Tag Archives: Free stories

Two Sales on Read an Ebook Week

It’s Read an Ebook Week from March 2 to 8, and so two stories have been discounted at Smashwords in celebration. You can get the short story, A Maze of Cubicles, for free by using the sale code at checkout. Soul Cages is available at a 75% discount. I encourage you to wander over to their website to take a look at the ebooks available on sale from small presses and independent authors.

Later this week, for 3 days (March 6 to 8), Soul Cages will be discounted to 99 cents on Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. I’ll post real quick the links when that starts.

Have fun! L.M.

Soul Cages – Part Two. Broken Masks. 32.

We are now at the end of the excerpts for Soul Cages. After this week, excerpts of new stories will be posted on an irregular basis on Mondays. Basically, when a new story comes out, there will be an excerpt at some point. If you want to be notified of when that happens, you can sign up for the website’s RSS feed or e-mail notifications of blog posts.

Soul Cages

 L. M. May

Copyright © 2011 by L. M. May

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.

Part Two. Broken Masks

32

My cell phone woke me early Sunday morning. Aunt Letty.

“Hello?” I whispered.

“Are you all right, honey? I got your message.” My aunt’s familiar husky voice made me want to cry. But I made myself swallow hard a couple of times.

Letty said, “Tell me what’s wrong.” I heard Letty flick her lighter and begin to smoke.

I poured out the entire story, except for anything John had confided to me. I dared not risk having Aunt Letty blurt something out to Mom or Dad that would give John away, for Mom would tell his parents. And I could skip explaining about Trent because Letty already knew I’d been stupid enough to sleep with him.

At the end of it, I heard Letty blow out a stream of smoke. She said, “Dear Lord, what a mess. I’m so sorry this happened, honey.” A rattling of papers. “I’m scheduled to fly back to Charlotte August 9th. But I’m done teaching this class July 21st. Let me see … I can probably be on a plane to Albuquerque by July 25th. That’s a month from now.”

“Sounds good.” I wanted to dance around the room and hide under the covers at the same time. Seeing Aunt Letty would be wonderful, but it meant a guaranteed family fight. But I’d enjoy watching Letty rip Pastor Andervender to shreds with her sharp tongue.

“You did the right thing by calling me,” Letty said. “I don’t like the sound of this supposed miracle healer one bit—reminds me too much of that quack your parents let mess with Henry. Can John keep his dad away from Henry for a month?”

“Maybe. Andervender has made no attempt to heal Henry for over a week.”

“Good. With any luck it’ll stay that way until your parents come to their senses. They usually do.” Letty’s voice rose in anger. “Does Victor know that man called your ex-boyfriend?”

“No.”

“You must tell him. Your dad needs to know how his new ‘pastor’ operates.”

“Mom’s really set on being with Gena.”

“I’m sure.” I heard Letty light another cigarette. “Victor’s never been much for anti-Jew talk, or punishing teenagers for mistakes he made himself.” Letty cackled. “Ask him about his freshman year in college … anyway, be cautious around these First Beginnings people.”

“I am.”

“I’ll be there as soon as this damn class is over.” Letty coughed, long and gasping. When she got her breath back, she said, “I think this ‘Pastor’ Andervender has a screw loose. It’s not your fault his behavior is awful, no matter what anyone at that crazy church says.”

Letty’s words comforted me. But the sunlight outside my window had gone from weak to bright. I checked my clock. “Aunt Letty, I hate to end this call, but Mom and Dad will be waking up to get ready for church soon.”

“I’ll call Victor next and say I wanted to ask how the move went. Call me if anything changes. I love you.”

“Love you too.” I hung up.

************** End of Part Two. 32. *****************

It’s been a pleasure making this journey together, L.M.

Soul Cages is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Smashwords, iBookstore, Kobo, and other e-bookstores. A print edition is now available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through independent bookstores either in stock or through order (ISBN-13 is 978-0615870465).  Links can change over time, so click here to go to the main page for Soul Cages if any links don’t work.

Soul Cages – Part Two. Broken Masks. 31.

