Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who do you love? *note: Eclipse Spoilers*

Edward or Jacob?

That's what my 14 year old babysitter asked me the other day when I picked her up to sit for us and I told her I was reading Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer. Don't know how the Twilight series has effected the girls in your neck of the woods, but here, they are gaga for it. My YW President, Wendy and I decided we'd have to read the books so we would have half a clue what they were talking about.

And now? I'm hooked.

I will also admit, right up front, that I'm mildly jealous of Stephanie Meyer, but I am NOT coveting. I swear. I think there's a difference between wishing it were me TOO not me INSTEAD, right? Please don't hate me.

So, the burning question is, who do you think Bella should be with? Edward or Jacob? Who do you love? My sitter asked me and I said I liked Jacob. But that was the WRONG answer! Silly me! So in my defense I asked who SHE loved:

"Edward of course!" she gushed.


"Because I'm a teenage girl and he's beautiful!" She sort of whined her answer but with an adorable turn of her head and sweet blush that made it all okay.

I love Jacob's passion and fun, his sense of adventure and, well, his humanness ... albeit somewhat imperfect humanness given he's a werewolf and all. BUT I do probably really love Edward best. There's no doubt in my mind that I want Edward and Bella together forever. I want her to be bitten, to be changed, and to live happily ever after with Edward - NOT to make Bella happy, but to make Edward happy. I love him that much that I want him to have the woman that makes him happy ... even if that woman is not me.

I also wish and hope that in Book Four of the Twilight series Jacob finds the girl he can 'imprint' on so he can have his heart mended and made whole again. He deserves it. Poor wolfy boy.

So inquiring minds want to know ... Who do you love best?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gone Fishin'

A while back one of my friends (and I'm wracking my brain to remember who ... I'm sorry I can't remember!) wrote this great blog about how ideas are just ... AHA I JUST REMEMBERED!! IT WAS JOSI I THINK! ... swimming around the universe just waiting to be caught. Like fish. Except the fish have twins or quadruplets or sextuplets or something and maybe the SAME fish can be caught by different people. The *trick* is, who will use the idea best/first/more publicly. And maybe more, I dunno.

So I'm sitting down to watch a show on t.v. tonight. Hubby's dental surgery was today (it went great! But with his heart condition and blood thinner stuff and just stuff and stuff it was a long and tiring day) and I just wanted to V-E-G in front of the t.v. I had TiVo'd a few new shows and I like to watch them up front so I know if it's a waste of space on my DVR to have them recording each week if they're no good. I got out my journal ready to write about my last few days (because I haven't been writing in case you hadn't caught on to that general theme I was moaning about the other day) and turned on the new show Reaper.

Seriously, I wrote the date and part of one line before I had to put the pen and book away because journal-writing just wasn't going to happen today. I was too busy either watching the show with my mouth hanging open or laughing out loud. And not the internet version of LOL but literally laughing out loud. The show was funny!

What the show also was contributed to my mouth hanging open. Do remember the interactive story contest entry "The Jailer"? Well I wrote that one and my intent was to make him a bounty hunter that was in charge of collecting bad souls and sending them to hell. Mild mannered accountant by day, Grim Reaper by night (or day, depending on when he was needed - just like Superman). I had intended the story, had it been picked, to be funny and entertaining as well as adventure-filled and exciting. JUST LIKE THIS SHOW!!!

Just boggles the mind.

I'm also writing a book called The Devils' Daughter in which the literal daughter of Satan wants nothing more than to be good. The similarities between this new show Reaper, my short story excerpt thingy and the book I'm writing are just well ... freakishly weird.

Guess we all caught a clone or something of the same fish, just THEY fried theirs up sooner than I did. Very interesting. Don't ya think?

BTW, Reaper was very entertaining - definitely NOT getting nuked from my TiVo list just yet. :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

And Our Winner Is ...

Yes, I'm calling it a day with my little Interactive Story Contest. I had a massive blow out with my email on one computer that has now completely died. We had a funeral for it last night, very touching. Anyhoo, there has been only one writer who's really been holding all this together; I talked to her and she has gracefully allowed me to just bow out while I still have a teensy weensy portion of my dignity intact.

