Friday, December 30, 2016

For Hungry Readers

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't read the book yet, maybe wait to read the epilogue.

Escaping Neverland
Epilogue
by Melissa Lemon

Note: Please see copyright information on sidebar.


              Peter closed the bathroom cabinet and leaned toward the mirror, inspecting his smooth chin. Jane would love it. He smiled as he thought of the way she playfully recoiled every time he’d tried to kiss her over the last several months. Since facial hair was an anomaly on Neverland, Peter had made experimenting a bit of a hobby over the years—sideburns here, a goatee there, nothing too crazy.
                “How many jumps do you have today?” Jane called from the bedroom.
                “Three,” he called back.
                Peter inspected the crow’s feet taking shape around the corner of his eyes until a sparkle caught his attention. A white, wiry hair stuck out from the side of his head, just above his right ear. He reached for it, using the mirror as a guide until he grasped it between his fingers. He debated yanking it, but only for a second. The word monumental came to mind. Peter knew what this meant.
His mind drifted back to all those years ago. After leaving Neverland, he and Jane had struggled for months just to scrape for food. She sang on street corners for every meal and their train tickets back to London where they were able to find Jane’s nanny. They’d been too afraid to seek out the Talley Man and knew it best to disappear as soon as possible. Jane’s nanny Olivia had been ecstatic to see her. They’d embraced for so long Peter grew uncomfortable waiting on the front porch of where Olivia now worked as a nanny for a wealthy family.  Then one of the children had come to the door.
 Peter grew faint as he remembered. He leaned on the bathroom sink and drew in a deep breath. Even the short interaction with the child had sent him into a panic.
                Jane had never left his side. Through name changes, fake ID’s, therapy and dead end jobs she’d been more loyal than the Never blue sky in Summer Quarter. After she asked him if he was ever going to propose, they’d married, but with one stipulation.
                “No children?” Jane had asked, looking so forlorn it had nearly broken Peter’s heart. “Ever? What about therapy? You haven’t had a panic attack in months, not even around children.”
                “You almost done in there?” Jane called, snapping Peter out of the past. He turned on the faucet to finish rinsing his razor.
                Jane opened the door. “I’ve got to go. I’ll see you at the pub later? I’ll be singing something new that I wrote last week.”
                “Of course. Wouldn’t miss it.”
                “Sounds serious,” she said, giving him a pouty look. “Want to tell me about it?”
                Peter sighed. She really did need to get going, but he didn’t think he could wait the entire day to tell her. “Do you remember when I proposed?”
                “You mean when I proposed?” She pointed to her chest, her collection of bracelets sliding down her arm. She wore skinny jeans, ankle boots and a graphic tee that said “Have a mice day,” and was complete with a picture of a small, realistic looking mouse. She’d begun designing graphic T-shirts shortly after he’d finished training as a sky-diving instructor. Many of her T-shirts had been designed with a bit of Neverland inspiration, like the one with a drawing of the Talley Man’s face on a coffee mug that said, “Have you seen this mug?”
                Peter forced a grin. “No, I proposed.”
                “After I gave you the idea.”
                Peter shook his head, opting to give up the age old argument rather than engage in her invitation to banter.
                “Look,” he said, pointing to his head.
                “Look at what?” She stepped into the bathroom and peered up above his right ear.
                “Do you see it?”
                “See what?” Then she gasped and covered her mouth, probably hiding an enormous smile.
                “Peter, you’ve got a gray hair.”
                Peter looked in the mirror once more. “I think it’s white actually.”
                “Peaceful,” she said. “Aging is peaceful, just like the white fairies, remember?”
                Peter nodded. “I remember.” He leaned on the sink again, awash with emotion. He peered at his reflection once more, thinking of what he would look like when all his light brown became “peaceful.”
                “Are you okay?”
                “You don’t remember what I said when I proposed, do you?” He glanced in her direction, his hands still pressed against the counter for support.
                “That’s because I proposed to you.” She tilted her head and grinned, taunting him with those facetious eyes. “You shaved?” She reached out and rubbed his face. “Finally,” she said, and Peter received her peck to the side of his mouth with glee.
                He grabbed her hand before she could take it back and held it to his face. “I’m sorry I didn’t propose first,” he said. “But do you remember what I told you? And what I said about getting older, and gray hair?”
                Her phone began to ring and she fumbled trying to grab it with her free hand until Peter took it and silenced it. Only then did it seem to dawn on her. Her expression sobered, and all of her previous rushing seemed to vanish. “Peter, if this is a joke—”
                “I’m not joking. You know that really isn’t my style, especially when it could hurt you.”
                “You told me you wouldn’t consider having children until you started to get gray hairs.” She pulled her hand away from him, and she looked as though she was trying to process not only the memory, but the idea of it, her brain probably ignited with imaginings of their own little brood.
                Peter nodded. 
Her eyes brightened. “Children?”
                Peter smiled at her. How could he not when she grinned like that?
                “Our own children?”
                “Well, I was thinking we could start with one. See how it goes.”
                Jane let out a laugh and threw her arms around his neck, nearly knocking him over. Peter held fast, sinking his face into her neck. She sniffed and he pulled away to check for tears, which she not only wiped but insisted on denying the existence of.           
                “I’m fine, really. Awesome actually.” She continued to swipe her cheeks. “Now I’m going to have to fix my make-up.”
                “You look perfect,” Peter said, an adoration that he could not contain swelling in his chest. “As always.”
                She hugged him again, this time squeezing him around the middle. “Love you,” she said.
                He held her close and planted a gentle kiss on the top of her head. “You’d better go. I’ve got to finish getting ready, too. First jump is at ten.”
                She slipped away from him, blowing a kiss as she walked out. He guessed she’d have a hard time erasing that smile for days. Wouldn’t hurt her stage appeal, though. Peter loved watching her perform, and after their recent discussion, was all the more anxious to see and hear her tonight.