We are now drawing the near the end of the excerpts for Soul Cages. There will be one more post, next week, and then the posts will end. After that, various excerpts from new stories will continue to be posted on Mondays, but on an irregular schedule. There will definitely be new short stories and novels coming out in 2014, so you may want to sign up for the RSS feed or blog notifications so you know which Mondays have excerpts posted (the buttons are on the far left side of the website). Now on to the story…

Soul Cages

 L. M. May

Copyright © 2011 by L. M. May

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.

Part Two. Broken Masks

31

Mom and Dad were so tense at Saturday breakfast I wanted to take my plate of waffles and eat in my room instead. I envied Henry, for he didn’t recognize the silence between our parents as repressed anger, and escaped the table after gulping down a few bites.

I was the first to speak. “Um, I was wondering if we can get key copies made to the house and security doors today.”

“Sure,” Dad said.

Mom cut her waffle into tiny bits.

“Just in case there’s an emergency,” I continued, “could we have extra copies made that I could hang near the back and front doors? That way Henry would be able to get out even if he forgets where his keys are.”

“As long as someone can’t reach them from outside by smashing the back door glass, I can’t see why not.” Dad said and gave Mom a querying look.

Mom pretended not to see it.

Dad humphed. He said to me, “We’ll save up the money and get the double-cylinder locks replaced. Also, it’s going to be a month before we get cable and DSL lines installed. Money is tight at the moment.”

I thought I heard a note of reproach in Dad’s voice about money. Dad was feeling the pinch of Mom not working.

Mom pursed her mouth. “Well, there’d be installation money available now if someone hadn’t unnecessarily spent it all to get out of doing repairs.”

Dad glared at Mom. “John deserves to be paid for his hard work. I refuse to take advantage of him.”

Mom sucked in her breath and clenched her fork so hard the sinews in her wrist showed.

Dad nonchalantly jabbed two sausages off the serving plate and ate them.

I waited awhile. No one spoke. So I said, “What about a landline phone?”

“Not needed,” Dad said. “This family has three cell phones.”

I said, “But Henry—”

“Can use ours,” Dad said. He got up and put his plate in the dishwasher. “I’ve got to do some paperwork this morning in the home office.” He said to Mom, “You can go ahead and take care of the groceries. I’ll help out by going to the hardware store once I’m done.”

Mom slammed her fork and knife down. “We’re supposed to do errands as a family today.”

Dad eyed her. “I’ll eat anything, so having me go to the grocery store is a waste of time. Henry can stay here with me, and you and Marian can go and take your time.”

I saw Mom swallow her rage.

“Later,” Dad said and escaped to the home office before Mom could get her voice back.

I helped Mom clear the table. The bars on the kitchen window and back door made the kitchen feel dim. Impulsively I asked, “Will we get the bars removed?”

“Yes,” Mom said as she put away the syrup and butter. “Dad and I want to get an electronic security system when we can afford it.”

I couldn’t resist asking, “How about if I remove some of the bars? There’s a drill I could—”

No. There is crime here, though not as bad as the bars make it look. They need to stay until the security system is installed.

************** End of Part Two. 31. *****************

If you are reading this after February 3, 2014, you should be able to click here to go to the main information page of Soul Cages to find Part Two. 32.

Soul Cages is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Smashwords, iBookstore, Kobo, and other e-bookstores. A print edition is now available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through independent bookstores either in stock or through order (ISBN-13 is 978-0615870465).  Links can change over time, so click here to go to the main page for Soul Cages if any links don’t work.

Until next time, L.M.

Soul Cages – Part Two. Broken Masks. 30.

Hello, and welcome back. Here is this week’s section from Part Two of Soul Cages (PG-13).

Soul Cages

 L. M. May

Copyright © 2011 by L. M. May

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.

Part Two. Broken Masks

30

I hoped Dad would change his mind and come home at six, but he didn’t. Mom heated up frozen chicken casserole in the microwave. At six-fifteen we sat down to eat at the kitchen table.

Mom pushed the casserole noodles around on her plate instead of eating.

I took a deep breath. “Dad said he might run late this evening.”

Mom’s mouth quivered.

“Why?” Henry said.