So without any more ado, I give you our winner:

Laura Fowler

Thank you Laura for all your great stories! She wins both the most voted for and the most submitted - so TWO $10.00 gift certificates to

Thank you to all who participated, both in submitting stories and in voting. Maybe I'll do this again sometime ... dunno!

Onward and Upward though!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

BIAM Challenge

Eek! I just realized I am about 10, 000 words behind my goal! Yikes!

It is true I haven't been writing this week. I am really sad to admit this because during that first week I felt like my world had changed and I WAS A WRITER. This week, though, I've allowed obligations and appointments to interfere and I totally DON'T feel like a writer.

In my defense though, let's examine what's gone down this week:

My sweet husband had a root canal that went bad. A piece of the file tip broke off and is no lodged in his root canal. Ouch! So he's had a few extra visits to an endodontist, and many phone calls to be made by me to arrange his appointments and such, not to mention chauffer services.

I found out I am insulin resistant, hence my inability to lose weight these past seven weeks that I've been on Weight Watchers. I am relieved to know there is a real reason why I wasn't losing weight, but sad to learn that now I have to totally change my relationship with food, not just 'diet'. Today I took the first step on the path to a new and healthier ME. Wish me luck!

Also, we had a big Mutual - you know the one with the plane crash where everyone dies and then they go to the different kingdoms to learn what awaits them there? It was powerful and moving. Wow.

OK, now that I'm writing this I can see that none of these things precluded my ability to write. I guess I have no idea why I didn't do a good job writing this week.

So see ya! I've got to go write now!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Readers Anonymous

Hello, my name is Ali, and I am addicted to reading. Unlike regular anonymous help groups, abstaining is strictly out of the question. Perish the thought. I don't even think it would be good for me to abstain. No, in this case the key is MODERATION. Problem is, when you're an interminably slow reader like I am it takes TIME to read. *sigh* When I get a good book that's hard for me to put down, it's all I can do ... it's like an obsession. By the wayside falls trivial things like housework, cooking, personal hygiene. It's just all about the BOOK.

So it's ironic that Candace should tag me with this little book meme ... though I'm embarassed to go after her since her answers were much more admirable than mine. Oh well. Here goes!

1. My Reading ∙ I will read pretty much anything. My fave is fantasy, but I don't have a favorite author; everyone has their good and bad books. I also enjoy the occasional romance, my favorites being Nora Roberts (though sometimes I have to skip steamy scenes), and Candace Salima. I also read LDS inspirational books some, love mysteries, though I think good ones are hard to find. Like I said, I'll try anything out for size.

2. Total Number of Books Owned ∙ Seriously? Am I supposed to give a number? Well, I have no idea. I read non-stop, but I don't keep all the books I read. Unless it's a book I intend to read again - like an inspirational book - I don't keep it. There are only four novels I have ever - EVER - read more than once, so I have them. Otherwise, I read 'em and pass 'em on.

3. Last Book Bought ∙ Stephanie Meyer's Eclipse. I am really enjoying it, hence why I need to join Readers Anonymous.

4. Last Book Read ∙ Stephanie Meyer's New Moon. I could barely eat or dress myself while reading this massive book. It was much better than Twilight, the first in the series. Loved it.

5. Five Meaningful Books ∙ (I only did four ... sorry!)

The Book of Mormon
~ This book changed my life, literally. I have not been the same person since I read it. I read it more than seven times within a year from receiving it. I cried, I was inspired, my life was changed.

The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay ~ I love this trilogy more than any other novel(s) I have ever read. It moved me in every way possible. When I was first finished reading, my tears blurring the words on the page, I just sat in stunned silence. Even when re-reading it, I am touched the same way. It was these books that made me want to be a writer, to truly decide THIS is what I wanted to do ... I wanted to touch people, move them, the way Kay does through these three books. It is a truly remarkable fantasy series you would do well to read. They are wonderful, astounding.

In A Dark Wood Wandering by Helga Haas ~ Lyrical and epic, this is a sometime disturbing but profoundly moving tale set in 15th century France of an exiled member of Charles VI's court. The poetry in this book is amazing and original to the real Charles d'Orleans who this book is based on. This is an historical novel, written originally in Dutch; the research was painstaking and thorough ... but more than all that is the beauty of the words. The whole book reads like poetry.

