The Broken Bridge

The smell of baking filled the house and soft music drifted from the kitchen. In the living room Carrie’s dad sat with his eyes glued to the football game on TV.

          “Who’s winning dad?” She had always been soft spoken.

          “The Denver Broncos honey. Peyton Manning is just too much for the other team.”

          Carrie’s mum walked into the living room and passed around a tray of barbequed sausages.
“Why don’t you turn off the TV and spend some time with your family?” Her eyes locked with those of her husband.

          “I can chew gum and talk at the same time,” dad said as he reached for the sausage
tray. The TV argument had been going on for years and although mum still asked the tough questions, she had been content to let him run the show.

          Dinner was served on the living room coffee table because they couldn’t move dad away from the football game. The food was great and Carrie’s mum as usual had outdone herself. There were mashed potatoes, potato salad, roasted ribs and
fried chicken amongst other delicacies and Carrie ate like there was no tomorrow.

          The game and dinner over, the family sighed into the couches, overfed and unable to

          “It’s nice to have you home Carrie,” dad said to his daughter.

          “It’s nice to be home dad. I missed you guys a lot.” She took a moment to flash her mum a loving look, deviated her eyes to take a second look at the hunting dogs picture on the wall.

          The TV was turned off but music still drifted from the kitchen radio.

          “When is the wedding?” Dad asked. “You guys aren’t getting younger anymore. You have
been engaged for what? Two years you said?”

          Carrie fidgeted nervously in her seat. “There is no rush dad, the time will come.” She
watched as her dad struggled to drop the subject.

          “And you like the Banking job?” Mum asked from across the room.

          “It’s going on fine,” Carrie said and then suddenly changed her tone. “Dad. I have been meaning to talk to you about that. I need you to open a new Bank Account.”

          “For what?” Her dad looked mystified. His face reflected long days in the sun.

          “You don’t remember dad?” Carrie sat up to explain. “The SUV I promised you. I want to buy it for you but I have to send you a little cash at a time. It will take a year to save but I will get it.”

          A smile lit her dad’s face and he stared dreamily into the near horizon. “Ah, my daughter, a banker. I always knew it. I remember when you were a little girl and every time you saw a car on the road you pointed at it and yelled, ‘dad, I will buy you a car like that one when I grow up!’” Sigh. A soft moment. “And all I had to do was look into your eyes and believe it. I knew that you meant every word of it. You always had a good head on your shoulders.”

          Suddenly her mum yelped in delight and turned up the volume on the kitchen radio. Soft
music drifted into the living room.

          “No one’s gonna love you more that I do,” she sung and Carrie joined her.

          “Sing with us dad! It’s Band of Horses.”

          Her dad grumbled and Carrie took his hand. They stared into each other’s eyes and sung loudly.

          No one gonna love you more than I do

  Anything to make you smile

         It is my better side of you to admire


          Carrie’s heart was filled with joy and she was glad to be home. This was a day that she
would forever remember. It was perfect and full of love.

The room was dark when Carrie woke up. She lay still in bed wondering for a moment what had awakened her. The house was quiet but for the humming of the air conditioner. Slowly her eyes
began to close again but just as she was about to fall back to sleep, a startling voice cut through the darkness. It was her father’s voice.

          “Don’t talk to me like that woman!” He sounded angry. The voice was coming from the
upstairs bedroom.

          “I didn’t mean to be rude,” her mother replied in a feeble voice. “I just asked why you didn’t go to see your friend Gary. He offered to help!”

          The raised voices filled the house and Carrie cringed as past memories flooded back. No. This was not happening again. She couldn’t believe it. Her parents were fighting! Her parents were still fighting.

          “I don’t need any help!” Her dad yelled. “I just need a few days and everything will be alright.”

          “We don’t have a few days honey. We won’t last that long.”

          Carrie opened her bedroom door and walked into the kitchen. She opened the
refrigerator and found the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in the freezer. Bowl of ice-cream in hand, she crept back to her bedroom, entered the closet and locked herself inside. She could still hear the voices upstairs but they sounded far away, and she liked that. Far was good. If only she could ignore them then maybe they would go away. Her stillness was beyond numbness, the ice-cream was
like a drug; it always made her feel better.

