Mending Broken Wings: Based on a true story [NOOK Book]


Do you remember when you lost your innocence? I do... It was 1969, GRACIE MAE WILLIAMS ran through the sprinklers in her backyard. Today, one week before her sixth birthday, a terrible abuse was born. An abuse which would be called the game, would last for eight years. Creating a world to escape where the skies are pink and yellow, and happy dancing flowers move gingerly in the soft wind, Gracie would hide here in her thoughts. Hoping to hold on to what little innocence she still had remaining, her abuser would ...
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Mending Broken Wings: Based on a true story

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Do you remember when you lost your innocence? I do... It was 1969, GRACIE MAE WILLIAMS ran through the sprinklers in her backyard. Today, one week before her sixth birthday, a terrible abuse was born. An abuse which would be called the game, would last for eight years. Creating a world to escape where the skies are pink and yellow, and happy dancing flowers move gingerly in the soft wind, Gracie would hide here in her thoughts. Hoping to hold on to what little innocence she still had remaining, her abuser would continue to follow her to even the safest corners of her dreams. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a young girl sold peanuts in the streets of Vietnam. An American soldier, JAXTON CARLTON WYATT would offer her a hope of better things to come. Two little girls lived seven thousand miles apart, but one day their lives would come together. Joined by a shared fate, only one would be saved. Unfolding over the course of eight years, with flashbacks that offer insight into the characters' histories, Mending Broken Wings is a work of women’s fiction (based on true events) With three generations of compelling drama set in China, Vietnam and the U.S., this novel will appeal to readers of both fiction and non-fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781468598681
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 6/15/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 1,342,480
  • File size: 471 KB

Read an Excerpt

Mending Broken Wings

Based on a true story
By Teri Leigh Thomas


Copyright © 2012 Teri Leigh Thomas
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4685-9870-4

Chapter One

"Come here, come here," the old soup vendor said to her. As many times as he passed her in the streets, he never spoke to her before now. "Come here I said, are you deaf?" he asked.

Baffled at what he wanted, she walked over to him stealing a peek of the beef soup the vendor's wife was stirring. He handed her a small bowl of soup, the smell made her realize she was famished.

"Thank you, but I have no money," she told him.

He waived his hand in the air, as if he was annoyed. Thoughts of her mother danced in her memories as she devoured a mouthful of thick warm noodles. It was difficult to think about her mother, and this same soup her mother once made. Smiling a toothless grin, the vendors old wife took a place on the dirt road beside the child, running her crooked old fingers through the girl's short hair.

Handing the girl a tin cup filled with pebbles, the old woman formed a flat surface in the dirt in the shape of a circle.

"Throw," she said, pointing at the circle.

The girl emptied the pebbles from the tin cup, tossing them in the center of the circle. A few seconds would pass, the old woman looked at the pebbles and studied them with a frown.

"Throw again," she commanded, gathering the pebbles to put in the tin cup.

Once more the girl tossed the pebbles in the circle.

"You not a lucky girl," whispered the old vendors wife.

Although confused, the girl said nothing. The old woman continued to study the pebbles before she spoke again.

"You will go far away one day. You will go far away and never come back," she said.

"Go where?" the girl asked, even more frightened now.

"A different land. It will not be good for you, but you will be the wind which lifts the bird into the sky. She will fly again, because of you."

"What bird? What are you talking about?"

The old woman took out a pipe made of bamboo, chewing on the lip of the old pipe. She tapped her crooked fingers on the stem.

"What bird? I don't understand."

"The bird with a broken wing," the old woman said.

* * *

1970, a week before my sixth birthday. It was exceptionally hot for the middle of June. We ran through the sprinklers in our small backyard. The water had been running all day so the long uncut grass was soaked. Skidding into each other, we ignored the heat. I couldn't get enough of the cool water gently splashing against my skin. The hours of playing in the sun wore on my younger brother and sister as well as our neighborhood friends. I decided to stay outside and take advantage of having the sprinkler all to myself when they left.

I turned the knob of the hose so the sprinkler would spray as high as it would go. In a sweeping motion, the water chased me in a graceful dance.

