WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 3.

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Behind The White Gate is my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel. I wrote it in one month. I changed and edited it million times during the next eleven over more coffee than I care to admit to. And more may be to come. This version I am sharing, it gives a piece of me to you. I am open and love any feedback you might have. If you wish to share it personally you can do so at peggyjdavenport@gmail.com .

I am that kind of writer who can tell you what I write..or what I am writing is about. But I will say that this one came to me by passing a white gate on a daily walk to a job I hated and letting my imagination go wild, combined with the coming of womanhood and the women in and out of my life through out the years who had shaped, molded, and influenced me, for the good or for the bad. There are also intertwined lessons in life we often learn the hard way and their shaping of oneself and there is the old “Nothing goes according to plan.” It is being lost and becoming grown up and recognizing yourself in others around you…especially those you tried to be the least like. It is often the lack of denying any longer all that has made you…all of it.

Behind The White Gate is secret’s that aren’t secret, controversy we face today and are just now beginning to speak of but in many homes still in hushed tones. It is shame that you carry and hide from only everybody else who also has their own. It is memories of childhood perceived as an adult. It is letting go. It is changing. It is forgiving, but also not forgetting.

It is raw emotion and no giving excuses.

It comes from a place deep of them that I hope resonate on the page for the reader.

It is fiction drawn on very real emotion.

Past that, maybe you can hep me explain it better.

I will release over time, the Prologue, and then chapter by chapter. I had previously released some bits and pieces. This new full chapter by chapter release will be named WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 1 (and so on). You can easily search in the search bar for all pieces and keep in order as released.

Currently I hope this will go to publish sooner than later. I am in the search of, and have been researching for, a Literary Agent. Feel free to contact me at my email above.

Thank you for reading.

Peggy J. Davenport

 

Chapter Three

The bell jingled as I pushed open the door to the one bookstore on the island….the one that my older sister, Sas, worked at.

“You still work in the same place you did through highschool?” I picked up a book and flipped through and nearly tripped over the big dog laying on the floor like a rug.

“Correction; I own the bookstore I worked at through highschool.” She said coming around the corner with an armload of books, setting them on a big table on a huff of breath.

“Out of shape a bit?”

“Old a bit.”

“We aren’t old.”

“We are old.”

“Early thirties.”

“Mid and late thirties for me, Bird.”

“Remember when we thought thirty was as old as you got?”

“So what brings you here today? Hiding from the House?”

“Why is it that that house seems to have more judgemental life behind it than the old women who live there?”

“I’d agree there…sometimes it does seem that. If those walls could talk.” Sas stopped what she was doing and stood upright, looking toward something that didn’t seem to be there just after saying that, an intake of breath like she had said something she shouldn’t have said. Her hand to her lower back.

“It’s a story I wish I didn’t know.” I said, breaking the sudde fall of silence.

“Hand me that book over there.” Sas broke from wherever it was that her mind had gone and did what was one character trait we all shared, busied hersef suddenly to either distract or avoid from something else at hand.

“I just am getting around town…seeing the changes…and the not-so-changed.”

“Uh huh.”

“Sas….I’m back. I am not sure if I can stay.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Ok.”

“But ok what?”
Sas nearly shouted and slammed the book on the table, sending a stack falling over. “What do you want Bird? Do you want us to judge and yell and kick you out of a home you own just as much as we do? Do you want us to tell you what a spoiled brat you have been for sixteen goddamned years and how you hurt us all leaving the way you did? Do you want me to tell you how abandoned Mag felt? I felt?! Do you want us to not be doing so well? Like how do we have the gull to go on with life after Papa? Do you want us to be mad at you rather than accepting that you are here?! Do you want us to pry and ask why you are here? Well fine…why are you here?”

“You’ve seen and read the news. You know everything.”

“No…that is not why you happen to come back here. It’s about why you left. Bird, the thing is…you had a really bad life moment and until you are ready to heal you won’t. But Even with everything that happened I am not sure that healing is what you are here to find but it’s what you should be looking for. But I don’t beeive for a minute you are there yet ad I do’t beleive for a minute that you ran HERE to hide, either.”

“I don’t know how to talk about this, Sas.”

“Best told over liquer and some sit down time, right? Bird…I have to work right now.” She said as customer walked in with her own dog that made the rug on the floor suddenly jumped up and went to greet them with a waggling tail.

I set the book down I was flipping through and headed off. Sas was the level headed one. she had never dared raised her voice to us when we were lttle. she always seemed to feel that she had to compensate for Mama’s out bursts. To soothe our feet after walking on eggshells so to speak. To hear the shouting at me, and hear what wasn’t anger at al but something I didn’t understand was my second shock of the day, but n a world turned upsde down. A compliment from the woman who never gave them and a shouting from one who had never dared.
I walked through a sunshine filled street lost in some thought for awhile. I ddnt know how to act, react, or what to say. And I really didn’t know mysef why I was here. But I was more unsettled that I had not had the home coming I’d expected of shouting from certain people…or a cold shoulder. And argueing or…something. But what I was getting wasn’t what I had expected at all.

“Well, we are grown up’s for one thing, Bird. This isn’t sixteen years ago and the twenty years prior to that for us.” Mag said. My next destination, reflecting on Sas, had been Mag’s bakery. She had restored one of the many historic Down Town buildings, on the other end from Mag’s bookshop, and ran a successful bakery full of amazing crusty country breads, French breads, jalapeno cheese breads among more and also offered cheeses and deli meats and desserts as well as made wedding cakes.

I had told her the scene that I had just left, confused, and maybe looking to her for answers, never having even thought to seek out my little sister for such a thing. But she had always been the oldest as in mother hen by character even if youngest of the three by birth order, and even as Sas was the oldest by age but she was the Gatekeeper. Mag was the sweet and caring, sometimes the peacemaker but never the sugar coater. Our family seemed to lack one of those. But as kids she had always been good at watching over us and making every day play fun or making the best of bad situations and trying to keep us occupied and…safe from everything by trying to be the sunshine. Sas took care over al of us as a guard on watch. She was tender but stern. But never raised her voice to us. We lived through that enough and when it came down onto us she would intervene, redirecting the raised voices to hersef and away from us. It was as if the two of them felt it was their job to take care of everyone else in the different ways that were lacking by whom we needed it most. Father was loving and tender and attentive and there for us…but he was away for work often, too, and those hours could be filled with a lot to be missed. And when he was home sometimes what had come down on us through the day only turned to him. Though you would never know by his personality or smile the weight he carried from it…or that which he carried within himsef that eventually shocked us most. Pondering on Sas and Mag over the years I had often wondered how that must have effected such a young childs very soul. I wonder where I was between the status of care giver and guard. How had I become so lost? The lost child among them? Treated as the youngest when I was the second? Had I been that bad of a sister as not to contribute? Play my part?

Now I wondered at why Mag, or even Sas, didn’t have a family of their own and that both had chosen to stay on the island wasn’t a surprise, staying close to the family that they had since at a young age felt their duty to watch over care for and guard but running a bookstore did seem lower than Sas’s abilities even if she was an owner. I had kept in touch enough to know that her acedemic degree’s far surpassed small town shop ownership.

And there it was…the easy natural judgement that came out through our very viens in all of us. I was no less of what they were than them. And no better. This, too, was something that the good of the bad, we all shared with our Mother it now seemed. I was far from risen above it.

I sighed at the thought and wandered.

I had found my younger sister, Mag, where she worked at the bakery she owned and had opened on 21st street in the down town area just a few blocks away from her sisters bookstore in an old building I remember had been a bar on the first floor when I was a kid, with lofts on the few stories above it. It too looked as if a face lift had come along, likely much from Mag herself and her housecleaning and organizing skills. Craft must have grown into reconstructing. Taking a deep breath I had stepped in to see if another sister might be a little more kind. It wasn’t until just that thought entered my mind that it was something I supposed I needed, and was seeking, at least a little of.
I gathered myself a bit before walking in and seeing Mag in all of her adult grown up girl element. I truly hadn’t seen Mag at all since she was fifteen years old but she was who kept in touch and would keep me updated with monthly long letters. I did feel a dissconnect as a sister after so long of time. Or perhaps that was guilt I felt for not really being much of a sister back at all during that time. I wrote a few letters through the years that most just became a signed Christmas card at best effort or from time to time a postcard. Both of my sisters, successful on this small little island. This place I had felt was a dead town when I ran from it…and now seemed to be thriving pretty decently …more island-like than small town that I remembered it being. The homes were adorable and what had needed cleaning up had been cleaned up, I learned, from the Hurricane Ike. The sand had been hit hard, turned to ruble and drowned but bounced back with incredible speed and it seemed, a determination. New wood. New fences. New paint. New steps in front of many of the house’s. Not so much crumbling brick anymore. The Down Town and shops bloomed much more than I remembered and it seemed there was a younger crowd than the much older only retired community that I had in my memory of it being.

I told Mag this over a croissant and tea she served us up as we sat at a little table outside her shop on the sidewalk enjoying the passerby and sister chatting…for a little while I knew I wouldn’t be judged and could feel for a moment what real life was again.
She agreed and said that it wasn’t just my imagination and filled me in on much of the towns goings on and changes and why suddenly it seemed such a hip spot to be in…much contributed to the art scene and Austin had been somewhat outgrown, Houston was growing insanely but there was still us, a seperate and even devine little place, close enough to Houston and to Austin for an easy drive. The island was more artistic and beautiful and people were discovering that beauty and the historic buildings had become such a pupular thing in any town. Much ado given to HGTV type reality tv shows, no doubt.

“There is a ton of new fresh opportunity here. It would be a good spot for you if you plan on staying.”

“You sound like you work for the Chamber Of Commerce.”

“Well, I did for awhile, had a job with them through and straight out of school.”

A bakery shop didn’t surprise me about Mag. She was the nurterer, the peacemaker and with all that had from an early age come the idea that feeding people made Everything Better mentalilty. We all sought something of our own from an early age. One thing we got from our parents was independance and a sense of self…so why right now did I not have any of that? In fact why had I been the one who seemed to have spent my entire adulthood looking for it?

Mag leaned over and reached her hand over to lay on top of mine and looked me straight in the eye in her she is being oh so serious but had such a cute and charming face and voice that it was often hard to take her seriously way.

“Bird, you went through a horrific thing that nobody should ever have to go through. You are still you and you are free and you will and must find your way. I don’t think you realize just how much you even have already. But nobody expects you to have that down in only two weeks after the event. Give yourself time…we all give you time.”

