My family moved around our home city, Regina, Saskatchewan. I attended four elementary schools (one school twice) and two high schools, all of them parochial.
While in elementary school, I had learned a song during a school holiday that went something like this: “Oh you can’t get to heaven in an old Ford car cause an old Ford car won’t get you that far, I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more, I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more. Etc.” It went on for several verses and the last verse was: “Oh you can’t get to heaven in a rocking chair cause the Lord don’t want no lazy folks there, I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more.” Etc.
When I returned to school, I corralled a few select friends into the corner of the school grounds and sang this song to them because I thought it would be considered naughty, or sinful, or wrong but I sang it anyway. I don’t recall who taught me the song but I had learned it well because these words remain in my memory as well as the feelings of possible danger for challenging what I assumed would be considered contrary to our teachings.
Perhaps this is why Anna in chapter 1 of Moving On-A Prairie Romance can pick up and move to a new community. It was a risk, but not too risky but just enough to force her to change her world and question some of the expert advice she had encountered in her recent past.
“[Anna’s] mother had suggested a plane ticket from Toronto and rental car, a long weekend
vacation, check things out instead of rushing headlong into the unknown. But Anna couldn’t. She drove for four days. It was now or never. She turned off the engine, opened the door and pushed one sensibly soled foot over the edge and onto the stone path that led to the house.
The windows were dirty and the exterior paint cracked and flaked. This was just the place she needed if as they say, your environment reflects your state of mind. Maybe in this place they would get off her back.”
When I was in grade five, I was a member of a group of students who were not chosen for the baseball team. My family owned a bat and soft ball so I begged to take them to school. We leftovers made up our own team, scrounged a piece of playground, and played scrub. Our diamond must have been shorter. I remember, during one of our recess games, one of our team hit a line drive and one of the players was struck by the ball and her eyeglasses were broken. I was held responsible because I had provided the bat and ball. The principal wanted my family to pay for the glasses. We didn’t have that kind of money. I can’t
remember what happened. I know my father visited the school. Nevertheless, our baseball team was disbanded.
I like exploring what it feels like to be on the outside. This is what Nick experiences in Chapter 4 of Moving On-A Prairie Romance.
“Nick remained hidden. He wouldn’t interrupt but if they needed help, he’d be there. He welcomed Herman’s relaxed face flushed with life and Anna’s white limbs flailing against
black earth were a vision. Finally, she lay back and enjoyed her prone position. Her legs and arms splayed as if she were about to play one of the oldest games and create a winged snow or rather dust angel. His heart lurched. He longed to join them, but he knew that as soon as he emerged from the trees, everything would change. He felt the twinges of being an outsider, there to protect and observe, but in many ways powerless to do much else except provide hope like he does in his armed forces duties.”
I remember in Grade 7 a handsome substitute teacher taught us the proper technique to eat soup without dribbling. I still use this method today. In chapter 5 of Moving On-A Prairie Romance Nick introduces Anna to line dancing.
“Anna was no stranger to music but she was a stranger to the dance steps. However, the stomps, kicks and grapevines became less complicated with each repetition. She liked moving to the music. She watched the red boots and skirt of the woman in front of her. She saw the added swing of her hips and suggestive dips of her shoulder. Anna added these movements. When she glanced at Nick’s face, he smiled. She smiled back and tried harder to keep up with the line. During the next set, they held onto each other and swung in unison.”
Thank you, Melissa for asking me to share memories of my school years. I had not evaluated how these early interactions with real life influence my writing. As a writer I approach a story from who I have become by the experiences life has given me.
by Annette Bower
Anna is a mysterious woman that has just moved to Regina Beach. The residents of the small town know everyone’s business and they are very interested in discovering Anna’s secrets. Nick was a Sergeant in the Canadian Army, doing active duty until a horrific accident sent him home to recover. He helps Anna feel safe and comfortable in her new environment, just as he has always done for his men in strange, dangerous places. Meanwhile, he focuses on preparing for his future
physical endurance test to prove that he is capable of returning to active duty.
Anna doesn’t talk about her past, and Nick doesn’t talk about his future therefore she is shocked to discover that his greatest wish is to return to active duty. She won’t love a man who may die on the job again. Intellectually, she knows that all life cycles end, but emotionally, she doesn’t know if she has the strength to support Nick.
[Nick] hopped out, hurried around to her door, opened it, grasped her hand, and pulled her to her feet. He gently pushed against the small of her spine, propelling her forward. His breath fanned the tight fluff on the back of her neck as they reached the steel double doors. He reached around her and opened the door to music. Country music.
He pulled her onto the dance floor into a fast waltz. Her feet automatically followed his measured steps. He felt the tension ease out of her body. She looked around. She even leaned her head back in response to a spin, exposing a wonderful slender white neck. He quelled an urge to lean forward and kiss the column down to her seductively exposed collar bones. He felt himself react, again. Maybe he was the beast that she spoke of. Keeping track of his left lower limb became a non-issue while he focused on another part of his anatomy or he’d embarrass himself in front of his neighbors. The music ended. He kept his hand firmly around her waist as he propelled her to the makeshift bar.
“Yes.” She hesitated as if she was searching the jargon of a memory. “Draft?”
He handed her the dew-covered glass which she pushed into her lips. He clung to his bottle and tipped it evenly, watching her through half-closed eyes. She was an enigma. Pain and party. Her face had shown shadows of solemnity and joy of life.
He wanted to know her, but at the same time, not know her. Her pain both called to and repelled him.
Annette Bower lives and writes in Regina, SK Canada. She is an author of many short stories published in anthologies and magazines in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. She explores women in families, women in communities and women at the beginning and end of love and their quest for love.
She pursues the writing craft in workshops, conferences, Writing with Style, Banff Centre for the Arts, Victoria School of Writing, Sage Hill Writing Experience, the Surrey International Writing Conferences and the Romance Writing
of America Conferences.
When she isn’t writing she walks or bikes around the streets and parks in her neighborhood imagining complex worlds behind seemingly ordinary events.
Her first contemporary romance, Moving On A Prairie Romance is published by XoXo Publishing™ a division of Ninni Group Inc.
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