AUTHOR Bio and Links:
“Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?” (J.A. June 15, 1808)
That I reside in the Victorian village of Monrovia, California; a mere two miles from my place of employment. A local hospital where I spend most daylight hours in the operating room as a scrub nurse.
That I am a native Californian, having been born in Glendale, and spent most of my life here with a relatively short span of years in Reno, Nevada where I attended school. Returning after graduation I have remained in sunny SoCal.
That I was widowed some time ago. That I have very domestic hobbies like sewing, cooking, baking, candy making and cake decorating. Oh, yes I write, too. Mike, my late husband and teacher, taught me that writing has to be treated like a job so every day no matter how tired I am I edit, research one or more projects and write.
That I have finished the sequel to The Man Who Loves Jane Austen with Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen; have started a story of reincarnation that takes place in Pasadena, CA and am making notes for a ghost story set in San Francisco. Three stories running around in my head and often colliding but I untangle the debris and continue on.
There you have a few of my nothings.
Days of Future Past
by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Things are not always what they seem.
Fate sometimes conspires to right a decades-old wrong. The 6.8 earthquake that strikes Southern California one warm March night is the fateful event that brings family therapist Ann Hart and trauma specialist Ted McConaughy back together.
Twenty years after his betrayal caused the cancellation of their wedding, Ted finds himself in need of Ann’s help. The intense, recurring dreams that are invading his sleep are thought to be memories of past lives. And hypnotherapy, one of Ann’s specialties, may be the cure he seeks.
Their journey defies time and reason, forcing them to re-evaluate their capacity for love and forgiveness.
Sunday, March 9, Now
Night fell over the arroyo, and the lights in the garden twinkled to life. The moon, glowing with a halo portending the possibility of rain, rose in the western sky. A light breeze stirred the ferns and mosses that framed the thatched roof cottage casting shadows on the walls, making it appear as though someone was home.
Ann smiled at the memory of Alex, her husband of four years, rushing into the house with the charming miniature bungalow. He’d been like a small child bringing in a stray puppy he’d found on his way home from school. He insisted it had called out to him from the display window of a shop in Silver Lake, and he simply had to stop and take a look at it. Carrying it carefully into the house, he said it was the final piece for their woodland backyard, a fairy house. The woman in the shop had told him a story about a young groom captured by an ogre only a few days before his wedding. His bride-to-be begged for help from the garden fairies who did, in fact, bring him home in time for their nuptials. Ever after, the newlyweds set out food and gifts for the fairies in gratitude. “So,” the woman continued, “if the garden sprites feel welcome at your home, they will always protect you.”
As Ann turned away, something caught her eye. She peered into the dim evening light almost putting her face on the glass. She was sure she’d seen a figure move inside the fairy house, not a shadow but an actual figure. She laughed at herself. Amazing what your mind could imagine, thinking she actually saw a fairy.
The garden was beautiful, everything they had hoped, especially at night. The moonflower vines with their white morning glory-like blossoms now wove their way through the tree branches. The moonbeams caught by the flowers created an almost iridescent glow. It was magical. She gritted her teeth, still angry that Alex never got to see it like this.
It was well past lunchtime when Ann and Alex stood on the patio to look at their handiwork. The overcast had yet to clear, but the cloud cover kept the January morning cool and mild making the physical labor of creating the woodland landscape fairly comfortable.
Alex slipped his arm around her waist, “Well, we did it.”
“It looks so magical. Imagine how it’ll look at night with the lights.”
Alex leaned over and kissed her. “You’re the magical one, my witchy little witch.”
All her life Ann had had the weird ability to know when things were going to happen, not hunches or feelings, but knowledge. Somehow she just knew things. It wasn’t controlled, and it only happened occasionally. The first time Alex witnessed it was when they started a day trip to Oak Glen for the apple harvest. Ann told him that he was going to get a traffic ticket. He laughed saying he hadn’t gotten a ticket since he was a teenager. When he got pulled over that day, he decided she was a witch. After he’d seen the ‘gift,’ as her mother called it, in action a few more times, he bought her a heather witch’s broom that still held a place of honor at the fireplace.
