Emily/Snowfall #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

It was snowing.  It was the first snowfall on the season.  Emily raised her head and closed her eyes.  The flakes dropped like soft petals on to her face.  She smiled.  It was early in the morning.  In a couple of hours, classes would begin.  This was where she came every morning.  This was where they met.  She glanced at her watch.  He would be there in ten minutes.  Her heart skipped a beat at the thought.

While her family was still sleeping, she had slipped out of her room and come here.  The sneaking around, the clandestine meetings were so exciting.  She wondered what they would say if they only knew that she and Mr. Andrews, the headmaster were romantically involved with each other.  It began shortly after the new school year began.  She had transferred from another school.  Her mother wanted her to attend the same ivy league school she herself had been privileged to attend.

At first Emily was resentful and resistant because she was leaving all of her friends behind in London but when she met Mr. Andrews her outlook immediately changed.  He was a very agreeable, charming and attractive older man.  He looked to be in his late thirties, early forties.  He reminded her of the men she read about in Mills & Boon.  It wasn’t long before she started daydreaming about him.  And then, what a thrill it was to find out that her attraction for him was reciprocated.

She wondered what Mommy dearest would say if she only knew about Mr. Andrews.  A smile tugged at her mouth.  She would probably have one of her fits.  Mommy was such a drama queen, always overreacting to things and blowing things way out of proportion like the time when she found her and Edward in her room.  They hadn’t been up to any mischief.  Edward had kissed and she hadn’t resisted because she was curious to see what it was like to kiss and be kissed.  Of course, no amount of protestations and explanations could appease her enraged mother who threw Edward out of the house and warned him never to set foot there again.  And Emily was grounded for a month.  She was not allowed to go anywhere after school or on the weekends.  It was like being a prisoner on death row.  Her dislike and resentment for her mother increased.  They had never cared for each other.  Emily adored her father who indulged her while her mother favored her brother, William.

Her reverie was interrupted when she spotted Mr. Andrews heading towards her.  Heart racing, she waited anxiously for him to reach her.  When he did, they embraced and then they were kissing passionately.  When he drew back to gaze down into her flushed face, she said, “I’m late.”

He shook his head.  “No, you’re not.  School doesn’t start for another hour or so.  We have more than enough time.”

“No, I meant that my period is late.”

His expression changed at once.  “Do you think–?”

“I don’t know.  It’s possible that I could be or it could be nothing.”

“I hope and pray that you aren’t.”

“Would it be such a terrible thing if I were?”

“It wouldn’t be a good thing at all, Emily.”

“We could get married and–”

He released her then, his face darkening.  “No, we can’t,” he informed her tersely, startling her.

“Why not?” she asked, bewildered.

He shoved his fingers through his hair.  “Emily, I don’t know quite how to say this.  I can’t marry you because I’m engaged.”

The color drained from her face.  “Engaged?” she almost choked on the word.  “You’re engaged?”

“Yes.”

She fumbled for the tree and leaned heavily against it.  Her heart was aching now.  “To whom?”

“Julia Farnsworth.”

“When-when are you getting married?”

“In June.”

“When–when were you going to tell me?”

“I’ve wanted to tell you but couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

“So, you were going to continue sleeping with me although you’re engaged to someone else.”

“Emily–” he tried to touch her but she pushed his hands away, the tears almost blinding her.

“I can’t believe that I was such a fool.  I thought you loved me.”

“I care very deeply for you.”

“I hate you!  And I hope that I’m not pregnant with your child.  I want nothing whatsoever to do with you any more.”  She stumbled away from the tree and ran as fast as she could across the snow covered ground.

Weeks later, her period arrived.  She requested to be transferred to another school which her father took care of, in spite of her mother’s vehement objections.  Emily’s father knew the reason behind the transfer.  He wanted to report Mr. Andrews but Emily asked him not to.  She never saw Mr. Andrews again.  She read about his nuptials online.  She didn’t hate him any more.  Besides, she had moved on. She was now dating a very nice boy whom she met at her new school.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Imagination at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

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Teenage Dating Violence

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My husband and I are watching Greenleaf, the Oprah Winfrey series on Netflix.  I think that if you were to look up the word, dysfunctional in the dictionary, you would see a photo of the Greenleaf family.  They give new meaning to the word.  There are so many issues and skeletons in that family that it makes you appreciate the family you have.

