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(last edited Nov 17, 2013 02:27PM)
Nov 16, 2013 12:25PM
Need to send something to any publisher. Need help, so, if you are truly interested in helping me just email me and I can post the rest.
The Crosses We Bear
Carlotta never looked her age due to her positive mindset and active lifestyle. Until today, she never felt her age either. Sitting in that family court room, she felt all 77 years. The judge was about to give his verdict, as he said the words, “...and therefore the court gives full custody to Frank Fretz..” She closed her tired eyes and tears of joy and relief leaked out of them. As screams of anguish came from the other side of the court room, hugs and squeals of elation blanketed her side.
The gavel banged several times as the judge commanded, “Order in the court, there will be order.” Everyone sat again and quietly waited. The Judge continued, turning to the defendant, “Now Mrs. Fretz, you have been found guilty of two counts of endangerment of minors, three counts of threatening and attempting the murder of your family, and I’m sure there are two or more counts of child abuse. Your sentence hearing will be on Monday of next week...”
“Your honor,” the eager counselor stood, “I’d like to request that Mrs. Fretz be out on bond...”
“I’m not finished counselor,” the judge interrupted, losing his patience, “There will be no bond for this unstable woman. It’s safer for her to be monitored at our fine facility.” Turning to the Bailiff, “Bailiff, will you please take our newest guest to the accommodations the taxpayers provided for her.” Then the judge said something to the Bailiff to the side so no one could hear. The gavel was banged again and everyone stood and watched the judge walk out.
Carlotta looked at her son, so proud that he stood up for what he believed in. She looked at her grandchildren, John and Eliza, 12 and 10 respectively. Oh how she knew they had borne the brunt of their mother’s abuse and how brave they were to tell everyone about it. She also noticed the panicked face on Maria as they took her away in handcuffs. How quickly that face turned into an angry face when she passed Frank. Carlotta felt a little sorry for her. She only thought that Maria must be very sick to be able to change emotions so fast. Just then she felt a hand on her shoulder, “Mom,” Frank said, “thanks.”
“For what?” Carlotta asked.
“For believing in me. For loving me.” He replied.
Carlotta blinked, “Oh of course I love you.” she slipped her arm through his and he escorted her out of the court room.
“There was a time, I wasn’t sure.” Frank said.
Carlotta was taken aback a bit, but then she remembered those years that her anger caught up with her.
“Franklin Edward Fretz,” she said in her best motherly commanding voice, “I have loved you since the day I laid eyes on you, and don’t you ever doubt that.” She stopped and looked him straight into his eyes and said, “Don’t ever doubt my love for you, son. No matter where I am, you can be sure of my love.” Frank humbly nodded in agreement, and they went home to celebrate the victory.
During the celebrations, Carlotta sat with her children, Amelia, the eldest and Clara, the middle child and Frank, her baby. They were all grown up but they would always be her babies. Amelia and Clara thought it would be best for their mother and brother and the children to get away and stay away from any media. The children did not need to see their mother plastered all over the TV. There was only one place for that, the old cabin in New York. No electricity, no battery powered games, no television, and no radio. Plenty of board games and woods to explore and fish to catch. You could only get to the cabin by an ATV. Amelia and Clara would watch the house. Yes, a week should do it! They could leave early in the morning and be up there by the evening. Amelia started to pack a cooler full of food. Clara went upstairs with Carlotta to help her pack. At one quiet moment Clara turned to her mother and said, “Mom, I was wondering, would you mind taking another child with you?”
“Of course not,” Carlotta replied, “which one of your darlings?”
“It’s Emily . She’s just so....”
“Rebellious, defiant, out of control?” Carlotta finished her daughter’s frustrated statement.
“Oh mom,” tears filled Clara’s eyes, “where did I go wrong?” Carlotta enveloped her daughter in a hug and said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. All teens go through something and this is Emmy’s “something”. It’s just more than you bargained for, that’s all.” Carlotta gave her daughter a tissue.
“That girl needs what I gave you when you wanted to be up all night and out and ...well, you remember those good old days of us arguing.”
“How did you do it? How did you straighten me out?”
