The Factory Stain – Chapter Two

Middleton Factory was the largest factory in the town of Claxton.  It had been family owned for almost a century and employed more than two hundred workers.  Most of them were unmarried immigrant women, whose ages ranged from 14 to the ripe old age of 32.

The factory made overalls, once known as slops, for working class men.  Row after row of women sat at sewing machines and in assembly line fashion, produced more than a thousand garments a day.

Although these women worked ten hours a day, six days a week for a mere pittance, they were grateful to have the job.  Middleton Factory was different from most factories.  The women weren’t required to buy their own needles and thread and they weren’t charged to rent the machines from the owner.

Willowdean Prescott was now a proud employee of the Middleton Factory. She walked the three blocks to work, down the dark streets which were only sporadically illuminated by gas lanterns.  Her shift began several hours after the workers had gone home and would end just before they returned the next day.

She climbed up the eight flights of stairs and entered the room.  Its enormity almost took her breath away.  Never in her life had she seen a room that big and she was just now understanding the gravity of her task. There was lint and thread strewn all over the floor as far as she could see and waste baskets were overflowing with bits of fabric, too small to save.

The foreman met her at the door and showed her where the cleaning supplies were kept.  He was not one to indulge in idle chatter so without another word he left, locking the door behind him.  It was customary to lock the workers in the building then, just as it was customary to search them as they were leaving.

At every station, a sign prohibiting speaking, considered to be nothing more than gossip, was posted with the stern warning of a monetary penalty for each uttered word.

As she began to work, she quietly hummed Christmas carols to pass the time.  It wasn’t that time of year but it had been her mothers’ favorite holiday and she remembered how she used to start singing, sometimes as early as October.

Last year, Santa had somehow managed to leave the boys a shiny new penny.  Already thinking ahead, she thought that maybe this year there might be enough money for a real present.

Several hours went by and as she was dusting the sewing machines, she was startled when she looked up and saw a smartly dressed man walking through the middle of the room.  She hadn’t heard him come in but the room was large and from where she stood, the door was quite a distance from her.

Frozen, she was embarrassed when she found herself staring.  She had been taught that it was impolite to stare but he was devilishly fetching and had caught her completely off guard.  His crisp black linen suit, complimented by a bright red bow tie, had not a wrinkle in it other than the perfectly sharp creases in the center of each pant leg.

His face was flawless and his full lips were accented by a pencil thin mustache.  He had jet black hair, parted down the middle and piercing blue eyes that seemed to be singularly focused on something but not her.  He didn’t seem to notice her at all.  Perhaps he hadn’t expected her to be there and she simply blended into the background.

She hadn’t caught his eye but he had surely caught hers.  She watched in silence as he glanced at the time from a gold watch that had been neatly tucked into his vest pocket.  There didn’t seem to be any urgency in his stride as he made his way through the huge room and disappeared into the dark hallway toward the office.

He appeared to be around her age and her first thought was that he must be the owners’ son.  She didn’t give any further attention to him after those first embarrassing stares and watchful gazes.

She was there to work, not to question his presence.  Owners’ and their sons’ could come and go as they pleased and certainly did not require her by-your-leave.

Hours slipped by as she busied herself with her duties.  She had worked through the night and as the sun began to rise, she knew it was near the end of her shift.  She had swept the floor, gathering broken needles, what appeared to be a few broken fingernails and left no trace of dust or thread which would be cause for criticism from the foreman.

Her last task was mopping the wide plank wooden floors to try to bring some semblance of shine back to them.  There would be ample time for the floor to dry before the daytime workers arrived.  Thinking she had finished and making her way around the floor, she gasped when she noticed a large, dark stain beside one of the machines.

“Goodness,” she thought to herself.  “I wonder what caused this and how did I miss it?”  She took out the floor brush and started scrubbing. She was relieved when it seemed to disappear with very little effort.

She returned the cleaning supplies to the closet and although she was tired, she felt a great sense of accomplishment.  The foreman arrived, unlocked the door and walked by her with a simple nod and as expected, never said a word.

As she began the long walk down the stairs, her mind momentarily went back to the fetching gentleman.  She hadn’t noticed him leave.  Had he had quietly slipped out while she was scrubbing the stain or was he still there?



