Read Hope In Every Raindrop Online

Authors: Wesley Banks

Hope In Every Raindrop

 

HOPE IN EVERY RAINDROP

 

Wesley Banks

Begin Reading

Contents

About the Author

Note from the Author

Copyright

 

This book is inspired by my best friend Pace, who I miss with all my heart, and written for Lindsey, a girl that shines more light on this world than she knows.

Chapter 1

 

Katie Price set her laptop on the counter, the cursor still blinking on the blank page as she grabbed a pencil and her hardbound journal. She unlocked the double French doors that led to her back porch and pushed them open wide. The single hook screw groaned in the overhead beam as she settled into her hammock chair. She folded the cover of the journal over on itself and scribbled the date in the top right corner of the first page.

October 29, 2007

Then she did the same thing she had been doing all morning: she stared restlessly at the empty page in front of her.

It had been nearly six months since her father passed away and she’d barely managed to write a single word in that time. It was the longest she’d ever gone without getting something down on the page.

Katie sat there until just before noon, staring out at the Pacific Ocean, the paper and pencil abandoned on her lap. From the back porch she could see almost all seventy miles of the San Diego coastline as it curved slightly towards Mexico around the Baja Peninsula.

The combination of the waves gently crashing on the beach and the slow sway of her hammock stilled her thoughts. Normally she would have reveled in the quiet, but she was restless and wanted more than anything to find her next story.

She pressed the lead tip of the pencil against the paper, hoping for that one word that would send her off into endless hours of writing. Nothing came except the interrupting chirp of her phone.

She eased herself out of the chair and set the pencil and journal on the counter next to her computer as she walked back inside. The screen on her phone lit up with a number that was all too familiar: her agent.

For a moment, she held the phone in her hand, thinking she might just slide the ringer to silent and take a walk on the beach. Or better yet, she could throw the phone on the ground and stomp on it until it shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. Unfortunately, she knew that wouldn't solve her problems. Not answering would just mean within a few hours her agent would pull into the driveway in her fancy BMW—if not today, then tomorrow or the next day. Katie didn't have any options.

"Hello, Samantha," Katie said, drawing out her full name in annoyance.

"Please tell me you've got something."

Katie half-heartedly tried to lie. "I've got something, Sam."

"Oh, Katie," Sam said. "What am I going to do with you? You can't even lie well lately. At least embellish a little, make up the name of your next lead character or hint at some masterful plot you're still working out the details on."

Katie didn't respond.

"Still not writing, I take it?"

Katie let out a brief sigh as she stared back out towards the water. "Not a word."

"Katie, you know I love you. You're my little prodigy. And while I know you're only twenty-one, you're playing in the big leagues now. Your publisher is breathing down my neck— if you don't come up with something in the next month, they’re going to start requesting you return a portion, if not all, of the advance for this next book. I’ll keep trying to cover for you, but with the economy the way it is…well, you know.

Again Katie didn't say anything. She just nodded to herself, as if Sam were standing right in front of her with her fancy high heels and matching designer purse. Her agent’s career had taken off after Katie’s first couple of novels had made Katie the youngest woman on record with back-to-back bestsellers in the same calendar year.

"I don't mean to pry, but have you tried perhaps reading through some of your father's old work, to see if that might spark something?"

Katie reached down and picked up a dark brown book with a title scrawled in gold letters. It was her father's first anthology of poems—the first literary work ever published under his name. It had never gained much traction with the public, but the poems had long been one of the reasons Katie had become a writer. His words always filled her with hope, and she had wanted so badly to pass that same feeling on to others.

She ran her hands over the lettering of her father's name on the spine of the book. Over the past few months she must have read each poem ten times, especially one he wrote for her.

Let the rain add to our tears
Until the day when all the pain has stopped
And we will say there was hope in every raindrop

To this day Katie would swear that her father was twice, even three times, the writer she was, but as a poet he never managed to find the success she had in fiction. 

"I haven't, but maybe I'll try," Katie lied, this time convincingly.

"I think you should. I think that may help you find your voice again."

Katie walked towards the bookshelf behind her couch and started to speak again, but Sam cut her off. "I'm sorry, hon, but I've got another call coming in that I have to take. I'll touch base with you in a week or so. We need to at least give them a sample to keep 'em busy. Remember, thirty days."

And with that Sam hung up.

Katie set her phone on the end table and pressed her father’s book back in its place on the shelf.

“How did I ever write a
New York Times
Best Seller?” she said out loud. Her own books stared back at her. The stories had always come so easily before.

She turned to go back to the porch, forgetting about the boxes of her father’s stuff she had stacked behind the couch.

As she moved, she stubbed her toe on the corner of one box and knocked over another that was next to it.

"Shoot," she said to herself as she reached down towards her foot.

When she stood, she realized that half the contents from the box she’d hit had spilled out across the floor. She knelt, starting to put them back in the box labeled "Dad’s Stuff."  Most of the contents were old journals or notes her father had made while drafting his books, and it didn’t take her long to toss everything back where it belonged. But, one object had slid about ten feet across the room.

It was a small wooden container that looked to be about the size of a cigar box. There was a metal clasp on the front that held it shut and two hinges on the back that split it in two perfect halves. Nothing about the container looked familiar. In fact, Katie was pretty sure she had never seen it before.

