Lyrics of a Small TownAbbi Glines
Copyright © 2021 by Abbi Glines
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, 2021
Abbi Glines Publishing
P.O. Box 3130
Peterborough, NH 03458
Editing by Fairest Reviews Editing Services
Cover designed by Damonza
Interior Design by The Illustrated Author Design Services
Table of Contents
Copyright © 2021 by Abbi Glines
This was the place my mother ran away from...
To Ava – thank you for all the recipes and ideas. You were my inspiration behind Henley’s creations. I will miss next year when you’re away at college and not making a mess in my kitchen with your healthy treats. After college, I’m thinking you and I need to open a Signed Sips of our own.
When I started writing books, back in 2011, I would write 10K words a day easy. Over the years that has proven more difficult. This book however put me back in 2011 when the story consumed me and I couldn’t stop writing. I love these characters so much. Expect more of them in the future.
Those who I couldn’t have done this without:
Britt always is the first I mention because he makes it possible for me to close myself away and write for endless hours a day. Without him I wouldn’t get any sleep.
Ava and Emerson for dealing with the fact I can’t always be there when they want something. They’re troopers.
My older children who live in other states were great about me not being able to answer their calls most of the time and they had to wait until I could get back to them. They still love me and understand this part of mom’s world.
My editor Becky Barney at Fairest Reviews Proofreading Services. She worked with me to make the story something I can be proud of and I am so thankful for her help. This time around she had a lot going on in her life yet she made time for this book. She is more appreciated than she knows.
My formatter Melissa Stevens at The Illustrated Author. Her work always blows me away. It’s hands down the best formatting I’ve ever had in my books.
Damonza for my book cover. I am as in love with this cover as I am with this story. They are always a pleasure to work with.
Natasha Tomic for doing my cover reveal and sharing the first exclusive excerpt for me!
Danielle Lagasse, Vicci Kaighan, Jerilyn Martinez, and Becky Potts (my mom) for reading the story for me and giving me feedback. They were great beta/proof readers. I owe them big!
Abbi’s Army for being my support and cheering me on. I love y’all!
My readers for allowing me to write books. Without you this wouldn’t be possible.
This was the place my mother ran away from at seventeen-years-old, yet it was the place I was now running to at twenty-one. Life is ironic that way. I would have told her as much, but she wouldn’t have found the humor in it. Her dreams for me weren’t here on the coastal shore of southern Alabama. As for my dreams, I didn’t know what they were anymore. Too much had changed. Death has a way of doing that. It takes from you what you took for granted without any remorse.
Finding your way after losing someone wasn’t easy and I was hoping coming here would give me some direction. My mother had informed me in her loud, exasperated way of speaking to me that there was nothing in this town that would ease my pain. I agreed with her because I knew a place itself couldn’t replace a soul that was gone. She had never understood me. I learned to accept at a young age that I was nothing like my mother. Perhaps if I had known my father I would find the similarities. He had wanted nothing to do with being a father at eighteen-years-old and when he was twenty he had been killed in a motorcycle accident in some remote town in Georgia. My mother never spoke of him and I decided long ago to stop asking about the man that aided in my creation.
I inhaled deeply and enjoyed the smell of the salty sea air. The swing on my grandmother’s front porch had once been a peaceful place or so Gran had said. The main road that went through The Shores was noisy and packed with people on their summer vacation. Her porch faced the road but her house was the first one on Sunset Street and Sunset Street was directly off the main strip. Over the years, as the town grew in popularity, her summers had changed yet she had remained in the house she and my grandfather had bought in nineteen-eighty, three years before my mother was born.
Larger houses had been built around them as the older homes were torn down and replaced. I could see the massive condominiums across the main street facing the beach. Gran had told me when they bought the house they could see the water crashing onto shore from this porch. Now it was blocked with high rise condos and parking decks.
My phone lit up beside me and I glanced down to see a text from my mother. I would respond tomorrow. She knew I’d made it safely and that was all she needed to know. The peace of being disconnected from my life back in Chattanooga was why I had come. My mother wanted to remind me of all I had left, but I knew I’d left nothing worth keeping.
Yelling and laughter rang out from farther down Sunset Street. The largest house sat three houses down on the right side of the road. My grandmother’s house sat on the left. I glanced over my shoulder toward the three-story elaborate home and saw the activity on the very top of the house. It had a flat roof with a railing around it so that their view of the gulf was unobstructed. It sat so that it was directly between the two condo complexes that sat across the main strip.
