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Authors: Chris Fabry

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June Bug

BOOK: June Bug
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Table of Contents

JUNE BUG

 

by

 

CHRIS FABRY

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Carol Stream, Illinois

Praise for Chris Fabry

 

“Anne Lamott said that good writing is about telling the truth. Chris Fabry has done this. Beautifully.
June Bug
is masterful. An honest story that lingered long after I turned the last page.”

Charles Martin
, Christy Award–winning author of
Where the River Ends

“From the moment I read the first chapter, I couldn’t put this book down. A story carved out of real-life dynamics,
June Bug
captures the heart. I highly recommend it.”

Gary Chapman,
PhD, author of
The Five Love Languages

“In
June Bug,
Chris Fabry weaves his talent as a storyteller and his heart for the suffering people of this world into a well-told tale of sacrifice and healing, sorrow and hope, and what happens when we remain faithful to those we love. Well-written and bursting with life.”

Lisa Samson,
Christy Award–winning author of
Quaker Summer


June Bug
is a heartwarming tale and a precious reminder that God moves in mysterious ways to create families. June Bug is a heroine you’re not likely to forget.”

Angela Hunt,
Christy Award–winning author of
The Note II: Taking a Chance on Love

“An emotionally riveting novel that readers will not soon forget,
June Bug
is an endearing story to cherish. Chris Fabry stole the hearts of readers with
Dogwood
and his fans will be thrilled to know that
June Bug
does not disappoint.”

Tina Ann Forkner,
author of
Ruby Among Us

“Once the story starts cooking, [
Dogwood
] is difficult to put down, what with Fabry’s surprising plot resolution and themes of forgiveness, sacrificial love, and suffering.”

Publishers Weekly

“Fabry has written an unusual and emotional tale with a startling twist.”

Library Journal

“Ultimately a story of love and forgiveness, [
Dogwood
is] . . . highly recommended.”

CBA Retailers + Resources

“[
Dogwood
] is a page-turner that keeps the reader guessing until the end.”

AnE Vibe


Dogwood
is . . . a book about deep secrets, the effort it takes to heal catastrophic hurts, and a thriller with an excellent plot climax.”

1340magbooks.com

“Chris Fabry’s debut adult novel is a mosaic of humanity, God’s grace, and the power of love. Solidly literary fiction,
Dogwood
also contains a mystery within the story that adds tension and a deepening plot. . . . Fabry is a wordsmith and quite a storyteller.”

Novel Reviews


Dogwood
will captivate you from cover to cover.”

Readerviews.com

 

Visit Tyndale’s exciting Web site at www.tyndale.com

Visit Chris Fabry’s Web site at www.chrisfabry.com

TYNDALE
and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

June Bug

Copyright © 2009 by Chris Fabry. All rights reserved.

Cover photograph of girl copyright © by Radius Images/Jupiterimages. All rights reserved.

Cover flourish elements copyright © by Shutterstock Images. All rights reserved.

Author photo copyright © by Herb Wetzel. All rights reserved.

Designed by Beth Sparkman

Edited by Lorie Popp

Scripture quotations are taken from
The Holy Bible,
King James Version.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Fabry, Chris, date.

June bug / Chris Fabry

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-4143-1956-8 (pbk.)

ISBN 978-1-4143-3332-8 (Mobipocket)

ISBN 978-1-4143-3334-2 (eReader)

ISBN 978-1-4143-3333-5 (Sony)

1. Fathers and daughters—Fiction. 2. Family—Fiction. West Virginia—Fiction.

I. Title.

PS3556.A26J86 2009

813'.54—dc22 2009013140

Special Copyright Notice

 

The text of this book is an eBook file intended for one reader only. It may be used by that reader on computers and devices that he or she owns and uses. It may not be transmitted in whole or part to others except as stated above.

Up to 500 words of this work may be quoted without written permission of publisher, provided it is not part of a compilation of works nor more than 5 percent of the book or work in which it is being quoted. The full title, author's name, and copyright line shall be included. No more than 500 words of this work may be posted on a web site or sent electronically to other users. In all uses of quoted material from this book, the full copyright line shall appear in a readable type size where the text appears. The author's name shall not be used in the title of a web site or in the advertising of the site. The author's name may not be used on the cover of any other book in which a portion of this material is quoted without written permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Quotes in excess of 500 words, use of the text as part of a compilation, use of text that is greater than 5 percent of the book in which it will be quoted, or other permission requests shall be directed in writing to Tyndale House Publishers, Permissions Dept. 351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188.

 

 

To Erin, Megan, Shannon,

Kristen, and Kaitlyn.

My June Bugs.

 

1

 

Some people know every little thing about themselves, like how much they weighed when they were born and how long they were from head to toe and which hospital their mama gave birth to them in and stuff like that. I’ve heard that some people even have a black footprint on a pink sheet of paper they keep in a baby box. The only box I have is a small suitcase that snaps shut where I keep my underwear in so only I can see it.

