It's been a while since I chatted with you. Since then, Behind The Creaking Door - Tales From The Dark and Just Breathe have been released. Now, I am getting ready to release, in my opinion, my best work to date, Cinnamon Tea. As my other novels, it takes place in a small town. The town of choice for this novel is Statesboro, GA. Why Statesboro? You may ask. Well, I've driven through Statesboro a few times in my life, but not all that long ago I visited a quail farm located in that very town. I began to put things around this quail farm. What if Statesboro was covered in farm land? What if there were a tight family living not far away from that quail farm? What if one of the policeman in that town suffered from the loss of a daughter (not dead, but lost or taken)? What if he struggled for two years and then someone else loss their daughter...and a granddaughter under eerily similar circumstances? What if everything came back in a flood...but much different and the same? There are a lot of things going on in this story and on many different levels. I hope you enjoy reading this journey as much as I enjoyed putting it down. I'm going to give you the entire prologue right here. Enjoy. Who's drinking the tea on Tax Day, 2016?
August 3, 2002. 5:00 AM.
Avril awoke before the rooster’s first crow. She was very eager to start the day. Eager to milk the cows, pull the eggs and help her grandmother (whom she affectionately called Nella) get breakfast started for the boys. The dog days of August were upon them, and being in Statesboro, GA, it was very humid. The temperature was already above eighty and it wasn’t yet six o’clock. Nella, whose given name was Annella Louise Brighton, then became Annella Brighton Whatley when she married old Jerry Lee Whatley in nineteen hundred and forty eight. Jerry Lee died clutching his chest atop his John Deere tractor in nineteen hundred and ninety, ending their marriage at just over forty two years. Annella and Jerry had three children – Avril was the offspring of Daryl and Jessie Sharper. Jessie was Annella and Jerry’s middle child. Daryl left Jessie for another woman three months after Avril was born. So, Jessie packed their things and moved back to the family farm with Avril in tow and this is where they have been ever since; going on seventeen years now. Avril grew up on the farm and it became a part of her – she enjoyed farm life and all that came with it. That was, until this morning.
Avril slogged through the soft soil – there had been a significant downpour the night before – and slowly made her way to the fenced pasture at the west end of the ten acre farm. The sounds from a pair of cowbells clanked in the still dark early morning. Old Bessie and Buttercup lumbered toward Avril as she stepped up onto the second wooden rail of the – badly in need of repair – fence. Her platinum hair hung amess over her shoulders and somewhat obstructed her light brown eyes. She could make out Bessie and Buttercup hulking towards her, but there was no sign of Millie. Millie was the oldest of the three milk cows by two years. Out of the three, Millie consistently produced the most milk, but Millie wasn’t with the other two. Millie, in the immediate here and now, was missing.
“Millie! You there, girl?!” Avril shouted into the darkness. The other two were now right in front of her, scrubbing the fronts of their mouths with their tongues waiting for Avril to jump over and start her business. The rain had kept the crickets in hiding so there wasn’t much in the way of noise outside of the cowbells and the gentle rustle of wind. The chicken coop was on the opposite side of the farm – the single rooster finally erupted with his first crow of the day followed by the nervous clucks from his harem of hens. Gus the mule had his head propped over the top of his pen, gazing in the general direction of Avril and the milk girls.
“Millie! Where you at girl?!”
Bessie let out a groaning, drawn out “MOOOOOO!” Buttercup just chewed her cud, waiting for Avril’s hands to lock onto her teats.
“mmmrreeeeewwwww”, drifted in from the darkness of the pasture.
“Millie? You ok, girl?” Avril asked, then dropped the metal pail into a fresh patty of cow dung.
“Millie!” Avril yelled as she broke into a clumsy, foot sinking sprint. It was unmistakably Millie…and she was in pain. It was already well on its way to becoming a muggy morning, so a steady stream of sweat rolled like tears down both sides of Avril’s face. Bessie and Buttercup stayed put, but they both turned their heads in unison and watched Avril disappear into the darkness.