The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch: Chapter 1


THE tires crunched slowly into the sand and came to a halt. The man behind the wheel of the red Ford truck peered out of his open window, to a memory that sat quietly at the base of the rich green grassy hill. The sun shone over a white farmhouse, comfortably nestled inside the ranch. To its left was a red barn, smaller than he remembered. A paddock enclosed with white post and board fencing sat in front. The dirt road, on which he’d stopped, meandered down the right side of the aged property, appearing and disappearing through the lush green trees. Nothing had really changed, it seemed, although the life within its boundaries no longer existed, and both time and neglect had left their weary mark. The man turned the engine off and leaned his head back against his seat. He continued to survey the property and its surroundings, looking for reminders of his past. The old crooked oak by the house was even older, as if holding itself up was getting harder day by day. He searched within its leaves and branches, but he couldn’t see what he was looking for from that distance. The fields were overgrown with wild grass and flowers. He scanned the property with stinging eyes. It seemed to be all there, but only as a scene lost in time, once loved and warmed from within by so many. It was all there, but so much was missing. A part of him wanted to sit for a while and just take it all in. The other part was eager to drive down to the house and bask in the memories. He stopped himself from breaking into the scene too soon and closed his eyes. His mind took him back to a memory he would have rather forgotten, had it not eventually taken him to a better place.

“I’m sorry to have to call you in again, Miss Ratchet, but we just can’t go on like this. I’m afraid we’ll have to suspend him again.” The school principal sat behind her desk wearing a brown suit and sporting a drained expression.

“Is that really necessary, Miss Martindale?” The woman asked, even though she knew this was coming when she’d received the call that morning. She had to admit that having these children was not as easy as she’d originally anticipated. Her plan had been to have more.

“We cannot have the distraction. He fights with everyone.”

“Well, what do you suppose I do with him during the day?” Miss Ratchet leaned forward in her chair.

“I’m sorry,” Miss Martindale replied as she collected her papers and straightened them with a sigh. “Maybe it would be best to meet with his case worker, or contact the state department and see if they can help you. I have a school to run, and I cannot do that when your son…”

Foster son.”

“Foster son…excuse me…continues to cause havoc like he does. You know, he’s going to have to repeat the fourth grade at this rate.”

“Well, that’s just great. Thanks for nothing.” Miss Ratchet got up and grabbed her purse and coat. Out in the hall, a young boy sat with his head hung low, his dark greasy hair covering his face. He picked at a strand hanging from a hole in his right pant knee and yanked until it came off. Then he twisted the piece around his forefinger and watched the end of it swell and redden. He knew he was in trouble but his fear was weakened with lack of concern.

“Come on, you.” Miss Ratchet marched toward him and pulled him up by the shoulder of his dirty denim jacket and shoved him ahead of her….CONTINUE READING


A Day in the Life of a Catholic Novelist

“I am grateful for my life, my blessings, husband and children, my home, and my writing.” I continue my daily mantra instinctively but faithfully. Except my words lack the enthusiasm insisted by Tony Robbins. “I’m grateful for finding my passion, although my time is restricted. My life’s full with every second consumed by one being or another seeking my attention. I’m grateful for it all until insanity kicks in.” I suck in a much needed breath and glance at my two little homeschoolers working diligently at the dining room table, my third sits playing with the spice rack. A sudden gush of happiness washes through me, cleansing all remnants of sarcasm and discouragement that taint my mood.

I’ll survive the drudge of today, with its typical formation. I’ll follow yesterday’s steps, same as the day before. I’m not alone. I prepare a snack, send out the dog, clean the kitchen, and change a diaper. My only interruption is to grab a scrap of paper, napkin, piece of gum wrap, anything obtainable for me to safely transfer a soon-to-be renowned phrase or idea from thought.

Finally, I’m onto my beloved chore, staring at my impending bestseller while my boy plays by my feet. The older two are in bed and my time has come. I read prewritten words in an attempt to transform my mind into one of a novelist’s. Distraction comes soon, however, when I feel little hands grabbing at me. I try to type faster, frantic to finish a thought. What was it, again? It’s too late. I’m no longer a writer. I’m a mountain that must be scaled. Little grunts indicate the magnitude of his mission and it’s too endearing to ignore.

I surrender to his command and drag him onto my lap, hoping he’ll be entertained by the words appearing before us. I regain my literary composure, but soon my sleek lines of literary genius are tainted by an intrusive ‘g,’ followed by a roguish ‘p.’ The meddlesome letters continue appearing, accompanied by impish giggles, and my only response is a desperate, ‘no sweetie,’ ‘don’t touch,’ while maintaining as much patience as my deteriorating mood allows.

It’s too tempting for those tiny fingers, however, and again I’m compelled to surrender, save my potential masterpiece and spin away from the screen, causing a squeal of delight. I lift him into the air and he looks down at me, eyes wide with the anticipation of my next move. Who knows what that will be? Even with routine comes uncertainty, but in the sparkling eyes of my child is a promise of something extraordinary, and for that I am always grateful.