It was mid-September when I got Leta's request for a review. I saw that she was going to be 83 Next month and immediately thoughts that she should be honored for her exploration of writing novels in her later years! I think I wrote right back and said...How about an author spotlight!
Your dedication and activities are a role model for many of us and I'm so happy Leta said Yes!
While we spend some time getting to know her and the books already available, I wanted to start by giving you a sample of her work, sharing an excerpt from her upcoming novel! Yes, she had me hooked, especially with that hanging suspenseful closing, right? Can you get a feeling about whether you'd like to read a book by reading an excerpt?
Leta will be here through the week...including my reviews for her first two novels... Do make a special effort to congratulate Leta... Oh, yeah, Leta, what day is your birthday?!
Dancing to the Silence
I am trying to find myself. Sometimes that's not easy. - Marilyn Monroe
1 – Mr. Pib
Florence, Oregon – Saturday, February 14, 1998
Macy Eldridge knew something was terribly wrong even before she opened her eyes and found Mr. Pib stone-cold dead on the pillow beside her.
She lay under the warm blankets, eyes closed but suddenly alert, listening to the sounds of an ordinary February morning—the lashing of tree limbs against the side of her single wide mobile, the rain drops that bounced off the metal roof like a barrel of marbles dumped from the hands of some giant in the sky. But the foul weather wasn’t what had jolted her from the depths of deep sleep. Bad dream? No. Sleep had been dreamless and restful. What was it?
A sense of cold foreboding crawled over her skin like a snail leaving a slime trail of uncertainty and dread.
Lori Kay? Julie Anne? Chad? Grandkids? No. No phone calls.
Surely it couldn’t be the fact that it was her sixtieth birthday and she would spend it alone. That was nothing new. She had spent it alone even when sitting across the table from David as he read the morning paper with the date right there, in black and white, at the top of the page.
Okay, so he never remembered your birthday. Don’t be petty.
He never remembered anything else either.
David was a good man. Remember what he did for you. Oh, he remembered that all right and he never let me forget either.
That’s not fair. David was always kind to you.
Yeah. He almost killed me with kindness.
Besides you won’t be alone. There’s the kids.
Ah, yes, the kids. Flowers from Chad. A package in the day’s mail from Julie Anne followed by a call sometime during the day. Lori Kay out of town for a few days, a speaker at a conference in Bend. She might call if she remembered and she might take Macy to lunch when she returned… if she remembered. Lori Kay had a lot on her mind these days.
Stop the pity party.
What was she doing talking to herself? She needed to get her butt up and deal with it… whatever it was. What Macy really wanted was to pull the covers over her head, sleep another hour, and hope that when she awakened again this awful feeling of dread and whatever was causing it, would be gone.
Instead, she inhaled deeply and opened her eyes. The breath hissed out of her chest like air out of a fat balloon and her heart withered into a hard little fist, barely beating.
Mr. Pib’s green eyes were open, frozen in a blank stare. She curled onto her side, facing him, lay her palm on the side of his head, and let the flash flood of tears sweep away all thoughts except that Mr. Pib was gone.
Finally, she wiped her eyes and her drippy nose on her pajama sleeve. It’s just a damn cat, she told herself and burst into tears again.
He wasn’t just cat. Mr. Pib—short for Pain in the Butt—first let Macy touch him thirteen years ago, on a sunny day in late May when the wild rhododendrons were in riotous bloom. The day David was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
They were still living in the big house south of town with a view of Woahink Lake when Macy first saw the scrawny grey-striped tabby. He wasn’t much of a cat when he crawled out from under the back deck. His fur was patchy, half an ear was missing and a yellowish pus filmed over one eye. Macy couldn’t tell how old he was for sure, but he was young, and he was feral.
The next day, she bought cat food at McKay’s Market and put a small dish of food, along with a bowl of water on the end of the deck. For a week, the food disappeared during the night. Then Macy started putting the food out in the morning and picking up the dish before dark. The third morning, she spotted the cat hunkered under a rhododendron, watching. She put the dish down, went inside and stood at the kitchen window to see if he was hungry enough to take the risk.
The cat ran across the deck, crouching low, gulped the food, then disappeared into the bushes. After a few days, Macy stood in the open door while he ate, then just outside. It took almost two months for the cat to allow Macy to pet him, then finally one day, the morning of the day of David’s diagnosis, Mr. Pib allowed Macy to pick him up. It was as if he knew she needed a friend.
Mr. Pib had been her constant companion ever since, a source of comfort during those long years of David’s decline. First, Parkinson’s, then a diagnosis of dementia, and in the last year, colon cancer. It had taken David a long time to die.
But Mr. Pib was gone in an instant, without warning. Of course, he was old, probably at least fourteen or fifteen, and he had been slowing down for quite some time, but somehow, his death was a shock. Macy wiped her eyes again as a nasty little thought sneaked out and sucker punched her right where it made her feel most guilty. You didn’t cry this much when David died.
No. She hadn’t.
Macy sat up, swung her legs out of bed and slipped her feet into a pair of fur-lined house shoes. She went to the bathroom then dressed in jeans, a plaid flannel shirt and a pair of rain boots. She took Mr. Pib’s favorite little blanket off the end of the sofa, carried it to the bedroom and carefully wrapped him in it.
The rain had settled into a light drizzle when Macy took a shovel from the storage shed and began digging a hole at the far end of the backyard. Was it against association rules to bury a cat in your yard? She didn’t know, but her yard was totally shielded by a mandatory natural greenbelt between the lots. Although her neighbors were only a few feet away, the screen of wild rhododendrons, huckleberries, azaleas, wax myrtle and other foliage was so effective she could only see the neighbor across the street from her front window, so who would know about the cat grave? Nobody but her.
The sandy soil was wet and heavy. Macy was perspiring under her rain jacket by the time she judged the hole to be the right size. She found a red metal tool box in the shed, dumped the tools on a work table and carried the container into the house. After padding the bottom with a towel, she gently lay Mr. Pib in the tool box, covering his blanket-wrapped body with another small towel. Macy carefully put the tool box in a large black plastic garbage bag, wrapped it snugly, then repeated it again with another garbage bag. The little metal coffin was as waterproof as she could make it.
Macy shoveled the sand back into the hole and tamped it down. In a day or two she would run in to the Woodsmen Nursery and buy a rhododendron to plant on his grave. Yellow for all the happiness he had given her.
After hanging her dripping rain coat and hat on a hook by the door, Macy turned up the heat in the pellet stove in the corner. She brewed a pot of strong coffee, and poured herself a cup. Dropping heavily into a chair at the small table in front of the bay window, she looked out at the dark asphalt street, glistening black in the rain.
It's not over. Even while lying in bed, the crushing pain of losing Mr, Pib almost squeezing the life out of her, still she had known as surely as she knew her name that trouble was not through with her this day. Her hand trembled as she lifted the cup and took a sip. But, why now? What had busted that secure padlock deep inside and unlocked the door to the dark chasm where the demon lived?
Maybe it was because, sitting here at this table, for the first time since she was seventeen years old, she was not responsible for someone or something. Maybe it was because all her life, her time and energy had been consumed doing what had to be done, but now there was nothing that absolutely demanded her attention. Had that sudden vacancy of responsibility given the demon it’s chance?
Macy thought she had long been done with this business, locked it away, kept it at bay and had relative peace for years, beginning way back, even before David got sick. She had expected to live out her life and die in peace, the locked-away demon dying with her, but now the cage door was rattling and she could hear the old fear calling her name.
Leta will be sharing an article with you tomorrow! Hurry Back!