Today begins my new Flash Fiction Feature! I know some awesome Christian writers whom I’d like to introduce to you. For the month of June, I challenged four of them to write a flash fiction piece for my blog…only I sent each of them the same photograph as inspiration. It has been fun to see how each one took the same photo and wrote such different stories! Tune in each Saturday of June to check it out…and leave a comment for a chance at the weekly GIVEAWAY! I’m so excited.
First up is the awesome Heather Gilbert!
Heather Day Gilbert writes character-driven novels that go beyond the vows, capturing the triumphs and heartaches unique to married couples. A graduate of Bob Jones University, she’s been married to her sweet Yankee husband for eighteen years. After eleven years of homeschooling and eight years of writing, she really doesn’t have many hobbies. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, she believes that bittersweet, generational stories are in her blood.
And here is the photo with which I challenged her, and the other three writers.
By Heather Day Gilbert
How many times had she come here over the past few months, trying to remember the specific timbre of his deep voice? To recall the roughness of his calloused hands, as they clasped hers? No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t summon the sounds and images to her mind’s eye.
The oversized rocks lay strangely juxtaposed, as if some giant had tossed them like dice down the hill. A heavy coating of moss confirmed that the sun rarely kissed this side of the forest. For so many years, this had been a flowerless secret garden for them, a haven that enabled them to articulate the dreams they hadn’t realized they had.
Now the rocks did not comfort her as before, but reflected the harshness of the scattered barren trees. Gently resting her head on the thick moss, she allowed her gaze to trail upward. The white sky seemed blank and closed, just like heaven had felt for her lately. No spark of love, no answers to her questions.
An anger that had tormented her began to rise like bile in her throat. This deep in the woods, she could give voice to the injustice, shout at the deaf heavens. Her scream filled the air.
“Why, God!? Why him? You should have taken me, not my husband!”
In those early days, when the news sank in that he’d been killed on assignment, she was sure God would step in visibly to comfort her. Whisper in her ear at night, maybe show her an angel…anything. Possibly she was waiting for a Lazarus-style miracle in which someone would tell her it was all a mistake, that it wasn’t his flag-draped coffin that had shipped over.
All she needed was assurance that God understood the grief she couldn’t even put into words.
Yet days went by with no sign. Casseroles and flowers flooded in, accompanied by sad looks of friends and family. No one knew what to say.
That’s when she began to return to the rocky enclave, hoping God would stoop to meet her there and kindly explain why this had to happen.
But each time, she was met with the resounding silence of nature. Not one rabbit or squirrel interrupted her earnest, yet fruitless, quest.
Today would be the last day, she had decided. Her one last attempt to break through the opaque curtain that God had drawn around Himself. Yet even as her scream died, nothing changed.
Until one still-green leaf fluttered onto her chest and landed on her heart. The leaf itself was heart-shaped. They used to lie here, marveling at the extensive shade that very catalpa tree could provide in the heat of summer.
As she clutched the leaf, deflected sunlight broke the cloud cover and shafted directly onto her. Some would say this was a coincidence. But she knew what it was.
Her refreshed soul sang the words of truth. “He has always loved you, and He always will.”
See what I mean? Awesome, right?
I encourage you to leave a comment below for a chance to win an electronic copy of Heather’s latest book Trial By Twelve. I’ll draw from all the commenters on Wednesday.
Trial by Twelve
Tess Spencer loves her low-key job at the Crystal Mountain Spa, which allows her plenty of down-time with her one-year old daughter and lawyer husband, Thomas. But when a pool installation turns up eight skeletons in the spa’s back yard, Tess becomes entangled in a sleuthing job destined to go awry.
As the investigation gets underway, someone dumps a fresh body near the excavated burial site, confirming unspeakable fears. A serial killer has returned to Buckneck, West Virginia…a skilled hunter with a unique taste in prey.
When Tess agrees to help the cunning Detective Tucker gather clues from the inside, she discovers the posh spa hides more than dead bodies. Even as she sifts through layers of deceit, Tess realizes too late that the killer’s sights have zeroed in on her.
Unpredictable psychological mystery replete with memorable characters, Trial by Twelve is Book Two in A Murder in the Mountains series.
This novel is written from a Christian worldview.
Check out Heather’s other books on Amazon, too.
And, of course…Tune in next Saturday. Kelli Hughett was the next author to accept my challenge and write a story inspired by the same photo. Another giveaway, too!!
Photo credit: Paul Baxter http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bark_Cabin_Wood_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1322.jpg