Monica was the grandmother in the first novel, A Normal Life. This story is based in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The first part of the book is strictly about Monica and her life as she sees it but later on it becomes a whole other book written from Earlin’s perspective or at least that is the intention. I’m still trying to work out all of the details so it will come together properly and flow smoothly.
I am still working on a cover for this book as well and I’m considering the following picture(s) and would like to know what y’all think… The red rose is Monica’s favorite color and the other one is because she absolutely loved nature and all its beauty.
Monica was exploring the cellar when suddenly; out of the corner of her eye she saw something move. She looked hard in to the shadows and saw a door. Slowly she walked toward the door which was closed and locked. The longer she stood by the door the more afraid she became. Fear overtook her and she ran across the room, up the stairs and into the warmth of the sunshine. After slamming the door closed she felt silly for being scared but it took weeks before she could convince herself to go back down into the cellar.
When Monica did go back into the cellar she found all the food had been removed. She inched her way to the door and was surprised to find it unlocked. She raised her hand to open the door but before it opened she heard a crash like something being knocked over. She let out a squeal, turned and ran for the outside door but before she could get up the steps a cold hand reached out and grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. She came face to face with a young man. She screamed as he yanked her close to him. Suddenly he clamped his hand over her mouth.
He hissed, “What are you doing down here? This is private property!”
Monica tried to back away but discovered she was trapped between him and the wall. She reached up to pull his hand from her mouth. In a tiny voice, barely above a whisper, she said, “I’m new here and thought I would look around. I didn’t see any signs saying this was private property and I thought this cellar was on our land because it’s so close to our house. If I may ask, who are you and what are you doing here?” The moment the words were out of her mouth she froze. There was a look in his eyes that said he was dangerous. She then started silently questioning herself. What is he going to do to me now? I don’t even know him and I questioned him. I know better than this. It’s wrong for a young lady to talk to a stranger. I’m not ever supposed to be alone with a boy. But wait this isn’t my fault. I didn’t know he was here…
She was brought back to reality when a sharp pain seared through her arms where he squeezed her, pressing his thumbs deep into her muscle tissue. Her scream was cut off when he pressed his lips hard against hers. Still holding her against the wall with one hand he moved to place the other over her mouth as he pulled his face away from hers. He stood back slightly and studied her. As he did so he licked his lips and smiled, “You liked that didn’t you? Yes, by the look on your face I’d say you did. If I move my hand you must not scream or I’ll give you a reason to scream,” he said as he slowly removed his hand. “My name is Harold…” He released her and ran into the back room.
She moved to follow him but the door to the cellar was opened and there stood her father at the top of the stairs. “Monica, what are you doing down here? Why was this door closed? Get back up to the house and put your things away. You’re old enough to help your mother unpack your belongings.”
With her head down she whispered “I’m sorry” and walked past him. She practically ran up the steps and across the yard. As she entered the living room she slowed to a walk.
After a slight hesitation she went up the stairs to a room she shared with her two sisters. As she went up the stairs she marveled at the woodwork her father had done when he built the stairs and the new upstairs level. Once she reached her new room she unpacked the box with her name on it. Because she was the oldest the top two drawers were hers while her two sisters each got one drawer each for their clothes and personal belongings. Monica felt privileged to have two drawers. Her mind kept wandering back to Harold and the cellar. What should have taken a few minutes actually took more than an hour. She couldn’t help but wonder what he was doing down there and why he would be so interested in her. Not only was she the oldest but she was the heaviest. As she grew up she struggled with her weight.
She made sure to use every inch of space. Once she had her drawers filled she put the mirror and the hair brush that she and her sister shared on the top of the dresser. The next drawer down belonged to her sister Anna and the bottom drawer belonged to her other sister Tressa. She closed the bottom drawer, sat back on her heels and let out a long heavy sigh. She could hear their mother downstairs in the kitchen and from the smells that came wafting up she knew her mom had been baking. Anna and Tressa were setting the table.
Mary yelled, “Monica make both beds and then come down for dinner.”
The beds had to be made quickly and properly because she knew if she got to the table after her father she would have to sit there and do without while the others ate. She heard the front door open as she was tucking in the last corner. She was halfway down the stairs when the door closed. She ran down the remaining few steps and then briskly walked to her chair. She just barely sat down when her father, James, reached the table. She was famished.
James asked her brother Charles to say prayer. He followed the prayer with a reading of the scriptures. Finally, Monica thought, we’re allowed to eat. There was to be silence while eating. No one not even the adults talked during dinner because it was impolite. However, once dinner was over and the dishes done her father brought out the newspaper and read. Mary sat in the rocking chair sewing. Monica and her seven siblings all sat around the table each telling of their discoveries.
Monica was scared to talk about her day. More than anything, it seemed surreal and she didn’t know where to begin. Slowly she took a breath and looked her father then let the trapped air slip out through her lips. She then said, “I really didn’t see anything new. I went back to the cellar to clear out all of the old rotten food and empty bags but found someone already had. Did any of you go in there?”
