A Writers Life For Me.

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I write by hand all the time (I mostly do notes, small spurts and pieces as well as all poetry, but my real long writing is by typing, with a notebook of notes for each project next to it). But mostly I go back to reference things I’ve jotted down and end up thinking “What the fuck did I mean by that?”

WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 6.

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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 help 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 Six

Going to her own bedroom she fell into the first best sleep she had had in weeks. Likely out of pure emotional drain. For the first time in weeks her sleep held no dreams. The last thought she had before drifting off was “I had never even wanted children. He and I had even decided never to have them by trying and took precautions not to have them. We always said if an accident happened that was one thing then, so be it. But we had actually thought of our lives without children.” She had held her journal notebook trying to write out her thoughts but no words ever went on paper.

The next morning she woke more refreshed than she could remember in a long time. Starting the day with a cup of coffee on the porch and her notebook…thankfully she had not forever lost it after leaving it at the smoky Old Quarter Cafe the other night. Back in the loft in Las Angeles she had a huge book shelf with hundreds of these books now. Sixteen years worth and here at home her shelves held some as well from the nineteen years before that, they still lined her shelves seemingly untouched. Pages filled with her thoughts, idea’s, works, bits and pieces and notes of stories and other writing’s. Some that went onto be something, other’s that lay as memories of a moment. This day she wrote a stream of idea’s and thoughts and feelings…journal like items that helped her come to conclusions of an idea or finding in a direction after having gone round and round writing something from different angles which was something she had developed over years as a writer by trade and not just by hobby, or as once she had been, a child. A child with her head filled with so many idea’s and crowded thoughts and feelings that she had found, with writing, some solution to release them.

As she thought about the life growing inside of her formed from the life that she had taken, and the decisions she had to make she had already mostly formed the idea of what to do…what her decision about what to do with the pregnancy would be. But sitting and writing now with a blanket over her lap and coffee in one hand, pen in another and a night of dreamless sleep behind her, finally, she wrote her feelings of having children…of having this child. And notions of what it would be like with one, especially as a single mom. And more especially as a single mom with the history and news and gossip and emotions and one day of her child knowing all of this that were involved that went with it all. And she considered her fears of mental illness and depression, the suicide of her father and the attempts her mother had taken. She even…this one was hard, wrote what it would have been like having this child with her husband, had none of the bad ever happened and if he was still the man she had known when they married, holding hands with him through hiking in Griffith Park and the picnics on the beach, surfing, and that time the surf board slammed him in the face real hard and all they could do was laugh, he was ok of course. Their Sundays spent visiting their favorite haunts…that one bookstore in Malibu where the huge shaggy dog always lay sleeping right in the open doorway and you had to step really wide to get in over it at all. It was a good thing she had long legs and she often had wondered what short legged people had to do. But these were things she thought of and wrote about. She also wrote a line in another direction of having the child with him and WITH the bad. The person not with whom she had fallen in loved with and married and knew but the person that she had to admit she had spent a year living with who had become a complete stranger. A very angry, moody and hurtful stranger. What then? What if a baby had not made him remember who he was and become again that good man she had once known? What if he remained angry and hurtful, or even became more so? What if it wasn’t only toward her that he turned that anger, but toward the baby? She faced a lot of what the problems were in writing it all down, forcing herself to think about all the things she didn’t want to. And how she had no control over some of it, and all the control over other parts. She thought and wrote of how often and in how many ways she had tried helping him, encouraging them to go to marital counseling, encouraging him to go to therapy himself. Something. She had tried to stay calm most times, more out of fear and walking on eggshells trying to not set him off into another rage that always ended aimed right at her. But other time’s she had been able to have complete calm conversations with him about it all, left off with his promises and agreements of getting help, admitting he needed it which he would forget by the next day. Help he would later make no move to get at all. And there had been time’s that frustration had won and she ended up in tears, even yelling at him “What is wrong with you?!” Once being a time in the kitchen, always their kitchen, when he had nitpicked at her all day, chasing her for a fight, like a small dog nipping just enough to bruise but not draw blood. So she had begun to cry, softly and to herself at first, as she kneaded dough, making bread which had become one of her favorite past times, her tears may have even fallen into the dough but she hadn’t cared. He walked around behind her, picked items up, set them down, sat and read things at the table, all the while speaking under his breath, mimicking when she spoke and just being down right mean. She hadn’t taken the baiting all day to the fight he was picking but finally her tears fell and blinded her to her task at hand and then he said “I liked you with your hair cut short, you know, the way you had it years ago. Much better than it is now.” It hadn’t even been the words that hurt but the tone, nasty. Sarcastic, venom filled just spitting at her and she finally punched her hands into the dough and with her head thrown back but her back still to him she wailed and yelled “WHY?! Why?! Why won’t you get help?!” Turning to him, her hands covered in yeasty paste and flour held out toward the ceiling. She only cried again, so blind with tears and hurt and frustrations more than she knew then that he had gotten the better of her, but she didn’t even care anymore, he had gotten what he wanted and she had lost her temper but not in the anger he had hoped, in her tears of giving up “WHY?!” Was all she had cried again and stormed off to wash her hands in the bathroom, change and leave the loft. She just had to walk until she couldn’t walk anymore and she’d returned home and went straight to bed. That night he had walked up from his downstairs shop soon after and crawled into bed next to her, she had been crying quietly into her pillow and he whispered “I don’t know. I don’t want to lose you is all I can think of” was all he said as he curled up around her. But she could never understood, then, why a person would treat someone they didn’t want to lose in such a way and even more so why he hadn’t wanted to hold on for so long and was now wanting to. It wasn’t long until it seemed he forgot those words, though. Now sitting eighteen hundred miles or so away on a porch on another coast she had moved on from writing idea’s and angles of her situation to writing these memories down, letting them pour from her, writing in her questions and wondering if there had been a solution she had missed, but it was too late to focus on that now even if she found one, and she wrote more toward her decision about having a baby now. Or not having one.

She wrote and wrote and never noticed that every so often her mom came and refilled her coffee cup, mixed just the right amount of sugar and cream and left quietly letting her stay lost in her thoughts. One thing the people of this house seemed to understand was to leave a person be when they needed it, especially if it was doing something that seemed to be their chosen release in life. Her legs curled up underneath her on the big whicker love seat, a soft gray blanket lay over her lap and her feet in warm socks…the morning went from beautiful and sunny to the afternoon bringing in rain and thunderstorms…and still Bird never stopped writing. Well covered underneath the large deep porch the rain never touched her though from time to time a wind gust sprayed mist her way, only to be mixed with tears that already wet her face. From time to time she could be caught staring off into space…see the memory playing before her like a movie. Sometimes tears came fresh to her eye’s and even once her mother watched through the kitchen window as she held her hand to chest and heaved back a cry…a lump stuck way deep down, the kind that seizes your chest. But still her sisters and mother and grandmothers gave her space, only casting occasional glances and refilling tea, sometimes you needed to cry like that. She once set a plate with a sandwich and tomato soup for her at lunch but it sat left un-touched like Bird had never seen it. The intense focus was not something new to this family and this family was well bred to leave one alone when in it. Usually not due to any mental field they were in but an artistic and creative one, actually. In Bird’s case they didn’t know which exactly she was in or what the words written were for and didn’t much care, they just cared for her and gave her quiet standing.

It wasn’t until the porch light came on with the dark that she stopped and moved to stretch…leaving the notebook laying there and slipping her feet into her shoes she stepped off the porch and went to get the guitar that she had seen still sat in her fathers library after all these years and walked back out to the firepit that someone had lit in the yard after the night had fallen and the rain had stopped. Grass wet beneath her feet. All of the women of The House Behind The White Gate had gathered around, chatting and talking, They smiled at her and made room in the circle..and they waited as her fingers strummed the stings and the tune began…and not the songs of her father they expected but instead songs that she herself had written over the years. She sang on a night crisp after an afternoon storm and her voice rang out across the clear night air like a bell…the story behind the lyrics even clearer.