Then she had to get back to work

…still without direction, I walked some more. That was the thing with the island, you could walk everywhere because everywhere was close by. Or you could walk many miles and just not notice the distance. Tree’s were still big in many places and gone from the hurricane of only a handful of years ago in others. Old falling down houses seemed to be getting a rebirth and there was an abundance of young families mixed in with the student life and the retired the island was known for as I walked through the down town again…everything on the island was just about a walk distance away. Only from time to time did an islander really get into their car to go a little further and for a little more bulk such as groceries if they did. The island was a part of Texas by address. One never said they were from Galveston Texas, but always stated it as Galveston Island. Once over the causeway or crossed by ferry, you were somewhere of it’s own. Even the air you breathed was different.
I walked until I came on the little coffeeshop I had passed a few times now. Deciding to stop, I ordered a plain coffee and thought that I might ponder on my plan in writing…as writing was my way. Always had been. That was my real gift, we all had song but only few of us had writing. And notes and lists were a big way of doing that. In LA I had written for the newspaper and several magazines I was published in as well as a documentary company and I wrote screenplays. In Los Angeles if you didn’t act you made the acting available. I had always wanted to write a novel but had not yet ventured into that.
I reached into my purse to pull out my notebook that I am never caught without. I always carry one with me and as I fill them they are kept on a shelf, often with notes I can return to later for an idea for writing, even a feeling of a particular moment, and whatnot…and found it missing…

“Looking for this? I believe it belongs to you.”
I looked up into the most strongly chiseled face holding what immediately struck me as the most kind eye’s after trailing up the view of my blue notebook held by a large strong hand and connecting to an arm covered in a sleeve of tattoo and then rounding off in shoulders that make a girl want to cry just to be able to lay her head on them.

“How do…?”

“I saw you leave without retrieving it last night after you sang you left straight away…I followed but lost site of you. Figured I would carry it until I found you around somewhere…it’s how it usually happens around here. And the very least I had some interesting lunch material to read.”

“You read it?!”

“I did. Every bit of it actually.”

“Well….thanks…a lot…” I grabbed the book from him a bit harshly and slipped it into my purse….feeling a bit violated but strangly not angry…and I would have done the same had I found a random notebook filled with much scribble. There are boundaries of a writer when a notebook lay’s on a desk or has a name inscribed in it whom you know, such as a relative, roommate or significant other who’s house you share with but notebooks left laying on sidewalks, at bus station or in bars are given full reign of non-privacy, sometimes words soaked up in the best yet unpublished stories one could ever read. I got up to leave….

“Rushing off already?”

“Why do people keep asking me that?” I said turning around on the toe of my foot.

“Do you leave often in a hush and not even with a goodbye? Maybe the people who get that a lot have a reason to ask it.”

“Cocky?”
“No, Del, actually. ”
Hand held out….
“Bird.”
“Well that explains the constant flight,then.”
“Nice to meet you, Bird. ” His hand felt strong, firm, holding mine….he looked straight in me eyes and had a confidence that I did not feel. “If it wasn’t for the newspapers and the small town gossip I never would believe the story written in that book could be true.”
So I heard you met Del today.” Mag said the very second I walked in the kitchen door, Sas behind me and her big ball of fur pushing around my legs.

“Does he think he’s a Pomaranian ?”

“Who, Del?”

“No, that dog of yours.”

“So deflecting your deflection of the topic of Del…here is some tea…it’s starting to rain again. Sit and talk.” Sas demanded. Only slightly joking behind her smirk.

My two sisters sat around the table in the breakfast nook with hot mugs of tea, pulling me right in. We had been very close growing up even though our mom discouraged it. She thought we should be extremely independent of each other…as well as of her. She should really write a book on parenting. Call it ” Everything I say, do differently.” But despite this we had always had a bond. We had the glue of certainty of our father up until his last unexpected day, we’d needed each other in the uncertainty that reigned over our home.

I sat and added honey to my mug.

I told them there wasn’t much to tell about Del.”He sat and we had a coffee and a chat…learned who we each were in the basics. He says he knows you guys of course and had heard all the small town gossip and read the newspapers so he know’s who I am.”

“Bird…not everyone talks about this family as much as you believe “Mag interjected.”There might be a second and then they hop to the next piece of news. It’s small town but not that bored. And Del is pretty well known but he doesn’t get involved in nonsense from everything I know of him. He may know about it but he doesn’t get involved.”

“It’s hard coming back to the faces of everyone who knows everything…I left this behind and now I’m back, giving them more meat to chew on.”

“Why then? Time to talk…what brings you back? What has the last sixteen years been? More than why you are back, why did you leave?” Sas said in her no-taking prisoners voice.
“One at a time.” Mag said spooning sugar into her tea and shooting Sas a calm-it look.

Hands wrapped around the mug and feet pulled up on the breakfast nook bench I sighed and gave in a little bit to my sisters. I knew I had left in a way that could leave people with questions, but not one of them did I really feel like going into. However being in this house again it would be hard to avoid them eventually. And eventually I would be answering if I wanted to or not. Again I wondered why I came to the place I’d have to talk most about what I wanted to talk least about instead of some far off location where no one would even recognize me from the news.

“I just…I left. I left here…went out those damn white gates with zero plan. Just to get away.”

“How do I even begin to explain? After the funeral…after what happened and what Papa did. I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t BE in this house anymore. I couldn’t take one more word spoken to me by…mom. Nothing. I can’t explain any further than that. I couldn’t stay here. So I left. There really isn’t more to it than that.”

Sas stepped in…to keep the conversation going but a slight change to do so for now “Where have you been…other than what we know of California. I mean in life…what’s your life like, Bird? We know nothing for so long and then the accident happen’s and you are back. It’s natural to want to know. It isn’t even that you left so much is how you left and why you shut the door on Mag and Me so firmly when you did.”

I nodded. I would want to know too if the shoe was on the other foot. And I understood what she was saying just then. I just did not understand what answers I had to give.

“All I could think about for as long as I could remember was leaving, or really even of mom leaving…and after the accident here. I did. It wasn’t all bad. Actually it was amazing and great. I am glad that I went out into the world and explored and learned. I went to California…dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean and fell in love as soon as I laid eye’s on the first man I saw I think…basically. We were just young…lasted a couple of years and then we just went our separate ways… Then I was single for a long time…hit the dating scene but remained mostly single…I got a job as a receptionist and went to school. Had that scholarship…you know the one mom hid from me…the last fight mom and dad had before he died?” The bitterness back in my voice heavy as syrup before I continued. “I did the whole school thing….got my degree and spent that time as a college student in a cute town…quaint but near the big city so had a pretty good variety. Big difference from here but still had the beach life, too. I surfed…rode my bike…ran mountain trails. Rode a motorcycle. Dated and had a lot of fun.” I paused and smiled at a few memories popping up for the trouble or near trouble I’d often gotten myself into but had had a lot of fun doing. Sighing I continued as my sisters sat ready for the story. “I worked for a few companies, anything that involved any kind of writing was what I had always leaned toward, freelanced a lot and then landed a job with a production company. They want me to still write for them, even after what happened but we haven’t gotten into talking about the details yet. I am taking some time. They are giving it to me. Under the circumstances. In all that time I made plenty of dating mistakes, even some job mistakes, lived in some really neat places and some really shitty one’s. Took extra jobs often, even waitressing. Had great friendships, went through others. You know…life. Danced a lot, had a lot of fun. Lived it up in Hollywood Hill mansion parties. Then…I got married….” I broke off….a part of the story I was nowhere able to touch just yet. Even they seemed to understand that.

They sat silent, staring and listening…ready for the story of the whereabouts and life of the long lost sister…I read true interest and concern in both their eye’s when I faced them but not the judgement and anger I had always anticipated. Especially for what I had done. For leaving and for …. However their eye’s remained clouded with question’s…and something else in both but different shades of that something else. Changing the subject onto another path; “But why did you….cut us off?” Mag asked slowly, treading carefully in how to even form the billions of questions that took her straight back to being a confused fourteen year old who’s sister she had looked up to had disappeared and abandoned her in a time when she herself needed her. The anger that she had held then was felt near the surface now but Mag wasn’t one to hold a grudge and soon that anger had diffused to confusion and loss but still not understanding. “Why couldn’t you have left but…called, wrote more, been in touch, even visited?”

I knew that this type of conversation would come. And I didn’t even know how to fully respond to it. I also realized then and there for the first time that I hadn’t left a house. I had left each person an individual with their own memories, thoughts, and feelings on the subject. And I hadn’t done it kindly. I hadn’t looked back. I cut not only the house out of my life…Galveston Island and my mother but also my sisters in the process. Knowing Mag had likely been most effected by my leaving I knew I had left a lot of hurt….but how could I convey to them the blinding hurt that caused me to do what I did, that I had left carrying? However at a time when our father died that we all shared…not just my pain and hurt, but all of our’s…all of our loss, it hadn’t just been my loss. It had been their loss too. I realized that when the rock of our family had abandoned me…he had abandoned all of us and then when I went and took off out of those white gate’s…never looking back…I had abandoned them too, especially Mag her easily sensitive young looked up to me self…but I saw, and realized for the first time…just how much I’d abandoned Sas too, leaving her dealing with it all alone..the unsureness of our mother but now without the barrier and brunt carrier of our father, nor his balance of love to our Mother’s lack of it, his calm to her storm…the loss and abandonment of our father and now the loss of her best friend and closest companion, a sister, who understood it all and with many younger siblings left to stand tall for, she had felt the weight of the entire house fall directly on her own shoulders while I had just run away from it all. I suddenly felt like the biggest ass in the entire world. But I couldn’t say I’d have done it differently. I’m not sure I’d fully had a choice.

“Mag.” I measured my words.”I ….didn’t know how to do anything else. I just had to…fly away from here. Leave. I couldn’t face the…constant sound of the emptiness that should have held dad’s voice. I was afraid of mom and her reaction…I was afraid I’d find her….again. I was more….I was more afraid of what I would do. Of me being just like both of them.” I leaned over and held her arm and looked right at her “I didn’t think about you and anybody else. I thought only about myself.” Looking over to Sas “And I am sorry.For what I did. I am sorry I couldn’t be there for you both. I just couldn’t react any differently, either, than what I did.”
We all just sat for awhile…thunder had begun to rumble outside and the slight rain had turned into a full storm. Mag stood up and walked over to refill the teakettle and Sas just sat, and nodded on occasion, both seemed to be letting things sink in, seemed to be evaluating how to feel about things just then. I stirred my tea round and round. Sas also reached over after some time and laid her own hand on my arm as I’d done to Mag. Her quiet way. And nodded again, her mouth set in an “Ok. Ok.” kind of way.

Mag watched this, paused halfway to walking back and then refilled our mugs, set a plate of warm biscuits and butter in the center of the table and sat back down. Also in her silent way seeming to simply soak in the words. The explanation. And the feelings that likely she had buried for quite some time farther from the surface they now emerged. I observed it all. Just took it in. Talking actually felt good. This kitchen actually felt good.