“With firm, German discipline and love.” she told her daughter. “I just never gave in and never gave up.”
“I’m just so tired Mom...” her voice weakened and she cried as her mother held her. Carlotta remembered a lot of those turbulent years. She used to cry herself to sleep thinking she had gone wrong with Clara. Carlotta remembered what her mother told her and pulled Clara away and looked her in the eye.
“Clara, you need a break from her and she from you. I will gladly have her come with us. We will need to pat her down before she gets into the car...but that will help.”
Clara looked at her mother then burst out laughing at the thought of a “pat down”. “Mom, you are too much! I love you!”
“I love you more, baby. Now, let’s get me packed!” Carlotta said and they commenced packing.
Carlotta was up at 4am the next morning, busy as usual. She made breakfast for everyone, packed the car, got dressed, and woke Frank up.
“We are leaving at 5:30 sharp,” she said, “so, you've one hour to get you and the kids ready.”
“No problem,” he replied with a yawn. Then Carlotta added, “Oh, and your sister is coming by with Emmy, who we are bringing with us.”
“Problem,” Frank stated.
“There’s no problem,” his mother said, “Your sister needs a break from your niece and I need to have a little “fun”. Hey, do you still have those handcuffs?”
Frank smirked, knowing what his mother was up to. “Yeah, anything else, ‘warden’?” he teased his mother.
Ignoring his smart-aleck remark she said, “Yes, can you find that body scanner thing we used on your friend? Never saw a child empty his pockets so fast and hand over those drugs,” They both chuckled at the memory.
Carlotta went back down stairs to the kitchen. She could hear Frank going about getting what she asked for then going in and getting the children up. She could hear all the morning noises that she loved. They were soon making their way down the stairs and into the kitchen. John and Eliza still looked so sleepy but by the time they ate and cleaned up their dishes they looked perkier. Just then a knock came on the back door, “Good morning, everyone ready?” Clara greeted cheerfully. Carlotta could tell it was a forced smile. She hated to see her daughter go through all that stress. It was time to set that granddaughter of hers straight. She put on her best charm and replied, “Yes, I just need to talk to Emmy, outside.” Carlotta winked at her daughter and gave her a reassuring squeeze on her arm. Then she saw Emmy roll her eyes and step outside.
Carlotta looked at her “goth”, 15 year old granddaughter, all dressed in black and gray, with the ear buds of her MP3 player in her ears. She motioned to Emmy’s ears and then to her open hand and commanded, “Now.” Emmy breathed out in frustration, rolling her eyes and acting as if her grandmother had asked for her arm. She reluctantly put the device in Carlotta’s hand where they were promptly given to her son who was assisting.
“Emily, you are the eldest grandchild on this trip. Your cousins have been through enough. You need to be a role model. So...”
“Soooooo.....” Emily mocked in a very sarcastic tone.
“Turn around and put your hands behind your back,” Carlotta instructed. Emily did so, then yelped in shock when the handcuffs went on.
“Grandmother!” she protested.
Carlotta waved the protest away like a fly saying, “It’s only temporary. I need to search you.” Emily was outraged. “Search me?!”
“Yes,” Carlotta said, “It’s quite painless. This is like that scanner at the airports,” she showed Emmy the wand. “Except it puts images on the screen that your uncle has. It shows every little thing in your pockets and in your underwear....” Carlotta turned the wand on. Emmy knew her grandmother was crazy enough to use it. As she started from her feet and heard her uncle frank say, “Nice toe polish.” Emmy screamed, “Grandmother, stop! I’ll tell you everything I have, just stop.”
Carlotta turned the wand off with satisfaction. She put her ear closer to Emily’s mouth so she could tell her she had a pill in her pocket and a pocket knife in her bra. Carlotta unhand-cuffed her granddaughter and Emily handed everything over. Carlotta waited, glanced at Emily’s bag. Emily begrudgingly went into her bag and handed over a bag of pills, brass knuckles and a spare cell phone.
“Now, we are ready,” Carlotta announced happily.
