Authors: Michele G Miller
From The Wreckage
Michele G. Miller
From The Wreckage
Copyright © 2014 by Michele G Miller
Cover design by Starla Huchton of Designed by Starla
Edited by Stacy Sanford
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or, if real, are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.
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This book is dedicated to T-Town (Tuscaloosa, Alabama), Joplin, Missouri and all those who have suffered from the wrath of Mother Nature.
The human spirit will always endure.
"Take away love, and our earth is a tomb"
"Is this on?"
Jules' eyes flick to the small television across the room as she takes her place in the faded velvet wingback chair. Her own face stares back at her from the screen, indicating the camera is indeed working. Out of habit, her hands run over her strawberry blonde hair. She twirls a curl around her finger and brushes her long bangs to the side. Satisfied with her appearance, she takes a deep breath.
"Okay, Hi," she says softly; her hand lifting in a small wave. "I'm Jules Blacklin from Tyler, Texas. Oh, crap. No, I shouldn't wave,” she tells herself.
Shimmying backward, she tries to find a comfortable sitting position; her sundress catching against the velvet nap of the seat cushion. With a low sigh, she moves to run her hand between her skirt and the chair. Freeing the fabric, Jules adjusts the dress again and crosses her legs daintily, while stealing another glance at the television screen to check her appearance.
She'd set up the small twenty-inch screen on a side table so she would be able to see herself as a video camera recorded her story. Although now the camera only makes her more uneasy. Sitting here, watching herself speak to nobody makes her question her sanity. It feels like something a crazy person would do.
With a thoughtful eye, she watches herself lean forward and rest her elbow on the armrest, and decides to go with the pose; thinking it makes her look studious.
"Okay, yeah...that's good," she speaks aloud.
With a demure nod of her head, she begins again.
"Hi. My name is Jules Blacklin, Hillsdale High class of twenty-fourteen. I'm making this video essay as my contribution to the class of twenty-fourteen time capsule. I..."
She pauses; her mind blanking out for a spell as she smiles into the lens recording her. She takes a moment to steady her thoughts before continuing. "I want to tell you about myself. About what I've been through, and what the town of Tyler has been through. Winston Churchill once said, 'Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer.' Rest assured
I have endured. I have endured, and now I am ready to conquer."
Jules gives herself a mental high-five for remembering the quote and releases a deep breath. With her hands clasped, she leans forward in her seat. Her blue eyes stare directly into the red blinking light used to indicate the camera is recording.
"I'm inviting you on a journey. A journey through my senior year. Actually, if you’re watching this, then I'm going to ask you to be a bystander. See, I'm not making this for you. I'm recording this for the ones who didn't live, the ones I will forever be mindful of. For the ones I knew, the ones I didn't...and especially for the ones I loved. This is for you."
Uncrossing her legs, she leans back in the chair again; her eyes continuing to connect with the nameless faces that will someday watch this DVD. She settles back for her long story, her finger tracing the scrolling pattern across her skirt. She gathers herself, her thoughts and memories. It’s only a few moments — a flash of time — but for her, in her mind she sees everything. Once more, her pale gaze meets the lens and she decides where to start.
"Let's begin with your ending. The last night my life was normal. The last night we were
Her eyes close and she allows her mind to wander back to that muggy Friday night. The late August Texas heat is so thick you can cut through it. In her mind, she can still hear the crowd cheering at the first football game of the season. She recalls the buzzing of the Friday night lights illuminating the football field on campus. The smashing of helmets blend in with the constant, exuberant play-by-play calls of Nick "voice of the Mustangs" Swanson in the background.
Her chest tightens at the perfect memories, and she fast forwards to the parking lot after the game. As if reading a story, she begins to describe the night, the conversations, the feelings...
* * *
"Hey Jules?" Stuart's low voice murmurs into her neck as his warm lips make their way up her throat. Her skin leaps at the touch of his fingers as they skim the skin at the base of her cheerleading uniform top.
"I love seeing you back in this little outfit again." He chuckles and slips his fingers under her top and up her spine.
She laughs lightly. "Mmmhmmm, of course you do."
The gym door behind them slams open, causing her to push Stuart off her gently. They’re leaning against his car in the student parking lot by the gym after the first football game of the season. The Hillsdale Mustangs easily handled their rival team the Rossview Knights with a score of twenty-four to three, and now they’re waiting for the rest of their teammates and friends so they can head out and celebrate. It’s the last weekend of summer break, and come Monday morning, school will be back in session.