Mag nodded toward the biscuits and we grabbed our own and began to butter them, I chewed thoughtfully for a moment and as did they, then Mag nodded toward me as if to say “continue.” I swear the women of this family said more with their facial expressions than ever need with their words. As much as many of us often tried not to be anything alike, in many ways we couldn’t deny the blood we shared that came out strong in our mannerisms.
So I began…The harder part this time. Well, the harder part for the time.
“Then I got married. It was great. I want people to know that. He was…had been great…once. I don’t think he deserved what he got.”
“But from the start there was something. There was just something. Not anything I could ever quite put my finger on and everything love could make you ignore.
He didn’t hit me. He never made me feel unsafe or threatened. He was incredibly scholarly type even though he had chosen to work with his hands. He made the most beautiful furniture, and was a perfectionist. Amazing at what he did. Mostly self taught but he had sought interning at times in his younger years before and eve more after we met. He was a man about his loves and passions. We were best friends… Best.” I sighed and paused, letting the lump in my throat clear before I went on. “Then after a long time…a LONG time. Years. No sign to speak of, no hint, no anger. None of the “signs” the man who was tender and loving and caring and would give the shirt off his own back…he… hit me….just…just out of the blue…not even in the middle of an argument. His hand just backed across my face. I always said I wouldn’t be that woman. I would never let a man lay his hands on me. I would kill him and leave in a heart beat. Ironic isn’t it? But it’s true about walking in those shoes I guess. Once it happens to you your thought process changes about the situation altogether. It continued…at first you are thinking….that didn’t actually happen…not him…no. You really convince yourself you practically made it up. Imagined the whole terrible thing. This person you know isn’t the same person who did such things. You talk yourself into whatever you want to believe but not at all what’s actually happening.
Then you make excuses. What did you do to set him off? Was he having a bad day? Did you pester, pick, bring up a sore subject you know you shouldn’t have….or when your are angry it was your fault. I mean…it is true what they say, how woman realy do convince themseves these things and why they end up staying…some for very long times.
Then you try and get help and fix the problem. Counceling, individually…together, marriage counceling! Even curch dammit! You lay down the “This isn’t going to happen again” law. You make a plan. You have a “Real Adult Talk” about it. He even agree’s to everything. You set your boundares that you realize you had somehow forgotten.
Then you fight because you are the only one trying and then it just spins out of control and a lot of time has gone by and you wake up one day realizing that you are THAT woman.
What they call a battered woman.
Something you never thought you of all people would ever be.” They both nodded, understanding, picturing themselves in that place.
“You can’t tell your friends. The humiliation is….you just hide the bruises and you become a real expert at it too. When they might see a mark you couldn’t hide you got really good at making up stories…trail bike riding fall or whatnot. And he never shows his attitude in front of them. To them he IS PERFECT. The same perfect you had once known him to be, thought him to be. And now…leaving is humiliating on top of giving up on top of leaving a person you ove on top of ‘but have I yet given it my best shot?’ That is how time add’s up. And it add’s up quick.
But then…even that changes and he becomes moody all the time, out of the blue, unpredictable even with dinner parties and friends around. There were a few times he stormed off and left a bit of an embarrassing scene. Poeple…friends…they don’t know what to do in that situation either. They’ve known him forever too and like me in the start wouldn’t have been able to believe even if I’d shown the bruises, which I never did. Then all the time you are just living that and you wonder how you got there, and more so always your top thought, how to make it stop.”

“What did you do?” Mag asked, her voice a slight higher pitch and her eye’s a bit more wide than before.

“I walked out the door…or I tried to….I had bruises all over. He had never before touched my face, but that time he did and I looked like shit in the mirror that morning after the last fight….fight isn’t the word. Fight implies two sided. I never fought back. Not until that last day, I guess that was fighting back.
So I put on my coat…he was gone to work on site at a clients home…and I was locking the door behind me…He suddenly grabbed my arm and started yelling that I wasn’t fucking leaving him….I reached into my purse and pulled my gun and shot him. That was…it….” I choked up and my sisters leaned toward me resting a hand on my arm to comfort me as they saw the tears and the redness to my face rise.

“We followed the news on it pretty closely. They said you were real calm after. “Sas broke the silence and giving me time to catch my breath. I’d refused to see them, talk to them and even had refused the lawyer they had sent, at first but then I just gave up and sat staring at a wall thinking I deserved to be there, belonged in that cell.
“I was in shock.”

Nodding and swallowing the tears down, I continued telling the story, for the first time not to Police and Lawyers and Judges, “I walked away. I saw this man who I had loved and built my life around…I saw this man who I’d come to fear for my life. That was what went through my mind just then, I looked down and saw he wasn’t going to ever hurt me again or anyone else again. I saw the blood pooling over the front walk…rain drops falling into it…I stepped around and walked on. Into the rain. To the beach and stood there. It was a rare storm that day and I just saw this silver lining that said ” you will be ok” and I could only hold onto that. I was there hours later when they came and got me.” Telling the story actually seemed sort of out of body experience for Bird right then. The detachment she had to be able to speak but still the emotion rising up inside her, every bit that she’d felt that day. “I went through booking and spoke to the detective and went to the hospital for my own injuries. They saw right away that they had been often and extensive and I was released a week later with charges dropped in self defence. I mean how do I explain? I was in a fog, like a zombie up until I walked up to those white gate’s. I was just shocked and I couldn’t even think, not jumbled or unclearly…just not at all. I didn’t mean to shoot him. I didn’t even think about it…give it thought…I’d always had a gun and never even thought about using it before during bad fights. Or ever. Come to think of it now I realize that when his mood changed I should have gotten rid of them but I never even thought to. It was just reaction. I knew …felt…that if he had caught me trying to leave, as he’d said in fights before he would never let me do, that ….it wasn’t that I thought he’d actually kill me because thats too much to wrap your head around…that your husband might kill you….it was that …like knowing he just wasn’t going to let you go. My hand reached into my purse. Carrying had been normal for me for years, we both had.”
“Did you ever think he might use his gun on you?” Sas asked.

I looked up at her and thought, “No…actually that never crossed my mind. I never thought of being afraid of our guns at all. We had carried them for a long time. Back when our neighborhood was still a really bad location before it became sort of gentrefied. I…just never thought of that…”

“What did you do then?” Mag changed the direction that question had gone. “When you were released a couple of weeks later?”

“I went back…to pack my things and leave, thinking that I now could get all my things I was going to leave without before. But I stood on the sidewalk across the street just staring at the blood stain and I couldn’t. So I got on a bus and came here. I didn’t even think clearly enough to take my own car even though I held the keys in my hand. And now here I am.”

Mag; “You are home.”
Sas; “Why didn’t you ever ask for help?”
Bird “I didn’t know how to.”
Weirdly all three nodded at this. One of the things our family didn’t know was how to ask for help, in all things nessessary for it. Strife Family Trait’s.

“But everyone knows and it was all over the news and I can feel them staring at me. This is the last place I should have come. Not to mention dealing with how I left…and mom too.”

“Fuck them.”

“There’s more.”

“Geeze what else could you bring to that story? Except…Oh Hell…you’re…”

“I’m pregnant. I was going to tell him that last night but he came home and just went off as he had been…it wasn’t drugs or drunk just…it started with depression and transformed into this monster that was nowhere near the loving husband I had known. I just never knew what to do…and I tried everything. He would…become this other person. HE wasn’t there at a any longer. Not even in his eye’s. Especay not in his eye’s.”

“He never knew. He never got the chance to. During the last one that day before I was afraid he wouldn’t be happy all of a sudden and go for punching me in the stomach, I just couldn’t see springing that kind of news in the middle of him going off anyway. And it was different than it had been, he was hitting my face, even grabbing my head, squeezing, pulling and twisting my ears, Slapping against my ears, my mouth. He had never touched my face before and everything he did was to ruin me it seemed….I mostly avoided the hits toward my stomach and just kinda….my head went in a different place that time. That was when the thought of leaving first ever even entered my mind and why I did the next morning while he was supposed to be on location delivering at a job, but….but…”

My sisters surrounded me and one laid a hand over mine on the tablecloth and the other wrapped her arm over my shoulders and in silence we just sat for a moment. Taking in the fact that all of it wasn’t done and behind me at all.

Of all that we had gone through we knew what a broken home felt like…even if all the members remained in it. It was one level field we all stood on. What I hadn’t known is that my mother over-heard our entire conversation from the living room where she was crocheting, the tears I had never seen her cry for us. The emotion I had never been able to recieve, flowed down her face in torrents now, her hand over her mouth to keep silent.

WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 2.

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Behind The White Gate is my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel. I wrote it in one month. I changed and edited it million times during the next eleven over more coffee than I care to admit to. And more may be to come. This version I am sharing, it gives a piece of me to you. I am open and love any feedback you might have. If you wish to share it personally you can do so at peggyjdavenport@gmail.com .

I am that kind of writer who can tell you what I write..or what I am writing is about. But I will say that this one came to me by passing a white gate on a daily walk to a job I hated and letting my imagination go wild, combined with the coming of womanhood and the women in and out of my life through out the years who had shaped, molded, and influenced me, for the good or for the bad. There are also intertwined lessons in life we often learn the hard way and their shaping of oneself and there is the old “Nothing goes according to plan.” It is being lost and becoming grown up and recognizing yourself in others around you…especially those you tried to be the least like. It is often the lack of denying any longer all that has made you…all of it.

Behind The White Gate is secret’s that aren’t secret, controversy we face today and are just now beginning to speak of but in many homes still in hushed tones. It is shame that you carry and hide from only everybody else who also has their own. It is memories of childhood perceived as an adult. It is letting go. It is changing. It is forgiving, but also not forgetting.

It is raw emotion and no giving excuses.

It comes from a place deep of them that I hope resonate on the page for the reader.

It is fiction drawn on very real emotion.

Past that, maybe you can hep me explain it better.

I will release over time, the Prologue, and then chapter by chapter. I had previously released some bits and pieces. This new full chapter by chapter release will be named WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 1 (and so on). You can easily search in the search bar for all pieces and keep in order as released.

Currently I hope this will go to publish sooner than later. I am in the search of, and have been researching for, a Literary Agent. Feel free to contact me at my email above.

Thank you for reading.

Peggy J. Davenport

Chapter 2.

Bird woke to the sunlight streaming in through the window, the white filmy curtains not doing much to keep the light out. She remembered when she was a young girl growing up in this room, her windows facing East that was how she had liked it. But over time in Los Angeles and windows of apartments looking out to other close buildings where you could look right in at your neighbor, not to mention waking with many hangovers after a long night out dancing in Hollywood with her friends. Life was a party during her twenties. Work hard. Play harder. She had begun keeping heavier dark curtains in the bedroom windows and closed, going to bed in the dark and waking back in it…often waking late in the day because of it, throwing off her natural wake up time ability. The alarm clock on her bedside an easy slam to hit the snooze button over and over again or just to throw across the room. She couldn’t remember a time in the past sixteen years waking with the sunlight or without hitting the snooze button at least twice.

Blinking to the daylight, unsure of where she was or how she had gotten there. Only a minute and clearing the sleep from her eyes and she recognized the quilt at the foot of her wrought iron bed in the bedroom of her childhood. She gazed around the sunlit room, the warm blue walls and the white painted furniture standing over dark polished hardwood floors with a braided blue and white rug in the center.

She was back.

She sighed and lay back on the pillows, staring up at the ceiling.

The strength of this day not yet within her.

Then the door opened and in walked Mag, bustling in her hurried way she had done in since she was born. Rushing into the world before her time. Never walking before she ran and running before most babies walked. Always in a hurry, always living like a New York Minute. And in her always older than the rest of the world way, even though she was my younger sister by four years.

