Ellie’s Story – Conclusion

In the last segment of Ellie’s story, she visited Derek’s house on New Year’s Day. As she walked home from his house, someone grabbed her arm.

Ally or Traitor?

“Ow,” I whimper.

He jerks his hand away as if my skin had been smoldering coals.

“I-I’m sorry, Ellie.  Didn’t mean to scare you.”

I rub my arm.  “S’okay,” I mutter.

“I saw you at Derek’s and I guess I lost it.”

I puzzle over his words, not bothering to hide my confusion.

He glances over his shoulder.  “Derek’s dangerous.  Stay away from him.”

A laugh escapes.  “And how do I stay away from my future husband?”  ‘Husband’ leaves a bitter taste as it rolls off my tongue.

“The second Friday of every month, we trade supplies in Phoenix–”

“Isn’t Tucson closer?”

He sighs.  Voice low, he explains, “Phoenix is a larger market.  We supply sixteen Sprouts stores with produce.  The Indoor Swap Mart also moves a fair amount of our crafts and furniture.”

“Okay?”

“The truck leaves for Phoenix at 6AM.”  He puts extra emphasis on ‘Phoenix.’

“Oh.”  He’s offering a way out.  “Why would you help me?”

He shrugs and fixes his gaze on the busted tractor by his house.  “It’s complicated.”

His response takes me back to Mama’s secret; that was complicated, too.  It doesn’t annoy me any less coming from Marcus.  An awkward silence stretches between us and our complicated lives.  It seems neither of us have anything to say or any inclination to walk away.

“So, have you heard from Jeremy?”  I ask to fill the space.

He shakes his head.  “I don’t know what they’ve done with my son.”  His voice quivers.

My stomach twists as I remember Jeremy’s shirt.  I pray over it every night.  I keep quiet, nudging away the realization that I’m no different than the other secret keepers around me.  “Well, uh…I guess I’ll go.”

He gives a stiff nod and walks away.

I stare at my dusty shoes and contemplate whether I can trust Marcus.  Sure, he’s different from the others- he only has one wife.  Now that I think about it, I wonder why.  I lift my head to ask, but he’s already ducked under the tractor’s raised hood.


Unexpected Company (5 days later)

Should I save myself or stay with my family?

The question nags me out of my house.  “Away” is the only destination I have in mind as I walk past the houses, along the edge of the fields.  Low-lying crops of cabbage, beets and onions replace the tall cornstalks of fall.  Beyond the rows of green, the land abruptly turns to desert.  I sit on a boulder and draw my knees to my chest.  The warmth of the rock seeps through my dress.

Lord, I don’t know what to do.  Please give me a sign so I know if I should stay or go.

Footsteps crunch the dirt behind me.  I turn toward the noise and nearly fall off my rock when I see Sasha, Derek’s third wife.  She’s never spoken to me by choice.  I focus my gaze on a nearby Saguaro as she sits on a larger rock a few feet away.  Several minutes pass.  The awkward silence pulls taut against my nerves until I can’t take it anymore.

“Hi, Sasha.”

When she doesn’t answer, I glance over.  She sits with her eyes closed and legs crossed.

“I didn’t ask for Brenda, and I certainly didn’t ask for you.

“Um, okay.”  I like her better quiet.

“I was eager for my chance to please God.  I knew being a good wife would earn His favor.  I made peace with the wives who came before me.”

She pauses, so I look at her again.  I don’t know what she’s looking at, but I suspect it’s anything but me.

“Brenda’s already pregnant, now Derek wants you.  I asked Derek when he’d have time for me.”  She takes a deep breath and a long exhale follows.  “He told me a good wife has a place in Heaven.  A jealous one will burn in Hell.”

Sasha turns her face toward me, her eyes swollen and damp from a mixture of old and fresh tears.  “So, that’s it.  I’m destined for Hell.”

I go to her and put my arms around her shoulders.  “I’m sorry, Sasha.  So sorry.”  We cry together.

The thought haunts me that I’ve just glimpsed my own future.


Seeking Answers, Finding Peace (night before truck leaves for Phoenix)

Tonight’s dinner dishes have been washed, and I still don’t know if I’ll be at the table tomorrow night.  I take my restlessness outside.  My thoughts alternate between the truck leaving tomorrow and remnants of the scripture I read before breakfast.  The result is like a garbled Morse code message.

Do not be anxious about anything.  Present your requests to God.  And the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  But I have prayed.  And I still feel such uncertainty.  Truck leaves at 6AM.  I stomp my feet in frustration.