          Mum was yelling. “All you had to do was go see your friend but instead you went to the bar and got drunk. Did you forget that your daughter is home?”

          “This is my house woman, and I will do as I please!” The voice was beyond control, nerves exposed.

          It,had been Carrie’s life long dream, to leave her home as soon as she hit eighteen, and she had. Her childhood had not been the best and as an only child she had been lonely. The month had been December when she had walked in on a
conversation between her parents, only that they hadn’t seen her.

          “Are you sure that she’s our child,” her dad had asked with a giggle.

          “I’m not sure sometimes.” Mum’s joking voice. “She doesn’t look anything like us. Gosh, where did she get the freckles from?”

          They had laughed and her mum had added, “At least she’s a smart girl.”

          “Men don’t like smart girls,” dad had said. “She will never find a husband.”

          At this point, Carrie had fled into the barn where she hid and cried. They had called her a mistake. She had been a mistake! Why couldn’t they love her like other parents loved their kids?

          High School had come and gone and Carrie had passed with flying colours. Her parents had attended her graduation and given her their support.

          “So what plans do you have?” Dad had asked.

          “I want to be a teacher dad,” Carrie had said enthusiastically.

          “Teacher?” A frown had appeared on her dad’s face. “What kind of a career is that? You are
a smart girl Carrie. I can talk to my friends and you can be working in corporate in no time.”

          “Thanks dad, but no thanks. I enjoy working with kids. I want to feel like am making a
difference.” She sounded disappointed but nobody seemed to notice. Her mum stood there and said nothing.

          “If you become a teacher, you will be poor for the rest of your life.”

          And there it was …at a time when she needed their support. She could never be right
in their eyes. She was the child that they never wanted to have.

          Her bags were already packed. It was no use arguing with her father. They would find the note the following day on top of the kitchen counter. The city was calling for her. Goodbye dad and mum, halo to a new beginning.

          At the age of eighteen Carrie fled to the city to start her new life. While working as a secretary and taking evening teaching classes at a College in the city, she had met Chad a young handsome accountant and they had instantly clicked off. Through concerts and museum visits, Chad had shown her the meaning of love. Through flowers and passionate kisses, Chad had given her the love that she had never received at home.

          One year into the relationship, Chad managed to recommend her for an officer’s position in a corporate bank, and Carrie had
accepted. The money had been great and for a moment Carrie forgot all about her teaching career. Together with
Chad, their take home pay amounted to a decent figure and a sophisticated lifestyle. In her vision, Carrie saw her own dream house, a glamorous wedding and kids… and she
prayed for the day.

          Crash! The noise came from upstairs and made Carrie jump. Breaking furniture. Her
parents were still fighting. “I will show you who wears the pants in this house!” Her dad’s voice boomed and shook the walls. Belligerent was a polite way to describe his behavior when he was drunk.

Slowly Carrie opened the closet door and stepped into her bedroom. Her footsteps were
but a whisper on the bedroom carpet. She pulled into a pair of blue jeans, white blouse and red coat and then with a calm expression on her face, walked across the warm living room. The front door swung open on well oiled hinges and Carrie locked it behind her.

          The night was warm and the smell of cow dung soaked the breeze. Carrie walked through the gate and down the narrow road. A neighbor’s dog ran along the fence hoping to play but she totally ignored it and the disappointed animal veered off.

          Seven years she hadn’t been home and yet everything looked the same. Smaller maybe but just as ragged as ever: the barber shop, the dusty shopping center, the church, the mildew soaked courthouse, the stables. It was a weird feeling,
being home again. It was like dejavu … like she had been here in another lifetime, a long time ago. Seven years in the city and she had accomplished nothing. The empty days of apartment life had blurred into each other. The temporary jobs had been a welcome distraction because they didn’t require much thinking.

