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Chapter 1

Welcome.” I looked up to see a casualty from the seventeenth century glowering with muddy-colored eyes at me, or more precisely, the dead Catharine Zimmer.

As our glances seemed frozen upon each other, my body descended slowly down, down, down. “Am I going to Hell?” I screamed.

He shook his head and held out his hand, which felt like a rubbery, wet eel. “No, Catherine. We’re on a beach, and the sand is wet.”

Once I felt more secure, (though how does one feel secure when one is dead?) I looked again at the man. Breeches and a waistcoat, probably black in their day, had faded to gray. Tattered muslin hung in place of a shirt. His forehead towered like a snowdrift blunted by a plow. A long greasy rope of a braid hung down his back. Red torn stockings exposed most of his toes. Bile rose up in my throat when I glimpsed at the grime layered under his toenails.

Cold and damp distracted me from the visage in front of me, and the desire for warmth soon consumed every thought. “I’m dead! Why can’t get warm?” I complained.

“It is part of the condition you’ve embarked upon. We all must endure it. My Christian name is Radulf.” He bowed gallantly. “You are to begin your journey here.”

“By the ocean? Is this the ocean on earth or somewhere else? Are we on another planet? What is this place called?”

“Shush, Catharine, listen and watch.”

 

“How long have you been here?” I asked him taking another hard look at his shabbiness.

“About an hour.”

“No, I mean wherever you call this, this...” It looked like earth, but it didn’t look like earth. “Place.”

He whisked a lock of hair off his forehead. My lips pursed on their own accord. I tried figuring out the math of this man’s apparent sentencing. He probably died in the 1600’s so he probably had been roaming for a good 400 years. My body trembled even stronger as I contemplated whether my demise would be the same or even worse.

“We’re caught betwixt the cosmos as our punishments mete out our intended sufferings. Anguish and I have been companions these last three-hundred and thirty-four years.”

I gasped. Though I barely comprehended his high English, I understood. Tears sprung out of my eyeballs. “You mean I’m to be here for that long?”

“Some are here even longer.” He pulled out a leather pouch, and unwrapped it to reveal a clay pipe and dried leaves. His grubby hands stuffed the pipe and it lit as if from some invisible lighter. Inhaling and puffing, his expression grew thoughtful. He could have been having a casual smoke before dinner. Though his clothing looked ancient, I figured he must have died only in his fifties or sixties since few wrinkles marred his countenance.

“Are you my guardian angel?” I had always figured my guardian angel was less than exemplary, and this man seemed aptly dressed for the part.

He guffawed. “Hardly. Haven’t you seen pictures of angels?”

Sure, I’ve seen paintings of angels by Michelangelo, Raphael, even Leonardo da Vinci, but we were always taught angels didn’t really look like the images in art. In fact, one teacher said they didn’t even have bodies, yet sometimes appeared in human form as messengers to us.

“So, if you’re not my angel, why are you here? Or is this just where you do all your time here, like prison, and occasionally someone, like me, pops up and interrupts your, whatever you call it?”

“Watch!” He pointed as a wave carried into shore a sunflower starfish curling its tentacles. Back into the ocean, the weakened water retreated, and the starfish relaxed its arms. Whoosh, another wave washed in, pushing the echinoderm closer to me. I bent down to retrieve it, but the next wave snatched it away from my grasp. I stood up and the man stood watching me. He waved his arms up into the air as if beckoning some far off person. As quickly as the starfish disappeared, we were transported to another beach. Whoosh, the ocean coughed up the same sea star. I recognized it because of the black line, like a minus sign, at its center.

“The ocean has many lessons to teach,” Radulf said. “You ask how we’re connected. My uncle left me a tidy fortune, allowing me the luxury to sail and write about my experiences. As a child I was lured into composing words onto paper, yet as I grew, it waned. Like you, I squandered the gold.”

“It seems so preposterous.” I was still reeling from the heavenly court proceedings where the stories of a dictator, nurse, and movie director somehow had something to do with me. How could the gaps in my own life create such craters in the histories of others?