To be continued_________________

The Factory Stain – Chapter One

Willowdean Prescott was a shy, seventeen year old who was wise beyond her years.  She had two rambunctious and mischievous little brothers who did not yet know the meaning of the word poverty but Willowdean knew it all too well.

Wearing hand-me-downs from gracious neighbors and spending the summer running around barefoot was all her brothers had ever known. Willowdean wore her mothers’ hand-me-downs, re-sized to fit and wore a pair of shoes that her Papa had found on the side of the road.

Her Papa had called her Willie since the day she was born.  When she got older, she said “Papa, when you call me Willie, people are going to think I’m a boy!”  He laughed when he said “there is no danger of anybody ever mistaking you for a boy, because you are a beautiful young girl who is going to grow into a beautiful young woman, just like your mother.”

Willowdean was the spitting image of her mother, whose name was Enez. They were petite women, blessed with thick black hair and eyes the color of rich, dark chocolate.  Set against porcelain complexions, they were a striking sight to behold.  Willowdean, like her mother, stood just over five feet tall, had a tiny waist and delicate features that were almost doll-like.

Enez had died some five years back from pneumonia and there had been no time for Willowdean to grieve.  The care of the family had fallen to her at the tender age of twelve and she had never faltered.  Her brothers were too young to remember their mother but she did and she knew she had to be strong for them and for her Papa.

Her Papas’ name was Harlan and she knew he missed her mother terribly, as did she.  She also knew that he quietly visited her grave every night after work and seemed to find great comfort in talking to her as if she was still alive.

Harlan wasn’t the only one who to talked to her mother.  Every night when Willowdean went to bed, she always said “goodnight” to her.

Harlan had spent most of his life working in the shipyard, loading imports and unloading exports.  He worked from sun-up to sun-down.  He went to work when he was sick, injured or so tired he could hardly move but she never heard him complain.

He looked far older than his 36 years.  Life had beaten him down and taken its toll but there was still kindness in his eyes and they beamed with joy at the sight of his children.  His hands were rough and calloused but his touch was gentle.  Even with his weathered face, furrowed brow and deep lines carved by grief and sorrow, you could see that he was once a handsome man.

Every night just before bedtime, he’d put a boy on each knee while Willowdean read a chapter from Enez’s Bible. The pages were wrinkled and yellowed with age but Willowdean felt as she touched every page, she was touching a little part of her mother.

Her Papa had told her many times that “the best part of a person stays forever” and she desperately wanted to believe it.

The boys didn’t really understand the context of the stories she read but Willowdean had a soft, velvety voice that never failed to lull them to sleep. She smiled at her Papa when they rested their heads against his chest and drifted off into a dream world she hoped was better than the one they lived in.

One day Willie boldly told her Papa that she was going to go to work at a factory.  Her Papa had always been slow to anger and that’s not what she was seeing.  She was seeing disappointment.  She had never before made a decision without first speaking with him.

She had fortuitously overheard a conversation while at church.  The nighttime cleaning girl at the Middleton Factory had abruptly quit and they were looking for a replacement.  It was unlike her to be so bold but she asked about the possibility of gaining employment and was told to go talk to the foreman.

The Factory apparently had trouble keeping a long time worker in the position.  Three other girls had tried and failed to be successful.  The foreman explained that the overnight hours proved to be too demanding. She assured him that he could depend on her to get the job done and he agreed to give her a try.

Rarely did Harlan raise his voice but he did when he said “I forbid it.”  He had worked since he was ten years old and didn’t want any of his children to have to go to work before they ever got the chance to really be children.

Willowdean put her hands on his face and said “Papa, we need the money.” He had tears in his eyes because he knew she was right.  He knew the reality of the world they lived in.  Not admitting defeat, he told her he would have to discuss it with her mother.

As he talked to Enez, he reflected on the life that his children were having to endure, especially Willowdean.  He knew that she had suffered the indignity of standing in bread lines when there was no food to put on the table and more than once, she was suddenly not hungry when there wasn’t enough soup to fill even half of their bowls.