I did not have the patience for her this early in the morning. Not today.

But she brought a tray of coffee. I couldn’t kill her just yet.

She set the tray down on the bedside and began gathering the clothing that I had left laying where they fell the exhausting afternoon before.

“You’ve been sleeping eighteen hours straight, Bird! Dear Lord these clothes are soaked through!”

I grunted.
Buried my face into the pillow deep and wondered if I could suffocate myself in such a way.

The smell of coffee won though and I sat up and poured a cup. Black.

“Like your soul, Bird” Sas said entering the room. My older sister by two years which might as well have been twenty. She came into this world serious and studious. She was meant to be a big sister only so that she could lord over and be bossy. The judgemental attitude had carried from a young age when she would look at you and tell you your head was too big or your dress was too short. And who showed up at the door with her disapproving glance around the messy room and watching Mag clean it up. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat on a nearby chair, mag poured another cup and sat at the end of the bed.

“What is this? A sister reunited slumber party?” I asked.

Mag looked to Sas and Sas looked steadily at Bird. Long enough in silence. In her always most unhurried way. As kids she always won the no-blinking contest, and she did so now, until Bird got uncomfortable…ready to fly again. Mag the hurried, Sas the patient, Bird the ever-flight-ready. The three of us were the closer of the five sister’s in our family. The youngest two….Simone and Sierria, had always had their own click, like twins even though almost two years apart of each other…but six years younger than Mag.

“Why are you here?” She finally asked. Like a judge from way up high. Like the gate keeper of the house behind the white gate’s. I had faced enough judge time in the past two weeks and I was tired. I didn’t have it in me. I felt as if my body had been drained of all blood and all I wanted and could do was lay there, lifeless. Why had I come here of all places?

I sipped my coffee. Took a breath to steady my nerves and said ” Because I’ve fucked it all up and I am home. I have nowhere else to go. Nothing else to go to. I fucked it all up. Is that what you are expecting to hear, Sas?”

“Yes. It is.” She uncrossed her long legs and stood, set her cup back on the trey and left the room. Not before pausing at the doorway and saying, looking down, “I just wish it wasn’t.”

“She expects me to fuck this up too.” I say into my coffee cup.
Mag says ” Yes, she does. But you are home where you belong, bird. There is no fucking that up. None of us are perfect here.”
After showering off the travels and the fitful dreams of the night before…and older sister’s judgements, Bird headed down the stairs of the big victorian and entered the kitchen. She had expected confrontation right away with the rest of the household but only found Sas washing the last dish in the sink.
“You have to be up a lot earlier for this crowd. You know they haven’t changed a bit.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.” I sat at the butcher block island big enough to sit six and still chop vegetables at and peeled a banana. Sas prepared a bowl of yogurt and granola and handed it over. Remembering things that I liked to eat even after not having seen me in sixteen years.

She smiled, sighed…her way of calling truce. And sat down to join me while peeling her own banana. “So…tell me about it.”

“What is there to tell? It’s over.”

“What is over? Your marriage…but that’s obvious.”

“Life.”

You wouldn’t have come back here if that was the case, Bird.”

I snorted in response to that one.
” He wasn’t a bad guy until the end. Never once. Not until the last months.”

“Always the fixer, Bird. If it’s not fixing some fallen birds broken wing it was going to fix the hurt that that boy grew up with.”

I couldn’t really fight that assessment of me. Clearing the island of breakfast I stood at the sink. I couldn’t help but think What about the hurt that I grew up with? What about my brokeness? But I just sighed heavy.

“I’m tired, Sas. I can’t fight. I don’t need a fight with this house and everyone in it. I can’t do it. I am hanging on by nothing at the very moment.”

“We all know this. But we are who we are too. You are one of us and you know how this will play out for the most part. Don’t be surprised that those you chose to hurt will give you some grief and take some time to let you back in. But we will, ok?”

“Not mom.” I said.

“Mom especially. You would be surprised. I don’t think you realize yet just what mom went through when you were younger. You’ve always chosen to underestimate her. You just ran off and left being mad at her, at all of us when that wasn’t where to direct your anger at in the least.”

Again I snorted.

“Grow up, Bird. Let your anger of her go. Or don’t, but leave. That is the choice here. Mom is older and can’t take your shit anymore either. She shouldn’t have to.”

Feeling a fight rising up in a boiling blood surfacing, my hands pressed down on the sink rim I just sighed and walked out the door to the porch and across the yard. And stood staring at the backside of the same white gates that I had just walked in yesterday.
“Thinking of leaving without saying goodbye before you even got here and said hello?”

Now that was a voice I would know anywhere. Weirdly, all the women in my family seemed to come with a very distinct voice. Both vocally and musically not to mention the usage they gave through opinion’s usually not asked for. I didn’t even turn. I just stared at the gate’s, not even quite thinking….or maybe thinking little enough to wonder if I should just run at the approach of the voice behind me. I sighed as I felt the presence of the woman whom I hated most and had spent my entire life wanting to love the most. She walk up beside me and joined me in staring at the white gate’s. Just in a moment of silence. Like the calm before the storm is what I felt was happening. I didn’t say anything. I had spent sixteen years with much to say to her and now I didn’t say anything at all. Now…who was I to say a damned thing? Coming back with my tail between my legs. With no choice but otherwise to have stepped over that blood stain. My choice had been the blood stain or this house and that’s just how bad that bloodstain effected me that it was this house to come back to I’d chosen.

“I have spent a good many moment’s myself standing here looking at those gate’s and wondering if I should just walk on through. Walk out. Leave it all behind. You, your sisters, your father. My mother. His mother and all the God forsaken other voices that ring within these gate’s. I have spent my whole life thinking about walking through them and never looking back. Where would I be now if I had? Likely sipping a martini on some little sunny island wearing a big hat and getting served by some young handsome man without a care in the world I think mostly. I regret it every day that I never walked through those gate’s without looking back. Every day, Bird. Every Goddamn day.”

Neither of us looked away from the gate. Another moment of silence in which around us the birds sang in the garden’s, the cars drove by on the other side of the gate and high stone wall it attached to, and our thoughts rang loudly with doubt, desire and something we just couldn’t name, yet still spent our life chasing.

“The one thing that you can never regret is that you’ve walked through them, Bird. You will never live a life wondering. At least you know.”

My mother spoke words I already knew. I always grew up, was raised knowing that she preferred to be anywhere but here. That she hated being here. As a teen I resented that she didn’t just leave. Leave us all alone. I had fantasies back then that we would all be happier had she left than gone through the misery of her’s that she drug us through and that we watched her kill our father with. I had left the day of my father’s funeral. Seeing him die miserable even while trying his best to be happy through her hell she put us all through had been the last that I could do and the last that had held me here…I thought then.
I would surely have killed her or myself had I stayed.

Without ever looking at her I turned and walked to the house. Leaving her standing or following. I didn’t look back. I didn’t care. I wasn’t ready to face that….tail between my legs or not I was not ready to face the woman who killed my father. And set me on the path to kill my own husband.
Washing my face I stared at myself in the mirror and saw the lines of my mother. Not only the lines but I realized that though she had always wanted to leave, I HAD left. The woman I wanted to be least like lived in me stronger than I wished to face. Growing up she always seemed to live vicariously through her children and their dreams yet try and hold them back from them at the same time. Mom had always wanted to do what I had done. Leave. But then she hated me when I did. But the comparison of my mother and I was not something that I wanted. I had spent my entire life trying to be like anybody else but her…and now here I was. Looking in the mirror at the face of a woman who had the same eye’s….the same mouth…who had wanted to leave, though t was only I who did. Who had spent years running away and hiding from the reality even if one had not left at all. I just did the same thing she had but on a different coast. I had killed my husband. I was more like the woman I wished the least to be like.

Well, I was back. I was sure that though she acknowledged that I had done what she had wanted to do, she also had the satisfaction of my return and a crumbled pile of dreams left behind, on the other side of those damn gate’s.

She always did win. I had left that day sixteen years ago thinking I held the win. Bird 1. Mom 0.

I had been wrong.

Fuck fuck fuck. The bar of soap was thrown into the sink splashing water everywhere and I walked out throwing on some clothes and headed for a walk in the night. My first venture back into the down town of the island where I’d been born and raised. Galveston Island. Left a girl, back a woman and not a damned bit wiser for it. Only a bit more lived. A lot of good that did for me.

The old oak tree’s over hanging the road and the palms lining Broadway. The soft glow of the street lamps on wet pavement the only remaining evidence of the recent winter torrential rain I had walked through only a day before. That was Galveston, quick to come, quick to go.

I found my way past the shops on Postoffice Street, the main Down Town area street. Most people who don’t live here know of the Seawall and The Strand but the Down Town ends up being pretty sacred to the locals even though it carries…and I saw that it now carried a lot of new and different, most of the best restaurants, cafe’s, stores, shops, and art galleries. I now saw that had all changed so much in so long of time, it still held a lot of the shops and stores, but more of them than I had grown up with, with a newer feel…The only way of not getting lost was the trusty grid of the streets of alphabet and numbers.

There was a coffeeshop that hadn’t existed before…something that looked straight out of what you would find in a hip Burbank California location. Obviously the island was still heavy with students who had heads bent studying or chatting outside under the parugula covered in vines as I walked by. The students had been around in my time, too, for at least two of the now three colleges. The coffeeshop seemed a little hipster spot but I was sure I would find myself there soon. Coffeeshops were my thing. Had long been my office for my writing, looking like a student myself with head bent over a laptop even though I long ago closed my last textbook and was finished being a student.

I wandered along through what I thought would be familiar and found it very changed, even if the basis of the historic buildings remained the same. I compared it it myself. The base of me was still the same but in all true life I had changed…even before the shooting. My travels and work and studies and just life had changed me a lot. Of course , simply put, I was a grown up now when before I had left I’d been a nineteen year old kid. So change was to be expected. Life changes you. All of it. I wondered if before the shooting that change was good, or bad, or truly ‘achieved’. But real life that doesn’t happen to everybody in the likes of shooting and killing your husband. That kind of change changes a person’s very soul. I did not yet know what those changes were but seeing the old historic familiar buildings of the same underneath a new layer of paint, updates and signs, I realized that they were definitely there. This island wasn’t the same and yet it was. I wasn’t the same and yet…somewhere I still was. I wondered if I’d recognize her as I did these old buildings.

I was new here. I was strange here. I wondered again if coming back was the right thing as I opened the door to the one place that seemed to have remained completely the same and unchanged, down to the piano player on stage. Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe…the smoky little bar that had seen more musicians than any band fan or Hollywood hooker ever had. The place was dark and I felt the warmth that I knew just then I had sought. Even underage I had long been coming here to listen back in the days when my dad would allow it while he sang old jazz on stage…often pulling me up with him only to walk away leaving me to stand in the spotlight alone….no turning back…time to sing….”like a bird” he always said. I realized the comparison of this act to the being thrown in the deep end….fend for myself but close enough to step in if needed. It seemed that he had continuously tried teaching me the lessons of life but they hadn’t been recognized for what they were until now, many mistakes worth that could have been prevented later.

