FICTION WITH A TOUCH OF SOUTH!
I have always loved butterflies. They are so beautiful, yet they have struggled to obtain that beauty. All the time, effort and struggle that it takes to go from caterpillar to butterfly is well worth the end result. I feel I am still in my caterpillar phase and I'm looking forward to someday being a butterfly! In the meantime I want to enjoy the journey. FICTION WITH A TOUCH OF SOUTH!
I hid in a
closet underneath the stairs—my safe house. Nobody would find me in here. It
wasn’t used because the ceiling was too low. After the accident, the closet
became my friend. I wanted to avoid Judd, who came over to visit Chumana. She
was not my sister but we lived together.
overwhelmed me. The door creaked as I turned the handle. I held my breath and
peered through the tiny slit. Moving shadows darkened the room. Judd, Rachel,
and Chumana stared into a small brown shoebox.
Chumana burst out
crying. “I hate Shale.”
I cringed. She
already hated me anyway, ever since we moved in with them a few months
Rachel stood and
recited a Jewish prayer. “Barukh shem k'vod malkhuto l'olam
va'ed. Blessed is the name of his glorious kingdom forever and
ever.” With her unkempt hair, puffy red eyes, and flushed face, I barely
recognized my best friend.
“Why are you
praying?” Judd snapped. “We aren’t here to pray.”
“She should be
cursed,” Judd exploded.
“Don’t say that,”
“How do you know it
was an accident?” Chumana asked.
I looked away. I
couldn’t listen. My whole body quivered—what kind of curse?
Judd’s voice cracked.
“I demand she tell us what happened.”
twelve-year-olds sat silently for a moment before Rachel responded. “She fell
down the stairs with Fifi and she’s afraid.”
I swallowed hard.
Judd pulled his
uncle’s Atlanta Braves cap over his eyes and clinched his hand into a fist. “I
hope Shale never has any friends—for the rest of her life.” He covered his face
I bit my fingernail
holding back tears. I’d never heard a boy cry. Could his curse come
Chumana’s red hair
matched her fiery temper. “That’s not enough of a curse. She already doesn’t
have any friends.”
“I’m her friend,”
Rachel said. “Accidents happen.”
Rachel lived two
buildings down from us in the Hope Garden Apartments. Would she still be my
friend if I told her the truth? I didn’t just fall—it was what I was doing when
I fell. I was too afraid. I rubbed my swollen ankle, a reminder of my
foolishness. The doctor hoped it would heal, but Fifi lay in the box.
Probably God hated
me, too. If I told the truth, everyone would hate me. I couldn’t even tell my
mother. My father—he left me long ago.
I felt a hand reach
underneath my blue skirt. I spun around on my toes. Students in the crowded
hallway blended into a blur of anonymity. Hurried bodies shoved past. Am I going
crazy? Did I imagine it? I scanned faces and froze each one, like a snapshot
with a camera.
“Shale, why are you
standing there? Come on or you’ll be late to class.” Rachel was waiting at the
I walked towards her
as the bell rang.
“Are you okay?” She
furrowed her brow.
“I’m fine.” I smiled,
pretending nothing had happened. I’d think about it later. “Did you finish your
analysis of As You Like It?”
Rachel’s brown eyes
bulged. “Is it due today?”
“Here’s mine. You can
take a quick look if you need to.”
“Oh, thanks, Shale. I
hate Shakespeare anyway. No copying, promise. Just a peek.”
“It’s no different
from reading Spark Notes on the web,” I quipped.
When we walked into
English class at Garden High School, I sat in the seat closest to the door and
stared out into the darkened hallway. Who did it? What would I do if I caught
him? Mrs. Wilkes’s voice brought me back to reality as she recited from a
“All the world’s
And all the men
and women merely players
They have their
exits and their entrances
And one man in
his time plays many parts
His acts being
What was my part? At
fourteen, did I have one yet?
Later in the
afternoon, I tripped while stepping off the school bus. My books scattered over
the ground. My bum ankle from the accident two years earlier would catch at the
worst possible moments—what I considered my eternal punishment.
Scrambling to pick
them up, I wiped the red Georgia clay off my math book. The bus waited long
enough to make sure it wouldn’t run me over before pulling away.
“Hey, wait up,
ya’ll.” I walked faster to catch up as Rachel stopped, but Chumana and Judd kept
going. We still lived in the same apartment complex on the south side of
Atlanta—had for years.
“If you used a
backpack, you wouldn’t have dropped your books,” Rachel chided me.
“Mine broke.” I
scanned Rachel’s back. “Where’s yours?”
“I did my homework at
school. This is all I needed.” Rachel waved a thick book with strange-looking
letters in the air.
“Can you read that
Rachel laughed, “but I don’t know what it means. You could too if I taught you.”
Rachel flipped to the first page. “You start on this side.” Her finger pointed
to a line of Hebrew and she ran her finger across the page from right to
giggled. “So who reads backwards, the English or the Jews?”
the Jews. I can say that since I’m not Jewish, right?”
“Writing would sure
be easier if English was right to left. I wouldn’t smear my words.”
Rachel nodded. “I
forget you’re left-handed. It’s crazy, isn’t it—like the Brits drive on the left
side and we drive on the right.”
We walked for a while
not saying anything. I glanced at my friend with her striking olive skin, almond
brown eyes, and brown hair. “Do you like being Jewish?”
“Yeah, I guess. I
don’t know any different.”
“I wish I was
“It would be neat to
be able to say I was something.”
“You could go to
church,” Rachel suggested.
“Mom and Remi would
never go. Every time they talk about God or anything religious, they end up
“That’s too bad. By the way, thanks for your help with English.”