“It does? You, in your century, flick on lights instead of burn candles, drive horseless carriages, and fly in the belly of steel birds, and yet you cannot conceive how the ideas or the words of one person can change the course of history, even for one?”

I shrugged and shook my head. Where was he going with this? I had nothing to do with automobiles, electricity, or the Wright Brothers.

From inside his vest he procured a book. “Read this.”

“It’s a novella.” I grew hopeful. “Will I enter my eternal rest when I finish reading it?”

“Catharine, you’re not living up to your lineage.” He backed away, his face beginning to fade. “You may use any of the ideas for your opus.”

“What?” Gone before he could answer.

My earthly journey was finished. It was no longer feasible to write. What did he mean?

A craggy bank had long since backed itself away from the ocean’s assault. I climbed over huge boulders and perched myself on one. Old English filled the pages inside the worn leather covers. Rain spattered down, poking into the ocean like hole-punchers. The dampness increased the chill in my body. Worse, droplets poured into my eyes, making it difficult to read. I wiped my face repeatedly, but the words were blurry. Still, I tried. Reading Shakespeare was like reading a different language, but The Travels of Radulf Langley transported me to another universe, one in which I couldn’t decipher its language. I set it down and looked around.

A cherubic-looking black woman, with wiry hair that formed a cloud around her head, was walking toward me. She glowed in a white tunic, golden sandals, and wings, taller than she. Like a duck, she was impervious to the raindrops.

My angel? My guardian angel? I had spoken often to her, yet as I matured, I could no longer hear her responses.

“So. Catharine, do you like my angel costume?”

“Are you my guardian angel?” I asked for the second time that day.

“Age hadn’t completely diminished your intelligence, I see.” She touched my shoulders, and the rain disappeared.

“What?”

“You would tell me everything, then one day it all stopped. The other angels told me that is how it often happens.”

“We were told to stop talking to our imaginary friends,” I said, wiping my face with her proffered handkerchief.

“There was nothing imaginary about me.” She looked down at the book by my side. “Humph, giving up is still your specialty.” She stooped down and handed it back to me. “Try again. A mother giving birth finds the final act of pushing out her child one of the most difficult aspects of the delivery. If she gives up, the child will die.”

“Not if the doctor performs a C-section,” I glibly responded.

“Read!”

Only my elementary teachers could garner such an instant reaction like the one my angel elicited at that moment. My face flushed, and my eyes averted downward and remained. I pretended to leaf through the booklet.

“What shall I call you?” I asked.

“I will return when you’re finished,” was her answer.

I lifted my head when she disappeared but noticed the tide climbing higher and closer. About fifty feet away stood a higher embankment in which I climbed to avoid drowning, though I was dead, wasn’t I? Could a dead person drown?

Some of the rocks crumbled away as I stepped upon them, forcing a collision with my knees to their jagged surfaces. My dead knees bled! I tried to recall the Giant’s edict for my purgatorial existence. I would carry the weight of humankind with no joy, hope, or happiness to buoy the spirit. Even a simple scrape upon the knee burned with an intensity never before felt on earth.

As the water rose higher and higher, I climbed until it seemed as if the tide began to subside. I sat on a flattened stone and opened the book.

“Written by Radulf Langley,” I read again. “Dedicated to my parents.”

Once I deciphered his penmanship, I was transported to a world of sea monsters, pirates, crashing storms, and natives of other lands. At the conclusion he wrote, “All these events are true.”

“Radulf fought pirates and weathered the wily sea? Interesting, but I don’t see any connection,” I thought.

“You’ve finished?” She reappeared.

“I don’t understand,” I stuttered.

“A simple little book. The author would have never achieved fame or glory, but his words would be like a torch for you, Catharine. Do you recall the name Langley?”

“Langley, Langley,” I repeated in my mind. Why did that name seem so familiar?

“Family tree, Catharine, family tree.”

