The Broken Road to Nowhere
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by Evie Alexis
Description: Mackenzie and Twila Sellars are the unfortunate daughters of Patrick Sellars, the latter better known to the Four Oaks community as the town drunk. The man's constant inebriation has left the girls, respectively twenty-one and eight, to shoulder a life of poverty, neglect, and physical and emotional abuse with only their kind neighbor, Sophia Lucasta, lending an occasional helping hand and attentive ear. After several years of having to serve as "stay-at-home sister, Mackenzie attempts to turn things around with her new waitressing job. Her gentle demeanor and strong work ethic win the respect of her co-workers and community,but also unwittingly manages to capture the interest of her manager, Ryan Patterson. When Ryan pursues a romantic relationship, Mackenzie staves him off, reminding him of their employer/employee relationship. But the truth is, it is her deep shame and mortification of her family's condition that keeps her so guarded and reserved. Will Mackenzie learn to take a chance, have faith in herself and others, and learn to love?
eBook Publisher: Vinspire Publishing, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: October 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [247 KB]
Reading time: 152-213 min.
"Stardust covers the moonlight and gives it that soft white glow. Pretty isn't it?" Mackenzie Sellars spoke in a hushed whisper reverencing the night's solemnity. Her gentle words, mixed with the soothing tones of her western accent, rang like a lullaby in the ears of her younger sister, Twila.
Mackenzie lifted her index finger and pointed in the direction of the floating bright rock hovering quietly in that dark summer night, while they rested on the ground on their backs, a faded quilt creating a protective barrier from the dry, starchy needles of yellow grass beneath them.
"And you see the stars? They look like they twinkle calmly, but really they're exploding in the dark spot God placed them in. They burn intensely with flames of fire and warm the coldest parts of space." Mackenzie's honey-colored gaze roved the blanketed expanse.
"But why can't I feel the heat? When things explode, they make heat." The eight-year-old waved away a pesky horsefly that buzzed before her eyes.
"The stars are light years away from us. Light travels fast, but the distance between the light and us is so far that the twinkling you see is from many, many years ago."
"So it's old light?" Twila asked, her tone ringing with disbelief. Mackenzie laughed when she caught sight of her sister's wide-eyed, wrinkle-nosed expression.
"Pretty much. But it's new to us and just as beautiful as ever. What gets me is something associated with destruction could make such a splendid sight. I like to imagine angels flying about with brightly colored glitter of some sort." Mackenzie sighed contentedly, resting her hands behind her head.
Mackenzie felt Twila's stare. "Mama always said your head was in the sky. This proves it. No wonder you don't have too many friends if you always prattle like that." She suddenly sat up and smacked the imaginary dust from her jeans. She then straightened up with as perfect a posture as she could muster, the moonlight creating the illusion of length to her small frame. "I'm going inside. It's getting a bit chilly," she said in her most matter-of-fact manner. Mackenzie smirked at the tone. Her younger sister often liked to combat her magical interpretation of the world.
"The world is beautiful, Twila." The twenty-one-year-old spoke patiently, allowing her hand to brush against the tips of the parched grass. The dry needles pricked terribly beneath her skin.
"Yeah, I guess, Kenzie." Twila sighed, the drop in her tone reeking of false conviction. With another long exhale, she glanced over her shoulder at the rickety old house but a few yards away. "You should come inside soon, too, before Papa comes out hollerin'." A noticeable shudder passed through her.
At the mention of her father, Mackenzie chewed on her lower lip, a habit done in moments of apprehension. Releasing the tender flesh, she sat up on one elbow giving Twila a gentle smile. "I'll be right in. When you see him, tell him I'm trying to stuff the blanket into the basket, okay?"
Twila's gaze began a feverish search for the wicker container. Not finding one, she placed her hands on her hips. "You don't have a basket."
"Pretend I do."
She shrugged her shoulders, her messy ponytail drooping over one shoulder. "Maybe he won't notice me when I come inside anyway," she mumbled as she plodded in the direction of the house.
Mackenzie did her best to ignore her little sister's final comment. She hated any confrontations with her father. He spent his working hours at a job where his addiction made productivity questionable, though Mackenzie would never ask him anything on that score. When he returned home, it was to help himself to his bourbon. Usually the effects of the drink were immediate, and though normally in a drunken stupor, there were moments he became intoxicated with his own rage.
Plopping back down on the blanket again, she stretched her arms and fingers above her head. For a few minutes, she did nothing more than play with her crown of curls; the soft chestnut waves tugged round and round by her slender digit. Realizing she could not stay out much longer, Mackenzie raised one hand to the sky pretending to connect the sparkling dots.
"Mama, I know you can hear me right now, and I know you're having a better time up there than I am down here. Papa's probably all worked up in the house now. You can see him through the muddy shingles and siding. He doesn't mean to get mad. He just misses you so much. We all do. Maybe you can soften him up for the night."
Releasing a shaky breath, she let her hand drop over her eyes reminding herself not to cry, for she was the family's rock.
The night rang with crickets' chirps and the gentle rustle of the breeze; the sounds blended with the tranquil atmosphere of the darkness, all a picture nocturnal harmony. However, all peace shattered by the slam of a door several feet from Mackenzie's meditative form, and the presence interrupting her calm thoughts cast a greater shadow than the night ever could.
"Papa," she muttered. "I'll talk to you later, Ma."
"Mackenzie! When you gonna get your skinny self inside? Dishes still waiting in the sink! They ain't gonna clean themselves," Patrick Sellars yelled, his words slurred by the effect of alcohol.
"Yes, Papa." Mackenzie pulled herself up to a sitting position while bringing her head to her knees. She didn't want to see her father's drunken face twisted in anger, though she could clearly picture the glazed eyes and lopsided snarl. "Let me just gather this blanket, and I'll be right there."
"That's what you told your sister five minutes ago! I'm telling you I want you in this house now!" The door slammed again, and all remained silent if only for a few minutes.
Not wishing to hear the night's repose marred a second time by her father's blaring bellows, Mackenzie quickly stood and gathered the blanket, clutching the patched quilt to her heart. Her mother had made the worn keepsake and given it to her daughter with all the maternal love she had in her soul. Mackenzie brought the slightly soiled sheet to her lips, imagining her mother returning the affectionate gesture. She then rushed into the brown split-level ranch, the squeaky storm door rattling in her hands. In his violent rage, her father had loosened the hinges again.
Placing the quilt in the corner chair, Mackenzie rushed to the kitchen closet where she searched and retrieved the star head screwdriver. "I'm fixing the door, Papa," she called over her shoulder towards the living room where her father sat sulking in front of the television.
"Ah, let it rot along with everything else."
"This house should burn to the ground. I'd do it, except the police would put me in jail. Too many bad memories here." Patrick brought the liquor to his twisted and cracked lips. The drink dribbled past his chin and onto his worn gray T-shirt. He didn't bother to wipe the small spill.
"You know I'm working hard to fix it up. When we get the place looking a bit decent, then maybe we can think about putting it up for sale." In removing the first broken hinge, Mackenzie noticed the rotted edges of the doorframe. Wonderful.