There was a chorus of no’s. Monica glanced to her right and saw their father watching them. “Ahem, if what Monica has said is true then one of you lied and you know what will happen to those who lie. Now who went down in that cellar, other than Monica?”
They all looked at each other with a dumbfounded expression. From the rocking chair came a soothing melodic voice, “I’m the one who went down there and cleaned. I did it the other day while you were in town. I thought it would be a good idea so we could have some storage space.”
Monica held her breathing in check because she knew either her mother was lying or she had unknowingly put herself in danger. It was hard for Monica to listen to her mother say she was the one because of her experience earlier. She wondered if her mother found that door at the back of the cellar.
Monica excused herself and went up to get ready for bed. She laid there awhile thinking and wondering if she should mention Harold. Then she remembered the look in his eyes and decided against telling anyone. She also knew that if her father found out he kissed her she’d be disowned and word would get around that she was a tramp. What she couldn’t figure out was what he saw in her to make him kiss her or to lick his lips then smile. In her eyes she was fat and plain looking that bordered on ugly. She never would have believed someone would look at her with anything other than disdain. That night she dreamt of him. Even though she knew he was dangerous she found her way to the cellar hoping against all hope that she would see him again. Admittedly she was terrified of him but it was the sense of danger or of being caught, she didn’t know which, that kept her going back to that cellar. She woke with a start. What am I doing dreaming and thinking about Harold. We have so much to do around the house. I really need to focus on the cleaning and helping Ma.
Every day brought a new adventure. The house seemed to be growing in size on a daily basis. Her father and brothers worked hard on the house. It was her parents desire to make sure they had plenty of space so each person could have their own room. A huge sitting room was one of the last rooms to be built at the front of the house and was used for entertaining friends and neighbors.
When things started to settle down at the Greene family home Monica found herself walking to the cellar. She found it had been stocked with barrels that were ready to be filled with fruit and vegetables. There were even clean hooks hanging from the ceiling waiting for meat to be hung from them. There were bags of rice and potatoes in neat stacks against the back wall. She had just walked past the food when the door at the back of the room opened. She froze in horror expecting it to be her father, afraid he had figured out her secret but it wasn’t her father. Her heart skipped a beat thinking her secret was safe but then her mother stepped out of the shadows.
“Monica, what are you doing down here? This isn’t a place for young girls to hang out.”
“Hi Ma, I was just looking around,” Monica said, thinking quickly, “I was just wondering what was down here. It was empty the last time I came down but I knew Pa had been working to expand the food storage. I can’t wait for autumn when we can store apples and things down here. It’ll help improve the smell. Ma, if you ever need anything from down here I’ll be happy to get it.”
“Thank you for the offer but the men really should do the heavy hauling and I can get the few things I need from time to time.”
“Ma, I suspect the men will usually be busy working on the other projects and you do enough around the house. Please let me help,” Monica said. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the shadow of someone move away from them and the door was closed silently. The shadows seemed to be deepening when her mother’s voice brought her back to the present. “… Monica? Monica. Listen to me. I said ‘go back to the house and start doing the wash. I’ll be there in a little while.”
Reluctantly she did as she was told. Doing laundry was hard work. She really didn’t mind doing it but she wanted to go back to the cellar and see Harold again. Monica had been washing the clothing as fast as she could so she could go back to the cellar but Mary joined her. As Monica finished washing the clothes Mary hung them. She really didn’t think she would be able to go back to the cellar that day because it was almost time to start baking. It wouldn’t have surprised her to be told to fix the mid-day meal while Mary and Monica’s sister were baking.
“Monica after you put on a dry apron I need you to go to the cellar and bring me an apron full of potatoes. Then you can go and explore. Stay out of the way of the men who are helping your father build the barn. If you want you can help us with the baking.”
“Thank you Ma, but I think I’ll just explore after I’m done here.” She ran for the cellar and was in such a hurry that she missed the top step and fell down and landed on her back on the floor. She slowly sat up. She sat there for a minute fuming at herself for being so stupid and not watching her step. Monica stood up and shook her dress out making sure there were no holes. She then started to take a step, stumbled and fell. Instead of hitting the floor a second time she landed in the strong grasp of a man. Hoping against all hope that the arms which held her belonged to Harold. Shyly she looked up into the eyes of her rescuer and whispered, “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there.”
“You need to be more careful and watch what you’re doing. Are you hurt?”
She tried again to take a step but found she couldn’t without falling. She was so embarrassed that she let herself fall to the floor and cried. After a moment she felt the strong arms of her rescuer pick her up and carry her out of the cellar up into the sunlight. “Miss what took you to the cellar? Is there something I can do to help?”
“My ma sent me to fill my apron pockets with potatoes. Could you please do this one chore for me?”
“No problem Miss,” Harold said then disappeared down into to the cellar. After a few moments he returned to her and asked, “Is this enough?” Without waiting for a reply he strode to the house and hollered, “Hello. Hello in the house. Ma’am I have brought your potatoes.”
“Thank you, young man. Where’s my daughter?”