Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Women of Valley View: Callie by Sharon Srock

Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the ACFW and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s writing credits include numerous poems and short stories published in science fiction fanzines.

The Women of Valley View: Callie

Three dire circumstances. Three desperate prayers. One miracle to save them all.

Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who’s befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her.

Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities.

Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing.  And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family.

For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.


   Callie Stillman dabbed raindrops from her face with a linen napkin as Benton dodged a server with a loaded tray and took his place across from her. She smiled into her husband’s blue eyes and reached across to wipe water from his beard. “We’ll both have pneumonia if we don’t dry off soon.”
   Benton took the napkin and finished the job. “I’ve been told the food is very good. A few sniffles should be worth it.”
    Callie’s gaze roamed the room. “It’s…” Recognition slammed into her chest, forcing the air from her lungs. The man crossing the room behind her husband nodded and continued to his table. Was that the bailiff? Do you swear to tell the truth… She gulped for breath and fought the familiar darkness that crowded the edges of her vision.
    Callie ran a finger around her collar, tugging the neck of the blouse away from skin suddenly dewed with a fine film of sweat. Too hot. She took a sip of water, dismayed at the tremor in her hand as she lifted the glass to her lips. Not here, not tonight. Callie closed her eyes and practiced the breathing techniques she’d learned over the last six months. In through her nose, hold for a few seconds, and out through her mouth. Concentrate only on the current step in the process, the next breath. The tightness in her chest began to fade away. Thank you, Jesus. She raised her water again and held the cold glass to her flushed cheek.
    Callie met Benton’s eyes across the table. The concern etched on her husband’s face threatened to break her heart. Benton had been so supportive during the last few months, so protective while she tried to heal. She would beat this. For him, she would move on.
    “You OK?”
    Callie smiled. “I’m fine. It’s just a little warm in here all of a sudden.”
    Benton cocked his head to the side. “You sure? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
    A ghost? She closed her eyes, the images unbidden but ever present. Sawyer’s pale, lifeless face. Callie’s hand reaching out to stroke baby-fine hair, bruises the mortician’s makeup couldn’t hide. That tiny coffin lowered into the ground. Callie could have lived with a ghost, but her haunted memories and the never-ending what ifs that traveled with them would drive her crazy.
    Two more breaths, another swallow of cold water. Callie smiled at Benton. “This was a nice surprise. Thanks for thinking of it.”
    Benton took her hand. “Anything for the woman I love. Have you decided what you’d like for dinner?”
   “I—“ A vicious bolt of lightning lit the dark Oklahoma sky outside the windows of the restaurant. Thunder exploded across the sky. The lights flickered and went off, plunging the room into sudden darkness and silence except for the terrified cries of a frightened child.
    Callie jumped to her feet. Her chair tipped sideways onto the carpeted floor. Oh Jesus, please make the crying stop. A harsh voice cut across the child’s frantic cries. “Andy, sit down and stop that noise. It’s just thunder.”
   The lights came back up and Callie’s awareness narrowed to the cries of the child. Is that how Sawyer sounded? Frightened howls as his eighteen months of life surrendered to the beating his father dealt him. Oh Jesus, I’m so sorry. So sorry I let Janette deceive me. So sorry I didn’t ask you before I testified. I know you’ve forgiven me. Please help me forgive myself. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. Callie bolted from the restaurant.
    “Callie!” Benton called. She was letting him down. Still she ran for the door.
    When Benton found her several minutes later, she stood by the car. Rain cascaded over her, mixing with her tears. Benton pulled her into his arms, wet and all. He held her close, his bearded chin rested on her head. “Shh, baby, it’s OK. I’m sorry. This was a bad idea.”
    Callie clung to him like the lifeline between sanity and madness he was. “Benton, no. It was a great idea. I know you were trying to distract me. Trying to make me forget Sawyer’s birthday. I thought I could.” She allowed Benton to help her into the car, only to bend double in the seat as the panicked adrenalin gave way to nausea. “How could I have been so stupid?”
    Benton started the car and turned the heater up to high. “Callie, you weren’t stupid. You thought you were doing the right thing.”
    Callie shook her head. “I just wanted to help. I knew Janette wasn’t abusing her kids. She didn’t deserve to lose them. Testifying to that…being at the hearing to support her…celebrating when it was over. I just wanted to help,” she repeated.
    Her husband navigated the rain-washed streets while Callie huddled in the seat, head down, arms wrapped around her middle. The images in her mind took on a life of their own. Janette, sitting in her office, tearful over charges of alleged child abuse, frantic because her babies had been taken from her. Callie’s unhesitating agreement to appear in court as a character witness. The custody hearing, her nervous testimony, the endless waiting for the judge to make a decision, the joy of seeing those two babies reunited with their mother. And Sawyer died because of my interference. Jesus, give me strength. Give me the wisdom I need to never put myself in that situation again.

Want to Meet The Women of Valley View? Sharon has a free pdf file she can send you if you contact her. It's a collection of stories that introduce you to each of the women in the series. 

Women of Valley View blog

Sharon on Facebook

Sharon on Twitter


Sharon Srock is giving away a copy of The Women of Valley View: CallieTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Read wherever you wander.
The Wandering Writer,


karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read callie's story

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Judy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cjajsmommy said...

I saw this somewhere last week, but having now read an excerpt, I really want to read this book. Please enter me to win a copy. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

Jo said...

I would love to read this book and thank you for the opportunity!


ann said...

This is a book that I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the chance to win it

Anonymous said...

This story about Callie sounds like a really good one and I would love to try to win it. Thanks for the chance.
Maxie ( )

tickmenot said...

This story really pulls you in right away!

Please enter me.

Sharon said...

My thanks to all for the kind words. Good luck in the drawing.

Amy Campbell said...

Would love to read Callie's story!
campbellamyd at gmail dot com

Sharon said...

Amy, I do hope you will whether you win or not. Good luck!

Teela said...

I would love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

Sharon said...

Teela, thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Marianne said...

Hi, Sharon. You haven't heard from me for a while because i am back in Canada for a season. Callie told me to come, i thought i'd stop and say hi


Sharon said...

Beautiful country there, Enjoy!!

Anonymous said...

And, just in case it's helpful, Callie told me to come.
Maxie ( )

Sharon said...

Thanks, MAxie!

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