Claiming Peace

"This novel reminds us how important family is. The strength and support supplied in times of trouble can make all of the difference. I would recommend Claiming Peace to anyone who enjoys romance, faith based and uplifting stories." -Cindi, an Amazon reviewer 

Chapter 1

August 1951
East Tennessee

   Callie had not wanted to see her son. Not in that place. The Gateway House. Residency rehabilitation, the judge called it. Family weekend visits. Returning home and leaving Art behind tore away jagged chunks of Callie's heart. Miles sped by in silence. Callie could hardly breathe past the lump of grief in her throat. How long must Art stay there? The judge said that would be up to Art. He could turn his life around anytime he chose.
   Callie's husband, Arthur, and their teenage daughter, Jennifer, tried to carry on a conversation that would coax Callie out of her remorse. That didn't work. Her son remained in that place and the car took them farther from him with each turn of the tires. Despair crouched in a corner of Callie's heart over the recent life-threatening health diagnosis from her neurologist. A diagnosis she and Arthur had not revealed to their children.
   Jennifer regarded her mother with caution. "Mother, are you hungry? We could stop for a bite to eat and not have to fix a meal when we get home."
    Callie shook her head. She had no energy for more.
   "Daddy, how about you? I'm starving."
   "Jennifer, teenagers stay hungry—right? But, yeah, I could go for a hamburger about now. Help me look for a place we can stop."
   The next town's one traffic light hung near a drive-in food place. "Daddy, there's a place! Stop, please." She pointed. "Look at the cars parked in front. Their food must be good."
   Arthur pulled the car to a stop near the building. "Hamburger with everything, Jennifer? French fries?"
   "Yes and yes, Daddy."
   "Callie, have you changed your mind? Want to eat somethin'?" She looked at him with eyes empty of emotion then shook her head again.
   "Okay, then, I'll be back with food."
   Jennifer clapped from the backseat. "Way to go, Daddy."
~ ~ ~
   On returning from their all-day trip, the three entered the silent house. Too silent for Callie. Soon, Jennifer talked on the telephone and Arthur turned on the television to catch the remainder of the seven o'clock news.
   Callie walked to their bedroom. Sitting on the side of the bed, still wrapped in the web of her feelings, she slipped off her shoes. She looked up as Arthur entered the room.
   "Callie, honey, can I do anythin' for you?"
   "No, thank you."
   "Callie, I know these trips to see Art pull you down." He sat beside her on the bed then hugged her shoulders. "You have to find a way to get through this. I know you're tryin' but we've got to be as cheerful around Jennifer as possible. One of our kids disappointed us. That don't make it right to ignore the other one or to bring her down with our own behavior."
   "I know you're right, Arthur. I'll be okay by tomorrow. Making the trip to the Gateway place sours the whole day for me. Do you think I acted happy enough around Art while we were there?"
   "Yeah, you did. You were upbeat with him. He even returned a smile or two. Each time we see Art, I notice some improvement in his general attitude. I believe he's really relatin' to his counselor, Amy. Maybe she can get him to see that he needs to stop drinkin' and learn to accept authority, as we all do. The sooner he does, the sooner he'll return home. "
   "Arthur, I'll be better tomorrow. I promise—you know I always keep my promises. Seeing family and friends in the morning at church will help me."
   "Are you worried about your health problems?"
   "No, Arthur, I'm not worried. You know I'm not one to worry. I have concerns but, as you've said, this brain disease is out of our control. Of course, it's always there in my mind, but God has us all in His hands. He'll take care of me and help me work through everything. Did you see me have any tremors today?"
    "No, I didn't notice any jerkin'. Did you have any?"
   "Some. Not much. I don't think Jennifer nor Art noticed. As the doctor said, my symptoms will get worse and then somewhere down the road we'll have to tell both the children."
   "Yeah, they'll have to know sooner or later. They'll be sad, Callie."
   "I agree. But I think my mind-set will help them from staying sad."
   "Callie, you're bein' wonderful about your health problems. You really are. I'm not sure I'd be as calm as you are about all of this."
   "I pray the disease will progress slowly so I can stay with y'all longer." Callie smiled and pressed a kiss on his lips. "Thank you for standing by me."
   "What kind of husband would I be if I didn't stay right alongside you through all you'll deal with? Don't ever question my love for you. You just ask me and I'll do anythin' you want from me."
   "I hope you can stay strong as I get weaker, like the doctor said I would. I know I can depend on you."

Copyright 2014 Jo Huddleston