Be of Good Cheer by Marvin J. Ashton ~ This book has been a comfort and a guide to me, teaching me to how to find joy in every day living but particularly through the atonement. I couldn't provide a link for you because Deseret Book doesn't have a listing for it and Amazon's was even more minimal than my brief comments.

The Other Wise Man by Harry Van Dyke ~ I love this story. I find it so moving and uplifting. I want to be like this man ... never wavering on my course to find the Savior by always abounding in good works and stopping to help others along the way. My husband and I used to sit, on Christmas Eve, chilled apple cider in hand, fire glowing, tree lights twinkling, and read through the entire book. It was our gift to each other, to help us remember our Savior and how we can best grow closer to Him. We don't do that anymore; the book is a little too long for our little boys, but we probably could/ought to read a little each day leading up to Christmas. It's worth reading every year ... it's lovely.

Umm, that's all I can think of at this moment. I'm a hard nut to crack and so it takes a lot to get added to my 'favorites of all time' list.

I went to see a movie tonight that was exciting and adventure-packed, and you know what I was thinking? I can't wait to get home and read my book!

*sigh* Maybe I need to take a speed reading course because maybe then I could read my books AND live my life. Unless it just gave me license to go back and read it again!

As for you I might tag ... I have to admit I haven't been reading my friends' blogs the way I ought to lately, so I'm sure to embarass myself here by tagging someone who has already been tagged by someone else. So I'm going to take the game outside of my writing-friends circle and include my other blogging friends. Here goes: April (who reads like a crazy person - she might even read as many books as Tristi!), Anne, and Susan.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Interactive Story Contest ~ Further Delays

I apologize to those of you who are participating in the Interactive Story - I've hit a snag retrieving one of your documents and I didn't want to post the entries until they were all ready to post. I'll get it up and running as soon as possible!

Sorry again!

Happy Birthday Sam!

Today is Sam's thirteenth birthday; he is a young man now, poised on the brink of his life. I haven't seen him in three and a half years and my heart aches to see the young man he has become.

I'm writing this here, because there is no guarantee, despite his foster mom's wonderful care and concern for him, that he'll ever read the letters we send to him there. At least here, should he ever google us, he might find my notes to him here and know that he was/is/and ever will be loved.

Sam had the most amazing spirit of anyone I've known. He had a core of goodness in him and you knew his great gift from God was his ability to love and to truly care about other people. And so it's not a big surprise that it was exactly those virtues that Satan strove to turn into his greatest vice.

But I don't want to dwell on the negative, I want to celebrate my boy, my first boy, my cherished and loved one.

Sam was a true gift from God to David and I. A real miracle. We felt it, the moment he was born ... we'd thought maybe he'd be born to us, for we'd seen him in dreams for years, but we knew when his time was coming and when he was born we both just knew. We started looking for him immediately. It took us three and a half years and a change of cities to find him, but when we did, again, we knew; this was OUR boy.

Even though he has not been able to live with us these past few years, and he has not wanted to talk to us in so long, we love him still. We hear he is growing into a capable young man, giving and receiving love for the first time in his short life. He plays the guitar and I wish I could listen to some Stan Rogers with him and have a mother/son bonding moment.

I want to throw my arms around him and hug him tight. I want to look into his blue, blue eyes and see my love reflecting back at me. I want to hear him play the guitar and sing along. I guess I just really want my son back. I want him to know how much I love and miss him.

One day, if he ever reads this, if he ever questions or wonders why, I hope he understands what the answer to all of his questions has always been; because I love him.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Interactive Story Contest

Hello Friends :)

There will be a slight delay in posting the Contest Entries ... but I will post them as soon as possible, probably Monday night.

I apologize for the delay ~ please check back Tuesday morning!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My Season ...

You Belong in Fall

Intelligent, introspective, and quite expressive at times...

You appreciate the changes in color, climate, and mood that fall brings

Whether you're carving wacky pumpkins or taking long drives, autumn is a favorite time of year for you

What Season Are You?

Absolutely and unequivocally true. I love this time of year.

