Excerpt from Within The Cleansing Fire

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I wasn’t ready to die. I don’t think anyone wanted me to die, especially my wife. Yet, I watch as a husky man wearing a preposterously tight white uniform and plastic gloves thrusts his weight onto my chest in an effort to drive the life that has left back into my body. I don’t feel much of anything, no pain physically or mentally. An underlying calmness washes through me as I study the crimson blood covering my face from the gnarly gash slicing through my right eye. Smoke fills the sky, erupting from my car and caught between ascending toward the heavens and settling in and all around me, the jagged fingers curling around my throat. I’m unable to smell the smoldering wisps, nor do I feel the skin of the police officers arm as I try to grab at him to get his attention.
This isn’t exactly how I envisioned heaven or the afterlife welcoming me. I know I’m dead because I see my lifeless body lying on the concrete five feet from my white Nissan, twisted into an unrecognizable origami figure. My efforts at gaining the attention of the paramedics or police have gone undetected, no one hears me. I don’t know where to go, except I know I have to get to Kenzie before she finds out.
I turn from the scene, torn between staying with my physical being and leaving to join my link to this life, my wife.
“God, I’m right here,” I blurt out loud for no one to hear, “are you going to take me now?”
Where is the white light? Where are the angels and all the family and friends I have said goodbye to over the years? If I’m meant to wander the earth looking after everyone, surely I’m not the only one. So where are all the other dead people?
The ambulance speeds past me with its lights off on the highway, loaded with my stiffening body. The house Kenzie and I rent isn’t far from the road, maybe a mile from where the strange red Taurus delivered its fatal blow. A slight drizzle begins to fall, leaving a silver glisten atop the landscape. I hold out my hand under the grey sky as I step onto the gravel of the long driveway leading down to the house. The droplets ping against the tan skin of my forearm, yet I do not feel the sensation of wetness. I do not feel anything.
I pad to the large window of the living room at the front of the small cape house and see Kenzie sitting on the couch watching reruns on HGTV. She doesn’t know yet, and I wish more than anything I could keep her oblivious in this moment forever. For what is ahead of her will ruin her. Her long blonde hair is pulled half way back, showing the contours of her beautiful face. She releases a wide smile as the couple entering the house on the television trips over the threshold. The creamy skin of her neck and chest will never feel the tender kisses that I had planned to place there after the date I will never pick her up for.
“Kenzie, I love you,” I murmur into the crisp Maine air. My tone is wretched from the pit of my stomach, making the words seem dejected instead of the blissful sentiment I had voiced just this morning.
*****
“Good morning baby,” I gruffly mutter between the sheets of the warm king sized bed we shared, stuffed into the small room.
I feel her grin spread against the skin in the crook of my neck, her eyes closed to the bright sun washing over our bed. “Morning,” she murmurs with sleepiness tugging at her voice.
I wrap my arms around her smooth body, cocooning her and absorbing her tender radiation. I feel her smile widen and she places a kiss against my neck. I could make love to her every day for the remainder of my life and never get tired of caressing the curve and slope of her body. Kenzie rakes her finger nails down the skin of my back as I take her mouth with mine, opening her lips and tasting the sweet heat I have come to know so well. I roll her to her back and easily settle home. Breathlessly, she rides the waves as if we were still mounted on our paddleboards, listlessly floating in the Caribbean six short months ago on our honeymoon.
We enjoy laying in one another’s warm embrace before the reality around us calls and consumes us.
“I will pick you up at six tonight and we will go down to the harbor to eat before the movie,” I tell her before grabbing my computer case.
“Okay, sounds good. Be careful and I will see you tonight,” she says standing at the kitchen counter sipping her coffee, “I will be home later this afternoon. I only have a few clients today.”
I nod and kiss Kenzie’s forehead, turning from her and opening the creaking front door of the cape house.
*****
The crunch of gravel behind me pulls me from the memory of the only angel I have had the opportunity to encounter. The sound like crunching and crumbling molars in my skull, unable to escape or be spit out. A sheriff’s car halts in front of the small garage that holds the land lords lawn mower and other useless gadgets he doesn’t want cluttering his own yard. Kenzie jerks her face towards the window I stand at, gazing through me at the two officers as they saunter slowly to the front door. Sadie, our six year old yellow lab bounds toward the door barking, a pink and blue ribbon tied tightly around her collar, as Kenzie stands and makes her way to the officers lurking on the small porch.

