As I mentioned a while back I took a break to finish my next book, “Escape to Freedom.” It’s for young adults and over. Again it’s based on American historical touches. You might say I am growing up a bit in my writing. One clue is it is wholesome, what you might call Christian but it is about a strong willed young woman growing up. So many of the teen books I reviewed were about an illness or had dark and sad elements. So I wrote in another direction. Anyway, it has kept me busy. Here are a few words from the beginning.
Excerpt from “Escape to Freedom” soon to be available on Amazon and Kindle. ISBN 13:978-1537705507 (Registered LOC)
“What was going to happen to her now? It was a foggy, cold day in the English village of Ipswich and even colder in the small attic room where Adrian sat by the bedside of her Uncle Matthew. A week ago yesterday he had fallen down a flight of stairs into the basement of the tavern where he worked and where they lived.
“He has broken at least three ribs that probably have punctured a lung,” said the doctor. Before the week was over he came again.
“He has pneumonia,” pronounced the doctor, shaking his head. His voice was harsh and unsympathetic. “There’s nothing more we can do for him now. Make him as comfortable as possible,” he instructed Adrian. “He won’t last long!”
Adrian was instantly in shock and sat down hard in the chair she had pulled next to his bed. In silence she picked up his hand. It felt so cold. She imagined she could feel his life slowly draining away, but he was still breathing. She felt his chest moving slowly up, then down. As she waited, she let her mind wander because it made her forget the present. What should she do?
She had been fourteen when her mother died. Now that seemed like such a long time ago. She considered herself lucky to have been invited to come to Ipswich to live with her Uncle Matthew. She had met him only once when she was about eight and didn’t remember him very well. But, her mother had spoken of him so often that Adrian felt that she knew him. He was her only relative.
Adrian thought fleetingly of her mother and how little she knew about her family. Except for Uncle Matthew she had spoken very little about other relatives. Once she had said that the name “Adrian” was really a boy’s name but when she was born a girl, the name was kept anyway.
Shock turned to fear. Now she would be an orphan!
She closed her eyes to think. But it didn’t matter because the room was already filled with darkness. Where could she go? What experience did she have? She could wash dishes and pots and pans. She could peel potatoes. But where would she sleep?
Click! Somewhere she heard the faint click click of a clock marking the hour. The sound broke into her thoughts. She had never heard it before. It sounded suddenly louder, and she realized she was stroking her Uncle’s hand in rhythm. The feel of his skin was soft but the palm of his hand felt damp. She felt her heart beating with the same rhythm.
Adrian opened her eyes. It was still black all around her. There was nothing to see. She rubbed her knees with her free hand, they felt cramped and stiff. Should she pray? Why? Maybe just saying the words would give her courage?
“Be with me. Guide me, no matter what.” She whispered into the silence and empty darkness.
Now her feet felt numb. Her shoes were too tight so she wiggled her toes. They felt cold too.
Earlier she had placed a damp cloth across her Uncle’s forehead. She stood up and carried it to a small basin of water setting on the dresser. She dipped it in and wrung it out, then replaced it across his brow again.
She couldn’t escape thinking about what might happen when the morning came. The night seemed to be continuing forever. For some reason she remembered once seeing an old lady, wrapped in a blanket and sleeping on the curb with a tin cup in front of her. No, she wasn’t going to go begging on the street; she felt resolute about that. So, where would she sleep? That thought frightened her the most. The Sisters of Mercy had told her she could work at the hospital and board with them. She felt weak at the thought of helping another sick person.
She took a deep, deep breath. Now, she felt calmer, content to sit there and listen pensively to the night sounds outdoors along the road and those invading the little room. She listened again to the sound of her Uncle’s breathing. Evenly for a moment, then a harder short gasp.
Once he mumbled in his sleep and she leaned closer to hear whether he was saying words. It must have been her imagination.
Don’t cry she told herself sternly. Still she felt as though a drop of moisture was moving slowly down her cheek. She blinked. Her eyelashes felt wet. She realized she was holding his hand again. It felt the same. Toward morning his breathing become very low and labored. Minutes passed. Then he breathed a deep sigh and was quiet. Total silence filled the room. His hand in Adrian’s hand went limp, but she continued holding on to him.
One tiny tear, then another rolled down Adrian’s cheek. She felt completely alone. The walls around her seemed to narrow in on her and the temperature in the room fell, turning incredibly cold.
Solemnly she laid her Uncle’s hand on his chest and walked over to the door. Quietly she closed it behind her and went to find the landlord.
As part of his salary at the tavern her uncle had been given this small attic room that held a narrow bed and a high chest. There was just enough room left over for one chair, a chamber pot and a space where Adrian had spread down a bedroll each night.
Despite the tight quarters, Matthew had invited his niece to come and live with him. To pay for her meals he had arranged for her to help out in the evenings washing dishes and waiting on the tables. Sometimes she had worked in the kitchen helping the cook. She especially liked cutting up liver and onions, making cabbage rolls and rolling out the dough for meat pies. These were the hearty foods served at the tavern.
However, despite her good work habits, the tavern’s owner wasted no time in removing Matthew’s body from his premises. In fact, he did it that night when the removal would not attract neighbors or possibly customers.
What does Adrian do next? Ironically, Angus Peters comes to the tavern to recruit bond servants for his Half-Way House tavern in the New World. Could this be the answer? In a few days I’ll be back with another excerpt. Keep checking in!