After some time and enjoying the music, song, warmth of the fire and family and the healing that they could feel falling over them, Bird started in on some familiar songs of their papa’s…and her sisters and mother joined in. After Bird’s own songs and the settling of a beginning of a healing it wasn’t sad, though somewhat bittersweet to hear these songs at this house again for the first time in sixteen years.
Bird opened her eye’s and looked around at them as they continued to sing, all of their voices joining and ringing across the island…during this a few neighbors had walked in the gates and joined, bringing coolers and blankets and chairs and sitting around the fire with them. This was what she remembered about the neighborhood and she smiled brightly when she saw them come, not all things had been bad and not all things had changed, this warmed her on a crisp chill night… she saw Del walk in with a big dog and take up some space around the fire, thermos in hand. He nodded and sat and listened to the songs playing….and then at one point during her papa’s songs he had been handed a guitar by my mother and he strummed along…and began to sing too, words that he must have known long before…but then again…that was my papa on the island, Bird thought. He hadn’t died…he lived on and not in a bad memory or gossip but in at least song and lyric and when mentioned what came to mind first was always his big deep laugh.
I smiled and kept on singing….the voices filling my soul.

Then before the night came close to an end of music that had continued on to other songs of neighbors and friends and family known and shared…the fire stoked and kept hot…I slipped away for a quiet walk to stretch my legs and back, hands warming in the pockets of my coat and my scarf pulled up around my chin and neck.

“Mind if I join?” Del stepped in beside her in the dark.

“Sure.”

“I heard all of the Strife women could sing but only one truly sang like a bird.”

“I am sure you have heard a lot about the Strife family on this island, sir.”

“I have.” Head down, smile gone and face went serious he nodded, hands deep in his own pockets.
“Everybody has their stories. And this island likes to make use of them all for their own entertainment a lot of the time.”

I nodded to that one and we walked in silence for awhile.

“Could I ask you out to dinner next Friday night?”

“Del, I….”

“I know…I am sorry. You are probably nowhere ready to date after everything that happened. I would like to date you….sometime. But in the meantime I offer my friendship and don’t ask for more, if you’d accept that?”

I took a deep breath and gave it due thought. “Maybe we could do that. It’s too small of an island to make enemies and I don’t have any friends here.”

“Good.” Even in the dark I could see his smile grow broadly across his face.

Suddenly I felt something rub my leg and yelped in surprise. “Bill! Heel!” Del spoke firmly and low and I saw his big dog round to his other side and walk at a perfect heel. And I started laughing…loud…and continuously. He joined in with a chuckle and we headed back to the circle of others around the firelight.

I saw Sas give me a look and raise her eye brow in that Oh So Big Sister way she had and look over at Mag with a look that said “told you so.” And Mag smiled at the two of us and then turn back to the child she had laying across her lap and slipping her hand into that of a man’s who sat beside her. Walking up they both stood, the man taking the child and turned to Del and I.

“Hi Del. Bird I’d like you to meet my fiancee, Jason and his son Jack.” My sister had nice looking man standing next to her and apparently a young father of a young boy who’s mother had taken off after getting wrapped up in some mistakes. Yes, Del was right, everyone had their stories. I realized then that I had not even thought of the lives my family went on leading, growing up and dating beau’s all these years and was caught a bit off guard and a little wistful at the time I had lost. Though I needed that time strangely for me, I had paid a price for it too.

The next morning…I lay in bed and stretched out and enjoyed the softness. My bruised body was finally healing and the color fading and with it decisions became clearer. I was sure. I just lay there thinking, enjoying the peace I felt come over me and relaxed, released so much of the tension that I had been holding…for the first time for as long as I could remember. Yet I also couldn’t, or wouldn’t try to, avoid the sadness. My mind lingered to a memory…many memories, of laying in bed on a Saturday morning together, him and I. In the happier times. The memory brought a bittersweet sadness but I felt for the first time the enjoyment of a good memory while letting go of the instant regret and guilt that I felt..and the sadness and tension that had come the past year, when he had changed. I hadn’t wished to shoot him, but it happened as it had and try and different as I wished I couldn’t change that or take it back. The realization was I had protected myself, if it had not happened it might have ended up being me who’s blood stained the concrete sidewalk. I had not shot the man I loved but I had shot the man he had become and who had hurt me, who would likely have killed me and who had come very close to it previously. Him catching me leaving him that day might have been the end of it….well, it was the end of it. I didn’t embrace that fact. I didn’t forgive myself for pulling the trigger. didn’t excuse it. I just…understood it. For a moment I could think about the good of him, the good he and I had had before. Our mornings in bed together before it all changed.

Finally the smell of bacon and coffee that had made it’s way upstairs made her too hungry to stay in bed any longer and she padded down in her pajama’s…hair a mess but a smile on her face as she entered the kitchen to the smell of bacon and the pile of pancakes…and saw Del mid-plancake flip…hearing his deep laughter the second she saw him. She stopped, shocked for a moment. Mag caught site of her and stopped laughing while holding baby Jack in her arms, taking his little baby hand she waved and said “Hey Auntie Bird, come get some coffee.” Jason stood nearby pulling dishes off of shelves and threw a smile and greeting at her over his shoulder.

Heck…I was already down there, Del wasn’t a love interest…oh no. Nowhere ready to think of that, though his blue eye’s twinkled when he saw her, they would only be friends. She…why was she even thinking this? She pushed the idea out of her head. She couldn’t do relationships, dating or even sex.No. God…it had been…when was the last time she had thought of such things? She couldn’t even remember. She felt guilty at thinking them. She laughed and came in, pushing her wild black hair into a bun at least. She poured her coffee, shook little Jacks hand, said hello to everybody else in the room including Mag’s fiancee, Jason and then to Del, as if not a ruffled feather upon her. She took a spot at the island sitting across from Del who was flipping pancakes and Mag’s handed her a plate piled high…”I can’t eat all this!” I said
“She will make you” Sas said from behind the newspaper sitting at the breakfast nook table where she was munching on her own slice of bacon, her raised eye brow over her thick black rimmed glasses peeked at me over the top of the paper. Her face saying ” I’ve done this a time or two… don’t argue. Just eat.”

But my stomach grumbled and taking Sas’s un-spoken advice I dove into my plate and Mag handed Jack to me to go take care of the eggs. Suddenly…I stopped eating. I was holding a baby and….Mag’s looked up and caught on “Oh…let me here. I’m sorry Bird I didn’t think…” She trailed off and looked around the room, at Del, biting off her words.

“It’s ok..It’s fine.” I bit into my pancakes and soon the room started to relax….get busy and pretend there wasn’t an elephant standing right in the middle of it. The normal way of the Strife family. Del gave a quizzical look and then seeing the reaction of the women…and Jason pretending to get busy with Jack too…went back about his pancake flipping making a big show of them and making baby Jack laugh…Sas kept reading the paper after a good hard shake and Mag finished scurring around with breakfast making and encouraging Jack to eat and then started cleaning but the guys shooed her to sit with some coffee while they handled the mess. She sat on a stool next to Bird, holding baby Jack and leaned close whispering “I’m sorry…this probably isn’t the time to have a baby around and I shouldn’t have thrown him in your arms, and when I saw your face when I handed him to you, I just …” I cut her off “It’s fine, Mag, really…everything is fine…it just kinda hit me for a second is all and yes it’s not easy and it’s weird and difficult and it all will be but it’s fine…it’s needed and life goes on and it doesn’t stop revolving because of my problems.” I leaned over and fed some pancake to Jack.

