Saturday, July 2, 2016

Writing Sample Saturday: Just Shut Up and Drive

Well, I'm in a sentimental mood today.

We've had to deal with a lot of things going on around here lately. Death of a loved one, health stuff, school being out and missing friends...just 'stuff'.

So, I thought, in light of that, I'd share a snippet from my novel, 'Just Shut Up and Drive', that depicts the importance of remembering the things we need to stay close to us in order to keep us focused on events, and people, that help to keep us grounded.

We can all become derailed at some point. And that's okay because we are human and none of us are perfect. No one is. But knowing we have those 'lights' in our lives to turn to during those hard times will help us pull through.

So, today I am sharing a snippet from my novel that makes that point.

Remember those who are important to you that you've lost. Keep those still with you close. Know that life isn't easy, and deal with it how you can. Teach the children in your life that life isn't easy, but give them the tools to get through it. Remember that we aren't immortal and we have to take care of the body you've been given.



Be the best you.

That's all you can do.

It isn't what you get, buy or hoard that matters. It's what you do while you're here that matters.

Enjoy and Happy Writing!

"C'mon, son," Gramps said, swatting Wil on the back as he walked past him on the way to the door. 

"Stop standing there lookin' so scornful or your face will stick that way."

Wil released a sharp breath. "Do you think, maybe, you could give me an order without having to beat me at the same time? That would be appreciated. By the time this journey ends, I'm going to be bruised head-to-toe."

"Well, if you didn't daydream so much I wouldn't have to keep shaking you awake."

"If you didn't talk so much, I wouldn't have a need to daydream," Wil said, closing the back door behind them.

Gramps grunted, then opened the unlocked gate to the cemetery. "Grab a handful of those flowers there, will ya? Those are her favorites."

Wil was about to ask who "her" was again but decided to shut it. He knew he wasn't going to get an answer anyway. He just assumed whoever she was, she had to be a resident of the cemetery. Or his grandfather was finally losing it.

He bent over to pick the flowers, careful not to pull them up by the roots, and slid through the gate. The cemetery was about the same size as two decent-sized backyards found in the upper class areas back in Winnipeg. It didn't look like a 'rich man's' cemetery since a lot of the headstones were quite small. Most graves were marked with simple nameplates or wooden crosses. It seemed to be well taken care of, though, judging by the lush green grass growing around each guest.

There was a gorgeous willow tree in the farthest left corner of the fence, its branches hanging protectively over the nameplates around its base. There were other smaller trees spread out around the area, all with new leaf blossoms. One of the smallest trees standing beside a worn, faded wooden cross actually had a little bird's nest in it. Wil shuddered with the profound realization that past lives rested there while new life still sprouted all around.

I think Gramps is getting to me, he thought, shaking his head.

He moved his eyes across the yard, stopping when he saw Gramps crouched down at a marker by the willow tree. He tiptoed over and around the path, silently apologizing to the names as he went, until he got to his grandfather. "Here you go…" Wil started, then stopped when he saw the name:

Daughter, sister, wife, mother.
                Rest In Eternal Peace                  

Gramps took the flowers and laid them in front of the small headstone. Then he said, "See, Mommy? I told ya I'd bring him one day. This here is Wil. Wil, this is your Gran."

Wil frowned, his mouth agape. "Gramps, I…why wouldn't you have told me this was what we're doing? It would have been nice to prepare myself."

"Don't you disrespect your Gran," Gramps said, his eyes still on the headstone. "I just introduced you to a fine lady. Now mind your manners, get down here, and say hello. She's waiting."

Wil had heard many stories of his grandmother's loving nature, her wicked sense of humor, and her endless generosity. She was also one of the strongest women he'd heard of, having fought breast cancer, not once but twice, during a time when women weren't expected to live long after their diagnosis, no matter how hard they fought. She'd done all of that while raising five kids and taking care of the house while Gramps worked. She'd been the rock in their family and Gramps’ entire world. To that day, he talked about her like she was still with them and always called her “Mommy.”

Wil knelt down next to Gramps, giving him a quick glance. Then he cleared his throat and said, "Hi, Gran. It's nice to meet you."