They all said their goodbyes and piled into the van. Frank and Carlotta took turns driving and by mid-afternoon they were entering woods. They went all the way to a clearing. Frank got both ATV’s off the trailer they were towing and packed them with the luggage and cooler. Carlotta and Emmy led the group winding through the woods. Soon Carlotta found the path, like an old friend, and sped down it. Emily clung for dear life and Carlotta smiled. She knew there was only this little window to share her wisdom with Emmy. There was much to do and little time to do it in. She drove just a little faster.
Carlotta finally slowed down as the woods opened to reveal an old wooden cabin. The lush green grass was spotlighted by the sun. It always made her breathe a sigh of relief; she was home. The memories flooded her mind. She half expected her mother to come out on the porch to greet her. She could almost hear her Grandparents inside screaming German to each-other. But those days were gone. Grossmama Alison died in 1950 and her mother, tears stung the backs of her eyes as she thought about her mother Rose being gone for 20 years now. The pain of the loss was still fresh at times. Carlotta shook her head as if to shake the sad thoughts away as she parked the ATV to the side of the cabin.
“Looks like we need to blaze a trail to get in,” Frank joked.
Carlotta looked at how over grown the plants and bushes were. The ivy was climbing the Riverstone chimney. You couldn’t even see the stone foundation through all the overgrowth. The half log stairs were covered in everything from the gardens that her mother and grandmother had planted over the years. She turned to look at the stream on the other side of the house. The orange tiger lilies and periwinkle lilacs still bloomed. She could smell those lilacs. The stream lead down the side of the lawn to the pond. The Gazebo and dock were still there, and obviously needed work. The old canoe used to be, yup, Carlotta checked the little shack across the lawn from the gazebo and it was still there, in its rack, chained.
“There should be some loppers or bush cutters in the shed,” Carlotta informed Frank. He and his curious children went to retrieve them.
“This place is gross,” Emily stated, “It’s got to be a safety hazard.”
“It just needs some work,” Carlotta said to her granddaughter, as Frank handed her the large scissor-like shears.
“It’s like cutting a ribbon at an opening,” John said gleefully.
Carlotta laughed, “Yes, this place needs a little work. Just like family, a little work to keep things straight. Right kids?”
Nov 16, 2013 12:47PM
here's the rest of ch. 1
“Right!” the two children beamed at her as she cut away the ropes of plants and vines to reveal the stairs.
“Speak for yourself,” Emily snarled. “This place is a dump.”
“This place,” Frank said sternly, “is a part of this family. If you don’t want it looking like a dump, then fix it.”
Emily rolled her eyes in opposition. Then from the porch her younger cousin tried to help. “Emmy, we are here because we need to be. Dad always said that what we need to do and what we want to do are two different things.”
Frank looked at John proudly. John looked back at his father and received an affirming wink. “Come on champ let’s get the bags and see how much dust is in this place.” John happily complied.
Carlotta watched the whole transaction with pride. John was only 12 but he understood about family. Then again so did Frank. She climbed the steps and got the keys out to unlock the old door. It had been a long time, at least since her brother died five or six years ago. She opened the door. The musty smell hit her first, but she had always been comforted by it.
“Ick!” Eliza exclaimed. “What’s that smell?”
“That is the smell of summers past,” Carlotta stated putting her things down. She walked over to the windows and pulled the curtains apart to let the light in. She turned to examine the great room and wanted to close the curtains up again. Dust and dirt everywhere made her sad. She had let it go into such disrepair, she was ashamed.
“Well, we shall split up the chores,” Carlotta announced.
“I’ll write down what needs to be done,” Frank stated, “and we shall just take one list at a time.”
“Good idea Frank,” Carlotta said, “I’ll start on that kitchen.” She set straight to work finding sponges, disinfectants, and scrubbing everything from the top of the cabinets to the bottom and everything in between. John started upstairs, opening curtains and dusting. Eliza took all the curtains down and took them outside to a tub filled with water and soap. Emily washed them then hung them on the clothes line that paralleled the stream on the side of the cabin. Frank was on generator and washer repairs. Everybody worked for hours getting things clean. Emily came in and cleaned the great room and the book shelves being careful with everything. She knew that everything was old and valuable. Soon, the smell of lasagna wafted through the house. Amelia had packed a frozen one and Carlotta was very thankful for an easy meal to cook. As the light outside was dimming it made the cabin very dark, but then she heard the roar of the generator engine and cried out, “Yay, lights can be put on!” The kids joined her in running around and flipping on switches.