*   *   *

Peter’s last jump of the day had been a bit later, causing him to miss Jane’s first few numbers, but she looked electrified when she saw him come in. Peter ordered a sandwich at the bar and took a seat at a table facing the small stage stashed in a corner as Jane finished her current number.
                As Peter paused his chewing to applaud, Jane spoke into the microphone. “I wrote this song today after a rare and lucky strike of inspiration, and I’d like to dedicate it . . . to Peter.” 
                 A warmth flared in Peter’s cheeks. He hated when she mentioned him. For a moment, he bowed his head, self-conscious about the stares that might be coming his way. Trying to forget it, he took another bite of his sandwich, the salty beef and perfect bread nearly melting away the embarrassment. Jane picked a tune on her guitar, and as soon as the words began, Peter grew uneasy again. She’d written a few songs about Neverland, and it always unnerved him the first time he heard them. He checked over his shoulder to make sure the Talley Man wasn’t there. Even though he knew better, that they were now safely tucked away in Ireland, with a new Irish surname, and were careful to avoid having their pictures published in any way, it always frightened him to go back to the memory of it, at least in this setting. Peter’s worries increased when he realized the song was not only about Neverland, but him as well. He tried to relax and just enjoy the sound of her clear voice, and the picture of her sitting on that stool, legs crossed, arms hugging her guitar, and eyes closed so she could just feel the song. By now she was to the chorus.

"And you never thought you’d get away, from the fear that lived inside.
And I watched you time and time again, try to push it from your mind.
And even though
We made mistakes
I’d do it all again. I’d come to Neverland again.
To help you escape."

Enthralled, Peter focused on the words of the second verse.

"When insects glow in every shade,
And the seasons never seem to change.
When clouds and streams come and go
But everything else stays the same.
Try to remember where you’ve been,
But don’t forget where you are now.
All the lovely things you’ve seen
Are coming back to you somehow."

An instrumental bridge led into the chorus. Peter closed his eyes this time, and just listened, imagining himself standing on the cliff at the Black Caverns, looking out over Endal Ocean. No pirate ship threatened; not even a glimmer of fear could reach him. Gold and white fairies danced around him, and the perfect Summer Quarter sky enveloped him with warmth. The music slowed, and Peter thought he could feel the spray of a runaway ocean wave.

"And you never thought you’d get away, from the fear that lived inside.
And I watched you time and time again, try to push it from your mind.
And even though
We made mistakes
I’d do it all again. I’d come to Neverland again.
To help you escape."

The guitar finished, with Jane oohing along. Peter opened his eyes just in time to meet her gaze and see that smile, not the playful one, but the one that reminded him of the dimmed blue of the Never sky in Spring Quarter. The color of dawn. The color of a fairy who feels calm again after being worried. The color of reassurance.

Friday, December 16, 2016

What is Unschooling?