"Hey lovebirds, you ready?" shouts Tanya; walking in their direction. Jules looks over Stuart's shoulder as he leans into her again and gives her best friend a quick nod of acknowledgment. Tanya smirks at her and heads towards her car.
The metal door flies open once more ricocheting off the brick wall of the school building as several guys from the football team pour out; their laughing and trash-talking filling the air.
"Let's go back to my place. My parents won't be back until tomorrow," Stuart suggests; pressing a soft kiss to her cheek by her ear, ignoring the commotion around them.
"Stop," she whispers, all the while wrapping her hands around his back and holding him closer.
"C'mon, doll. We can celebrate alone for a change."
"Hey, Stu!" a voice calls out.
The interruption makes Stuart sigh, and he responds with a loud and somewhat annoyed, "What?" His face rests close to Jules' neck.
"Coach was looking for you. He had something he wanted to run by you, I think."
Lifting his arm to let his teammate know he heard him, he turns his attention back to Jules; touching his forehead to hers. Although his face is partially shadowed from the street lights, she can make out his puppy dog pout.
"Whatcha say? Just me and you tonight?"
Jules doesn’t waver. She presses a small kiss to his lips trying to soften the suggestion she knows he won’t like. "Let's go to the Shack, okay?"
"I'm so tired of Friday nights at the Shack, Jules. Man! I can't
to get to USC and have more to do." Obviously angry, he steps back and slides next to her; propping his tall, lean frame against the car door.
"Um, okay. Sorry you're so tired of us here in Texas, surfer boy," she grumbles; facing him and giving his foot a playful kick with the toe of her tennis shoe.
A slight grin teases Stuart's lips. "Aren't you, though? Aren't you ready to get out of here too?"
"We've had this conversation a million times. I'm staying in Texas. I love it here. It's my home."
She’s grateful when the sharp blast of a car horn interrupts their conversation. They both look up as Tanya's car pulls to a stop in front of them, her best friend Katie riding shotgun in the passenger seat. "We're heading out. Y'all gonna stay here all night or are you coming?"
Jules opens her mouth to send them on their way, but Stuart beats her to it. "She's riding with you two," he shouts; straightening and pushing away from the car.
"I'm what?" She can’t believe he is seriously not going to come with her. They've been dating for almost two years now, and Friday nights at the Shack are a way of life in Tyler. Especially for the football team.
"Ride with them and I'll meet you. I need to go see Coach, remember?" he reminds her before leaning in with another long kiss.
"Get a room," heckle her best friends from the car.
They break into obnoxious giggles, crank up a Taylor Swift song causing Jules to laugh into Stuart's mouth. Tanya and Katie begin shouting about being 'Twenty-two', their voices resembling cats in heat, and she cringes and laughs harder.
Stuart growls irritably at the loss of her lips and drops his forehead to her shoulder. She pats the top of his silky blond head, consoling him.
"Damn. And that's why I don't drive with her. My ears would bleed."
"You know you love them," she teases. "Don't let Coach keep you long, ‘kay?"
"Can we go back to my house later?" he asks again; his voice hopeful.
"Maybe," she offers with a wink; not wanting to fight about it right now.
"Love ya." He presses another brief kiss to her lips before making his way back to the gym with a quick wave to Katie and Tanya.
She turns from watching Stuart leave and notices Katie hanging out of the passenger side window. Katie raises her hands in a silent question and Jules shakes her head; opening the door and sliding into the backseat.
"’Bout time, wench," Tanya teases, throwing the vehicle into ‘Drive’.
Katie turns the radio down and twists around in her seat to talk, and Jules can see what’s coming from a mile away. She tries to throw a happy smile on her face, but she's never been any good at fooling Katie, at least not for very long. Katie is the analyzer of the group. You show up happy, sad or even angry, and the girl will pick at you until you tell her what’s up in your life to make you feel that way. She’s also the psychologist; the one who will listen to your problems and give advice.
Katie pops a stick of gum in her mouth, a well known stall tactic, and then starts in on her. "What was up with Mr. Football?"
Leaning forward, Jules steals a stick from the pack for herself. A quick glance at Tanya shows she’s busy playing on her phone while waiting to turn out of the school parking lot.
Thinking she might be able to get out of heavy conversation, Jules lies. "Same ‘ole, same ‘ole."
"Ha!" Tanya bursts out.
So much for being busy
, Jules thinks as Tanya starts in on her. "The boy just wants some action. I saw his grabby hands. You need to put him out of his misery already."