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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chapter 29 - A little detour

After yesterday's post, I wanted Michael to turn around and drive right back to Aunty Jaz's place and tell Leesie what happened. Or at least call her on the phone. But both of those options would squander any suspense or drama inherent in the situation. He just can't tell her that news on the phone. So, like I planned, here's a Leesie/Kim chat. You won't want to miss tomorrow's post.


CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

LEESIE HUNT / CHATSPOT LOG / 07/01 9:17 AM

Kimbo69 says:  Hey girl! You’re online for once.
Leesie327 says:  Why are you up so early?
Kimbo69 says:  Actually I’m up late. Mark’s off on a trip with his friends. I can’t sleep without him.
Leesie327 says: Michael leaves every night. I hate that.
Kimbo69 says: But good-bye’s can be sweet.
Leesie327 says: Amen to that. The way he kissed me good night last night was beautiful—like a prayer.
Kimbo69 says: That’s definitely not how Mark and I said good-bye.
Leesie327 says: I’ll take what I can get.
Kimbo69 says: What are you guys doing for the 4th of July this weekend?
Leesie327 says: I don’t know. Michael will have to work, but maybe there will be fireworks somewhere we can watch that night.
Kimbo69 says: Mark will be back. We’ll have our own fireworks.
Leesie327 says: Are you done rubbing it in?
Kimbo69 says: Why is Michael always working? Isn’t he loaded?
Leesie327 says: He wants to learn so when he starts his own dive operations he doesn’t lose all his money.
Kimbo69 says: And he’s diving. That’s not really work.
Leesie327 says: He loves it—but it’s hard work.
Kimbo69 says: It’s not all that fair. He dives all day with beautiful girls, and you sit around with a sick old woman.
Leesie327 says: I don’t sit around. I’m totally busy.
Kimbo69 says: Are you happy—like he is?
Leesie327 says: I’m all over the place. Happy one minute—fighting tears the next. My mom says that’s normal.
Kimbo69 says: I’m glad you’ve got your mom to talk to again.
Leesie327 says: She makes more sense than I ever gave her credit for.
Kimbo69 says: What big plans have you got for today?
Leesie327 says: I did a massive hatchet job on some bushes. I got to clean up the mess.
Kimbo69 says: Sounds like a blast.
Leesie327 says: Good exercise.
Kimbo69 says: When is Michael coming over?
Leesie327 says: Late. He’s got another long day.
Kimbo69 says: Is it gross—changing diapers?
Leesie327 says: What are you talking about?
Kimbo69 says: The old lady!
Leesie327 says: She doesn’t wear diapers.
Kimbo69 says: That’s a relief.
Leesie327 says: I help her in the bathroom and get her dressed. Make sure she eats. Test her blood. Give her meds.
Kimbo69 says: Shots?
Leesie327 says: She jabs herself.
Kimbo69 says: Is she getting better?
Leesie327 says: Her foot looks worse to me. I’m worried it’ll get infected again.
Kimbo69 says: You have to take care of that?
Leesie327 says: Yeah. When the nurses don’t come.
Kimbo69 says: Gross. I’d vomit.
Leesie327 says: I almost lost it yesterday.
Kimbo69 says: I couldn’t do it.
Leesie327 says: You could. You can do anything you really want to.
Kimbo69 says: That’s what you think.
Leesie327 says: Hey Kim—I gotta go—Michael just walked in.
Kimbo69 says: Is something wrong?
Leesie327 says: I don’t know.
Kimbo69 says: You can’t just leave me like this!
Leesie327 says: Bye.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chapter 28 - Michael

Another great discussion yesterday. I look forward to your comments on this. I think this will stand by itself as a chapter. I can't believe we've passed 45K words. It seems like we've still got a long way to go, but we are getting closer and closer to the final epilogue.



CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME 10
Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/30
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Depth:  
Visibility: 
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  
Comments:

            Long day. I teach pool and classroom sessions in the morning, and I’m out on the boat with the students all afternoon. I’m stuck filling bottles and fixing a reg after that while everyone else disappears.
            I don’t make it to Aunty Jaz’s until after 9 PM. Leesie’s got the front outdoor lights blazing—she’s still clipping. She meets me at my car door. She’s all over me before I can even get all the way out. Doesn’t seem to care that she’s sweaty tonight. Not that I’m complaining.
            I get my lips free for a minute, wipe a streak of dirt from her cheek. “Hey—this is sweet. What gives?”
            “I waited and waited.” Her arms are scratched up from her long struggle with stubborn bougainvillea vines. “I thought maybe I’d come on too strong yesterday, and you’d flown off somewhere.”
            “Why didn’t you call?”
            “I did. You didn’t pick up.”
            “Sorry, babe. No cell service out on the ocean.” We move off the dark sidewalk under the bright pool of light where she worked. “Looks like you took it out on the bougainvillea.” The vines are butchered.
            Her legs are scratched up, too. “Did I mess it up?”
            My eyes move from the branches littering the yard to her face, and I know she’s not talking about gardening. “No. No. You helped a lot.” I bend down and kiss her.
            She’s trembling. “I thought I’d scared you off for good.” She buries her face in my chest.
            I hold her, stroke her head. She could tell me she believes in holy flying penguins, and I’d be back. “You can’t get rid of me that easy, and look—” I hold up the Book of Mormon I’d shoved in the back of my jeans when Leesie attacked me. “Can you read with me? It’s hard by myself.”
            She raises her head from hiding and takes the book. “Do you have more questions?”
            I nod.
            I get one more kiss, and she pulls me around the back to the screened porch. She already put Aunty Jaz to bed.
            We sit, side by side, on the couch, knees, arms, ankles touching. She reads, stops, explains—paints the sacred stories of her childhood. She’s beautiful in her element.
            I listen and love her.
            We get to the part where the father dies. The mean brothers want to kill Nephi. Leesie gets emotional. “Droop in sin,” she reads. “That’s what I did. I’d still be stuck there, miserable, if you hadn’t forced me into President Bodden’s office.” She sniffs and strokes the open page on her lap.
            I put my arm around her. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
            “You don’t think that was inspiration?”
            I lean my cheek on her head. “More like desperation.”
            She keeps reading. “I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh.” She chokes up—makes me continue.
            I finish the chapter—it’s just a few more verses. It’s beautiful. I hold Leesie, and we share an intense moment born of all we’ve been through together—my grief, hers, our ups and downs, the love that battled its way through it all. If anything is divine—that is. The love we share is truly holy.
            It’s midnight when I tenderly find Leesie’s lips and whisper good night.
            As I drive back to the East End, I remember the feeling I had back in the temple garden in Hong Kong and the tunnel with all those BYU kids singing hymns. The power that stopped me from going into Leesie’s room that first awful night we spent in Cayman wasn’t my mom. I didn’t sense her in Hong Kong and in the tunnel like I did the other times she helped me. But something was. Something real. Something like I felt with Leesie tonight.
            I pull the car off the road when I get to the blow holes. I wander out on the coral rocks—close enough to the waves forcing themselves up through the coral tubes to feel the fine mist on my face—and stare out at the night ocean.
            The sky overhead is heavy with stars.
            I owe this to Leesie. At least once.
            “Is it—I mean—are You—real?”
            The ocean surges, seethes. An unusually large wave hits hard enough to drench me with spray.
            I wipe my face and whisper, “Is that a yes?”
            I have to admit there is a power in the night beyond me, beyond the ocean, beyond the sky, beyond the stars.
            Something is out there.
            Something big.
            Something real.
            Something I can no longer deny.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chapter 27 - Leesie's Poem to finish

Great discussion yesterday. Today's poem from Leesie is dedicated to all of you who commented. I'm sure this is exactly who she'd be feeling inside. Total panic! This finishes Chapter 27. We hear from Michael again tomorrow. I've got to figure out a good place to add a Leesie/Kim chat. Not here. Not yet. I want you to experience what Michael and Leesie are going through first hand.

CHAPTER 27 - Part 2


LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM #??,
I blew it.
I blew it.
I’m sure that I blew it.
Too much, too fast,
too little, too slow.
I bungled it all
in a mixed up jumble.
He thinks it’s crazy.

I wish he’d let me
call in the elders.
They could stop by
tomorrow to help
with the yard.
Service Project.
He’d see through that
and never speak to me
again.

Maybe he already won’t speak
to me again. Did I really bring up
Heavenly intimacy? 