“Langley! Yes, it’s a name from my mother’s side of the family. I can’t tell you how far back it went.”

“Sixteenth century. But Radulf wrote this in the seventeenth century.”

I was right, I thought smugly to myself. He was from that time era. “That’s nice.” I didn’t know what to say. The book was interesting, but sea monsters and Catharine Zimmer?

The angel waved her hands, and before her stood the oak, hand-carved trunk that had stood at the foot of my parents’ bed. As a young girl I would run my hands along the carvings and the leather fasteners. But what intrigued me most were the family artifacts Mom had stored inside its woody scented interior. Wedding pictures, embroidered wall hangings, old shoes, and linens were among some of the treasures. I’d spend hours looking through the trunk even though I had looked at the antiquities numerous times.

“This belonged in here,” the angel set Radulf’s book inside. “But it was never written for you to read.”

“But it’s only an adventure story, not my favorite genre,” I spoke smugly.

My angel shook her head. “You have grown too pragmatic, Catharine. As a child you had woven fanciful tales in your mind. As you let practicality in, your imagination fled out.”

“I don’t know what to say. I still don’t understand what Radulf had to do with me.”

Our beings were transported to an old, quaint, city square. Situated in the center of the plaza stood an ancient cathedral. Cafes, bistros, banks, and shops sprouted like little patches of grass around the redwood. Tourists, people everywhere, were smiling, talking, and snapping cameras. The voices swirled together like one wave of sound.

In a moment, a bald man appeared with a cello. A girl of about five dropped money into his cello case, which had the effect of turning him on. Back and forth, he pushed and pulled, the strings obeying his movements by producing the opening chords of Ode to Joy.

He was joined by more stringed instruments as well as brass, wind, and percussion. The conductor, wearing a polo shirt, quickly waved his arms up and down and sideways. To his right a little boy waved his arms trying to mimic the conductor.

My heart raced, tears stung my eyes. My favorite hymn. I was in the middle of a Flash Mob. My great nieces and nephews had told me about these, but I myself had never experienced one. I was alone with this symphony. For a split second joy trembled expectantly, trying to enter into my being.

“Do you know the date of Beethoven’s life?”

“Somewhere in the 1800’s, I guess.”

“1827 was his death. Do you know the time period of this Flash Mob?”

“The 21st Century.”

“Do you think Beethoven inspired others?”

“Well, of course, he was famous, he was brilliant.”

“Perhaps this wasn’t a good example,” the angel said more to herself than to me. We then were transported to a small house. Inside there was a man, in a wheelchair. His arms and legs were shorter than normal, but he still sat at a desk, writing. “He is writing a letter to his niece. She wants to quit college.”

In this present condition my mind seemed befuddled. All this made no sense to me.

“Look at the letter.”

My eyes scanned the heartfelt words, which explained to the niece how he had let his disability keep him from pursuing his dreams. He regretted that decision, and had hoped that she wouldn’t let the challenges of college keep her from finishing.

“He wasn’t famous, but his words inspired her to finish.”

“Did she?”

“She became a scientist, one who has discovered many cures for various diseases.”

“But Radulf’s book? It’s just a little book of adventure!”

“Written by one of your long, lost relatives, from the pages of history.”

“So?”

She handed me Radulf’s novella. “Read it again. Read it as a child would read. Read it as if you’re young Catharine Zimmer, inside your house on a rainy day, sitting on your window seat.”

She disappeared.

This time the words cavorted and caused my heart to race. Radulf fought off a pirate, but not without sustaining an injury that left a scar on his right arm. I envisioned the ship, the shiny hilts, and the blood dripping onto the wooden deck. The whales that sputtered and swam under their vessel were more real than the whales I had seen off the coast of Boston. Worms and lice teemed among the words; I cringed in disgust. I began to understand how Radulf’s words would have triggered an even greater inspiration for Catharine Zimmer to write.

“Did I make my point, finally?” My angel returned.

“Yep! Now may I go to heaven?” This was much easier than I thought.

