A friend is going to edit my novel and soon I will send it to be published. Many authors speak of a tribe. I hope you will be my community and pass along my book. I had a few delays, the flu and being on call for my job, on my time table, but know it will go forward. This book had two main purposes. One, that I could write a full story and two, to prepare the way for financial stability to write more.
I'm anxious to share it as well. Each time I read it, I like it more. I think of the times I wrote each part.
Tonight, I'll share the first chapter. My first story in Gables and Gingerbread Stories- Main Street:
Martha Sweeney's hands clutched at her neck involuntarily, almost like the rope had tightened. She woke paralyzed. As she slowly regained movement, thoughts of the events that led up to these night terrors filled her mind. Every night the final scene seared her memory completely, never loosening its grip, waiting till she drifted into a restless slumber to tighten control. This pattern of the last few weeks invaded her nights since that event ended the living nightmare, but began her somnolent terrors.
Martha and her husband, Tom, moved into this five gabled house with gingerbread high in the eaves fifteen years ago. The house dominated the highest level of the the town with luxurious land. The business district of the town was a mile away. Main Street dotted with a few homes. Only one was built forty years after the white home, in the Italianate style rivaling the gable home in size, directly across the street. Close to the right side the Manse, a modest, yet respectable two story clean home accompanied the gray stone church. All sat on the plateau of the town. Down the hill from the church, the school presided, which would encompass most of their lives in a few short years.
Martha loved the land with the shady elms and maples, the gardens she grew and a little shed built to resemble the much larger home. The shed provided a fine place to hang herbs and flowers. She wasn't sure how she would keep up a large home, but hired help was plentiful in the early 1900's. Tom had help with the yard and their own livery stable, the new noisy automobiles rare in their small borough. As Tom's business grew, the family expanded, assistance became readily available to run their beautiful home.
Tom and Martha were married five years before they moved into this mansion. It, of course, was not a mansion; yet being one of the oldest and largest edifices in town, gave it a special air. The move from an apartment above the livery business downtown fulfilled the dream of Tom and Martha. They saved enough to live away from the down town in their own home. Everything about it showed beauty, from the high ceilings and airy bay windows, the slanted corners in the ceilings from the gables, the stairway of seventeen steps with a curve at the top, to the outside with porches observing traffic on Main Street to the sloping lawn on the side. The hardwood floors gleamed, not yet encumbered by the heavy rugs so popular at the time.
They had not grown up in as fine a home as this. Farming was their families' occupation. The new home, almost like being in the country, yet, still in town, was not a working farm. They felt it was a step up and though not very snobbish, they were content with how their life progressed. Martha's mother became a widow, moving in with them a few years after they had personalized this abode as their own.
A son was born before they moved there. Little Tommy, a fair headed toddler, laughed in the long indoor expanse as he ran straight through, before the furniture filled the home along with the heavy rugs. He had a fun few months before it became more sedate, but Martha and Tom took him outside, too. He had a large playroom off the kitchen in which he could pull his train around.
Soon, Tillie was born, a docile, dark haired beauty. After that another girl, Olivia with golden ringlets like Tommy, except school aged now, the curls long gone. Finally, another son, Mark, with fiery red hair from his father, proved the temper that goes with that trademark.
As the children grew, they loved the upstairs with a large middle bedroom and a huge bed for jumping, so they thought; but Martha and her mother told them otherwise. Once, they landed on the floor with the mattress bunched up around them. Apprehensively they waited for they knew they couldn't hide. They wanted to scoot down the back enclosed stairs, but they couldn't escape, as it dumped right into the kitchen. Their grandma yelled from the downstairs, for she sat directly below them, fussing about the jumping for some time. Martha, busy in the kitchen, didn't really listen to her mother. The crash and her mother's louder scream finally brought the kitchen to attention. Martha and the hired girl ran up the back stairs to see the four in such a tussle that they laughed. Soon the mattress was back on the bed. Martha declared it was time to turn it anyways, but the children sent to separate rooms, solemnly watched the snow fall heavily.
The chided mood didn't last past supper, as that thick snow turned into a sledding party after they ate. The neighbor kids all showed up in their hats and mufflers, with sleds and toboggans in tow. The side street beside their yard transformed into a sledding hill with children piled high onto each other, their laughter echoing down the the hill to the bottom, far enough away from the creek to prove no danger.
Tom built a fire and soon the children of all sizes bundled close to it. Some potatoes placed in the fire by Martha made a hot starchy treat that also warmed frozen fingers.
Martha smiled faintly as she remembered the spring they planted the Rose of Sharon trees to edge the yard, along with the delicate white dogwood tree in the front of the house. The trees added romance, as well as a semblance of privacy. As the girls and trees grew, in the many July's, Tillie and Olivia picked purple, pink and white blossoms and pretended the flowers were young damsels in their ball gowns; the Rose of Sharon flower upside down resembled a sweeping dress made for dancing.
The boys by this time had formed a gang with other boys in the neighborhood. The creek with frogs, minnows and crayfish welcomed those boys. The critters came home. When they were small, they could only easily catch snails. Once, as Martha strolled in the yard, she noticed in the bird bath, multitudes of very tiny snails. Yes, one of the boys had put at least a pair of snails in the bird bath and they flourished, just as Martha thought her life flourished in the beautiful gable home. She loved her life in those early days.
Each new fall saw a child start school. The days slowly grew shorter, although always hot in the September mid afternoons. Excitement filled the air with a new outfit, knickers for Tommy and Mark, dresses, pinafores with matching hair ribbons for Tillie and Olivia, added to the joy of learning. The children were eager learners, with a love of reading from their mother and math from their father. Tommy wanted to run a business like his father. Mark became angry when a figure wouldn't add. Martha loved the studying time, thrilled the school was close; scholastic programs being their social life now. New children joined the parade to school each year, as they all walked together, stopping at each child's house as mothers watched them proceed down Main Street.
Tom love to build big bonfires as the evenings cooled. The children from around the neighborhood came, along with parents sometimes. Mothers brought cookies to pass around. Fathers smoked their pipes or cigars. The smoke mixed in with the firewood aroma. Kids played games, mothers talked about what was going on in school, and the men debated the president and congress.
Martha sighed as she thought of those pleasant early years. It seemed they were over too soon. She rolled over, wishing she could fall back to sleep, but a car crawling on the street outside her opened window reminded her of how life changed. Life always changes, but it seemed in the mid teens of the twentieth century, the change accelerated.