I pull my hide-a-bed out of the couch,
hit my knees beside it,
weary the Lord with my whining.
“He says he wants me to teach him
like he taught me,
but, but, but—”

You can do this.

“I can? I’m not a missionary.
I don’t know what I’m supposed
to teach him first or second.
What if I get something wrong?”

Just open your mouth.

“Really?”

A glorious, hopeful peace
blooms from my heart
and wafts warmth
to the panicked
doubt in my brain.

I crawl into bed,
curl under the sheet,
kick it off—get up,
readjust the fan,
sit on the edge
of my flimsy mattress,
staring at the black room
and chant,
“I think I can.
I think I can.
I can.
I can.
I can.”           
            

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Chapter - 27

I hope you all had a happy and safe New Year. Thanks for all your good wishes and encouragement. Thanks, too, all of you who voted for SING ME TO SLEEP on Goodreads. It's was cool and exciting to be nominated, but now it's a relief to have the voting over. All last month I felt like there was someone else I should be contacting. Winners will be announced in January's newsletter. I'll let you know if I get any exciting news. 


Here' the dive log I promised. I might have to cut some of this. I don't want to get too preachy or deeper into doctrine than I need to for the story's sake. But Michael would have questions. Lots of them. At this point, I'm simply writing what comes. If I overwrite, I'll cut back when I revise. As always, I'd love to get your feedback. 


More tomorrow. Enjoy!






CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME 10
Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/29
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Depth:  
Visibility: 
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  
Comments:

            As I drive home from Aunty’ Jaz’s and all the next day while I’m diving, I keep thinking about what Leesie told me. To become a Mormon I have to believe in Jesus Christ. Not just that he was a great man who taught stuff that changed the world—for good or ill—depending on your point of view. I have to believe He’s God’s son—a God himself—my brother. And He came to save me. From what I’m not sure. I need to ask Leesie.
            Leesie says God and Jesus aren’t some indescribable divine force. Joseph Smith saw them. They have physical bodies. What about the Holy Spirit? How does He fit in?
            And there’s this huge hole in Leesie’s logic. If God is literally the father of our spirits, don’t we need a mother up there, too? Is that supposed to be Mary? But how could she be Jesus’s mother on earth while she was being a mother in heaven.
            I only have to work the morning. After I unload the dive boat, I grab a sandwich and head out. When I get to Aunty Jaz’s, Leesie’s in the front clipping the giant bougainvilleas that overwhelm the shack.
            “Ouch.” She yells and drops the clippers. “Did you know these things have thorns?” She shoves her thumb in her mouth. 
            “Yeah. You need gloves.”
            She kicks at the clippers. “And better clippers.”
            “Want me to help?” I look at the mess she’s making. “We used to have these in Phoenix.”
            “I don’t know.” She takes a few steps back and surveys her progress. “It seems hopeless.”
            I slide my arm around her waist. “We can do it together.” I kiss her, and she squirms.
            “Gross. I’m all sweaty.”
            I kiss her again. “I like sweaty.”
            She claps her hands over her ears and starts humming a tune that sounds like something they sang in church Sunday.
            I laugh and release her. “I’ve got some questions for you.”
            “Really?” She slaps at a mosquito on my arm. “We need more bug spray, too.”
            Leesie washes up quick while I take cover from the mosquitoes with Aunty Jaz on the screened porch.
            “That girl just doesn’t stop—does she?”
            I sit beside Aunty Jaz. “Not when she gets her mind set on something.”
            Aunty Jaz looks back to make sure Leesie’s still inside, leans over and whispers, “She’s been busy at that computer late at night and early in the morning. She won’t read any of it to me, though.”
            “Me, neither.” It’s good to hear she’s working on her poetry, though. She’s progressing faster than I expected.
            “How are you doing with that Book of Mormon?”
            I lower my voice. “I kind of got stuck. Leesie’s helping me. Is that allowed?”
            Aunty Jaz’s face splits wide with a smile. “Of course. So that’s why she gave me that big kiss last night.”
            I give her a big kiss on the cheek, too.
            Leesie catches us. “Are you trying to steal my fiancé?”
            Aunty Jaz slaps my back. “I’ve turned his head, sweetie. I have that affect on men.”
            Leesie takes my hands and pulls me to my feet. “Mind if I try to win him back?”
            “You can try.” She winks at me.
            Leesie winds her fingers through mine. “We’ll be back in a couple hours. You’ll be okay?”
            “My nurse arrives shortly.”
            “We can stay until she comes.”
            Aunty Jaz shoos us with both hands. “Get along.”
            As soon as we’re on the road driving towards Georgetown, Leesie bites her lower lip and folds her hands in her lap. “You have questions?”
            “Yeah.” I swallow. My thoughts are in a jumble. “First, how does the Holy—”
            “—Ghost?”
            “—fit in?”
            “He’s the third member of the Godhead.”
            “With God and Jesus?” I glance over at her. She nods. I look back at the road. “Why do you call him a ghost? That’s weird.”
            “He doesn’t have a physical body like Jesus and Heavenly Father so he can communicate with our spirits.”
            “Okay. Whatever. You know, this whole Heavenly Father thing has a big problem. Who’s the mother?”
            “We don’t know.”
            “You think God had all these children by himself? Think about it, babe. That makes no sense. Is it Mary?”
            “No. She’s Jesus earthly mother.”
            “And Joseph’s his father—so how is he different than everyone else?”
            “Check you Bible stories, hon. Joseph wasn’t his father. Mary was a virgin, remember?”
            Not really. Never read the stuff. “So it was like magic?”
            “You read the scriptures about it yesterday. The spirit overshadowed Mary and then she was pregnant. Mary says ‘great things’ were done to her.”
            “You’re saying she slept with God?”
            “I’m saying we don’t know the details. But she’s called a handmaid of the Lord. In the Old Testament handmaids bore children for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They became wives.”
            “Wives?” I frown, confused. “You think God’s a polygamist? I have to believe that?”
            “No. I’m guessing here. God made the rules. His relationship with Mary wasn’t based on sin. All you have to believe is Jesus was His son.”
            “Not a fast-talking Jewish girl’s ba—”
            “Don’t say that.” She grabs my arm. “It hurts.” She presses her hand to her heart.
            “I’m sorry.” We drive in silence a couple miles. We reach the outskirts of Georgetown and traffic slows up. We get stopped at a red light. I turn to her. “You believe all this stuff—literally?”
            “Yes.” She meets my searching gaze. “We do believe in a Mother in Heaven, but she’s not Mary.”
            I shake my head. “I’ve never heard you pray to her.”
            “No. We pray to the Father in the Son’s name.”
            “What does that mean?”
            “Jesus takes our prayers to the Father and pleads for us.”
            “And what does the mother do?”
            “We don’t know for sure. I think she’s there, part of everything—sharing like parents do.”
            “Are you making this up? You’ve never mentioned her before.”
            Leesie’s voice takes on an intense tone. “It’s very sacred doctrine.”
            “So we were one big happy God family?” Sounds more like sci-fi than religion.
            “In heaven? Before we came to earth? Very big. Mostly happy.”
            I lean back and shake my head. “How could perfect, all-powerful God-parents make their children live in such a horrible place? Suffer like—” Me. And her.
            “We chose to come here. Fought for the privilege.”
            “Fought? Who?”
            “Our other brother.”
            We’re at the store, so the question I have about that gets lost in buying mega-clippers, two pairs of thick gloves, six different types of mosquito killer, and a giant bag of potato chips.
Leesie naps on the drive back to Aunty’s Jaz’s, so we don’t get back to our private discussion until late that night when Leesie kisses me goodnight. “Did I freak you earlier today with the Heavenly Mother stuff?”
            “Nope.” I smooth my hand over her furry head. “It’s no stranger than everything else.”
            “It’s why the temple is so important.” She can see I’m not following. “The family is a divine entity. The heart of everything in heaven and earth.”
            “So you need to stick them together?” I stroke her cheek.
            “Seal them.” She presses her lips into my palm.
            I hug her close. “Why isn’t it automatic?” It should be. People who love each other should be together forever if they want to be.
            “Nothing’s automatic.” She leans her face onto my hand. “God’s too good of a teacher to go for that.”
            “He’s God.” I crouch down so we’re eye to eye. “He could cut us some slack.”
            “If this is a test”—she touches her nose to mine—“he’s got to make it hard enough for us to grow.” She kisses me and retreats to the doorway. “Have you prayed?”
            I shake my head.
            She blows me a kiss. “Try.”