She rolled her big brown eyes and shook her head, the wiry curls bouncing. “Catharine, don’t add more to this journey than is already set before you.”

I tried a different approach. “But the book was never written!”

“That is correct. That is why Radulf traveled for centuries atoning for his misdeeds and in this case, omissions.”

“So,” I was afraid to ask, “those books I started in the closet? Do they have anything to do with all this?”

“Yes. Catharine, what seems so insignificant to humans, is very significant in this realm. Come follow me.”

“Where are we going?”

“A funeral.”

I trembled. “How long will I…” I couldn’t finish. Inside my very being I had sensed this journey would take longer than centuries, perhaps even a millennium.

“It all depends upon you, Catharine.”

Chapter 2

She looks so natural,” Hillary said as she peered into the casket. Why was Hillary at my funeral? Oh, yes, the free lunch to follow. She had lived right next door to me, but Hillary was the dog, and I was the cat.

“Hillary von Münchhausen. You have more lies to your credit than cells in your body.” I finally had the guts to tell Hillary what I felt about her. Did it matter that I was dead?

“Yes, she does look very natural,” replied Laurel, my neighbor to the north. Her father, Earl, lived with her. Earl was like that bill collector calling during dinnertime. If I was lucky, I’d spot him in my picture window and hide. Sometimes I wondered if he watched my house because he’d usually shamble over as I was climbing into my car. It didn’t matter the day or time.

“I’d love to chat, Earl, but I’m late for work.” I would close my car door, crank the ignition, make sure he wasn’t directly behind me, and roar off. Unfortunately, he often grabbed my door handle before I could escape.

Earl wore the same clothing he wore when he had been 275 pounds. When he knew I couldn’t escape, he would release his grip on my car door, hike up his blue slacks, and monologue about his amazing daughter, her travels, and of course her books. Huff. Puff. His words clipped by the effects of emphysema.

“Then her oxygen,” pant, pant, “level,” pant, pant, “hovered near empty. I almost,” pant, pant, “lost her in the death zone.”

Nile River. “The crocs there,” pant, pant, “are deadly. Watch this.” He flashed his phone into my face. He almost lost his slacks that time. I grimaced as I went from looking at him to a team of crocodiles chomping into an antelope.

Laurel swam in the Amazon River and almost became piranha bait.

I turned toward my angel. “Will part of my punishment include meeting up with Earl? I think five minutes with him here should suffice.”

“He’s already in his eternal glory.”

“What? Earl?” Disgust dripped through every pore of my non-porous specter.

“Earl was lonely. He decided to help out at church and he often let people who needed a bed stay in his extra bedroom.” She shook her head. “This is your judgement Catharine. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s.”

Mom had once asked me if my travels had anything to do with Laurel.

“Sounds like you’re trying to keep up with Laurel,” Mother said. “Wish you had that same drive for your writing.”

That pinprick stung. “I could fly to Mars, and I’m sure Laurel would fly to Jupiter, collect some rare gas, and win a Nobel Prize for science.”

“Jealous?”

“Not jealous. But let’s face it, no matter how hard I try, Laurel will always exceed me.”

“Are you living for you or for others to approve?”

To be fair to Laurel, it was her father, not Laurel, who bragged. Laurel genuinely listened to my stories. She also was my little voice of conscience.

“Have you done any writing?” she’d ask almost every time I saw her. It was like the doctor asking if you had scheduled your colonoscopy. There were times I had spotted her in the grocery store and I would run to a different aisle just to avoid contact. I would then berate myself for letting her look at any of my writing.

“Nah! I gave that up.” Or, “It just wasn’t for me.” Or, “The store keeps me so busy. I am a manager now.” Looking back, I shudder at my lassitude.

Laurel persisted. “You are very good, Catharine. I could even pass along some of your stuff to my editor friend.”

My ego appreciated her comments, but the rest of me ignored her requests. Laurel wrote twenty-seven books. Catharine Zimmer, zero. It was like a spelling bee, where the winning team spells Chiaroscurist with ease, while the losers don’t even bother trying to spell D-O-G.

