By: DONNA M. ZADUNAJSKY
This book was a great book that I couldn’t put down! From start to finish, it kept my interest to see how the ending was going to turn out. Just like her first book “Broken Promises” this will keep you wanting to have questions answered and you wont put it down! I can’t wait for her next one! ***Reviewed by Carrie Flanagan
Donna M. Zadunajsky is a great beginning author. Every time I felt like I had the story figured out, there was a new twist to boggle my mind. I was not prepared for the last twist and it totally threw me for a loop. I can safely say, “I did not see that one coming”. *** Reviewed by Bookplex
I was very intrigued by this book. I could not put it down. Very well written and held my interest all the way through. *** Anonymous
Fast paced, straight to the point, no words wasted, Donna Zadunajsky is an awesome storyteller!! Look forward to many, many more of her books!!!
Wow…what a book! I truly hated to put it down. Very well written and full of mystery! Excellent choice…enjoy! I sure did… Anonymous
We all have incidents in our lives that change us; some for the good and others for the bad. Then there are those events that make us the people we are destined to become. These changes may take weeks, months, or even years, but when they do come, they either come at us head-on or tackle us from behind. What changed my life had tackled me as though I was a quarterback, and life — the defense lineman — just itching to toss me on my ass.
Birthdays are not always memorable, especially for a young child, but I remember my sixth birthday vividly. We moved into the house I grew to love that day. When I first saw my new bedroom, I pestered my mom into painting the ceiling as though it was the sky, complete with stars that sparkled when the lights were turned off. Granted, my mother was no Leonardo da Vinci, but the woman had the skills to create the resemblance of a magnificent nighttime sky.
I would often lie in bed at night staring up at my stars, thinking each one was like a dream come true and if only I could reach up and grab one. In my mind’s eye, as I gazed up at them, they twinkled and helped me sleep better.
My sister’s bedroom was just down the hall from mine. Older than me by two years, she was the kind of sister who would never let me forget she was the eldest, not for a minute. She also thought she was superior. As you can tell, we didn’t get along and to this day we still have our differences. I truly believed she hated me, well, that’s what I sensed from her. When we were near each other, the feeling of friction was so strong that I thought the sparks we created might ignite and burst into flames at any moment. Hate can be like that: the longer it’s harbored, the more flammable it becomes.
She always seemed so much smarter than me. I could always tell she was my dads’ favorite, well, that was my impression growing up. No matter what I did, it was never good enough for him. I guess it’s something siblings and children go through as they grow up together.
After I turned fourteen, we moved to a new house in a different town far away from everything we knew and loved; everything that felt right. My sister stopped talking to me on the same day. Her verbal communication became that of a caveman with grunts and groans over anything and everything I said. Apparently, it was my fault she had to leave her friends behind. Reflecting on my life-changing incident, I should have been more careful that night. I should have trusted my gut feeling.
A car passed as I turned towards the road, its muffler spitting out gray smoke that filled the pre-summer air. My eyes caught a glimpse of the FOR SALE sign hammered into the front lawn with a SOLD sticker across the front. I strolled up the stone walk to the front door. The lilac bushes planted in the garden gave off a sweet smell, an enticing aroma.
I stood still, musing if this house could talk and tell you about all the memories we shared here, good and bad. It was nearly twenty-six years since I had seen this house, my old home. The house is now painted an olive green which is a far cry from the buckskin brown I remembered. I knew I would come back to our old house one day, but I never thought I would buy it.
I jingled the keys in my hand and unlocked the door, entering with mixed emotions. Everything looked just as I had imagined it. I stood in the foyer and soaked up all my old memories.
Still feeling uneasy, I walked into the living room. The floodgates opened and reminiscences flew around my mind. I recalled the dark brown sofa and loveseat we had. Those pieces of furniture always felt like an old pair of corduroy jeans; soft to the touch and comfortable against the flesh of my legs.
The walls were still painted a light pineapple yellow, so that hadn’t changed. We would often sit for hours in this room playing games and watching television. The current carpet, a beige Berber with lighter shades of background colors, were pleasing to the eye, not like the light blue shag we had.
In the kitchen at the rear of the house, I could still visualize my mother cooking us meals, and baking cookies and pies. She was a woman of multiple household talents. As a child, I spent many hours doing my homework at the dining room table while helping my mom cook in between. I had an inexplicable connection to my mother. No matter what was on my mind, she would always sit down and listen to me. She never interrupted me or even tried to force her opinions on me. We were closer than my sister and me.
