Violet Miracle, A Little Bit of Coffee, Flowers, and Romance, page 1
A Little Bit of
Copyright © 2012 Christina Li All rights reserved.
A BIG thanks goes to Sonya Noble, fellow author in the trenches, for her amazing editing help.
To Anna Christo. Your encouragement and kind words mean the world to me! To my kids. You guys are amazing!
And to Charles. I love you.
A Little Bit of Coffee, Flowers, and Romance
“There is no fear in love; but perfect loves casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love,” I John 4:18
Roses. Twelve, perfect, red roses.
They sat on the large counter of the diner waiting for someone. Of course, the card didn’t read ‘Violet Carsten,’ but she leaned in for a moment and breathed in their sweet scent anyway. She suspected they were for her co-worker, Ginger. Checking the tag, she confirmed her theory. As she pulled on an apron, she gave them one last longing gaze, fearing their fate.
Amidst the sounds of clinking dishes Violet expertly performed her morning duties giving the floor a quick vacuum and wrapping cutlery in napkins. This didn’t require much thought, so she often let her mind wander. This particular morning, Violet, against her better sense, compared herself to the other girl. Ginger, with her tall, svelte physique, cornsilk hair, and arctic blue eyes, turned heads everywhere. Violet contrasted her in almost every way. Her height barely reached five-foot-two, her hair, brown and eyes brown too. They differed in personality as well. Whereas Ginger tended to be loud and extroverted, Violet inclined more towards introverted. Ginger sometimes irritated customers whereas Violet enjoyed helping people and made an effort to get each of their customers to smile.
A few minutes later, Ginger, herself, glided through the entrance. When she saw the roses, she charged straight for them not even bothering to look at the card. Of course, they were for her. Carefully, she took them out of the vase and set them on the ground. Then, she jumped up and down on them several times before grinding them into the floor with her heel.
Violet stood at a table she had been wiping and gawked. She was glad the diner hadn’t opened yet. This reaction was a bit extreme, even for Ginger.
When Ginger finished, she calmly turned and walked into the kitchen, returning only moments later with a broom and dustpan. She cleaned up the roses and put the whole thing, including the vase, into the trash can. Then, turning to Violet, she burst into tears.
Wordlessly, Violet walked over and put her arms around the girl.
“This is crazy, even for me, but we had another fight last night. Jimmy loves me, but I don’t want ‘apology flowers.’ I don’t want to spend another four years as his girlfriend. I want an engagement ring! I want a wedding!”
Violet got a tissue and handed it to Ginger. “What is holding him back?”
“I don’t know,” she replied dabbing at her eyes. “He keeps saying he wants a better job so he can ‘provide’ for me.” She put up her hands indicating quotation marks around the word ‘provide.’ “I don’t care about that. I want to be his wife.”
Privately, Violet thought that statement didn’t quite ring true. Ginger liked stuff. She preferred bling. Jimmy had to get her a large diamond or he’d hear about it. It amazed her their relationship lasted as long as it had. “I’m sure Jimmy wants what’s best for you. You’re worth it to him.”
“Well, I’m tired of waiting. Reggie has been after me to go out with him and I might. That would teach Jimmy.”
“Ginger, that’s a really good way to lose Jimmy forever. You shouldn’t play with men like that.”
“Oh, now you’re judging me? I thought you were my friend!”
Violet winced at the venom she saw in Ginger’s eyes. Nothing she said at this point would either appease or convince the other girl. The safest thing to do was keep silence.
“You have nothing to say? Well, neither do I.” At that, Ginger turned and stalked away.
Violet shook her head and got back to work wiping tables and getting ready for the lunch crowd.
There were days she really didn’t like her life. Compared to Ginger, Violet’s existence was really boring. All she ever did was work at the diner and go to church. That was the extent of it. The town of Butterfield, Illinois was a small farm town with very little else going on. St. Louis, the nearest large city, was more than two hours away, so any excitement had to be created.
However, Violet liked the quiet, but she also had another life, one that was completely different from her every day, ordinary life. This was a life of adventure, murder, mystery, and mayhem. Of course, this life existed only in her mind and on her computer, but it belonged solely to her. Violet wrote mystery/adventure stories and published them on-line as ebooks. Her Colonel Brighton books were doing quite well on Amazon’s kindle, making her about $1000 a month. Unfortunately, she still wasn’t quite at the point of quitting her waitressing job, but she was close. If she wrote and published a few more books, she knew it was possible to finally make it as an author.
When Violet researched and wrote her books she set herself loose. She freed her zany, adventurous, and even somewhat mysterious side completely. She was confident, fun, interesting and driven. Her research was always intensely interesting and most of the towns’ people were happy to assist. One time she had even gotten to explore the basement of the library because she wanted a murder committed down there. Another time, she had gotten to ride around with a mail carrier for the day in order to research and create a scene in which a rural mail carrier found a murder victim while on their route. Violet loved writing, but it didn’t quite pay the bills. So, she still had to deal with reality.