“You’re welcome.” I
switched my books to the left, thinking how much I hated the long walk home,
especially since we now lived farther away. The new unit we moved into when Remi
and mother married was at the very back by the woods.
frowned, noticing my musings. “What’s it like having a father now?”
I bit my lip
hesitating. “At least I have my own bedroom and don’t have to share with
“That’s good,” Rachel
agreed. “How did you ever end up living with her anyway?”
“Mother didn’t have
any money when we moved to Atlanta. She found an ad that Chumana’s mother placed
in the Atlanta Constitution looking for a roommate. It was a cheap
place to live.”
I eyed Judd and
Chumana ahead of us. “What are they talking about? They have been spending a lot
of time together.”
lowered her voice. “I know.”
they deserve each other.”
edged up even closer to me and spoke in a whisper, “You never knew your father,
“No.” I clutched my
books that now seemed heavier. “Mother couldn’t wait to marry Remi after being
divorced for so many years. Then she cried all night when they returned from
their honeymoon in the mountains. I couldn’t sleep. I wondered why, but was too
afraid to ask.”
“It’s hard to imagine
what it would be like to be at your own parent’s wedding. I mean, it might be
funny if it could happen,” Rachel said.
“Like Back to the
Future?” Then my thoughts darkened. “How would you like having a stepfather
you don’t know?”
Rachel shook her
head. “I wouldn’t.”
I’d never confided in
anyone about my past but now I couldn’t stop. “Presents arrive twice a year from
North York. I don’t remember anything about my father. One day he left and never
“I can’t imagine what
that would be like,” Rachel said.
“Sometimes I get
widened. “About what?”
“Mother didn’t ask
how I felt about her remarrying.”
We walked in silence
as my words hung in the air. I kicked a rock on the sidewalk and it skipped into
the gutter. Rachel’s warm nature was comforting. She came from such a perfect
family, or it seemed. I’d tell her things I wouldn’t tell anyone
Voices from the past
mocked me. “Do I walk like a chicken?”
Rachel laughed. “No,
you don’t walk like a chicken.”
“Do I have big
“Big lips?” Rachel
stopped and stared at me surprised. “No.”
think so? Every time I wet them with my tongue, I worry I’m making them fat—so I
Rachel examined my
fair face. I pretended not to notice. “You’re beautiful. Who would say such mean
I didn’t want to tell
her. What was the point in making him look bad?
“I love your green
eyes and long brown hair.” Rachel reached out and grabbed a couple of strands,
flipping them over my shoulder. “I wish mine wasn’t wavy with all the humidity.
I use an iron to straighten it but it doesn’t stay that way for long.” Rachel
giggled. “Guys love long, straight hair.”
wants me to call him dad, but that seems weird.”
A few feet in front
of us, Chumana knelt on the sidewalk.
“What are they looking at?”
An earthworm wiggled
on the sidewalk, barely warm from the late afternoon sun. A few weeks after
Christmas, it was the wrong time of year for creepy crawlers.
probably cold,” I said.
lifted his foot to squash it.
“Wait,” I demanded.
Judd glared at me.
“Why kill it?” I
He leaned down and
picked it up, dangling the worm a few inches above the sidewalk. “Have you ever
dissected one of these?”
I shook my head.
He stiffened. “I
should make you squish it between your delicate fingers.”
I stared at the worm.
Judd dropped it on the sidewalk. As he started to smash it again, I leaned over
and shoved him. “Just leave it alone.”
Judd’s face turned
beet red. “Don’t ever push me again. You hear me?”
My knees spasmed like a jack-in-the-box.
like squishing worms but you killed my puppy.” His icy eyes ripped at my
Rachel said, “Get
over it. You sound so hateful.”
through her thick, black-rimmed glasses. “Judd is right, though, Rachel. Don’t
“I remember,” Rachel
My heart raced as I
picked up the worm—its slimy body was cold to the touch—and stuck it in my
Judd shook his head
and stomped off.
Ruefully, I urged
Rachel and Chumana, “You two go on. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Rachel nodded. They
continued walking, leaving me alone.
After wrapping the
worm up in some brown leaves, I placed it on a warmer corner of the concrete.
When I lifted my eyes, I saw the white dog for the first time. She sat nearby
wagging her fluffy tail.
As I approached her,
she stood and limped backwards. The scruffy creature was dirty and mangy, with
floppy short ears and almond brown eyes. If she belonged to someone or was lost,
the owner wasn’t taking very good care of her. A fuzzy feeling warmed my heart.
Did she like me? Before I could get too close, the dog turned and ran away.
the teenage heroine of an adventure that covers two time periods spanning
thousands of years, three different worlds, seven different dimensions, and an
eternal garden outside of reality? Meet Shale Snyder, a brilliant girl from a
broken home--tormented by bullies and a secret from her past, cursed by the one
she hurt but who must marry her. Can Shale receive the immortal king who came to
save her or has evil already sealed her fate?
Shale learn obedience from unfair imprisonment or will the underlings bruise her
soul? Will she use her beauty to woo her forbidden lover or sacrifice herself
for another? Will her father return or believe the lies of his conniving,
demonic wife? What truths lie in golden nuggets and broken eggs and innocent
bunnies who die but return to life? What gift does Shale possess that teaches
her secrets hidden since time began? Can forgiveness win battles, truth
transcend culture, and love conquer a young girl’s heart?
Seventh Dimension – the Door and journey where you’ve never been— an eternal
world that will leave you turning the pages— a love story embracing thousands of
years in multiple dimensions and realities. The Door is only the beginning of
this fabulous three-book epic into the present, past, and future.