Candace Meredith earned her Bachelor of Science degree in English Creative Writing from Frostburg State University in the spring of 2008. Her works of poetry, photography and fiction have appeared in literary journals Bittersweet, Backbone Mountain Review, Anthology 17, Greensilk Journal, Saltfront and The Broadkill Review. She currently works as a Freelance Editor for an online publishing company and has earned her Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) from West Virginia University.
Here is an excerpt from Candace’s Book Losing You.
From the short Story Dear Caroline
Dear Caroline is all he could write before breaking down at the state penitentiary in North Carolina. Jimmy stays in a single cell, comprised of a single bunk, sink and toilet where the watchman can keep an eye on him since he’s a suicide case. He’s been awaiting trial for nine months and none of his family or friends posted bail.
He peers through the bars at night, watching the television over the night watchman’s desk and can occasionally hear the faint sounds of music playing from the mobile phone. His son and daughter mail him some money to purchase the notepad paper and pencil he uses to write his letters. They always start out the same, and he tries to finish a single sentence, but his tears and anguish won’t let him concentrate. His navy blue uniform is heavily stained under his armpits from his night sweats and the nightmares keep him up at night – unable to sleep, and yet unable to write.
Jimmy will lie in bed at night, thinking about his wedding day when he saw Caroline in her white gown and how she swayed elegantly down the red carpet at the Baptist church – that was in 1967, and they would have been married for fifty years.
They were married on a warm and breezy day in September, the same month they met a year prior, and they honey-mooned at the Outer Banks where Caroline’s family owned a second home. Jimmy and Caroline had a boy in 1969, whom they named Charlie, and two years later they had a girl, whom they named Melody.
Jimmy thinks about Caroline from his cell, how she smelled, how she dressed, her home cooking, the laughter they shared, and all she did to take care of their two babies. He used to tell Caroline that she had the grace of any fancy feline and the charm of fine crystal. He used to smell her hair when she’d come in from the garden, the beads of sweat on her neckline would sparkle in the sun light and smelled like her essential oils that she would carry around in her purse. Jimmy rolls over in his bunker with the thought of Caroline on his mind every night, and every day he sits alone in the cell.
His children don’t like to visit much; the prison system is overwhelming, and intimidating. Charlie has two daughters and two sons between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five: Charlie Jr., Evan, Sammy, and Julianna; Melody has two daughters of her own: Macy, twenty and Marlene, seventeen. Jimmy learns in prison that he’s going to be a great-granddad since Charlie’s oldest son, Charlie Jr., has a girlfriend who is pregnant and expecting around the end of August; they both attend college at the state university where Charlie Jr. is studying for his Master’s in Business Administration.
It is January, the incident occurred nine months prior in March. Jimmy staggered Duke Hospital with a loaded pistol – he held the six-gauge revolver in his right hand, and a bottle of hard whiskey in the other hand, after more than thirty years of sobriety. He opened fire, sending rounds down the halls that echoed from the ricochet off the metal doorframe and another that shattered the nurses’ cart that was carrying bed linens and water pitchers.
You sons of bitches, Jimmy hollered down the stairwell, as he staggered out into the hall, toward the room where Caroline had been staying, where Caroline should have woken up, but hadn’t. Jimmy wrestled with the fact that she was never coming back. He went to the liquor store for the first time in forty years, his pistol tucked into his coat sleeve.
Continued in book . . .
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