When to find the time…

I can function as a normal member of society off 7 or 8 hours of sleep. What I haven’t figured out how to do yet is have conversations with people about anything other than how much sleep I’ve had when it’s been less than 7. I will start getting mad at strangers for not being curteous enough, or worse, not noticing I’ve been up all night and haven’t had a moment to myself in weeks. It’s their fault!!  It takes everything in me to get through the morning and pray both the kids will take a nap. After nap time (If I’m lucky) I get to count down the hours till the husband comes home to play defense.

So where do I find the time to fit in my writing? As I sit here writing this my kids play together with the occasional blood curdling murder scream, which means I have to stop and break them apart. There will be no creative writing unless they sleep and I somehow manifest enough energy to get my creative juices flowing. I’m so tired from all the screaming and fighting I don’t even feel like picking up the toilet paper my toddler strung through the kitchen because she thought it looked pretty as a Elsa cape.

First world stay at home mom problems.

I spend about an hour at our club after my class writing blogs for Blogmutt. But my creative writing has to be done in complete silence. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? How do y’all find the time to do the things you love? You don’t?

I can at least listen to inspirational podcasts and videos from Chris Fox and The Creative Penn. They can’t hear the warfare going on beyond the screen. Being hard headed enough to persevere through everything and learn more to refine your craft is the sieve that filters the winners from the losers. I’m pretty good at short term goals, sprinting…It’s the marathons and activities that take a lot of personal sacrifice I let seep through my grasp.

What’s your secret, and how did you come to find it?

-Donna

Does Failure Define You?

IMG_1643March 13, 2017. I read the results to the first chapter book contest I entered at the first of the year. I didn’t even place. I didn’t like the books that did place either. So, what made them so much better than mine? It took me about a day to get over the wasted months I spent constantly excited I would win first place. Surely I had worked harder on my first chapter than all the other amateur authors I was up against. (I spent countless nap times writing and revising) 😔 Everything in life had always come so easily for me. Alas, I came to the conclusion my second book was terrible.

later that week I re-read what I had submitted and decided I was going to redirect the underlying meaning of my book. What I had written to entertain my friends, I would now change to not only entertain but to give glory to God. Or atleast write it in the sense of his word always being at the forefront in my mind. Don’t be misguided that my book will be about God, but some things will have to change so it’s not so…harsh. It is a romance novel after all.

My purpose on earth might only be to provide support and love for my husband and kids, but I need something else to do with my time. Why can’t something I write be both entertaining and hopeful? So here I sit waiting for inspiration, to change the parts of my book that need changing to provide that.

Failure doesn’t define me, it keeps me constantly changing. Ever adapting to what’s being thrown at me, making me better. Humbling the inner prima donna. Maybe my book doesn’t get finished while I have small children nipping at my heels. Or maybe I try harder. We shall see!

-Donna

Writing is my hobby. What’s yours?

Pippi above has turned into Donna.

It’s November 2012. I sit in my chair at the salon, the anxiety of all the moving and family issues gnaw a hole behind my eyes. I attempt to read the 56th novel of the past two months to pass the time till my next client comes in, but my mind can’t turn off it’s own thrilling story line.

I sit back in my black leathery chair and begin imagining my life in fiction form. So, I pick up a pen and start writing. Right there in my chair as my co-worker stands beside me blowing out some 20 something’s do for her big night out. All, oh my gawd this and oh my gawd that. Finally, I begin to get my story on paper.

A year and a baby later I was still working on that novel. Hair stylist forgotten and author I am. I create synopsis’ and queries for 100 different agents. Another year later and I realize the book is terrible and that’s why the agents declined to read more than one chapter, not that I just hadn’t found the right agent. I begin another book, as well as a new job in internet analysis. I could be home with my kid and do what called me.

Fast forward three years and one more kid. I’m still working on that second novel, the first long forgotten and stuffed into the back of my theoretical computer drawer. Hoping no one finds it, but too proud to delete it because so much of myself was poured out into the pages. My fears, my anxieties, my stress, my happiness, all written in fiction for anyone to mock. I don’t think so.

I quit my internet analyst job to write content for company blogs. Blogmutt. If you haven’t heard of it, google it. It’s pretty awesome, especially for stay at home moms who need to get out of their heads.

So here I am. March 2017. Still working on book 2. And guess what? I’m going to finish it. And you are going to read it.

-Donna