Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

SONG OF SUGAR SANDS
Friday, August 23, 2019 by DEBRA COLEMAN JETER

PLEASE WELCOME

DEBRA COLEMAN JETER

to

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY

 

EXCERPT FROM SONG OF SUGAR SANDS

 

The next person to cross the yard was a grown man—a parent, perhaps. He wore a plain black mask covering only his eyes and nose. Sparse, scraggly growth of a reddish-blonde hue adorned a weak chin. I glanced past him in search of his child, but none was in sight.

I shivered with foreboding, then scoffed at my fear. His kid was probably just lagging behind. A group of children in the next yard laughed and chased after each other, the contents of a small witch’s bag tumbling onto the lawn. None of them appeared to be connected to the masked man.

I shook off my premonition. Surely the general eeriness of the holiday was working on my imagination. When he showed no sign of slowing his pace, I took a step backward and started to close the door. The man caught the door with his foot and shoved it open.

A scream froze in my throat as he pushed inside. He was broad-shouldered and strong. My heart banged in terror. I found a voice, though it didn’t sound much like my own. “What do you want—who are you?”

“I just want to talk to you. Give me a little cooperation and you won’t get hurt.”

Like a nightmare where my feet felt glued to the floor, I found myself unable to move or even scream. The din of happy children sounded farther away.

“All right.” My voice came out in a raspy squeak. “I’ll cooperate. Do you want money? We don’t have much, but—"

“I don’t want your money. I just want you to stay out of my life.”

He had mixed me up with someone else, I realized with some relief. I only had to make him see his mistake. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never seen you before in my life.” Although I could see only the lower part of his face, I would recognize him if I knew him … or would I? Could he be someone from church—had he been stalking me?

“You know Sybil, don’t you?”

The light dawned. “You’re—you’re Bradley?”

“That’s right. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I will if I have to.” He stood so close to me I could smell his warm breath … something like garlic.

Sudden fury supplanted my terror as I thought of the marks on Sybil’s slender throat and shoulders. “Is that what happened to Sybil? Did you have to hurt her?” My voice shook only a little as I willed myself to be strong, to get through this somehow and then to find a way to help Sybil once and for all.

“That’s none of your business, now is it? Which is exactly the reason for this little visit—to make sure that, in the future, you keep your pretty little nose where it belongs.” He pushed hard on the tip of my nose, and Sybil’s bruises flashed through my mind. If this man was capable of such cruelty toward Sybil, whom he supposedly cared about ... what might he do to me?

Though my legs trembled, I stood my ground. My heart had moved into my throat and pulsed wildly. I would not be bullied by this—this pitiful excuse for a man. With an effort, I faced him as if I were the one in control of the situation. He was only a man—a flawed, fallible man with dirty fingernails.

He railed at me. “Who do you think you are anyway? Putting ideas about college into Sybil’s head, making her think she’s better than me, making her think she can walk out on me any time she likes.”

In that instant, I saw the little boy inside—scared behind the mask, afraid of losing Sybil. Fear engendered violence, though, and I quavered. Summoning the firmest voice I could manage and hoping he could not detect the tremor beneath, I said, “This is a free country the last I heard.” As I spoke, I thought perhaps this was the kind of thing he might have said himself, the kind of thing he would understand.

“Don’t patronize me.” His lip curled. “What you don’t seem to understand is that I’m the only one who knows what’s best for Sybil. I’m the one who loves her, who’s gonna be there for her day in and day out. Not you with your high and mighty words of advice.”

“I may not be there day in and day out,” I said, practically spitting the words at him. “But at least I’m not putting any bruises on her!”

So fast I could not have ducked even if I’d anticipated what was about to happen, he struck the side of my face—hard. “That’s just a taste of what you’re going to get if you don’t back off,” he said. “I’ll promise you that.” He wheeled on his heel and left me alone.

The trembling I’d been resisting overcame me, and I collapsed into a heap on the floor, shaking so hard my teeth chattered. After a time, I lifted a hand to my face where he had struck me. My cheek was hot and wet, and for a second I thought I felt blood. I stared at my fingers. Not red. Then I tasted the salt on my hand and realized I was not bleeding. I was crying. I rose and moved dazedly to the telephone. I picked up the receiver to call Peter, then hung up.

ABOUT SONG OF SUGAR SANDS

A deeply committed young man falls in love with the beautiful but troubled Acadia, who knows herself too selfish, too sinful, and too skeptical in her faith to marry a preacher.

 SONG OF SUGAR SANDS recounts Acadia’s struggle to come to terms with issues of faith, while also telling the story of Peter and Acadia’s falling in love and the traumatic first year of their marriage. When one of her students attempts suicide after confiding her problems in Acadia, Acadia almost quits.  Can she find what she needs to keep on trying, or has she made too many mistakes already?

ABOUT DEBRA COLEMAN JETER

Debra Coleman Jeter has published in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her first novel, The Ticket, was a finalist for a Selah Award. Her short story, “Recovery,” won first prize in a competition sponsored by Christian Woman; and her book “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson” was a finalist in the USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards. 

www.debracolemanjeter.com

https://www.amazon.com/Debra-Coleman-Jeter/e/B00UDTPPC6%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

 

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Comments

Debra Jeter From Clarksville, TN At 8/23/2019 7:20:13 PM

Thanks, Linda, for having me on your blog today and to everyone who checked out the excerpt. I'd love to hear from you.

Nikki Wilbanks From TN At 8/23/2019 10:17:43 AM

So excited for the release of this one!

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