Laurel’s books were just non-fiction travel, I had told myself to assuage my guilt, not the great American novels I have in mind.

I left the chatting women standing next to my coffin to stroll through the beige carpeted, sound-controlled atmosphere. Who else came to bid me last respects? Fifty, I counted them. Fifty people, including Hillary and Laurel, stood around at Catharine Zimmer’s wake. Where were the rest of my nephews and nieces? I had twenty-three of them, but only six showed up. How about the residents of Snug-Haven nursing home?

“They’re being quarantined,” my angel appeared next to me. It was unsettling to have her pop out and then pop back in.

“Do you think you could warn me when you’re coming back into my view? You’re scaring me to death,” I quipped, thinking I was quite humorous.

She had her own clichés to mete out, “By the way, my deepest sympathies. You’re in a much better place now, and I know how you feel.”

“Right. And look at me! I look terrible. Who did the makeup job, Medusa? And where is the rest of my family?” Chagrin tainted my words.

“Too busy, I suppose.”

Perhaps I had a few delusions of my State-style funeral with tolling bells, gun carriages, and a weeping cortege.

“Does anyone care that I died?”

“I’ve been to many a burial with no attendees,” the angel said. “Face it Catharine, you were a very old lady. Most of your family and friends had passed away. It’s tough being the last one to go.”

“My sister is the last. Look at her. She’s not even crying.”

“She did, Catharine. But she’s very stoic and wants to put on a strong face. You were her favorite, you know.”

“I was?”

“You were all your siblings’ favorite.”

“I was?” We left that scene and moved to another. “This isn’t my funeral. Where am I?”

“Your Brother John’s funeral, the one you didn’t attend.”

“I don’t drive at night.”

“Didn’t drive? Why?”

“Bad eyesight, I guess.”

The angel handed me a medical form. “20/20 vision,” it said. My name was sprawled over the top of the form. We seemed to be traveling on a cloud.

“A different funeral?”

“Your Uncle Fred.”

“I wasn’t there either.”

“I know.”

“Who is that?” I pointed to the corpse sinking into the sateen lined box.

“Your brother, Patrick. He enjoyed all your postcards.”

“He lived so far away.”

“But the Great Wall was right next door?”

“Angel, may I return to my funeral?”

We returned to a church hall, with about ten tables decked with paper table coverings, and silk-flower centerpieces. I found myself next to Hillary again and I watched her savagely gnawing on a chicken leg, the fat dripping down her chin. I tried grabbing a napkin from the table to wipe her awful face, but my hand went right through it. I left that grisly scene to watch my sister.

Claire sat alone, pensively. She was dressed in black. Claire’s children and their spouses chatted amiably.

“They’re sure happy I’m dead.”

“People do that at funerals. But you wouldn’t know that.”

“I went to a funeral or two.”

“Two. Your mother’s and your father’s.”

“I was very busy. And most of them were out-of-town. I sent mass cards!”

“Mass cards are good. But they’re even better when hand delivered.”

I glided over to the Catharine Zimmer photo board. I scrutinized each picture.

“Yee gads!” I shouted.

“What?”

“Look at that! I have a carrot stuck in my nose and I’m wearing a bandana. And look at that!”

“All these pictures were taken when you were very young. I don’t see any of you past middle age. Did you ever go to any family functions after you grew up?”

“They moved away, not I. Gas prices were ridiculous.”

“You were very beautiful,” the angel complemented.

“I was. But it all slipped away so suddenly.”

We turned to listen to my nephew, Gregory, talking to a small group.

“I remember Auntie Catharine asking me to buy her some hair dye,” Gregory began telling the group around him. “I told her to buy it herself. She said she didn’t want anyone knowing she dyed her hair.”

Chuckles.

“Very funny,” I snapped, but my words fell on deaf ears.