After the breakfast was eaten and cleared away, Del wiped his hands on a dishtowel and turned and asked who was up for some kayaking…Sas folded the paper, grabbed some books on the table by the back door saying something over her shoulder about work, took off…and Mag took baby Jack up off the floor where he was playing and said something about plans they had to meet with another couple and scurried out the door pushing Jason ahead so that it was just Del and Bird left in the kitchen…Bird was reading a part of the paper and Del turned and stared at her until her eye’s came up from it, giving him a look and saying “huh?”
“Kayaking…come on it will be fun.” He said.
“It will be fun, they say.” I mimicked, eye’s back on the paper, bacon in my hand. “Always the last famous words.” And took a bite of bacon. “It’s cold.”
“It’s perfect…go get dressed and I will bring the truck around.”

So an hour later they had shoved off the embankment of Offat’s Bayou, which was a bay area of Galveston Island, where they had driven to known for it’s sailing and other aquatic sports. The scene around them on a crisp winter day was of sailboats and glass pyramids. And they sat in a shared kayak paddling into the water away from shore…for a moment they were silent and Bird felt that the shoving farther from shore was exactly what her soul felt like…away into the deep waters and farther from safety…such was her life these days, toward the deep end. She dipped her paddle into the water again moving farther still. She wondered if she would ever be able to forget and ever feel normal again.

Del finally spoke from his seat in the kayak behind her, “I have a feeling that there is a lot more going on with you than just what was in the papers, Bird…if you want to talk…you can.”

I just paddled slowly, following his lead. I didn’t respond but instead looked over the sunlight glittering on the calm waters. The waters , however, did not reflect my life at the calm rate they gently lapped…but knowing that the water ran deep, was murky and sharks swam in it, did…this was where my mind wandered.

Del began chattering away, pointing out the sites and they paddled on through to some marshes…he occasionally asked if she was ok or needed a break…she always said she was fine and shook her head to keep paddling…letting her mind drift over his words and over the waters….just drift…not have to make any decisions.

She paddled on.

Finally Del had them directed back at the embankment and they had put in a few hours of kayaking, he praised her for hanging in there and doing a good job…obviously being knowledgeable and kind of kept up a busy chatter. Handing her a water bottle out of the cooler they sat for awhile after everything was loaded up, she was still in the calm quiet that she had been in all day.

“Bird…are you pregnant?”

I nodded. Looking down at the bottle in my hands.

“You aren’t keeping it though, huh?”

I waited awhile…I thought, ‘let that question roll in my mind and simmer’, and then shook my head and softly said “Yes, I am and no. I’m not. The family doesn’t know what I have decided yet though, they just know it’s a decision to be decided.”

He only nodded and reached over sliding his hand in hers and squeezed. The warmth of his solid large hand felt good, as good as the silence that he continued sitting there with her in until she was ready to shake it off and get back to the house.

She got back , leaving Del driving off in his jeep, to find her mother and both grandmothers on their knee’s in various parts of the garden snipping and trimming and digging and weed pulling…the day was unusually warm for winter but then again…this was Galveston, a little island off of Texas. Ninety degree weather could be found one day and forty the next, smack dab in the middle of January. One didn’t pack away the summer wardrobe here.

I joined my mother in the garden and bent to knee and helped her toil in the soil in perfect silence. The ladies all looked up by raised eyelids and brow but not more than that, no pause given. My mother wasn’t one much for nonsense talking and had always been very comfortable in long silences, another like her realization just then, allowing the words to come when they came and letting the thoughts drift when they drifted and sometimes…not thinking much at all and focusing on the task at hand. But never not thinking, either. Sometimes sort of…meditating. She was realizing that some things she had found cold and stand-off-ish about her mother as a child were now traits she recognized in herself and also found she appreciated about the older woman now. Her mother’s strong presence seemed solid next to her and right now that solid was just what she needed. Solid with silence something to be grateful for.

Eventually Mag called out to them carring a trey of hot tea onto the porch through the kitchen door and yelled at them “Take a break you old ladies your knee’s can’t take that much kneeling without one, and it’s cooling off, perfect for a cup of tea!” So we dusted the dirt off and went and sat on the porch, I leaned back on the porch steps with a warm mug in my hands and closed my eye’s basking in the warm sunlight of the day, remembering a time when we were kids, just the three of us first girl’s then, the two younger so set apart from us not yet born. Mom and Papa were kneeling in the garden together…I remembered watching them and thinking “they love each other.” Right then and there. I don’t know why those memories seemed so crowded out of my mind by the bad one’s and I shook my head as the red water bathtub image tried to creep in my mind again, an image that had severely blocked out many possible others. I saw my mother rocking in her chair and watching me. Maybe not so much a look of love as much as a look of contentment. I caught her look and she put her cup down and stood up, stepping down when she got to me she kept moving forward looking ahead and said, “Come walk with me, Bird.”

We walked through the garden, past the white gates and onto the sidewalk toward the beach…the entire way to the water we walked in determined silence, my mothers face set in serious lines. I studied her and I saw my own face twenty-five years from now, I hadn’t realized just how much we looked alike. The lines on her face were like a map of the journey I was taking leading to the destination I was would end up in.

Finally walking left when we hit the line of water she spoke “Bird, this decision is so very yours to make. You are loved and supported either way you choose. I am going to say something not to sway your decision but…so you know, and have support in any way that you may need. I do not regret you or your sisters for a single minute and I wouldn’t change having had you for a moment but I will say this…my life was different from yours, my choices of life were different than your choices. My lifestyle itself was different from the one you have built for yourself. You aren’t making a lifestyle, Bird, you really have set one. It’s hard to see it but it’s not over yet and you still have that life, a little different, but it’s your life. You may even be a little different but you are still you. But you set it anyway and I can see that it hasn’t fit children…and it could very well adjust to them as well. That’s parenthood for you, never ready and always adjust to when it happens. I wish I’d been able to adjust better. I hear that it works that way for most women.” She sighed, bent to pick up a shell that she brushed the sand off of before continueing “But at the same time, if I had made it to my thirties with no children and had a set lifestyle that perhaps didn’t fit them…I would have perhaps continued on. And if I had been faced with the decision you have now to make, even without all the circumstances you have circling in yours, I likely would make the choice to keep on without children. It’s not to say I regret you girls. I have in my time, truthfully, but I don’t now and mostly never did. You fit in my life, I just ever seemed to be able to make myself fit into yours. That is not to sway you to not have this child but to let you know it’s ok if you don’t. And it is ok if you do. I am also not in your shoes, either. If your father had…earlier…I don’t know. I don’t think that…” She paused as if she had more but didn’t go on, her face set looking out to the water, she reached over and took my hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze but then didn’t let go until I nodded and we both stared out over the water. I had a moment of thinking of how young my mother was when she had us and how she tried keeping it all together with five young daughters, a husband, and mental illness always trying to drag her down and force her to cry defeat. I thought of myself in her shoes and realized that with many young daughters almost all before she was my age I don’t see how I myself would have done it…and here I was blaiming her for not being a better mother. Expecting perfection. The tiniest sliver of acceptance lifted some of the anger toward her that I carried. Had carried for a very long time. Maybe not entirely, there was a lot that I didn’t understand or maybe a lot of pain that I was not ready to forgive. But the thought of her so young, with such babies, and knowing my own fear of mental illness but her actually dealing with it put things in a different perspective. I squeezed her hand back.
Later I opened my notebook, again writing some and reading over my thoughts and directions and the scenarios of my alternative choices. Writing and sometimes what looked only like staring at a blank page or scratching the pen across surface was often my form of clearing and sorting thoughts, ideas. A way of coming to conclusions, in both my work and in my personal life. Meditative and sometimes a needed calm came from it, sometime an answer to a question I pondered over.