          The Honkey Tonk bar was as full and as lively as she remembered. Inside, a live band played to a cheering crowd. Carrie stepped over a cowboy hat on the floor, pulled a stool at the bar and ordered a cold beer. The other patrons stared at her with uncertainty. They thought she looked familiar but for the straightened black hair sitting on one side of her shoulder.

          On her second beer and feeling very depressed, a voice called over her shoulder.

          “Can I please have this dance ma’am?”

          Without looking up Carrie replied, “I didn’t come here to dance.”

          “Then why did you come here?”

          Something stirred inside her and suddenly a smile lit her face. “Jake? Is that you Jake?”

          She turned and hugged the big man. Jake grinned and looked into her eyes. “I can recognize you anywhere sugar pie even with your city clothes.”

          “Jake, I didn’t expect to meet anybody here. I thought everybody moved out to make a life!” Carrie was beyond happy and her hand lingered a second longer on the black tweed jacket.

          “Not me,” Jake said. “I stayed right here to take care of this place.”

          They stared happily at each other and Jake pulled a bar stool over.

          “What’s up with the long beard?” Carrie asked as she appraised him.

          “Its November,” he said proudly.


          “Yes. Do you like it?” Tight levy jeans threatened to rip as he shifted.

          Carrie contemplated the question with a frown. “No I don’t like it. It makes you look old.” Jake wasn’t movie star handsome but with a good shave he would look great.

          “What’s up Jake?” A voice yelled from the crowd.

          “Just fixing trees buddy. Just fixing trees,” Jake replied over his shoulder.

          Carrie turned in time to catch the silhouette of the man spitting chew into a cup. “What does that even mean?” She asked with a grin.

          “It’s a country thing Carrie. You city folks wouldn’t know anything about it.”

          They laughed before Carrie lowered her voice. “What have you been up to Jake? The last time I saw you, you ran naked across the High School football game. And I always wanted to ask you why you did that.”

          Jake laughed heartily and accepted a beer from the bar man. “200 bucks sugar pie. Them boys bet me 200 dollars to do it. And I did it.”

          “Yes, you did. You pulled your pants down and ran naked across the field. But you also got arrested?” Carrie searched his eyes for an explanation.

          “I know. I got really lucky though because the school President thought it was funny. The police said that they couldn’t do anything unless the school filed charges.”

          “And they didn’t?”

          “Nope. Otherwise I would have been listed as a pedophile and scarred for the rest of my life. Are we going to talk or dance?” Jake stood up and extended a hand.

          Carrie stared at the hand for a moment and then took it. They walked into the dance floor just as the band was stepping up the beats.

          “Show me how it’s done in the city,” Jake said as he took off his cowboy hat and placed it on her head.

          But she hadn’t gone out much in the city and continued to dance like a country girl. This seemed to please Jake as they fell into a stomping rhythm. By the time the first song was over they were both sweating and Carrie’s head was swimming.

          The band dropped to the tune of ‘Sweet
Alabama’ and a lot of checked shirts jumped into the wooden dance floor. Several ‘line dances’ surfaced and ultimately merged into one. Carried found herself enjoying the choreographed dance more than she remembered.

They danced to three songs with the enthusiasm of youth before returning to the bar. Jake ordered a last beer for both of them as the band slowed down the beats. A few drunken
folks were already asleep on the various tables while others leaned against each other in drunken stupor.

          They downed their beers and stepped into the warm night.

          “Did you have fun?” Jake asked.

          “Yes, thanks Jake. You were always fun when we were kids.”

          “We used to be good friends.” Jake looked pensive for a minute.

          A few yards down the street, Carrie realized that they were walking away from her home. “I want to show you something,” Jake said before she could protest.

          They walked for one mile before she saw the sign and a squeal of delight escaped her lips. “Piano festival?”

          “Yep, you used to enjoy it.”

          Dozens of pianos were lined on the various corners of the streets with signs inviting folks to play. The whole festival had started when a man unable to take his piano upstairs due to the weight had left it outside. People passing by had been invited to play the instrument. This had become an annual festival in Carrie’s town and other folks had started leaving their pianos on the street. As a little girl Carrie had enjoyed playing and listening to the instruments.