I walked up to the bar and ordered a red wine…awful, I wasn’t much in the mood for the drink anyway but to sit in a corner and just let myself be found for a minute. I had spent a long time being lost and lately being in a spotlight I would never want and I didn’t mind the dim light of the corner here not being noticed. Not being known.

They say that not all those who wander are not lost but for a good decade I had been pretty lost and wandered plenty and for just a small moment I needed to feel ok in the spot that I sat.

As local’s or pass-through musician’s with acoustic guitars got on stage and sang some sad story song they had written I had at least a moment for the world to stop spinning. I took my notebook out and wrote…and wrote…and wrote. The words flowing from me like water in a river. I’d spent my time sitting in a jail cell staring at the same blank square of wall the entire time, replaying over and over the awful scene. I had often in the past two weeks picked up pen but hadn’t been able to write a single word to paper.
I had felt that being the ultimate sign that I was broken. Shattered into a million pieces.

I hadn’t realized when the music actually stopped until the shadow fell across my page and I looked up to see an old man’s familiar smiling face, a face with the same cracks in the same paint that had always been during my childhood, not all that was familiar and recognized is bad after all.

“Bird?! You look the same you did when you were knee high, girl…get up here and sing your papa’s songs.”

My hand was grabbed and my notebook and wine discarded. I couldn’t manage a word or a catch of my breath even as I was positioned with a guitar in my hands and a mic thrust to my lips. Gosh damn…I had done this plenty in LA, a small favorite smoky bar just like this actually…called Whiskey’s. It was one of the places I would crawl into when I wanted to remember…which wasn’t often and felt safe enough from far away, just as much as when I wanted to forget which was everyday for the past sixteen years. In the past decade and a half I’d worked hard to forget which was why it was ironic that Galveston was the only place I could think of coming to after the accident.

And so, with that smiling dark face full of the same wrinkles they held when I was a little girl, looking eighty to me then… looking eighty to me now, and a head surrounded in the same white hair looking at me while he settled at his piano. The spot I’d seen him spend more hours than I could count as a child, mesmerized watching his dark long fingers move fluidly without the age that the rest of him carried over the ivory keys. He remembered by heart the tune to play as I did the same with the strings of the guitar…and the glide of the song just began…my papa’s old songs. We came from a long line of family on both sides that had some artistic outlet. Writing, music, song writing, singing, painting, scultping. Each and every single one had some kind of special talent that was ours and some of us made those things into their day jobs while others spent much time in their life around a day job doing what they loved and teaching their children along with them as well, my papa being one of all of those. I had grown up with my fathers singing and song writing in our living room at home and on the stage of this smoky bar. His song writing ability was far above his singing and guitar playing ability but he still had a low rumble of a voice that made you stop and listen and the lyrics to his song made any writer jealous. I wondered briefly what he would think of my writing now. Of me, had he lived to know me as an adult.
I closed my eye’s and just felt my papa right there….for the first time in a long time he was there with me again as I sang his words I’d grown up hearing and singing along with him.

Two:AM and stumbling home…slightly drunk; bad red wine will hit you faster than a whiskey shot or five any time …but bad red wine followed by several whiskeys later does the trick every time. What trick that I might have been aiming for I was sure to regret in the morning.

I had ended up going to another bar around the corner after leaving the Old Quarter which was also after playing several of the song’s that brought back too much memory and then spent several of the next hours doing my best to drown those memories in their own deep end…or at least in the glass of many drinks. The one thing about Galveston is that there are more bars per capita…but also more churches per capita as well and so we could spend a Saturday night sinning and a Sunday morning repenting. That was the island living for you. All in between was the hard work and take care of the family and on the side, as one had ‘day work’, o this island it seemed around it all was always a large population of the island that had an art to perform, create, or build by ‘night’. Like it was a need deeper than the ghost’s that had once bleed into the soil of this island.
Like a horse who’s owner sleeps and knows it’s way home, I ended up right where I intended to go…and exactly the last place in the world I actually wanted to be.

I pushed through the white gate’s….Dropped my shoes and stumbling too much to find them just continued on, found my way to the big old back porch and the cushioned swing there and just curled up and fell asleep, but not before I wished that the stars would stop spinning above me.

I woke the next morning…hair sticking to my face and slightly cramped …head pounding. And the smell of coffee giving promise from the open back door through the screen that I’d not yet died, then the realization that the thought of it wasn’t so bad anyway. Also thanking Texas Winters for having warm nights even in the midst of cold to the bone one’s, for the past night had been quite pleasant during my entire walk and though I didn’t remember coming home, it apparently had not let me freeze to death on the back porch. Though a blanket had been laid over me that I was pretty sure hadn’t existed prior.

I stumbled barefoot into the kitchen and found every woman I hated and once had loved, all goddamn three generations of them, turn their heads to stare at me come through.

“Not now.”

“Not now what?”

“Not now your judgement, please.” I poured a cup of coffee and drank it down straight black.

“Not at all. We are all grown women here. No children. We don’t answer to each other here, Bird. Get that through your head right now.”

I poured another cup.

The women sipped their coffee’s while they chatted about whatever local event was coming up next or read out loud the newspaper to each other. I did my best to not have anything to do with them but couldn’t help to observe these women. Three generations of them all in one kitchen, all in one life. My mother had aged, I could see that now, and life had been kind to her as far as the wrinkles that seemed right on her face rather than not, the gray streaks that ran through her hair were fitting, beautiful. She always had been that. Her own mother, my grandmother was a twenty-five years older version of the same woman and showed exactly a mirror of age of not only her mother but of Bird herself, Bird realized the resemblance was incredibly strong, especially around the mouth. Her other grandmother, her father’s mother, actually, who also had lived with the family since Bird was four and she’d become widowed, had apparently stayed on after the death of her son, looked now like a soft feminine version of Bird’s father, but she had aged hard and life had not been as nice to her Bird could see in her grandmothers much more brittle slow way of moving, her skin much thinner than the other elder woman, her hair white and kept short, her middle and her face much softer and heavier than Bird remembered, her eye’s incredibly sad and deep. Sas and Mag were poler opposites of Bird herself, where as Bird mostly favored her mother they both favored the looks of their father and both seemed to get only one personality trait of his stripped down from what had made a nice blend to prominent one’s of these two woman. Both tall, we all were, both blond, both with blue eye’s verses Birds dark hair and green eye’s. Sas with her straight forward no-nonsense manner and Mag with her overly bubbly and nice… but never false manner. Then there was me, dark hair and green eye’s and full lips of my mother, tall like everyone else. Long tapered fingers like my father and a jaw that was more like his too which fit well with the cheekbones I’d inherited of my mother. My own personality….well, I’d received talents in writing and music and traits on take no shit and speak my mind straight forward but which showed on my face long before anything need be said which proved at times to be somewhat both bad and good. I also always had more of a love of adventure and travel that no one in my Content To Stick To This Little Sandbar Family seemed to have. The personality traits we each received from our parents caused in each of us girls a completely different blend. I had struggled at the nurturing that my father seemed at ease to give and the walking on eggshells that my mother created in me. My mother’s…issues…causing constant rage and depression, deep sadness that could change her from a bright smile and song singing loving biscuit baking mother one moment and into a raging throwing pot’s and pans and beating her children in a hot rage the next, was one I had a constant fear of becoming. I often found a blend of traits of both of my parents and often fought against the spark of some of them. Sixteen years ago I had learned of a trait of my father that I feared of ever having, it was one my mother had openly shared my entire childhood but wasn’t a startling shock as my fathers was. Perhaps we had simply been used to it. Chalked it to theatrics, Mother’s antics, or it had become a part of life. My father’s shared trait happened only once. And never again. It was a shock like a earthquake that had sent tremors through me since.

One by one the women I stood watching and the women of whom I was a part of, scattered off about their day. Off to work and various jobs and directions in life, leaving Bird standing there with no direction at all in which to go.

Life didn’t stop for everyone else when the world itself had stopped for Bird.

The last in the room was my mother who put the last rinsed cup in the rack and drying her hands turned, took in the sight that was her daughter…like a bird with broken wings…

“You sang your Papa’s songs. You and your Papa always were best friends. You got that gift from him.But you far surpassed it as well.”

This was the first compliment I remember hearing from my mother. One of my angers I held toward her all these sixteen years and through many before that was that she never once gave me a compliment. She instead always dealt out a criticism. When someone said I did well on something or another, she said I could do better. Or even that I had not yet reached the potential she’d hoped for. Often her favorite line when telling her of some passion or dream or wish you had was to throw her head back in laughter and say “I once had dreams like that, too.” Now here I was in my third decade of life and hearing her tell me a compliment for the first time. I held my breath waiting for the hammer to fall but instead I quipped in what, as a teenager, would have been considered a sassy way.

“Small town already get word to you?”

“I was there, I saw you and heard you. Small town is usually me being one step ahead.”

She put the dish towel down and walked out of the room.

The only direction I could think to walk at that very moment was, with a refill of coffee, up to a long hot shower.

WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 1.

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Behind The White Gate is my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel. I wrote it in one month. I changed and edited it million times during the next eleven over more coffee than I care to admit to. And more may be to come. This version I am sharing, it gives a piece of me to you. I am open and love any feedback you might have. If you wish to share it personally you can do so at peggyjdavenport@gmail.com .

I am that kind of writer who can tell you what I write..or what I am writing is about. But I will say that this one came to me by passing a white gate on a daily walk to a job I hated and letting my imagination go wild, combined with the coming of womanhood and the women in and out of my life through out the years who had shaped, molded, and influenced me, for the good or for the bad. There are also intertwined lessons in life we often learn the hard way and their shaping of oneself and there is the old “Nothing goes according to plan.” It is being lost and becoming grown up and recognizing yourself in others around you…especially those you tried to be the least like. It is often the lack of denying any longer all that has made you…all of it.

Behind The White Gate is secret’s that aren’t secret, controversy we face today and are just now beginning to speak of but in many homes still in hushed tones. It is shame that you carry and hide from only everybody else who also has their own. It is memories of childhood perceived as an adult. It is letting go. It is changing. It is forgiving, but also not forgetting.

It is raw emotion and no giving excuses.

It comes from a place deep of them that I hope resonate on the page for the reader.

It is fiction drawn on very real emotion.

Past that, maybe you can hep me explain it better.

I will release over time, the Prologue, and then chapter by chapter. I had previously released some bits and pieces. This new full chapter by chapter release will be named WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 1 (and so on). You can easily search in the search bar for all pieces and keep in order as released.

Currently I hope this will go to publish sooner than later. I am in the search of, and have been researching for, a Literary Agent. Feel free to contact me at my email above.

Thank you for reading.

Peggy J. Davenport

 

Chapter 1.

Just Thrown into the deep end. Sink or swim.
From my earliest years when my papa taught me this, as a restitution for my own bad mistakes even then. For being defiant against what was a valuable warning.

That is what I’m doing now, I think. Galveston floods trying to sweep me away. Paying my restitution for my mistakes.