“So, does that make you my warlock?”
“No way, I don’t do anything magical.”
Ann gave him a very wicked grin. “Depends on your definition of magic.”
“Really? Nice to know I’ve still got it.”
“Oh, you’ve definitely got it.” She kissed him.
“I think we should christen the garden with champagne,” Alex suggested.
“You don’t mean smash a bottle over it, do you?”
“Well, we could, but I’m thinking that it might be more fun to drink it.”
He turned her in his arms and kissed her nose. “I love doing this everyday stuff with you.” Then he kissed her more thoroughly. “I love doing everything with you,” he whispered.
Leaning her head on his chest she sighed. “Me, too.”
“You, too? You like to do things with you, too?” he teased. Feigning exasperation, she pretended to try and push away from him. But he held firm and wiped a dirty gloved hand down her cheek. “Boy, you sure could use a shower.”
“Are you insinuating that I’m a dirty girl?”
“I certainly hope so,” he said with a leering grin.
“Sir,” she said pretending to be shocked, “what kind of girl do you take me for? I’m a good girl, I am.”
“Yes,” he said with a raised eyebrow, “and I know just how good.”
He picked her up and whirled her around then set her down gently. Just as he bent to kiss her, the piercing sound of the phone threatened to end their romantic moment.
“Let’s ignore it,” Ann whispered.
Alex glanced at the phone then kissed her. But as soon as the voice of Bill Wyman called out Alex’s name from the answering machine, the mood was broken completely.
“Hey guy, we have a plane down in the Sierra foothills. I’ll pick you up on the way to the airport if you’re there.” There was a pause. “Alex?”
Alex looked at Ann, silently asking how she felt about his leaving at that moment in time.
One of his passions was flying, and they’d had the plane, a Grumman Tiger, for three years. Bill Wyman was Alex’s flight commander in the Civil Air Patrol, and a downed plane meant search and rescue.
The question was still in his eyes. So, pushing the disappointment down as far as she could, Ann reminded herself that she was married to an amazingly generous man who wanted to help people. How could she say ‘don’t go?’
She smiled and shook her head. “Go … I’ll take a bath and put on my sexiest nightgown.”
“Never mind the nightgown,” he said, winking as he picked up the phone.
“Put the champagne on ice, I’ll be back early,” Alex said before he left. “And you might hold up on the bath, too. We can take one together later. You know, to conserve water.”
“Yeah, to conserve water,” Ann said with a playful wink, “good idea.” She couldn’t help but giggle. Sometimes it felt like they were teenagers, and after four years of marriage he could still make her giddy.
Then he held her in a passionate embrace, making the long lingering kiss the last time he ever touched her and the last time she saw him. The fairies had failed them.
Staring out at her fairy garden, Ann rubbed her eyes dry before tears could fall onto her cheeks. She leaned her forehead against the cold glass of the window. He’d been gone more than six years, why did she keep doing this to herself? Why couldn’t she get past it? She knew the clinical term was denial, but it was too hard to accept. They never found Alex or the plane. Her hope from the beginning was that he might be living in some mountain village with no memory of himself. Was it really so awful that she wanted to believe he was still alive? Any psychiatrist worth his salt would say yes. As a psychiatrist herself, she had to admit that this was definitely denial and not hope. Hope had been important in the beginning. The hope that he’d landed in some out-of-the-way place and wasn’t able to call, the hope that some Good Samaritan had taken care of him, the hope that he was fine. But eventually, hope had to turn to reality.
She wasn’t sure why she still harbored the fantasy when she knew it was a fantasy. When they didn’t find the plane after the spring thaw, after all the snow was gone, hope started to dwindle, but she wasn’t prepared to give up. So, that first summer she spent weeks driving from town to town all over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On the western slopes, the eastern slopes, in the valleys. She’d even found a few towns that weren’t on any of the maps she was using, but no one anywhere had seen him. No one had seen the plane. She knew then that he was gone but not having his body made it hard to accept. No casket to say good-bye to, no grave to visit. Not that she would visit a grave. She couldn’t stand of thought of seeing proof of his death carved in stone.
She took a step back away from the window and blew out a deep breath.
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