This week’s guest post is the lovely Annette Rochelle Aben who has written a short story. Enjoy!
But For The Grace
by Annette Rochelle Aben
Being swallowed by the dark, Caryn felt she’d never live to see the dawn…
Everything was in place. It was only a matter of time. Caryn knew she had made the right decision and there was no turning back.
She settled on the loveseat, glanced at the clock and noted that the hour was fast approaching. Calling to her two companions was unnecessary, her babies hopped up into her lap within moments of her sitting. How funny her male cats were in comparison to the females she had in the past.
Her male cats were the most affectionate, always wanting to be on her lap, sleeping next to her in bed and enjoyed being petted. Caryn gently stroked each of the cats pouring as much love as she had into each caress.
Her thoughts drifted to how good it was to see them only a couple hours earlier when she got home from having a New Year’s Eve supper with some friends.
Being out on “amateur night” was not her style so she accepted the invitation to have an early celebration with Rob and Barb because she could be back home long before the party crowd hit the roads. Besides, she wanted to make sure she spent time with people she loved and knew loved her as much.
Others had been so mean over this past year. Threats to the stability of her home came from the couple from whom she rented her little house. She had delivered her December rent the previous year in a manner which they found displeasing. Her rental agreement required that she physically go to their home and hand it to them in person.
This was not always possible and she tried her best to make sure she complied. Of course, delivering the rent was only part of the deal, once she arrived, she was expected to sit and visit. As these visits occurred at the end of her lengthy workdays, Caryn wasn’t always looking forward to having to spend time there when all she really wanted to do was go home to her boys and relax.
That fateful December, Caryn arrived at the house with the rent check and gifts for her landlords. They were not home. Caryn put the check into their Christmas card and put the card in a bag with the gifts.
That bag was placed inside the screen door on the side of the house. Everything seemed logical, they would park the car in the garage, enter the house through the side door and find the gifts, card and the check. Caryn got back in her car, breathing a sigh of relief and headed home.
This was not how it went down at all. The landlords found the package but not the check right away and within a few days, they sent a letter informing Shelly that the house was going to be sold and she had to be out within 30 days of sale. All this because she violated the signed agreement.
And that was just the beginning of the harassment. They showed up at all hours with real estate people, planned home tours without consulting her schedule. The most distressing part was that it upset the boys to where they began not using their litterbox in favor of the carpeted areas of the house.
Caryn tried to reason with them, asking that they respect her space and include her in the decisions but to no avail. Her stress began to show itself in other areas of her life.
Money began flying out of her bank account quicker than she could earn it and soon she was behind in her bills. That brought more demanding people into her life and soon there was no escape for Caryn from the threats. Work was filled with pressure, she couldn’t rest at home and there seemed to be no end in sight.
The house didn’t sell during that year, and the landlords laid the blame in her lap. Once again, they were sending threatening letters. There was a new month to month agreement requiring that Caryn send her rent by certified mail and it had to arrive on a specific day.
But Caryn couldn’t control what day the post office delivered the mail. This became the last straw and was told she had to be out by the first of the year.
As December 31st drew near, Caryn and the boys had still not found a new place to live. She knew eviction proceedings would begin January 2nd and that as that could take several months, they would probably find a place to live but that was no comfort. There appeared to be only one solution.
Caryn was grateful for the heavy snowfall in the area over the past few days. There was a nice deep pile of snow behind her van and there was more due to fall overnight and all during New Year’s Day.
When she got back from the dinner at Rob and Barb’s, she parked carefully, being certain to leave a space of about 4 x 4 feet behind the van. There, she dug out some of the snow, creating a good-sized hole. She covered the hole with a couple tarps and went into the house. The plan was to lay down in the hole with the boys, cover themselves with the tarps so they would simply freeze themselves to sleep.
Because she had no neighbors on that side of the house no one would see them and she was counting on not being found for several days. Oh, yes, to ensure that they would go, she planned on starting the van and she counted on the tailpipe exhaust to aid their transition.
She even laid heavy stones around three-quarters of the tarp, to make sure they’d be sealed in good.
Sitting there, petting her boys, she felt how much they trusted her implicitly. They were cozy and purring deeply, happy to spend all the time with her that they could. Gently, she began to instruct them as to how things needed to work.
“Okay you guys, here’s the plan, we all need to fall asleep together. If I wake and you’re gone, I couldn’t bear it. If you wake and I’m gone, who would take care of you? So, we’re in this together, right? I love you so much. I am so sorry.”
They looked at her as though they understood fully and snuggled even closer, as she spoke and stoked their soft fur. Tears began to form and just as she was getting ready to stand up to put them into their carriers, she heard a voice.
“In this holy, present moment, are you not safe?”
Caryn looked around, blinking away the tears.
“In this holy, present moment, are you not safe?”
“Then what would make you think I would not keep you safe in the next moment?”
By the time the voice had spoken a second time, even the boys were aware that there was someone else talking. They stood up on Caryn’s lap and were looking around to see who was there.
This wasn’t possible as there were no neighbors near enough to her, no one else in the house. And as Caryn realized this, her tears fell faster than the snow outside. She cried for what seemed like hours until she could cry no longer, falling asleep on the love seat with the boys in her lap.
Waking to the sun pouring in through her windows, for a moment, Caryn couldn’t quite grasp what had just happened. She knew that the plan was to no longer be in that house come the morning but a sense of calm had her believing she was in the right place.
The boys were in the kitchen waiting for their breakfast. Caryn stood up and it was then, she remembered the voice. Smiling, she felt the safety of the grace that had saved her and the boys. They’d have a fresh start in a new year.
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Annette Rochelle Aben has been under the spell of words since she was a youngster. Even writing for school assignments was a pleasure. Poetry is the mainstay of her writing.
Her new book, a collective of haiku poetry, A Haiku Perspective 2017, was published March of 2017.
It is one woman’s attempt to describe the joy and beauty of the world around her using words to paint the pictures. Annette uses haiku to present her vision of the world using a seventeen-syllable format. She calls this FUN!
A Haiku Perspective 2017 is the ninth book Annette has self-published. Five of her titles are books of haiku poetry and other genres include self-help and books of a spiritual nature.
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Big thanks to Annette for sharing this short story with us! Do make sure you check out her links and connect with her. As always leave comments and ask Annette any questions 🙂
I’ll be back on Friday with my own post.