Talking to Enez seemed to put him at peace.  He asked Willie what she would be doing at the factory.  She told him that she had been hired to clean after the workers had gone home.  Her duties would include dusting the sewing machines, emptying the waste baskets at every station and sweeping and mopping the floor.  She would work from sun-down to sun-up.

“Don’t you see?” she said.  “This means that I will be here like always, to look after the boys while you are at work and you will be here at night, while I’m at work.”

“But when are you going to sleep?” he asked.  She said “don’t worry Papa. I’ll be okay and I’ll sleep when I can.  You know how the boys fall asleep when I read a story.”  She laughed and said “I expect I’ll be doing a lot of reading.”

Her Papa gave her a kiss on the forehead and hugged her a little longer than usual.  Then he gave her his blessing and delighted in the squeal she let out as she said “oh thank you, Papa.”


To be continued_______________










One Lovely Blog Award

My thanks to Elizabeth for the nomination.


1.  Thank the person who nominated you.

2.  Share 7 facts about yourself.

3.  Nominate up to 15 people for the award.

4.  Let the people know they have been nominated.


1.  I have the rarest eye color in the world.  So does my youngest daughter.  Only 2% of the entire population have green eyes.  Not only do we have green eyes, we both have central heterochromia iridum.  Our pupils are surrounded by yellow and the outer iris is green.  I also have sectoral heterochromia.  I have a brown spot in one of my eyes.  She does not.
My oldest daughter has the appearance of complete heterochromia, like David Bowie.  Like him, hers is the result of an injury which is technically called aniscoria.  She was hit in the face by a hard kicked soccer ball and one pupil is permanently frozen in a dilated position.

2.  I never had wisdom teeth nor did my mama.  That is a result of a mutation that happens in 35% of the population.  Unfortunately, I didn’t pass that along to any of my children.
There is recent evidence that the suppression of wisdom teeth was a mutation that popped up in China three to four hundred thousand years ago.

3.  My feet are so different, they look like they belong to separate people.  They are also different sizes.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I found out that I was the result of a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong.)

4.  I’ve scared many a neighbor (and still do) by walking down a ladder from my roof, like I walk down stairs.  It never made any sense to me to crawl down a ladder backward.

5.  I can spell complete sentences and have never met but one other person who not only could understand every word I spell, they could respond in kind.

6.  If I care about you and you need me, I would crawl on my hands and knees to the ends of the Earth to help you…but if you fuck me over, you’re on your own.

7.  I really hate to write and I think everything I write is rubbish.


Robert Matthew

Pissed Off Doesn’t Describe It

When I was trying to deal with my drunk son, I asked him if he wanted to go back to Florida.  He said he did, so I told him I would ask Loser to buy a ticket for him.

#4 said “dad doesn’t have any money.”  I laughed and said “seriously?”  #4 said “yeah.”  I asked him who the hell told him that.  #4 said “he did.”  I told him that we both know what a liar he is and it just wasn’t true. #4 said “the last time I saw him (which was a couple of months ago) he told me that he didn’t have any money.”

I told him that he may not have as much money as he did before because he was having to pay somebody’s taxes and tuition and bills but for him not to believe for one minute that “poor old Loser” didn’t have any money.

Last week I called #3 and asked if I sent her a message, would she forward it to Loser.  I told her that I was going to ask him if he would buy #4 a bus ticket and wanted her to send it to him.  She said “no, mom.  I am not going to be the mediator between you and dad.”  I was disappointed but I said okay and emailed him.

He did agree to buy #4 a bus ticket.  I explained a bit about what had gone on with #4.

I had to make #4 leave last Tuesday but wrote down Losers’ phone number for him.  It was all I could do to keep from almost breaking as I watched him walk down the street but I just couldn’t allow him to stay anymore.

I expected him to be on my porch the next day but he wasn’t, nor was he there the day after.  I asked #3 if she had heard from him.  I called his AA buddies and asked if they had heard from him.

I would have rather been ripped apart by a pack of wild animals than have to communicate with Loser again, but I finally emailed him and asked him if by any chance #4 had called him about the ticket.  I told him I had called everybody I knew, had gone to all the bars and I couldn’t find him anywhere.  I told him that he had stitches that needed to come out before they grew into his skin and nobody seemed to know anything.  I told him that I was worried to death.