The issue I want to address is teenage dating violence.  One of the Greenleafs, Zora, is dating a pop singer named, Isaiah.  It turns out that Isaiah is abusive.  He flies off the handle and gets verbally and physically abusive.  He got angry with Zora when her mother found a condom in her drawer.  Her arms have bruises which she hides by wearing long sleeve tops.

Whenever he gets physical with her (grabbing, pushing, slapping), he apologizes and promises never to do it again until the next time.  It was the usual cycle in an abusive relationship.  You have the “I’m sorry.  I won’t do it again”, “You make me act like this” and “I love you so much.”  What is sad is that the victim keeps forgiving the abuser and things continue to get worse.  He continues to abuse her and she seems powerless to do anything about it.  He tells her he loves her, makes promises and she believes him and continues seeing him.

No one knew about the abuse until Zora’s cousin Sophia saw Isaiah hit her.  Sophia went and told Zora’s father, “I just saw Isaiah hit Zora.”  Immediately, Jacob went to find Isaiah and punched him.  Zora was angry with Sophia for telling her Dad.  What do you do when you see a friend or loved one being abused?  Do you keep quiet because speaking up could jeopardize your relationship or do you put the welfare of the person above your relationship?  Did Sophia do the right thing?  In my opinion, she did.

But the story doesn’t end there.  Zora runs off with Isaiah but is found, thankfully.  We don’t know what became of Isaiah.  I hope he gets help.  As for Zora, she needs counseling.  She needs to understand that love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, not selfish or rude or demand its own way (like pressuring her into having sex) (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, TLB).  If Isaiah loved her, he would treat her with respect.  He wouldn’t bully or try to control her.  He would respect her family as well.  Every family has ground rules and Zora’s was no different.  There was one occasion when Zora’s father found Isaiah and her in her bedroom.  After the father dealt with him, he had to leave.  Sophia’s boyfriend and Isaiah are as different as night and day.  Sophia is enjoying a healthy relationship while Zora was dealing with an abusive one.  

How can you tell if your teenager is in an abusive relationship? Here are seven signs:

  • Your child’s intimate partner is extremely jealous or possessive to the point where your child stops spending time with other friends and family. If someone questions your child about this, the response might be something like, “She thinks my friends don’t like her, so she doesn’t like spending time around them,” or “She thinks they’re a bad influence on me and she’s just trying to help.”
  • You see unexplained marks or bruises on your child.
  • You notice your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
  • Your child stops participating in extracurricular or other interests like gaming or even shopping.
  • Your child begins to dress differently. One example: he or she wears loose clothing because the partner doesn’t like him/her to “show off” his/her body or attract someone else’s attention.
  • Your child worries when he or she can’t text or call the partner back immediately, saying that the partner might get upset.
  • Your child expresses fear about the way his or her partner might react in a given situation.

What do you do if you suspect that your teen is in an unhealthy (abusive) relationship?  Here are 11 steps:

  1. Be observant and look for signs.
  2. Calmly start a conversation with your teen.
  3. Be supportive of their situation.
  4. Focus on the unhealthy behaviors.
  5. Keep the conversation friendly, not preachy.
  6. Don’t place the blame on them.
  7. Allow your child to make their own decision.
  8. Offer solutions to them.
  9. If there’s any risk of danger, call the police.
  10. Expect more conversations in the future.
  11. Don’t get discouraged if they refuse to talk to you.

I see that in season 3 of Greenleaf, Zora will get back together with Isaiah.  But, hope is on the horizon.  It looks like she will come to her senses and dump him for good.

If you have a teenage daughter, let her know that she is precious and of great value and that she deserves to be with a guy who can appreciate her.

