Sunday, March 20, 2011
Cheryl has written several award-winning novels and has sold numerous other short stories, as a contributor for the Adams Media anthologies “The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings”, as well as the earlier “The Rocking Chair Reader: Memories from the Attic.” Her short stories also appear in the 2006-09 editions of the Adams Media Christmas anthologies, as well as various other publications, including “Chicken Soup for the Empty Nester’s Soul.”
Cheryl lives with her husband in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where she has been for the past 25 years. She has two grown children, ages 21 and 24. You can visit her website at http://www.cherylpierson.com. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org (she loves to hear from readers and other authors!) You can visit her blogs at: http://www.cherylpiersonbooks.blogspot.com and also at http://www.westwindsromance.blogspot.com
The Last of Her Kind Blurb:
An old Victrola is the cherished possession of Cassie's grandmother. Her father also seems oddly attached to the antique phonograph, but her new stepmother detests it and wants it gone. Grandmother is sick, probably dying, and Cassie will be the only one left in the house who sees through Trish as Cassie's brothers no longer live with them. Then Cassie discovers a secret, a wonderful, yet frightening, secret. Will her new knowledge save her family or destroy it?
"Owen, it is a monstrosity! An ancient piece of furniture that no one uses—and it just—just sits there in the music room—almost like a person, or something—”
Trish was crying, going into my father’s arms, working her particular kind of magic on him—using her youth to bring out the manliness he was afraid he had lost.
“I just hate it!”
“Trish.” His tone was firm. He was lifting her chin to force her eyes to his. “Trish, the Victrola is Mother’s.” Again, his eyes strayed with guilty nervousness toward the walls of the hallway, just beyond the music room. “It means a lot to her, just to know it’s still here—that part of her past remains here. She’s lost so much—”
I truly detested the pleading note that entered his tone. I knew he would do anything to keep Trish—and all the things she represented to him—even if he knew he had made a terrible mistake.
Trish pulled away fiercely, a defiant glare on her lovely features. “That’s what happens when you’ve outlived your usefulness, Owen.”
Father stepped back, as if she had slapped him, and my own face burned with the anger that I had learned to control over the past six months. Since Trish had contrived to become the second Mrs. Owen Crandall, I’d had a lot of practice. True to form, she did not offer an apology for her crass remark.
Father’s lips tightened, and I knew that was as angry as he’d ever let her see him. He was too afraid of losing her. Don’t let her talk about Grandma like that! Take up for her, I wanted to shout. But I knew he wouldn’t. In that instant, I felt a dull kind of hatred for my own father slide across the pit of my stomach and settle there. He wouldn’t defend any of us against her. I knew that, now. Trish had turned him.
“Trish—we’ll sell it—after she passes on.”
“Can’t someone else take her to live with them?” She put her hand on her hip, her chin tilted upward in a sharp, unbecoming angle. “I mean, why does she have to live here? With us?”
Father’s answer was soft, and very stilted. “Because this is her house, Trish. Not mine. It comes to me only after her death.”
They stared at one another for several seconds before Trish found her voice. “Oh. Well. I wish you had told me sooner, Owen.”
My father shook his head, and I could see everything in his dark eyes. He realized his mistake, and he couldn’t undo it. He was stuck with Little Miss Gold Digger forever, now. And he was sorry, but there was no going back—not unless he wanted to hand over everything to her.
“I wish I had, too,” he murmured.
Trish clipped off down the hallway toward the master suite. Father watched her go, then turned his attention back to the scarred finish of the old Victrola. He leaned against the side of it, as if he suddenly had no strength left in him, as if he’d been dealt a boneless, nerveless disease by Trish’s unexpected callousness.
But as he leaned against the lovely workmanship of the cabinetry, a slow change took place within him. His large hands stroked the cherry wood as his eyes looked across the room and out the window. I knew he was envisioning his own world as he wished it was.
Watching him, my own gaze shifted to the window. Smoke swirled, and took shape.
My heart raced as images formed. My mother! Beautiful, just as she’d been before the accident took her from us. My older brother, Charlie, was studiously bent over his calculus homework at the dining table; my younger brother, Jack, blowing his trumpet from a lawn chair on the back patio. There I was, too—a few months younger. Twelve years old. Not a woman, but not a child. In that instant, I realized that in some misbegotten moment of guilt for me and Jack, and sorrow for himself, my father had asked Trish to marry him.
Abruptly, Father pushed away from the Victrola, as if he could bear no more of the lovely memories, and nervously straightened his tie. The smoky images faded, then vanished. I could see nothing now but the stark reality of the music room—the piano bench askew from where I’d sat earlier to practice, the shelf of music books, the table where we used to gather when Mother was alive—and the Victrola. Grandma’s Victrola.
I couldn’t speak. What my father and I had been looking at together had been like watching images on a screen—a movie of memories. I had felt his inexpressibly joy and his unfathomable sadness as we watched. What had just happened . . . could not have happened.
But my mind returned to the deliberate way his hands had gone to the wood cabinetry, as if seeking the solace of the solid feel of the Victrola—and the happiness he would never have again but through those visions. The replaying of love’s old images to be recreated simply by the touch of a hand, and the longing of the heart—impossible; yet, I had seen it, too.