I read back over some of the last few days and what I had written about the choice that I had ahead of me. I had never really seen myself with children and when he and I had married we both had held that same thought…a kinda hey if it happened sure we go through with it but our lives were better suited without and we took precaution. We built our lives for a childless way of living. We had renovated a historic down town industrial building where his shop was downstairs and our home was the loft above, opening onto a courtyard where we gardened together. He built furniture, carefully crafted really. Beautiful stuff. He had a real talent. He always came up for lunch covered in sawdust and an obvious love for his work. For a long time an obvious love for me too. I went toward the thought again of where that had gone. When. Going back to the thoughts of our…my,now…lifestyle, I thought of my days writing, my desk in the sunlit open loft upstairs next to an open window, my large desk where I spent many hours studying, writing, researching and working altogether. Sometimes I would go to one of the local coffeeshop’s nearby. Change my scene, absorb from other people, their colors, fashion, voices and mannerisms. Studying their faces and picturing their story in my mind. I would take long walks and soak in the sites and sounds. I spent time pouring through books at the library, melting into the pages of dusty books of history and the dark brown wood’s of the old library. Disappearing for hours before coming up for breath…taking moments to realize where I was once again and clear my mind, blinking my eye’s to focus and see that I was not lost in the pages I read but a library and often that it was time to go home when I’d felt as if I had just arrived.

We would joined friends in evenings, music, laughter and red wine glinting in soft complimentary lighting. We talked with many other artists and scholor’s and professor’s of the nearby college. We would cook a dinner together in our kitchen, barefoot and dancing to the music, laughing and testing the sauces, trying something new.
Again my mind wandered to better times and I shook my head clearing the images away. Not yet ready, if ever to cherish them. Feeling guilt, and a longing that hit so hard it hurt.

I read back further in my notebook…there were pages it held written in the last weeks of his life…when no longer did we laugh but when I walked in a constant tense waiting. Tip-toeing on eggshells afraid he would hear the crack of sound and burst into one of his becoming more and more frequent tirades. I never could pinpoint what would set him off to learn how to avoid that one such thing. It didn’t take drinking or a bad mood or bad news or even a bad day….sometimes the rages happened when we’d had a perfectly good day, when it felt like I had my best friend again…and then suddenly he would look up from what he was doing and look at me with pure disdain with eye’s that minutes before had held that old pure love that I had looked into when saying my vows.

I read one of the last passages, exactly a week before the accident.

“This evening while we made dinner I had the most frightening moment. I think in his mind he truly contemplated killing me. I could read it in his eye’s. One minute we were completely fine, almost the old good best friend again, we’d both had great successful days and had come home talking of our good achievements. I no longer talk of my own achievements if he doesn’t have one to share because of what happened that last time…
We had been talking about a funny client of his when suddenly he went super still and stopped chopping the onions he was dicing, he always could do the best real fine dicing that I can never seem to get right, he was real still, knife in hand. Hs shoulders had gone absolutely rigid. I looked at his face and he was like stone…I called his name like a whisper…he flinched at the sound and I stopped, flinched waiting for his hand to reach out and smack me. But he didn’t…he just stared down at the cutting board…for a long…long time. I stayed silent and didn’t move either, afraid that if I did it might set him off as he had such a weird look and…sudden feel about him…you could see the anger growing, the red creeping up his neck and the veins pulsing. His hand was tightening and gripping the handle of the knife so hard and for a moment I didn’t fear for myself but for him…the thought of him harming himself gave me the bravery to reach out and settle my hand over his, the one wrapped around the knife handle, instantly he relaxed…instant, his whole entire body, whatever had possessed him whooshed right out of him in an instant and he looked over at me, right in the eye’s and says “Bird, if I ever hurt you, I am very sorry.” And then there he goes back to dicing the onions like not a thing had happened or that hadn’t just been the freakiest phrase one has ever said. He just started back on the conversation about his funny client exactly where he had left off like nothing…”

I closed the notebook, sighed and stared off, the image of that day so strong. the feeling I had that day of the most pure fear in me. I was not sure if I felt more fear for myself, or for him but fear for myself had never made me feel like that. When I realized fear for him was when my stomach simply knotted in such a way and the breath constricted in my throat, and the hush of heavy air that settled had happened. The thought of him hurting himself had weighed on my mind a couple of times through the Bad Time as I called the time when he had changed from my best friend and became detached, lost in his own mind often wandering around muttering to himself, angry, so very angry all the time. All of a sudden.

Such a contrast from before when he had been the most smiling happy gentle and caring man, outside of my father, and who I had known and been married to for years.
I thought back to when it began and the one and only time that one of these outbursts brought anger from my side. Well, anger that I showed at least. I wished that I had found a way to help but I just didn’t know how and I felt so helpless when he became depressed all I did was try to help. It had started when I had a project with the production company and was gone much of the time at their offices, I did this from time to time with long stretches of working from home so it wasn’t anything completely new and out of the ordinary. The first day that I came home he hadn’t moved from his position I’d left him on the couch that morning, in his pajama’s and playing video games. Not like him at all, he had times that he played the games and even relaxed but usually they were days we both decided to have a down day all day lounging together, eating crockpots full of chili, but this time…I had walked in and he didn’t even look up, his face was set like he was mad which was a rare look on him. I pondered at how strong his jaw was and that I didn’t very often notice that. And I put my books down on the table and went and wrapped my arms around his neck, sitting behind him on the couch with my legs on either side I kissed his neck and then began to massage his neck and shoulders while he continued playing the came. He never responded and the tenseness I could feel in his shoulders caused his muscles to be un-kneadable. Finally feeling the aloofness and not knowing what to do with it I went to change into my running clothes, coming out I put in my headphones but not turning them on yet, bent down to give him a kiss on the cheek and he says “Leaving again? You are always leaving.” I stood back as if bit, I said ” I always go running at this time, everyday, hon.” My voice questioning more than telling or reminding. He just stared forward, his jaw set. I ask what’s wrong and he won’t respond, I ask if he’d like me to stay and hang out, play a game, make some dinner but am again met with no response…finally I turn and leave for my run, totally buffuddled at the scene. Now needing my run, a good head clearing, and not sure what else to do in such an awkward situation, thinking maybe he needed some time to think as well.
When I got back in he was still playing, I called out hello, and chatted happily about my run, making a glass of water as I spoke in our open living space my voice carried easily. He continued with his set face, I could see the veins bulging in his neck and I said ” hon? What’s wrong, babe?” He throws the controllers toward the tv, hitting the floor and stands up and just…walked out of the room. I stood there thinking “What the fuck?” Purely concerned because this was never…not in the least…ever at all how this man went about responding over anything. He was even the better communicator out of the two of us. I set my water glass down after shocked pause and then followed him through our bedroom to the bathroom and found his bent over the toilet throwing up, rushing to him I laid my hands on his shoulder asking if he was ok and what was wrong? I wet a wash cloth and handed it to him and he looked up finally…his face streaked with tears and snot coming from his nose even, his face in pure agony and I asked “Is it your dad?” Knowing his father was older and he was a big worry on his mind these days as well as being the only person in his family he even got along with…this emotion seemed reaction for something major that had happened. But he says “I am just waiting for you to leave me one day. I know you are going to.” I melted immediately onto the floor without pause even though surprised and crawling into straddling his lap I wrapped my arms around him and held his head to my chest and said ” Why would you think that?!” I was shocked…I wasn’t cheating and we had a trusting relationship. A good one. We had spats and arguments and debates but I had certainly not feared we were in trouble of any kind. He wasn’t an insecure type of man.
But he just started heaving his cries were so hard, his shoulders bouncing with sobs and his tears wetting my shirt and kept saying the same thing, babbling and not making sense. I cooed and held him and kept assuring him that I had no intention of ever leaving him. That he was my husband. That I loved him and asking why he would ever think such a thing and what had gotten into him?” He just bawled and I held on until the cries turned to hiccups and we ended up sitting on the bathroom floor laughing…kissing and then making love right there…ending with a climb into the shower, washing down the drain the tears and the lingering fears.