Hillary spoke next. “Did you ever see her on the treadmill? She looked like a clucking chicken chasing her babies. She’d move her neck, throwing her face forward in rhythm of the machine.” Exercising was a private affair for me. Hillary should have never seen me, but one day she let herself into my house because she had run out of toilet paper.

“Why did I ever give that woman my house key?”

“Because you kept locking yourself out,” my angel answered.

“A chicken? Did you hear that, a chicken? I can’t believe those children are listening to that old hag.”

“They’re all adults, now, Catharine.” My angel smiled, but it looked more like a sneer. “I wouldn’t be calling people hags while you’re in this state. Might add more time.”

“Chicken legs, that’s for sure. Skinniest legs I’d ever seen!” Another obnoxious voice popped up.

One silly comment after another I had to endure. All about my looks. I had prided myself on preserving some modicum of beauty, but it was all just a joke to them.

“May I have a piece of my own chicken?” I asked the angel.

A bucket of the ambrosial crispiness appeared. I sank my teeth into a drumstick. No crispiness, no fat dripping down my chin. Just a piece of cardboard. Would my taste buds depart from me as well?

“This is terrible,” I said.

“Also part of your present condition.”

“No joy or pleasure is to be had?” I asked, hoping for some reprieve.

“Eternity of joy awaits you. Oh, and fried chicken.”

We returned our attention back to my funeral. Hour after hour it seemed I listened to the life of Catharine Zimmer. No one took me seriously. I was just a goofy old woman.

“She wanted to be a writer,” Claire interjected. “She wrote beautiful poetry.”“Auntie Catharine a writer?” They all laughed hysterically. “Comic books?”

“No, novels,” Laurel came to my defense. “I read many of her pieces when we were neighbors.”

“Four boxes,” Claire interrupted. “I found four boxes of novels that were started. They were hidden behind some clothes in her second closet.”

“Could the books still be published?” Gregory asked.

“They’re not finished,” Claire answered. She leaned back to sit down.

“I really wanted to be a writer! Listen to me!” I shouted. Wasn’t it enough I had to be humiliated during my trial? At my funeral too? I had thought my deceit was well hidden. No one had known about Dad’s money, but they knew I had not finished my job on earth.

“Catharine,” I turned to see my father speaking, with Mom at his side. They were in the realm with me, but I knew they were not here to share my sorrow. “We know what you did,” Dad said, his voice solemn.

What could be worse than being the guilty child brought before her parents? I was dead, yet the pangs of shame burned as if I pressed my face upon the grille of an electric heater.

“So much potential.” Were there tears in Dad’s eyes? He and Mom shook their heads.

Pretense, that was what my life had become, yet I had fooled no one, except perhaps myself. The delusion kept me from the life I had aspired to live, one full of love, heroism, and greatness.

“I was afraid,” I simpered like some chastised puppy.

“We didn’t teach you fear,” Mom answered.

I couldn’t argue with her because my parents never balked at taking the more difficult road. Dad had been offered a position as the CEO of a company. It would have meant a sizable jump in income, but he found a laundry list of ethics’ violations. Mom often voiced her opinions on controversial topics no matter where we were. If someone criticized or gossiped about someone, Mom would tell the person gossip was wrong.

“Mom, why do you always have to speak your mind?” I asked her once.

“If I don’t, no one will,” she replied.

Mom even went back to college in her late forties to become a nurse. She could have used the money Dad had given me for college if I hadn’t squandered it. The heavy workload, late nights, and cranky teachers seemed to spur her ambition, whereas it would have withered me like an un-watered houseplant.

“Catharine, I don’t envy you your journey,” Dad said, speaking as a father to a daughter. “We can no longer be with you.” He kissed my forehead, and Mother hugged me. I felt chastised even more than from the Giant. They didn’t yell, but the disappointment swelled and seemed to radiate to me. They disappeared.

“Your aunt was a very sweet woman,” Father Swerik approached the group, plate in hand. “She made me laugh all the time.”

“Yes, we loved her very much,” Claire smiled. “I will miss my Little Chicken.”