          While Jake watched from a pavement, Carrie played to the tune of Piano Man and even
though she wasn’t a professional, the beautiful tune of Billy Joel filled the night in a serene way. A drunken couple staggered over and joined Jake on the pavement and applauded when Carrie was done.

          “Again! Play again!” They begged.

          “No,” Carrie protested. “It’s late guys. I have to go home.” Hand in hand, she and Jake ran off laughing like two little kids.

          It was turning out to be a perfect night and Carrie was amazed at how much fun she was having. Something had changed about Jake and he was no longer the looser kid in high school. Jake talked like a man and acted with dignity. She led Carrie down the road and pointed the way towards her house.

          “Was it your parents?” He asked suddenly and Carrie looked up startled.

          “What do you mean Jake?”

          “At the bar. You looked troubled. Was it because of your parents?”

          She nodded unable to deny it and too tired not to share with someone. But Jake didn’t push her further. He watched her walk over to a white picket fence and lean against it. Jake took his time to join her and together they stared at the dark fields of corn.

          “I was fifteen years old when it happened,” Carrie said in a small voice. “One of my pigeons flew home with a broken leg.” She took in a deep breath and searched for strength. “I took the pigeon to the barn and tried to make a cast for the leg. But suddenly the barn door flew open and my dad stormed in. I ran for the pigeon but he got there before I did.” Tears cascaded down her face. “My dad’s eyes were red and full of terror. He told me that there was no point in letting the bird suffer any further and when I pleaded with him that I could cure the leg, he snorted. I could see that he was drunk even though it was only in the

          “What happened then?” Jake asked tensely.

          She stared at one spot in the corn plantation. “He snapped the bird’s neck and walked away. Told me that he was doing me a favor. I cried for hours until my mum came and got me.”

          “That’s horrible!” Jake exclaimed. “What kind of monster father is he?”

          Carrie sniffed. “I have never told anybody about this Jake. My family made me feel like an outsider.”

          Jake was quiet for a moment. The trees whooshed in the wind and the cold smell of dust filled the air. “Why did you come back Carrie?”

          The question was as startling as it was unexpected. Carrie looked like he had been punched in the gut. “What do you mean Jake,” she asked. “This is my home.”

          Jake shook his head in disagreement. “Your parents did a number on you Carrie. You had a miserable childhood. Why did you come back?” He wasn’t pulling punches. Someone had to ask the hard questions.

          Carrie reeled against the ropes and returned to the center of the ring. She had never thought about the question: she had never questioned her own motive.

          Jake looked her in the eye. “I will tell you why. You came back to make peace with your parents. You tried to run away from your past but that didn’t work out so well. The only way you can build is by securing a strong foundation.”

          “But how am I supposed to do that Jake?” Carrie looked lost in the moment.

          The words from Jake’s lips were like bullets in her body. Jake was saying the things that she couldn’t. “You’ll figure it out sugar pie. I just want you to know that I’m here for you. I don’t ever want to see you get hurt like that. You deserve a lot better.”

          “Thanks Jake.” Carrie reached over and hugged her friend. “Take me home please,” she
added. Her body felt weak from suppressed emotions and the beer in her bloodstream.

          The two childhood friends walked in silence until they got to her house. A fox scurried out of the chicken house but they were too caught up in the moment to care.

          “Carrie,” Jake said in a shaky voice. “I want to take you out to a proper lunch. Can you grant me the honor?”

          She raised her eyes to appraise him. “You mean like a date?”

          “Yes.” His voice was hesitant and weak in confidence.

          “But Jake, we have been friends since childhood. You don’t have a girlfriend?”

          “I did,” Jake said. “But I never loved her and it was over before it started. But you Carrie. I have known you for a very long time and we have so much in common.” He took a step forward. “I enjoy your company and our conversations. You
have strong ideals and carry yourself with poise and respect. You are beautiful, intelligent and make me laugh.”