“Dad said he needs to work late because of the software release coming up,” I said. “He said he needs to make up for lunch.”

Mom pushed her plate away.

“Why?” Henry said.

“Cause when people have a job, they have to work a certain number of hours each day. If you miss hours, you have to make the time up,” I said.

“Why?” Henry said with his mouth full.

“Don’t talk when you have food in your mouth,” Mom said. She shoved back her chair. “I’m going to go lie down for awhile. Henry, you can watch a show once you help Marian clear the table.” Mom’s voice was shaky.

Mom only got halfway down the hall before she started sniffling.

It made my head hurt. Mom had often cried when Dad ran late back in Alexandria, and I couldn’t blame her. There had been times Dad promised to take Mom out to a party or movie, and showed up too late. Clearly Dad was going back to his usual work habits.

So much for a new beginning.

I got Henry set up with a DVD on humpback whales, and then went to knock on Mom’s door.

“Come in,” Mom whispered. Her voice sounded husky from crying.

I turned the knob, bracing myself. I found Mom curled up on the bedspread. I turned on the lamp on Dad’s nightstand. “Would you like a cup of tea?”

Tears began to stream down Mom’s face as she sat up. “Marian, I was harsh with you earlier. I should have been more forgiving.” She wrung her hands together, and her diamond wedding band sparkled. “I want so much to make a new life here for us all. A more godly life.” She flung out her hands helplessly. “But I feel as if it’s slipping through my fingers.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“When I was a girl I dreamed of being a painter. But Uncle William explained that a business major would be much more practical—especially since my parents’ life insurance money was running out. He said I could do painting on the weekends. But then you and Henry were born, and there was no time.

“Oh, Marian.” Mom seized my right hand with chilled fingers. “Gena says they’d love for me to paint Biblical murals in the gathering area. I want us to lead a life closer to God’s will before it’s too late. I think the end times are upon us.”

I hid my consternation at Mom’s words.

Mom squeezed my hand. “I hate how people label Henry because he has Asperger’s. Telling me what he can and can’t do, even though he’s so bright.”

John’s earlier words echoed in my mind. I said, hesitating, “Aunt Letty gave me some of the best books on autism. Do you think you’d like to—”

“No,” Mom said, and let go of my hand. “It won’t be necessary. God is going to help us fix Henry’s affliction.”

I shivered at Mom’s usage of affliction. I’d hoped to persuade Mom to stop the healing attempts, but I’d have to wait until Mom was less agitated. Perhaps Andervender or Gena would do or say something that would change Mom’s feelings for them.

I felt compelled to say, “Sometimes no miracle comes. We ought to prepare ourselves in case it doesn’t.”

Mom shook her head. “God gives miracles to those who are worthy. We shall make ourselves worthy of his mercy.”

I didn’t like the way Mom looked at me, as if I were unclean.

“I want you to pray to God every night to forgive you for being unchaste and a liar. I’m sure you will be forgiven, if you only ask.” Mom smiled. “Well, I’m going to listen to the Gospel for an hour, then turn in early to bed. Don’t worry about the tea—I’ll get some if I need some.” She waved me away.

I shut the door as the reading of Revelation began to play. My stomach felt twisted into a tight knot.

I snuck into my bedroom, softly closed my door, and got out my cell phone. Then I hit the programmed number for Aunt Letty’s office in Charlotte back in North Carolina, and left a message for Letty to call me as soon as possible.

************** End of Part Two. 30. *****************

If you are reading this after January 27, 2014, you should be able to click here to go to the main information page of Soul Cages to find Part Two. 31.

Soul Cages is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Smashwords, iBookstore, Kobo, and other e-bookstores. A print edition is now available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through independent bookstores either in stock or through order (ISBN-13 is 978-0615870465).  Links can change over time, so click here to go to the main page for Soul Cages if any links don’t work.

See you next time, L.M.

Soul Cages – Part Two. Broken Masks. 29.

Here is this week’s section from Part Two of Soul Cages (PG-13).

Soul Cages

 L. M. May

Copyright © 2011 by L. M. May

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.