Mary Jane.

Her name slices through my indecision.  I have a sudden desire to know why she abandoned our friendship five months ago.  I’m not sure why her answer matters, but I walk to her house anyway.

I knock on her door and wait.  I’m relieved when Mary Jane answers.  “Ellie!”

“Have a minute?”

“Well, uh…I have…no.  I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

She starts to shut the door, but I block it with my foot.  “Why did you stop being my friend?”

Mary Jane looks down, and then glances behind her, before slipping outside onto the porch.  She pulls the door closed behind her.  “Mostly fear, I guess.”

“Of what?”

“You, mainly.”

Her words are a palm across my cheek.  “Me…”

Mary Jane sighs.  “Why are you doing this?”

I meet her gaze.  “Peace.  I realized I needed peace.”

She studies me for several seconds.  “I miss you, Ellie, I really do.  But things changed, you know…it’s different.”

“Everyone quit talking to me, but you hurt the most.”

“I’m marrying Derek in two-and-a-half years; on my sixteenth birthday,” Mary Jane says.

“That’s awful!  There has to be a way to stop it.”

She backs away.  “That’s the difference between you and me, Ellie.  I embrace my future.  I want to marry Derek.  I want to take my place in God’s kingdom.  You…you fight it.  Your Mama hasn’t done you any favors, putting the Bible in your hands.  She taught you things you got no business knowing.  You rejected Derek, you rejected God.  Daddy says that’s the Devil’s handiwork.”

“Devil’s handiwork,” I repeat, numb from the barbs of her words.

“I can’t talk to you, Ellie.  You have to go.”  Mary Jane slips inside and closes the door behind her.

“You’re right.  I have to go.”

I found peace.


Stowaway (leaving day)

I’m on my knees, hunched over between two tall stacks of boxes.  I make my breathing shallow so the boxes on my back won’t move.  Christopher and William should finish soon, I hope.  I pray they won’t see me.  They are Damian’s sons- my half-brothers, but their loyalties belong to Derek.

If Mama hadn’t coaxed the boys away from the truck with her mugs of hot cider, I wouldn’t have been able to get on the truck.  It just now occurs to me that I have no idea how I’ll get away unseen.

But with God, all things are possible.

“Look, back there,” Christopher says.  “Your stacks are crooked.”

“You did that part, not me.  You gonna fix it?” William responds.

My heart skips a beat.  Please don’t let them find me.

“We’re late.  It should be fine.”

“You’re cleaning if they spill,” William says.

The door slides down and latches with a loud clank, surrounding me in darkness.  I close my eyes and pretend I’m somewhere else.  The engine cranks and the floor rumbles underneath me.  We move, but then lurch to a stop.

“You guys seen Ellie?”

Derek.  Fear keeps me from throwing up.  I can’t make out William’s response.  Now, two bangs on the back door.

“Open it up,” Derek shouts.

The engine shuts off.  The lever clanks and the door slides up.  I hold my breath.

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble. 

“Empty it.”

“We’ll be late for delivery,” Christopher says.

“There’s no way she could’ve sneaked past us,” William adds.

“Dammit!” Derek shouts.

I shudder at the loud thump on the side of the truck.

“She’s gotta be around here somewhere.  God help her when I find her.”  His fist bangs twice more against the side of the truck.  “Get out of here!  Go!”

The door slides then slams shut.  The lock clicks.

The engine starts and this time I feel the bumps of the dirt road beneath me.  I imagine my past swallowed up by a giant cloud of dust.  I think of Pastor Dugan.  Mama says he’s at the Downtown Mission and can help me.

For the first time in five months, I have hope. I feel like everything will be okay.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

The four parts in this post conclude Ellie’s story (at least the part of her story that will be told here.).  I appreciate everyone who has followed this story- thank you for the support!  If you didn’t catch the previous parts, check out the links below. Each one is less than 333 words.

Read Part One;     Read Part Two;     Read Part Three;     Read Part Four;

Read Part Five;     Read Part Six;     Read Part Seven;       Read Part Eight;      Read Part Nine.

A couple weeks ago, the folks at Trifecta issued a special challenge:  Your prompt this week is just to write. You have three weeks to write to your heart’s content. We want no fewer than 333 and no more than 3,333 words. Any topic, any style. Give us what you’ve got.  The prompt will close on Thursday, July 26 and winners will be announced in the August 3rd post.