"Wooooo!" I screamed when the water finally caught me. As I ran from the fan-like spray, I would slide and dive. It was fun pretending the water was poison, a poison which could not touch my skin or I would die! But the sprinkler shut off before I could make my final grand escape from the towering poisonous wave just about to hit me. I turned around to find my father's best friend sitting at the edge of the redwood deck.

"Is it time for dinner Mr. Buck?" I asked.

"No, I just wanted to give you your birthday present," he said.

"It's not my birthday yet."

"I know, but you are so special you shouldn't have to wait for your birthday. Come over here and sit by me."

I walked over to him, the water from my hair suddenly cold on my shoulders. Mr. and Mrs. Buck always gave good presents so I was excited to see what he had for me.

"Now you can't tell anyone, this is our secret okay?"

"Okay! I promise! Cross my heart hope to die!" I screamed.

"Shhh" he whispered looking around nervously. "You need to be quiet if you want your present."

"I do want it, I'll be quiet," I excitedly whispered trying to contain myself. "Where is it?"

"It's in my pocket. You need to reach into my pocket and get it." He said.

I reached in his pant pocket and felt a hole, and then I felt skin. He shifted a bit and told me to keep feeling for my gift. I felt something different from anything I had ever felt. I realized that what I was feeling was what my Chinese mother would refer to as a 'choo-choo-chow-chow,' a term she used when I once took a bath with my younger brother and asked what the thing between his legs was. I tried pulling my hand away but he held it so tightly I was unable to move it. Suddenly, it was cold in spite of how hot the day was. I started to shiver. Engulfed in fear, my small body was covered in goose bumps.

"This is my key," he said. "Do you like it?"

"Let me go!" I screamed, struggling to pull my hand out from his pocket.

He held my arm steady and would not let go.

"Grab my key tighter Gracie," he whispered with frustration in his voice.

"No! Let me go!" I screamed hoping someone would hear me.

"Shhh ..." he said, holding a free finger from his other hand to his lips.

Looking around to make sure I wasn't heard, he appeared angry.

He lowered his head and whispered, "do you think Dara would like to do this for me? Should I go get your little sister?"

I could feel his foul smelling breath on my face, and couldn't bear to look at him. He held my chin firmly, turning my face to his. His right eye was strangely crossed outward, something I never noticed until now.

Tears streamed from my eyes as I struggled to stay still and hold his key. Dara, my sister was four years old, I couldn't let him harm her so I stopped resisting and tightened my grip as he commanded.

Moments later I felt something moist on my fingers. He quietly moaned before releasing his grip on my arm. I didn't know what it was but it felt sticky like the slime a snail would leave when trailing my palm. He walked over to the sprinkler, turning it on.

"We're done so you can play now. Remember, you can't tell anyone. This is our secret special game. If you tell anyone, I will have to play this game with Dara? Do you understand?" He asked.

I still couldn't look at him, or the disgusting stuff on my hand, but I gave a small nod to let him know I understood before walking to the wet grass. I sunk my hand in its wet spongy texture, wiping it clean.

My name is Gracie Mae Williams, and this is my story. Today, one week before my sixth birthday, a terrible abuse was born. An abuse which would be called the 'game', would last for the next eight years.

Chapter Two

I sat at the dinner table pushing food around my plate with a fork.

"Why you no eat?" my mother asked me in a thick Chinese accent.

"I'm not hungry mama."

"Gracie, listen to your mother," my father said with a frown.

"Have a few more bites of chicken Gracie, you're probably not hungry because you're sunburned." Kirsten said.

Kirsten, my sister was sixteen, ten years older than me.

"May I be excused?" I asked, after deciding I ate as much as I could. "I don't feel good."

"Too much sun today. She alway stay in sun long time," my mother looked at Mr. and Mrs. Buck when she said this.

I waited for a signal from either of my parents. When my father nodded I made my escape.

"Wo hen gaoxìng wo méiyu nu'ér! I happy I have no daughter, she just cause you trouble in future. All girl most trouble, you see I right." Mrs. Buck told my mother, loudly enough for me to hear the last part spoken in English.