Little Chicken, that’s what she had always called me. Tears welled up in her eyes as well as mine. The Giant dolling our my sentence was right. Alienation pulled at every nerve ending in my body, leaving only bitterness and loneliness. I wanted to embrace my loved ones, but this realm held me captive.

“Angel, please may I go now? Angel? Where are you? Please answer me.”

Chapter 3

Did I fall asleep? Where was I now?

We must be in America, I thought. I spun around, staring at the rows of cement markers. Holy Cross Cemetery, the burial ground of my family.

Where was my body laid to rest?

“We are not here to look at your gravesite.” Her words carried heaviness, and I felt a sense of foreboding. Like Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, she pointed toward a stone.

I shuffled over to it. I gasped. Gregory Sinclair! Gregory? Claire’s son? What happened? He was laughing and telling jokes at my funeral.

“Suicide.” Grief wove itself into the angel’s words, like black thread in a bright tapestry.

“But, Gregory? He seemed perfectly fine just a moment ago. Didn’t you just hear him?”

“That’s often how it is. How much did you really know your nephew?”

“He would visit me every Wednesday evening for supper. We talked all the time. He had never given any impression of…” The words cemented themselves inside my lips.

“Did you listen to his stories or blab on about your own life?”

I watched as elderly Catharine Zimmer placed a platter of cut slices of meat on the table. She sat down next to Gregory. They prayed, then began to eat. Catharine Zimmer liked to talk about herself. Not one second was spared to ask Gregory anything whether it was about his job or things he liked to do.

“And you complained about Laurel’s father talking all the time!” the angel whispered the words as if the two in front of us would hear.

“Gregory seemed to enjoy himself when he came for supper,” I said. “Besides, I was a lonely, elderly lady. He was just showing his respect.”

“Yes, he loved you deeply, but he was hurting deeply too. Self-doubt coursed stronger through his veins than his own blood.”

“I was Gregory’s god-mother. Why didn’t I see this coming? Was I so consumed with my own life that I failed to notice?”

“Worse, Catharine. Timidness is never a good role model. He wanted to be a writer, yet, like you, its neglect weakened his desire. Despair rules over Gregory now. Hope has vanished.”

“Why haven’t I met him in death or wherever I am?”

“Because there is still time.” Gone. There she goes again!

“Angel, don’t leave me! Where am I?” I was no longer Catharine Zimmer, but a different woman. An intravenous tube was taped to my right arm. I tried lifting my limbs and pulling myself forward, but I was the prisoner of a wheelchair. Only my eyes were free to move.

Claustrophobia! I felt trapped as if in Houdini’s Water Torture Cell, unable to breath in this body. I wanted to scream, but only guttural grunts escaped from my lips. I heard the flush of the toilet. Out came Gregory, with my bedpan.

“Gregory,” I choked, but it was a crude growl.

“Hey, are you talking?” He said. Though he was in his thirties, he still had that boyish charm I loved so much about him.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Heaven. Hell. Consequences. C. L. Paur's writing reveals her belief there is more above the grave besides black dirt. Paur is also concerned with anxiety preventing us from living the life God intended for us. Paur blogs and freelances as a reporter for a local newspaper. She also writes and produces children's plays and teaches theater. In 2013 she published her first novel, Stories. Selling her screenplays is another goal for Paur as well as completing her next novel, The Early Summer.

Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
I wrote many stories as a girl. As I entered adulthood, I questioned my abilities as a writer, so set it aside. In my late 20's I went back to Marquette University for my Masters in Communication. Slowly I took on writing jobs. Around 2010 I took my writing seriously. Long journey, but I persisted.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Everything we do matters! Catharine Zimmer blithely lived her life without too much concern about her thoughts, words, actions, or pure apathy, and how they impacted others around her.She learns, by having to experience the suffering she wrought, that her actions on earth caused hardships for many.
Q. What books are you reading now?
A.
Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown. Nonfiction book which explores, "The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone." I am also reading Typee by Herman Melville

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