This part comes in at less than 1,500 words, so it is well within the limits.  It’s probably even short enough to finish it in one reading 🙂

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46 thoughts on “Ellie’s Story – Conclusion

  1. philosophermouseofthehedge July 23, 2012 / 9:10 AM

    Good read! This is a great line:”I imagine my past swallowed up by a giant cloud of dust.” Lots of nice imagery. Good job

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2012 / 10:50 PM

      Thanks, Phil. I’m glad you liked that line! I appreciate you following this story through til the end.

  2. newwhitebear July 23, 2012 / 9:16 AM

    Wonderful! Very good job.A nice reading.

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2012 / 8:19 PM

      Thanks for following the story to the conclusion, Newwhitebear 🙂

  3. suzicate July 23, 2012 / 10:07 AM

    I still say you should make this a YA novel…you’ve kept me intrigued!

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2012 / 8:20 PM

      I am planning to expand this into a novel…just don’t know if it will be YA yet. Thanks for the encouragement, Suzicate!

  4. Ruby Manchanda July 23, 2012 / 10:19 AM

    I have thoroughly enjoyed following the story. You have a great work going here,

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2012 / 8:20 PM

      Thanks for reading each week, Ruby. I appreciate it!

  5. Annabelle July 23, 2012 / 3:27 PM

    Whooh! The more you learn about the community, the more awful it gets. I liked that you brought in Derek’s other wives to show us a different side of things.

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2012 / 8:24 PM

      I’m glad you liked the conclusion, Annabelle. I appreciate you reading the story over the past several weeks.

  6. cuhome July 23, 2012 / 6:02 PM

    Fantastic story, cultural differences well described! Loving this!

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2012 / 8:32 PM

      I’m glad you liked it, Janet. Thanks for reading each week!

  7. judithhb July 23, 2012 / 8:34 PM

    I have loved this story and following it in small and then the large chunk has added to the anticipation. I like how you have shown the community from Mama’s point of view and also Derek’s wives’. I hope this will expand into a novel and look forward to reading it. 🙂

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2012 / 10:41 PM

      Thanks for your kind comment, Judith. I do plan on expanding it, and I’ll definitely post about it when it is completed.

  8. Sandra July 23, 2012 / 10:35 PM

    Well done, Janna! I have enjoyed reading this story, Ellie’s character development, and the suspenseful plot. Wow, just wow. I do hope you can expand it into a novel. There’s so many possibilities ahead for Ellie!

    • jannatwrites July 23, 2012 / 10:47 PM

      Thanks for keeping up with this story, Sandra! Oh, I’ll definitely turn this into a novel, it just won’t be as quickly as I would like. Impatient me 🙂

  9. habibadanyal July 24, 2012 / 2:14 AM

    I lorrrrved it! 10 episodes of awesomeness! 🙂

    • jannatwrites July 24, 2012 / 8:40 PM

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it, Habibadanyal. I appreciate you following the story 🙂

  10. Tessa July 24, 2012 / 9:25 PM

    I love this part too Janna! Although it just whets my appetite for more. It could end here and just have to use our imagination to decided if all goes well for her or it could definitely be expanded. Great job! 🙂

    • jannatwrites July 24, 2012 / 9:52 PM

      Thanks, Tessa! This is not how the novel will end, but I’d hoped it was enough of an ending so it wouldn’t be a disappointment. I appreciate you following the story.

  11. ManicDdaily July 25, 2012 / 4:42 AM

    Good job to write and post prose. Well done. It is hard to do this -I’ve contemplated it too, but I think people visiting blogs are not so patient! Keep it up though. k.

    • jannatwrites July 25, 2012 / 5:45 AM

      Thanks for stopping by, ManicDdaily! I’ve posted longer stories (less than 2,000 words) and the Trifecta entries (less than 333 words) and the shorter pieces definitely get more reads. I think brevity is the key 🙂

  12. Imelda July 25, 2012 / 6:16 AM

    Yey! She escaped. I hope that it was a complete escape – I just have to find out in the future, right? 🙂 That was a good read and I look forward to the complete book. All the best with the writing of the book.

    • jannatwrites July 25, 2012 / 8:16 PM

      I can’t reveal any of the secrets, but there is so much more to the bigger story. (Now I just have to write it!) Thanks for reading and rooting for Ellie the whole time, Imelda 🙂

  13. Debbie July 25, 2012 / 7:01 AM

    Yeah, Ellie gets away!! I do hope you’re planning on expanding this into a novel, Janna. That, or turning it into a short story and entering it in some contests. I think there’s much potential here — a riveting story, interesting characters, believable description. Go for it!