The truth was, Mrs. Buck told my mother shortly after I was born she wished to adopt me. Since she couldn't have children of her own she assumed my mother would casually just hand over her baby, like the other woman did.

The Bucks adopted a boy and named him Kenny. Kenny was born to a friend of Mrs. Bucks who couldn't afford to keep him, so she convinced her friend she and her American husband could offer the child a better home. Mrs. Buck's efforts paid off one day when the woman unexpectedly handed over her infant, as if he were a puppy. Adoption papers were filed and Mrs. Buck was a mother to a baby son.

"I say I glad I have no girl. You in trouble having girl," Mrs. Buck continued.

"May I be excused too?" Kenny asked. Kenny was a quiet and gentle boy, a couple years older than me.

"Yu pàng nuhái!" Mrs. Buck screamed.

Kenny followed me to my bedroom and shut the door.

"My mom doesn't think you are fat. She said you're pretty. She told me that. I think you're pretty too,"

"Is that what she said at the dinner table, that I was fat?"

He didn't answer me, although I was aware he understood Chinese perfectly and knew what his mother had said.

"Gracie, do you want to play Monopoly?

"No. I just wanna be alone." I told him as I lay on my bed.

"Want to see my new squirt gun then?"

"No thanks, not right now."

We sat in silence for several moments. I stared at the wall hoping I would bore him enough to leave. It felt awkward since I could sense he was struggling to think of something to say. Finally, he thought of something.

"Hey, Godzilla is at the movies. My mom said she will take us." He said, hoping I would respond well.

"Sure, that would be fun."

"Okay, good." I could tell he felt he accomplished something.

"I don't feel good, I think I'll take a nap now Kenny."

I closed my eyes and fought the tears which were at any moment fiercely promising to come. When Kenny left my room the tears started to flow like water from a sprinkler, and I couldn't shut them off.

Should I play this game with Dara? I heard in a small voice in my mind. On this day, my life changed, I changed. I would never be the same five year old who I woke up as this morning. I was now different. Somehow, I was different.

* * *

On the other side of the world, a five year old girl was selling peanuts on the streets of Bein Hoa, Vietnam. Dirt covered her face and her short pixie cut hair. With a big crooked over bite, and a nose too wide for her small face, she resembled a boy. Because of this, she wore dresses (only owning two) which were too large for her small frame. She was the only living child of elderly parents who had her late in life, her older brother was killed fighting the North Vietnamese. After her bothers death, she helped to support her family by selling peanuts and schooling was no longer possible.

"Mister, buy my peanuts. See? They are warm, very warm and good," she said to a passing man who ignored the thin girl.

"Mister, I will give you a deal, my peanuts are the best in town!" she said following him down the street.

"Go away!" the man spat back at her. "And take a bath, you stink."

"I took a bath four days ago ..." she said, her words trailed off to a faint whisper.

She dropped her head in embarrassment and worry, realizing that her family would not eat today if she did not sell the peanuts. Many days would go by without any food except for these meager peanuts. It was her hope that she would run into an American soldier, even though she couldn't speak English they were always kind enough to buy a small bag. The chances of this happening today were slim, since many of the Americans were in Saigon during the week. Sitting on the dirt at the edge of the road, she opened the paper sack taking out a warm peanut and popping it in her mouth. She could smell the beef soup a street vendor was selling only yards from her. The smell caused her mouth to water when she watched him scoop up long thin noodles for some lucky person to eat. Even on this hot humid day, a bowl of the thinly sliced beef soup would be a welcome gift. It didn't appear she would sell anything and it was getting late, so she decided to take a shortcut home, choosing to cross a grassy plain.

A small house constructed of bamboo poles and tin roof lay ahead of her. Sounds of laughter and music came from inside, American music. The door was open enough for her to see inside, so she decided to take a closer look, quietly standing to the side of the open door where she couldn't be seen.

There were four American soldiers sitting at a table accompanied by two young Vietnamese girls who appeared to be in their late teens. The girls took turns sitting on each of the American's lap. They held tin cups filled with something liquid, offering sips to the men.

"You like? I get more," one of the young girls said in broken English.

"Oh, I want more, and some of this too." The heavyset American with a head of thinning red hair said, and patted his chubby hand between her legs.