Labor Day weekend my babies were born ~ true miracles, gifts from God. I still can't believe it. Back to school is when minds are reawakened and new adventure waits around every corner.
My husbands', sisters' and best friends birthdy are all in the fall ~ perfect opportunities to show these cherished people how much I love them.
Halloween ~ just plain ol' good fun.
Family photographs, in preparation for Christmas cards ~ love them!
Thanksgiving and Christmas ~ times to be with family and take note of sweet blessings.

I also love this time of year for the more subtle things ... the way the sun feels more golden, the shadows longer; it speaks of secrets to tell and lovers to hold. The smell of the leaves as they fall to the ground, promising rebirth in the spring. The rain that falls, cleansing the earth of the summer dirt and grime. For a brief moment, before winter snows blanket the ground, the earth is made pristine, like a child freshly scrubbed for Sunday.

Yep, my favorite season is Autumn. Love it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

DUH!!! Interactive Story Contest

I've decided to give away two $10.00 gift cards to We can always use more books, right?

A few said too keep the contest going while one person dissented, but the majority wins, so on we go!

So Writers! Please submit your entry based on either 'The Author', 'The Source' or 'Suspicion' to me by Sunday night at midnight.

Remember, the person with the most sumissions will win a prize and the person who's stories receive the most votes will win a prize too! It's not too late! Join on in!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


(I have to preface this by saying that every time I say or hear the word tragedy I always immediately think "Traged-ed-y! When the feeling's gone and you can't go on it's Traged-ed-y" by the Bee Gee's. I mean, don't you?)

Anyway. Tragedy.

I'm sure you writer-types out there have all already been through something depressing like this, but this is my first time. I'm a tragedy virgin. At least THIS type of tragedy.

I lost a chapter in my current book.

And it was a GREAT chapter. Clever and fun, stuff happened in it. It wasn't just filler. It was my big 'reveal' chapter. This is where, if I wasn't concerned about your sensibilities I would swear my head off. I'm just ... ARGH.

My computer genius hubby tried and tried but there was no recovering my chapter. How did I lose it? I'm working on a laptop and every now and then I'll inadvertently somehow manage to undo things I've just written or cut them or I don't know what. Well, I was getting to work today and somehow my chapter five got moved out from behind chapter six and tacked on to the end of my story. I (bad bad me!) thought that it had been copied and placed there so I ... (I shudder to recall it) deleted it. It wasn't until AFTERWARDS that it dawned on me that I might have MOVED the chapter and there wasn't a copy of it hiding in its' proper place behind chapter six.

No, I did not realize it until after I had saved it.

No, I did not have a back up copy of the draft before todays work.

Yes, I feel like an utter and complete idiot.

I wrote nearly a thousand new words today, but it doesn't change the fact that I LOST nearly two thousand. Two thousand words!!!!!

I'm devastated. It's a real tragedy. Tell me, please, that I'm not alone in my sorrow? How do you get over the loss? Are you ever happy with the recreation work you do? I feel like nothing will ever be the same as that first, real love. Oh, I mean, story. We're talking about stories here. If you have any advice, oh sage ones, lay it on me. I'm dying for some pick-me-ups.

A Tie!

A 'three-way' at that, hardee har har.

It looks like we'll continue with all three story lines - The Author, The Source, and Suspicion until one of them gets bumped out. Especially since it looks like we'll keep this little game going for a while longer.

So, whether you wrote either of the winning chapters or not, please feel free to pick up the story and carry on! You can send your submissions to me here. And check back next Monday to place your vote!

Thanks for playing!

Monday, September 10, 2007

"If you knew how many secrets I'm keeping from you, you'd totally trust me."
Sean Spencer, Psych

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Interactive Story Contest ~ Monday, September 10th

I think interest in my little project is dwindling, but it's been fun! Not sure if we'll go further ... we only had two submissions this time, so I went ahead and wrote one just for kicks. I'm not going to tell you which one though ;)

I'm going to run two polls this week:

The poll for the winner of this week's chapter. Please vote :)

And a poll to determine whether we should try for another chapter, or just end things here. Don't worry, my feelings won't be hurt ;)

I did this little thing cuz I thought it would be fun. And it has ... but as participation has been slow to none, it's getting boring for me. LOL. Not enough action. Plus I have kind of felt like my blog's been hijacked by my little project and it's been hard for me to blog about other stuff.

However, if you're interested in reading more ... or at least in seeing an 'ending' to the story ... let me know and we'll keep going until we can finish it up. It's all been for YOU anyway.