Sources:  National Domestic Violence Hotline; Grown & Flown

Gifts From the East

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” – Matthew 2:2

Wise Men from the East traveled all the way to Jerusalem to see the King of the Jews.  They didn’t know where exactly to find Him.  They had see His star and followed it.  It led them there in Jerusalem.  They visited King Herod, believing that he would know where the Christ was but the king didn’t.  He was greatly troubled by this and called the chief priests and scribes together to inquire where the Christ was to be born.  They told him what the prophecy said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:  ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’

King Herod met alone with the Wise Men and told them that the Child was in Bethlehem, tell them to, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”  The visitors left and the star which they had seen in the East went before them and led them to where the Child was.  Seeing the star filled them with great joy and they rejoiced.

They went into the house and saw the young Child with His mother, Mary.  They fell down and worshipped Him.  They presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What was the significance of each of these gifts?  Were they simply customary gifts from the regions or were they chosen specifically?  Gold is a precious and valuable metal.   It is rare and it doesn’t tarnish.  Precious things and ornaments are made of gold.  In this instance, gold represents Jesus’ kingship.  Frankincense is a perfume or incense.  It was used in religious and spiritual rituals all over the world..  It represents Jesus’ priesthood.  Myrrh is a bitter gum and costly perfume which comes from a certain tree or shrub in Arabia and Ethiopia.  It is also an antiseptic used for embalming.  The myrrh prefigures Jesus’ death and embalming.

These gifts were not arbitrary.  They were carefully chosen for the One whom they traveled far to behold and worship.  They brought their gifts to Him because they believed that He was the Messiah, the King of the Jews.  What a beautiful story of faith and the love of God who sent His Son to die for everyone.  It is a testimony that Jesus is Savior of Jews and Gentiles.  He came to save the world.

This Christmas season, reflect on the roles of Jesus–King, Priest and Savior.  Think of someone who needs to know that God loves them and offer them His most precious Gift to mankind–His Son.

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Source: Natural Living Family

Ife’s Gift

He was passing by the store when he saw it.  He stopped in his tracks and stared at it for several minutes before going inside.  He asked the woman there to see it.  It was a very beautiful and made of very fine material.  It was soft to the touch.  It would be perfect for Ife.  He bought it and asked the woman to wrap it for him.  He thanked her and left the store.  He walked to where the rental car was parked and got in it.  As he drove off, he tried to imagine Ife’s reaction when she saw it.  Would she guess why he bought it?  Theirs hadn’t started out as a conventional relationship.

He had returned one afternoon and caught her using the toilet.  She begged him not to report her because she could lose her job at the hotel and she needed the money to take care of her daughter.  He agreed not to report her on one condition–that she slept with him.  It wasn’t something he ever imagined that he would force a woman to do but he wanted her.  She had no choice but to accept his condition and after she finished cleaning that afternoon, he took her to bed.  After that, he made sure that he was there when she was.  He always felt guilty afterwards but his desire for her was stronger than his sense of decency.

He thought about the day when he had rushed back to the hotel to be with her.  It was raining cats and dogs and he got caught in it.  By the time he got to his suite, he was completely drenched.  She was cleaning out the bathroom when he opened the door.  She turned to find him leaning against the frame, in his wet tee shirt and trousers.  “You’re soaking wet,” she exclaimed.  “You should get out of those clothes.”

“I’m going to take a shower,” he said.

“All right,” she said, moving away from the wash basin.  “I’ll wait in the bedroom until you’re done.”

kentasakura_39082075_671478666560898_3687727708541812736_n“No,” he said.  “I want you to join me.”  He removed his tee shirt and the rest of his clothes, his eyes never leaving her.  He stood there naked, his desire for her obvious.

She nodded and undressed.  He closed the bathroom door and taking her by the hand, led her to the shower.  They stepped inside and he slid the door shut.  After turning on the water, he turned to face her.  Without saying a word, he pulled her into his arms and began to kiss her.  His kisses deepened when she responded and soon he was pressing her against the tiles while his lips plundered hers, the water beating down on his back.  They made love in the shower and afterwards, he ordered room service.

Over the course of time, he fell in love with her.  His time there in Kampala was drawing to an end and soon he would be returning to Tokyo.  The thought of not seeing her again was unbearable.  He had to think of something.  Right now he was considering moving to Kampala and start a business.  He couldn’t imagine returning to his life in Tokyo after having met Ife.  Life without her was no life at all.