Two weeks prior. They said “Head down that hall and out the green door.” And suddenly I was out. Free. And terrified. I know had to face why I had spent two weeks in jail and waited for a judge to decide my fate. I had acted in self-defence was the final verdict. But still…I had the blood of my husband on my hands And his child inside my womb.
Terrified didn’t even begin to cover it.
I stood a split second. No one was here. I hadn’t expected them to be. I had already not allowed them to visit or be in court. But I was disappointed and saddened even so. I had refused to speak to them during this time. I had left them sixteen years ago…why should they have jumped an airplane to meet me here now? Why make such attempt to reach out to me now after pushing them away for sixteen years? I couldn’t face them…..not then….especially not…

I let out my sad and disappointed breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding…and stepped out. Praying to a God I didn’t believe in for direction. I moved in a numbness, in a shocked daze with no ability for thought or plan, which was usually my specialty.
I half believed that I didn’t deserve to be out in the sunshine and the free world to begin with. No matter what a judge had decided. I believed they had made a mistake just as I had. I believed this was all a terrible terrible dream and yet when I closed my eye’s I still saw the blood…open and I squinted into the sun I had nearly forgotten about. I walked fast paced to nowhere. No clue where I was going or what I was doing.

I felt that all eye’s that turned my way anywhere I went, as I stepped onto the bus to take me in a direction I hadn’t even paid attention it went in, knew I was a criminal…even if the judge claimed I was innocent, I felt the blood of a man on my hands….no matter how much I scrubbed, I felt it.

I felt people recognize my face from the newspapers that I knew existed about the incident and I saw fear in their eye’s. As afraid and terrified as I was…people feared me. I almost turned back, I had waited too long but realizing that if I turned, I was lost. I caught my reflection in a window and couldn’t recognize myself. That girl. She looked lost. Lost and hollow eyed. The look of fear in a wild animal captured that split second before they turn toward their fight instinct. That girl in the reflection…I didn’t see the fight instinct. I just saw the fear.
Lost. Yeah…that was it. This feeling. Lost in a way that the street signs didn’t make sense to me. Like they were foreign or I suddenly couldn’t read. Lost of direction. Lost of strength and energy. Even lost in faith in something I had held even if not in God, and belief for what I wasn’t sure, for I kept praying to God to direct me. I felt so numb. But the feeling that crept in past numb was terrified and past terrified was lost.

I stepped off the bus and it seemed that even if I had no idea where to go…somehow my feet did. I ended up standing on the sidewalk staring at what was once my very own home. Still was by name. The concrete sidewalk in front of the door remained stained. I sighed and prayed that God would send reprieve my way…or me to reprieve.

Again with this God of which I didn’t believe in…or at least trust worth a damn and never had.

But I felt like I should shatter into a million pieces if I didn’t hold onto something and I didn’t have anything to hold onto.

Seeing the blood stained sidewalk where I had killed my own husband had my lungs filling up with chlorine. Stinging my throat…filling my lungs. I struggled with my arms to the surface, with my feet to feel the bottom to kick against but I couldn’t find it. I was drowning from no water at all…but the image in my head ….the pureness of feeling physically to my body….I was drowning even as I stood in a perfectly sunny southern California afternoon.

I would go back. I was safer there. I belonged there. I didn’t have anywhere else to go and I couldn’t bring myself to step over that stain and slide my key in the door and enter into what could never be my home again. Back. Just that word was what was the light at the surface of which I swam toward.

The chlorine filled my lungs. I stopped struggling. My arms went loose and I floated in the water. The sun shining through the surface. So close. So far.

I couldn’t even see his face then, his curly wild hair that I’d loved so much or his crooked charming smile. I couldn’t even see the anger in his eye’s that came later. Standing there at that moment, drowning in no water, I only could see the blood.

This was my deep end. My papa’s lesson of consequences to my actions. As the sight of the blood pulled me down under I awoke to the knowledge that I’d lost him…my love. My best friend. Not when the blood fell onto the ground, but I had lost him long ago when he had changed, the blood was just when there was no longer any hope to hold onto. When he’d become broody and hard and always ready to boil over in anger. A lost person himself I’d thought then. He had lost who I’d known him to be. Now he still pulled me down underneath the current rather than up as a love should do and out to air. I lost him again right then. How many times was I going to have to lose him?

And I stopped swimming for him. I had swum for him for so long as his pull would drag me down to drown. I had been drowning for a long time…I had spent so much time just below the surface, just seeing the glimmer of the sun above but not being able to reach it…not being able to help him. I tried to leave that day. I tried to leave that day to prevent him from killing me…not as protection of myself or even my child but to save him one last time from him not to go through what he would if he killed someone.

In the end I ended up killing him when trying to save him. Now…I stopped swimming for him. I let go.
Into the deep end.

The image shifted from drowning to one of my clearest earliest memories of when I was six years old I would hold onto a big floaty ball and kick in the pool of my visiting grandparents condo on Galveston Island. I kept kicking my way and ending up in the deep end. My papa would sternly instruct me not to leave the shallow end because if I let go of the ball I could drown.
But again and again I was being very defiant that day and would return from the shallow end to the deep, so finally my papa reached down from the edge of the pool and snatched me up, took away the ball and threw me straight into the deep end of the pool. As I splashed for the surface in shock and surprise, sputtering and choking, I looked at him and saw anger, no…not anger precisely.
On his face and in his stance, standing at the edge of the pool, he looked ready to jump in should I not surface but as I looked up at him…my head just bobbing above surface, he looked down and firmly said “If you want to continue defying me you will learn the consequences of the deep end. So sink or swim! ” He said.

I swam that day.

Now…turning away from the blood stained sidewalk, those words resignated in me once again and the determination that I felt not to fail the test I’d felt at age six filled my body now as if a day hadn’t gone by. Not to sink but to defy him to take the chance that I might just drown to prove my own stance, yet not drown. His memory and his words came strong and I realized that, aside from the blood and the shooting…the accident…I didn’t know what else to call it even though I felt it was an accident, and it was, at the same time…I am at a loss of what I really feel about it.

I had made bad life choices that led me to this situation and past all the other previous ones that had at one point or another left me dumbfounded, and I was now paying those consequences of my actions and choices. And often of my own defiance I would drown. Now I was left to sink or swim after having put myself into the deep end.

Extra defiant because of my papa’s image standing beside the pool burned in me and I was determined not to let him save me. I would not sink. I had no choice but to swim.

With that image as I stood across from my building in California, not able to even step over the stain to pack a suitcase I felt my papa’s image calling to me, answering me a direction. Maybe it wasn’t God I’d been praying to after all, but my father.

Now, sloshed down two miles of road and through what felt like two hundred miles of rain, I stood staring at those white gate’s for God knows how long. I had come home. There was nowhere else my fathers image would send me…not since it was his image that drove me away sixteen years ago.

It was raining and I was drenched, only one suitcase at my side holding new clothes I’d bought rather than to step over that bloodstain. All that I had left with then and all that I returned with now. Memories of the last days here flooded around me like the torrential rains. Memories of papa’s funeral and the fight and shouting in the last days. Memories of me flying out the door and it slamming behind me. Leaving it all behind forever. Sixteen years prior. I stood here at thirty-four years old now…left a girl then. Though I had thought I’d known everything…back a woman. Knowing now I knew nothing at all then, knew nothing at all now. Coming back had never been the plan, but now coming back a not at all well put together-show them that I was right- and had made it- and certainly not a great life to flaunt in their faces- kind of coming back…but a tail between my legs- drenched in the rain with only a suitcase and a murder to my name and most surely not a shred of dignity kind of way.

“How long are you going to stand there before you finally suck it up and walk through?”
I turned to the voice behind me that I would know anywhere…and sixteen years later. My older sister, Sas. Always the studious one. Funny that I became the writer, I once wrote to her. “Not funny at all” She had written back, ” art runs in your studious veins but not in mine.”

She had walked up behind me from the sidewalk with an umbrella which she put over my head as she reached down and lifted my suitcase and started forward expecting me to follow.

Life comes in chapters. I had closed so many chapters before today and now…I began another one but I wasn’t sure how long or fast this one might last just yet or if it would be one ripped out of the book before it even began.

WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Prologue.

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Behind The White Gate is my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel. I wrote it in one month. I changed and edited it million times during the next eleven over more coffee than I care to admit to. And more may be to come. This version I am sharing, it gives a piece of me to you. I am open and love any feedback you might have. If you wish to share it personally you can do so at peggyjdavenport@gmail.com .

I am that kind of writer who can tell you what I write..or what I am writing is about. But I will say that this one came to me by passing a white gate on a daily walk to a job I hated and letting my imagination go wild, combined with the coming of womanhood and the women in and out of my life through out the years who had shaped, molded, and influenced me, for the good or for the bad. There are also intertwined lessons in life we often learn the hard way and their shaping of oneself and there is the old “Nothing goes according to plan.” It is being lost and becoming grown up and recognizing yourself in others around you…especially those you tried to be the least like. It is often the lack of denying any longer all that has made you…all of it.

Behind The White Gate is secret’s that aren’t secret, controversy we face today and are just now beginning to speak of but in many homes still in hushed tones. It is shame that you carry and hide from only everybody else who also has their own. It is memories of childhood perceived as an adult. It is letting go. It is changing. It is forgiving, but also not forgetting.

It is raw emotion and no giving excuses.

It comes from a place deep of them that I hope resonate on the page for the reader.

It is fiction drawn on very real emotion.

Past that, maybe you can hep me explain it better.

I will release over time, the Prologue, and then chapter by chapter. I had previously released some bits and pieces. This new full chapter by chapter release will be named WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 1 (and so on). You can easily search in the search bar for all pieces and keep in order as released.

Currently I hope this will go to publish sooner than later. I am in the search of, and have been researching for, a Literary Agent. Feel free to contact me at my email above.

Thank you for reading.

Peggy J. Davenport

Prologue

Makeup streaked down my face, tears hidden by the pouring rain and hair drenched as I sloshed through the knee deep street’s trying to get…

Home.

It is said that no one comes here who isn’t running from something. But I had spent my entire adult life running from here.

A Bump. Just a bump. I kept telling myself. Not a roadblock. I can’t control the rain. The streets purely flooded around me and hard hitting rain drove straight into my eye’s like nails as I walked from the bus station. This was how it was here. Houses built up high just for this reason. The rains came hard and swift bringing along rushes of floods. Most often gone so fast that some never knew they’d existed.

All while freezing cold this January day. Not wearing rain boots after spending sixteen years in mostly rainless Southern California. Coming back to Galveston Island I was being met with what seemed a storm ready to wash the island away into the Gulf just as I decided to return.

It was a sign.

It wasn’t a sign. Shaking my head I immediately tried to push my creeping negative thoughts back. Sadly trying to convince myself. I wanted to turn and run like I had then. But I now ran from where I’d run to, before.

Just a bump. Not a road block. I can’t control the rain.

I repeated this mantra again and again just to get me through the three mile walk. My new shoes soaked, my slacks and light sweater hanging on my wet frame. The wind so fierce I gave up on the umbrella when it pulled and tore inside out and long ago ripped from my hands. A cold had wrapped the island and my hand froze around the handle of my suitcase. Almost two weeks ago so similar….this coldness. That coldness had come from within though. This coldness from the weather and the God’s.

