Keep Posted for a 2008 or 2009
Release of this Autobiographical Work of Fiction
A middle grade novel about a desperate young girl who unlocks dark secrets and comes of age in the midst of physical and emotional abandonment.
Out of My Mother's Darkness
By Janie Lancaster
By Janie Lancaster
Emily is enshrouded by her mother's dark world, a world of secrets and loneliness. Fear of disappearing into her mother's darkness and an internal hunger for life and happiness forces her to face her mother, and her fear.
Emily thinks her way out is to find her missing father. When this leads to disappointment she thinks she has come to the end of the road, the end of her hope. Then she discovers another secret. A secret more enduring, more fulfilling. She discovers her true identity.
This leads to a hope of securing a better future for herself and a family she one day hopes to have. She finds the door to her hopes and dreams and becomes determined to resist the harsh mold her mother has for her.
Emily is powerless at times against her mother's unrelenting control and blames herself for how her mother treats her. She's fears that she may be doomed to become like her mother. But her keen power of observation and love for books gives her glimpses into a better life and this instills in her a strong desire and a hope for her future.
Her Aunt Karen becomes a catalyst for freeing Emily from her heaviness of heart and carrying her mother's guilt. No longer blaming herself she moves on apart from her mother's controlling her every thought and action. Emily moves beyond her fear and feelings of worthlessness, always trying to please the unpleasable, cure the incurable, change the unchangeable. Her mother. She is no longer confused about right or wrong, fair or unfair, true or untrue.
A battle of wills ensues. Emily against her own fears and her mother's harsh control. She finds strength of character from books she reads, determination from an Ann with an e, an awakening spirit from a secret garden, a positive frame of mind from a Pollyanna and a real family from a little house on a prairie.
Emily has to remain under her mother's roof until she grows up. But she is determined to take what control she has to work toward preserving herself for both a present and future life, to endure what she must, enjoy what she can, and plan what she will one day do and become.
And she does all this as she climbs out of her mother's darkness.
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Podcast Interview with Chris Bridges News-JournalOnline in Datona Beach Florida http://www.nieworld.com/special/julie/author_interview.htm
Today is my birthday.
I am twelve years old.
My mother gave me a brown paper bag
with some new socks and underwear.
She gave me a small cake from the bakery
and said not to be expecting anything else.
I don't expect anything else.
Not any more.
Not after today.
It's been six birthdays that I have waited
by the living room window,
parting the dark green drapes,
separating the off-white metal blinds.
hoping for my dad's old green truck
to pull up in front of our house.
He's not coming.
My mother is right.
I found out today that I won second prize
for the poem I wrote for family night at school.
My teacher said my mom and dad must be so proud of me.
I just smiled at her
and swallowed the lump in my throat.
My friend Shelly asked me why my parents and I
didn't come last night.
I didn't know what to say.
My face got hot.
Tears tried to sneak out of my eyes.
The bell rang just then.
I told her I had to hurry home.
How can I explain to anyone what I don't know?
Mom won't tell me anything.
Not why my dad left,
or where he is now.
She keeps me in darkness with her secrets.
Even our house is kept dark
and tightly closed.
I feel like a prisoner locked in a cell.
Sometimes I just want to disappear.
Other times I'm afraid I will.
I have to get out of my mother's darkness,
but I don't know how.
My dad is somewhere out there.
I'm going to find him.
I won't let my mother stop me.
My Aunt Karen is picking me up tomorrow
to take me shopping
and to a movie.
I haven't seen her for a very long time.
I wonder if she knows anything.
I don't know how, but I am going to ask her
if she knows where my dad is.
I have to break this deadening silence.
Silence that fills the room,
when my dad's name is even mentioned
I have to.
I told Aunt Karen I hated food.
And, here I am gulping down a turnover in a corner booth at a diner. I took my fork and poked at the bright red cherries that oozed out of the flaky crust.
A door swung open and my Aunt Karen stepped out of the restroom.
She walked toward me in her nonchalant way, almost drifting. Her bright yellow and orange skirt flowed behind her, giving her a regal appearance. The diner's polished chrome and mirrors added to the glitter my aunt brought into the room.
My aunt is nothing like her sister, my mom, who dresses in dark, drab clothes and marches everywhere she goes. No makeup. No fluff. No flair. Why couldn't my aunt have been my mother? And, why does she have to live over an hour away?
Aunt Karen sat down across from me. She sniffed the aroma of her coffee and toasted cinnamon bun.
I stirred my iced tea. I hoped she'd forgotten what I said about hating food. She didn't. I should have known. My aunt knows me very well, too well, sometimes.
"So, tell me, Emily," she said. "Why do you hate food?" She ran her fingers through her stylish, short, blond hair and looked at me. "It seems like you're doing okay with your turnover." She took a sip of her coffee without breaking off her stare.
"Oh! Did I say that?" I looked down to avoid eye contact with her. I wiggled in my seat and refolded the napkin in my lap.
"Yes Emily, you know you did. Come out with it. You can't hide anything from me," she said in a tone demanding an answer with a look to match her tone.
"I guess I don't hate all food. Just when not eating becomes a sin."
"You know, my mom...." I sighed and plopped my napkin on the table.
"No, I don't know, Emily. Come on, explain. You're not going to get off that easy." She leaned back and crossed her legs.
I knew I wouldn't get off easy. Maybe that's why I said it to her. There was a long silence and wiggling bore me no relief from her silent stare. I couldn't hold it in any longer. My feelings spilled out like gushing water.
"You don't have to live at my house and eat what my mother cooks. You'd hate food, too. She always makes eating such a painful chore."
"Your mother never did like to cook."
"It's not just her cooking, Aunt Karen. It's the way she makes me feel guilty when I have a hard time eating what she's cooked. Like," I shook my index finger at my aunt and mimicked my mother. "God is watching you. It's a terrible sin to waste food. Many people don't have food on the table like you do. You ungrateful child." I crushed my napkin into a ball. "Did my mother ever think that everything you cooked, isn't meant to be stirred together all in one pot?"
She put down her coffee and gently slipped her hand over mine.
I looked down at what was left of my cherry turnover, picked up my fork with my free hand and poked at the leftover pieces. "But that's not all," I said. "She says that if I don't eat it the first time I'll eat it tomorrow and every day until it's gone. And, she means it!"
I leaned forward and looked straight into my aunt's eyes. "Do you know what it's like to eat stew--sticky old beef stew--warmed over for the third or fourth time? Do you know what it's like to swallow and have your throat close up? The food stays stuck. And you can't even breathe? To make it even worse, my mother threatens me and stands over me until the sticky stuff finally goes down and lands like a rock in my already sour stomach."