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Monday, January 31, 2011

Epilogue--Part One

Saturday night I had the best time at Changing Hands. After the event, a group of us had dinner and swapped sob stories. Authors are solitary beings, so it's good to flock together now and then.

This is kind of longish, but I think I got everything in there. Shoot. Leesie's hair. I didn't mention what it looks like. I'll make Michael do that when we hear from him next. Or add a line when I revise it. Is anything else confusing or left out? This needs lots more poefying, but it gets the job done. I hope you like it. One more dive log and then that's the whole first draft. I'm exhausted. I hope I haven't worn you out, too.

After Michael's post tomorrow, let's take a few days off. I'll post the contest winners, Tuesday, February 8th, and then start posting revisions. Deadline for the contest will be Tuesday, February 8th, high noon, AZ time. I've got a fun event this Saturday with Girl Scouts, and lots of stuff due to my agent on Monday, February 7th, but you've all waited so long, I want to start sending out those prizes! Feel free to  let your followers on your blogs know and be sure to comment today!


EPILOGUE

LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM # ??,

As I stand gowned in white
satin and lace glowing
with thousands of seed pearls,
shaking hands and hugging
a blurr of happy people
parading through the same gym
at our stake center next to the Spokane Temple
where Michael and I first danced, first fought,
 I’m not sure if this is real or one of the thousands
of dreams I’ve conjured of this day.
Next to me, there’s Kim, maid of honor,
BYU roommie bridesmaid’s and Stephie
looking too grown up in her matching dress.
Mom and Dad anchor the line wearing
truly happy expressions.
My bouquet is laced with pure white gardenias
in memory of Michael’s mom. I know
she’s here, smiling on us.

Michael beside me—very real in a black tux
with dark green leaves and white blossoms
fragrant on his lapel.
The guys next to him—shaking hands
and looking after Gram, who presides
in a big, cushy chair
are companions from his mission.

Yeah. His mission.
This day took three years
to happen post-baptism
instead of one.

After his baptism—
intense and beautiful in it’s simplicity
and purity, Michael glowing
and handsome all in white,
like he was at the temple this morning,
my dad in the water immersing
him with the same power, same hands
that gently lay eight-year-old me back in the font
and brought me out all new,
Gram, Stephie, Mom and me
in the front row holding hands and crying—
he walked four feet above the ground
until we went down to Utah
at August’s end.

He bought a condo in Orem.
I moved into an apartment near BYU
with Cadence and Dayla from last year.
Sundays trying to go to his ward and mine together
were crazy until I got called as Relief Society president
and couldn’t go to his at all.
He preferred his ward full of beauty school girls
and UVU students to my nerd-stocked congregation,
so he went by himself, and I hid my jelousy
until it boiled over in an ugly fit.
He took of for Cayman—stayed away three
long, lonely weeks, came back worried.
“It isn’t the same here—as in Cayman.”
“The gospel isn’t true in Utah?”
His face gathered into a knot.
“Just feels different.”
I nod—he’s right. “There’s nothing
like a branch.” Even the one
I grew up in. “More like a family.”
Is that what he searched for?
What he found? Not me? Not God?
He saw trouble storm my eyes,
kissed my hand like he always does,
and rested his cheek on my head.
“Be patient. Give me time.
There’s way more to being a Mormon
than I thought.”

I took the hint, backed off, let him breathe,
lost myself in classes and callings,
smiled when he took off to dive all the hottest
spots in the South Pacific, made the most
of the time we spent together,
and loved him wherever he was,
physically or spiritually.
He started classes at UVU after Christmas,
business stuff for when he and Gabriel
buy their own dive op.

(They are here, by the way,
Gabriel and Alex, sitting
at a table with Kim’s Mark,
and Jaron and his wife
who’s expecting their second,
eating chocolate dipped strawberries
and black forest cake.)

Michael liked school more than
he expected, enough to miss it
when we went home May to August,
where I worked with Dad on the farm,
helped Michael move Gram into Care
Center a private room
furnished with her own dresser,
chair, living room flowered rug,
and that picture of Michael
with his mom and dad in a giant hug,
bit my tongue every time Mom
lecture me like I was fourteen again,
and hung out with Stephie
who’d grown solemn and sad
over the past year.

Michael got ordained an elder
in August, and we made
wedding plans for Thanksgiving
if the temple was open.
Our first meeting with Pres. McCoombs
about going to the temple,
He shook Michael’s hand
and said, “I’m impressed, Bro. Walden,
to call you on a mission.”
“We’re getting married,” I reminded
him, sure he’d lost his mind.
He held up his hands, pleading
innocence. “I’m merely the messenger,
Sis. Hunt. The Lord wants him to serve.”
Michael got this look on his ace
like he’d just seen the First Vision.
“You’re not going to say yes?”
He jumped at my voice like he’d
forgot I exist. “Yeah. I am. It’s perfect.
Maybe I can get close to what you deserve.”
“Two more years?”
His face went pale. “That won’t be easy.”
He turned back to Pres. McCoombs.
“Can she go, too?”
“Not with you.”
“I know—I’m not that green.
She’s twenty-one in December.
Does your inspiration inbox
have a cal for her, too?”