If it was a vacation rental, it was for the wealthy. I couldn’t imagine how much that would cost for just a night. Yet, the group of people on the roof appeared younger than expected and although there weren’t many of them, they were obviously having themselves a party and did not care if their neighbors might be sleeping.
Just as I started to turn around, I saw someone emerge from the shadows below. The street light illuminated a guy with a bottle in his hand and the orange glow from a cigarette in his mouth. I couldn’t see much else except that he was wearing jeans and a white tank. I thought about going inside but houses this close to the beach were all on stilts and the height gave me a sense of security from the activity down below. This town wasn’t known for danger. He was probably coming from the house party and too drunk to drive. Either that or
a tourist out for an evening walk.
“SAAUULL!” a female voice called out loudly from the darkness behind him and he paused for a moment as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to turn around. When he did, he turned slowly then took a long pull from the bottle.
The sounds of summer drowned out anything else that was said between the two of them. The girl was tall, blonde and willowy. She leaned against him and they walked on toward the main street up ahead.
Once my life had seemed as content as theirs appeared to be. My chest ached with that loss. I had not been prepared for either loss but then are people ever ready to lose those they love?
Glancing back at the house so full of my Gran’s things but empty because she was no longer here. Her gentle calming voice would never again be here as my source of comfort. I would never awake to the smell of her cooking.
Without her here, this place wasn’t the same, yet it was where I hoped to find myself once again.
I know this letter is going to upset you and that is not why I am sending it. Life happens and if we go through life pretending like it’s all roses then when we end up in a pile of shit, we can’t dig our way out. I do not live my life expecting roses. I live it tending to the gardens that could possibly produce those roses.
Now, if this Covid gets me, I need you to finish all my business for me. The list I’ve sent you is in order. When I’m gone please carry out my wishes in the order I wrote them. If I beat this virus, then I expect to see you in June just like we talked about. Except this time, you’re making me breakfast. I want to try these new muffins you’ve come up with and that granola you told me about.
I love you, my sweet girl and know that you brought joy into my life from the moment you entered this world and every second after. I may have made some mistakes but I did what I thought was best at the time. Your mother never made it all easy but she loves you too and means well.
Love always and forever,
The gulf breeze was the only relief from the relentless heat. I reached up and adjusted my sun hat before picking up the last box of Gran’s clothing to load in my car. This was number one on her list- take all the clothing in her closet to the church donation center.
When Gran had tested positive for Covid she sat down and made a list. It was the things she wanted me to do for her if she didn’t survive. The list had come in the mail the day after she had been admitted into the hospital. I had been mad about that list. Mad because she had even considered she wouldn’t survive. Mad because I could not lose her too. Mad because this list was another reminder of how precious and fleeting life could be.
Walking down the stairs, I took the box to pack it into my silver Mini Cooper she had given me when I graduated high school. Gran had wanted all her clothing to be taken to her church. They had a program for those in need and it ran solely on the donations of the community. It had been the first thing on Gran’s list. Which did not surprise me in the least. Gran had spent her life volunteering in homeless shelters, nursing homes, and food banks. It had been at one of these volunteer efforts that Gran had contracted Covid. She had been wearing her mask and keeping the proper six-feet distance. I had spoken to her just that morning; she’d called to tell me she had her first vaccine scheduled for that Monday. When Monday came, so had Gran’s fever.
I sat the box down on the sandy grass and opened the car door. I managed to shove the box into the back seat but getting the door to close was another thing. Just as I was leaning on the door about to try using all my body weight to get it closed, an old blue Ford truck slowed and then stopped right in the middle of the road, blocking Gran’s driveway. I paused and stared at the truck, but I was unable to see much with the sun in my eyes. My sun hat had once again been blown back too far on my head with the strong gulf breeze and it was doing little to block the glare.
While squinting, I could make out a tall male, young, dark curly hair, and a nice deep tan that I was envious of standing a few feet away from me.
“Need some help?” he asked and I noticed he lacked a drawl. The kind you expect in the south, a thick accent unlike any other. Even in Chattanooga, it was something that was common place in our accent. This guy didn’t have one. I glanced up at his truck again and thought how odd that seemed. He was a prime candidate for a thick southern drawl.
“Uh,” I finally managed to say because he had caught me off guard. “Sure, thanks,” I added. Still unable to see him clearly due to the brightness of the relentless sun. He came toward me and when he was close enough I stepped away and let him wrestle with the last box.
I took the moment to adjust my hat and get a better look at the good Samaritan while he lifted the box, shifted it in farther then closed the door as if it were the easiest thing in the world. I hated it when men made things look easy after I had struggled with it. I was thankful for his help though.