At the diner, the day crawled by. Finally, around dinner time, Violet was able to take a short break and get a bite to eat with her best friend, Sue, who was visiting for the weekend.
“Vi, what you need is an adventure, a real one of your own,” said Sue, tucking a bit of her waist length dark hair behind her ear. “Why don’t you get out of this town and come live in St. Louis? What if George and I put you up for a while until you found your feet?”
Shaking her head, Violet laughed. “There is no way I want to live with a couple of newlyweds. I value your friendship too much.”
“George loves you,” said Sue, unwilling to give up.
“He’s a dear, but it wouldn’t be right. Besides, Aunt Mabel needs me and I worry about her.”
“Your Aunt Mabel is a lot tougher than you give her credit for.”
Violet sighed and smiled. “You’re probably right about that. The truth is I really like living here. I like a small town. It’s beautiful in the fall and there’s no traffic to fight. There’s plenty of scope for the imagination. All I really need is my laptop, and the world is at my fingertips.”
“Wouldn’t you like to have your own adventure, though? You know I’m one of your biggest Colonel Brighton fans, but I would love to see you get out and have an adventure. I would love to see you fall in love. I would love to see you just get some respect for all you do!”
Violet’s face reflected all sorts of emotions over those statements. Mostly, the idea of falling in love embarrassed her. Because of the fall of the economy, all the young people in their church had left Butterfield. There simply wasn’t enough work to keep them, and their parents’ farms couldn’t support more than one generation.
Her friend laughed at that. “I guess I’ve been so happy with George I want you to have the same.”
“That’s really sweet, Sue, but I’m not looking to get into a relationship right now. I’m happy with my life just the way it is.”
Sue looked skeptical. “Really? You like working for peanuts? You like working for a boss who treats you like a slave? You like the drama with Ginger, a girl who thinks the world should bow to her every whim? Violet, you’ve got such talent as a writer. You could be a journalist for a large city newspaper! You’re also an amazing editor. You could work in a major publishing house! There’s so much more that you could do.”
Violet looked a little guilty. She leaned in closer. “The truth Sue, the real truth, is I’m scared to death to leave Butterfield. I even did college on-line. This little town is, for better or not, my comfort zone. These people, though some of them are tough to deal with, I understand them. My parents lived and died here. My aunt lives here, and she’s all the family I have left.” Violet paused. “Besides, I wouldn’t know what to do in a big city. I’d probably get lost the first day and never find my way home ever again. I’d be forever wandering around on some highway until I ran out of gas in some terrible neighborhood and ended up getting killed because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Sue rolled her eyes. “You do have a very good imagination,” she said dryly.
Violet smiled. “Don’t worry about me. I will simply stay here in Butterfield, write mystery/adventure stories, and eventually be able to quit my job and be completely free to be bored. I will grow old and send lots of presents to your fifteen children!”
“Ahhhh! We’re thinking three or four, tops.” Then, Sue narrowed her eyes at her. “Will you at least promise to come and visit?”
Violet hesitated. The idea of driving to a large city still terrified her, but at least it would only be for a visit. That wasn’t too bad, was it? “I love you, Sue. For you, I’ll drive to that horrible city of yours and visit.”
Sue grinned gleefully. “I’ll fly you down. That way, I can come and pick you up from the airport and you won’t have to worry about a thing.”
Violet shook her head. Sometimes, her best friend could be just a little ‘flighty.’ “That’s incredibly sweet of you, but, do you realize that the nearest airport is in St. Louis?”
Sue looked deflated for a moment. Then, she brightened up. “I’ll just get George to buy me a plane and I’ll come get you myself!”
Violet was horrified. She had never flown in a plane before and she certainly didn’t want her first experience to be with her sometimes ditzy friend. “I think I’ll drive,” she murmured. “Thanks anyway.”
Sue laughed. She suspected what Violet was thinking. In fact, she figured driving would be less frightening to Violet than flying, especially the idea of her flying. At least she got her friend to promise to come. At least this was a start. Sue had made it her mission in life to try to get Violet out of her shell. So far, her efforts had been thwarted, but she didn’t give up easily.
Just then, Violet’s boss, Mr. James, called her into his office.
“Sorry,” she said. “Duty calls.”
Sue got up and gave her a hug. “I’ll call you later, okay?” “Okay.”
Violet couldn’t help the nerves she felt. Although she had never been called into the principal’s office back in school, she had heard plenty of stories from the other kids. She imagined this must be how they felt.
