Song of Renewal is a novel fraught with seemingly insurmountable odds to overcome, that grew from a network of family and friends who loved and validated me, despite my human frailties and failures, and then rejoiced with me in renewal. I chose this book passage to share with my readers because it presents a family sliding into disaster, with events that will alter the familial dynamics of loyalty, unconditional love, forgiveness and mercy– the essentials of preservation. The ‘what ifs’ here are infinite and will challenge even the most courageous amongst us to dare NOT sympathize with the Garrison, Liza, and Angel. Their dilemma could happen to any of us and therein lies this story’s universal appeal. Enjoy!
Liza poured herself a cup of coffee, took it into the spacious den, and lowered herself onto the overstuffed cream, soft-leather sofa. She’d just finished making some calls upstairs for a Parent Teachers’ Meeting and wanted a few minutes of off time.
She took a scalding sip and admitted to herself that her rush to busy-ness was mostly to detract from the sting of Garrison’s callousness toward poor Angel, who adored her daddy. Never mind his smart-ass reference to Liza’s being manipulative—she rolled her eyes. That was another thing entirely.
Her gaze settled on a mantle portrait of the elder Wakefield’s.
At that moment she hated Garrison’s parents for what they’d done to him in his youth. They weren’t truly bad people, exemplary citizens, actually. They just hadn’t wanted children. Garrison—the proverbial accident— had messed up their dreams of an unencumbered lifestyle of travel and leisure in their off times. So, he’d been pushed away when he threatened to intrude upon their intimacy or shuttled off to his grandparents during much of his youth, bearing the hidden stigmata of rejection.
Garrison, the end product, was a storehouse of contradictions. He was comprised of a sensitivity that could take one’s breath. He was the most protective, noble and giving of men. Yet, to him, giving meant materially and physically– not emotionally. Not anymore. Once, it had. Liza hadn’t a clue as to why it had up and left nor into what bottomless black pit it had disappeared.
She pushed away the pity that always ambushed her when she thought of the young, lonely boy. She couldn’t allow it to cloud her judgment when it came to Angel.
The next sip of coffee tasted bitter. Needed sugar.
What was it with Garrison? Why did he allow history to repeat itself in his father/daughter situation? Liza knew Garrison loved Angel but—why did he keep her at arm’s length? Sure, he worked hard but where were the blasted manners in father/daughter matters? She could understand and appreciate love’s tough side—but couldn’t he handle Angel a bit more gently?
Liza took another hot sip and made a face, acknowledging her own mediator balancing act in the Garrison/Angel emotional skirmish. Had she done the right thing tonight–overruling Garrison and allowing Angel and her date to brave this storm for a concert? He was, after all, being protective. It was just that she couldn’t bear to see the crushed look on Angel’s young face when Garrison so blatantly rejected her overtures. Didn’t Garrison realize a girl’s need for her father’s acceptance and validation? The girl deserved some fun in her life.
Liza clicked on Fox News. A young woman was missing in Georgia. A college student. Her picture flashed across the screen. She was blonde and had a big smile that reminded Liza of her own daughter. How sad.
The doorbell rang. She frowned as she uncurled her legs and headed for the door, wondering who it could be.
# # #
Garrison shifted in his chair and stretched his tired back. He stood and glanced at the mahogany antique wall clock, surprised that well over two hours had lapsed since he had begun working. He paused. Was that the doorbell? He couldn’t really tell over the rain, now a soft nettling hum against the tin.
Tonight’s progress pleased him. One logo, for a new dentistry clinic read Gentle Dental Care…Gentle Care for Sensitive Patients in elaborately prepared script. Another logo, for a restaurant, read WASABI…traditional Japanese Cuisine. Above it loomed an imposing Samurai warrior with signature topknot and kimono topped with Kamishimo, sword raised high, ready to engage in battle. Under the logo, in intricate script, appeared the line “Chefs experienced in the art of tableside knife tossing and salt and pepper juggling.”
He shrugged. Not exactly a masterpiece or particularly challenging, but accounts like these put a roof over their heads and provided all the comforts of life. As long as he remained busy. Magic word: busy.
Garrison straightened his work and clicked off the desk lamp. The dampness outside left him with a chill. It was a good night to be inside.
Descending the stairs, he heard voices, soft at first, then Liza’s rising in alarm.
He spanned the last steps two at a time. At the open front door stood two uniformed highway patrolmen. Alarm blasted through him. The smell of rain wafted inside.
“What?” He rushed to Liza’s side and turned her to face him. Liza’s face was pasty white.
“What?” The word burst from him and he knew he really did not want to know what caused her to look like this. But he had to know.
“My God, Liza. What’s wrong?”
Her lips struggled to move, but tears trailed down her cheeks and the words choked off. He spun to face the two officers. “What’s going on here?” he demanded hoarsely.
“There’s been an accident and you’re needed at the hospital.”
Garrison’s brows drew together in confusion. “But…who?”
“Your daughter, sir. And the young man with her.”
“No, no. You’ve got the wrong house.”
He looked at Liza, brow furrowed. Then why is she crying?
“But they’re here,” he insisted, confusion and desperation emanating from him like atomic discharges. His voice dropped to a whisper as he gazed at his wife. “Aren’t they?”
She gulped, swallowed, and replied in a voice barely above a whisper, “No, Garrison. No, they’re not.”
Emily Sue Harvey is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of her works, including Song of Renewal. You can learn more at our website.