Good Hope Road

⇌ Free Good Hope Road download pdf ↲ E-Pub Author Lisa Wingate ∃ ⇌ Free Good Hope Road download pdf ↲ E-Pub Author Lisa Wingate ∃ CHAPTER 1 Jenilee Lane There is a moth in a cocoon outside the window It has been there for months, twisted by the wind, dampened by the rain, a reminder that the windowframes should have been cleaned and painted last fall It is spring, and there is a tiny hole in the end of the cocoon, a small probe pushing through, sawing back and forth, struggling to free the creature inside The moth has labored for hours, and only now has it pushed two legs through the hole Inside in the darkness, does it know why it must struggle Somewhere in the mass of cells and neurons that make up its tiny body, is it aware that the struggle is God s way of pumping fluid into its wings If not for the struggle, it would come into the world with a swollen body and flightless wings It would be a creature without strength, unable to fulfill its purpose I wonder if it can sense the warmth of my hand on the other side of the glass as night falls and another spring storm blows in On nights like this, I do not sleep I sit awake and listen as the storms howl through the valley Like the moth, I have emerged in a place that was once beyond my imagining Outside, I hear a gust of wind, and I remember I remember where I have come from, and it is as if every blessing in my life has been showered anew around me I fall to my knees, and I thank God for everything Even for the wind For the fragments of my life that survived it, and the fragments that didn t, and the things that were changed forever On the afternoon of July 29, the entire town of Poetry, Missouri, was cast to the wind The town rained down around me for what seemed like an eternity as the tornado receded into the sky and disappeared, spitting out what was left of Poetry I stood watching, thinking it was the most horrible, awesome sight I had ever seen, unlike anything I had experienced in my twenty one years of living If Daddy had been home he would have yelled at me for not having sense enough to go to the cellar But once you start watching something so enormous and so vile, it pulls you in just as surely as if you were caught in the vortex itself I don t know what it is that makes people want to look into the face of evil Oh, my God Oh, my God, I remember saying My mind couldn t comprehend what was happening Only a few minutes before, I had been fixing dinner for Daddy and my younger brother, Nate, listening to an old Bob Wills record, and wondering if the coming storm would bring rain I was thinking about leaving again having that fantasy where I packed Mama s old suitcase and went somewhere The dream always came wrapped in a tissue paper layer of guilt, so that I couldn t see the contents clearly Perhaps that was a merciful thing, because I knew Daddy and Nate couldn t get by without me I heard branches slapping against the house as if the oak tree knew about the dream and was angry Outside the window, a car sped by, a black Mercedes going too fast on the gravel, like it was running from something It fishtailed back and forth on the curve, throwing rocks against the yard fence before it straightened and rushed onward Probably one of those doctors or lawyers leaving the resort on the lake, I thought Probably doesn t want his high dollar car to get wet They should stick to the paved roads where they belong The car disappeared down Good Hope Road, and the wind came up, roaring like a freight train Hail pounded the roof, and debris whipped through the air, crashing into the house and barn When I ran to the screen door, the sky was swirling like a giant black cauldron I watched as the cone of the tornado slowly separated from the ground and disappeared into the sky Not a half mile away, a wall of rain was falling, but at our house the hail stopped suddenly The roar faded, and destruction lay everywhere pieces of wood and metal, tree branches, shredded furniture, torn clothing, shards of glass glittering like diamonds in the afternoon sunlight Bits of paper floated from the churning clouds, drifting, swirling, dancing, as if they had all the time in the world They filled the sky like snow The air was so quiet I could hear the papers falling, rustling slightly against an eerie silence, like a battlefield after the battle, when only the corpses remain I wondered where so much paper could have come from, and if it had been blown all the way from Poetry, three miles across the low hills The big oak tree in the yard moaned, its limbs heavy with a crusty coating of fresh hail I stared at the ice, then turned around in disbelief, looking at our single story brick house and seeing everything as it had always been the peeling paint, the overgrown bushes, the torn window screen where Nate sneaked out of his bedroom at night A piece of paper fell lightly on the screen and hung there, fluttering against the window like a bird trying to break free I remember thinking, Why not us Why not our house Why is everything the same as it was yesterday, last week, last month, last year, ten minutes ago Why wasn t anything destroyed, or changed, or carried away I had the strangest sense of wishing that it had been Then I realized how crazy that was I should have been thanking God I was alive Turning around, I gazed at the wall of rain, now moving away toward the east, revealing the footprint of the beast an enormous path of stripped earth and strewn debris, ending in a narrow swath of twisted trees just past Daddy s wheat field From there, it carved a jagged scar toward the horizon, toward Poetry Where farms had been, there was nothing I wondered how God could let something so terrible happen at all A mile down the valley, the pecan orchard that