The idea that we have control over our lives is an illusion. In reality, life directs us where we are meant to be. We are its puppets with the appearance of freedom while we are led along. The one thing we can control is our reactions and how we treat others. The rest is unessential.
La idea de que nosotros tenemos control sobre nuestras vidas es una ilusión. En realidad, la vida nos dirige donde estamos destinados a ser. Somos sus marionetas, con la apariencia de libertad mientras nos guían. Lo único que podemos contorlar son nuestras reacciones y cómo tratamos a los demás. El resto no es esencial.
Part 1 Paper Heart Break
She was quirky and adorable with shining auburn curls and animated grey eyes. Typically she wore band T-shirts and ripped jeans, professed her love for the Beatles to whomever would listen and gesticulated with wild abandon when she became excited. The first time I spied her across the quad she was discussing the works of Dante, her arms flinging akimbo in her passionate defense of the man and his works. I had to meet this spirited woman who looked like an angel and argued like a sinner trying to get through the gates of heaven, so I joined her group and contradicted her. She turned those intelligent eyes on me and told me with cool appraisal, despite her swinging arms and hands, I was an under-appreciative ass. I nearly lost an eye. Best first date ever.
It wasn’t long before I lost my heart, too, and I was ready to commit. On our wedding day, she gave me a folded heart with four words: my heart is yours. Over the following weeks, months and years, she showered me with paper hearts and soon our home was a-flower with the fruits of our love. A child, we decided, would complete our family tree. Two miscarriages and a still-born child later, and we stopped trying. She retreated into herself, and her vivacious grey eyes dulled. Her movements stilled, and she sat for long hours staring out the window. It had been over a year since she’d given me a heart, and I mourned its absence.
Guilt bridged the gap between us. I worked longer hours and came home after she was abed, unable to bear her sadness and the loss of her love. Only the hearts remained to mock what we once shared. I threw them in the trash when it became clear she no longer trusted me with her heart. If possible, she shrank further into herself until the light I called home all but dimmed. I moved out the next day, grief stricken and lost. When she didn’t call or seek me out, I knew there was only one way to help her heal. I had to let her go.
When the lawyer handed me her response a week later, my knees buckled and I wept. For within the confines of the letter-sized manila envelope, lay a signed and dated folded heart. She had scrawled a message in the white spaces between the legal jargon severing our union.
(C) Sara Ackerman, 2017
A white sheet of paper and fourteen folds was all it took. Once completed, I’d write little notes on each folded heart, a reminder of a happy event we shared or one of the many reasons I loved him. He placed them on the mantle, his desk, dresser and on the living room bookcases. Hearts littered every free surface; we were surrounded by our love.
Then one day there were fewer hearts, and only a handful remained on his desk, almost hidden by piles of paperwork. Soon even those holdouts had disappeared. He worked later and spent less time at home. I still folded hearts for him; I loved him all the same. They remained in an old shoe box, though, hidden and shamed, for no message marked their unblemished exterior. No surface awaited their arrival.
When he moved out I folded heart after heart until my fingers cracked and blood from countless paper-cuts stained the pristine hearts red with my grief. Divorce papers arrived soon after, and in my anger, I burned every heart I had made. I watched as the flames licked higher and higher, consuming the fragile paper until only ashes remained to swirl up and around me, falling on my cheeks and eyelashes. Only after all the hearts had been turned to ash and the fire had died did I sign his papers.
(C) Sara Ackerman, 2017
It was a silver medallion no bigger than a shilling. At one end of the coin someone had punched a hole into the metal and looped a silver chain through it. Alfred peered closer at the marking on the disc and sent a questioning stare to his friend. “St. Christopher?”
“The patron saint of travelers and a fitting gift for an adventurous young man. May it guide you and keep you safe in your journeys.”
He stared at the engraved image of the stooped figure of St. Christopher, his gnarled hand clutching a staff and a child clinging to his back. The edges had been worn to a smooth finish that rolled like polished glass between his fingers, and he knew he held a cherished memento. “Are you sure you don’t want to keep it? This seems like an odd talisman for a Protestant minister to have. Perhaps it has sentimental value for you?”
William regarded the tiny piece of silver in his outstretched hand and took it into his own, running his fingers over the smooth edges. “My mother was a Papist from the Scottish Highlands. After her family was evicted from their land, they immigrated to England, where my mother met my father, William Blackburn, Senior, also a minister. My mother loved my father, so when they married, she converted and was a dutiful Protestant the rest of her life. But she didn’t give up all of her beliefs.”
The metal disc spun in the air before them. “Before I left for France, she gave this to me with the promise it would keep me safe. She said even though we would never see each other again in this life, the medallion would reunite us when it was time.”
“If you will never see each other again, how can you be reunited?”
The disc stopped spinning, and William looked at him, a sad smile on his face. “My father died while I was in the war. When I returned, I learned through interviews with my old neighbors that my mother left home after my father died. She was coming to find me in France but never made it. For years I have wished to find where she might be.”
Grabbing Alfred’s shoulders and turning, William pointed off into the distance at the vague shape of a building. It was difficult to see through the rain and fog, but he observed the rising profile of a humble bell tower. “A church?”
“I took a walk yesterday after the noon meal and found myself there. I rambled into the courtyard and behind the building, where I found a small graveyard. I was tired and discouraged. My quest to find my mother seemed hopeless, and in pursuit of her whereabouts I had lost my way, becoming someone I no longer recognized. With your words ringing in my ears and the evidence of my failure a heavy weight on my soul, I fell to my knees and prayed. The medallion around my neck warmed. I grasped it from my chest, looked up, and saw it. Her grave.”
“Whose grave? Your mother’s?”
“Yes. As impossible as it seems, I found my mother’s grave among the other headstones of the tiny church.”
“You were reunited,” he whispered, awed by the strange turn of events leading his friend to this location. “What a coincidence!”
“Or an act of God. However you want to put it, I found her. My search is over, and here I will stay.”
Stop on by my Facebook party tonight to celebrate the release of my second book, Silence is Golden. I’ll be on from 5:00-5:30 (EST) talking to readers and answering questions. Come with questions or things to chat about because I’ve never done a book release like this before and I’m nervous the conversion will taper and then disappear!
Really, though, I surprise myself on occasion and am super excited to talk to readers tonight and would love it if you stopped on over for a chat.
Now that I’ve polished off ye auld bullhorn, I’m excited to announce the release of my second book, Silence is Golden!
SIlence is Golden is the 2nd book of the Westby Sisters series. It’s a historical romance with a bit of a twist 🙂
Ever since Evelyn Westby was cursed, she hasn’t been able to speak to anyone outside her family. That hasn’t stopped men from seeking her favor, especially the handsome and eligible Lord Alexander Newgate. But when her sister elopes and her betrothal is then canceled, Evie will do anything to win back her fiancé, even travel to war-torn France to find the gypsy who cursed her.
Alfred Coombes takes his fate into his own hands when he quits his employment to follow the call of adventure. On the road, he meets Lady Evelyn Westby and sees she needs a protector. Sacrificing his own journey, he becomes her guardian. Treacherous weather and a sinister smuggler…
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