Rays of Hope: Chapter 19

woman doing show jumping Photo by Laila Klinsmann on Pexels.com

In a few hours, I’m off to Michigan again to visit Mom and to attend a book club. The safe way: In a park, with masks. A year ago, that would seem like such a strange thing to say.

If you’re interested in starting at Chapter 1 of Rays of Hope, click here.

Although my novel’s word count is rising slower than I’d like I feel like I’m making progress.

Editing May His Tribe Increase leads me to understand where my characters are going and what conflicts need clarifying.

Jim and John’s Big Adventure is moving along and bringing smiles to my face.


Chapter 19

Marla set Ray on a task: Search all of the source books we have. Find Taedan’s birds.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to go talk to him?”

“For who?” Marla’s jaws made her chewing-on-gravel noise.

Ray felt her own jaw set in stone as she bit back her protest.

Ray already knew The Visual Dictionary was hopeless. Still, she scoured through it, just in case a red-capped sparrow appeared incidentally with another picture. Two children not unlike the fairytale Hansel & Gretal stood in a flower garden in example of a jigsaw puzzle; no birds.

Ray got lost in the section “Equestrian Sports.” She’d never seen a horse, or any mammal for that matter. Now, here were pictures of people riding horse, jumping over water and greenery, harnessing horses to something called a sulky.”

“Did you ever ride a horse?”

“Why would you ask such a thing?”

“Well, did you?”

“Why are you asking that?” Marla said. “You already know the answer.” She rubbed her nose as if just thinking about it caused irritation. “Your mother loved horses.”

Ray stared into the page called “dressage” and tried to imagine the face from Marla’s faded photograph proudly sitting astride the white horse in the picture.

“Any red-feathered sparrows?” Marla looked up from the microscope Trumble let her borrow.

“You know I’m not going to find any.” A wave of heat rose up between Ray’s shoulder blades and washed up through her hair.

“I don’t know that,” Marla said.

She spider-walked her fingers through her scalp, crinked her back into a stand and retrieved some books from under her bed. She handed Ray National Geographic Birder’s Journal and Stokes Field Guide to Birds. “Try these.”

“Where did these come from?” Ray fanned the pages.

“I had them hidden.” Marla said. “There seemed to be no point.”

“No point?”

“I thought we’d never see a bird again.”

“I hate you.” Ray slapped the manuals on the table and stomped into her corner of the room.

She wanted to leave, slamming the door. Storming from the table to what was deemed her private space, required so few stomps that, no real energy was expended. Consequently, Ray’s wrath steeped below her sternum, with nowhere to go.

Marla breathed audibly a deep Ujjaya. And again. And again.

Ray resisted the calm that came over her. She didn’t want to follow Marla’s rhythm. Stillness evaporated the knot at the pit of her stomach. She could almost feel it rise up through her chest and out the crown of her head, replaced by curiosity.

Ray returned to the table and opened The Field Guide.


I’m pretty sure Ray is NOT going to find those red-feathered sparrows in those books.

Why is Marla giving Ray these time-wasting tasks?

And what is Marla doing in the meantime?

Until next Friday, when we’ll both learn more.

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Thank you, from the bottom of my heart (and my stomach, too.)

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