Soon dinner was served and eaten hungrily. Emily, John, and Eliza all helped wash and dry the dishes. They went into the Great room to relax.
“Grandmother,” Emily said, “When I was cleaning I came across this.” She brought over what looked to be a scrapbook that had to be three inches thick. It had papers sticking out of it and pages looked broken or torn.
“This is our family tree,” Carlotta proudly stated. She carefully opened it up. “It’s very old. My grandmother had started it when they first came over from America over 130 years ago.”
On the yellowing page was a drawing of a tree with names and dates from the roots to the top. Carlotta read the names starting at the bottom with the Family name of “Meinherz” (mine herz).
“Our family began in Germany a very long time ago. Meinherz means strong heart. And back then you had to have a very strong heart to deal with the hardships.” Carlotta started to remember the stories of the “old world” as her grandmother called it when a voice brought her back, “Grandmother, who’s this?” John asked.
“These were my great grandparents, Gilbert Meinherz and Clara Englebert. Englebert means bright angle. Everything had a meaning. The name Clara means clear and Gilbert means bright pledge or a smart promise. They had four children. Gustav Englebert Meinherz was born in 1855, then there was Irma Clara Meinherz who was born in 1858, Amelia Rose followed in 1860 and finally there was Karl Gilbert in 1862.”
“So that’s where Aunt Mel got her name?” asked John.
“Yes,” Carlotta answered.
“And Emmy’s mom got her name from Great Great-grandmother,” Frank added. “It’s tradition to take the first name of family members and put them in the child’s middle name or if they are dead, use it as a first name. Like Grandmother’s name. She was named after Karl Gilbert Meinherz, Great grandfather”
“That is so cool!” Eliza said then frowned and asked, “But who am I named after?”
Frank looked at Carlotta and Carlotta took the lead. “You were named after Amelia and Erwin’s first child, Elizabeth Irma Friedmann.”
“Do they have meanings too?” John asked.
“Yes,” Carlotta pointed at each name as she explained. “Irma means whole or universal. Amelia means worker. Erwin means a friend to the army. Otto means wealth. Friedmann means man of peace. Emily is another form of Amelia,” Carlotta looked over at Emily whose mood switched on and off. It just went off. “Whatever! I’m going to bed,” Emily stated and got up and stomped upstairs.
“Well, maybe that’s a good idea,” Carlotta said.
“Awwww!” protested John and Eliza
“Now come on,” Frank supported, “We have a lot of work tomorrow. Let’s go. I’ll be up in a minute to tuck you in.”
“Grandmother, will you tell us all about the family tomorrow?” Eliza asked.
Carlotta gave her loving hug and said, “Of course, after the chores.”
Eliza bounced off to bed.
Giving his mother a hug, “Thanks mom, you’re the best.”
“Good night dear,” Carlotta said then turned out the lights and went to bed herself. Her final thoughts were prayers that she could get to the bottom of Emily’s problems before it was too late.
The next morning, Carlotta was up early plotting and planning the things the children would do to help outside to get the property back to its original charm again. Then she bustled about the kitchen making breakfast. Frank came down, followed by the children one at a time. Carlotta missed this and she enjoyed every moment. Soon after breakfast everyone was given their assignments and told that the sooner they get the work done the sooner they could hear the story of the old world. John and Eliza worked really hard and seemed to be very focused. Emily was in and out with her attention until the younger two talked to her and pleaded with her to focus because even if she didn’t want to hear the story, they did. She understood and picked up the pace. Carlotta worked on the one part of the garden in the front and still was able to watch the whole drama play out. She was soaking up every memory possible.
After the chores were done it was lunch time and time for the family story. “Grandmother, you promised to tell us the story.” John reminded her.
“I remember,” Carlotta said. “Let’s go out on the porch since there is such a nice breeze.” Once they all got situated she began.