“Sit down, Violet,” said Mr. James as he ushered her into his office. He shut the door before he returned to his own desk. As he sat his considerable bulk down, he straightened a few pencils in front of him and smoothed what hair remained before looking at her.
“Violet, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news.”
She didn’t say a word. Instead, she braced for the worst.
He sighed. “This economy has hit Butterfield hard. I’m sorry, I can’t afford to keep you any longer. I have to let you go.”
Violet sat stunned. She’d worked at the diner for over seven years. She endured customer complaints and cranky co-workers, all without so much as a groan.
Mr. James sat there, waiting for her to say something.
Finally, she got up and whispered, “I’m sorry too.” With chin held high and grace worthy of royalty, she glided out.
As Violet left the diner for the last time, she wondered how much longer Ginger would last. A quick glance back inside revealed the woman flirting with one of the customers. Her job would be safe for many years to come.
As she walked home that night, Violet felt a strange sense of relief. Finally, after over seven years, she stood free. Now, she must write and publish more. No other alternative remained. The timing made her nervous, though. Her bank account didn’t read zero, but would it last long enough for her to make it until the income from her ebook sales picked up?
She hated to burden her Aunt Mabel with this latest setback, but she didn’t have any choice. Almost without meaning to her steps slowed. She paused and looked up. The night sky glittered and sparkled. Almost automatically, she tried to identify some of the constellations. Then, when she located the archer, she breathed out a soft lament for her lost yesterdays.
After the car accident, she spent many nights out on her aunt’s front porch, staring up at the stars, wishing her parents back again. Of course the stars were silent, but over time, she learned to allow the Comforter to reach into her frozen heart and begin a healing. There were many times she fought the Lord’s comfort. The pain gripped so intense she closed off sections of her heart. It took a long time to open up again. Even her friendship with Sue took a long time to build.
Violet simply didn’t open her heart easily. She didn’t want to risk losing someone and hurting like that again. Yet, people like her Aunt Mabel and Sue and even her pastor were able to crack open Violet’s heart a little.
The car accident scarred Violet in ways she still didn’t remember, didn’t want to remember. She walked away from it, her parents didn’t. How does a fourteen year old kid deal with that? She never slept well after that, only when exhaustion took her, and then she’d wake from horrible nightmares. For the first month following, she refused to go to school because she feared riding the bus. She burst into tears at the idea of even getting into a car. She barely let her aunt out of her sight worried she’d lose her too. Her aunt didn’t know what to do with her. She had to work. She needed the income to support the both of them now. When she left for work each morning, she came home at night to find Violet cowering in a corner. Finally, Aunt Mabel sought professional advice. Violet needed help in order to mature and function like a normal person. Their pastor recommended a friend who’d recently moved into town. He’d been a retired psychiatrist/Christian counselor and wanted to get away from city living.
Slowly, gently, he compelled Violet to face her fears. At first, he asked her to touch a car. Then, she sat inside for a little while. Finally, she rode around in one.
Gradually, as she conquered one fear, she found the courage to face others. Unfortunately it seemed the more she conquered, the more rose to the surface. Her first day back at school she realized she had an intense fear of crowds. When she saw all of those teenagers running around the halls, she hyperventilated and nearly passed out. The school nurse happened to be standing nearby and quickly took her into her office.
That first day back ended sooner than it should have. The next day, she managed to make it for a while, but had to go home at lunch time. Finally, on the third day, she made it the whole day, but completely e
Because her grades were so poor and she had missed so much school, Violet’s Aunt Mabel had to enroll her in a summer program. After doing a bit of research, she found a new government online program that provided a free laptop computer. Fortunately, it worked out great and by the end of the summer, Violet not only caught up in her work, she advanced several months ahead. Through the work on the computer, Violet focused and excelled. She forgot her pain for a little while and worked. In fact, she impressed her online teachers with her writing, and they encouraged her to pursue it further.
After graduating from another online program at the college level, Violet decided to pursue her goal of becoming a writer full time. Through the rise of ebooks, e-readers, and the opening up of publishing options to independent writers, she self-published her work and enjoyed some real success online.
As she walked home that night, she wished she made a little more every month. Her small ebook income combined with her aunt’s wages didn’t quite cover all their expenses. She let out another sigh. Maybe she could find some more work online. Or she could check around town and see if any openings presented themselves. She coasted through her front door praying. Right now, she and her aunt needed a miracle.
Inside, Violet let out a breath of relief. The front room stood empty, her aunt retired for the night. Often, her aunt waited for her, forgetting the time and sitting next to the fire reading a good book. For now at least, a night and a full day stretched before breaking the bad news.
The next morning, a few moments passed before Violet remembered not to rush, no job at the diner awaited. How weird to suddenly not do something she did for so many years, a strange freedom. Violet intended to use her time wisely, however.