          Carrie reached up and touched his cheek. And then she took a step back. “I can’t Jake. I can’t date you. I have a boyfriend in the city.”

The light in Jake’s eyes flickered and he stood

there dumbfounded. “I’m sorry Jake,” she
repeated. “I do like you. But I belong to

another.” She turned and walked towards the front door. The keys jingled in her shaky hands as she fidgeted to open the door.

          A low moon pushed silver over their faces. Jake’s sentimental voice suddenly stopped her. “Carrie,” he said as he stepped forward. “I know you have a boyfriend and I respect that. But I have looked long and hard for a good woman
and I haven’t met anybody near or close to what you are. I will fight for you. I will win your love and God willing I will one day marry you!”

          Carrie stared at him mouth agape. These were the most powerful words a man had ever
used on her. Her eyes lingered on his face for a second before she turned. The key found the hole and hurried feet stepped into the safety of the house. The door closed and she leaned heavily against it. She knew the look on Jake’s face. It was a look that she had read about; seen in the movies. Jake was going to come for her no matter what.


          Carrie slept all morning and woke up with a mild hangover. The sound of a farm truck’s
engine through the window pushed pain through her head. She hadn’t been much of a drinker in the past and now she understood why. She felt like crap with mild nausea, a headache and thirst rocking her body. Sunlight beamed through her
bedroom window and alerted her that it was a little past
noon. She walked into the kitchen and
found her mum cooking…cutting onions on a wooden board.

          “Where were you last night Carrie?” Her mum didn’t even turn to look at her.

          “Why? I’m not a child anymore. Don’t pretend like you care.” Her tone was cold and condescending.

          Her mum turned around, kitchen knife in hand. “Who do you think you are talking to like that?” Fire burned in her eyes.

          But Carrie was just warming up. Her jaw hardened and bottled up emotions rose to the surface. “What gives you the right to question me?” She took a step forward. “You are a coward mum, everybody knows that. All these years dad has been hitting you and you never said anything. You never called the cops and you never had the guts to leave him! How am I supposed to respect or listen to you?”

          The knife wavered in her mum’s hand and fell on the kitchen floor with a clank. The older woman stumbled and grabbed at the granite counter for support. Her daughter’s words had hit home, and the shocked look in her eyes told the whole story. She had never heard Carrie speak to her like that before. The fire in her eyes died and her voice softened. “I did it for you Carrie,” she said. “I did it for you.”

          Carrie’s forehead wrinkled and a puzzled look crossed her eyes. “You took a beating
because of me? How dare you…” Her voice trailed off.

          “I didn’t mean it like that,” her mum said as she rocked on her feet. “I wanted to leave but I didn’t know where to go. If I had left, then you would have never finished school. Your dad provided us with food, shelter, clothing and your
education. I couldn’t take you away from that. I loved you too much.” Relentless tears poured down her mum’s face. “So what if he hit me a few times? I would do it all over again if I had to because all I had to do was look at you and I was

          The words stunned Carrie speechless. She took a step back and looked away. Her eyes were filled with tears and hatred for her dad. Thoughts of her mother shackled by years of cruelty bombarded her mind. She would have killed him if he was standing there at that moment.

          “What happened in the city?” Her mum suddenly asked as she struggled to pull herself

          “What do you mean mum?” She turned and searched the older woman’s face.

          “Seven years we haven’t seen or heard from you Carrie, and suddenly you show up. Does
this have anything to do with a man? Did someone break your heart?”

          This shocked Carrie and her face showed it. “How would you know that mum?”

          “I have seen your face child when you think that no one is looking. I have seen the sadness in your eyes. I know love and what it does to a human heart.”

          Carrie pulled a kitchen stool and sat down heavily. The smell of cut onions filled the room …tomatoes on the kitchen counter… steak defrosting in the microwave. “His name is Chad mum and he’s an accountant in the city.”

          Her mum pulled a bar stool over and joined her. “And you love this man?”

          “Yes,” Carrie said. “No! I don’t know. I used to until he cheated on me with my best friend.”

The man who had brought her love had also taught her the meaning of heartbreak and the
experience had devastated her.