“Our family comes from a city in the western part of Germany on the Rhine River.” Carlotta showed them on a map in an atlas. "Now most of the Meinhertz family stayed in Germany but there was this one relative back in the 1840’s who had to make a run for it.”
“ Was he the great great great grandson or something of that one who caused the scandal?” Frank asked.
“What scandal grandmother?” Emily asked.
“Oh, sometime in the 1500’s or so the reading of the Christian Bible was illegal and one of our relatives decided to stand in the middle of the town square and read the Lutheran Bible aloud.”
“What happened to him?” John asked.
“Well he was arrested. From then on his ancestors were rebuked and ridiculed by most for his actions. The family had to move from one place to the next never being able to settle for more than a year. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the family decided to become Presbyterians and then Pastor Friedrich and his brother Johan had decided to go their seperate ways. Friedrich went to America after marrying Maria. Johan stayed in Germany and married Christianna Helm. With no pastor in the family in Germany, there was less ridicule and they could finally settle. They had Gilbert who married Clara and they had....well you can see right here on the family tree.” Carlotta showed them a hand drawn tree with all the names down to the roots. The writing was a bit faded and paper was yellowing.
“Grandmother, what do any of these old people have to do with us?” questioned the reblious teen.
“Well, you like stories with death, depression, and adventure?” Carlotta had kept up with the latest young adult books. Emily shrugged, “Yeah, I guess.”
“And maybe some tragic romance sprinkled in?” Carlotta inticed.
“That’s cool too.” Emily said meekly.
“Well, then gather round and I shall tell you a story that includes all of that.” Emily was still unsure but started looking at the family tree. “ So, it says here that the family went to America twice. Why?”
Carlotta tried to explain, “ Your great great great grandfather’s uncle came over first and established his family then your great great grandmother and her siblings and betrothed came over in the 1870’s.”
“Be...what?” Eliza asked.
“Betrothed. It means the people that they were promised to marry at the right time.” Carlotta said.
“How old were they?” John asked.
“They were very young and very scared. See, Gilbert and Clara had lived very modestly and didn’t have all the luxuries that their cousins had in America.” Carlotta could see the confusion on the young ones’ faces and pointed to the tree again.
“Once upon a time there lived a man and woman named Gilbert and Clara Meinherz. When they got married at the tender ages of 16 and 14 they had dreams like all young people of having a large family and so their lives began. They had four children. Gustav, Irma, Amelia and Karl.”
“Hold on Grandmother,” Emily interrupted, “14!!!??? isn’t that like wrong or something?”
“No, dear that was what they did, marry young and die young.” Carlotta said matter of factly and continued. “Everything in life was going along as planned. Gustav was growing and learning about business, Irma was still young but she was learning things like sewing, cooking and caring for the young. Then one day Irma came down with a fever and just sick all over.”
“What was wrong with her?” Eliza asked all concerned. Carlotta smiled and said, “ She had a very bad disease called Cholera and there was no doctor near them. It was very sad. Clara did everything she knew but it wasn’t enough. Irma Clara Meinherz died at the tender age of 9.”
Eliza started to cry a little. “Oh sweetie come here,” Carlotta took her on her lap. “It’s ok, because if that hadn’t happened the rest of the story would never have been lived.”
Eliza wiped her tears away and looked up at her grandmother, “You mean that it was meant for Irma to die?”
“I have always believed that if anybody had done anything differently, I wouldn’t be here and neither would your parents or you for that fact.”
“I never thought of it that way,” John said.
“Well, I think that’s enough for today, lets finish cleaning and unpacking and then we can see if that boat will float.”
Carlotta watched the children go to their rooms to unpack. She would start the story tomorrow with the adventure of her great grandmother and aunt and uncle. Carlotta could only pray that the children would learn from all the lessons that would be told. Time could only tell.
Nov 16, 2013 12:48PM
there are 10 chapters to this book. Please let me know what you think or if you want to inbox me for my email address.
thank you for all your help.
Nov 21, 2013 07:46PM
I want to try to get something to an agent next week. Can anyone help me with this or the other stories I have posted here and on my blog????
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