Part Two. Broken Masks

29

After Henry, John, and I slathered ourselves down with sunscreen, we got into John’s truck. In the enclosed space the sunscreen scent was overwhelming, bringing back memories of summers on the Outer Banks. But here in Albuquerque there was no ocean surf, no seagulls, no sand dunes.

Henry insisted on sitting next to the window, so I found myself in the middle seat between him and John. The truck’s cab was clean, the dashboard faded from the sunlight. I peeked into the back—various big tools and yard equipment (a weed whacker, shovels, rakes) were on racks, and storage boxes and toolboxes were lashed down. Even a lawn mower had been squeezed in.

The truck’s A/C was a welcome change from the swamp coolers as we drove to the park.

Henry bolted straight for the swings as soon as he was out of the truck. John and I hid from the heat under the trees. The park was rapidly turning into my only refuge from the house since I had neither a car nor anyone who could watch Henry for me. And to go to a different park was to risk Henry losing it by changing the one predictable loved activity in his new life.

I thought about the words I’d overheard Dad say earlier to Mom. “John, can you tell me more about the healings?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Anything. Mom and Dad told me a little about Luke, and Mrs. Girady and Mr. Rickmand.”

John sat down under the oak’s shade and stared at the Sandia Mountains. A variety of emotions passed across his face: sadness, wonder, confusion. I sat down on the cool grass as well, and waited.

John said, “Luke was dying. Make no mistake about that. With every passing day in the hospital, he got weaker despite the meds and treatments. His lungs kept filling up so that he couldn’t breathe and the fever wouldn’t come down. Then one afternoon he slipped into unconsciousness.”

Unseeing, John plucked at blades of grass. “Dad did a prayer of healing at Luke’s bedside that evening. There was no change in Luke’s condition right after. Mom took the shift from six to midnight to watch over Luke, and I took the midnight to six.”

He brushed the grass fragments off his fingers. “When Mom woke me up, there’d been no change, yet. I sat in the chair beside his bed and held his hand. It was burning up with fever. And then slowly, as I sat vigil, the fever seemed to fade. I thought I’d just gotten used to his palm being so hot. But near dawn Luke’s eyelids began to move. And then they opened, and he tried to say ‘water.’ His lungs were still full of fluid, so it was hard to understand him. It took months until he was back to full health. But the turning point had been that night.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but it sounds like coincidence to me.”

“Maybe.” John regarded me. “The possibility of Henry being healed is the major attraction for your dad to First Beginnings, isn’t it?”

I squirmed. “Yes.”

“And if there’s no healing, what then?”

“I … don’t know.”

“You said Henry was diagnosed when he was nine. Why is it after two years you know more about Asperger’s than your parents?”

I jumped up. My heart beat hard and fast. I recalled my parents’ words to Mrs. Brent. “They’re afraid of labeling and limiting Henry by learning stereotypes about Asperger’s Syndrome.”

“That’s utter bullsh—”

“It’s none of your business!” I strode away.

He called after me, “What happens to Henry after you’re gone?”

I paused in mid-stride, and then stalked onward to go push Henry on the swings. John’s questions had stung. Considering how messed up his parents were, he had no right making aspersions about mine.

John watched me, and no matter how I tried I couldn’t get his words to shut up in my head.

In the end, I went back to the oaks to finish the fight with him.

But before I could speak, John held up a calloused palm. He said, “I’m sorry I was harsh. It’s just … I’ve seen what happens when people demand a miracle to save them, instead of acting in the here and now.” He grimaced. “Part of the reason Luke ended up in the hospital was because Mom and Dad waited too long to get his pneumonia treated.”

Thinking of Luke and Henry, sadness flooded through me.

John got to his feet in alarm. “Forget what I asked. Let me tell you about Mrs. Girady and Mr. Rickmand.”

I took a couple of deep breaths to steady myself, and nodded.

John dug his hands into his pockets. “I got to witness those healings up close since I do yard work for both of them. After Luke’s recovery, Dad started doing prayers for healing after the Sunday church service, and would then do healing prayers at home visits. For many months, nothing of note happened. Both Mrs. Girady and Mr. Rickmand were home-bound, so Dad would visit them in turn each Sunday.”

