* Way back in 2009, some of my characters began to visit me, and I published accounts of those chats here. In fact, that was the reason I began this blog in the first place, as a location for me to write up those visits. First, some of the Owen boys came by, having slipped under the rainbow during a storm. We had a nice visit. Then their sister Marie knocked on the door in August, encouraging me to begin the book that would help her move on with her life. That, of course, is my forthcoming novel, Spinster's Folly. I guess she came by to check on the progress, because even though I've moved since her visit, she found me. It was after nightfall when I heard footsteps outside on the ramp up to my deck, and after a moment or two, I heard a rapping on the door. When I opened it, my security light came on and I knew Marie instantly, but I didn't know her clothing. It was nothing like what she'd worn before.
ME (flabbergasted to see her): Darling Marie! Come in, come in!
MARIE (Hiding her eyes from the bright light with her hand, then peering over her shoulder.): I have to hurry. I can't stay long.
ME: Whyever not? Let me just move these books off the chair. Sit down. What can I get you to eat or drink? (I move a pile of Civil War reference books onto the floor.)
MARIE (Moving hesitantly into the room, her hand still in front of her eyes.): I can't be gone long. He'll find out.
ME: Sit down, dear. (I feel my brow furrowing.) Who is "he"? You seem frightened.
(MARIE finally lowers her hand. We're both still standing.): Truth to tell, I am frightened, more than I've ever been.
ME (Gasping as I digest the fact that her face is mottled and colored with bruises.): What happened? Who's been beating you? Not your Pa!
MARIE: No, not Pa. He would never--
ME (Grabbing hold of her arms.): Who did this? He won't get away with it!
MARIE (Face crumpling.): I thought he loved me.
ME (Mumbling strong words under my breath.): I'll get a cold cloth.
MARIE: No. I can bear the pain a tad bit longer, if you'll just finish my book.
ME (Closing my mouth that's fallen open from amazement.): (Silence.)
MARIE: Please. (Her voice quivers, on the verge of losing control.)
ME: I'm-- I'm doing a final edit. It won't take lo--
MARIE: Now! You've got to publish it as soon as may be!
ME (Sinking into my chair.): Or . . . ?
MARIE: I'm obliged to stay in his power until folks can read the words. He won't release me until then. (She collapses into the chair beside mine.)
ME (My mouth is gaping open again. I close it with difficulty, knowing who "he" is, and what she's been through.)
MARIE: Please, Mom! (She's sobbing hysterically.)
ME (Shaken): I had no idea. I-- Some folks have read it. At least they've read the first draft. They said lovely things about it.
MARIE (Looking at me through teary eyes.): That must account for how I was able to get away for a spell. (She sniffs, somewhat less bereft.)
ME (Digging out a tissue and handing it to her. On second thought, I give her the entire box.): I'll get a hold of Linda on Monday. Tuesday at the latest.
MARIE: Who is Linda? (She blows her nose and drops the tissue into the waste basket beside her chair.)
ME: She's the very helpful lady who will arrange my words all pretty for the inside of the book. Can you hold out until she's finished with it?
MARIE (Blowing her nose again.): I'll venture to do it, Mom. Ask her to hurry, please.
ME: You hang on! I'll get a hold of Deirdra and we'll figure out what to put on the back cover, too.
MARIE (Brightening a bit.): Some of them lovely things the folks said?
ME: You may be sure of that!
MARIE (Letting out a gusty sigh and dabbing at her eyes.): It won't take long?
ME: Oh sweetie, we'll go as fast as we can! I promise you, as soon as Spinster's Folly is published, he won't be a-worryin' you no more.
MARIE (Slightly chuckling.): You sound like Ma. (Sniffs)
ME: You'll see her soon. It will be a favorable reunion. I promise.
MARIE: It makes my heart glad to hear that. (She suddenly turns her face toward the door.) Did you hear that? I'm obliged to leave! (She gets up and kisses me on the cheek.) Mind you, hurry! (She's out of my arms, out the door, and running off my deck before I can move a muscle.)
ME (My shoulders slump.): Oh my gosh! (I try to get my mind around the idea that characters remain in dire situations until their books are published. I turn to the laptop.) Oh my gosh. (I look at the words swimming before me.) I promise you won't be in pain very long. (My voice is hushed. I had no idea!)
*This is a work of fiction. I don't really talk to time-traveling characters from my novels. I do like them a lot, though, and am glad they pass under the rainbow from time to time to visit me in my own place and era. To order autographed copies of my novels, The Man from Shenandoah, Ride to Raton, and Trail of Storms, visit my website at marshaward.com.