Ameura, a high school senior who is insecure, a little over weight and still a virgin, cannot believe that the king of popularity, Vincent Valmont, wants to date her. She is leary of his invitation, but accepts it with her guard up. Vincent on the other hand, had been praying for a girl with the special qualities Ameura doesn't realize she has. It is not long before they fall in love and begin making plans for the future. But when Vincent is killed by a drunk driver on prom night, Ameura's life begins spiraling downward into the depths of despair.
Ameura is hurled into a severe depression, and her doctor prescribes pills to alleviate her pain. Desperate to escape her grief, Ameura accepts a friend's offer to try methamphetamine; it isn't long before she finds herself selling her body on the street to fuel her addiction. Unknowingly she becomes addicted to them, wanting more and more. But when she accidentally overdoses, and collapses on the nasty bathroom floor of a gas station, Ameura is forced to face the deadly consequences of her choices.
Ameura's Story, How she chose Life over Death is a poignant , inspiring tale of a teenager's struggle with addiction as she is led on an incredible journey through loss, heartbreak, and forgiveness as she ultimately witnesses God's love in the most miraculous of ways.
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Read an Excerpt
How she chose life after death
By JUDY INGRAM
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Judy Ingram
All rights reserved.
It was finally the night of the senior prom. Vincent was returning to Ameura's house with her gorgeous, sea green corsage that he'd accidentally left at home on the kitchen table. As he drove along, she was the only thing on his mind, and like a slide show, thoughts clicked from one image of her to the next.
Big dummy, he thought, how could you have forgotten her corsage? Man, she sure looked gorgeous in her new prom dress. I hope she likes the place I'm taking her for dinner. One of these day's I'm going to marry her ... First a few years of college and then ...
He was thinking of her as he turned onto the street she lived, when out of nowhere a speeding pick-up truck ran the stop sign and slammed into the driver's side of his car. Vincent was killed instantly.
The collision made a horrific noise, as if a plane had flown into a glass building. It reverberated through the still night, quelling all other night sounds.
Ameura was in her bedroom looking in the mirror making sure once again, that she looked just right. Her window was open letting in the soft night breeze, when suddenly she heard this thunderous collision, followed by a silence that magnified a thousand times. Somehow she knew without a doubt, that it was her Vincent.
For a moment she couldn't move, and then as if wakening from a trance, every nerve in her body fired to the disaster that was unfolding. Leaping off and toppling her chair, she took the stairs as if she were flying; then slamming the screen door behind her, she jumped off the front porch and ran towards the wreck on the corner. She was biting her fist so hard it bled.
At the end of her block, she saw steam coming out from under the pleated hood of a truck that had slammed into a car she recognized immediately.
Her father, Dan, followed quickly behind, while her mother Molly ran back inside to call 911.
Vincent's car was almost unrecognizable. It had been shoved sideways by a truck, across the street, up and over the curb, and finally crumpled against an ancient maple tree that stood on the corner.
Ameura was running so fast that as she reached the accident, her hands slammed into both sides of the window where Vincent's head and face had shattered it. She slunk to her knees, as all that was recognizable was the color of his hair ... and blood; there was so much blood.
Because the driver's side was smashed up against the tree, and the pick-up was shoved into the car like a sandwich, it was impossible to get the door opened.
The boy who had been driving the pick-up staggered over to her. He had a small cut on his head, but that was his only injury. He reeked of beer and something else ... There was no way of knowing then that this boy would also be the death of her someday ...
Ameura, feeling as if all the blood was draining from her, was shaking violently and screaming. She began to slug the boy in the chest, and he just stood there and took it until the police handcuffed him and took him away.
She doubled over in pain screaming, "NO! NO! NO! NO! Oh my God! Noooo!" and then she began to collapse. Her father caught her up just in time, and gently lifted her into his arms to carry her home.
More sirens, heard faintly in the distance became stronger, but Ameura was not aware of them; she had blessedly passed out.
In the comfortable darkness that enveloped her, Ameura was remembering how she and Vincent met. They were both in high school, and she was just coming in from jogging the track several times. She'd been glancing over her shoulder waving to her friend Rachael, when oomph! She ran smack dab into the cutest guy in school, knocking them both down. Her long red hair, which had been tied back in a pony tail, was now falling down around her sweaty, blotched face, and she kept rubbing her arm across her nose because it was running from so much exertion.
They were both a bit stunned as they looked at each other, and then Vincent started laughing.
Ameura's head was spinning ... What the ... who ... Oh My Gosh, nooo, not him ... could I look any worse when running into 'THE ' Vincent Valmont.
She was still trying to find her voice when she started laughing too, because that's what she did when she got a little hysterical. Her thoughts were as jumbled as her legs as she just sort of stared at him, frozen for the moment. She noticed that his eyes were the color of the lake she and her folks had gone to in the mountains this last summer, and his hair that curled around his ears, looked as if it had been streaked by the sun, all blond and brown at the same time and ... hey ... wait a minute ... he was laughing at her!