I got a message from Loser through #3.  Loser had been in touch with #4 the whole time.  Apparently #4 has been through detox, is getting medical attention and is staying sober.  Loser says he sees him every day.

When I read that message, I was beyond livid.  I was outraged…for two reasons.  Loser knew that I was scared out of my mind about #4 and never said a word.  A week….A WEEK….went by and he never said a word.

#3 passed on that message from Loser.  SHE DID SOMETHING FOR HIM THAT SHE REFUSED TO DO FOR ME.

She called me the day after she forwarded the message and I let her have it with all fifteen barrels.  I told her that I was sick to death of the double standards that apply to me…and that piece of shit, his trailer trash family and his parasites.

I reminded her that she talks about how much she hates my mama because of the way she treated me.  HIS mama treated me just as bad…but it’s okay. His daddy was a yellow-bellied, lilly-livered coward who allowed that drunk woman and his drunk son to abuse me unmercifully, but again…it was okay.

I said “you forwarded a message from Loser to me but you wouldn’t forward one from me to him.”  I asked her why she didn’t say “no dad.  I’m not going to be the mediator between you and mom.  Why don’t you grow a set and send her the information?”

She didn’t have an answer and it turned into a screaming match with her reminding me that “she has always been on my side.”  A few minutes later, she hung up on me.

She should have refused to be the go-between for both of us…not just one of us.  There was obviously not a second of hesitation on her part when it came to what her precious fucking daddy asked…but there was instant refusal when it came to what her mom asked.

Why is that?  Is it because mom has never been and will never be as important as their fucking “dad?”  Is it because even in their late thirties and early forties, they are still more afraid of Loser?  I think he’d have a hard time getting away with knocking them around now but he can still make them feel like shit with his nasty comments and vile texts.

#4 told me that when he had come up to stay with Loser for a while, he (Loser) slammed him down on the ground and had his hand around his neck.  He said he thought he had given him a concussion.

What a memory for a son to have about his “father.”  In the same conversation, #4 said he remembered when Loser was dragging #3 down the hall by her hair.  He said I wasn’t there but #1 was trying to get him to let go.

I asked #3 if she remembered and she said “vaguely but what I remember most is when dad called me a whore.”

I wonder what the WTC would think if she heard these stories about how he treated his children.  I imagine he would either deny them or tell her that he had “reached the end of his rope” and of course, “would regret it for the rest of his life.”  That’s his go-to response when he cannot deny his barbaric, volatile behavior.

Actually, I don’t think she would care.  She already knows that he’s a liar and a cheater but as long as he keeps writing checks (that don’t bounce like somebody else’s did) she’ll overlook anything.

Or better yet, they would probably collectively blame me for not raising them right.  It would have to be somebody’s….anybody’s fault besides his.

He did tell the court that although he was the “loudest,”  I instigated every fight that was ever had.  (I would laugh at that if it wasn’t so fucking pathetic.)

I guess I started fights when I was drunk…oh, wait.  He was the one who was always drunk…but I guess that’s my fault too.  What a horrible person I am…and don’t forget.  I’m “insane.”

I actually agree with that assessment.  I would have to have been insane to have stayed with a maggot like him for as long as I did.  Guilty as charged.

I hope #4 is in a rehab facility somewhere.  I can’t imagine that he is being allowed to stay at the WTCs’ house.  I hope he will be successful this time but mostly, I hope he isn’t being poisoned by Loser and that WTC.  He wants nothing more than to be close to Loser and if that means believing everything he says, he will and Loser will be triumphant.

Will it be worth having another child believe his (their) lies if #4 can stay sober?  Yes it will.






Timeline With #4

What a roller coaster ride I have had.  After repeatedly finding my son on my porch, I let him come in.  He spent one night in the bed.  When I finally got him up the next morning, I asked him how he slept.  He said he felt like he was in “fucking prison.”  I told him that I hoped he would say something like “it sure beats sleeping on the street.”