The week after that, nearly having forgotten about the incident entirely, I carried groceries in, reached the top of the flight of twenty-five steps….all of which I felt with a load of groceries in my arms, and he was standing over my desk, thinking nothing of it as I hid nothing and he often needed stamps or some such item but was otherwise respectful of my privacy, I walked to the open kitchen and began putting groceries away. “How’s your day going? How is that new Demsca desk you are building coming along? I need to come down and see how it’s turned out.”

He kept standing over my desk, something in his hand. Not looking up at all and answered back “Why do you suddenly need to check on my work?” His words came out in such a vicious snarl I stopped unpacking the bags, setting the bell pepper down slowly onto the counter and looking over at him. I think the only time I had heard him speak in such a tone was a time when a guy tried picking a bar fight after he kept grabbing at me even as we walked our way out.
“I don’t check up on your work, hon, I was just asking.” Confused, as we spoke about each others work all the time, in detail, and asked each other’s opinions even. Our work was very important to both of us, and our partner’s work to us because it was to them. Our lives farely revolved around our careers and was often the topic of discussion or idle chatter. Questions such as I asked were not uncommon of either of us in our daily talk. He brought over the papers in his hand and said “Is this supposed to be the kind of man I am?” He waved them in the air, leaning on the counter. I saw he was holding my latest article on a relationship series that I was writing for a magazine. It was about communication.
“Actually I was able to use much of your personality as a good base for it, it’s more how you’ve always been rather than what I wish you were or think you are supposed to be.” I responded slowly, cautiously Still very unsure of why and where this was going. “But it’s only influenced a little, otherwise it’s not based on you at all.” Relationship based articles geared often toward womens magazines were nothing new of my writings.
He threw the papers on the table and spat out “A man not afraid to show his emotions?” That’s you’re bullshit writing?!” He was so furious that spittle came with every word. “I”….I began but he cut me off “You and your fucking idea’s of what a man should be. Always trying to change me. You think that you have something to fix?! You don’t have anything to fix. I don’t need fixing!” More dumbfounded I recalled that my article…nor any of them previously, mentioned fixing a man or changing him at all. I stood there at the counter, turning to watch as he began marching around the kitchen, picking the papers up and reading a line and then waving them around to then be thrown back onto the table just to be picked up on his next round of it, another line read in furious state. But none of the lines matched the rant he was ranting even for this seemingly misinterpretation. He had always been a reader of my writings before I’d send them in, I never wrote anything to offend him and I was at a loss for his reaction or even, really, why he’d been reading unfinished work before handed to him to do so at all as he usually gave me space in my work. Respect of my space. So as bewildered as I was, I also felt the heat of anger rising in me. “You are taking things out of context…why….what is going on?” I managed to choke out.
“Going on?! Why don’t you tell me what is going on? You always say you are at the library when I know you are fucking someone else!” he shoved a chair against the table, hard and began picking things up off of various surfaces and then slamming them down. “What?! What are you TALKING about…?” He cut me off again rushing and shoving his face into mine and and grabbed my jaw with one hand, spittle landing on my face as he said “I know you are. You fucking little cunt!” He shoved me down until I was leaning so far back over the counter that my feet came off the ground…I couldn’t breath but more I was shocked and appalled…he let me go suddenly and stormed out to his shop downstairs. I had stood there a moment looking around the kitchen and thinking, again, “What The fuck?” But now I was mad…I wasn’t cheating…hell I barely spoke to other people without him there, he was the social butterfly. I worked hard when I was at the library, headphones on and not looking up from the pages for hours. I was usually pretty lost in my own head I hadn’t ever even looked at a man sexually since I had met him…I got mad…I pushed away from the counter and stormed down the stairs after him
“What the FUCK is your problem?!” I yelled.
He was sanding on a furniture piece he’d been building.
He looked up in surprise like he didn’t know why I was upset and said “Bird, whats gotten into you?” I saw his eye’s were clear and the rage from them gone…I stopped and bit my tongue…wondering at this change if I had just imagined the entire scene that had happened just a minute ago in the kitchen, I reached up and felt my jaw, sore from the roughness he had grabbed me with, “Bird?” He said in genuine concern I turned and stumbled upstairs…unsure of what was going on….I was left wondering if my mothers problems had started in my own head and that perhaps I was losing my mind.

Back in my life in Galveston now, and back from my memories to the present day, I set my notebook on the bedside table and turned out the light but I wasn’t able to turn my mind off and the memories that swam through.

“You looked like you slept with an angry bobcat last night.”Sas said as I walked into the kitchen the next morning.
“Shhh.” I grumbled and poured my coffee.

“Just didn’t sleep well.”

“Well I’m off to the the shop…need anything before I go?”

“No, I’m good, thanks.” I waved her off and buried myself behind the paper…not to read, just to be left alone.

Mag who had stayed silent, kneading some dough at the middle island, raised her eyebrow as soon as the door closed. “I could hear the nightmares you were having. Not bad enough to come wake you but from time to time you made enough noise to know you were having them.” She said, more of an amused mixed with concern on her face, she tried teasing and keeping the conversation somewhat light.

I mumbled into my coffee and didn’t look up.

She put the dough into the fridge, washed her hands and went to start her own day, stopping to peck me on the cheek on her way out.

One thing this family knew was when to back off and for that I was grateful as I wasn’t in the mood to talk or explain or to answer. Right now I wasn’t in the mood for anything but coffee. I was damn near in the mood for a fight, and I think my sisters had sensed that most. Left alone in the kitchen I took my coffee and opened the door to my fathers library. I breathed in deep and setting the coffee on a table, opened all of the curtains. The room was obviously dusted thoroughly from time to time as I had at first expected to choke on it. I picked up my coffee and sat on the brown leather chair in front of the fireplace. Sipped…and then stood up and walked over to the desk. There I lifted the cover off the the old typerwriter which my father had preferred for his writing, rather than computers, and slipped a sheet of crisp paper inside that I found still nestled in a drawer on the right hand side.

I hadn’t touched a typewriter in …well since the last I had played in this office, writing some paper or another for school I suppose but usually I did that at the library on the computers. I pecked a few keys…typing out the word Hello and then sat back and sighed…staring around the room. Nearly waiting for the walls of it to talk back to me.

Then I typed and the words flowed,

Hello Papa,

I think of you every day. I still cannot understand or wrap my head around why you did what you did. I just can’t. I want to yell at you and scream and ask you why you would do such a thing, especially after you knew what it did to all of us when mom attempted the same. Why would you leave us? Did you not love us? Did you hate us that much?
I will probably never be able to understand, but Papa…I love you and I do understand the feeling of just wanting to give up, stop fighting and lay your head down and let go. Sometimes it seems so hard…like this heaviness on my back and shoulders and I want so badly to lay it down but I can’t. I also don’t feel that I could give up, not like mom tried, not like you did.
I just….I won’t understand. And you aren’t here to try and explain.
More than anything I wish you were here with me through all of this. You would know what to do, and the thing that I don’t know about any of it is what to do.
I don’t know if I can swim this time, Papa. I think I might sink.
Not even a letter. Not a word. And in my mind rings forever the sound of that gun shot…now taken over by another shot. I shot my husband , Papa. Do you know that?
I always feared being like mother, having what made her the way she was. But I ended up being more like you. I hurt someone really badly. I killed him. I don’t know what to tell you really…how to tell you. I imagine if you were here when this happened. I imagine you could and would fix it all and make all of this bad dream go away. I am glad that you aren’t here in a way though. I am so ashamed. So hurt and afraid and ashamed. I not only killed a someone, but my own husband. For a long time he reminded me of you…the good that you had taught me to want out of a husband. But …I don’t know how to explain the change, Papa, if you were here maybe you would be able to explain it to me. The sudden smiling and happy man all of a sudden not being….

I feel there is a comparison…nobody shoots himself in the head without some kind of anger, I feel. He yelled and showed plenty of his anger, you bottled it and held it in…was it anger or was it more sadness? Was that achieving what you wanted or simply giving up? Papa all of these questions and more than any other, the one I would ask if you were here….is it ok that I don’t want to have my baby?

