the cologne he wore when he was sober. Thinking he was just another pervert who happened to look, smell, and sound like her father, she turned back toward the window. “I know you don’t believe it’s me, princess, but it is,” he said, taking her hand.

Princess, that was one of the many names he called her. “Leave me alone,” she said, jerking her hand away and moving closer to the window. People turned and stared, and she wondered why.

“Honey, nobody can see me. I’m a ghost.”

“You’re nuts,” she said, turning back to him.

“So are you,” said a man across the aisle.

This couldn’t be real, she thought, as her face grew hot, and she stared at the man sitting next to her. She shook her head and blinked several times. “Carrie, you’re not going to get rid of me that easily.”

She turned back toward the window. She was nowhere near her stop, but she had to get off this bus now. Without a word, she reached for the bell to signal the driver to stop. The man’s hand shot up and grabbed hers. “You’ll have a long walk home if you get off now, bug-a-boo.”

How did he know where her new home was? This was ridiculous. “Besides, sweet pea, you really don’t want to go back to that fucking apartment with those god damned roaches, do you?”

Carrie smiled in spite of herself. She always thought it funny when her father used such colorful language when talking about things that didn’t appeal to her.

“Now that’s what I like,” he said. “a smile from my little girl.”

She looked around, wondering if she could move to another seat, but they were all taken. “Honey, I know I haven’t been the best of fathers lately, but I’m clean now. I haven’t touched a drop of liquor since last year, and I won’t ever again. I’m going to make it up to you. From now on, we’re going to have the best of times, just you and me.”

Just you and me? What did he mean? Was she going to die right here and now? She remembered something her mother said. The preacher at the Baptist church believed that people like her father went to Hell, a place that was always on fire, where there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. Was that where her father was taking her? She pictured herself being consumed by ugly, yellow flames.

“No, I don’t want to go to Hell,” she screamed, trying to stand and pull herself away from him.

He squeezed her hand. “It’s gonna be okay, honey. Daddy’s right here.”

He said those exact words the night her appendix nearly ruptured when she was seven, as she lay in the emergency room, tears streaming down her face, gripped by pain. He told her everything would be all right, and it eventually was. It was one of few kept promises.

A squeal of breaks brought her back to the present. She felt a jarring crash, then nothing.

***

The above appears in the Samhain edition of The Writer’s Grapevine, a magazine featuring stories, poems, articles, and news by authors and business owners who are clients of TELL-IT-TO-THE-WORLD Marketing. You can read past issues here and subscribe by sending a blank email to:  writersgv+subscribe@groups.io  This story was also published several years ago in Magnets and Ladders, another magazine, featuring work by disabled authors.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Celebrating Halloween #Wednesday Words

Growing up in Tucson, Arizona, during the 1960’s I went all out for Halloween. At the state school for the deaf and blind, where I endured the first five and a half years of my education due to my visual impairment, we dressed up and went from classroom to classroom trick-or-treating. We sometimes had a party.

At home, my mother dressed me up and took me around the neighborhood and to the homes of friends, where I collected candy, which I never ate. My favorite Halloween activity, though, was handing out treats to others who came to our door.

When I was twelve in 1973, we moved here to Sheridan, Wyoming. Often, by Halloween, snow was on the ground, and, at night, it was too cold to wear more than masks when going out trick-or-treating. None of the schools here had any festivities that I can recall.

I outgrew trick-or-treating. My parents were no longer interested in accompanying me, and my night vision wasn’t that good. So, I preferred to stay home and hand out treats.

When I was in the eighth grade, our church’s youth group hosted a Halloween party for the younger kids. I decided to dress up as a witch, and my paternal grandmother loaned me one of her dark wigs, which I wore with a mask and long dress.

My attire scared some of the little ones, who weren’t used to people wearing masks. Otherwise, the party was fun. I played music on a chord organ to accompany a cake walk, which the kids seemed to enjoy.

When I was a student at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, during the 1980’’s, my choir put on a haunted house one year to raise money. This time, I was Grandma Kimball, not necessarily a witch but apparently not a nice old lady, either. I wore a gray wig with a black skirt and sweater and sat in a rocker. When people came into the room, I gave an evil cackle. Again, I scared a few little ones, but I suppose that was all in a night’s work.

During the fifteen years I was a registered music therapist in a nursing home, the facility had a Halloween party every year. Children from the community were invited to trick-or-treat and play games. I wore a variety of costumes and performed various functions such as directing traffic and providing music for a cake walk.

