Title: SOLSTICE - SACRIFICE
Author: John J Blenkush
Genre: Fantasy/Magical Realism/Romance
The death of a friend drives a wedge in Julissa’s and Aaron’s budding relationship, to the point of (fatal) sacrifice.
Uncle Mickey, when constructing the house, didn’t install a lock on the front door. When I questioned Dierdra on this, I was told Uncle Mickey never felt security was needed. He considered the townsfolk—she said—part of his family. Why would they steal from him? It never entered his mind they would. And if they did, Uncle Mickey was of the nature he’d give them the shirt off his back.
I look to my bedroom door. It stands open. I think I remember closing it before leaving with Aaron this morning. What else had the officer been looking for? Besides the note?
Searching for what? And why?
Had the officer thought I’d been hurt or worse yet, dead? Was he looking for clues as to my disappearance? I couldn’t think of anything else, which would make him so bold as to search our house without a warrant. In my mind, the officer’s concern for my welfare would be the only justifiable reason for ransacking our house.
I take a step toward the officer so I can read his name tag.
“Officer Scheeler, what are you doing here in our house?” What are you looking for?”
Officer Scheeler ignores me. He keeps his eyes directed at Dierdra. Dierdra studiously reads the note. I can see her lips moving as she reads the words. They tremble with emotion.
Gone hiking to the Crags with Aaron. Not sure when we’ll be back but will be sometime today. Hope things went well for you in Redding.
Dierdra approaches me with quivering lips and tears in her eyes.
“Jewels, I’m so sorry.” She lays the palm of her hand on my face. Her thumb brushes away the last of the wetness on my cheek. Her eyes reflect the torment grinding away within. They dart around in search of forgiveness.
I feel a red-hot burn where she lays her hand, only because the skin is still inflamed. Her touch cools the hostility burning in me. It dilutes the acidic broth stewing in my belly.
“I’m so sorry,” Dierdra says. “When I came home and saw the car here and the officer in the house...I just...well, I didn’t know what to think. I thought he was going to tell me you were...”
I study Dierdra’s face as her voice trails off.
“What? Dead? Mom, you’ve got to quit thinking I’m hurt or going to die. And then it dawns on me. “You didn’t call the police, did you?”
Dierdra shakes her head. “No. Like I said. The gentleman was here when I got home.”
I turn to officer Scheeler. “Who called you?”
“No one.” He pulls out a pencil and a notepad and motions to the couch. “Have a seat.”
I move over and stand next to Dierdra in a show of solidarity. “Not until you tell us what this is all about. If you aren’t here looking for me, then why are you in our house? What’re you looking for?” I point to the note in Dierdra’s hand. “Besides that.”
“You. I was looking for you.”
Dierdra reaches out. She lifts my hand. “What are these?”
I look down at the flower bouquet. I had completely forgotten them. Instead of wilting, as would be expected, the flowers—despite not having their stems immersed in water—continue to add color and bloom. The Castle Crag bellflowers rise in posture, even as the three of us stare. It reminds me of watching a time-elapse video of a plant growing. I can see the white to pale blue corolla lobes curling back and protruding around the center of the flower. The stems and hairy leaves come alive, turning leathery. I see the likeness of two large-pointed teeth on the edges of the leaves taking shape.
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Julissa and Aaron’s story draws one into their magical-realism world. “Blenkush has created a universe that stands out from the rest, wrapping his main characters up in narratives that are full of mystery, passion, and inspiration.” Red City Reviews
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Runs May 1 – 31, 2021.
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John J Blenkush is the author of the critically acclaimed thrillers REDDITION and STACY’S STORY, (Kirkus Reviews) and the epic SOLSTICE SERIES. Besides writing, John loves the great outdoors, running marathons, and recreational mountain climbing. He lives with his wife, Nancy, in Northern California.
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