A shiver ran through her body and tears formed in her eyes as she unclasped the lock and opened it. Sitting on top was a small cross—actually, just two sticks tied together with twine. But underneath that cross was a photo of her mother. It was a small faded portrait, maybe two inches by three inches. The corners of the picture had started to peel away and the glossy surface was beginning to crack.

She had seen this picture before, but not for a very long time. Not since she had finished her first novel.

Katie put the photo back down next to the cross and lifted out a gold-plated pocket watch with the name
Price
inscribed on the back. She didn’t have to close her eyes to perfectly recall her father incessantly checking the watch and stuffing it back in his tweed jacket whenever he was stuck in his writing.

Below the watch, however, was an object she was sure she had not seen before. 

Katie turned the folded piece of paper over in her hand. It wasn't normal lined paper. It had a familiar feel to it, except for the small bulge in the center. One side was taped to prevent it from unfolding. She used her thumbnail to gently peel back the tape.

As she opened it, she realized why it seemed familiar, though she was certain she had never seen this specific one. It was a map of the United States. 

Katie pushed aside several boxes and cleared an area large enough to lay out the entire map flat on her wood floor. There were several pin-sized holes scattered across the surface. In the lower right corner, just above the legend, she found a dart held down by another piece of tape.

She removed the dart and set it aside, revealing several words written in cursive below it.

The ink was slightly faded, but she could still make out each word.

There are stories all around you if you only take the time to look.

Love always,

Katherine

Katie felt her body tremble again as tears streamed slowly down her cheeks and onto the map. She quickly ran her hands under her eyes, wiping away the tears, and tried to blot out the wet spots on the paper with the hem of her shirt.

Her mother must have given this to her father before she was even born.

For a moment, Katie just stared at the beautiful handwritten words from her mother. Her eyes traced the sweeping arc of each letter as it ran into the next. She repeated the words again in her head, but her emotions clouded their specific meaning.

Her thoughts trailed off as her gaze returned to the silver dart lying next to her. The tip was sharp and the body was rough as she ran her hand over it towards the three blue fins at the other end.

Then, it all dawned on her.

Katie quickly grabbed the map and trotted to the kitchen, ignoring the pain in her stubbed toe. Opening a drawer, she grabbed a roll of scotch tape and walked out to her porch.

She turned to face the house, looking for a section of the wall large enough to hang the map. There was just enough room between two of the back windows. She taped the four corners, pressing the paper as close to the wall as possible. 

She took several steps back with the dart in her right hand, imagining her father doing something similar all those years ago. But as she looked back at the map, something seemed wrong. She could make out the name of each state and in many cases some of the cities that were printed in larger letters. Walking back over, she ran her hand across several places where she saw holes. Instead of feeling a smooth surface, she felt the punctured paper pressing out towards her. The dart couldn’t have been thrown at the map facing this direction.

She set the dart on the handrail and removed the tape she had just placed on each of the corners. Then, she turned it over so the blank side faced her and again ran her fingers over the myriad of pin holes. Smooth.

Standing back at the edge of her porch, all she could see was a plain white piece of paper taped to her wall. Still, she could aim towards the center of the map and hit Missouri, Nebraska, or Kansas. Or for the corners and land on Florida, Georgia, New York, Maine, Washington, California, and so on. So, she picked up the dart and turned her back to the map. Counting to three, she spun back around and let the dart go without hesitation. It wasn't a perfect throw, but it stuck solidly to the wall with a thud.

She pulled the dart from the wall, careful to reach around to the front of the map with one hand and mark the spot as she turned it over and set it on the porch floor. The small hole was in the dead center of a city she had never heard of in South Carolina.

The first drop of afternoon showers landed on the steps a few feet from her. Looking out again into the vastness of the deep blue rolling waves, Katie couldn't help but feel excitement at the simple thought of one word.

Bishopville.

Chapter 2

 

The first drop of rain landed square on the toe of his boot. The second drop hit the back of his hand, which was wrapped around the handle of an old wooden claw hammer. He drove one more nail into the post, then twisted the hammer upwards and bent the head of the nail back over itself. He gave a quick tug on the hog wire to make sure the nail would hold it tight to the post. It held firm.

Kyle Walker stood up and looked back at his work over the past few weeks as he removed his cap and ran his arm across his forehead, wiping away the sweat. There were only three more rows of posts to dig and several rolls of fence to hang before the new runs would be finished.

He thought about it for a moment, running a few quick calculations in his head. It would take him five days to finish, maybe four if Doc lent a hand for a day or two. It felt good to be so close to done, and finally getting the dogs out of the barn.

A few more drops of rain fell across the brim of his hat as he looked west towards the Blue Ridge Mountains. King was nowhere in sight, but that was expected with a storm moving in.

He walked the hammer and bag of nails back over to a small work bench and turned to stand underneath the large pine lintel that spanned the barn door. Leaning against the door, he crossed his right boot over his left leg. Small chips of red paint crumbled onto his right shoulder as he shifted slightly, his eyes scanning the horizon.

He looked down across the inner coastal plains of South Carolina. It was a land of gently rolling hills and forests cut through by slow-moving rivers heading to the Atlantic Ocean. An outer belt of longleaf pines that most people knew as the “Flatwoods” stood between him and the western sand hills. Live oaks, cypress trees, and dense shrubs of hollies and wax myrtle filled in most of the land. Above all, Kyle loved the open savanna—the smooth cordgrass that lined the outskirts of the wetlands to the east and the thick patches of wiregrass that covered the endless fields.

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