“THE KINDLING” – March 2013
THE KINDLING is releasing in March by MuseItUp Publishing. The main character Trudence Leigh Darling (Tru Leigh Darling) is given a “gift” of vision. Confused and consumed she learns about her gift and her new and ever changing destiny. Tru is accompanied on her journey by her brother, Brandon, and best friend, Karlie. She encounters the greatest threat of all, Weylin. He’s beautiful, charming and so bad but it feels so good. This is an epic story of good verses evil, finding love and discovering who you were always meant to be.
Who knew the Spark of true love could be so deadly?
Enjoy and leave comments if you wish!
The Big Bang
The obituary would read “Trudence Leigh Darling, 23, dies hopelessly alone, no husband or children to speak of, leaving only grieving parents and one aggravating older brother.” Not the life I thought I would have and certainly not the happy ending I’d dreamed.
Crap, crap, crap. Why did I waste so much of my life? Sure, I had a good job, an education, a cute house, and my first new car—but what else did I have? And whom did I have to share it with? Not to say I was one of those girls who needed a man to “complete” her, but it would have been nice to have a partner.
I was in full pity-party mode when the agonizing feeling of my soul crash-landing back into my body overwhelmed me, and the physical world came rushing back all at once. Without warning, all my senses sharpened. The rain felt cold on my uncovered legs, and my wet clothes clung to my body. Aching all over, my head exploded with pain. Feeling was one thing, but moving was a whole other problem. My thin frame didn’t support much muscle, and I already felt beaten and battered, but I tried.
My hand slid across the rough, wet pavement beneath me. My eyes were clenched shut with one side of my face submerged in water, muddy water from the taste of it. Shivering from the chill of the filthy water, feeling nauseous, fear swept through me. I wasn’t dead, but maybe I’d die or drown if I didn’t get out of the puddle.
Groggily, I lifted my three-ton head out of the puddle and wondered how I ended up lying face down on the ground. The water blurred my vision as I looked around for help. I wanted to yell. I tried, but I could only get out low moans. Opening my eyes wider, I saw it. I blinked a couple times, trying to clear my vision. I couldn’t believe what was in front of me. Steady sheets of rain fell a few feet from me, but it didn’t look normal. This rain was glowing white. Each droplet shone like a brilliant star against the black velvet night. My eyes widened, despite the pain it caused, and I gawked at its beauty.
I knew I had to be dying, because the stars were actually falling from heaven. They cascaded to the ground, bouncing free before they faded into the darkness. I reached out to catch the falling stars and put them back into the sky. I wanted to save them, but my arm gave out. I crashed back into the puddle, and the dirty water covered the side of my face. I coughed and spat a tiny rock from my mouth.
If I was dying, the rain of stars was an awesome last earthly vision. Maybe in my next life I would find “the one” and get my fairy-tale ending. I opened the one eye that wasn’t submerged in the puddle, trying to see the stars one more time. I was awestruck by their brilliant light, but an area of darkness caught my attention. Fighting fatigue, I pushed myself up off the ground.
A black patch formed in the sheets of raining stars, as if someone was pulling them back like a velvet stage curtain. A male figure emerged. He didn’t say a word. His face was lit up from the luminance of the stars. They shone bright, surrounding him with a halo of starlight. His strong jaw and black hair framed the most dazzling blue eyes I’d ever seen. They glistened as bright as the stars against his dark features. His eyes were intense, and I wondered if it was me or the stars he was after.
His tall, muscular frame reminded me of an underwear model. Had my prince come? My head reeled with excitement while my heart beat a little faster and my belly flopped. A tall, dark, and handsome guy moving the heavens to get to me? Maybe I would get my happy ending after all.
I watched him stand motionless amongst the falling stars. Was he real, or a figment of my lusty near-death imagination? I’d never seen eyes like his.
“Hi,” I was able to whisper, and managed a small smile. He didn’t respond, and I didn’t see any white horse galloping about, so I ditched the Prince Charming idea and went to the next dramatic conclusion: I was dead.
If I was dead, then he must be an angel; no human could move stars. The angel, my own personal angel, waited and watched. A bigger smile slid across my face. At least my traveling partner was super cute. I closed my eyes, content with my fate, and waited to feel my angel’s touch, which I imagined would feel something like feathers and silk.
I tingled where he touched me. Softly and carefully he turned me over so that I was on my back. I opened my eyes to see he was only inches from me. I could feel the heat radiating off him. His eyes were beautiful, but his brow was drawn. His fingers gently wiped the strands of wet hair from my face. I instinctively leaned towards him. He cradled my cheek in his palm. His touch was magnificent; it felt like lighting shooting through my skin. I wanted him more than any other man. No one could ever compete with him. He was my prince, even if I was dreaming. I didn’t ever want to wake.