I look back and think how I hadn’t really wanted kids or planned to ever have them, even with my husband and his own wants fell into that. We just had lives better without them. Not built for them.
Do I have a child because I am with one but now, under the circumstances made worse by the fact that one day my child will surely know, ask or find out the answers they may hold of who or where their father is. I don’t think I can do that to them. I didn’t plan to get pregnant I took all the right precautions…we didn’t have any accidents but somehow I now have this…unwanted child.

There, I said it. Unwanted. Does that make me a terrible person? A hardened hateful mean murderer of a person? I have killed my husband and now do I abort my child too? Once is an accident, twice is…

Papa if you were here….
Why aren’t you here?
I rested my hands from the type writer…filled with more questions, my eye’s filled with tears, I had never attempted to talk to my father since his death and now I had found my fingers fly over his very own typewriter where his own fingers had rested, where his own words had been spun from. And this is what I brought to him. My question’s. My burden’s.

Do we ever get to understand?

The next morning I woke up early , showered and dressed and Met Sas in the kitchen to drive me to the doctor. She took my hand when they called my name in the waiting room and gave me a squeeze “I’ll be right here when its all finished.” I was making a decision that couldn’t be unmade.

WIP (work in progress) Behind The White Gate. A Novel. Chapter 4.

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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 Four

The door burst open and with it the storm that had been now grown to raging outside and in flew three rambunctious kids, two with super white blond hair and one with dark curls…behind them men’s voices mixed with the laughter of women.

My two other and youngest sisters and their perfect families….fantastic timing.

Both the youngest sisters of the family and yet the most advanced in life. From what Mag had kept me updated on through the years. They had been good students, good college students, then come back to the island engaged, bringing soon to be husbands with them straight out of college. Had successful career’s in absolutely boring fields, one being a teacher, another being in medical, and then both had children, giving their mother the grandchildren that her three eldest daughters had not. Giving her mother the steadiness of predictability that her three eldest had not. Given her son’s-in-laws and steady real jobs rather than the follow their passions types of Sas, Mag and Bird. They also had given no trouble at any time in any way shape or form to their mother or in-house living widowed-grandmothers. Bird had obviously not been topped but Sas and even Mag held their own in pranks and teen angst episodes. They were good people, they were Bird’s youngest sisters, set a world apart from the first three daughters of this house by years and an entire different upbringing even of the same home as well as separated by life, it seemed, though the same house hold raised, even though they had known the least of their father, we still shared the same mother and I wondered at how we could be so very different, aside from a generational gap in todays society. It always seemed THEM and US even early on. Eve before our father’s death. To Bird who hadn’t seen them since they were eight and ten years old, they were more strangers than sisters.

“Oh I forgot you all got back today!” Mag exclaimed and stood up in time to grab the bundles of children that threw themselves into her arms…she squeezed them hard with the love of a spoiling Aunt and then hugged their two sets of parents as Sas hugged the parents and then greeted the little one’s, her sisters, and the two brother-in-laws whom Bird had not yet met, who’s weddings she had both received invitations to and both which she did not attend. No explanation. Bird stood and let it sink in that she was there. Both girls…women I mean…they had been girls when I had left, little ones, walked up and hugged me together…

I kept holding my breath on every new encounter thinking I had to be prepared to explain…but nobody was pushing me with the questions asking me what happened or why and how.

They where just…there.

After the initial hug though, the two younger sisters stood off a bit. After stiffly introducing their husbands, and their children who’s births and birthday’s I had missed. And all the Auntie milestones in between. I could barely keep their names straight immediately after the introduction, much less ages. Being introduced as “Aunt Birdy” threw me off immediately and for a moment even Sas and Mag lost composure, realization’s hitting them all at once deeply, strongly, just how awkward a moment this really was and that talking to Bird, and understanding her, wasn’t over yet either.

It was an awkward moment because we were much like strangers who shouldn’t have been. So many years had passed and they had been so young when I left and I hadn’t been the best of sisters…I had been completely non-existent in all of my sister’s lives since leaving except for a very occasional correspondence with Mag only because for who persistence never ceased.

They took the kids to find their grandmother, who was watching and visiting with them while the set’s of parents went to their separate homes to unpack from the vacation trip in Europe they had all just returned from.

Simone and Sierra promised they would come do dinner and coffee’s and catch up with me soon and left with their handsome young husbands. Leaving the children with ShooShoo, as they called her, upstairs in her craft room.

After the whirlwind had left the kitchen with a suddenness all three remaining sisters looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“I don’t want kids.” Sas said to me pointedly. And went about drinking her tea.
“I do when the time comes along.” Mag said, also settling back into her tea.
“Well…I guess I hadn’t really thought to have them. We lived artistic busy lives and both figured that children didn’t fit into that but now I am pregnant. We never said a definite no but we both leaned more in that direction. Sort of an “if it happen’s ok but if not even better and we sure wouldn’t try for it.”

“Are you keeping it?”

“SAS!” Mag gasped and threw a hand towel at her.

“Well she has a choice and it is obviously still early. It’s a logical question, especially in her situation. I am not saying you should or shouldn’t. I am just asking.”

“I…I…well I hadn’t thought of it that way. I guess that is a choice. I really…I don’t feel it’s real yet. I haven’t felt anything of a pregnancy yet and my mind has been so preoccupied with… survival. And I’ve been in such a fucking fog. I ….left out of instinct of protection and now here I am having dreams about him coming and taking the baby so I think…I guess I am leaning toward keeping and having the baby. I just…if I think about it I don’t know how. How do I one day tell my child that I killed their father? What of when they begin asking questions like who their dad is? Not to mention single motherhood. Right now I don’t know tomorrow!”

“Well, you should start thinking on it because nine months flies by real fast and you have already lost about a couple of those.” Sas said…got up and set her tea cup on the drainboard and turned around with a real serious look in her eye just as I had stepped up behind her to do the same. “Bird. Look. It’s your decision and we back you one hundred percent either way. It won’t be easy either way and it’s a long hard haul if you go through with it but if you go through with it…you have to be ready to be a mom. Put yourself in that mind frame. You will have to pull yourself together.” With that she gave a hug warmer than her words and then walked out of the kitchen. Sas, always say what anyone else is too afraid to say type of person.

Mag walked over and grabbed me into a big deep hug. “I know Honey. I know.” She patted my back and cooed. I hadn’t realized that the tears had been streaming. I didn’t understand why she was comforting me like a child until our mother walked in with my niece and nephews and caught the scene…abruptly turning the kids around and shooing them off for some errand through the house. She came directly over and grabbed Bird in a rough hug but then squeezed…and didn’t let go until the cry was good and done. Hearing the three children running back through the house yelling “We found it ShooShoo!” She let go…took Bird by the shoulders and looked her square and hard in the eye’s “You are perhaps cracked, My bird, but you are far from broken.” And gathered the children as they burst in and swept them along outside leaving me and Mag alone in the kitchen again, but not before giving Mag a look that said “take care of her.” I really didn’t know what to think on that. With every question that swirled in my head. I hadn’t been able to think past the blood stained concrete and now I realized ….almost just remembered, that I had this to situation to think about but even more so was I thrown off by the woman who I hated almost my whole life and for sure the past sixteen years, somehow being this quiet force since I’d been back. All of it confusing. Not at all who I remembered and yet not at all who I was still ready to talk to and who easily was pretty avoidable so far since I’d returned.