So voters, vote away!

And writers, if you want a chance to finish the story ... vote your say and then submit!

Thanks you guys!

Chapter Three ~ The Author

“Interactive Story Chapter Two Ended”, a computerized voice announced. Joseph wiped away long dried tears and tried to rouse himself.

A pretty attendant wearing a name badge that read Kimberly smiled kindly at him, “You picked an intense story to experience. Most people want something more upbeat.”

“Don’t suppose you have any Stephen King” Joseph joked in response. He didn’t intend to flirt initially but he enjoyed Kimberly’s smile. Not wanting the conversation to die just yet Joseph flashed his badge, “Actually my interest in the story is more than just casual. I’m a detective with the Historic Crimes Division. We solve unsolved cases from even as far back as this.”

“As far back as 2015? Wow. What does this book have to do with your case,” Kimberly asked with apparent interest.

“The author of this book disappeared after writing it. Some say the details of her disappearance mimic the story of the husband in this book. Except of course the happily ever after part. There has to be clues in here,” Joseph said gesturing at the tiny computer that fed the interactive experience directly into his brain.

“I just hate to watch a cute guy cry. Seemed like you were really suffering.”
“Yeah, well that’s what happens when you lose the love of your life.”

“Aw” Kimberly replied her eyes sparkling. “Have to be careful with romances and crime novels. Nothing but trouble. Yesterday my beau broke my heart… ‘Pride and Prejudice’ of course… I’m a romantic if you couldn’t tell.”

“Well in that case I feel compelled to let you cry on my shoulder over a cup of coffee and maybe you can tell me more about Ali Cross the author.”
“I’d love to!” Kimberly flashed a smile and her eyes grew brighter.

*Please note, that even though my name appears in this story, I didn't write it! Just the author having a bit of fun, I think ;)

Chapter Three ~ The Source

Three days later Joseph fell asleep amid a tornado of papers and things. The papers, financial, personal and otherwise hadn’t yielded anything relevant to the accident. He’d found some receipts that confirmed that Tory was keeping track of expenses that were related to unusual travel and other expenses that seemed to confirm that she was a secret agent, but none of them were recent. If she had been a CIA agent or spy, there seemed to be no evidence that she had been active after their first child was born. Still that revelation alone had been enough to cause Joseph’s new obsession to completely take over.

After what may have been five minutes or five hours Joseph woke. He knew he wouldn’t be able to voluntarily fall asleep again so he momentarily gave into hunger eating a few bites of takeout that had been in the fridge for at least two weeks. He almost welcomed the idea of becoming sick from the disgustingly cold noodles as he slurped them down mechanically. At least getting sick would allow his body to physically express the feelings that bubbled inside him.

Next Joseph turned to the most daunting task, Tory’s laptop. He knew without guessing her password he would have no chance of recovering significant information. Surely any sensitive information especially top secret kind of stuff would be encrypted so a standard forensics disk would only find unreadable data.

Suddenly the phone rang.

Joseph didn’t recognize the number but answered it with hope and suspicion. “Hello?”
A garbled voice responded. “We need to talk. I don’t feel right about what the agency did. You will find a post card in your mailbox with information on how to reach me.” With that the caller hung up.

His heart racing, Joseph thumbed through the numbers on the handset and called the number back. A generic recording responded “This number has been disconnected.”

Chapter Three ~ Suspicion

Joseph hung up the phone quickly. He stood, trembling,staring at the phone, his hands braced against the kitchen counter on either side of the sleek modern telephone.

When the phone rang, he jumped about two feet into the air and in spite of himself, he let out a small yell. He let out a sigh of relief though when he saw it was Tory's mom. though it made no sense, he realized he'd been half fearing that the lady - or someone else - from CPS would call him back.

He placed a cool hand on his forehead and answered the phone.


"Hi Joe. How are you?" Suzanne sounded tired herself. He knew she hadn't been sleeping well and that she'd been a lot more busy than normal helping him with the boys and around the house too.

"Uhh. I'm okay." But his voice shook and he knew he didn't sound okay.

"Really? You know, it's perfectly normal for you to not be okay Joe. Do you want to talk?"