My dad says there’s a lot of things people don’t need and that their houses get cluttered with it and they store it in basements that flood and get ruined, so it’s better to live simple and do what you want rather than get tied down to a mortgage—whatever that is. I guess that’s why we live in an RV. Some people say “live out of,” but I don’t see how you can live out of something when you’re living inside it and that’s what we do. Daddy sleeps on the bed by the big window in the back, and I sleep in the one over the driver’s seat. You have to remember not to sit up real quick in the morning or you’ll have a headache all day, but it’s nice having your own room.

I believed everything my daddy told me until I walked into Walmart and saw my picture on a poster over by the place where the guy with the blue vest stands. He had clear tubes going into his nose, and a hiss of air came out every time he said, “Welcome to Walmart.”

My eyes were glued to that picture. I didn’t hear much of anything except the lady arguing with the woman at the first register over a return of some blanket the lady swore she bought there. The Walmart lady’s voice was getting all trembly. She said there was nothing she could do about it, which made the customer woman so mad she started cussing and calling the woman behind the counter names that probably made people blush.

The old saying is that the customer is always right, but I think it’s more like the customer is as mean as a snake sometimes. I’ve seen them come through the line and stuff a bunch of things under their carts where the cashier won’t see it and leave without paying. Big old juice boxes and those frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Those look good but Daddy says if you have to freeze your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then something has gone wrong with the world, and I think he’s right. He says it’s a sin to be mean to workers at Walmart because they let us use their parking lot. He also says that when they start putting vitamins and minerals in Diet Coke the Apocalypse is not far behind. I don’t know what the Apocalypse is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was right about that too.

You can’t know the feeling of seeing your picture on a wall inside a store unless it has happened to you, and I have to believe I am in a small group of people on the planet. It was all I could do to just suck in a little air and keep my heart beating because I swear I could feel it slow down to almost nothing. Daddy says a hummingbird’s heart beats something like a million times a minute. I was the opposite of a hummingbird, standing there with my eyes glued to that picture. Some people going outside had to walk around me to the Exit doors, but I couldn’t move. I probably looked strange—just a girl staring at the Picture Them Home shots with an ache or emptiness down deep that I can’t tell anybody about. It’s like trying to tell people what it feels like to have your finger smashed in a grocery cart outside when it’s cold. It doesn’t do any good to tell things like that. Nobody would listen anyway because they’re in a hurry to get back to their houses with all the stuff in them and the mortgage to pay, I guess.

The photo wasn’t exactly me. It was “like” me, almost like I was looking in a mirror. On the left was a real picture of me from when I was little. I’d never seen a picture like that because my dad says he doesn’t have any of them. I’ve gone through his stuff, and unless he’s got a really good hiding place, he’s telling the truth. On the right side was the picture of what I would look like now, which was pretty close to the real me. The computer makes your face fuzzy around the nose and the eyes, but there was no mistake in my mind that I was looking at the same face I see every morning in the rearview.

The girl’s name was Natalie Anne Edwards, and I rolled it around in my head as the people wheeled their carts past me to get to the Raisin Bran that was two for four dollars in the first aisle by the pharmacy. I’d seen it for less, so I couldn’t see the big deal.

I felt my left cheek and the birthmark there. Daddy says it looks a little like some guy named Nixon who was president a long time ago, but I try not to look at it except when I’m in the bathroom or when I have my mirror out in bed and I’m using my flashlight. I’ve always wondered if the mark was the one thing my mother gave me or if there was anything she cared to give me at all. Daddy doesn’t talk much about her unless I get to nagging him, and then he’ll say something like, “She was a good woman,” and leave it at that. I’ll poke around a little more until he tells me to stop it. He says not to pick at things or they’ll never get better, but some scabs call out to you every day.

I kept staring at the picture and my name, the door opening and closing behind me and a train whistle sounding in the distance, which I think is one of the loneliest sounds in the world, especially at night with the crickets chirping. My dad says he loves to go to sleep to the sound of a train whistle because it reminds him of his childhood.

The guy with the tubes in his nose came up behind me. “You all right, little girl?”

It kind of scared me—not as much as having to go over a bridge but pretty close. I don’t know what it is about bridges. Maybe it’s that I’m afraid the thing is going to collapse. I’m not really scared of the water because my dad taught me to swim early on. There’s just something about bridges that makes me quiver inside, and that’s why Daddy told me to always crawl up in my bed and sing “I’ll Fly Away,” which is probably my favorite song. He tries to warn me in advance of big rivers like the Mississippi when we’re about to cross them or he’ll get an earful of screams.

I nodded to the man with the tubes and left, but I couldn’t help glancing back at myself. I walked into the bathroom and sat in the stall awhile and listened to the speakers and the tinny music. Then I thought,
The paper says my birthday is June 20, but Daddy says it’s April 9. Maybe it’s not really me.

When I went back out and looked again, there was no doubt in my mind. That was me up there behind the glass. And I couldn’t figure out a good way to ask Daddy why he had lied to me or why he called me June Bug instead of Natalie Anne. In the books I read and the movies I’ve seen on DVD—back when we had a player that worked—there’s always somebody at the end who comes out and says, “I love you” and makes everything all right. I wonder if that’ll ever happen to me. I guess there’s a lot of people who want somebody to tell them, “I love you.”