One year, we had a haunted house, and I volunteered to conceal myself inside a box and stick my hand out the top from time to time in an attempt to scare anyone walking by. I don’t remember what costume I wore, and I’m normally not claustrophobic, but after about twenty minutes in that box with little air, I was sweating and having difficulty breathing. I stuck it out as long as I could until finally, in desperation, I leapt free of the box with a mighty cry, which, I think, scared everyone more than just my hand popping out every once in a while.

After I got married, my late husband Bill enjoyed watching me hand out treats to the neighborhood kids. After he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side, he couldn’t do that himself.

We didn’t have many kids, but that didn’t matter to him. Every year, during the six years I cared for him at home, he insisted that I buy a huge bag of Halloween candy and hand things out to the few kids who came to our door. Then, he ate the rest.

Now that Bill’s gone, I don’t celebrate Halloween. Since I don’t eat candy, I don’t see the sense in buying it, only to have maybe one or two trick-or-treaters. I lock my doors, make sure my outside lights aren’t on, and do what I normally do in the evenings: read a book or magazine, listen to podcasts, or watch a movie. That’s what I’ll do this year.

I was recently inspired to write a young adult novel by a quote from Erma Bombeck. “Your grandmother pretends not to know you on Halloween.” Having worked with nursing home residents suffering from dementia, I’ve come to this conclusion. Your grandmother may not be pretending not to know you any time of the year. The working title is Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, and I’m hoping to publish it next year. So, stay tuned.

***

What about you? How did you celebrate Halloween when you were growing up? What will you do this year during this time of uncertainty imposed by the coronavirus?

Thanks to this week’s Open Book Blog Hop prompt from Stevie Turner for inspiring the above. You can learn how to participate by clicking here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Novella Tells Compelling Family Story #Thursday Book Feature

You Can Thank Me Later

by Kelly Harms

Copyright 2019

 

Every year, Sophie, a chef, hosts her family’s Thanksgiving dinner at her restaurant. This novella is divided into three parts: Thanksgiving 2016, Thanksgiving 2018, and Thanksgiving 2020. With the help of an interesting cast of characters and a series of events, some hilarious, she comes to realize she has a lot for which to be thankful.

I like how each of the three parts begins with messages from family members who call Sophie on Thanksgiving Day when she’s apparently too busy preparing the meal to answer the phone. In the version I downloaded from Audible, beeps are inserted to make it sound like you’re listening to them on an answering machine. Actually, I think Sophie is using a cell phone, and voicemail doesn’t sound like that, but I’m not sure how it could have been rectified.

At first, I didn’t like Sophie. But then I was amazed at how she grew and changed in the course of the book. I was a bit disconcerted when I got to the last part, Thanksgiving 2020, and here we are only in 2019. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. I doubt much will have changed by next year, so it’s still realistic. But I don’t see why the author couldn’t have started with 2014, then moved on to 2016, then 2018.

Although this book is considered chic lit, it’s a wholesome, feel-good, holiday story. The Audible original isn’t very long, only a little over three hours. So, whether you’re a chic or not, after the Thanksgiving leftovers and dirty dishes are cleared away and the guests have gone, you could enjoy it with a glass of wine or a turkey sandwich.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

Over the Bridge and Along the Creek #Monday Musical Memories

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, here’s a little ditty I wrote to the tune of “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Years ago, when I was single, I often walked from my apartment to my grandmother’s home for family get-togethers, Thanksgiving included. My route took me over a bridge and on a walking path next to a creek, hence the song.

As you’ll note, I wrote two verses: one from the perspective of a blind person using a cane and the other from that of a guide dog user. I’ve never used a guide dog but know people who do. So, I hope I’ve portrayed that realistically. Now, click on the link below to hear me sing this parody.

 

Over the Bridge and Along the Creek

 

How about you? Did your family travel anywhere for Thanksgiving when you were growing up? How did you get there? Was there the usual fare: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc? Whatever you do this year for Thanksgiving, have a great holiday!

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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My Amazon Author Page

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

A Timeless Holiday Crlection #Thursday Book Feature

It may be a little early to think about the holiday season. But since this delightful book contains ideas for a Thanksgiving game and Christmas cards, it wouldn’t hurt to buy it early. Click below for a review of this wonderful collection of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and January poems and stories.

https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/review-the-christmas-carriage-and-other-writings-of-the-holiday-season/

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.