"No Suzanne. I don't." Joe moved the mouthpiece up and away from his mouth. With his free hand on his hip, Joe bent over to put his head between his knees. He was starting to hyperventilate. Suddenly he had an idea.

He stood up straight so quickly that he got stars popping in front of his eyes. He was going to have to watch his blood pressure with all the stress he was under.

"Actually Suzanne, I do have a question for you." He held his breath. Wait. He didn't know anything yet and if he wasn't careful he could ruin it all, right now. He had to figure out what the heck that woman at the agency meant, but he couldn't just go charging around like a bull in a china shop. Tory often said some situations required finesse. All of a sudden he was quite sure this was one of those moments.

"Sure, honey. What is it?"

"Umm, nothin' Suzanne. Nothing. I'm just ... " Oh man, his brain was in a fog. He had to think clearly. "I'm just not thinking clearly. Can you keep the boys at your place after school for a while? Maybe till after dinner?"

"Sure, honey. What's going on?"

"Nothing." He was feeling a bit more confident now. "I'm just hurting a bit more today and want a chance to compose myself before the boys get home." There, that ought to do it. He waited, holding his breath, while Suzanne answered.

"You bet Joe. Why don't you call me when you're ready and I'll bring them home."

"Great! Great, thanks Suzanne. Bye." He hung up the phone and let out his breath.

He whirled around to face the wide, open kitchen. It wasn't too messy, since Suzanne had been stopping by every day after school to feed them dinner. Joe hadn't been eating too much else.

He wondered if Suzanne knew anything about what Tory might have been in to. If she did, any clues that might be hiding in the house might already be gone. But there was only one way to find out and only about 8 hours to find out.

He'd start right here, in Tory's kitchen.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Happy New Year!!

I meant to post this days ago, but ... better late than never, right? And anyway, you're probably thinking I'm a nut. The New Year is four months away, or at least, it is for you, ha ha. For me, it's the start of the school year that is the true New Year.

A real chance to start fresh, new activities, new rules, new goals and challenges. And all those wonderful new school supplies! Oh man, I'm in heaven! I only wish I had an excuse to buy stuff for myself (I do buy a few things, lol) and not only for my two small boys who need precious little just yet. But binders, and loose leaf and pens, oh my! It's enough to make a girls' head swim. And things are so pretty these days! Like I said, I got myself a few things I couldn't resist ;)

Here's a pic of my big boys ... Grade Two! Wow. They say they love it and love their teacher. Yippee!!

And the winner is ... CONSPIRACY!!

Just to clarify, I did not write this. I did enter in this last group, but mine didn't win :( But the person who won appreciates your votes, I'm sure!!

So, our next 'excerpt' for Finding Hope should be based on chapter two's 'Conspiracy'.

Was Joseph's wife an agent? An agent for CPS, or for someone else? Heeheehee. Was she a bad guy? A good guy? And of course ... was her death an accident?

What will Joseph do now? Where will he go?

Writers ... get those creative juices flowing and write us a chapter three! We voters will be anxiously awaiting to read what happens next!!

And voters ... tune in next Monday for Chapter Three!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Chapter Two ~ Conspiracy

The funeral was held on a Thursday, which didn’t matter since Joseph had stopped keeping track of the days, how long it had been since then was unclear. Work had ceased to count in the reckoning of days. Perhaps work was the least important thing of all, which was something that had never before occurred to Joseph. The police returned his family’s personal effects two days prior which was the only other date of note so far.

Joseph had unpacked the personal effects onto the dining room table and there they had remained. The table had no more important role in his new life then to hold the items that represented his new world. A world made up of himself, memories and reminders of his former happiness. The personal effects spread out on the table only served to cement the reality of his new non-life. The effects amounted to his wife’s purse and a few stuffed animals and a McDonald’s toy that someone included perhaps as a gesture not to offend by assuming it was as meaningless as any other fast-food toy to any other parent.