God hated me…I was being punished. I believed this even as I didn’t believe in God. I couldn’t shake the negative feeling. I couldn’t imagine positive in my life again at all at this moment. Or had I for the past two weeks.

It’s ok, It’s ok, It’s ok….Oh God I can’t even see! My thoughts screamed louder inside my head than the rain pounding on the outside. Mascara and sharp rain blinding me, I plunge into the the next deep pool. Sloshing crossways through another intersection that cars couldn’t even drive through, water reaching past my knee’s.

I stopped and looked up when I reached the statue that pointed me home. A feminine figure long ingrained into my memory. Her hand held aloft, finger pointing, directing everyone and all lost souls that come to the island. As a child I’d been fascinated by this womanly form, head vine crowned. I’d always felt she’d held her share of secret’s.

People think of men as being leaders, who to follow instruction by, but really we often follow the female in lead. Even in the wild mustang bands of horses, the stallion follows, the lead mare leads, chooses the path.

I had chosen my paths.

Now I stand there, stopped, in the middle of the torrential street, The island is drowning…I am drowning…

Sunday Morning Meditation.

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My Sundays are a day of rest. Pure and simple. I might go sailing with friends or to a backyard gathering around a fire but regardless I don’t stress. I take it easy and I enjoy. Somewhere in there is usually a nap as well. No matter where I am. On a blanket spread across the grass of a friends backyard (Somehow with a toddler or two around me) or the bow of a sailboat, the waves lapping right at my head, the sway, the warmth of the sun. The poolside with my book in my lap or on the beach with a book tan across my chest and stomach. Everyone needs that day to just stop. Even in entertaining make it easy and relaxing. Fill the cooler, put out a spread that didn’t take hours to cook and prepare but just looks like it did and let conversation happen, sit back with a cool drink in hand, feet bare in the grass. Maybe Sunday is spent with books and tea if raining…some of the best are. Or old movie marathons. Monday comes the next day, the turn of the page, and plenty to do, cross off lists and a lot of busyness we’ve become accustomed to. The week behind me has been filled, with many coffee conversations, many words typed, so much reading and research done my eye’s just might fall out, my brain is frozen. The high heels have been worn and the miles run. Sunday…all of that gets put aside and a deep breath so that I may be ready to say hello to Monday. To do it all again. I love the Do It All Again, it feeds me in it’s own way. But there are meals not to be skipped. #MorningMeditation #MorningPondering #MorningThoughts #morningcoffee #Mondays #Sundays #BeingBusy #RelaxandRead #NourishTheSoul

Island Life. Beach Life.

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I am on to some new travels away from the island but my heart will remain for sure. I will be back and I will always love Galveston Island. The place I made my first sand castle, first learned to swim, my first sting by a jellyfish, and the place I came back to as an adult. I have lived here for six years now and have planted my feet firmly in the sand since I was a tiny little sea urchin. I plan that I will spend many of my older days here and perhaps even settle to rest eventually.
Until then, I will share my island life and it’s many amazing moments.

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Morning Meditation

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This morning I began with one. One simple thing. After being up late last night working, this morning called not yet for To Do Lists or noise or music. This morning I wake to one focus. One at a time. Soothing ease into the day. I stretched and balanced in yoga. I listened to my breath. I listened to my tea kettle whistle. I took the time to smell the coffee as I poured hot water into my French press. I rinsed my hair in the sink underneath cold cold water but felt that soothing feeling of when I was a child in summer after the pool and my grandmother would lay me on the counter, head to the sink, and wash my ultra white threads of hair of all chlorine, always finishing with that cold cold soothing water. I sipped my first sip of coffee and relished, slowly, the flavors. One step. One at a time. I am not rushing into this day just yet. First, I am one with it. #MorningMeditation #MorningCoffee #OneThought #SlowDown #Life

WIP; Release 6. Behind The White Gate; A Novel. My Mother’s Face.

Peggy J. Davenport REMIXT

(Photography by Artist Elizabeth Punches)

WIP Chapter 2. Last pt. My mothers face. My mothers dream. (See previous by searching WIP.)

Washing my face I stared at myself in the mirror and saw the lines of my mother. Not only the lines but I realized that though she had always wanted to leave, I HAD left. The woman I wanted to be least like lived in me stronger than I wished to face. Growing up she always seemed to live vicariously through her children and their dreams yet try and hold them back from them at the same time. Mom had always wanted to do what I had done. Leave. But then she hated me when I did. But the comparison of my mother and I was not something that I wanted. I had spent my entire life trying to be like anybody else but her…and now here I was. Looking in the mirror at the face of a woman who had the same eye’s….the same mouth…who had wanted to leave, though t was only I who did. Who had spent years running away and hiding from the reality even if one had not left at all. I just did the same thing she had but on a different coast. I had killed my husband. I was more like the woman I wished the least to be like.

Well, I was back. I was sure that though she acknowledged that I had done what she had wanted to do, she also had the satisfaction of my return and a crumbled pile of dreams left behind, on the other side of those damn gate’s.

She always did win. I had left that day sixteen years ago thinking I held the win. Bird 1.
Mom 0.

I had been wrong.

Fuck fuck fuck. The bar of soap was thrown into the sink splashing water everywhere and I walked out throwing on some clothes and headed for a walk in the night. My first venture back into the down town of the island where I’d been born and raised. Galveston Island. Left a girl, back a woman and not a damned bit wiser for it. Only a bit more lived. A lot of good that did for me.

The old oak tree’s over hanging the road and the palms lining Broadway. The soft glow of the street lamps on wet pavement the only remaining evidence of the recent winter torrential rain I had walked through only a day before. That was Galveston, quick to come, quick to go.

I found my way past the shops on Postoffice Street, the main Down Town area street. Most people who don’t live here know of the Seawall and The Strand but the Down Town ends up being pretty sacred to the locals even though it carries…and I saw that it now carried a lot of new and different, most of the best restaurants, cafe’s, stores, shops, and art galleries. I now saw that had all changed so much in so long of time, it still held a lot of the shops and stores, but more of them than I had grown up with, with a newer feel…The only way of not getting lost was the trusty grid of the streets of alphabet and numbers.

There was a coffeeshop that hadn’t existed before…something that looked straight out of what you would find in a hip Burbank California location. Obviously the island was still heavy with students who had heads bent studying or chatting outside under the parugula covered in vines as I walked by. The students had been around in my time, too, for at least two of the now three colleges. The coffeeshop seemed a little hipster spot but I was sure I would find myself there soon. Coffeeshops were my thing. Had long been my office for my writing, looking like a student myself with head bent over a laptop even though I long ago closed my last textbook and was finished being a student.

I wandered along through what I thought would be familiar and found it very changed, even if the basis of the historic buildings remained the same. I compared it it myself. The base of me was still the same but in all true life I had changed…even before the shooting. My travels and work and studies and just life had changed me a lot. Of course , simply put, I was a grown up now when before I had left I’d been a nineteen year old kid. So change was to be expected. Life changes you. All of it. I wondered if before the shooting that change was good, or bad, or truly ‘achieved’. But real life that doesn’t happen to everybody in the likes of shooting and killing your husband. That kind of change changes a person’s very soul. I did not yet know what those changes were but seeing the old historic familiar buildings of the same underneath a new layer of paint, updates and signs, I realized that they were definitely there. This island wasn’t the same and yet it was. I wasn’t the same and yet…somewhere I still was. I wondered if I’d recognize her as I did these old buildings.

I was new here. I was strange here. I wondered again if coming back was the right thing as I opened the door to the one place that seemed to have remained completely the same and unchanged, down to the piano player on stage. Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe…the smoky little bar that had seen more musicians than any band fan or Hollywood hooker ever had. The place was dark and I felt the warmth that I knew just then I had sought. Even underage I had long been coming here to listen back in the days when my dad would allow it while he sang old jazz on stage…often pulling me up with him only to walk away leaving me to stand in the spotlight alone….no turning back…time to sing….”like a bird” he always said. I realized the comparison of this act to the being thrown in the deep end….fend for myself but close enough to step in if needed. It seemed that he had continuously tried teaching me the lessons of life but they hadn’t been recognized for what they were until now, many mistakes worth that could have been prevented later.

I walked up to the bar and ordered a red wine…awful, I wasn’t much in the mood for the drink anyway but to sit in a corner and just let myself be found for a minute. I had spent a long time being lost and lately being in a spotlight I would never want and I didn’t mind the dim light of the corner here not being noticed. Not being known.

They say that not all those who wander are not lost but for a good decade I had been pretty lost and wandered plenty and for just a small moment I needed to feel ok in the spot that I sat.

As local’s or pass-through musician’s with acoustic guitars got on stage and sang some sad story song they had written I had at least a moment for the world to stop spinning. I took my notebook out and wrote…and wrote…and wrote. The words flowing from me like water in a river. I’d spent my time sitting in a jail cell staring at the same blank square of wall the entire time, replaying over and over the awful scene. I had often in the past two weeks picked up pen but hadn’t been able to write a single word to paper.
I had felt that being the ultimate sign that I was broken. Shattered into a million pieces.

I hadn’t realized when the music actually stopped until the shadow fell across my page and I looked up to see an old man’s familiar smiling face, a face with the same cracks in the same paint that had always been during my childhood, not all that was familiar and recognized is bad after all.

“Bird?! You look the same you did when you were knee high, girl…get up here and sing your papa’s songs.”

My hand was grabbed and my notebook and wine discarded. I couldn’t manage a word or a catch of my breath even as I was positioned with a guitar in my hands and a mic thrust to my lips. Gosh damn…I had done this plenty in LA, a small favorite smoky bar just like this actually…called Whiskey’s. It was one of the places I would crawl into when I wanted to remember…which wasn’t often and felt safe enough from far away, just as much as when I wanted to forget which was everyday for the past sixteen years. In the past decade and a half I’d worked hard to forget which was why it was ironic that Galveston was the only place I could think of coming to after the accident.

And so, with that smiling dark face full of the same wrinkles they held when I was a little girl, looking eighty to me then… looking eighty to me now, and a head surrounded in the same white hair looking at me while he settled at his piano. The spot I’d seen him spend more hours than I could count as a child, mesmerized watching his dark long fingers move fluidly without the age that the rest of him carried over the ivory keys. He remembered by heart the tune to play as I did the same with the strings of the guitar…and the glide of the song just began…my papa’s old songs. We came from a long line of family on both sides that had some artistic outlet. Writing, music, song writing, singing, painting, scultping. Each and every single one had some kind of special talent that was ours and some of us made those things into their day jobs while others spent much time in their life around a day job doing what they loved and teaching their children along with them as well, my papa being one of all of those. I had grown up with my fathers singing and song writing in our living room at home and on the stage of this smoky bar. His song writing ability was far above his singing and guitar playing ability but he still had a low rumble of a voice that made you stop and listen and the lyrics to his song made any writer jealous. I wondered briefly what he would think of my writing now. Of me, had he lived to know me as an adult.
I closed my eye’s and just felt my papa right there….for the first time in a long time he was there with me again as I sang his words I’d grown up hearing and singing along with him.