The two men sat gazing at the headstone. A light breeze caught the branches of the willow tree, making one of the longer ones brush gently across Wil's cheek. Goosebumps exploded all over his body. He bit his lower lip in a lame attempt to stop tears from forming. He heard the tiny squeaks of the baby birds calling their mama from the nest a few feet behind them.

"We're just on a little road trip, Mommy," Gramps continued, his voice barely above a whisper. 

"Gotta teach this boy a thing or two. Just like I had to with Craig. You remember those days, right? Trust me, this boy is all sass just like his dad. But he's brains too so there's some hope." He coughed a weak laugh, then said, "Well, we have to go for now. But you know I'll see ya soon. I promise."
With that, Gramps kissed the palm of his hand, pressed it to Gran's name, adjusted the flowers for her, then pulled himself up. He pushed his glasses up, wiped his eyes on the back of his hand, readjusted his frames, and shuffled down the path back to the gate. Wil stood, never taking his eyes off the headstone. 

He'd never been to his parents' gravesite, and he didn't want to go. Somehow, the action of doing that would mean he accepted their death, and he didn't. He knew one day he'd need to, if for no other reason than to close the door on that chapter of his life. He wasn't ready for that yet, though. And no one pushed him on it.

But for some reason, visiting Gran was…okay. It was oddly comforting. It actually filled a tiny part of him that had been empty before he got there. It was hard for him to put into words, but the feeling was similar to the serene calmness that had enveloped him whenever his mom had hugged him after getting hurt or being scared. He smiled, shoved his hands deep in his front pockets, then followed Gramps.

They locked the gate and then went back into the church to return the key. Gramps started down the aisle toward the front doors of the church. Wil stopped and said, "Wait a sec. I have to do something before we go."

Gramps turned and waited as Wil lumbered over to the candle table. He lifted his eyes to the crucifix hanging on the wall above the candles. The smoke snaking up past Christ's face seemed to emphasize His anguished facial expression. Wil fought the urge to turn back around. He pulled his right hand out of his jeans pocket and picked up one of the long matches from the pile. He held it over the flame of the candle closest to him and, after a second, the end of the match sparked.
He moved his hand over to a thick, white candle that looked like it had never been lit, and touched the match to its wick. Once a small yellowish-orange glow grew, he pulled back the match and blew it out. He shoved his hand back into his pocket and stepped back from the table.

Take care, Gran, he thought. Maybe I'll come back to visit again soon too.

He walked backward toward the aisle between the pews where Gramps still waited, keeping his eyes on the crucifix. The smoke from the candle he'd lit weaved its way up to Christ's feet. A warm wave spread from the pit of his stomach out to the rest of his torso—not unlike the sensation of drinking hot soup on a cold day. Then he turned to face Gramps.

The two men locked eyes. A smile tugged up the corner of Wil's mouth, and he nodded. Gramps nodded, and led the way out of the church. The old man put the key in the mailbox then walked down the stairs as Wil walked over to the truck and unlocked it. 

They each got in, buckled up, and Wil started up the engine. They pulled out of the parking lot, drove back through downtown, and up to where the road met the highway. Then Wil leaned over the steering wheel. Both men stared out the windshield.

"Where to next?" Wil asked

"Portage. We'll stop there for lunch."

"You're the boss."

As Wil turned onto the highway, Gramps leaned over and switched the radio on. He flipped through the stations until the sounds of early jazz filled the car, then he slumped back into his seat. After ten minutes of crooning, trumpet playing, and big band, Wil broke the silence.




Keeping his eyes forward, Gramps reached over and squeezed Wil's knee, patted it twice, then curled up against his window.

"We should be in Portage la Prairie in about an hour," Wil said, but from the soft snoring coming from Gramps’ side of the car, he guessed the old man didn't hear him.

The yellow divider lines disappearing under the front of the truck were hypnotizing. The early afternoon sun shone right in Wil's face. He pulled the visor down then leaned back into his seat.

I wonder what Gramps has waiting for me at the next stop, he thought. He had a feeling that Gran's grave wasn't the only thing he was supposed to see on their trip. But he was ready for whatever was up Gramps’ sleeve.

I hope.

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