          Mum’s jaw dropped. “How dare he!”

          “I know mum. I thought that he was the one, and now am not sure.”

          Her mum looked puzzled. “What do you mean by unsure? Are you thinking of going back
to him?”

          “I don’t know mum. Chad is the only
man I have ever loved. One day I hate him so much for what he did and next I miss him.”

          Her mum took her hand. “Listen to me very carefully child. You are my daughter and I will not have you live the same kind of life that I did. You have to get out now before it’s too late; before you get pregnant or married.” Sigh. Mum took
in a deep breath. “I endured that life so that you would not. If you go back to a man like that, then all the abuse I have taken will be in vain. Do you hear what am saying Carrie?”

          She nodded and dropped her chin. She knew that her mum was right. But the nights
were cold without
Chad’s big hands around her. She missed him and what they used to have. The dam had broken and she had found herself treading water.

“You should go talk to him,” mum suddenly said and Carrie looked up in surprise.

          “Talk to Chad?”

          “No child. You should go talk to your father.”

          Carrie jumped down from the stool and started for the door. “He’s a monster mum. I
will never talk to him again!”

          “Carrie!” mum yelled and ran after her. “You should talk to him. He’s dying!”

          The two women’s eyes met and confused emotions flashed on Carrie’s face. “Dying? You mean like death?”

          Her mum sighed. “Yes my daughter. Your father is dying. He stopped taking his medicines
a month ago. He doesn’t have much time left.”

          Carrie’s legs shook and she leaned against the wall for support. “No no no,” she mumbled
unable to digest the gut wrenching revelation. This could not be happening. But it was.

          “They fired him from the factory without a pension. Twenty years of service and that’s how they repaid him. We lost the car and the house will be gone soon. Your dad has been looking for a job but nobody wants to hire a mean old man.
That’s what they call him around here. That much weight can break a man Carrie.”

          Carrie was crying. Everything around her was crumbling. She had returned home to find
herself. The city had consumed and torn her apart. And now she was loosing it all… all over again: her home, her dad, her boyfriend… her life.

          Her mum pulled her into an embrace. “He wanted to come and look for you in the city, you know.”

          “Why didn’t he?” She laid her head on the soft cashmere on her mum’s shoulder and the tremors rocked her.

          “He’s a proud man your father. Pride has been his biggest downfall. You should go talk to him Carrie,” mum said again. “It will do him some good.”


          A knot in her stomach and delirious with worry, Carrie ran down the street like the world was about to end. The horses in the stable jumped back startled as she zoomed past.

          “Hi Carrie!” A voice yelled. But she did not even turn to acknowledge the caller.

          The time was 3pm and she knew exactly where to find him. The corner came sharp and she took it uphill: crashed gravel under her feet, sunlight in her eyes. Her heart pounded when she
saw him sitting on top of the hill a mile away from the bar.

          “Dad! Dad!” She called.

          Her run turned into a jog and then trickled to a walk. Her dad turned around and she saw the haggard look on his face. The grey beard made him look old and tired.

          “Hi sugar bear,” dad greeted with a half smile. “What are you doing up here?”

          She took a moment to control her breathing. “I came to see you dad. What are you
looking at?” Carrie lowered herself on the grass beside him and together they gazed down at the little town.

          “Isn’t she a beauty?” Dad said. “I remember a time when we didn’t have a shopping
center and had to ride our horses for miles to get supplies.”

          Carrie didn’t know what to say and so took the time to watch the tiny figures below
wondering on the streets. Farther down beyond the town, a jockey rode hard on a race horse.

          “There’s a prison in Colorado called The
Hudson Correctional Facility,” her dad said. “I don’t know why they call it a correctional facility because nobody ever gets corrected in there.” Dad
chuckled at his own joke and Carrie threw him a nervous glance. She had no idea what her father was talking about.

          “The Hudson Prison sits at the bottom of the Denver Rocky Mountains and has a clear view of the snow capped hills. Its one of the most beautiful sights in the world and yet the irony of it all is that the prisoners only get an occasional
glimpse of the sight to show them what they have given up by delving into crime.”