He checked my face to see if I was still upset. But my urge to weep was gone. Relieved, he went on. “Neither healing was spontaneous. More like watching a film rewind over a few weeks’ time. Mr. Rickmand’s recovery came first, this past November. Then in February came Mrs. Girady’s.

“I could actually feel it happening as I held their hands during farewell prayers.” John flexed his hands. “Before the turning point, at each visit I found Mr. Rickmand—and later Mrs. Girady—more drained of life. Then one day, I’d come and find all had changed, life was flowing into them instead of out. Both of them swear it wasn’t natural and that Dad’s prayers made the change.”

Despite my best efforts, my skepticism showed with a raised eyebrow and curl of lip.

Instead of being offended, John laughed. “You, a ‘lowly’ member of First Beginnings, dare to doubt me, Pastor Andervender’s son? Now I know who to turn to if I need to be taken down a peg or two.” Then he sobered at a memory. “I’m glad they’re better. Mr. Rickmand used to give Sydney rose petals from his garden for her to make sachets with.”

It always comes back to Sydney. Were you in love with her? I almost blurted the question out, but caught myself in time.

A gust of wind from the Sandias shook the grass blades so that they quivered like a tiny green sea.

John lay down in the shade on his back, and stared up at the sky, his hands folded over his chest. His fingers and the backs of his hands had tiny white scars from doing yard work.

I jerked my gaze away to trace the dark green lines of pine trees at the top of the Sandias. Then I called Henry over, and started therapy work with him while John watched.

First Henry and I did hopscotch-type exercises with rectangular squares set up in different patterns, followed by tossing a tennis ball back forth with alternating hands. Henry endured both without complaint, because he knew his favorite activity would come next—the Frisbee throw.

Once the ball toss was done, Henry ran for my backpack and pulled out the Frisbee. He ran back with it and said, “Pretend discus throw … please.”

“Oh, okay.” I positioned myself as if the Frisbee were a discus, swung my body as Coach Lucas had taught me, and threw the Frisbee as far as I could.

John ran by us to catch it, but was too late. He picked the Frisbee off the ground, and sent it back in a fast arc that had Henry humming in excitement.

I caught it, barely, and sent it back as fast as I could. This time he caught it out of the air.

I said to Henry, loud so John would hear, “Your turn.” John threw it to Henry, slow and steady, so that Henry almost caught it.

Henry picked it up, and tossed it to me. We started a three-way game of Frisbee toss that went on until Henry sat down, indicating he’d had enough. For Henry’s amusement, John and I began a duel of fast high throws to see who would miss first.

John made a dive at the Frisbee that resulted in him tumbling across the grass. I ran up to make sure he was okay, but before I reached him, he called out, “Go long!” He threw the Frisbee past me so that I had to run after it to try and catch it. I missed, but the hard run had been exhilarating after being cooped up in the house.

I noticed that I was less out of breath from the altitude, and that the hot dry air wicked away sweat. Which meant we needed to take a water break.

We returned to the oaks to get bottled water out of the backpacks. Henry complained about being too hot, so I poured half the water of an extra bottle over his head. Then Henry insisted on pouring water on my ponytail.

That started a water fight between Henry and me—with John watching, amused—until Henry and I joined forces and doused John with a newly opened water bottle.

We were all dripping and laughing when my cell phone went off. John stopped in mid-laugh, and soberly looked at his watch.

Mom said to me, “It’s after five-thirty. Gena called wanting to know where John is. Come home.”

“Fun’s over,” I said to them. I felt a pang of disappointment. Despite the heat, the park was more pleasant than the house.

************** End of Part Two. 29. *****************

If you are reading this after January 20, 2014, you should be able to click here to go to the main information page of Soul Cages to find Part Two. 30.

Soul Cages is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Smashwords, iBookstore, Kobo, and other e-bookstores. A print edition is now available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through independent bookstores either in stock or through order (ISBN-13 is 978-0615870465).  Links can change over time, so click here to go to the main page for Soul Cages if any links don’t work.

Cheers, L.M.