The cell-phone on the table buzzed. Joseph had not moved or touched anything until now and he reached out in surprise and excitement expecting somehow that his wife was calling him to tell him she was ok. The sledgehammer of reality struck again an instant later as the rational part of his mind overcame the emotional. With tear-filled eyes he tried to focus on the number of the caller. It didn’t matter did it? Perhaps it did if they didn’t know she was no longer living. They should know, she was a good person, an important person, they should know that she was no longer there. They should have realized the world was no longer right. How could they not? He pushed the button to answer and tell them…but the caller had already hung up. Who else hadn’t realized? Who else didn’t know? Who else didn’t value her friendship enough to care if she were alive or dead? Angrily Joseph thumbed through her recent caller list. The most recent, some idiot from her book club by the looks of it…,nothing, nothing, and there, on the day of the accident, the only day from which anything in his new world revolved, one call not one minute after he had kissed her goodbye and started his car to head to work.

An intense need to know who had been the last person to talk to her burned inside him with a fire equaling that of his grief. He pushed the call button and waited. Momentarily a bored sounding woman answered, “Child Services Agency.”

Confusion swirled inside, Joseph felt silly and at the same time frustrated with his suspicion confronted with the obvious answer that this was a benign call from someone at the Agency that Tory had worked at during the early days of their marriage. It had been so long that he’d forgotten. He fought the intense desire to hang up and paused for a moment determining to ask who might have called her. He should know he convinced himself. The woman repeated her greeting sounding just as bored as the time before, “Child Services Agency.”

Joseph blurted out the first thing that came to his mind, something he’d heard his wife say numerous times in the distant past. “I need help with a person.” He thought it was so cute how Tory used that phrase to get total strangers to open up and provide her with a seemingly limitless amount of information. It was her gift. He thought in this moment perhaps the phrase would work its magic for him too. He intended to explain that he wanted to talk to the person who had most recently called Tory but what happened next surprised him.

The woman’s voice took on a more interested tone… “Which asset is reporting in?”

Chapter Two ~ The Bargain

Joseph lifted his tired head to gaze at the stained glass window above the altar at which he prayed. Jessica lay, clinging to life, in a bed two floors up from where he now knelt. He still couldn't believe she was alive, though that joy was fading fast in the light of her critical condition. The boys, miraculously, had come through the accident unscathed. His mother had them at home now, trying to shower them with normalcy so they wouldn't catch on to the tragedy that now enfolded their family.

Joseph's head throbbed. The paramedics had worked him over good, stitching up the deeper cuts and putting those tiny butterfly bandaids on a dozen others. But it was the accident that caused his pounding headache but the tears that had obliterated his thinking and consumed him for the past two hours since the doctor had sent him running from Jessica's room with the news of her condition.

She was alive, yes, but she would not remain. She would die, it was only a matter of time. Why he ran, he didn't know. He should have stayed with her, he should be with her now. Only his grief was too great to be contained in that small, cramped room, with it's humming machines and beeping monitors. He had run down the flights of stairs until the map beside the door had informed him there was a chapel housed there. He dashed for it, wrenching open the door and flinging himself at the base of the altar where he had remained these past two hours. For all he knew, Jessica was leaving him, right now. She may be looking for him, reaching out to him at this very moment, and yet, here he remained.

“Oh God. Oh God, I don't know if you're here, but I need you. I need you God. Please.”

Joseph looked up at the glass. There was no depiction of Christ on the cross, no saint, no angels. This chapel was non-denominational, and so no connection to any religion was allowed. Yet, it was peaceful here, the colors and quiet soothing. Joseph didn't need a picture of Christ anyway, to know to Whom he prayed. He rested his elbows on the altar and looked at his hands, interlaced together. His tears dripped onto his knuckles, and ran down the back of his hands. He bent his head, resting his forehead on his knuckles and gave every ounce of his being, all of his passion to this one prayer, this moment, when he would ask for a miracle.

“Dear God. Jessica is dying. Oh God, Father. Please don't let her die. Our little boys, they ... they need her father. Please don't take her from them. Take me instead. Take me, Father, and let her live.”

For a long while, silence reigned in the small room. Joseph strained every ounce of his being toward hearing an answer to his prayer. He longed to feel something, anything, to let him know his prayer had been heard, perhaps even answered. Yet only his own sniffles and occasional cough interrupted the utter stillness of the room. Joseph bowed his head in resignation. He was alone. And Jessica was alone.

He pressed his hands to the altar to help him gain his feet. He was achy and stiff after kneeling there for so long. He swayed a little once he had found his feet. A moment longer he stood and gazed at the nondescript stained glass, when a quiet voice jolted him from his reverie.

