Steven Manchester: A third excerpt from GOODNIGHT, BRIAN

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GoodnightBrianEnough time had passed for the shock of Brian’s condition to wear off. Joan had stumbled beyond the grieving process and had given up negotiating with God. She was now at a place called rage. Mama sat with her daughter at the kitchen table, trying to help her make sense of it all. “Maybe Brian’s a test from God?” Mama suggested.

“Why would God test a little baby who’s never done a thing wrong? Why would He test an innocent child?” Joan snapped back.

Mama shook her head. “I didn’t say God was testing Brian,” she said evenly. There was a thoughtful pause. “Maybe He’s testing everyone around Brian?”

“I don’t want to hear that!” Joan roared. “My son will never be able to enjoy the life of other people who don’t…”

Mama slapped her hand on the Formica table, stopping Joan in mid-sentence and turning her face into that of a seven-year-old girl’s. “Not another negative word, do you hear me?” she yelled back, quickly grabbing her daughter’s hands and holding them tightly. “Positive, Joan—everything must be positive! Negative calls for negative and positive brings forth positive. Brian’s already facing some unfair challenges. We have to be positive, Joan. We just have to be!”

Joan wiped her eyes. “But what if the doctor’s right, Ma?” she muttered in a tortured voice. “What if…”

Without letting Joan’s hands go, Mama took a deep breath and started in on her own tirade. “The doctors don’t know what the hell they’re talking about! I had a grandmother who lived her whole life as a brittle diabetic, but she ate anything she wanted. She died three days before her eighty-fifth birthday. Your grandfather supposedly had cirrhosis of the liver, but lived with his bottle for forty more years until old age took him. They don’t know beans! Besides, we need to have faith in a higher source.” She pulled her crucifix away from her neck and kissed it. “You have to believe, Joan. Before any of the healing can take place, you have to believe that it will.” She nodded and lowered her tone. “Only God knows how…and that’s enough.”

Joan placed her face in her hands and began to cry. She was now completely removed from her rage and safely returned to the stage of grief. “I’m…just…so… scared,” she stuttered, sobbing.

Mama stroked her hair. “Don’t you worry, love. They say that children are raised by a village.” She nodded her gray, curly head. “I think it’s about time we had a village meeting.”

Manchester Author PhotoSteve Manchester is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of his works, including Goodnight, Brian. You can learn more at our website.

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On June 27, 2013
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