Debra shares a scene that was cut from her Thanksgiving novella.
I admit it. I know better. IT's best to start withe some action, not pages of narrative. But I got carried away. In the cuteness of my little boy. In the coziness of the home. In the familiar banter of the family.
I started my story in the wrong place. My editor and I fixed it for the published version, but I was never able to let go of my original opening scene for An Unexpected Blessing. So with Thanksgiving coming up next week here in the States, I thought I'd share it with you.
“Mommy, lunch is a’most ready.” The screen door squeaked on un-oiled springs as Kyle hurtled through. It slammed shut behind him.
Katy shoved the crinkled paper into the front pocket of her hooded sweatshirt before twisting to face her son. “Does Gramma need any help?”
“Nope.” He shook his head. “I he’ped her set the table.” His cherubic face shone with pride.
“Thanks, little man.”
“I like to he’p.”
She drew him down on her lap to wrap her arms around him. “I like you.” She kissed the top of his dark blond head. No matter how bad things were in other parts of her life, she’d always be grateful for him.
After another squeeze, which at four years old he still tolerated without too much squirming, she set him on his feet, then rose to her own. “Come on, let’s get washed up.”
“Is everything okay?” Mama asked when they walked into the kitchen five minutes later.
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Katy avoided Mama’s eyes.
“You didn’t seem too pleased with the mail just now.”
“We’ll talk about it later.” Katy cast a meaningful glance at Kyle, who was scrambling into his chair.
He reached for his milk.
“Wait for Gramps,” she reminded him as she settled a napkin on her lap.
“What’s for lunch? I’m so hungry I could eat a bear.” As if on cue, Daddy’s boisterous voice preceded him into the room. Katy averted her eyes from the cane in his right hand. He relied on it more and more these days.
After the family prayer, they dug in. Katy served Kyle a spoon full of potato salad and cut up a piece of fried chicken for him before filling her own plate.
“Cin I haf a bithkit too?”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Katy reprimanded, but placed a flaky buttermilk biscuit on his plate.
“Fank you.” Crumbs spewed from his mouth along with the gratitude.
Katy took a bite of chicken to hide a smile. Crisp, flavorful skin gave way to the juicy meat on the inside.
“You’re sure you and Kyle are happy here in the house and don’t want more privacy in the apartment above the garage?”
The out-of-the-blue comment took Katy by surprise. She’d moved back home almost six months ago after her job had been eliminated at the company she’d worked for since graduating from college. At first her parents had encouraged her to live in the garage apartment, but Katy had insisted she’d rather stay in the house, as long as they didn’t mind. The topic hadn’t come up for a while.
“I’m sure.” She shot Mama a curious glance. “Why? Are you trying to get rid of us?” she teased.
“Of course not. We love having you and Kyle here. Not every grandmother is lucky enough to get to see her favorite grandson every day.”
Katy smiled at the joke. Kyle was their only grandson. Their only grandchild.
The smiled faded. If life had turned out as planned, she would have liked to have given her parents a whole passel of grandchildren. Instead, their grown daughter had had to move back home because she couldn’t afford to live on her own and pay childcare with only a part time job.
To take her mind off of the morose thoughts swirling through her head, she returned to the topic at hand. “Why did you ask about the garage apartment again?”
Mama glanced over at Daddy. They communicated silently with their eyes before he nodded.
“Well, since your daddy isn’t able to do much around here anymore, we decided to hire a maintenance man. You know, to tend the yard each week and to do some repairs on the house.”
Katy’s heart squeezed. It must have been hard for Daddy, who took such pride in his home, to admit he couldn’t take care of it anymore. “I think that’s a great idea.” Was her tone too bright?
“Anyway, we offered him the apartment above the garage as part of his salary, and he accepted.”
“Sounds perfect.” It really would be good to have another man around. The secluded property sat at the edge of town. The nearest house was over a mile away.
Her parents exchanged another glance. “Well then I think you should know, the man we hired is—”
“Ooops.” Kyle clapped his hands over his mouth as milk spread from his tipped over cup across the table.
Katy jumped up and put her napkin over the spill. “Kyle, you need to be more careful.”
“Was an accident.” His lower lip quivered.
“Oh, honey, it’s okay.” Mama rose to hug him. “Like they say, there’s no use crying over spilt milk.”
Kyle sniffed into her shoulder. “But the mi’k did spilt.”
Katy kissed his cheek on the way to the sink with the sopping napkin. “It looks like you’re done. Go wash your face and hands, and then you can go watch some college football with Gramps.”
“Yippie.” His dismay forgotten, Kyle scrambled off of his chair and raced from the room.
Daddy slid his chair back. “I guess that’s my cue.” He followed his energetic grandson at a slower pace.
“So what was in that letter you got today?”
“Oh.” Katy sighed as she stacked dishes in the sink. “Andrew’s child support payment is being cut.”
“Did the letter say why?”
“No.” She scrubbed the plate in her hand with a little more force than necessary. “My bet is he got fired again.”
“The economy is tough on everyone these days.”
“This is more than likely the result of his lackadaisical attitude and disregard for others and you know it.” She couldn’t remember the last time he’d shown more than a passing interest in his own son. Legally they shared joint custody, but Kyle rarely saw his father. Which was fine with her. Although it made her soul ache because other than Daddy, who couldn’t do nearly as much as he used to, Kyle didn’t have the regular presence of a male role model in his life.
“Well, don’t lose too much sleep over it. You’ll manage, you always do.”
Katy grimaced and handed the plate to Mama to dry. She’d cut back as much as she could. Which was why she was currently living back home. “I know. It’s just with the holidays coming, I was hoping to have a little extra money for presents.”
“You know we’ll help out as much as we’re able. But remember, Christmas isn’t all about presents.”
Katy finished the last glass, and then rinsed the sink with the attached sprayer. “I know.” She wiped her hands on a towel. “Anyway. I’m not ready to think about Christmas. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet.”
“Why don’t you go for a walk?” Mama suggested. “It’s a beautiful day out.”
She glanced out the window to the sunny sky and brilliant foliage. “Yeah. It is. I’ll take Kyle with me so you don’t have to watch him.”
“I don’t think you’re going to be able to tear him away from that TV. He’s fine here. You go.”
Her folks loved spending time with Kyle, but Katy didn’t want to take advantage. However, some fresh air sounded like a good idea. “Okay, thanks, Mama.” She kissed her soft, powdery cheek. “I won’t be long.”
Mama made a shooing motion. “Take your time.”
Until next time,