“I hear you Joseph.” So mild, so sweet, the voice was an answer from God. But when Joseph turned, only a man stood there.

Dressed in a simple black suit, the man smiled mildly at Joseph.

“Your wish, if you still desire it Joseph, will be granted. Jessica will live. Is that what you want?”

“Wh-who are you?” The hair on the back of Joseph's neck stood up and chills ran up his arms. He was certain this was no angel.

“You offered to give up your life, that Jessica may live. Do you stand by your offer? Do you want to save your wife?” An almost imperceptible edge had crept into the mans voice. Joseph took a step backward, banging the backs of his knees painfully against the edge of the altar.

“Can you save my wife?” He asked suspiciously. He would do anything for her.

“Yes, Joseph. It is within my power to bring her back to this life, that she may live and enjoy a full life with your boys. Is that what you want? Or have you changed your mind?”

Joseph raked his fingers through his hair and blinked his burning eyes at the carpet at his feet.

Oh God, what is happening? Is this what You want me to do? What is it, I'm being asked to do? Joseph's mind was already made up though. He would do anything for Jessica.

“I will do anything for her,” he said.

And the man in the black suit laughed, quietly.

“I thought it might be so,” he said, inclining his head slightly in Joseph's direction. “In a moment a nurse will come to tell you that Jessica has made remarkable improvement and the doctor has upgraded her condition to stable.”

The man walked down the aisle until he stood not two feet from Joseph.

His eyes twinkled when he said, “Jessica will live, Joseph. And you ... well, you will die.”

Chapter Two ~ Time Remembered

Joseph stood, his mouth wrenched open in a silent cry of mourning. Long ago his voice had given out and left him without tears, without hope. His fists were balled so tightly that his narrow nails had broken through the skin, leaving tiny rivulets of blood to drop to his feet.

He blinked his eyes. Time had stopped for him, though all around him progress in the clean-up had been made. His own family had been extricated from their mini-van and taken away. He didn't remember it, but paramedics had tried to help him too. When it was discovered he was utterly unmovable, they had simply left him alone. Now he slowly turned his aching neck and saw the last of the ambulances pulling away. All that was left now were the tow-trucks and myriad police vehicles with the task of figuring out what had happened here.

Joseph held up his aching, bleeding palms and looked at them. The blood traced the lines on his palm, his life line. He remembered in a flash, how Carolyn had laughed while she traced his uncommonly long life long around the base of his thumb. “You're going to live forever!” she had said. He remembered too, with a wince of pain that shot straight through his heart, that he had chosen not to comment on her short stubby line that ended abruptly midway through the fleshy part of her palm. He didn't really believe in that sort of thing anyway.

A quick intake of breath and a different sort of pain, this time piercing his brain just above and behind his right ear brought another memory, and every second of it's remembrance was excruciating.

Another palm, lines blanketed in blood. Not by accident, but caused, he was suddenly certain, by the viciously sharp bowie knife Joseph had wielded. Not his palm that bled, but anothers. Whose he couldn't recall, but he knew he had done that before, that he had found it to be a remarkably useful interrogation tool.

Not that his job had normally been interrogation. No, his skill had soon be found to be quite extraordinary in the art of killing. Soon there was no need for him behind closed doors, fiddling with tape recorders and truth serums. The world became his office, the tools of his trade many, as he perfected the art of the kill.

Joseph fell to his knees. He pressed his knees deep into the torn up road, relishing, welcoming, the fresh pain the gravel brought to the tight flesh of his knees. He pressed his bloodied palms to his pounding head, threw his head between his knees.

Coming faster now, the memories flew at him like knives in a failed circus act. Each one found its mark and did its damage. Memories of war, of a sterile hospital where he thought he had died. Memories of killing, more than he could stomach. Another death, this one welcomed and sweet in its release. Memories of Carolyn, of his boys. A time fresh and vibrant in its beauty and love. A real life, the one he should have had.

But now it was over. Everything was over, and yet it had all started again. Who was he? Whose memories were these? And rising above it all, a roar born of infinite sorrow and need. Who had done this to him? That question above all others became the hallmark of his new existence, born in that instant on that broken road. He would find them, and when he did, they would pay. And pay. And pay.