“Thank you,” I said as he turned back around. I had forgotten how nice people were in small towns like this. If someone had stopped to help me back home, I would have been armed with my pepper spray. Things like this just didn’t happen at home very often.
“You’re welcome,” he said and it was then I got my first real look at him. Not at all what I had expected. To go with his tan and dark hair, he had the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. The only imperfection on his face was a cut on his lower lip that appeared fresh, as if he had been in a recent fight. He looked like a model for some tropical vacation commercial and was currently pretending to be a regular guy. The only thing remotely regular about him was his truck and possibly the cut on his lip but then that would be healed soon.
“You’re blocking traffic!” a female voice called out. We both turned our heads to see a red convertible pulled up behind him on the road and a blonde girl in the passenger seat standing up looking over the top at him.
“I’m coming,” he replied then turned back to me. “You got anymore boxes to fit in the car?”
I shook my head no.
“Alright then,” he replied then turned and walked over to the convertible and said something to the blonde who leaned over and threw her arms around his neck and laughed. She moved so fluidly and gracefully, her blonde hair blowing in the breeze in just the right direction so it didn’t cover her face, it was as if she was part of his tropical vacation commercial.
I stood there in my large white sun hat that I’d found in Gran’s closet and my khaki shorts, yellow polo top and pale skin feeling awkward. I was twenty-one years old and I had thought I was beyond seeing people that were beautiful by the world’s standards and feeling less than.
Not appreciating how easily the guy and the gorgeous blonde with her designer sunglasses and bare golden skin hanging out of the convertible had made me feel plain, I straightened my shoulders and went back to the house to lock up before going to do the first task on Gran’s list. I realized this was a part of life that Will had been my shelter from. When I had been with Will, I hadn’t noticed the rest of the world. He never looked at other girls and I never felt insecure. Will had thought I was beautiful and his love had made me feel beautiful.
This was just another part of life without Will. I had thought I’d outgrown my insecurities, when in reality, I had only used Will as my buffer. Having a boyfriend who loved me since I was sixteen had made my teen years easy. I stopped at the glass door and stared at my reflection. Appearance should not be so important, yet when one has a mother such as mine, it is. I had been raised to believe beauty was the most important thing and I had never felt beautiful until Will. He had changed the way I looked at myself.
Since living in a world with no Will, all those insecurities from my past had slowly crept back in and they were one of the reasons I had to get away. Fate was a fickle thing. Just when you think it gives you a break, it decides to rip it all away. My pale skin would never be a golden brown, just as my brown
hair would never be a glamorous red or stunning blonde and I would never have the confidence of the beautiful people. They lived in a world I wasn’t a part of and I was okay with that. I didn’t need their world. I had lived in a world with Will. It had been the very best world.
I locked the door and headed back to the car. I had come here to focus on finding a world I could live in again. Will had been my world for three wonderful years and since his death twenty months ago, I hadn’t been able to find me. It was as if he had taken me with him and at times I wish he had. This summer I had Gran’s list and time away from my mother, my job, and my life. It was time I focused on the future and found a way to let go of the past.
Driving to the church and unloading the boxes was easier than the loading had been. Several members of the church and volunteers came out to help and told me how much they loved and missed Honey, that was what everyone called my Gran. Her real name was Gertrude, but my grandfather had nicknamed her Honey because he said there was nothing sweeter in this world than my Gran. The name had stuck. There were few people who knew her real name and she told me once it was one of the reasons she loved my grandfather so much, because she had never liked the name Gertrude.
I accepted the chocolate chip cookies and lemonade a lady named Betty offered me because, first of all, I was positive she would follow me to my car and put them in it if I turned them down and secondly, my Gran would have wanted me to take them, even if I couldn’t eat the cookies. I seriously doubted they were gluten and dairy-free. However, the lemonade came in handy because a man named Roger, who had fought in Vietnam with my grandfather, wanted to tell me about the time Honey and his wife Hazel ran out of gas on the causeway in a thunderstorm. The story was longer than anticipated and the lemonade was nice to have while I listened.
Two more stories about Gran from ladies she played Bridge with on Friday afternoons and I was back in my car mentally exhausted from smiling and nodding. I had thought the first item on the list would be the easiest. I now realized I was wrong. Unless I was right and the list was deceiving. Perhaps I was supposed to learn something along the way. I glanced in my rearview mirror. I had learned that those over the age of seventy really like to tell stories and hear themselves talk. At one point, I was worried Roger was going to get tackled by Henry when he began talking over him. I couldn’t blame Henry. Roger’s story did go on and on and on.