had hidden old lady Gibson s farmhouse stood splintered, the limbs hanging like broken bones Near the road, a geyser of water sprayed into the air, mixing with the falling rain I realized the tornado had passed across the Gibson farm Gasping the gritty air, I ran down the porch steps and across the yard At the sound of the yard gate opening, Daddy s bird dog rushed from under the house and slammed against my legs, sending me sprawling into the litter on the grass Get away, Bo I hollered, grabbing his collar as he tried to bulldoze his way through the gate Get back in the yard, you big, stupid dog Daddy s dogs were always big and stupid, and always trying to escape I held on as Bo plowed a furrow into the long, scrappy grass outside the gate and pounced on a bit of paper blowing by Scrambling to my feet, I dragged him into the yard and struggled to hook him to his chain while he cavorted with the paper, grabbing it, then dropping it and pouncing on it again I caught a quick glimpse of a face A photograph A baby A birth announcement Securing the chain, I snatched the photograph away, dried it on my jeans, then looked at it with the same horrible fascination that had forced me to stare at the tornado Somebody s baby Just newborn A girl Seven pounds, six ounces The space where the name would have been was torn away A coldness came over me, as if all of the blood in my body were draining to my feet and disappearing into the grass For a moment I stood frozen I didn t want to move, or think, or be I didn t want to know what reality waited outside the yard fence, or who the baby was, or what might have happened to her It was too awful to comprehend Come on, Jenilee Come on Get your head on straight The voice in my mind sounded like Mama s At least the way I remembered her sounding I slipped the photograph into my pocket and ran across the yard, leaving Bo yapping at the end of his chain Come on, Jenilee, hurry up, the voice reverberated as I rushed to the shed to get the pickup, then realized that Daddy and Nate had taken the pickup to Kansas City that morning There was nothing left but the tractor I climbed on and started the engine No time to be afraid, just back it out of the shed and drive down to Mrs Gibson s house It s not the first time you ve driven a tractor Mama s voice sounded insistently in my head But I wondered If she were really there, would she worry about what Daddy would say Daddy didn t let the tractor off the property, and he hadn t liked Mrs Gibson since her goats got in his pasture, and he shot them thinking they were deer, and she called the sheriff and had Daddy thrown in jail After that, we didn t have much to do with the Gibsons We didn t have much to do with anybody Daddy had pretty well driven off all of the neighbors Come on, Jenilee, I muttered, wondering how my mind could still be thinking all the normal things when nothing around me was normal Everything had been changed in an instant I could see the destruction, yet I wanted to deny that it had happened The tractor squealed an ear piercing complaint as I stopped on the road and tried to put it into forward gear It jerked into motion, the rumble of the diesel engine seeming to shake the hushed earth as I steered through the debris on the road The wind blew damp strands of blond hair across my face, pasting them against the film of perspiration on my cheeks Tiny drops of rain cooled my skin as I brushed the hair away and stared at the furrow cut by the tornado, watching it grow larger and surreal as I sped closer Overhead the clouds parted, and muted afternoon sunshine streamed through the hole, seeming out of place against the dark clouds and ravaged earth Ruined trees and stripped earth surrounded me as I reached the Gibson place The air smelled of dust and plaster, electrical burn, wet dirt, freshly cut wood, and rain It was an unnatural scent, like nothing I could remember The rain slowed, the sky seeming to hold its breath as I passed what remained of the Gibsons orchard Mangled sheets of rusty galvanized metal lay wrapped around shattered tree trunks and cracked fence posts The farm was unrecognizable the earth bare, the trees sheared off, nothing remaining but twisted trunks and broken branches dangling without leaves Breath caught in my throat The foundation of Mrs Gibson s farmhouse had been stripped clean Beside the ruined barn lay a pile of splintered boards, a battered refrigerator, what was left of the farmhouse roof I ground the tractor to a halt in front of the overturned well house and killed the engine I called out Mrs Gibson s name, then listened for an answer, afraid to breathe Nothing but the drumming of the last drops of rain on the hood of the tractor and the hiss hiss of water hitting the warm engine Near the well, the spray from the pipes died to a weary, noiseless gurgle Mrs Gibson I hollered, jumping down, my tennis shoes sinking into the mud Mrs Gibson Is anybody here Hello I climbed clumsily over a pile of broken boards that may have once been part of the yard fence I stopped again to listen Nothing but the click click of the tractor engine settling and the throb of blood in my ears I swallowed hard, my mind racing Mrs Gibson I could see the taillights of her car beneath the collapsed garage Mrs Gibson The tractor engine coughed, as if it might come to life again, and I jerked sideways, stumbling over a section of picket fence rammed into the dirt like spears Is anybody here It s Jenilee Lane Something sharp clawed my knee as I pushed to my feet I touched the trickle of blood that ran down my leg and disappeared into my sneaker, tracing a warm trail against the cold dampness on my skin I pulled my hand away, looked absently at the watery red liquid on my fingers, listened again