General Fiction posted January 10, 2021 Chapters: 1 -2- 


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Liliana's reasons for change are revealed.

A chapter in the book Discarded Treasures

Motivation for Change

by davisr (Rhonda)




Background
A young lady seeks a new start in life by going back to her roots. She stumbles on a project a doctor has started restoring meaning to the lives of people society has cast aside.
Summary of Chapter 1:

Liliana Langley, a woman we know little about yet, was caught in a storm after a crash destroyed her car. A stranger in the land, she struggled against the fury of the storm and flooding waters. The chapter ended with her sheltering at the base of a tree, and contemplating what led her to such a wretched series of events. Chapter 2 begins with her reflection on the past.

Chapter 2:

"It's always cold here." Liliana pushed her creaking chair from the computer and looked through a window to her right. Chills shook her body, though the air inside the house was 72 degrees.

"It's winter in Indiana, Dear, what do you expect?" Joyce Langley asked her daughter.

Liliana rose and gazed out at the scenic fenced-in yard around their house. It was the product of her mother's requirement for personal space in the 100-acre ranch on which they lived, and the culmination of years of hard work on all their parts. It would always be her happy place, a retreat her mind would wander to in times of trouble.

In warmer months, the yard exhibited a wide array of decorative flowers and shrubs, some native, others imported and carefully cultivated to thrive in the cool, but fertile, soils of the Midwest United States.

In the center of the space, stood a swing-set Liliana's father had crafted from iron, and that she and her siblings had spent many hours playing on, absorbed in wonderlands of their own creations. At the back, leaning beside a massive White Ash, was a playhouse that now served as storage for Liliana's hastily gathered possessions.

Liliana watched as a brisk wind whipped the Ash, slinging its limbs one way and then another as though not certain which direction to blow. Wisps of dry snow danced around the yard like so many angry white fairies, and it was only November.

"I don't know, Mom, I guess I just feel the need to be warm."

"Mama," Joyce corrected.

"What?"

"Mama. Proper Southern Girls call their mothers, Mama."

"We aren't in the South. We're in Indiana, remember, where it's cold all the time?"

"Of course I know where we live, and I'm well aware of the temperature," Joyce said, "but we're not from here."

"You're not, but I am." Liliana shook her head and turned to face her only living parent. She could see her mother's familiar smile and smell the scent of her favorite perfume, Fame. These images eased Liliana's angst.

"That's fair," Joyce said, but her countenance spoke otherwise. She held her daughter's eye. Joyce had insisted her two children learn native Southern culture, as much as she insisted there was a fenced yard on their ranch.

Liliana smiled with indulgence born of habit. It was more than just the personal power her mother exuded that swayed her thoughts, but some sort of internal drive to feel a part of a culture as old as the country itself. She conceded, "I guess I must have inherited the Southern need for warm weather."

"Yes, yes, you're just like me, and in more ways than you realize."

"But I look more like Dad."

"That, you do, God rest his soul. You definitely got your height and weight from him. You're solid and built strong, and you have his pretty curls."

"I miss those curls." Liliana said. "They gave him a boyish charm, even after they turned gray. It hardly seems like five years since he passed away."

"You know, I thought we'd always be together, he and I, and I certainly didn't imagine my Golden Years spent without him."

Joyce paused a moment in somber reflection, then abruptly changed the subject. She couldn't afford to stay melancholy for long. Depression was a terrible enemy, and one she knew Liliana struggled with as well. "So, how's your job hunting going?"

"Not well." Liliana gathered her long hair into a knot on the back of her head, slipped a scrunchy hair band off her wrist and produced a quick, ill-defined bun. She returned to her chair with a petulant flop. Why did her mother's house always make her feel like an adolescent?

"Why not? You've had ten year's experience as a teacher in inner city public schools, principal certification, and three years as an elementary school assistant principal. It's an impressive portfolio. No one's going to care that you're in the middle of a divorce."

"These days, I think everyone else is, too. No, that's not it."

"Then what?"

"I'm not sure, Mama." Liliana corrected her choice of appellation out of respect. "It's just there isn't anything I can find I really want to do here in Brown County. I might just as well keep the job I have in Indianapolis and deal with the commute."

Joyce leaned against the edge of the recliner and looked at her daughter over the top of her glasses. She had spent her life in education as well, and the look she gave was, well, teacherly. "You can do anything you set your mind to. Don't let what happened between you and Donald set the tone for the rest of your life."

"Mother! This isn't about Donald."

"Isn't it?"

Liliana shuddered again, only this time it had nothing to do with temperature. Maybe it was about Donald. No matter how successful she had been in life, he had always found a way to tear her down. She had the physical and emotional scars to prove it.

"You definitely need a change, Darling." Joyce seemed to immediately sense her daughter's shift in mood. She tapped her finger on the edge of the chair and raised her eyebrows. "You want to be warm, so, maybe, you need to do like the geese and fly south."

