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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Feature: Margaret Fieland Is April Feature

I am starting a new feature on this blog. Every month or so on the 1st day of the month I'll feature a new author. I'll include a brief biography and an excerpt of his or her work or an interview. The first in the series is Margaret Fieland. She was born and raised in New York City. Her poems, articles and stories have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Main Channel Voices, Echolocation, and Twisted Tongue. In spite of making her living as a computer software engineer, she turned to one of her sons to format the initial version of her Web site, a clear illustration of the computer generation gap. You may visit her website at

An Unpublished Manuscript.

Alvin's eyes burned and his chest felt tight when he remembered the last time he'd visited Grandma he'd driven there with Mom and Dad. Now Mom was dead and Dad still in the hospital. Alvin peered out the window of Grandma's car as they passed through Millbank and down the tree-lined road that led to Pine Crest point. As Grandma drove past the lake with the community beach, down the road and into her driveway, Sam, Alvin's collie mix, put his front paws on Alvin's lap and barked.

"Yes, Sam, we're here," Alvin said, ruffling Sam's soft ears as they all climbed out of the car. Alvin noticed that he was almost as tall as Grandma, and that she looked even thinner and frailer and with her reddish-gray curls more faded.

Alvin, Sam and Grandma followed the flagstone path down the hill, past the rock garden. The marigolds, petunias, and geraniums lifted their faces to the sun.

The house, a ranch, was stained brown, surrounded by several large trees.

"Was there really a fence here when Dad and Uncle Arthur were little?"

"Yes, and your Grandfather and I really did tie the gate shut so they wouldn't fall into the lake." The lake was right across the road.

Grandma opened the front door, and Alvin followed her into the big living room. Paneled in pine, it had windows on both ends, a dining table at one end, couches and chairs at the other and a large fireplace in the middle.

Sam trotted up and dropped a ball at Alvin's feet.
"Grandma, Sam found a ball."

"Sam always manages to find a ball." Grandma stared at Sam, who opened his jaws and grinned a doggy grin. "You two go outside if you want to play catch. No playing ball in the house."

"That's what Mom always said." Alvin's throat felt tight. He frowned and rubbed his eyes.

Alvin pushed open the door and went outside. Standing on a flat spot in front of the house, Alvin threw the ball up the hill and Sam ran to get it.

It was beginning to get dark when Grandma called, "Alvin, time for dinner. Come in and wash your hands."

"Grandma, when will me and Dad have our own house again?" Alvin said when they were seated at the dining table.

"I don't know, Alvin. I don't know whether your father will try to rebuild your old house when he gets the insurance money." Grandma handed Alvin a hamburger and put one on her own plate. Alvin took a big bite. His throat felt almost too tight to swallow.

"I miss our house. I miss Mom and Dad. I wish everything would go back the way it was."

Grandma looked at Alvin and said, "Alvin, you're nine years old. That's old enough to know your mother isn't coming back."

Alvin ate a few more bites. Grandma put down her half eaten hamburger and stood up. "I guess we aren't very hungry tonight. Let's clear the table and wash the dishes. Then you can brush your teeth and get ready for bed."

Alvin picked up his plate and glass. He followed Grandma into the kitchen, Sam at his heels.

Grandma put the dishes on the kitchen counter. "Just scrape the hamburger into the trash and then put the dishes into the dishpan. I'll wash and you can dry."

"We could give the hamburger to Sam. I'll bet he's still hungry." Sam sat by Grandma's feet and panted hopefully.

"Hmmph," said Grandma, but she broke the hamburger into pieces and put them into a bowl on the floor. Sam grinned, then started to eat.

"At home Dad always did the dishes. "I just cleared the table." Alvin looked out the kitchen window at the front yard. He could feel the soft breeze through the open window. The sky was a dark blue with a few fluffy white clouds. Grandma's flowers swayed back and forth. It looked very peaceful. "I wonder if Mom can see the flowers from Heaven?"

"Here we both clear the table, I wash and you dry." Grandma handed Alvin a blue and white striped dishtowel. "Stack the dishes on the counter and we'll put them away when we're finished."

"At home Mom just left the dishes in the dish drain and put them away in the morning," Alvin said.

"I like my dishes in the cabinet," Grandma said as she pushed her lips together. Alvin remembered that when Grandma came to their old house she always dried and put away the dishes and Mom would get annoyed. It made him smile to remember. Dad always used to stay out of the kitchen when Grandma visited.

"All I have is one pair of pajamas, Grandma," Alvin said later when they walked out of the kitchen.

"We'll go shopping tomorrow," Grandma said. It made Alvin feel funny to think that his beloved quilt and all his clothes and books were gone forever.

"Mom used to read with me to every night. We'd just started The Fellowship of the Ring." Alvin glanced at the full bookshelves as they passed through the living room.

"We can buy you another copy. Or I might have an old one of your father's around somewhere."

"No thanks, Grandma. It wouldn't be the same. When we stopped, Mom said we'd read more tomorrow. That was the last thing she said to me. Except goodnight and stuff." Every time Alvin thought of the book his chest felt tight.

The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've loved. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by author names, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the index handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.


Margaret Fieland said...

Carolyn, Thanks for hosting me this month!

Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

I was privileged to have read the whole book and know that children and parents will enjoy this little boy's adventure in dealing with a death.

Donna M. McDine said...

Peggy...your book is now on my must read list. Where can I purchase? I want to read more!

Best wishes,

Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

What a challenging topic to write about for children. It sounds as if it will be a help for children in similar situations.


Joyce Anthony said...

Wow--this sounds like a great book. It is good to see an author who is willing to tackle the deper subjects with children!

Nancy Famolari said...

I loved the first chapters of Margaret's book. So glad to see more of it.

Thanks for the great post.

Liana said...

Thank you for the interesting post Carolyn!

Dorothy Massey said...

I enjoyed reading this very much. Thanks for hosting Margaret, Carolyn. Dorothy Massey