          Carrie pondered about the story for a moment and finally understood the meaning. The
world was a beautiful place more so when we are about to die… when we are about to loose it all.

          “I’m not going back to the city dad,” she said. “I’m staying with you and mum for a while.”

          It was dad’s time to be shocked. “What? Why would you do that? What about your job?”

          Carrie shrugged. “I have my college certificates dad. I will find a job at the local

          “You want to become a teacher?”

          “Yes dad. It has always been my dream. I want to do something noble that makes me happy and not something that makes me money.” She waited for her dad’s protest but none came. Teaching is not a real job!

          “I’m very tired Carrie,” her dad said. “I’m so tired.”

          “It’s okay to be tired dad. I’m home now. We can do this together. We can be a family
again. The great truth about human beings is that we always bounce back. We hit the reset button and swing for the fences.”

          Her dad smiled at her words. “It’s nice to have you home sugar bear. It’s motivating to hear the conviction in your voice. You were always a smart girl.”

          She took his big calloused hands into hers and noticed the dirt under the fingernails. “There’s something else dad I want to tell you dad.”

          “What’s that Carrie?”

          “I think I will be seeing Jake.”

          At these words her dad suddenly sat up. “You talking about Jake, Mr. Nate’s boy?

          Carrie nodded and wondered why her dad suddenly looked so alive. She had thought about
Jake a lot and had decided to give it a try. There were a lot of things that she hoped and dreamed for, and maybe Jake was the divine intervention that she had been waiting for.

          “That’s a good match my dear. The boy is rich and you guys used to be great friends as kids.”

          Carrie was stunned by the news. “Jake is rich?”

          “You didn’t know honey. Halliburton discovered oil on his father’s land. They get a
fat cheque every month for the wells and for oil fracking.”

          “I didn’t know that dad. We met last night and I think we have a lot in common. He wants to date me… says he will fight for my love.”

          “He’s a good lad Carrie. Never been in trouble since high school.” Pause. “I’m assuming that things didn’t work out with your city boyfriend?”

          “No dad. He wasn’t the man of my dreams.”

          Carrie shook her head in a daze and tried to refocus her attention on the matter at hand. There was a reason why she had run out to find her father. She dug into her pocket and pulled out a bottle of pills, took two and gave to her father.

          “I came to give you this dad. If I am to stay home then you have to take your pills. That’s my deal.”

          Her dad stared at the pills and then tossed them into his mouth. A smile lit Carrie’s face as she watched her dad swallow. She leaned her head on the old man’s chest and lay there for a while listening to his breathing.

          “Carrie,” her dad finally said. “Can you ever forgive me for not loving you enough?” Sniff. “Can you ever forgive me for all the soccer games, trick or treats, and school plays that I missed?”

          Tears trickled down her face and emotions chocked at her throat. For so long she had waited for this moment. For so long she had longed to feel loved. She risked a glance and saw tears of regret in her father’s eyes. The sight rocked her into silence. She had never seen her dad cry before. He looked really small.

          “I forgive you dad,” she said. “But only if you promise to love us… mum and I. Only if you love me.”

          The river below looked the same as it had years ago. A lot of early memories had been build along the river. It was here that Carrie had learned to swim while clinging to the boulders. She had grazed the cows and played along the banks with the other children. It was by the river where she had hidden away from home, lashing at the shadows. It was here where she had nurtured a low self esteem … words of her father telling her that she couldn’t … can’t… can never be
beautiful or successful in life. The lines between right and wrong had been blurred: what she was capable of had been suppressed. The land was scarred with emotions and the sadness of wasted years.

But that was a long time ago. A door bolted shut. That little girl was long gone and in her place now sat a woman: a woman ready for a new beginning, a woman ready to curve her name and leave a mark in the world.




My book A Whisper in the Jungle has been picked by a publishing company and approved by the board. It has been scheduled for release soon.


The music is all around you, all you have to do is listen



Without God, what are we? What do we have? What is life...