Vincent jumped up after wiping his hands on his jeans, and pulled Ameura up too. But he pulled so hard that her gym shorts tore from front to back, and then as if to make things worse, her chest flew into his, almost knocking them both down again! His mouth dropped open in shock, and she started laughing in earnest now because things just couldn't get any worse ... She started backing away from him, both hands covering her face thinking, somebody please, just shoot me....
Vincent lifted a hand in the air, as if directing traffic and asked her to stop, so that he could explain.
As he was raking the hair out of his eyes, he stammered, "I ... I am so sorry; I didn't mean to throw you around like a rag doll ..." By now, he was also in a kind of daze.
"Oh, and um, I'm Vincent, Vincent Valmont." He pointed his thumb to his chest, as if he had to show her exactly whom he was talking about ... "And as I have just demonstrated, (he swung his hands and arms around and out like Chandler does on 'Friends,') I'm a real klutz!"
He was trying not to grin, and he pretended that the whole incident was his fault, because he could tell that she couldn't have been more mortified.
"Uh ... you okay?" He asked, still trying not to grin, but dang, the whole thing was so freakin' funny, he just wanted to roll on the ground and laugh till he cried.
Finally finding her voice, Ameura replied sarcastically, "Oh yeah, just swell." Then she whispered mostly to herself, "Just freaking dandy." She was looking down at the ground now as if there were something interesting to look at, because she just couldn't look at him anymore, and besides, she couldn't think of a dang thing to say.
Vincent felt really sorry for her, so he put his fingers under her chin and gently lifted it, so she would look him in the eye. He wanted to show her that he wasn't laughing at their predicament anymore.
She swiped her arm across her face and tried pulling her hair back out of her eyes, all the while thinking, say something to him ... anything ... She took another deep breath and felt herself relaxing a little, and then finally said a bit loudly, "My name is Ameura!"
Vincent kind of jumped because her loud voice startled him. But he replied, "I know, I asked a mutual friend of ours, Rachael, and she told me."
Great, Ameura thought, thanks a lot for telling me Rach! You and I WILL talk later.
Vincent quickly took his shirt off and gave it to her, so she could wrap it around her midsection to hide the huge rip in her gym pants.
"Oh, uh, thanks, she murmured," as she wrapped it around herself. "I ... I'll wash it tonight and give it back to you tomorrow ... if that's okay with you ..."
"Oh, don't worry about that," and thinking fast he asked, "Hey, maybe I could take you out to get a soda after school to uh ... you know, make up for not watching where I was going?"
Ameura knew that it had been her fault, but thought it was awfully nice of him to try and take the blame.
Then he started giving her all these reasons why he thought they should go out now that they had met, like maybe it was kismet or something ...
"You know, my mom always said I'd get myself into trouble one of these days by not paying attention to where I was going, but you sure don't look like trouble to me ..." He suddenly realized that he was using the same line he'd used on all the other girls he went out with, but he knew that she was different, so he didn't do that again.
Something amazing had just happened, and he was trying to sort it all out in his mind. Just the night before he had prayed about finding a special girl; one with whom he could become good friends, and maybe then, get serious with. Most of the kids in school didn't know that he had a spiritual side to him, and that he prayed to God on a daily basis, because they would probably have laughed at him.
But he really did have good values and standards; he just hadn't used them for awhile. Around school he had a reputation because he went out with a lot of different girls, but he was looking for someone special and he hadn't met her yet. The main thing on the minds of the girls he went out with was their nails, hair, or make-up. Most of them actually asked him out, and he was flattered, but he wanted to be the pursuer.
Also, the girls he went out with were pretty easy. He could get away with just about anything he wanted, and he led them on, knowing it was wrong, but doing it anyway because hey, they let him. He knew that they might 'give in' because he was popular, and they all wanted to go out with the most popular guy in school....
Some of them even let him do whatever he wanted, just because they thought that if they did so, that would make him like them better, and maybe then they could go around with the really cool kids. They didn't know that afterwards most guys even talked about them, and bragged to one another about who did what to whom.
Vincent didn't brag about his conquests, but then he didn't have to because his friends just naturally assumed he did the same thing they did.
It was wrong to do these things, he knew, but it's just what some guys did and have always done from the beginning of time. It was all just a big game to them.
He also knew some girls thought the same as guys did, talking about their conquests after sex. To him, there were 'good girls,' and 'bad girls.' He knew it was wrong to think that way, but he always determined before taking a girl out which kind of girl she was ... the kind to take home to introduce to his mom, or the kind he just wanted to lay. And seriously, he was sure that some girls thought the same way ... didn't they?
* * *
Vincent's favorite excuses to himself were: "After all, I'm a just a normal, teenage guy ..." and the other was, "Geeze, I'm only human ..." Still, he did have a guilty conscience after sex, because of his belief in God and His commandments.