Silence Nothing Closing my eyes, I let out a long breath Maybe she isn t home A noise whispered through the darkness in my mind A sound almost too faint to hear A baby crying Maybe Mrs Gibson was home, and maybe one of her grandbabies was with her I stumbled toward the sound I m coming I m coming I screamed Who s there Is anybody there I scrambled over a section of the house wall, rushing to the backyard Hello anybody The sound came again, close by Not a baby A cat, I whispered, slapping my hand over my heart, catching my breath Just a cat The sound was muffled, as if the cat might be trapped underneath something Here, kitty, kitty Where are you, kitty The cat mewed again, leading me toward a pile of rubble Here, kitty I stepped closer Here, kitty Hello The sound of a voice came so suddenly, I jumped backward Hello Help us It was the desperate call of a child s voice I stumbled closer, seeing the opening of a storm cellar beneath the tangle of twisted barn siding and the remains of a pecan tree Overhead, a huge tree limb dangled perilously from a power line that I hoped wasn t still live Are you down there I pulled at the debris covering the door The old boards slumped inward, buckling under the weight of the fallen tree Dirt fell through the cracks around the edges as I struggled to move the larger limbs I knelt beside the ventilation grille, my hands clearing away the damp, silty mixture of mud and last year s leaves Is someone down there Yes Help us A tiny hand pressed against the ventilation grille Hurry Granny fell down and ain t wakin up The flashlight s burned out It s dark Hang on, I cried Tears filled my eyes as in vain I pulled on the trunk of the fallen tree Oh, please Please Letting go in despair, I sank against the pile as the child s hands beat against the grille Get us out, please I will I will, I promised, reaching through the branches and touching the hand on the screen In the dim recesses below, I could see a little girl s face, black with dust, her gray eyes wide, terrified Wait here I ve got to use the tractor to move this tree Don t be afraid I ll be right back I heard her call after me and start to cry as I made my way back to the tractor, grabbed the winch line, then slowly returned to the cellar, dragging the hook The door groaned and sank farther inward as I looped the line around the tree trunk and struggled to secure the hook with cold, trembling hands Move away from the door I shouted I m going to pull this branch off now Hang on You re almost out You re almost out Almost out Almost out Almost out I stumbled to the tractor and turned on the winch The winch pulled tight, then strained, dragging the tractor down in the front, making a low grinding sound I closed my eyes, hoping Then the tractor lifted, and the tree trunk tumbled free of the root cellar The little girl inside pounded on the door again, trying to force it open Hold on, I m coming Get away from the door I rushed clumsily through the maze of debris, imagining the heavy door crashing through the opening, or the branch overhead falling from the power line Wrapping both hands around the cool metal of the cellar door handle, I threw my weight against it and opened the door halfway, as far as the mangled hinges would allow A cat hissed and dashed through the opening into the sunlight, then disappeared Propping the door with my knee, I reached into the cellar Tiny hands clasped mine, and the girl scrambled through the narrow passage She threw her arms around my waist and clung to me Where s your grandma I held her away and looked into her silt covered face as the door shifted against my knee Tears fell from her white rimmed eyes, turning the silt to mud, drawing lines toward her mouth as she struggled to form words In inside She motioned to the cellar She fell down when when the door blowed shut She won t talk Sh sh she don t wake up The cellar door shifted noisily on its hinges, and she jumped, screaming and grabbing handfuls of my T shirt Get that board over there, I said, pushing her away from me Come on now, we have to get your grandma out Get me that board so I can brace the door It s all right But I wondered if it would be She moved finally, tripping, then scrambling through the mud on her hands and knees, whimpering as she brought the board back Overhead, the power line groaned, and she screamed, jerking her hands up to cover her ears It s all right It s not going to fall, I said, sounding stern The cellar door creaked and shifted in the wind as I braced it and started down the steps You hold this door, I ordered, taking her hands from her head and placing them against the door You hold right here, but if that tree limb moves overhead, you get out of here You understand She stood motionless, staring into the darkness below me, not hearing I smoothed her dark, mud streaked hair away from her face, making her look at me What s your name L Lacy, she answered, her eyes vacant, as if her mind had gone somewhere to hide O.K., Lacy, I said, trying to sound calm You hold this door If it blows shut, or anything happens, you run down the road and get some help Go about a mile and a half that way to the Millers place, you understand She nodded, but I wondered if she heard I wondered if she was capable of finding help if the worst happened She didn t look than six or seven years old She braced her hands against the door, sobbing as I descended through the thin sliver of light into the darkness below The air, thick with dust and mildew, caught in my throat as I stared into the void Mrs Gibson I whispered like a miner entering an unstable shaft Mrs Gibson A groan came from somewhere below I followed the sound, feeling my way down the uneven rock stairway as pieces of mortar fell from above and clattered downward, then