He “tinkered” around for a while…filling up hummingbird feeders and putting the top back on my bird bath.  Then he said he “needed to take a walk.”

I knew what that meant.  It meant he needed a drink.  I told him if he went for a walk, he couldn’t come back.  He went inside for a minute.  Little did I know, he had sneaked a bottle of Vodka in.  He started acting more and more peculiar.  I should have known he was drinking.  I’m such a fool.

He finally said he needed to take a walk.  I told him to go on his walk and to keep walking.  He said “I’ll be back.”  I told him not to come back.  Later that afternoon, there was knock on my door.  It was the same officer who arrested him the first time.  She brought him “home.”  He was standing out in the yard, wobbling.  She said for me to keep him in the house.

Of course, I let him in.  I gave him something to eat and let him put on some clean clothes.  He went outside to smoke and then said he needed to take a walk.  Unbelievable.  I told him he was already drunk and didn’t need anything else to drink.  I got him to come inside and locked all three doors that lead outside.  They have key deadbolts so he had to have the key to get them open.

He was like a caged animal and started growling like a rabid dog.  Then he started yanking on the doors.  He went from one to the other to the other.  Then he started kicking them.  I told him that if he didn’t stop, I was going to call the police.  He said “go ahead…and I will never fucking forgive you.”  Then he slammed his cell phone down and broke it into several pieces.

He decided to open the bathroom window and jump out but he couldn’t figure out how to get it open.  He kept going in there and locking the door.  He finally came out and went into the kitchen.  He put his fist through the glass in the door.

There was blood everywhere.  Then he strong-armed me and cracked a couple of ribs.  I called the police and told them to come get him.  I opened the door and let him go outside.  He grabbed a pair of jeans and wrapped them around his arm.  When I told him the police were going to be here any minute, he went berserk.  He thought I had called an ambulance.  He took off down the street.

The same officer who had brought him home came and I told her he had walked off.  She said she’d find him.  I showed her the door and my side.  She told me not to let him back in if he came back before she found him.  She said “he’s going to jail this time.”

She called me about two hours later and said he was at the hospital, getting stitches.  She said the paramedics wanted to talk to me about “his meds.”  Great.  They told me that he had narcotics on him.  I knew exactly what they were talking about.  My doctor had given me a prescription for Lorazepam because she knew what I was going through with #4.  I had to have my picture taken and sign away my house to get that scrip filled and I wasn’t even sure I was going to take it.  He took the whole bottle.

I think that’s why he was so violent.  He must have taken them with Vodka.  Lethal combination there and he’s lucky he didn’t stroke out.  I rested a little easier that night.  I thought he was in jail and would be safe and sober.  When I got up, he was on my porch.  He walked here from the hospital.  Because I didn’t come down and press charges, they let him go.

He asked me to take the stitches out of his arm.  I took them out of his chest when he was filleted open because they were growing into his skin.  I told him they needed to be in there for a while.  He disappeared and the next day, he called from somebodys’ phone, drunk.  I asked him where he was.  He didn’t have a clue.  The other person got on the phone and said I could pick him up on some street in the next town.  They were walking and should be there by the time I got there.

I got there and waited for a while.  It was some parking lot across from a service station.  As I was getting ready to leave, I saw #4 and this man walking toward the car.  #4 didn’t see me and started walking across the street, saying “I need a drink.”  He only had a dollar on him and it wasn’t enough to buy one of those little bitty bottles of vodka so they turned him away.

I got him in the car and he laid down in the back seat.  I was on the phone with #3 and he heard her talking to me.  It pissed him off and he got out of the car.  I tried to get him back in but he laid down in the parking lot.

The next thing I knew, a sheriff was there and then the city police.  The sheriff was really kind to him and tried to get him to get in the car.  The police officer was a cutie-pie and I mean movie star cutie-pie but he said this was the third time he had been called for #4.  He wanted to take him to jail.

EMS showed up and decided to take him to the hospital because he said he felt sick.  Later that evening, he called me and asked me to come get him.  He knew he had been in the hospital but he had forgotten that I had been there earlier and he had decided to take a nap in the parking lot.  He didn’t have his shoes or his backpack.

