New Sneak Peek today! (If you’ve missed any of the others, you can read them here.) It’s October, 1946, and Fred is back home in Florida. He hasn’t seen Lily in over a year…
Late in the evening, after Hubert and George had gone home again and the children were in bed, Fred sat on the porch steps, chin on his fist, staring up at the darkened sky. Most of the mosquitoes were asleep by this time. A breath of breeze cooled the air, whispering in the tops of the pines.
The screen door creaked behind him. He knew Mom’s step without turning around.
She stood silently for a minute, before lowering herself to the stoop beside him.
“What’s wrong Freddie?”
Freddie. A tremor snaked through him. He sucked a breath in quickly, held it a second, then let it out slowly and made himself relax. Only three women in the world called him ‘Freddie.’ Mom, Alice, and Lily.
But mostly Lily.
He forced his voice to come out steady. “I’m just watching the stars come out.”
Her right hand closed over his left one, pressing it into stillness against the well-worn step. He’d been rubbing his thumb and fingers together again, without noticing. “Are you?” He could hear the raised eyebrow in her voice.
“The stars have been out for an hour, Fred.”
Oh. He rubbed his chin. There wasn’t much to say to that. He didn’t look at her, but he could feel her looking at him.
The cicadas and crickets filled the silence.
“It’s Lily. Isn’t it?” Mom’s voice was gentle.
He watched it disappear beyond the edge of the porch roof. “I don’t know when I’m going to get my next job.”
“Something will come along. It always has. All summer.”
“But they were all just odd jobs, Mom. They don’t pay that well.”
“They paid better than I was expecting. I’d think you must have a good bit saved by now, seeing what you’ve been giving us.”
Yes, well, he wouldn’t try to explain that one. “It’s still not enough. Not nearly.”
“I’m sure you’ll find a salaried position soon. Why, you can do almost anything you put your mind to! Something’s bound to coming along if you wait for it.”
“I’m tired of waiting for it. Even if I got one tomorrow, I’d still have to save for months before I’d be near ready to pay for a ship’s passage there and back and have enough left to live on afterward! I don’t even have a house to put her in!” he jerked to his feet and started pacing. “I can’t wait much longer, Mom. I’ve got to get back to Lily. Every time I pick up a handful of water I think about her. All day while I’m working I’m seeing her in my head. The birds and the crickets all sing about her. The wind whispers her name in my ear. Mom, am I going crazy?”
She laughed. “Of course, dear. You’re in love.”
“Does it always feel like this?”
“More or less.”
Well. At least he was normal then. He sighed, and dropped back down beside her. “There’s got to be another way, Mom. There’s got to be. I just have to get back to her soon.”
“Have you prayed about it?”
“Till I’m blue in the face.”
“Sometimes the answer is ‘wait.'”
“For how long?”
This time she was the one who sighed. “Sometimes a lot longer than we want.”
She put her arm around his shoulders. “Get some sleep Fred. Remember? ‘He gives to His beloved, even in their sleep.’ Sitting here stewing won’t do you any good. Try sleeping on it. Maybe something will come to you.”
“You dropped something, Mom.” he reached to retrieve it for her.
“Oh! That article Carol liked so much. She got me to read again before bed.” Mom shook her head, taking the page from him. “That girl. The funniest things strike her fancy sometimes!”
The screen door wined and thumped shut behind her.
After another minute or two, Fred followed her inside.
He thought he’d have trouble falling asleep. But the day’s hard work caught up to him. The last thing he remembered was stretching out on the mattress, thinking about Mom’s words and wondering what in the world could possibly come to him in one night that hadn’t come to him already in the past eight months.
Next thing he knew, dishes were clattering in the kitchen, and the scent of hot grits and eggs had seeped under the door. His eyes fluttered open. Sunlight angled in between brown calico curtains that had once been a flour sack, then one of Margie’s dresses, and finally ended up in the window.
He blinked for a minute, stretched, and yawned, trying to remember what it was he’d just been dreaming about.
Then, slowly, he began to smile.
Are you wondering what he was smiling about? Sorry. I’m not telling. (Muhaha.) If I give away all the secrets, whose going to bother buying the book? 😉
Sorry I’ve been neglecting this blog (and my Facebook page) the past month or two. As I explained to a friend of mine, life has been so crazy lately that I sometimes feel like I’m doing good just to find time to shower and wash my clothing!!
Anyway. I should be putting out another blog post next week, gearing up for NaNoWriMo. Got some really exciting plans for November, that I can’t wait to tell you all about!
But that’s next week. For now, I’d better sign off. Leave a comment below if you liked this sneak peek, or have any suggestions, comments, or questions. It makes my day every time I hear from my readers!