I’ve been doing some soul-searching lately (uh-oh). I’m always trying to work on myself almost to a fault, really. Sometimes I need to remember to take a break and be more accepting of myself, but alas, here I am. This time I needed it, however. I’ve been struggling with what I think many people feel at one time or another. I have wanted something, things that I do not currently possess. I’ve also thought I may deserve said things and feel I’m being short-changed. This isn’t a good feeling, and last night I picked up a book I put down a while ago, and the chapter I left off on was all about being imprisoned by wanting. Unless we are Buddhist monks or have reached a higher plane in our journey, most of us want something now and again, but lately, it’s been consuming me—NOT GOOD.

Returning to the book Traveling Light by Max Lucado, I was reminded that this desire is robbing me of what I currently have. Pining for something I am not present in my marriage, job, family, nature, etc., etc. So dear readers, I am returning to writing a gratitude list. Three things every night that happened I am grateful for that day and repeating mantras to myself to kick this monkey. Just thought I’d share.

Any who… I am coming closer to the finish line for my next novel. I’ve sent the first draft off to my favorite beta-reader, and I am ecstatic about her feedback. She loves it! Yay! I thought I’d share a tiny peek at the first chapter with you. Can you guess what it’s about?

I hope you’re all doing well, living in the present, and looking around to enjoy what you have. The universe will take care of what is to come. Make sure to tell me that when you see me.

“I trust everyone. I just don’t trust the devil inside them.” -Troy Kennedy Martin

Fear is what fuels it. It gives it life, allowing it to linger, seeping into everything around you, ruining everything good and normal, and once evil’s possessed your life in the way it has mine, there is no escape hatch except one; at least that’s how it seemed to me. My years of blindness and flat-out refusals to believe only increased its strength. It took its time, killing everything around me and everything in me, and strangely, I still couldn’t see it, and I wouldn’t until I let go of my belief in the past and all that I ever knew to be real. The devil was so close and had been all along, and I never even knew it, but how could I when he was God to me? It felt like a bullet, one echoing shot that triggered a rockslide crushing us all when it came out. Summer, he destroyed once and then again. But my hate and denial, I fear, killed her most; I was convinced of it now—now that it was too late. When they met mine that day in the courtroom, I saw the tiniest glimmer of life in her eyes. The way we used to be was there, but only for a second, and I crushed it.

It soon killed me, too, over the years—the evil, leaving me a shell of nothing, and I figured I’d finish the job for her and me. It was the least that I could do. On the day of his sentencing, her face had become forever tattooed in my mind. Whenever I’d blink, it’s all that I’d see. I hadn’t seen her since that night on the island, our island—when we rode the Flying Horses, which we did at some point every summer, and it didn’t matter that we were older now.

We swore we’d always ride it, at least once, somehow trying to recreate that night when we were kids, both getting the brass ring at the same time, the night our sisterhood was sealed, or so we thought. If I’d known it would be our last ride, I’d have studied her face more, her movements, and everything she’d said. I’d have clung to it, but I didn’t know our world was about to turn on its head. I wondered if she knew it would the next day. Her world already had, and she kept it a secret. I’ll never know how she did. But maybe I couldn’t or wouldn’t see. I know that now but then, I hated her. With every ounce of my being, I despised her. Her corn-colored hair, turned-up nose, smirky smile, and how she pulled on her lip when thinking. The things I liked about her I then hated the most.

I tried my hardest not to look at her when the judge called for her to read her statement, feeling I’d burst into flames if I did. Everything about her sickened me, and I could not understand why she’d do this to him, to us, to everything. Still, I couldn’t stop loving her and missing her, loving us, and longing for before. Even that day, the truth was there, in all my hate and rage. I loved her, and I knew.