No Love in the Garden of Eden... Eden Rose has learned to deal with her mother's criticism that she can do nothing right. What she can't deal with are the arguments between her parents. To escape their angry words, she finds refuge in an old abandoned house. She always returns home, hoping her mother will love her one day, even though Eden's not sure what the word love means. Three other teens with problems also hang out at the Old House. Meeting Murphy, Toby, and Josh changes Eden's world, and she begins to have faith in herself. Perhaps she can do something right, after all. Thanks to the boys, she begins to understand the meaning of love. But will it be enough to save her broken home life?
|Publisher:||Dancing Lemur Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)|
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Under a Purple Moon
By Beverly Stowe McClure
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.Copyright © 2016 Beverly Stowe McClure
All rights reserved.
I slammed the door closed behind me and ran, my hands over my ears to shut out the angry voices. My mother's. My father's. They were fighting again. Not a physical fight but hurling words at each other: hurtful words, ugly words. They argued about me, as usual.
The Old House waited at the outskirts of town, down a narrow dirt road two miles away, hidden from the street by trumpet and wisteria vines, deserted and empty. My sanctuary. I swept into the lane leading to the house. Giant tree branches bowed on either side of the road to form a shelter over me. I raced to a back window, swung the rough, weathered boards to one side and crawled into the house. Peace and quiet greeted me. No raised voices scorched my eardrums. No words reminding me I wasn't wanted tore through my soul. Just my panting for breath filled the blessed nothingness.
Clutching the ache in my side, I scanned the dusky room, a kitchen before the owners moved on, or died, or whatever happened to them. I hoped he was here. "Murphy." I called his name softly to keep from disturbing the serenity.
Light from a flashlight sent particles of dust shimmering in the air.
"I'm here, Eden." Footsteps moved toward me. His hand reached out. I clasped it. The flashlight guided us to a large room with a brick fireplace, the former living area now bare. No reminders a family once lived here, laughed here, loved here. A couple of sleeping bags lay along one wall. Flames from three candles arranged in a circle on the floor fluttered as Murphy and I settled down on the bags.
He clicked off the flashlight, pulled a sandwich out of a sack and handed it to me: peanut butter and strawberry jelly. He always brought me the same, along with a can of soda. He cared whether I was hungry or not, which was more than I could say for my parents.
He didn't talk.
I didn't talk.
His shoulders relaxed. The tension in my middle eased. We were comfortable together. We met at school last year. He was a freshman, I a sophomore. A couple of boys had cornered Murphy by the lockers and were calling him nasty names. I remember how he ducked between the boys in an attempt to get past them. The bigger guy towered over Murphy by at least a foot. He grabbed Murphy's arm and slung him against the wall.
By that time, a handful of kids had gathered around. No one tried to help Murphy. They simply stood there gawking. I wasn't the bravest person in the universe, but I knew what it felt like to be called names and made fun of. Someone had to stand up for the kid. I didn't even know his name then, but I squeezed between the bullies and stuck my nose in the biggest one's face.
"You have two seconds to get out of my space," I said. (Yeah, what was I thinking?)
Silence filled the hallway. All eyes switched to me. My stomach rolled, and I wanted to slink away to a corner and hide. The kid, his face whiter than a summer cloud, squeezed his eyes together. His lower lip trembled. I remember that quite well. Where my bravery came from I had no idea, even now, a year later.
The giant's nostrils twitched. His hand reached for my throat. I stood my ground. My knees quivered.
"One second." I said the words clear and calm, considering the storm raging inside me.
The giant blinked. "Huh?"
"Half a second."
Our audience scattered until only the kid, the two bullies and I were left. The giant took a step back. He scratched his head. "You got guts, girl."
He looked at the kid. "Next time, dumbo." He turned and strode away, the other guy jabbering something at him. From that day on, I thought of Murphy as my younger brother. And "next time" never came. I heard the bully transferred to another school.
Now, while I ate my sandwich, I watched Murphy's fingers, although stubby and clumsy-looking, twist thin strands of copper-colored wire into a circle. After I finished the last bite and swallowed a drink of soda, he placed the wire in my hand.
In the eerie light cast by the candles, I studied the object: a bracelet. "It's beautiful." I twined the bracelet around my wrist. Delicate wire wings shaped like a butterfly stretched out, as if attempting to fly away. "How did you know I love butterflies?"
He grinned. "A little butterfly told me."
I gave him a playful shove.
"Butterflies are more than just insects, you know," he said.
"Yep. Some cultures believe butterflies carry the spirit of dead ancestors to visit people. Others think if you capture a butterfly and whisper a wish to it, the butterfly will tell the Great Spirit. When you release the butterfly, the Great Spirit will grant the wish."
I ran a finger over the delicate butterfly wings. "Nice story ... if only it were true. You believe in wishes, do you?"
He swigged down his soda. "I do."
"Maybe one day I'll believe too.
"You will." He held out his fist. "Best friends forever."
We knocked knuckles. I repeated, "Best friends forever." I wondered how long forever really was.
"You want to listen to a CD?" he asked.
