watching, reading, and writing stories

A Busy Author

on May 19, 2014

So, I’m looking back over the past couple weeks and wondering where has the time gone? I think with Mother’s Day, and two birthdays in my family all rolled into one week, I just never got to post. So I apologize for the wait. I toyed with doing a few posts with poems in honor of my family. But I’ve decided to do something else. I still might do the poems some time soon, just not today.

Today I had my second Visiting Author presentation at an Elementary School. The kids were great and asked a lot of good questions and listened very well. At this school I was given about 45 minutes to speak to the kids, so I ended each session with reading a section from my book.

So I’ve decided that in honor of the kids I talked to today, I would like to share that same section with you. I hope you enjoy it, and check out “Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey.”

Here’s a link to it on Amazon:



“This one’s still alive” an unfamiliar voice said.

Ben opened his eyes only to squeeze them shut again to keep from being blinded by the sun’s piercing rays. “Ow” he moaned as he turned his head to the side and it began throbbing.

Ben tried to relax and the headache died down. He opened his eyes again, and blinked hard, trying to focus. All he could see were pebbles and grass blades with a few little ants crawling around. Ben turned his head back to facing forward and tried to sit up but a hand pushed him back down.

“Take it easy now” the voice said.

Ben blinked and tried to focus on the man in front of him. He saw the bright metal of the man’s helmet reflecting the sun and the scratched and faded paint of a guard emblem on the breastplate.

The man gingerly touched Ben’s head where the throbbing was coming from.

Ben winced.

“You’ve got a nasty bump there, but there’s no blood. I think you’ll be alright.”

Ben tried to sit up again and the man helped him slowly get to his feet. Ben looked around the gorge. He noticed several horses and other guards walking toward the bend in the road but he didn’t see the cart, or any of his family. He focused back at the guard “Where is everyone? Where’s my family?”

The man’s young face looked pained. “Now don’t work yourself up, there was nothing we could do….”

Ben’s heart started racing, he walked unsteadily toward the bend in the road where the barricade had been. Then he gasped, all his family was lying in a heap next to a hole that two guards were digging. Ben screamed and tried to run.

The guard caught him and held him tight. “Calm down, it’s alright.”

Ben struggled with the guard and started crying. “No, let me go! Father, father….” He pushed and twisted and screamed but the guard wouldn’t let go. The strong arms held him and turned him away from the scene. Tears stung in his eyes and he suddenly felt very weak. His head throbbed again and spots started to dance in front of his face. Ben fought for breath through the sobs. This can’t be real, this can’t be happening. The darkness closed in again.

* * * * *

Ben felt something cool and wet on his forehead. He opened his eyes and saw the same guard leaning over him.

“Feel better?” he asked.

Ben nodded, sat up and pulled the wet cloth from his head. “So they’re all…?”

The man nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

Ben’s eyes fell to the ground.

“Do you want to say goodbye?”

Ben nodded. He walked to where the soldiers had dug the grave and piled rocks on top. He stared at the white stones and tears started to fill his eyes. You were the best family anyone could ask for. Thanks for everything….

The guard stepped up behind him. “You ready?”

Ben didn’t respond. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the grave.

“Here, I think this belongs to you.” The man pushed a sword into Ben’s hand.

Ben looked down at the beautifully ornamented sword that had belonged to his father. He nodded and tried to hold back the tears.

“Come on, it’s time.” The guard turned Ben away from the grave and led him to a heavyset dappled gray mare. He easily lifted Ben onto the horse and climbed up to sit behind him.

As the guard steered the horse to follow the other soldiers out of the valley, Ben looked back once more at the rocky piles that covered his family. One last tear streamed down his dirt strewn face. Slowly, he turned his head to face the line of soldiers leading the way through the gorge. Ben felt numb as he silently watched the horses move rhythmically and listened to the guard’s small talk. It was like he was living in a dream world; aware of what was happening but not able to interact with it.

As the day wore on, the tall cliffs melted into gently sloping hills. The fading sunlight danced over the landscape, lighting the bright green grass atop the hills’ crests and leaving deep shadows in the valleys.

* * * * *

The band of soldiers reached a small town by nightfall and decided to stay at an inn. They ate heartily as the innkeeper brought them tray after tray of sweet-smelling food.

Ben sat by the fire, refusing to eat. He stared into the flames, listening absently to pieces of the guards’ conversation. There were lots of comments praising the food, and a few questions about what was to be done with ‘the orphan’ but Ben found his thoughts kept drifting back to his family. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on the heat from the fire instead.

“You have to eat something,” a voice broke into his concentration. Ben looked up at the same guard that he had ridden with; the man was holding a small loaf of bread. Ben stared at him for a few seconds then turned back to the fire.

“I’ll just leave it here, in case you change your mind.” The guard set the loaf on the bench next to where Ben was sitting and turned to leave.

Ben studied the loaf’s browned crust. The tantalizing smell of fresh bread wafted into his nostrils. He wanted to eat it, but every time he thought of his family, his stomach formed a tight knot.

Finally Ben stood up and left the dining area, hoping that getting away from the enticingly sweet smells would make the tightness in his stomach less noticeable. He found the room the guards had paid for and curled up in the corner. He tried to sleep, but couldn’t. Even when the rest of the guards had come in and found places for themselves he couldn’t sleep. He just sat in the corner and waited for the dawn.

* * * * *

When morning did finally come, the soldiers all ate and prepared to continue their journey. Ben didn’t know where they were going, but it seemed obvious that he wasn’t going to be accompanying them.

The man that had been taking care of him came over to say goodbye. He pressed a gold coin into Ben’s hand. “Go on home now.” He smiled at Ben and walked back to his horse.

Ben frowned as he watched the man mount his horse and follow the other soldiers out of town. What home? He stood in the inn’s doorway and silently waited until the riders disappeared from view.

The innkeeper also stood silently on the inn’s porch, but he was staring at Ben, not the riders. A deep scowl crawled over his face as he approached Ben. He poked a fat finger into Ben’s stomach. “If you want to stay, you’ve got to pay! I’ll have no leeches in my inn.”

Ben felt a rush of anger overwhelm him. He threw the gold coin at the innkeeper’s feet and ran. He sprinted past people, past shops, past houses and animals. A few people yelled at him to slow down or watch where he was going, but he paid no attention to their words. The tears were streaming again. He ran and ran, barely seeing where he was going as his legs pumped and his lungs heaved. He tore out of the village and didn’t stop, couldn’t stop. The need to get away was overwhelming and forced him to keep going. Faster and faster he ran as his heart pounded and legs began to shake.


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