Runaway Heiress Update
I’ve finished the first draft of Runaway Heiress and done two rounds of revisions, and now it is in edits. I’m hoping I will be releasing it by the first of next year. I’m optimistically aiming for December 11, 2021, but more likely it will be January 1st, 2022.
By S. K. Lansing
Gale’s Eighteenth Birthday
They win; I’m leaving. But my way, on my terms. I no longer feel my mom here, even in this room. That breaks my heart a little more.
As I look around my room for the last time, I am flooded with memories. My mother playing silly songs for me as I danced with the abandon only a small child could have. Me practicing on the cello my mom had gotten for me for my seventh birthday, sawing away in bliss. Talking about growing up, getting my first period, and boys with my mother. Endless stories, songs, and how loved and safe I felt there.
Then, the darker memories.
Nearing the end of several hours of rehearsing on my fourteenth birthday, I’m lost in the music, playing one of my favorites, Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. It was the first piece I ever felt like I had mastered. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t play some part of it. I’m brought up short as my door crashes open. My dad and my mom’s best friend Carol come into the room looking stricken.
“Gale,” my father sobs and then halts, consumed in tears. I’m instantly afraid; of what, I don’t know.
“What, daddy? What’s wrong?” He can’t answer; Carol clears her throat, “Gale, honey, it’s your mom. During rehearsal today, she, she had a medical issue, and I’m afraid she died.” I drop my cello and bow.
“What? No!” I rise from my chair, shaking, and thrust my arms out, calling, “Daddy!” But, instead, he looks at my face, turns, and runs from the room.
I’m frozen in place by shock, fear, and grief. Carol’s head swivels back and forth from me to my father, retreating down the hall, then she too pivots and runs to catch him, slamming the door as she leaves.
I don’t know what to do. I can’t even understand what just happened. Is my mom dead? How can my mom be dead? Who tells their child their mom has died and then leaves her alone? Grief consumes me, and my chest constricts; the room starts to spin and then goes black.
I start to awaken, disoriented, stiff, and on the floor. For a moment, I am confused, and then I remember. A horrendous pressure builds in my chest, and I scream, “Noooo!”
I can feel myself becoming completely hysterical, and I can do nothing about it. It is almost as if I am out of my body, watching myself scream and writhe on the floor. Then, for the second time today, a door crashes open, this time the one to the deck, my best friend Mickey from next door is bursting through it yelling for me.
“Gale, what’s wrong?” I roll over to face him, hold my arms out, and just wail. He rushes to me and gathers me to him, “It’s okay; it’s okay. I’ve got you. I won’t let you go.”
I wrapped my arms around his neck like it was the only thing keeping me from drowning. I burrow my face into his chest and weep inconsolably. As I cry, he grips me tightly with one arm and rubs my back with the other; his murmurs of comfort are unintelligible to me over my wracking sobs, but the tone of them and the warmth of him help bring me back, and I piece together some control.
As the crying gives way to erratic breathing, he asks me again, “What’s wrong, Gale? What happened?” I look up at his concerned face.
“My mom died.” That hits him like a physical blow, and I feel him rock with it.
“Where’s your dad? Is he okay?”
“I don’t know where he is. He and Aunt Carol just barged into the room, told me mom was dead, and then ran away, slamming the door behind them,” I manage to whisper out.
“They did what?” the disbelief is evident in his voice, “When?”
“I don’t know. I was practicing when they came. I wasn’t paying attention to the time. Then when the door slammed, I got dizzy, and I think I fainted. I don’t know how long I was out on the floor.”
“I saw your dad’s car pull in and then pull out a few minutes later, about half an hour ago while I was mowing the lawn,” he shakes his head, “They told you that and then left you alone, out cold on the floor? What the hell? How could they do that?”
I could only shake my head; I couldn’t understand it either.
“Let’s get you off the floor, okay?” he asks. This time I nod. He lets go, and I start to feel unmoored again, then he stands and scoops me up, and I feel safe at once. He carries me to my bed and gently places me on it, then pulls a blanket over me, “Do you need anything?”
“Kleenex and water, please, but hurry back,” that gets a smile, and he does as I say. I sit up, take a drink, and blow my nose, “Please hold me for a while,” I look into his eyes as I lie back down. He climbs in next to me and pulls the blankets over us, then spoons me, putting his arm around me and holding me tightly.
“It’ll be okay, Gale, I’m with you; no matter what happens, I’ll be by your side when you want me to be,” Mickey murmurs in a low voice, “You’ve been my best friend since before we could walk, I’ll always have your back. Ride or die.”
Again his warmth and words comfort me and overcome by everything that has happened. Finally, I let go of consciousness.
Being told my mother was dead and then left alone with the door shut hard in my face. The two most painful moments of my life happened to me within seconds of each other, right where I am standing. Then came four long years where this room was partly a cloister, somewhat a prison cell, and finally mostly left behind. I’d done one last sweep to make sure nothing important to me was left behind. There wasn’t, which didn’t surprise me. I had long since removed everything I valued. Either to my studio or my apartment. I had to be sure there would be no return, but I guess part of me needed to see it one last time to say goodbye.
Tomorrow my new life would begin, and this house and these people would be gone from it.