Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving At Zaire's Place

It’s so hard to believe Thanksgiving is here again. In honor of the holiday, here’s an excerpt from Rebecca’s chapter. And remember…the contest to win a copy of Zaire’s Place is open until December 4th (scroll down a post for contest information). Have a peaceful, festive Thanksgiving!

Zaire's Place
(Back Cover Blurb)
When thirty-four year old Charlene Wilson discovers she is dying, she makes the biggest move of her life and leaves her abusive husband. Not knowing how many days she has left, she is determined to spend them in peace. She turns to Zaire's Place to find comfort.

Aisha Carter can be found at the center of every conflict at Zaire's Place. While she plots disruption, Aisha finds herself on an alternate path that takes her on a course she'd never imagined.

Rebecca Reich was raised in a prejudiced home and has issues with black people. A fish out of water at Zaire's Place, a predominantly African-American shelter for abused women, she is forced to rethink the lessons of her youth.

Zaire's Place explores the relationships among these women as their lives converge, as they make decisions, large and small, that will impact the rest of their lives.

***

Time was flying by. Thanksgiving was already here. I had been at Zaire’s Place for two months, almost three. I no longer counted the days or hours as I had when I first arrived.
            It felt like I had been at ZP for a lifetime; one day here was like one month in the “real world”—the world outside of ZP. The space/time continuum was distorted here, so much so that I felt like I had known Charlene for years.
So many emotions went through your mind at the shelter. Intense. That was the word for it. Things were so intense here, which probably contributed to so many of the women forming strong bonds with each other in such a short amount of time.
I had a lot of time to think about the psychology behind our actions. I felt like I’d finally begun to make some sense of it all. No matter what—the compressed time, the heightened emotions—Charlene was my friend, a buddy for life, both in and out of the shelter.
She was doing better now. At least we were able to sit in the Happy Room again. At first she was avoiding it, going everywhere but there. We would meet in the Rec Room for our Scrabble games, but her mind wasn’t in it. She would still kick my butt, though. One day, I’m going to beat her, I thought, pressing my lips together in determination, feigning anger.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better. I was worried about you. You lost so much weight,” I told her.
We were standing on the patio in one of the designated smoking areas even though neither one of us smoked—just to get some air. It was cold, but not yet unbearable.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Charlene joshed, tapping my arm. “I could stand to lose a few.”
“Not like this,” I said, wagging a finger at her. “If it’s done, it should be done on purpose, not because of sadness.”
“I’m fine, Rebecca. There’s no need to worry.” Charlene looked up at the stars, commenting on the beauty of the clear night.

***

We had to have double the amount of women on kitchen duty in order to prepare our Thanksgiving meal. I was one of them and, amazingly, there were no issues—no fussing, no fighting.
 I did take a break so I could call my mother to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving. “You should be here with us, Rebecca,” she said, her voice sad.
“I know, Mama. I wish I was there.” And I did, but I also didn’t mind where I was. Next year … I can see my family next year. “Happy Thanksgiving, Ma. I love you.”
“I love you, too, baby. Call me soon and let me know everything’s all right.”
“You got that.”
I hung up the phone and went back to the kitchen.
Cooking was one of my fortes so I felt like I was in my zone. Greg used to compliment me all the time when I prepared our meals. He would say, “I get a taste of heaven every time you cook. I’m the luckiest man alive.”
I wonder what he’s doing today.
There was no time to think about Greg. We had a dinner to prepare. It took days of prep work, and hours on the actual day, to whip everything in shape. Bianca had volunteered to be the “Thanksgiving Czar,” as Charlene called it, and she was handling the oversight impeccably.
We rolled the tables closer together and replaced the usual plastic tablecloths with the light brown fabric ones that ZP uses every year. The autumnal centerpieces would do, although they weren’t what I would have preferred.
We decided to invite Amy to our Thanksgiving meal and she accepted. It had to be hard working on Thanksgiving day, I thought. If we didn’t invite her, would she have spent it in that little office of hers waiting to respond to incidents like she always did?
Like an assembly line, we brought the food out, placing it on the tables, one of each dish for each cluster of women. It was time.
Debbie stood up.
Here we go again, I thought.
Shali must have been reading my mind because she said, “Aw, come on, Debbie. You always bless food. Let somebody else do it.”
          "She's the Prayer Czar," Charlene piped up, causing all the women to laugh.
Debbie looked at Charlene and said, "You got that right."
"It's a prayertatorship," Arianna added.
Debbie smiled and quickly launched into saying the prayer—like that would make everyone forget that she always did it.
"She is good at it," Bianca said when Debbie finished. And, with that, Debbie remained the queen of the prayer throne.

2 comments:

  1. I am so disappointed that I missed the announcement of your book being available! I rarely check the Blogger post list so I have missed your blog updates...I kept wondering why I had not read anything on your blog in a while. Man. I am glad to see I can sign up to follow you by email now I won't miss anything. I just popped over to Amazon and will add this to my wish list! Congrats TC I wish you much success.

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  2. Hey Dietta! That's okay. You're a busy woman, so I understand. ;-)

    Thanks for your support and well-wishes. I appreciate it!

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