On the shores of Lake Michigan, Rebecca Meyer seeks escape. Guilt-ridden over her little sister’s death, she sets her sights on India, a symbol of peace.
Across the ocean in South India, Sagai Raj leaves his tranquil hill station home and impoverished family to answer a higher calling. Pushing through diverse and challenging cultural and religious milieus, he presses toward his goals, while wrong turns and bad choices block Rebecca from hers.
On similar paths midst twists and turns, and bridged across oceans through a kindly priest, the two desire peace and God’s perfect will. But vows and blind obedience at all costs must be weighed…And buried memories, unearthed.
Crooked Lines, a beautifully crafted debut novel, threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. Compelling characters struggle with spirituality through despair and deceptions in search of truth.
White Gull Bay, Wisconsin
It didn’t occur to me at the edge of the pond that I’d broken the sixth commandment, actually committed murder. I was busy working out a deal with God, swearing to Jesus I’d become a nun if He helped me breathe life back into my baby sister’s limp body. At the time, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t Catholic.
Now, a week after the funeral, Mama set me straight while flipping pancakes in the kitchen. “Daddy blames you for Kara’s death.” She said it like I’d let the milk spoil because I hadn’t put it back in the fridge, but the weight of her words cemented my bare feet to the green linoleum.
She reached for a platter and set it under the open window. The morning sun highlighted old stains, batter spills, and cracks on the brown laminate countertop. A cool morning draft rustled the faded yellow gingham curtains. Mama got a deal on that material from Woolworths before Kara was born. Along with curtains, she sewed four sundresses for each of my sisters and me. It wasn’t fair that the fabric was still with us, fluttering over the sink, yet Kara came and went as quickly as the wind.
Mama transferred pancakes to the plate.
My plan to breeze through the kitchen and escape the house unnoticed should have succeeded because for a week, I’d been a ghost. None of the people in the house—my parents or any of my brothers and sisters—spoke to me. I’d lived a cloistered existence with my blue notebook and unsettling thoughts.
Now, I only wanted to sit under the maple, read the Kara stories, and wind back time.
I tightened my arms around the notebook, holding it to my heart like a talisman, as if my words of love for my sister could erase the raw sting of truth in Mama’s words. Since that day at the pond, I’d been carrying that notebook everywhere, even sleeping with it. In my lake of sadness, in my whirling murky thoughts, those sacred pages had become my life preserver.
Mama snapped the griddle nob off and faced me. “We left her with you that morning. She was only seven.” Her words rushed out in a seething whisper. My shoulders fell and hope slid from them and disappeared out the kitchen window.
Only a month ago in my white cotton confirmation dress, I citied the Ten Commandments and professed my faith at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church.
So confident. So holy. Mama baked a cake.
Now, because of me, Kara was dead. I tugged a loose string on the frayed edges of my cut-offs, then looked back up at Mama. Her short blonde hair was a tangled mess. Her red-streaked eyes shot angry darts laced with sadness. C’mon Mama. Don’t you get it? The deep muddy waters consumed Kara. She’s gone, but I’m here, still drowning.
I ran my big toe over a rip in the linoleum, wanting to bolt, take off and run as far and fast as my long legs would carry me, but Mama’s eyes told me she had more to dish out. I sucked in my breath, stuck out my chin, and met her stare, my five-foot eight-inch frame matching hers. I could take it.
But she walked away, left me standing there. Every fiber in my soul told me to run after her, beg forgiveness, and cling to her legs until she hugged me and told me everything would be okay. That’s what mothers were supposed to do. But no longer a child, those days were over. I winced when the slam of her bedroom door, like a gavel, sentenced me.
“Becca, bring the pancakes.” Tom rose from the dining room chair and waved his fork.
“Hurry up!” Bobby pounded a fist on the oak table. “I’m starved.”
At least one thing at home remained the same; after morning barn chores, my brothers only cared about food.
My limbs loosened. With shaking hands, I grabbed the platter, set it on the table, then tore up the stairs—two at a time. I didn’t look at my brothers. They probably blamed me, too.
In my bedroom, I kicked a pile of dirty clothes and hit something solid, a tennis shoe. I crouched and peeked under my bed. The other. Good.
I kissed the notebook, then stuck it under my pillow. I’d stared writing Kara stories in it a week before she died—the funny and intuitive stuff she’d said and done. I even taped her photos inside the pages. How could I have known to do that right before she died?
Tugging on my shoes, I wondered if the Holy Spirit had prompted me to create the Kara notebook when I was still a child of God. He’d visited me once. I remembered Him, not ghostly and elusive, but someone so real. Someone who loved me.
When I was six, He came to me in the meadow. I danced and sang for Him. I couldn’t see Him, but He was there. In my yellow butterfly dress, I laughed and twirled with the dandelion seeds, my blond hair bouncing in the breeze as I basked in His immense love. I stretched my hands high and offered songs of thanks for the creator of the ladybugs, the zippy dragonflies, and the warm summer sun.
God knew me. I knew Him.
But that was then.
About The Author
Holly Michael, published in various magazines, newspapers, and in Guideposts books. Her debut novel is Crooked Lines. Coming Soon: Second novel, 2014 Genesis Semi-Finalist, I’ll Be Seeing You. She also has a devotional contracted with Harvest House that she is writing with her son, Jake. She and her husband, Anglican Bishop Leo Michael, regularly travel from their home in Kansas City to India. She enjoys watching her sons play football—Jake (NFL) and Nick (Rajin’ Cajuns)—and visits from her daughter, Betsy.
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