This year is a little bit different. The tales are not only available in one anthology, but also as individual titles. Every single book sold will help. If you can’t afford the anthology, maybe you can afford a single title.
Every cent helps.
I’ve written two, one as Natalie Dae and another as Sarah Masters. We also have the fabulous Adrianne Brennan, Zetta Brown, Teresa, D’Amario, Moriah Jovan, Helen E. H. Madden, Jaime Samms, and LaVerne Thompson—all superb authors who feel strongly about this project.
Please take a moment to read this very short story. It’ll make you stop and think. Maybe it will make you help this cause.
Never by Sarah Masters/ Natalie Dae
I went to the school to collect him out of habit. Forgot everything for just one hour earlier on today, waiting with everyone else. People left for home, mothers and their beloved children, hand in hand, bags bouncing, lunch boxes swinging, until I was the only one left.
Yet still I waited, watching the door, expecting him to come bounding out, face a picture, happy to see me. It was silent—no shouts, no laughter, not even a bird twittering. My ears were deaf not only to the sounds of life, but to the voice inside that gently tried to tell me again: go home.
Quarter past four and my brain engaged once more, the harsh realities flooding in. I turned, walking across the playground, devoid of scampering feet, the bounce of a ball. Out of the gate and down the lane I went, tears stinging my swollen eyes. Waiting at the road, I watched a car come hurtling past, my hand flinging out to my side—instinct—to grasp the hand that wasn’t there.
Home. The door to memories. His scooter haphazardly leaning against the wall in the hallway, just where he had left it. Coat on the floor, fallen from his attempt to reach the hook it hung on. I glimpsed myself in the mirror, half expecting to see him standing behind me, pulling silly faces. He was there, but only my eyes could see him.
That day. It plays in my mind often and I scrutinize every single second of those images, inspect them, and peer closely, to see if there was anything I could have done.
The chimes, how I hate to hear them now, as he drives down our road telling all the children he has ices for sale. Parking on the corner, he slides open his little window and takes money from grubby fingers, watches smiles with gaps as he passes them their cone. Tousles the hair of every little angel that peers up into his window.
Then drives off without looking.
He didn’t see my son running in front of his van, trying to get away from his father—a man who liked to chase him, beat him when he caught him, then beat me afterwards for good measure—because he knew he shouldn’t really have had that ice cream. He didn’t see my son darting across the road to get home to me, my hand outstretched to take the cone and make out it was mine. He didn’t see him hit by the hatchback, ice cream splattered, cornet moving back and forth, back and forth in an arcing motion on the asphalt.
Syrup indistinguishable from the blood.
I had been standing on the doorstep, watching, struck dumb by horror that my husband had returned home from work early. I shouted, “Don’t run, Jack!” as the other car came and struck. Whipped my hand to my mouth as the scene unfolded in snail-motion, and I seemed to glide across the front garden, down onto the road. Down, down, knees hitting the tarmac, small stones inconsequential as they dug into my skin. Rolled him over, heard him say, “He’s back early, Mammy.” And watched as he smiled lazily, eyes rolling, closing, lashes giving a final flutter.
A perfect circle of blood had seeped beneath his head, the surface rough, taking on the form of the uneven road. I screamed “Jack! Jack!” over and over again until my mouth worked but no sounds came. Shaking, shaking him, “Don’t go to sleep, Jack. Wake up! Don’t sleep…”
I beat my fists against my husband’s chest, roaring my fear and anger, striking him with my terror and loss. Glanced at my boy on the ground, his legs at odd angles. The hatchback driver was inconsolable, some say as much as I—never!
A human swarm appeared, and as I looked around at them, as they clutched their children near, I hated each and every one of them. Hated them for knowing what went on in my house, and not one of them had reached out a hand to help us. Hated my husband even more. I lashed out with words, standing next to Jack’s crumpled form, and balled my fists to the Heavens, cursing the God who allowed this to happen. Cursing myself, my husband, for allowing this to happen. Seeing tears on neighbours' faces, hearing their sobs.
It went silent as the crowd heard the sirens. An eerie presence filled our street then. Chins dropped to chests; hands were clutched just that little bit tighter. I flung myself down, shook my boy again, whispering, “Jack, can you hear it? An ambulance is coming. Wake up so you can see it, see the blue lights…Come on, Jack, open your eyes…”
Still he slept, blood a halo for Heaven’s newest angel.
They say time heals all wounds, dulls the pain. That memories of that day will fade, gain a gauze that prevents clarity.
True love, freedom, self-worth, security... Dreams and desires of the ordinary woman, or man. From a thirty-something, single woman who wants a baby to a jeweler who finds love with the least expected man to a widow who wants to finish her degree and find love to a young, futuristic woman who's still searching for herself to an 18th century saloon girl whose lost hope but still dreams of love to a man who has escaped his abusive lover but has lost himself. This collection of nine stories celebrates the attainment of all one can dream or desire. Which one do you secretly yearn for?
By purchasing this collection, you can help turn someone's nightmare into the pursuit of dreams. Every year, four million women are assaulted by their partners. At Freya's Bower, we want to do our part to bring this statistic down to zero. To this end, all net proceeds from every Dreams and Desire anthology volume 4 purchased will go to A Window Between Worlds, a non-profit organization that provides art supplies and training for art as a healing tool free of charge to battered women's shelters across the United States. Through education and support, we can make a difference.
Authors (in alphabetical order of last name): Adrianne Brennan, Zetta Brown, Teresa, D’Amario, Natalie Dae, Moriah Jovan, Helen E. H. Madden, Sarah Masters, Jaime Samms, and LaVerne Thompson.
Foreword by Dr. Lin Morel, President, A Window Between Worlds
Paranormal/Contemporary/Historical/Urban Fantasy/Interracial/Historical/Western/M/M/Science Fiction/F/F
Book Length: Plus Novel
Price: $5.99--ebook, $14.95—print
Formats: PDF, HTML, LIT, ePub, PRC, Mobi, Paperback