Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday's Opening Scene from Moon's Choice by Janet Lane Walters

Janet Lane Walters

Chapter 1

            Faith sat at the kitchen table and cradled a mug of tea.  Had she made the right decision?  Selling the farm gave her a chance to finish her education and provide for the children’s future.  She had seen a house in town near the community college and had enrolled to start the fall semester.  The house would be hers tomorrow.  There was money in the bank for the children’s education.  She should be dancing not feeling sad.
            The cup thudded on the table.  What would Jimmy think?  She wished she could ask him but he’d been dead for a year.  She also wished he had loved her as deeply as she had loved him.  Not that she resented the marriage.  He had been the man she was destined to love.
            Her aunt entered the kitchen from the porch.  “How are the children?”
            “The twins and Patty are in bed and Buddy’s reading.”  Faith sighed.
            “Child, you’re doing the right thing.”
            Faith nodded.  “I can’t help thinking about the land being in Jimmy’s family since they came to this country.  What if one of the children resents leaving?  One of the might want to be a farmer?”
            Grace Lowe poured a cup of coffee.  “Haven’t seen any of them showing a love for the land.  They’re young.  They’ll adapt.”
            Faith laughed.  “Maybe better than their mother.”
            Grace sat at the table.  “How would it have been until you lost the land to the taxman?  You sold the stock and the machinery to pay him.  You’ve the chickens, one milk cow and the kitchen garden.  Sold your ring last year to buy school clothes for Buddy and the twins.  House is falling apart.”
            “I know but I still wonder what Jimmy would think.”
            “No question there.  About the money and how much drinking he and his buddies could manage.”  The older woman walked to the screen door.  “Moon’s full tonight.  You might catch a glimpse of him in the moon pool at the Lodge.”  She dangled her car keys.  “Take these.  I’m here in case one of the kids wakes.”
            Should she, Faith wondered.  Why not?  The pool in the maze had shown him once.  She checked herself in the age-speckled mirror.  “I won’t be long.”
            “Take your time.”
            When Faith pulled into the parking lot at Quinnesec Lodge she frowned.  She’d forgotten this was the day the last group of guests arrived and were served dessert in the garden near the maze.  A wave of sadness slipped around her.  Soon there would be a different kind of guest here.  Instead of vacationers, business people would come for retreats and conferences.
            She left the car and stood in the shadows cast by a large oak tree.  A group of people wandered past.  Their laughter over the legend made Faith want to confront them but she refrained lest she be identified as an intruder.
            The legend was true.  On the night of a full moon a seeker could see the image of their true love in the water.  Ten years ago she had seen Jimmy.
            A few more people strolled from the garden.  One of the staff dimmed most of the lanterns while others gathered the remains of the welcome party.  Once they left Faith slipped into the garden and reached the entrance to the maze.  She ducked inside the boxwood hedge and caught her breath.  Did she remember the path to the center?
            She closed her eyes and envisioned the route.  Inhaling deeply she chose the second from the right of the five openings and made her way along the gravel path.  Clouds skimmed across the moon forcing her to stop several times.  When she reached the end of the path she crossed the grass to the pool.
            Faith knelt on the stone-lined edge.  For a short time she wondered how the area had appeared before the Lodge had been built.  Trees would have surrounded the clearing.  Perhaps animals had come for water.  There would have been wild flowers growing near the pone.  And on the night of the full moon an Indian maiden had seen the face of her true love.
            Her thoughts calmed.  She brought memories of her dead husband to the fore.  “Jimmy, I had to sell the farm.  I’ve already sold everything I could to pay the taxes.  When the children were ill, without the kindness of strangers, I would have lost them.”
            She bent her head and gazed into the pool.  Moonlight sparkled on the dark water.  Slowly they formed the face of the man she had loved.  Tears trickled over her cheeks and splashed on the image.  The features changed.  She covered her mouth to stifle a gasp.
            The man she saw was blond.  She didn’t know him yet he seemed vaguely familiar.  Perhaps the set of his eyes or the stubborn chin sparked a fleeting memory of someone she had known.
            What did it mean?  She had already seen her true love in the pool.  Was it possible to find true love a second time?  Not wanting to consider the idea she rose and rushed along the twisting path toward the garden.
            When she reached her aunt’s car she sat and shook.  What did the vision mean?  She had no time to search for a particular face among strangers.  The moment her churning emotions settled she drove home.
            Her aunt waited on the porch.  “You look as scared as a raccoon caught in the hen house.”
            “I saw Jimmy.  His face changed into a stranger’s.”
            “I’m glad.”
            “Why?  I loved Jimmy with everything I was.  How could I ever love another man?”
            The older woman glanced at the sky.  “Moon’s choice.  You’re too young to remain alone.  I believe the moon offers you another chance.  Don’t make my mistake.  There’s nothing wrong with finding love again.”  She opened the screen door.  “I’m for bed.  The imps will be up with the sun.”
            Faith nodded.  “I’ll sit awhile.”
            After her aunt left, Faith sat on the edge of the porch.  She stared at the full moon.  Though she knew the time to move on had arrived she felt edgy.  She wasn’t sure she was ready or even wanted another love.

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