Mag took me by the arm and led me to my upstairs room where I, on my own, washed my face at the sink and Mag drew a bath. I stripped down upon command and Mag turned and caught sight of my naked body…covered in bruises from neckline to toe. Easily covered during winter months and turtle necks. Gasping she nearly whispered “What did he do to you?” In absolute horror. Hearing it and seeing it were two different things. Two weeks later and my body was far from healed. She helped me tenderly into the bath and washed my back softly. She was in her own shock at the sight of my body. Finally I said ” He never touched my face. This last time was the first time he touched my face. Most of those bruises are gone and it wasn’t that bad. Nothing broken. But this is pretty normal…what my body looks like now. He wasn’t really about hitting as much as…torture in ways, grabbing and twisting flesh and whatnot. But the bruises. He did that. A lot.”
Mag swallowed back the lump in her throat and unable to speak simply nodded. Then her tears began to spill and she dropped the washcloth and spun from the room apologizing. I leaned back and soaked and lay there for a good long time. It had been the first time I had been able to cry, to just….cry. I had been wandering in such a shock and daze the past two weeks. It was sometime later and I must have dozed as the water had cooled when Sas knocked softly and then entered “Mag has been in crying hysterics for awhile but finally fell asleep. I calmed her and gave you time to yourself but am now checking on you. Are you ok? She told me what was wrong.” I nodded…she entered and closed the door and grabbed a big towel, holding it out so that I could modestly step out of the cooled bath. She helped dry my hair, staying silent while she stared at each bruise she saw as I dried my body. My blackened shoulders and arms, my blue and purple turning to yellow now legs and feet. She just stayed silent in a steady calm. That had been her always, even when it was our Mother’s bruises left on our bodies then. Bruises we had kept hidden from our Father. I met her eye’s in the mirror and she finished drying my hair and said after a moment “I would have killed him. And I wouldn’t be the least bit sorry for it.”

I wrapped into my robe and also, like Mag, went to my own bed to fall into an emotionally tear ridden exhausted sleep. Sas turned down the lights and sat with me until I was sound asleep before leaving the room.

It was dark when I woke up, slightly disoriented a moment before I remembered where I was, the tears had apparently continued in my exhausted sleep, though I had no memory of dream. Mom was sitting in the chair in a corner reading a book when I woke. I didn’t say anything. Just watched her. She knew I had risen but continued reading. I didn’t interrupt her…the golden rule of readers. Do Not Interrupt.
I studied her face and the lines that had come upon it in the time since I’d last seen her. Her jet black hair was completely gray now but long and still silky. It was quite becoming of her really and I thought fleetingly that if I aged like her it would be a good thing. She was still fit and slim and gravity had not hit her much, if at all. Her green eye’s still prominent and her mouth set in that determined look with the slight furrowed brow I remembered growing up. She was the same, only older, and it seemed to me and the memory that I held of her..perhaps…quieter in spirit.

She put the book down, closing it’s pages but not looking up. She looked at her hands upon the book rather. She sighed and sighed again before saying ” The girls told me about the bruises.” I nodded and shifted position upon the bed. Sitting Indian style facing her, still studying the calmness about her that I held no memory of.
“They have told me you are expecting.”
Again all I could do was nod.
“I wish you had told me. I wish you had come home before. Called us. Anything. But I understand it too, Bird. You need to understand that I know what is in your mind about this.”
Anger rose as I realized where she was going with this. I got up off the bed, wrapping the robe I was still in tightly around me and pacing the floor “No. No you don’t because Papa never would have hit you. He never would have done this to you.” I stood in front of her and dropped the robe to show her the bruises. She ….her eye’s gleamed with instant tears and breath caught in a gasp. She stood up and walked over but I brushed her away, angry at what she was ready to accuse my father of. Angry that here she was, ready to blame someone else for the way she was. For what she had done to our family. For killing her husband. For forgetting the bruise’s she had left on her little girls in one or another of her own rampages. “I wasn’t blaming your father, Bird. I was blaming mine. But you have to let this anger about your father go. You have to let this anger about me go. I didn’t kill him, Bird. It wasn’t me. Your father…Your father shot himself. That was him. Nobody made him do it. Nobody pushed him to do it. Your father did that. You can listen and hear me and know the truth or you can continue being angry with me but it won’t change what really happened and why, and no good will come of your holding your anger, At me, or at your father, especially carrying a baby. They feel what you feel, Bird. Mothers advice right there.”

“Mother’s advice? Children feel what their mother’s feel? So, mom then tell me what exactly you think I feel. What I have felt since I was a baby, a little girl finding you the way I did?” The venom spitting from my mouth seemed to hit my mother like punches to her face but she stood quietly. She put her hands out…touching but not touching the bruised shoulders….and she cried and cried while I stood there. My anger seething. But seeing her different but not wanting to let go of the anger that I felt pulling away from me at the same time.

Finally we both sat, her on the chair and me on the ottoman. I handed her tissues.

“I never wanted this for my babies. I never wanted them to hurt.”

“You never protected us. You hurt us more than anybody”

“I protected you a lot….Bird you have a view of things that isn’t everything…it doesn’t hold all of the pieces.”

“I just….I can’t believe you had any reason to do what you did. Leave us like you did. Hurt Papa the way you did most of all. He never hurt you mom.”

“No no..not this…not….God My Birdie…not that. But…Your father had his demons and you have to know that. He WAS a good man….but he could be the ugliest too at times.”

“I …mom…please leave me alone will you?”

A paused and pressed silence, lips held tight as she studied me and then she got up and left. I could feel her own anger rising.Strife traits and the woman I was like most but wanted to be like the least. The door slammed behind her. I was left alone again but sat and wondered about the things she had said, what little I’d let her say. Perhaps I should let my mother have a chance at explaining. Ask her now the question’s I never had asked her then. But I wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t ready to feel empathy for her or understanding for her reason’s of why she was the way she was. Not one bit ready for giving her an inch. But at the same time I realized for the first time that my attitude was incredibly juvenile as the small bit she had said did make the adult self in me realize that there was a story that I had not yet read, that my mother and my childhood only seemed like the cover of the book I’d plenty judged.

I fell back asleep crying again but this time I had plenty of dreams.

I dreamt of a time when I was around four years old and I had woken up and called out for my mother…but no one came. The house was very quiet and I got up and walked out of my room and down the hall. Our house was never in complete silence so I became scared. I called out again and no answer. I found the door to my parents room at the end of the hall open and went inside but it was empty. The bed perfectly made. Then I stepped in water puddled on the floor….and heard the water on coming from the bathroom, underneath the door is still came. But the water wasn’t just water…it was red and pink and black too and it swirled around my feet like a water color painting as I walked to the bathroom door and turned the nob, calling out “Mooom?” Again, scared but for some reason knowing what I was about to find in a way which I couldn’t, what four year old could understand this? But my dream-child new.

The tub was over flowing and she lay in it , wearing her pretty pink dress, the blood all around her, her black hair floating around her face, her eye’s closed and her skin pale. I dropped my stuffed dog and went running…splashing through the water but I ran to her, not away, and grabbed her arm which looked hurt and pulled and pulled screaming “Mom wake up! Mom wake up!” I last remember my father’s voice yelling her name and grabbing her around her body, reaching his arms still in his suit jacket straight into the water and lifting her up….

I woke to the sun streaming in again, my hair matted with sweat and tears. I made my way to a hot shower and contemplated what image burned into my memory that often haunted my dreams since I was a child. What would make my mother do the things that she did, Multiple times through out my childhood. Her moods, her gray times as we called them, “mama’s having a gray-time”, Sas would whisper and we knew to play quietly then. I also thought about having this baby and what that would mean. And I let my mind wander to not having it, either way I hadn’t thought about it at all…not in a selfish I have better things to think about way but in a fog of I have killed my husband way. I knew not at all what my future held outside of the plans and life I had spent years building and constructing that on the day when I left the loft and as I turned the key in the door even before I heard his voice, felt his hand grab my arm and heard the gunshot, that carefully constructed life had begun to crumble came crashing down entirely.