He was bored with playing this game, though, and he wanted to be with someone who had the same beliefs in God he did and who was real; and he wanted a girl that wouldn't let him get away with his sexual advances ... someone who had good values and good standards ... someone he could be proud of, and show off to his friends.
Also, it was his senior year and he was discovering that things were changing within him. He was looking for a more serious, long term relationship. He knew that Ameura was a good girl, and he wanted to do things differently with her ... because ... just maybe ... she was the one ...
Nobody would have guessed then that this innocent little girl would soon turn into a drug addict who would do anything to get drugs ... anything ...
A meura smiled at the way Vincent appeared to be nervous now, also. He was a very popular guy with the girls at school, so why would he be nervous talking to her? After all, she was overweight and insecure about herself, and besides, she was just another girl. She was totally attracted to him though, but way too scared to be around him. He might be popular, but he really had a reputation. So, instead of a accepting his invitation, she looked up at him and said sweetly and simply, "I'm sorry Vincent, but I can't go out with you after school."
Taken aback a little because he was used to girls succumbing to his charms, he asked her why the heck not?
"Because, I ... I'm busy after school, I ... I already made plans ..." She normally didn't lie. She really didn't have any plans, but she had to have time to think about what was happening so quickly.
He liked that she said "No" to him. This really got his attention. But he sure wasn't about to give up, so he tried impressing her with his John Wayne imitation. First he put on a swaggered stance, put one hand on his hip, tipped his head to the side, put on John Wayne's' crooked smile and said ... "Well, I gotta tell ya liddle lady, it was my pleasure runnin' inta ya!"
"Very funny," Ameura said, as she smiled and started giggling.
He thought that it might have worked because she certainly was amused, but actually she didn't even have a clue as to who John Wayne was.
She decided she'd better get to the showers fast before anything else happened to embarrass her, so she thanked him for lending her his shirt, and though in a hurry, walked very carefully this time, back to the girl's gym.
Vincent watched her go and was disappointed; but he was also determined.
* * *
"I can't believe I just did that." Ameura thought. "I said no ..." "Why did I say no? Because I'm scared to death of him, that's why. He's the captain of the football team, the captain of the wrestling team, heck, any girl would be glad to go out with him. I'd be glad to go out with him, and I said NO! What is the matter with me?" She continued to berate herself unmercifully. "I'm not popular, I'm not pretty, and I'm overweight, and on and on and on ..."
After she took her shower, she dressed and combed her hair, put on a little mascara and lip gloss, and because gym was her last class, started for home. She had so many thoughts running around in her mind that she decided to go over to her very special place by the river, and try and sort things out.
* * *
Ten minutes later, she got out of her car and walked down a grassy knoll to her secret place. She sat down against the twisted trunk of an old weeping willow tree that leaned precariously over the water. She watched again how it's long, dangling branches floated into the current, its leaves shivering on the surface, as if hundreds of tiny fishes were trying to swim away. She took her shoes off and stuck her feet into the cold mountain water thinking how the night before she had asked God to please put someone special into her life ... if He thought she was ready; someone with whom she could become friends, and maybe even go out with exclusively. She had complete faith in God that He would do just that, in His own time, but usually His timing took forever and what happened today was really fast. Could he be the boy she had prayed for ...? Nah, she wasn't his type. She didn't believe in coincidence though, but she also believed that nothing happens in God's world by mistake, so just maybe ...
* * *
Startled, she turned around and there stood Vincent with his arms and legs crossed, leaning on an old rail fence, chewing on a piece off straw. He had on a crumpled straw hat, faded jeans with holes in them, and an old blue denim shirt open all the way down. He looked about as comfortable as if he were standing in his own living room at home.
"How the heck did you know where I was?" Ameura asked, with an amazed but startled look on her face.
"It was pretty simple actually. I saw you leaving in your car, and just decided to follow you. Is this your 'other' plans you had Ameura? Why'd you think you had to lie to me, or maybe you just don't have any interest in me - is that it?"
Man, he got right to the point, she thought; no games here. "I don't know Vincent," she lied. She realized she'd been doing a lot of that to him, and that was just wrong.
He liked the way she said his name, kind of like it had been coming from her lips for eternity. His thumbs were hooked in the front pockets of his jeans. "Can we talk Mure? I got something I'd really like to share with you."
"Sure, but um ... I have something to tell you first, if that's okay with you ... I'd like to tell you that ... I lied. As you can see, I didn't have any plans after school, I just needed time to think about some things, and honestly, I think I'm kind of scared of you."
"Scared of me? Why the heck would you be scared of me? Dang girl, you don't even know me!"
"Oh yes I do, everybody in school knows you. I know you're the most popular guy in school and let's face it, I'm not the most popular girl, I mean, I'm over- weight for one thing, and well ... well you know ... I'm not a cheer leader, and ..."
Excerpted from AMEURA'S STORY by JUDY INGRAM. Copyright © 2013 Judy Ingram. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
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