I wandered to electronics and the last aisle where they have stereos and headsets and stuff. I wasn’t searching for anything in particular, just piddling around, trying to get that picture out of my head.

Three girls ran back to the same aisle and pawed through the flip-flops.

“This is going to be so much fun!” a girl with two gold rings on her fingers said. “I think Mom will let me sleep over at your house tonight.”

“Can’t,” the one with long brown hair said. “I’ve got swim practice early in the morning.”

“You can sleep over at my house,” the third one said almost in a whine, like she was pleading for something she knew she wouldn’t get. She wore glasses and weighed about as much as a postage stamp. “I don’t have to do anything tomorrow.”

Gold Rings ignored her and pulled out a pair of pink shoes with green and yellow circles. The price said $13.96. “These will be perfect—don’t you think?”

“Mom said to find ones that are cheap and plain so we can decorate them,” Brown Hair said.

“What about tomorrow night?” Gold Rings said. “We could rent a movie and sleep over at my house. You don’t have swim practice Thursday, do you?”

They talked and giggled and moved on down the aisle, and I wondered what it would be like to have a friend ask you to sleep over. Or just to have a friend. Living on the road in a rolling bedroom has its advantages, but it also has its drawbacks, like never knowing where you’re going to be from one day to the next. Except when your RV breaks down and you can’t find the right part for it, which is why we’ve been at this same Walmart a long time.

“You still here, girl?” someone said behind me.

I turned to see the lady with the blue vest and a badge that said
Assistant Manager.
The three girls must have picked up their flip-flops and run because when I looked back around they were gone. The lady’s hair was blonde, a little too blonde, but she had a pretty face that made me think she might have won some beauty contest in high school. Her khaki pants were a little tight, and she wore white shoes that didn’t make any noise at all when she walked across the waxed floor, which was perfect when she wanted to sneak up on three girls messing with the flip-flops.

“Did your dad get that part he was looking for?” she said, bending down.

“No, ma’am, not yet.” There was almost something kind in her eyes, like I could trust her with some deep, dark secret if I had one. Then I remembered I did have one, but I wasn’t about to tell the first person I talked to about my picture.

“It must be hard being away from your family. Where’s your mama?”

“I don’t have one.”

She turned her head a little. “You mean she passed?”

I shrugged. “I just don’t have one.”

“Everyone has a mama. It’s a fact of life.” She sat on a stool used when you try on the shoes and I saw myself in the mirror at the bottom. I couldn’t help thinking about the picture at the front of the store and that the face belonged to someone named Natalie Anne.

“Are you two on a trip? Must be exciting traveling in that RV. I’ve always wanted to take off and leave my troubles behind.”

When I didn’t say anything, she looked at the floor and I could see the dark roots. She smelled pretty, like a field of flowers in spring. And her fingernails were long and the tips white.

She touched a finger to an eye and tried to get at something that seemed to be bothering her. “My manager is a good man, but he can get cranky about things. He mentioned your RV and said it would need to be moved soon.”

“But Daddy said you’d let us park as long as we needed.”

She nodded. “Now don’t worry. This is all going to work out. Just tell your dad to come in and talk with me, okay? The corporate policy is to let people . . .”

I didn’t know what a corporate policy was, and I was already torn up about finding out my new name, so I didn’t pay much attention to the rest of what she had to say. Then she looked at me with big brown eyes that I thought would be nice to say good night to, and I noticed she didn’t wear a wedding ring. I didn’t used to notice things like that, but life can change you.

“Maybe you could come out and talk to him,” I said.

She smiled and then looked away. “What did you have for supper tonight?”

“We didn’t really have anything. He gave me a few dollars to get Subway, but I’m tired of those.”

She touched my arm. “It’ll be all right. Don’t you worry. My name’s Sheila. What’s yours?”

“June Bug,” I said. For the first time in my life I knew I was lying about my name.

Johnson stared at the sun through the rear window. Pollen from the pine trees and dirt from a morning rain streaked it yellow and brown in a haphazard design. Three Mexicans climbed out of a Ford. Tools piled in the back of the truck and compost and some black tarp. One slapped another on the back and dust flew up. Another knocked the guy’s hat off and they laughed.

The sun was at the trees on the top of the nearby mountain, then in them, and going down fast. An orange glow settled in and Johnson’s stomach growled. He glanced across the parking lot at the neon liquor store sign next to the Checker Auto Parts, and his throat parched.

A newer RV, a Monaco Camelot, had parked at the end of the lot, and the owner pulled a shade at the front windshield for privacy. He wondered what driving one of those would be like. How much mileage it would get per gallon. The smooth ride on the road. Almost looked like a rolling hotel.

He sat up and looked out the front of the RV. The way they were parked gave him a good view of the store’s entrance. An old guy with an oxygen tank pushed two carts inside. The man smiled and greeted a mom and her children.

Johnson hit the down arrow on his laptop. One green light on the wireless network from the coffee shop. He wished he had parked closer to the end of the lot, but he hadn’t planned on getting stuck here.

BOOK: June Bug
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