He clicked on the portable CD player his grandma gave him for his fifteenth birthday. I bit my lip to keep from shouting "Turn the thing off" when "Hound Dog" ripped through the air. Too bad Grandma didn't give him a choice of music. I did the next best thing. I turned down the volume.
"Remember, Murph, even though the Old House is a long distance from the nearest neighborhood and almost invisible from the road, sound carries."
"Gotcha." Murphy jumped to his feet. "Dance with me?" Ducking his head, he smiled. "Quietly, of course."
Why not? I hopped up and we twisted and turned to the music. We giggled in undertones and made silly faces. Murphy sang along with Elvis, keeping his voice a note above a whisper. For the moment, only the present existed, no past and no future, just now. Finally, with drops of sweat beading up on my brow, I fell to the floor, exhausted. "Enough, Murph. I gotta rest."
I leaned back against the wall. "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" rolled through the air.
"I don't like that song much," Murphy said. "It's too sad."
"I agree. Play something else."
"Done." A lighter, happier tune floated around us. Humming along, Murphy thumped his fingers on his knee. With the warm room, the music, and Murphy close by, my body relaxed. My mind could not relax, however. I remembered every little detail of the past hour. Nora — my mother insisted I call her by her name — told me I put too much salt in the meatloaf. She said I also set the table wrong. According to her, I couldn't do anything right. The argument started when Dad defended me. So here I am, for the second or third time this week.
"Eden, Eden. You okay?"
Murphy shook my shoulder gently, dragging me from my thoughts. "I'm okay."
"You sure? Why are you crying?"
"Crying?" I touched my cheek. Dampness chilled my fingers.
He handed me a napkin. "You want to talk about it?"
I wiped my eyes and drippy nose. "No."
"All right. You want to play a game?"
"What do you have in mind?"
A light tapping noise from the direction of the front door interrupted Murphy's answer. I scooted closer to him and whispered, "Murph, did you hear that?"
I clicked off the CD player.
The tapping repeated itself.
"That. Listen. Someone's at the door." I snuffed out the candles.
A muffled voice called, "Murph, it's me."
I eyed Murphy. "Whoever's out there knows your name."
"Yeah, I better let him in." He flicked on the flashlight and jogged to the door.
I followed on his heels. "Him? Who? Murph, what are you talking about?"
Instead of answering, he leaned against the door and said, "Go around to the back. Climb through the window."
"On my way." The footsteps faded.
We reached the kitchen in time to see a guy tumble through the window. "Hey, Murph." The boy gave a thumbs up as he landed on the floor.
"Hey, Toby," Murphy said. The boys slapped hands in a high-five.
"Toby?" I blinked, once, twice. In the hazy beam of the flashlight, Toby Jensen, athlete, honor student, one of the popular, stuck-up kids at school, stood less than six feet in front of me, staring in my direction.
I stared back, speechless. What was a boy like Toby doing at the Old House? I'd known him since sixth grade. We weren't friends then. We weren't friends now. I could count on one hand the words we'd spoken to each other in the years we'd been in classes together. The first week into our junior year hadn't changed a thing. He nodded at me once in theater class, but that was it. He ran with the rich kids. I hid in the shadows. Murphy never mentioned that he knew Toby. Most importantly, we needed to keep our hideaway private. Murphy had some big explaining to do. I tipped my head for him to join me in the corner. Once there, I lit into him. "What's going on?"
He frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Why's he here?" I glanced at Toby then back to Murphy.
"I invited him to stop by if he had a chance."
"How could you do that? This is our secret place."
"The house doesn't belong to us," Murphy said. "We're actually trespassers."
"True, but no one's lived here in years, and we're not hurting anything. What if Toby tells others and they tell someone else? Soon the whole school will show up."
"Nope, Toby's not a snitch. He just wants a quiet place to go and be with his friends, like you and me."
"Friends?" I snuck another peek at Toby, who hadn't budged from the spot. He shifted from foot to foot. He looked down at a baseball cap in his hands. His lips moved. Was he talking to the cap? I leaned into Murphy. "Half the kids at school are Toby's friends, the girls anyhow. Even if he doesn't tell, they'll find out."
Murphy patted me on the shoulder. He nodded at Toby and yelled across the room. "Eden worries too much. Right?"
"Umm, right." He smiled. No, he frowned. No, his expression was a mixture, as though he couldn't make up his mind whether he was happy or sad or somewhere in between.
Up close he didn't look nearly as intimidating as the boy I saw in the classroom or on the football field. He had two eyes, two ears, two arms, and two legs, like everyone else. Except for his muscled body and gorgeous face, he looked like any high school student. I also noticed the dimple in his chin. I noticed that quite a bit. He shifted feet again and studied the cap.
I forced my thoughts away from his dimple. "So you want to hang out here with Murphy and me for a while?"
Still staring at the cap, he nodded. "If it's okay with you, Eden, may I?"
He asked so softly, so sweetly, how could I refuse? "I guess it's okay."
The hint of a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. Slowly, his eyes lifted and met mine. "Thank you."
Excerpted from Under a Purple Moon by Beverly Stowe McClure. Copyright © 2016 Beverly Stowe McClure. Excerpted by permission of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C..
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