Liliana tried to whirl in the creaking desk chair and face her mother. The motion, clunky at best, didn't have the smooth, defiant grace Liliana had hoped for, but, then gracefulness had never been her defining quality.

"My life is here on the farm with you. I promised to come and help you. I only want a change of venue, not to abandon the people I love."

"You wouldn't be abandoning us, Darling. Your brother can take care of this place by himself, just like your daddy and I did. Michael has his own house, a wife that loves him, and three kids for motivation."

"So, you don't need me?"

"I'll always need you, Sweetheart. I'm just saying we can run the farm without you. Look, Liliana, you and Donald didn't have any kids, you have no car payment, and no longer own property."

"And how is this a good thing?"

"Well, it means you have few real responsibilities, and it's as good a time as any to start over."

"But what about you? We've always lived close enough to support each other."

"Who knows, if things work out, I may want to fly south, too. There's no more to keep me here than there is you. Believe me, the corn and soybeans will grow without us, and the cows will produce milk and calves."

"Where would we go?"

"You remember me telling you about your Great Aunt Vera?"

"The one in Atlanta who passed away a couple of years ago?"

"Well, Douglasville, but, yes."

"Sure, she ran a girls' school down there didn't she?"

"It was at one point, Liliana, but if you'll remember, she changed it before she died to a sort of hybrid nursing home and school. She called it a group home."

"No, I don't remember that, but I'll take your word for it. Are you suggesting I move to Georgia and take over the business?"

"No, Aunt Vera left the place to her former partner, a marvelous gentleman named Dr. Floyd Rivers, and I hear he's looking for help."

"Help?" Liliana raised a manicured eyebrow. "Doing what?"

"Teaching, Dear," Joyce said. She leaned over to look at her youngest, her soft hazel eyes sparkling with the hint of adventure.

"Teaching at a group home? You've got to be kidding me? I'm not the trailblazing type."

"You don't have to be. The trail has already been blazed by Aunt Vera and Dr. Rivers. All you have to do is show up for an interview, and if you like it and he likes you, then you can move there and get your new start."

"It sounds like you've given this a lot of thought."

"I have, and once you've settled in, then, maybe, I'll join you and see if they have something for me to do as well. There's a part of me that wants to get back into teaching, too. Really, Darling, it's just that easy."

Just that easy...

A mere month after that conversation, Liliana clung to a tree in the crushing storm. Why hadn't she stayed in Indiana with her family where she'd been safe? For that matter, why had she left Donald to begin with? She'd had a good job and her Ex-husband was nice to her most of the time. Once again, she felt cold, wretched and alone.

How long she crouched in the sheltering roots of that tree, Liliana would never guess, but it seemed forever. The storm raged ever on, and the scent of destruction enveloped her.

Finally, piercing the darkness of nature and soul, came sudden, blinding lights. Liliana heard the screech of tires and the odor of burning rubber. How could rubber burn in flood waters, how could tires screech. Perhaps it was her overwrought imagination? What she did hear for certain, was a door slamming. Liliana watched the figure of a tall, well-built man appear in the headlights of a large vehicle.

"Are you okay?" The man's voice penetrated the roar of rain and wind.

"I don't think so." It was an honest reply. Liliana was too miserable for bravado. "I lost control of my car in the storm. It hit a tree and caught fire, and I got swept away by the flood while trying to escape."

"Poor thing. Yeah, I saw the car. It looked pretty bad. Come on and get in my truck. I'll get you some help."

Liliana hesitated.

"I'm not a serial killer, I promise."

"It's not that. I don't think I can move."

"No problem." The man grasped her by the back of her jacket and pulled her through the water as easily as a father would guide his child through a swimming pool.

Liliana felt herself lifted into a seat. Relieved beyond belief, she sank into the comforting cushions of his truck. She heard the man get into the driver's seat and slam the door, muffling the sounds of the rampant storm.

"Where to?"

"Oh," Liliana hadn't thought about where she had been heading for a while. "Can you take me to a hotel? I've got an interview tomorrow morning and need to try to find a way to get ready. I'm afraid I've lost everything, but I can call my mother from there."

"Don't worry, lost is my specialty. Where's your interview?"

"At a place called, Discarded Treasures. Do you know where it is?"

The man smiled. "I know it well, and I think you're my 9 am appointment. Hi, I'm Dr. Rivers, and if you don't mind, I'll go ahead and take you to the school. We have plenty of empty rooms."

"That would be wonderful."

In spite of the storm and her predicament, Liliana felt comforted in the presence of the stranger, just as she had been while resting in the debris at the foot of the tree.



Recognized


Sorry it's so long, and I thank you for taking time to read it. I usually opt for shorter chapters, but this one had to reflect back on chapter one.

Liliana Louise Langley: Main female character who will help run the Discarded Treasures project

Joyce Langley: Liliana's mother

Dr. Floyd Rivers: A man of uncertain age that heads a project and group home called, Discarded Treasures.
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