It's where you read the books you want, complete the writing assignments you choose, and create art projects inspired by the books you read. At least, that's what it is this year for my 10th grader where language arts is concerned. One of my philosophies about teaching is this: "Let them be awesome." By them I mean the students. I'm letting my oldest daughter off the hook with English this year, meaning she gets to choose everything she does. She even found writing rubric sheets for me to grade her stuff. I loved this art project of a ballroom she did after completing Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ministering Angels

min·is·ter (defined by google)
verb
  1. 1.
    attend to the needs of (someone).

Last Sunday was rough. I was running on empty mentally speaking. It's difficult to describe the mental strain of going to graduate school and homeschooling my kids at the same time. I love it, but it is a lot of information in my brain. This semester has been extremely emotionally draining as well. Physically I was okay. That has since changed, but, that's another story.

Back to Sunday. I was stressed about the assignments I still had to complete for one of my classes as well as two musical numbers I'm preparing for Christmas, one for sacrament meeting this week on the piano, and another for a Christmas musical celebration on the cello. Brain overload. 

I came home from church and just felt so . . . burned out. And tired. And weary. And incapable of partaking of the spiritual nourishment I needed because I simply did not have the energy or the brain power. My husband stayed after church with my oldest daughter for some youth meetings and I took the two youngest home. I had the distinct impression that I needed to be ministered to. Earlier in the day, I had thought about how nice it would be to just lie in bed while someone reads to me, preferable a live person, not a recorded person on a device. So, when we got home from church, I asked my youngest if she would read to me from the Book of Mormon. She agreed. My other daughter joined us, and noticing the tears in my eyes, sat down with us. They took turns reading to me those familiar words in their sweet, innocent voices. I listened, rested deeply, and basked in the service of my sweet girls who freely gave and attended to my needs.

Later that night, Ryan and I headed back to the church. He had a meeting and I had a rehearsal. I expressed to him how incredibly tired I was, and how the girls had ministered to me, explaining the impression from earlier about the need to be ministered to. I told him that I just needed someone to take care of me for a change. On the way home, my phone rang and it was my mom, who called to see how I was doing. I'm sure she had no idea how timely that call had been, how much I had needed the kindness and care. But there it was. It was a miracle to me, an answered prayer.

As if it wasn't enough to be ministered to by my daughters and my mother on the same day, I realized that for two to three days before this I had been thinking of my grandma and feeling her near. This has happened a few times since her passing nearly 16 years ago, and always at times of significant struggle. These moments are usually brief, but I had felt her presence several times over the previous few days. So much so that at one point I wanted to say, "Is there something you'd like me to do, Grandma?" Not that feeling her presence was pestering me; it was just so unusual. After the experiences of Sunday, however, I realized that my grandmother had already been ministering to me, providing companionship, comfort, and strength in a time of need.

I love my ministering angels.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Widows and Orphans

A book is born. After a few changes, and a nasty bout of trying to figure out widow/orphan control in Word (if you don't know what that is, count your blessings), Escaping Neverland is officially published! Since I don't have much of an online presence anymore and don't plan to do a blog tour, will you please share it with your friends? Oh, and if you get to the end and are like, 'Wait, where's the epilogue?' Don't stress. All in good time. All in good time. I'm trying something new with that.

In other news, check this out. Like the graceful person that I am, I sprained my ankle and fell coming down the stairs after my class tonight. I also landed on my knee, like last time. Thankfully, though, the knee isn't as bad. My love for crutches just seems to come back to me time and time again. At least school is over for the semester! Hey, last time I got hurt I finished a book. Maybe I'll do that again.


With the semester over and Christmas around the corner, I am just taking time to do the simple things. Yep, see below. Hope everyone reading is healthy and enjoying the peace of the season.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Poem of the Tick Tock

I am finishing up another semester of grad school and recently finished a self-awareness paper. It was a bit stressful, but it is done and graded and I got a 100! My teacher even called me Sunday to let me know my grade so I wouldn't be stressing. How kind is that? The whole class has been really stressful, but in a good way. I don't think I've ever grown so much in a class, and as the saying goes, "No pain, no gain." Here is part of the assignment. It is a poem I wrote about time as part of the section describing my worldview. I included two scriptures as well which follow the poem.



Time

Life is an hourglass of falling sand.
The first tiny grain slips through the narrow passage, and opens a floodgate of loss.
Outside the bulbs, a timeless, eternal sphere remains in motion.
Life before time affects mortality.
Mortality affects what is to come.
Each granule matters,
Is counted,
Is valuable beyond mortal comprehension, reckoning, or remembrance.
The purpose is to learn,
To taste joys we never knew or could have known.
When the hourglass shatters,
The particles of time remain ours
To hold,
To account for,
To cherish.