Unexpectedly, he stood, and quickly disappeared into the stars.
“Wait,” I pleaded. I wanted to run after him, but I couldn’t. Closing my eyes again, I began to cry.
Lying in wait, all I could hear was rhythmic sirens, and it was getting louder and louder. My head throbbed, and I struggled to understand why he’d left me. When was it going to end? What was he waiting for? Didn’t he see I was a damsel in distress? Patience was not a virtue I was born with.
Then, someone touched me. My heart jumped. Was it my angel? Gently, they cradled my head and neck, encasing it in a stiff brace. I didn’t think angels needed braces to heal people. What an odd thing for an angel to do.
I mumbled something, but he hushed me, telling me everything would be all right. Reluctantly and carefully, I opened my eyes and saw red and white flashing lights. Their brightness caused my head to throb. I quickly shut them, trying to block the lights once more. Conflicting thoughts swirled in my mind. I thought Heaven would be all white clouds and harps, and most importantly, no pain. Maybe I wasn’t going to Heaven. I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Hell must be taking not just the bad, but the boring, too. It the only way I was getting in.
“You’ve been in an accident, but you’re going to be okay.”
The man’s voice didn’t sound like an angel’s, but then again, I had never talked to one before. Opening my eyes again, I saw a different man looking at me. His brown eyes were fixed on me, and his blond hair was wet and pushed back from his face. His boyish features confused me. He wasn’t my angel, but I also didn’t recognize him. Maybe I wasn’t dead, but I was certainly being rescued by someone.
I wondered if he saw my angel or the falling stars. I gurgled at him to look for them, but he hushed me again. He worked fast. I was jostled back and forth while he slid the backboard under me. Catching a glimpse of my surroundings, I saw I was outside my garage. My car was still angled in the alley behind my South St. Louis City bungalow. The memories were fuzzy. I’d left the party early to beat the weather. My smart-mouthed big brother, Brandon, had teased me, saying I was over protective of my “silly” car. How could I not be? I loved my white Honda Civic. I knew it wasn’t fast and flashy, but it was my first new car.
I concentrated through the pain and remembered what I was doing before I saw the stars and my angel. I was driving home through a fierce storm, and as I turned onto my block, I noticed all the houses were dark and assumed the electricity was out. I cursed the electrical company—untrimmed trees lined my street and were always breaking branches during storms, taking out the electrical lines and causing power outages at least a half-dozen times a year. My detached garage had an alley entrance with a manual door. The forecast predicted hail. I wasn’t going to have a car that looked like a dimpled golf ball.
I jumped out of the car, ran to through the rain and struggled with the garage door. I pulled at it and stomped my feet, splashing water onto my bare legs and totally ruined my new suede boots. The damn door wouldn’t budge, and the next thing I knew I was with the rain of stars, looking at my angel. I was safe with the stars and my angel guarding over me. Without them I was cold, wet, scared, and peeved off about my boots.
The wet night wrenched me back to my current predicament. Now there were two people beside me. I could feel them patting me. My body ached, my head was killing me, and I felt different, strange. I felt electrified, as if every cell in my body was overexcited, like I’d drank a five-gallon bucket full of double espresso latte.
The men tilted the backboard and lifted me. Feeling totally out of control, I tried to turn my head and grasp at something solid to hold onto, but I couldn’t move. Not only was my neck braced, but I was also tied down. They slid me into the back of the ambulance and shut the doors on my fallen stars and my angel. Immediately I missed their beauty and the tranquility they brought me. I wanted my stars, my angel, my happy ending. It was so close, and I missed it. I always missed it.
The bright light from the inside of the ambulance seemed to burn through my eyelids, so I closed them tighter until the forehead strap of the backboard pulled on my skin. I groaned. I felt like a prisoner, tortured by the stupid light. I tried to concentrate on my breathing, like I was doing yoga or something—anything to stop the agony.
The EMT closest to me began talking in a loud, authoritative voice that carried throughout the ambulance. “Her vitals are stable. BP is one-twenty over eighty, heart rate one-fifty.”
All I could think was, Sweet, not dead or dying.
“She is responsive, reflexes are good. I don’t see any life-threatening contusions.” He paused and lowered his voice, “Trudence?” His voice was gentle and sweet and sounded way too young. “Trudence, can you hear me?”
I’d never liked my name. I went by Tru, but it wasn’t the time for preferences. With my eyes tightly closed, I tried to nod, forgetting the brace that was locking my head in place. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. I still tasted the filthy ground water I’d been lying in, and my stomach turned. “W-what happened?” My voice sounded so strange and weak. I swallowed hard.