So he went to Brazil, and I spent
eighteen months in the parts
of the Geneva mission that are in France,
caught in a visa war between the church
and the Swiss government.
My French is good.
His Portuguese is better.
When Jaron came through the line
earlier, he, Michael and the best man
all got jabbering—just hope it wasn’t
about me.

We shake the last hand, hug
the last hug, eat cake and throw
flowers. I avoid Kim who will give
me advice about my wedding night
that I don’t want.
My mom helps me change, cries
as she undoes twenty satin-covered buttons.
I hug her, cry, too, sense she’s missing Phil.
“I wish he could have been here.”
She closes her eyes and lifts her face
towards heaven. “He was. Don’t worry.
He was.”

I run through a shower of birdseed
to Gram’s old car that Michael doesn’t
have the heart to sell.
It’s covered in Oreo’s and
whip cream “Just Marrieds.”
I hug Stephie and Dad,
Michael tucks me in the front seat,
shuts my door, shake’s Dad’s hand,
who pull him into a hug.
“Take care of our girl, son.”
“I will, sir.”
“Dad.”
Michael hugs him again.
“Sure, Dad.”

At the end of the lane
that leads from the temple and church
to Highway 27, Michael hands me
an airplane eyeshade.
“What’s this?”
“Humor me.”
Our honeymoon is a huge
secret surprise. I play,
put it on.
“Thanks, babe.” He kisses me,
slips into an intensity
we’ve always held back,
has a hard time getting
free of my blindfolded clutches.
“We’re not going far tonight are we?”
“Hush.” He pulls out onto the highway.
Turns right. I think.
I slide over next to him—
gotta love that old bench seat—
chew on his ear while he drives.
He pushes me away.
“Get over there and buckle
your seatbelt or we’ll end up
in the back seat of this old clunker
after all.”
That sounds like a great idea, but
I obey—don’t want to ruin
all he’s crafted for our first time.
Where ever we’re going,
whatever it looks like,
whenever we get there, 
whether he’s chartered a boat
or rented an island, whether
it’s his condo in the Keys,
Cayman, or Thailand or
somewhere brand new,
it’ll be the wondrous
consummation
of the forever
we pledged
to our Savior
and each other
in His holy house
this day.

10 comments:

  1. I'm crying like a baby ... This novel is EVERYTHING I expected and more for the end of Michael's and Leesie journey. Angela you have my respect and admiration as an author. This novel is very close to my heart. THANK YOU!!!

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  2. A mission! I love, love it! I love that they both take the time to grow and mature more before they get married -- especially Michael. It just seems like it makes their relationship that much stronger.

    The only part that confused me about was where it says "he walked four feet above the ground until we came to Utah" -- not sure exactly what you mean by that?

    I thought Leesie's birthday was in November? Wasn't it her birthday they were celebrating at Thanksgiving time in Taken By Storm or were they just celebrating early?

    Michael better tell us where he is taking Leesie!

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  3. Michelle--you're going to make me cry, too!

    I'm glad you think the mission works, Gayle. And don't worry. Tomorrow you'll see Michael's honeymoon surprise. I couldn't resist adding one more thing to keep you guessing up to the last page turn. Do you think it's too corny?

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  4. I'm sobbing again. :) I can't tell you how happy I am!! I'm SO glad these are happy sobs, instead of the heart wrenching sobbing, I was doing when I finished Taken By Storm. I feel so complete. Almost...haha! I need my fill of Michael tomorrow, and CAN'T WAIT for that! Where is he taking her? They have waited for this moment forever...and so have I!! Ha ha!! Awesome, amazing. Did I mention that I loved it! ;)

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  5. Thanks, Chaleese. I'm so glad you loved it. I'll try not to disappoint you tomorrow.

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  6. Angela, you never disappoint me. You are simply amazing.

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  7. This was great. Please tell me Michael at least gives us a glimpse of their night!!

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  8. Angela, in all honesty, this is most beautiful. I loved it! It brings together all the characters who mattered. And brings in so much. When I first got my hands on Taken By Storm, I never realised in how many ways Michael and Leesie's story would define my life.
    You are such a fantastic writer, Angela! And I thank you for bringing forward such an honest, original, emotional roller-coaster ride of a tale that is oh-so-beautiful. I've loved every moment of this.

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  9. Thanks Brandi and Bee--you've both been so wonderful. I hope to read books from both of you some day.

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  10. they are married !!!
    Angela this is so beautifull i am crying rite now I LOVE IT !

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