Time testifies on our behalf, and prepares us for glories unimagined.

“And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.” Alma 42:4

“All is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.” Alma 40:8

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hunger

For the #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign, I've been focusing on listening to the Spirit. We made a calendar with ideas of simple things we could do each day, but I really wanted to be in tune and know whom I could specifically help.

I've been thinking of a dear friend for the past several days, and decided to take her lunch today. I kept having the impression today that feeding the hungry doesn't always mean feeding people that are too poor to buy food. It doesn't even have to do with food at all sometimes. Many people are spiritually or emotionally hungry, or in need of attention, care, conversation, help, or even a simple smile. The depth of human needs goes well beyond physical hunger. While talking with my friend, it became evident several times that the Spirit had been working to connect us on both my end and hers.

Today's visit was a miracle, the scope of which only my friend and I will ever know, but it reminded me how precious a gift it is to live close to the Spirit.

My days are filled right now with teaching/supervising/helping the kids and doing homework for my own classes. We also had the opportunity to train a new missionary couple last night. Ryan and I have been service missionaries for the Church's Addiction Recovery Program for over 18 months now. This meeting was especially nice because the Fleetwoods came to us. I was so grateful that they were coming all the way to our house--they live near York, PA--that I made them dinner. Sister Fleetwood brought a cherry cranberry pie which was delicious. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much love I have for the people we serve, even though we rarely see them and spend so little time together. They are going to be amazing missionaries.


So Close

I really am almost done with this book. The proof has been proofed, the edits edited, and the epilogue epilogued. Wait, is that a word?

I'll post as soon as it's available on amazon, which should be in a week or so.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Book Review-On the Corner of Heartbreak and Love by Lisa Swinton

The best thing about being a writer is having writer friends who let you read their books before they come out. I loved this sweet romance about a guy and girl who had both been jilted by love. It is a story of loss, frustration, misfortune, loyalty, heartache, letting go, and second chances. On the Corner of Heartache and Love was released a few months ago and would make a great holiday read. The kindle version is only $3.99! Check it out.


One of the main characters is a homeless person, (of sorts), which reminded me of Lewis from my book Blue Sky. That made me happy. I also loved Maren, Lisa's heroine who had a really interesting job as a writer for a newspaper covering funerals, and then weddings. The descriptions of the events were creative and a treat. Lisa's writing is crisp, clean, and this sweet romance is a satisfying and enjoyable read. Hope you give it a try.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Ignoring God

Sometimes I ignore God. Mostly it happens when I'm second guessing whether I'm actually hearing Him or not. That still, small voice is . . . well, still and small, and that fact combined with my neuroticism can be a little tricky. Other times I'm afraid to do what He says. Sometimes I make excuses, and the lamest reason is laziness.

Because God knows us each individually and perfectly, He can speak to us in the ways that work best for our individual preferences, gifts, and learning styles. One thing that is unique to the way He speaks to me, is that after I've received the same prompting around three times, the Spirit will impress my mind with something like this: "This is the last time I'm going to tell you this." I guess I forgot to put procrastination on my list of reasons why I ignore God. I have learned through these experiences, that when I receive that message, I need to act or the opportunity will pass. Usually I listen in these moments. When I think back over these times, it seems that this mostly happens when the Spirit is reminding me of something. Which makes sense. He's not my day planner, after all.

Still, there are other times when the Spirit uses patience and gentle persuasion over an extended period of time in getting me to do something. For over a year now, I have received countless impressions to keep a record of my life. I've pretty much ignored this one. This time, there is no mistaking the clear impressions I've received. They just keep coming in miraculous and consistent ways. I suppose it's mostly a mixture of fear and making excuses this time. I write in a journal sometimes, but honestly the only people to see that will be my posterity. I feel as though God wants me to write to a broader audience, and I don't know why, but I'm ready to stop ignoring Him on this one.

What does that mean for my blog? It won't be mostly about reading and writing anymore. It will be eclectic because I'm a bit all over the place. I'll be blogging about my faith, my family, my educational pursuits, my leisure, my philosophical genius (indulge me on this one), my poetry, my books that I get to write in the wee small hours of whenever, homeschooling, my love of finding dead people, and just about anything I'm up to.

These are pictures of a book that is a compilation of the journal entries of one of my ancestors. He inspires me, and I hope to have written as much as he did when all is said and done. This life deserves to be remembered. Do you keep a journal?