“It’s going to be okay. You’re safe now.” His voice was soft, and I needed to believe him. I would be okay, but he didn’t answer my question. What had happened to me?
Not one to be ignored, I asked again, “What happened?” He hushed me and kept working. He sure did hush me a lot. But since I was still strapped in, I thought I’d better not annoy the only person who could set me free. I tried to relax and remember my fallen stars and my mysterious angel. Maybe I had died, and they were a glimpse of Heaven which, in my opinion, was not too shabby—super-cute boys and mood lighting to boot. I could handle a Heaven like that. The memory consumed me. It felt like a flood of warm water rushing over me, encasing me, drowning out the ache.
After bouncing around for fifteen minutes, we stopped. I heard the beeping, medical speak, and machines of a hospital around me. I wondered what I looked like to them. I was wearing a white cardigan set with my favorite khaki skirt. My light brown hair was perfectly flat ironed, straight and long. My new brown suede boots were killing my toes, but they were so cute. They would likely be the envy of the emergency room, even if they were rain soaked. Suddenly, I thought of something I’d seen on a trauma special on The Learning Channel. It was either The Learning Channel or another infomercial on the latest multi-use blender. Anyway, the first responders cut the clothes off the victim…
Oh. My. God. Was I naked? I could feel the heat fill my face at the thought of being undressed, baring it all to the world, and more specifically the St. Louis Barnes Jewish Hospital emergency room. Thinking back over the day, I tried desperately to remember what I wore under my khaki skirt and cardigan set. Oh, God, not those, please anything but those. I actually wanted to die. What would the first responders think about my big, white granny panties?
“Open your eyes, and look at me,” a woman’s voice demanded. I imagined the bright light in the emergency room, and I was sure it would feel like it was burning through my skull. More importantly, I didn’t want to see myself, just in case I was right about my panty issue. I shook my head no, or better yet, hell no. By her huff and grumble, I could tell she wasn’t pleased with my unspoken response.
“I need you to open your eyes, Trudence. We need to make sure you are okay,” the woman explained.
I decided it was better to comply with her, no matter the pain from the emergency room fluorescent devil lights.
I opened my eyes and saw a round-faced nurse staring back at me. Her warm breath smelled of coffee and cigarettes. Amazingly, the sting of the light was tolerable. Relieved, I took note of my surroundings. I was in a hospital bed covered by a white sheet, but before I had time to think, the nurse moved closer and rubbed my shoulder.
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
“What is today’s date?”
“Good,” she reassured me with a pat on my arm.
The nurse and aids buzzed around me as they unstrapped me and removed my neck brace. Their movements seemed well choreographed. A standard hospital mural hung on a stark white wall to my left, opposite a blue curtain entrance. My artsy best friend, Karlie, would be disgusted with the lackluster attempt at a valley of flowers.
“Good evening, Ms. Darling,” said a white coated doctor, startling me. “It seems you’ve had a very eventful Friday night.”
The doctor was tall and slender, with gray hair and skeletal fingers. I looked at him, puzzled. I couldn’t remember. What had happened between struggling with the garage door and the emergency room?
My mind searched for answers while the doctor checked over my chart, mumbling something inaudible to the round-faced nurse. The heavenly rain. I remembered the rain of stars, and my angel. I wanted to ask about the stars but was too afraid they might think I was crazy. Maybe I was.
The doctor’s voice was deep but calm, “You have a concussion. You’ll need to take some mild analgesics for the next couple of days. There was an electrical explosion near your home. I’m quite amazed you don’t have any burns.” His eyebrows lifted as he looked me over head to foot, and I cringed as his eyes passed my midsection. I made a silent vow to never ever wear those panties again. “We’ve checked your cardiac rhythms and everything seems to be perfect. It’s really a miracle. You must have had a guardian angel looking out for you tonight.”
Ha. Maybe I did.
“We’ll be keeping you for a couple of days for observation,” the doctor said while scribbling something on my chart.
I nodded, more to shut him up than in agreement. I wanted to close my eyes, remember my angel and the beautiful rain, and push out the raging pain that began to invade my skull again. Damn those devil lights.
Feeling two pills pushed into my hand, I opened my eyes to see a young nurse staring at me with a big smile and a small white cup. She handed me the cup of water, and I gulped down the pills.
Moving to a hospital room, I thought about my big brother, Brandon, and how he might be mad I hadn’t called him. I was too tired and still wired, so I decided to deal with his brotherly lecture later, when the world wasn’t filled with falling stars, hot angels, and panty faux pas.