My latest guest to come and offer us a book sample is Cheryl Shireman, and her book, “Life Is But A Dream“, addresses the resilience of the human spirit. Cheryl was the first person to volunteer for an interview on my site, so it’s a special privilege to be able to feature her book.
Cheryl lives in the Midwest on a beautiful lake with her husband, Bruce. “One of the things I like best about writing is that I can do it from home in my pajamas.” She started writing as a teen, probably inspired after reading one of her favorite books, My Friend Flicka. Through the years, amid marriage, the birth of three children, divorce, and her second marriage, the one thing that has remained constant is her love of writing. She has written many “practice novels” through the years (“the kind that get stuffed in a box and shoved under your bed or clutter your hard drive”). With her last child married, she is now ready to spread her own wings and has just published her first novel, Life Is But a Dream. She is currently hard at work (probably in her pajamas and staring out the window at the lake) on her second novel.
Here is her sample:
I am dreaming. I am four. I am at a family reunion at an aunt’s house. The reflection of a white farmhouse looms, tall and angular, into an in-ground pool. The scent of chlorine and grilling hamburgers waft, exchange, and intermingle.
My mother sits nearby in a lawn chair. Her black polyester stretch pants squish through the crisscross of webbing in uneven lumps. Her attention is on a noisy game of volleyball being played across the yard. No one sees me. I am so small that I barely exist. She does not see me. She does not see. She does not. See me. See. Me.
A large beach ball floats seductively upon the surface of the pool. It drifts in my direction, becoming larger and larger until it fills my entire field of vision. Red and white and glistening with irregular drops of water. I clap my hands and it draws closer.
Mother is standing now. She looks so young. Even in my dream, I wonder, was she ever this young? A hand is placed on her hip and her mouth is parted in a smile as she watches the raucous game. A transparent headscarf is wrapped around her head and its tail flutters tentatively under the knot that is pulled snug against her pale neck. It is the color of lilacs.
I wonder why I am not being scolded. I expect harsh words. Maybe a spanking. I am very near the pool. I was told to stay away. But my mother is smiling, laughing while the volleyball players argue over whether the ball was in bounds. The concrete under my feet feels hot and rough. I wiggle my toes and feel the skin being scraped from them.
I look at the ball. It is so close now that I see nothing else. I smell it. Fresh wet plastic. It smells like pool toys. I reach forward and touch it. Its surface is warm and slippery and smooth. It recoils upon contact. Flirty. Coy. Slowly, it floats out of my touch. I lean forward and strain to touch it again.
My body meets the water with a quiet splash. An unnoticed splash. Falling into the water, I sink in slow motion. Deeper and deeper. My body turns over and the water and sky become one and stretch above me. Through the blue that engulfs me, I see the distorted image of my mother. She stands in the same position. Still smiling. I see the scarf flutter – lilac blue now.
My arms extend toward her. She is out of reach. Wavy. Like a mirage. Struggling frantically, I grasp at the water but it slides through my fingers. I call out to my mother and water forces its way into my mouth, and into my lungs. I gasp and choke on more water. I am helpless. All I can do is sink slowly until the pool and the sky merge into darkness. I wonder why my mother will not come and get me. And why she is still smiling.
Waking, I quickly sit upright. I gasp in uneven breaths. Sweat covers my body. I clutch at a tangle of damp sheets. My tee shirt is a twister. My torso caught in the storm.
I reach for Matt and my grasp is hollow. He is not there. I long for his chest to bury my head against. I long for the feel of his breath upon my hair as he whispers that it was just a dream. He is not there. Not here. Not beside me. I am not sure how long he has been gone. It was so gradual. I never saw it coming. In fact, his side of the bed no longer exists. In fact, I am in the middle of the bed. In the place where we used to meet. In the empty odd-shaped gap between our bodies that we used to fill like interlocking puzzle pieces.
© 2019, Steven R. Drennon. All rights reserved.