landed in water I barely heard them against the pounding of my own heart, so loud it seemed it would bring down the ceiling and bury us alive Mrs Gibson Another groan I reached the bottom of the stairs and my tennis shoes sank into water that smelled of dirt and old grease Bending down, I crawled through the cool inky liquid, feeling my way along the slimy ooze on the floor, knowing she was close now Mrs Gibson It s Jenilee Lane I m here to help Can you hear me Mmmm I heard her moving nearby Reaching out, I felt her arm I held on, inching closer, hearing the water ripple as she shifted her body I felt her try to rise, then sink against the floor again Overhead, the door creaked dangerously, and I glanced at the shuddering sliver of light on the stairway Watch the tree limb, Lacy, I called, trying to sound calm My mind whirled at the idea of being trapped in the watery darkness Mrs Gibson Gripping her shoulders with both hands, I shook her with a new sense of urgency We have to get out of here The door is hanging by a thread up there She answered with a weary moan and muttered something I couldn t understand, and then said, angels, as she tried to shrug my hands away from her shoulders No, now, come on, I said, amazed by the force of my voice Lacy is waiting up there, and she needs her grandma You wake up and come on with me We re going up these stairs Her words were only partially audible wait for Ivy to come back We have to go now There s no help coming We have to go now My voice boomed against the confines of the cellar I wrapped my arms around her chest as far as they would go, trying to raise her by sheer force of will, but she only slumped against me, knocking me against the wall I shook her hard, trying to think of anything that would convince her to get up There s a tree limb hanging over Lacy s head, and it s going to fall on her We have to go Lacy she muttered, coming to life again W where s Lacy She s upstairs, I said, encircling her with my arms again Come on, we ve got to go now Can you stand up if I help you I th think Her voice sounded clearer and she slid her arm around my shoulders, swallowing a whimper of pain Slowly, carefully, we climbed to our feet and moved toward the stairway, toward the light Overhead, I could see Lacy s face in the doorway The door broke free from one hinge and bits of mortar clattered downward Lacy drew back, then leaned inward Move back, Lacy, I called Stand back out of the way and hold the door handle, all right Your grandma s fine We re coming Beside me, Mrs Gibson groaned and slumped forward, her weight shoving me into the wall beside the steps My head crashed against the uneven rocks, and a sound like thunder rattled through my brain Come come on, Mrs Gibson I shook my head as my vision dimmed around a swirl of sparks We re almost there We re almost out She straightened again, and we struggled upward, one step at a time, her feet dragging behind mine, my legs buckling under her weight until we reached the doorway Bracing my back against it, I pushed it upward as far as I could, then helped Mrs Gibson squeeze through Move out of the way now, Lacy I coughed, choking on the last breath of musty air as I climbed into the sunlight, and we crawled away from the cellar, then fell into the wet grass, gulping in the fresh air Numbness spread over me and the edges of my vision dimmed again The rushing sound in my head grew louder Beside me, Lacy scooted into the hollow space between the exposed roots of a partially collapsed tree, and pulled her legs to her chest, hugging herself and shivering M Mr.Whiskers, I heard her say, her voice an uncertain whisper All this for that darned cat Mrs Gibson s words seemed far away I should have stayed in the cellar instead of going up to get him Darned cat From the road I heard a siren A volunteer fireman s pickup squealed into the driveway as blackness slowly circled my vision The blue gray afternoon sky faded like a kaleidoscope closing I felt Mrs Gibson s fingers over mine, cool and trembling You re a brave girl, Jenilee Lane, she said, but in my mind the voice was Mama s Mama used to say that to me, but she was wrong I had never done a brave thing until that day And I thought I never would again from Good Hope Road by Lisa Wingate, Copyright 2003 by Lisa Wingate, published by New American Library, a member of Penguin Group USA Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher The tornado that levels the town of Poetry, Missouri, does than change the topography of the small town it changes lives Jenilee, a 21 year old with no real future, helps her elderly neighbor, Eudora, who is grateful for her rescue from the cellar of her demolished home, although perplexed by the identity and generosity of her savior Jenilee has been the object of scorn because of her family s poverty and the abuse she s suffered at the hands of her father Now Eudora and the rest of the town are in for yet surprises as Jenilee makes herself useful at the armory, helping the injured and creating a wall of the photos and lost documents she has recovered so that the rightful owners can preserve treasured memories in the face of destruction Jenilee s courage helps Eudora realize that she, too, can change Wingate has written a genuinely heartwarming story about how a sense of possibility can be awakened in the aftermath of tragedy to bring a community together and demonstrate the true American spirit Patty Engelmann Copyright American Library Association All rights reserved Brockville Road Runners BRRC Homepage 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    • Format Kindle
    • Good Hope Road
    • Lisa Wingate
    • Anglais
    • 11 January 2017
    • 308 pages

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