I walked out of the kitchen and up the oak stairs and headed to my old room which was the last door at the end of the hallway. The door was closed and the hinges squeaked as I turned the knob. I flicked on the light and glanced around. My mind flashed back to a time when I sat on my bed reading my favorite novel, Misery by Stephen King. My hair at the time was long, thick, and black; I always wore it tied back in a braid my mother wove for me every morning.
My heart raced, memories knocked me back into the past as I fought to stay in the present. All at once, I remembered lying on my bed, crying the day after my incident. I didn’t tell my parents what happened that night, at least not right away. I guess I was ashamed and always thought I could’ve done something to prevent it.
I heard a car door shut. Glancing out of the window, I jogged down the stairs and wiped the tears from my face — I hadn’t realized I was crying. I composed myself before opening the door.
“Hey Sis, glad you could come over and see me.”
“Deanna, I wouldn’t miss this day for a million dollars. So, are the papers signed? Is this house yours now?”
“Yes, I signed them this morning.” A smile formed on my lips.
We hugged and I moved aside to let her enter. It was months since I saw her last. With her blonde hair cut just above her ears, I noticed she looked much thinner now. We lived in different towns, not close, maybe two hours apart. For some reason we never made the time to get together and bond like sisters should. Maybe now that I had bought this house, we could start over and become the sisters we should’ve been many years ago; communicating and accepting each other for who we are, with love and understanding.
“Wow, it’s been such a long time since I was here.”
“Me too, but it feels good to be back in our house again.”
“Still at school. He has finals this week and then he’ll graduate from eighth grade. He’s excited about moving and going to high school here.”
“He’ll love our school.” Her smile faded into a frown, perhaps she was reminiscing as well.
I wonder if she still blames me for the family having to move all those years ago. I hoped she would forgive me one day.
I nodded. “It’s a good school. The movers will be here on Friday. Will you be around to help us unpack?”
“You know I will.” Sheila nearly ran up the stairs.
I bet our parents would be proud I have moved back here and that we are spending more time together.
I’ve thought about them often since their sudden death. The air was brisk that fall morning and I was out on my usual jog when fire trucks raced by me, sirens blaring. I followed them as the red truck turned down my parents’ street. Rounding the corner, I felt the heat against my skin; the flames burning hot and fast. It was then I realized it was their house on fire. When I ran up the driveway, a police officer grabbed me and held me back. I kicked and screamed as he gripped me tighter. I pleaded with him, to let me try to save them, but he said there was nothing either of us could do, the fire was too intense to go in.
I watched as the firefighters tried to extinguish the flames. In the end, the house had burned to the ground leaving nothing but charred wood and cinders. When the firefighters were able to continue after the ashes had cooled, they found what was left of my parents in their bed. To this day I wish I hadn’t been there to see it — to see them dead and burned beyond recognition.
I hurried up the stairs to join my sister. She stood inside the doorway of her old room as though in a trance. I don’t think she knew I was standing there.
“…Everything okay with you?” I blurted, startling her.
“Yeah, I’m fine, I was just remembering all the times I spent in this room. It feels like yesterday.” I watched her wipe away tears. A part of me wanted to reach out and hold this woman I called my sister, but my head and heart were fighting for control of the moment. I knew it wouldn’t be to my benefit. Instead, with as much sensitivity as my hug might have encompassed, I decided to lay my hand on her shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, “I don’t even know why I’m crying.”
“No need to apologize. I cried too just before you arrived.” I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and she leaned her head on mine. I don’t know how long we stood there, a few minutes, maybe more. The memories of those lost years of misunderstandings seemed to fill the space around us. This embrace proved that every relationship deserves a second chance.
“I shouldn’t have treated you the way I did back then. I…I just want you to know I’m sorry for what happened.”
At first, I remained silent, but I needed to let her know that I understood why she felt the way she did. “Hey, we were kids back then and we didn’t know any better, I guess,” was all I could say before I choked up. I had tried to forgive her many times, but I wasn’t ready to — at least not yet. I think she realized how I felt. I suppose we both needed to forgive each other before we could move on.
“Let’s go get some lunch?” I suggested, changing the subject. “We can catch up on old times later.” I released my hold on her and went back downstairs.
I stood outside the front door and soaked up the mid–morning sun; closing my eyes, I took in a deep breath to help clear my mind. I had to let go of the past and move on. I hoped I had made the right choice to move back here. Back where a single event that happened to me changed my life forever…