Yesterday, he was on my porch again.  He had spent a few nights with the dangerous drug dealer….”his friend.”  He was still a little drunk but I made him get up.  I gave him some water and asked him if he could be sober for just one day.

I asked him if he wanted to go back to Florida.  He said he did so he could see his boy.  I told him he wasn’t going to see his boy while he was still drinking.  He growled “why are you always fucking putting me down?”  I told him I would email Loser and ask him to buy him a bus ticket.

Saints be praised.  I emailed Loser and he said he would.  He even thanked me for trying to help him.  Of course he’s thankful.  If I’m doing everything, it means that he and that WTC don’t have to do anything and I’m sure he won’t tell her that he’s buying a ticket for him.  She’ll get pissed off.  That money could be used for her student loan…or her car payment.

#4 said he really needed a beer because he was weaning himself off of Vodka.  I tried to get him to just talk to me.  After about an hour, he said he needed to take a walk.  I noticed a bottle under the loveseat on the porch.  It had a little Vodka in it.  He found it and said it would do.

I told him if he drank it, he had to leave.  He sat right there, opened the bottle and took a big swig.  (Reminded me of my ex monster-in-law.  She wasn’t allowed to drink her Vodka, so she grabbed Losers’ beer and downed it.)  I told him he had to leave.  He said he’d be back.

I told him he absolutely could not come back.  “This is not a homeless shelter and you are not going to hang out here drunk all the time.”  He said “I don’t have anywhere to go.”  I told him he did have somewhere to go, he just pissed it away for booze.

I have no idea where he is.  As crazy as it sounds, I was hoping he would be on my porch this morning.

He has told me time and time again that I don’t understand.  He’s right.  I don’t and I never will.  I cannot imagine what it’s like to want a drink so bad that you will do anything and give up everything for it.

True Facts About The Town Of Whisper

Pansy Faye’s grandfather and Elwyn Turner were loosely based on my grandpa.  He was an entrepreneur who owned cafes, fillin’ stations and little grocery stores.  He would let people take a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk or a pack of cigarettes, with the promise of repayment on payday.  Most of them returned.  Some of them didn’t.

Pansy Faye, Leroy, Ron Carson, and Billy Ray were all fictional characters.

Lucy Maes’ character was loosely based on a man who owned a tire place in the middle of town.  My friend and I knew the owners of a restaurant next door and we stopped by to grab a bite to eat.  This man was eating a salad for lunch, started laughing and then started choking.  I thought about trying to dislodge whatever was in his mouth but I was told to stay away.
Since it was prior to 1973, EMS had not yet been established.  I remember everybody just standing around, watching this man choke to death.

My daddy was by no means a Baptist preacher but Reverend Smythes’ reading habits were loosely based on him.  He loved to read Earl Stanley Gardner books and was even known to read a Harlequin Romance Novel.

Ron Carson’s sons’ names were based on the husband of a friend of mine when I lived in Philadelphia.  His name was Paul Peter.  He had a brother named Peter Paul.

Leroy’s mama being carried around in the trunk of his car is based on me.  I carry my mama’s ashes in the trunk of my car and have for nine years.

The airplane crash was based on a crash that happened near my hometown. A large jumbo jet collided with a small private plane.  It was the first crash investigated by the NTSB.  None of the passengers survived and the only body intact was a stewardess found in a tree, still strapped to her jumpseat.  People were combing through the woods, taking jewelry from limbs.

The story about the cats in the well was fictional.

Matt Perkins was a fictional character.

Joshua Beacham was the fictional name of a real person.  The entire story is true.

Chick Larson was a fictional character.

Myrna Brown was the fictional name of a real person.  I did not know her personally but I knew of her through one of my roommates.
She did work at the Whisk A Go-Go in Augusta, Georgia.
Did she really roll one of the most famous golfers of all time while he was there for the Masters?  Yes, she did.
Do I know who it was?  Yes, I do.
Will I divulge his name?  No.

Sherry Plemmons was based on a real person.  The tragic events that I wrote about really happened.

The person telling the story is loosely based on Loser in that he would use any means available, be it charm, lies, hollow flattery or bullying to get information.