Laughter filled the smoky room. One of the girls noticed her, and threw a tin cup toward the door. It missed her by a few inches and she could feel a splash of liquid hit her cheek before the cup landed on the dirt floor of the room.

"Go!" she yelled in Vietnamese. The girl got up from the lap of the chubby red haired man, wearing red panties, which were torn and a bit too large for her.

"Go now!" she yelled once again, this time holding up a small fist.

"No wait, let her stay. Come inside little one," the young American with dark hair said in perfect Vietnamese. He was the most handsome of the Americans, and his voice gentle. "Come, no one will hurt you, I promise," he added.

Turning her body toward the entrance of the door, she walked in the dark room cautiously, aware of everyone's eyes upon her and stopped ten feet in front of the handsome American soldier.

"Are you lost?" he asked in her language.

"No," she answered shyly.

"What is your name?" the nice American asked.

"Quyen. My name is Quyen sir."

The girl wearing red panties started to laugh.

"That fits you. Quyen, skinny little bird!" she said in Vietnamese, the other girl joined her in laughter.

Quyen, pronounced Quinn, means bird in her language. Her parents chose this name for her when she was born because they said she was a little bird fluttering into their lives. The handsome American held a hand out to silence the giggling girls.

Embarrassed from the laughter meant for her, Quyen dropped the bag of peanuts on the floor and they scattered causing the girls to giggle more.

"Leave it. I will buy your peanuts," the kind American said, handing her a fist of coins.

It was twice as much as the peanuts were worth but Quyen reached out and received the gift she was being handed, shyly nodding in gratitude. The American with the yellow hair said something to the handsome American. He spoke with a strange accent and he didn't sound like the other Americans.

"Shut up John, she's my daughter's age. I'll kick your hillbilly ass back to Kentucky," the handsome American said to yellow haired man, before turning back to Quyen.

"Quyen, my name is Jack. I'm from a place far away called California. I have a little girl who is about your age. Her name is Lisa. I haven't seen her for a long time, but she is a pretty thing just like you," Jack said in Vietnamese.

It was apparent he was the only American there who spoke her language, and because of his kindness towards her she felt a strange but wonderful bond with him.

"Col ... fff," Quyen struggled to say.

"Cal-if-orn-ia," Jack stated, pronouncing the word slowly and deliberately. "If you come back tomorrow, I will teach you English. Would you like that?"

Quyen's face beamed with a huge smile while she nodded eagerly. No one ever cared to teach her anything, she didn't even know how to read or write in her own language. As she found her way home that day, she pictured the face of her new friend Jack. She knew because of him, her family would eat that night.

* * *

My father was born Thomas Levi Williams, the middle child to his Irish mother who had three sons. Ruthie Mae Williams had a simple beauty. She wasn't striking at first glance, not that kind of beauty, but a beauty which was subtle and undeniable nonetheless. She was tall and curvaceous, not thin yet not heavy either. Hair the color of brandy wine, her skin was fair, sprinkled with freckles almost transparent as raindrops.

Ruthie was held in high esteem and was an active member in her Irish Catholic church. A good Bible carrying woman with no tolerance for drunkenness or sins in general. It wasn't a surprise to the town folk when she left her husband, Charles Williams, shortly after the birth of their youngest child. Charlie was the love of Ruthie's young life, but between the booze and his philandering ways, she would finally find the courage to let him go.

As a single mother, she worked at the town's hotel, packing mustard sandwiches for the boys' lunch every morning before leaving for work. Her young son's took jobs to help with finances. My father worked at the general store, delivering groceries to families who could afford this service.


Excerpted from Mending Broken Wings by Teri Leigh Thomas Copyright © 2012 by Teri Leigh Thomas. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    An amazing story. Despite the tragedy, it ends on a very positi

    An amazing story. Despite the tragedy, it ends on a very positive note. Sorry to give that away!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    I loved the story line, so creative and so many people can relat

    I loved the story line, so creative and so many people can relate to the main character. Very courageous and inspiring!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    Awesome book, I couldn't put it down once I started reading it.

    Awesome book, I couldn't put it down once I started reading it.

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