Two:AM and stumbling home…slightly drunk; bad red wine will hit you faster than a whiskey shot or five any time …but bad red wine followed by several whiskeys later does the trick every time. What trick that I might have been aiming for I was sure to regret in the morning.

I had ended up going to another bar around the corner after leaving the Old Quarter which was also after playing several of the song’s that brought back too much memory and then spent several of the next hours doing my best to drown those memories in their own deep end…or at least in the glass of many drinks. The one thing about Galveston is that there are more bars per capita…but also more churches per capita as well and so we could spend a Saturday night sinning and a Sunday morning repenting. That was the island living for you. All in between was the hard work and take care of the family and on the side, as one had ‘day work’, o this island it seemed around it all was always a large population of the island that had an art to perform, create, or build by ‘night’. Like it was a need deeper than the ghost’s that had once bleed into the soil of this island.
Like a horse who’s owner sleeps and knows it’s way home, I ended up right where I intended to go…and exactly the last place in the world I actually wanted to be.
I pushed through the white gate’s….Dropped my shoes and stumbling too much to find them just continued on, found my way to the big old back porch and the cushioned swing there and just curled up and fell asleep, but not before I wished that the stars would stop spinning above me.

I woke the next morning…hair sticking to my face and slightly cramped …head pounding. And the smell of coffee giving promise from the open back door through the screen that I’d not yet died, then the realization that the thought of it wasn’t so bad anyway. Also thanking Texas Winters for having warm nights even in the midst of cold to the bone one’s, for the past night had been quite pleasant during my entire walk and though I didn’t remember coming home, it apparently had not let me freeze to death on the back porch. Though a blanket had been laid over me that I was pretty sure hadn’t existed prior.

I stumbled barefoot into the kitchen and found every woman I hated and once had loved, all goddamn three generations of them, turn their heads to stare at me come through.

“Not now.”

“Not now what?”

“Not now your judgement, please.” I poured a cup of coffee and drank it down straight black.

“Not at all. We are all grown women here. No children. We don’t answer to each other here, Bird. Get that through your head right now.”

I poured another cup.

The women sipped their coffee’s while they chatted about whatever local event was coming up next or read out loud the newspaper to each other. I did my best to not have anything to do with them but couldn’t help to observe these women. Three generations of them all in one kitchen, all in one life. My mother had aged, I could see that now, and life had been kind to her as far as the wrinkles that seemed right on her face rather than not, the gray streaks that ran through her hair were fitting, beautiful. She always had been that. Her own mother, my grandmother was a twenty-five years older version of the same woman and showed exactly a mirror of age of not only her mother but of Bird herself, Bird realized the resemblance was incredibly strong, especially around the mouth. Her other grandmother, her father’s mother, actually, who also had lived with the family since Bird was four and she’d become widowed, had apparently stayed on after the death of her son, looked now like a soft feminine version of Bird’s father, but she had aged hard and life had not been as nice to her Bird could see in her grandmothers much more brittle slow way of moving, her skin much thinner than the other elder woman, her hair white and kept short, her middle and her face much softer and heavier than Bird
remembered, her eye’s incredibly sad and deep. Sas and Mag were poler opposites of Bird herself, where as Bird mostly favored her mother they both favored the looks of their father and both seemed to get only one personality trait of his stripped down from what had made a nice blend to prominent one’s of these two woman. Both tall, we all were, both blond, both with blue eye’s verses Birds dark hair and green eye’s. Sas with her straight forward no-nonsense manner and Mag with her overly bubbly and nice… but never false manner. Then there was me, dark hair and green eye’s and full lips of my mother, tall like everyone else. Long tapered fingers like my father and a jaw that was more like his too which fit well with the cheekbones I’d inherited of my mother. My own personality….well, I’d received talents in writing and music and traits on take no shit and speak my mind straight forward but which showed on my face long before anything need be said which proved at times to be somewhat both bad and good. I also always had more of a love of adventure and travel that no one in my Content To Stick To This Little Sandbar Family seemed to have. The personality traits we each received from our parents caused in each of us girls a completely different blend. I had struggled at the nurturing that my father seemed at ease to give and the walking on eggshells that my mother created in me. My mother’s…issues…causing constant rage and depression, deep sadness that could change her from a bright smile and song singing loving biscuit baking mother one moment and into a raging throwing pot’s and pans and beating her children in a hot rage the next, was one I had a constant fear of becoming. I often found a blend of traits of both of my parents and often fought against the spark of some of them. Sixteen years ago I had learned of a trait of my father that I feared of ever having, it was one my mother had openly shared my entire childhood but wasn’t a startling shock as my fathers was. Perhaps we had simply been used to it. Chalked it to theatrics, Mother’s antics, or it had become a part of life. My father’s shared trait happened only once. And never again. It was a shock like a earthquake that had sent tremors through me since.

One by one the women I stood watching and the women of whom I was a part of, scattered off about their day. Off to work and various jobs and directions in life, leaving Bird standing there with no direction at all in which to go.

Life didn’t stop for everyone else when the world itself had stopped for Bird.

The last in the room was my mother who put the last rinsed cup in the rack and drying her hands turned, took in the sight that was her daughter…like a bird with broken wings…

“You sang your Papa’s songs. You and your Papa always were best friends. You got that gift from him.But you far surpassed it as well.”

This was the first compliment I remember hearing from my mother. One of my angers I held toward her all these sixteen years and through many before that was that she never once gave me a compliment. She instead always dealt out a criticism. When someone said I did well on something or another, she said I could do better. Or even that I had not yet reached the potential she’d hoped for. Often her favorite line when telling her of some passion or dream or wish you had was to throw her head back in laughter and say “I once had dreams like that, too.” Now here I was in my third decade of life and hearing her tell me a compliment for the first time. I held my breath waiting for the hammer to fall but instead I quipped in what, as a teenager, would have been considered a sassy way.

“Small town already get word to you?”

“I was there, I saw you and heard you. Small town is usually me being one step ahead.”

She put the dish towel down and walked out of the room.

The only direction I could think to walk at that very moment was with a refill of coffee up to a long hot shower.

WIP; Release 5. Behind The White Gate; A Novel. Sisters.

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It was raining and I was drenched, only one suitcase at my side holding new clothes I’d bought rather than to step over that bloodstain. All that I had left with then and all that I returned with now. Memories of the last days here flooded around me like the torrential rains. Memories of papa’s funeral and the fight and shouting in the last days. Memories of me flying out the door and it slamming behind me. Leaving it all behind forever. Sixteen years prior. I stood here at thirty-four years old now…left a girl then. Though I had thought I’d known everything…back a woman. Knowing now I knew nothing at all then, knew nothing at all now. Coming back had never been the plan, but now coming back a not at all well put together-show them that I was right- and had made it- and certainly not a great life to flaunt in their faces- kind of coming back…but a tail between my legs- drenched in the rain with only a suitcase and a murder to my name and most surely not a shred of dignity kind of way.

“How long are you going to stand there before you finally suck it up and walk through?”
I turned to the voice behind me that I would know anywhere…and sixteen years later. My older sister, Sas. Always the studious one. Funny that I became the writer, I once wrote to her. “Not funny at all” She had written back, “art runs in your studious veins but not in mine.”

She had walked up behind me from the sidewalk with an umbrella which she put over my head as she reached down and lifted my suitcase and started forward expecting me to follow.

Life comes in chapters. I had closed so many chapters before today and now…I began another one but I wasn’t sure how long or fast this one might last just yet or if it would be one ripped out of the book before it even began.

Bird woke to the sunlight streaming in through the window, the white filmy curtains not doing much to keep the light out. She remembered when she was a young girl growing up in this room, her windows facing East that was how she had liked it. But over time in Los Angeles and windows of apartments looking out to other close buildings where you could look right in at your neighbor, not to mention waking with many hangovers after a long night out dancing in Hollywood with her friends. Life was a party during her twenties. Work hard. Play harder. She had begun keeping heavier dark curtains in the bedroom windows and closed, going to bed in the dark and waking back in it…often waking late in the day because of it, throwing off her natural wake up time ability. The alarm clock on her bedside an easy slam to hit the snooze button over and over again or just to throw across the room. She couldn’t remember a time in the past sixteen years waking with the sunlight or without hitting the snooze button at least twice.

Blinking to the daylight, unsure of where she was or how she had gotten there. Only a minute and clearing the sleep from her eyes and she recognized the quilt at the foot of her wrought iron bed in the bedroom of her childhood. She gazed around the sunlit room, the warm blue walls and the white painted furniture standing over dark polished hardwood floors with a braided blue and white rug in the center.

She was back.

She sighed and lay back on the pillows, staring up at the ceiling.

The strength of this day not yet within her.

Then the door opened and in walked Mag, bustling in her hurried way she had done in since she was born. Rushing into the world before her time. Never walking before she ran and running before most babies walked. Always in a hurry, always living like a New York Minute. And in her always older than the rest of the world way, even though she was my younger sister by four years.

I did not have the patience for her this early in the morning. Not today.

But she brought a tray of coffee. I couldn’t kill her just yet.

She set the tray down on the bedside and began gathering the clothing that I had left laying where they fell the exhausting afternoon before.

“You’ve been sleeping eighteen hours straight, Bird! Dear Lord these clothes are soaked through!”

I grunted.
Buried my face into the pillow deep and wondered if I could suffocate myself in such a way.

The smell of coffee won though and I sat up and poured a cup. Black.

“Like your soul, Bird” Sas said entering the room. My older sister by two years which might as well have been twenty. She came into this world serious and studious. She was meant to be a big sister only so that she could lord over and be bossy. The judgmental attitude had carried from a young age when she would look at you and tell you your head was too big or your dress was too short. And who showed up at the door with her disapproving glance around the messy room and watching Mag clean it up. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat on a nearby chair, mag poured another cup and sat at the end of the bed.

“What is this? A sister reunited slumber party?” I asked.

Mag looked to Sas and Sas looked steadily at Bird. Long enough in silence. In her always most unhurried way. As kids she always won the no-blinking contest, and she did so now, until Bird got uncomfortable…ready to fly again. Mag the hurried, Sas the patient, Bird the ever-flight-ready. The three of us were the closer of the five sister’s in our family. The youngest two….Simone and Sierria, had always had their own click, like twins even though almost two years apart of each other…but six years younger than Mag.

“Why are you here?” She finally asked. Like a judge from way up high. Like the gate keeper of the house behind the white gate’s. I had faced enough judge time in the past two weeks and I was tired. I didn’t have it in me. I felt as if my body had been drained of all blood and all I wanted and could do was lay there, lifeless. Why had I come here of all places?

I sipped my coffee. Took a breath to steady my nerves and said ” Because I’ve fucked it all up and I am home. I have nowhere else to go. Nothing else to go to. I fucked it all up. Is that what you are expecting to hear, Sas?”

“Yes. It is.” She uncrossed her long legs and stood, set her cup back on the trey and left the room. Not before pausing at the doorway and saying, looking down, “I just wish it wasn’t.”