His daddy really did tell him to be nice to the ugly girls as well as the pretty ones because the ugly ones would be so grateful for the attention, they would do anything.

Although he fully expected to win a Pulitzer Prize, he never did.

A Town Called Whisper – Chapter Seven

The last name on my list was Sherry Plemmons, a 29-year-old woman from Pawtucket, South Carolina.  Searching her name led to an article written more than seven years earlier.

She had successfully battled and beaten death before but it had been a Pyrrhic victory.

According to the report, she and her eighteen month old daughter were traveling down a winding, mountainous road.  A semi-tractor trailer drifted into her lane, causing her to swerve.  She lost control of her car and it flipped over several times, coming to rest at the bottom of a steep embankment.  Her daughter was thrown from the car.

Sherry suffered serious injures but managed to get out of the car and crawl up the hill.  When she reached the top, she saw her daughter sitting in the middle of the road, apparently okay.  Her daughter saw her, raised her arms and called for her.  Before Sherry could get to her, another car came around the bend and ran over her little girl.

Her subsequent depression took its toll and it would be years before she would recover.  Not only did she have to suffer the loss of her daughter, she had to suffer the loss of her husband.

He could never reconcile in his mind that somehow the loss of their child had not been her fault.  He left her and she plunged into an even deeper depression.

With the help of family, friends and years of physical and mental therapy, she slowly began to recover.  Understanding that the death of her child and the failure of her marriage had not been her fault had been a long, arduous journey but she had persevered and emerged triumphant.

“The light in her eyes,” as her parents said, “was starting to come back.” She began to socialize and had even started to be comfortable riding in a car.  Driving a car again however, was a hurdle she had yet to conquer.

One day while out shopping with friends, on a whim, she bought a raffle ticket from a local high school booster club.  The grand prize was an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas.

When she won, although vehemently denied, it was suspected that the drawing had been rigged in her favor.  It was the first thing she had ever won and she was determined to go and go alone.  He parents begged her to ask a friend to go along but Sherry reassured them by saying she needed to get used to doing things by herself.

As she was ready to board the plane, she laughed and said “don’t worry if you never see me again.  It’ll just mean my ship came in.”

Many of us associate death with some sort of Divine intervention or design. I believe we need to, in order to make sense of a loss that simply cannot be understood or readily accepted.  We don’t want it to be final.  We want to know that there is something after.

None of us will escape death but when it comes too soon or by what seems to be unjustifiable means, it calls into question, at least for me, the motives of this so-called merciful God.  It makes us question His motives.  It challenges our faith.

There are five stages of death.  Acceptance is the final stage.  Some people reach that stage, while others never do.  Those who can’t or won’t are left with a gaping wound in their hearts and become frozen in a world of unanswered questions.

As a reporter, it is my job to tell a story and leave the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the basic who, what, where, when and why.  Why has been a question asked by people throughout the ages.  For some, the answer to why is the only road to acceptance.  We ask but sometimes, acceptance is only realized when we understand that there are and never will be any answers.

The remains of Whisper were slowly and methodically put to rest along with the townsfolk.  An entire town was gone, leaving only a footprint of what used to be.  A large granite boulder, bearing the image of an airplane and all the names of the victims was placed in what was once the center of town.

These people are gone but they will be remembered.  They once lived and loved and laughed.  That will be their legacy and it will withstand the test of time.

My stories of just five of the lives lost on that day was reduced to four, as I chose not to include Joshua Beacham.  My stories were meant to put into perspective the fact that these were more than names on a victim list.  I wanted readers to know them intimately.  I wanted readers to question why their lives were extinguished in such a violent manner.  I wanted readers to mourn for them as if they knew them personally.

I put the town of Whisper behind me, along with the souls who met their fate that day.  I have never returned to the site but I have heard stories of visitors who swear they hear chatter where Leroy’s barber shop used to stand and smell fresh-baked cornbread wafting through the air.

My story of “The Town Of Whisper” won the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism and I became the youngest recipient to date.  I now work for a large metropolitan newspaper, where my special interest stories are published weekly.

That event changed my life forever.  I still ask why but now I am a little more at ease with the difference between the burning need for answers and the simple act of acceptance.