Getting dressed in jeans and pulling my hair back I made my way out of the house without stopping for coffee. Thankfully I didn’t even run into anybody in the house as I wasn’t in the frame of mind. I was in a hurry before I could change my mind and the next thing I knew I was pulling open the big garage doors where my sister had told me dad’s car still sat should I want to try and drive it, if not I could drive her’s too but it looked like it was in use that day and not in it’s usual spot. Memories didn’t hit me in this house or being back as strong as they did the moment I opened the car door and slid into the rich brown leather seats. I hadn’t thought about or expected his smell. I didn’t expect it so strong and I didn’t expect the memories that rushed over me as I inhaled deep the smell of polished leather and tobacco mixed with ironed starched handkerchief and aftershave. That smell was my dad as strong as if he was sitting right here with me giving me my first driving lesson and sixteen years after the last time I’d sat next to him in this car it was still so strong. So strong it stopped me dead in my tracks and I flashed back to a moment of driving on his lap, laughing and telling him when the light had turned green “It’s geen pappa!” The sound of his baritone laughter ringing as I shook off the memory and slammed the door closed, started the engine and turned toward Houston. I had made a choice in the shower, realizing that what illed my mother and caused her to be the mother that I remember was not a mother I could allow myself to ever be and I was more like her than I wanted to admit but more like her that in the face of motherhood and the ending disaster of being a wife I couldn’t help but to admit. That ill that had caused her to want to leave her daughters and cut her wrists and lie in the water without thinking about us at all had made my decision. I had that in me too, her blood coursed through my veins and what was in her could be in me and I could not put my child through the pain I felt. That was enough reason. I needed no reason of my father’s death or my childs father’s death to be my reason.

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…

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.”

NaNoWriMo-Right Timing For Writing.

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NaNoWriMo-Prep continues;

I really enjoyed the right article at the right time. The fun of devouring a new magazine when you get it is one I look forward to, though this one had to wait about three weeks before I finally got to it with all the recent moving about and RVing. But once I finally did, the first words I read hit right in the writers heart. The first article in whole only continued such an “All The Feels.”

Amy Sue Nathan’s article in  Writer’s Digest; Writer’s WorkBook touched on the majors we need to work and live our regular lives (so we can at least afford ramen) and still write (so we can feed our souls, passions, and dreams.)

“Writing is done in the time we make, not the time we find.” This opening one was enough…enough said…so …yes! But then she goes on and it’s really just right on the money. The artice incudes other authors thoughts (I, BTW, love when one author speaks of other Authors they admire or read) and tips. But more than anything it is that it says “Do it your own way” rather than tells you how you should do it.

With Nano coming up for thousands and thousands of writers as one example of the ‘regular folk’ who write a novel, this is just good timing on…finding time. “What if we want or need more room in our lives for writing?” the article asks, to which, even as a full time writer I found a good question since even with all 24 hours of a day I still somehow lose hours to write. Even the article authors own ways of planning a lunch out with friends and keeping her writing time sacred is one I do myself anymore and yet….time…not enough hours.

Sometimes writing my way ‘out of boredom’ rather than into it is as simple for me as switching up from my laptop to pen and paper, or taking a walk and a fresh cup of coffee, or changing my location of sitting from dining table to outdoors because I tend to find myself get bored, my eye’s get heavy from looking at a screen and I feel tired even though I really am well rested. It’s the computer screen of sometimes ‘office sitting’ (equivilent to a cubicle anywhere you are) that can do this to me. For me at times finding a noisy coffee shop surrounded by busy people helps because I then feed off that bussiness busy feel and perk up a bit (aside from the espresso.)

I LOVE a section where the article takes direction into what times of day work best for doing what as a writer. Writing is SO NOT just sitting and writing a story. There is an entire To Do list of ‘work’ that goes into our writing. There is research of what we are writing. There is, even for the best writer, spell checking and vocabulary checking. There is editing…rewriting, edit…this one is a never ending cycle right there. There is knowing the  How Where What Who’s on the publishing world. Where do you even begin if you are newest to the game to the Who is best for this when you have a little more experience but then HOW each you submit to wants it submitted alone can take up an entire week of work (full-time and for only one piece of work.) Preparing and sending…an entire other full-time weeks worth.

Submitting is far from simply copy/paste/push a button. Oh how easy that would be…or if each publication you send every piece to or each publisher you send every manuscript to had the SAME submitting instructions and want list from you?

But they have an evil little plan on that one.

There is even getting your format just right from time to time that can take up all of your time. Or transferring to another computer to print (often printing at home is much more hassle and costly than taking it to a printing shop) and then all the formatting you did goes to hell no matter how SAME the programs on all machines. Where did it go wrong? There is another little evil plan right there.

And if you do print at home right when you have only your last ten minutes to get it done and sent out THAT day with some sort of need or another, your printers ink has decided to dry up, run out…and the paper jams! The printer always wins even when determined not to let it. That is a fact of life. Or you end up two sheets short of how much paper you need. For fucks sake. Printers are the bain of my existence (once as a manager I had a day lined up of interviews and had this frustration. My even get into an interview at all became “fix this problem with the printer.”)

Or there are those fun moments when your computer suddenly acts all catty wonka like. Anything from you swear it has a mind of it’s own and just feels like sleeping in to a full on episode of a poltergeist. And it takes everything not to throw that machine that holds all of your precious work right out the window.

Tears?! Oh yes. Many. If you see a person walking down a street just crying openly, my guess is that chances are they might be a writer who had such a problem and just had to walk away for a moment.

Then you find a publisher/agent/editor whichever need you are at for the moment…and let the back and forth begin!

Time? To just sip my coffee and write over a beautiful view? I am more often found cursing at my screen, walking away in a madness and scrubbing over already clean dishes! My neighbors likely think I am in a fight with my lover as I shout obscenities over my shoulder toward my computer for a good hour before I settle back down and try again.

Where was I? Oh yes, and so the article here in the Fall issue of Writer’s Digest; Writer’s Workbook by Amy Sue Nathan comes to an area which speaks of a particular time of day which might for writing, when other times work better for the ‘work’ such as editing. This reminds me of many articles that come out of the best time of day for your creativity vs task work.

I also enjoyed the direction this article took when David Abrams speaks of giving up his blogging…as a writer you now MUST have a blog, twitter, Facebook page, Instagram and whatnot…your platform. As publishers still run on old ways, writers are who take the brunt of keeping up with the new. Abrams’ “–But it took me over, mentally and physically, in terms of time spent at the keyboard.” This takes time away from writing…or even wanting to write your actual book.

The article speaks of the word count accountability. This one also did not work for me. Rather the actual hours spent on writing over reading was where I began marking my page…I did note word count or ‘finished chapter 6’ in these notes and basically an accountability log…nothing strict but something daily and loose to see that I was doing something.

Staying off of messinging friends or facebook and reading up on news becomes another situation we writers must handle. Really not only writing but in all office business everywhere this is a more and more talked about subject or situation. How much time is actually put to real work? So when I ‘sit at my desk’ I make it time for work. When I want to take time for reading, news, friends I sit in a location that has nothing to do with my work, laptop in hand, to make separation. But it is still a required discipline, as is finding time to write at all. When I worked at a restaurant a couple of summers, like Amy Sue Nathan, I found myself too tired after a summer time double shift in a tourist location. Too tired before and after, barely enough energy to haul myself to work, much less write. I even began reading rarely. I can’t imagine the writer’s who raise children, work a job, and still find the time. That is a feat I bow down to them for and try and seek their wisdom of…however the answers are usually “I’ve no idea.” Sometimes we don’t get hours and hours but must try and turn our attention only minutes by minutes. Focus?! when you just got off the phone yelling at your internet company and then try and shift your mind completely to story at hand? Oy!

People are surprised that I chose to turn my phone off for awhile (after breaking it to begin with anyway) and that awhile turned into three seasons (and counting!)

The article let me know it was not just me, but also reminded me of a few adjustments to take…and I am now set back slightly on path. If they can do it, so can I. But thanks be to Writer’s Digest for such the articles as these reminders will be needed from time to time.