    • jannatwrites July 25, 2012 / 8:17 PM

      Thanks for the encouragement, Debbie. I work a little bit on it each week (wish it were more) so I do plan to have a full novel at some point. You can bet I’ll write about that when it happens!

  14. brenda w July 25, 2012 / 12:47 PM

    Hooray for Ellie! This is riveting. Debbie’s right. I loved the read.

  15. jannatwrites July 25, 2012 / 8:18 PM

    Thanks so much, Brenda. I appreciate you following the story and sharing your thoughts. It is very encouraging 🙂

  16. Lumdog July 26, 2012 / 4:39 AM

    Like the others, I am happy Ellie got away. You created a compelling character who deserves to have her whole story told. Great story.

    • jannatwrites July 26, 2012 / 10:20 PM

      Thanks for stopping by to read it and share your thoughts, Lumdog!

  17. Drew Merten July 26, 2012 / 8:02 AM

    I just stumbled upon your blog through another blogger’s, Bottledworder I think it was. Really great writing! I will definitely be going back through to read the rest. Now get back to writing! 🙂

    Drew Merten
    amazon.com/author/drewmerten

    • jannatwrites July 26, 2012 / 10:24 PM

      I’m glad you stopped by, Drew. I appreciate you taking the time to read it and share your opinion. I’ll get back to writing tomorrow….life got in the way tonight 🙂

  18. braintomahawk July 26, 2012 / 8:22 AM

    You made these characters very believable; even as their culture pulls tighter, there were more people with secret doubts who were willing to help.
    The way I see it, how does a story actually ever end? We can imagine for ourselves what will happen :).
    One way or another, I’m hoping you keep us informed about where we can obtain the finished product.

    I’ve enjoyed reading this, and appreciate that you shared it.

    • jannatwrites July 26, 2012 / 10:26 PM

      Your comment is a huge complimnet and encouragement to me, Braintomahawk. I will definitely post when I have a finished novel. (I couldn’t possibly keep that quiet!) I appreciate you following this story for these past several weeks.

  19. jesterqueen (@jesterqueen) July 26, 2012 / 10:37 AM

    “The part that will be told here”

    Book, yes? Each of these scenes could be expanded to a longer chapter, and I would LOVE to read it. The tension here, the fear, it’s so wonderfully portrayed. I’m terrified. What’s going to happen to her mother? Will she someday be able to save her.

    • jannatwrites July 26, 2012 / 10:28 PM

      I am planning to expand this into a novel-length piece, as there is so much more that just wouldn’t fit into these 333 word challenges. (I’m only on chapter two, but it’s still progress :)) Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Jester Queen!

  20. Cameron July 26, 2012 / 3:28 PM

    So much potential in this story, and I love the way you tell it. You have an obvious affection for your characters. Glad I came back by to read!

    • jannatwrites July 26, 2012 / 10:29 PM

      Thanks, Cameron. I’m glad you stopped by as well 🙂

  21. Libby July 27, 2012 / 5:08 AM

    Hey Janna! This is REALLY good! I loved it; seemed true to life. It has book potential, for sure.

    • jannatwrites July 27, 2012 / 5:46 AM

      Thanks for the encouragement, Libby. I’m glad you enjoyed the story!

  22. nrhatch July 28, 2012 / 7:21 AM

    Yay, Ellie . . . you go, girl! Don’t stop. And don’t look back . . . or you’ll turn to salt. 😉

    • jannatwrites July 28, 2012 / 8:32 AM

      Hahaha! Good one, Nancy. Glad you could stop by, and I’m thrilled that your wit wasn’t lost during your blogging break 😆

  23. trifectawriting August 1, 2012 / 6:11 PM

    Yup, one sitting! Nice job here, Janna. The pacing, especially towards the end, was smooth and strong. You kept me on edge. There are parts of this that I absolutely love–like when she took her restlessness outside. Great job!

    • jannatwrites August 1, 2012 / 7:53 PM

      I’m glad you found the story enjoyable. The longer challenge was a fun change, but I’m kind of glad to be off the hook with shorter pieces again 🙂

  24. TikkTok August 2, 2012 / 7:51 AM

    I’m still going to wait for the rest of it. Humph. 😆 Definitely book material!

    • jannatwrites August 5, 2012 / 9:47 PM

      Thanks for the encouraging comment, TikkTok. It is a book I intend to write, as well 🙂

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