from the branch
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Chapter 24 - Part 2 What will Leesie do?
Merry Christmas week! I hope some of you can join me on Twitter @liv2writ today, December 21, either at 4:00-4:30 PM MST (two hours from now!) or 9:00-9:30 PM MST. Add #liv2writ to each Tweet so we can all see your questions and comments. This is my first one solo, so I'm kind of nervous. If you're not into tweeting, you can follow my comments via my FaceBook wall. I'll try to respond to all of you! I hope some of you can make it. If it works, we'll try it again.
Here's today's post. I'm finally answering questions. I think.
I'm a hero's journey writer. The final leg of a hero's journey story is called "The Return" when the hero returns home in triumph and uses his new skills to set things right there (think of Frodo and Sam in LOTR) or the hero ventures further into the special world and uses their new skills to vanquish a bigger, badder evil--or find true love--or both! I like to write fairly lengthy returns. My editor was an Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 girl. She didn't quite know what to make of my return sequence at the end. She thought it was an Act 4. Act 4's aren't allowed.
With TAKEN BY STORM, I ended up cutting Michael and Leesie's trip to Florida (Michael's return home and Leesie's venture deeper into Michael's world) from a full week of Spring Break to three short days. But she let me have my return, in SING ME TO SLEEP. She still thought it was an Act 4, but decided it worked. If I ever have another editor (and I hope I do!), I'll hold firm for those returns.
I am the worst plotter in the universe. The hero's journey has helped immensely. I did read Campbell (THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES, etc.) but highly recommend Christopher Vogler's application in THE WRITER'S JOURNEY. If I had to choose only one writing book to take me with to a deserted island, it would be that. No question.
I'm so excited. This poem launches Leesie and Michael into the return. Which direction do you think it will go? Back home? Or deeper into Grand Cayman?
LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
Hesitation clutches my stomach
before I enter Pres. X’s office.
Does lost Leesie lurk in the corner
where Grandma and Phil’s heaven sent
light left her licking her wounds
and planning a counter offensive
to retake my soul at dawn’s first light?
Michael guides me through the door—
my buffer, my strength, my love.
The room feels sweet, inviting, holy.
I whisper a prayer of thanks as I sit.
The Spirit washes over me in healing
waves. Slowly, slowly. It whispers. Go slowly.
Michael reports my phone call home.
He knows I can’t speak of it without sobbing.
I stood in the shower for a half hour
last night before I stopped crying enough to sleep.
President X leans forward, hands clasped,
eyes concerned. “Are you leaving us then, Sis Hunt?”
He sounds disappointed?
“My dad said I can stay if I need to.”
I swallow and sniff, blink watery eyes.
President X smiles. “The Lord works
in mysterious ways.”
Michael doesn’t understand. “I can take
her home whenever she wants to go.
She’s known that from the start.”
“I appreciate that.” Pres. X’s voice calms the water.
“I have an opportunity for Sister Hunt
I sit up straight and try to focus.
“Like a place to stay?”
“Like a job?” Michael chimes
in at the same time.
His mouth splits into a welcome
grin. “Let’s call it a service project.”
Michael frowns back at him.
“That’s what she called me.”
“A sister in the branch—
we all call her Aunty Jaz—”
Michael’s eyebrows shoot up.
“Aunty Jaz is a Mormon?”
“You’ve had her fish?” Pres. X closes
his eyes to savor a succulent memory.
Michael does the same. Inhales a phantom
scent. “It’s the best.”
The story unfolds—
Hot oil. Burned foot. Blisters.
Bad infection. Diabetic. Not healing.
Released from the hospital but needs
help round the clock. LDS sisters
from the branch
from the branch
have taken turns all week.
Her daughter in the states
just had twins. Her son on
Cayman is court-ordered
to keep his distance.
Fish shack closed. No money
coming in now for weeks.
“We’re looking after her rent
and food, but hiring a companion
is beyond what we can do.”
I sit up tall, straight, feel the Lord’s
hand redeeming my life.
“I can do it. I can. I looked after
Pres. X holds his hands up,
slow down, girl, slow down.
“You’ll have to cook and clean.
She does have a nurse
stop in to dress the wound
and bathe her.”
“Yes, yes, yes, please let me try.”
I’ve wallowed in guilt day after day
week after week, months now.
I can serve, Lord. I can.
“Are you sure, Leese?”
Michael’s hand rests on my knee.
I nod. So sure.
His eyes turn to Pres. X.
“What about the son?
Will she be safe?”
“Aunty Jaz hasn’t heard
from him in two years.”
How sad. Poor Aunty.
If not for Michael—that could be me.
Estranged forever. But now I’m released.
“You should pray about it, Sis. Hunt.”
I make a strange sound halfway
between a laugh and a sob.
“I already did. I’m ready now.
But, first, President, will
you give me a blessing?”
I need Michael to see this,
to feel this,
to know the power
he’s brought back into my life.
Pres. X blinks his eyes.
“Of course, Sis. Hunt.
I’d be honored.”