Ife looked at the neatly wrapped package on the table.  It had a card with her name on it.  She frowned.  It wasn’t her birthday.  Why was he giving her this?  He didn’t have to.  What did it mean?  She was hoping that it meant he had feelings for her.

Carefully, she unwrapped the present and set the paper aside.  She looked at the white box before she opened it.  She removed the tissue paper and her eyes widened when she saw the beautiful head wrap scarf.  She took it out and examined it.  It was soft and expensive looking.  She walked over to the mirror and wrapped it loosely on her head.  It looked really good.  It was the most beautiful and expensive thing she had ever had.

She admired it for a few minutes longer and then she took it off.  She put it back in the box and closed it.  She left the box where she found it.  It was time to go to work.

He let himself into the suite, his heart racing.  He was nervous.  His eyes fell on the unwrapped box.  Did she like the scarf?  He hoped so.  It was more than just a gift to him.  She was in the bedroom, tidying but came out when she heard him.  They stood there, staring at each other for several minutes and then she approached him.  “I-I wanted to thank you for the beautiful scarf,” she said.

“Do you like it?”

“Yes, I like it very much.”

He smiled.  “Good.  The moment I saw it, I wanted to get it for you.”

“Thank you.  It-it was very kind of you.”

His expression changed.  “I didn’t do it out of kindness, Ife.” He moved closer to her, his breathing quickening.  He’d never been so nervous in his life.  “I did it because I love you.”

Ife swallowed hard, her heart was pounding and her head was spinning.  He loved her.

He continued.  “I don’t know if you feel the same way about me.  I know you want me.”  His eyes darkened at the thought.  He wanted more, though.  He wanted her love too but realized that he wasn’t entitled to it.  To be quite honest, he didn’t deserve it, not after the way he took advantage of her in the beginning.  “In two weeks, I will be leaving Kampala and returning to Tokyo.”

“You’re leaving in two weeks?” She knew that it was inevitable and that one day, he would be leaving but so soon?  She couldn’t hide her distress.

He saw the expression on her face and hope flickered in his eyes.  It gave him the courage he needed to say, “Yes and I would like you to come with me.”

She stared at him, incredulous.  “You want me to go with you to Tokyo?”

“Yes.”

“But what about my daughter, Amahle?”

“I want her to come too.”

Ife’s mind was spinning.  He loved her and he wanted her and to go to Tokyo with him.  The thought of living in a strange country was daunting.  She had never traveled outside of Kampala.  What would life in Tokyo be like?  Would Amahle and she live with him?  What kind of work would she be able to do?  She wasn’t going to miss Kampala even it was her home.  Life here was a constant struggle and she was tired of it.

He watched the play of emotions on her face and reached for her hand.  “I know that moving to a strange country is scary,” he said.  “But, don’t worry, Ife.  I’ll take care of Amahle and you.”  He drew her closer to him, his eyes meeting hers in a steady gaze.  “I love you and I want to marry you.”

Her eyes widened.  “You want to marry me?” she exclaimed.  This day was just full of surprises.  It was surreal.

He nodded.  “Yes, I do. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“I’m a divorced woman.”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“You would take care of another man’s child?”

“When I marry you, she becomes my child too.”

Tears glistened in her eyes.  “I don’t know what to say,” she murmured.

He reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and took out a small black box.  “I hope you say yes,” he replied as he got down on one knee.  He opened the box and took out the ring.  He couldn’t wait to put it on her finger.  He held her hand and glanced up at her.  “Ife, will you marry me?”

“Yes.”  The word came out as a sob.

He rose to his feet and pulled her against him.  “I love you.”

“I love you too, Kaito.”  It was the first time she had ever said his name.

He bent his head and kissed her.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him back.

Two weeks later, they were on their way to Tokyo.  Ife wore the head wrap scarf which looked really nice with the new dress he had bought her.  She was happy and as she settled into the middle seat on the plane, she couldn’t help smiling.  No more cleaning hotel suites, no more sanitation issues and her daughter would be able to go to a school which had toilets.  Most of all, she was happy because she had found love.

Some gifts are big. Other are small. But the ones that come from the heart is the best gift at all – Tinku Razoria

Spilling the Beans

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Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

She walked past the store, barely acknowledging the sign outside the store she used to frequent when she was a child.  She was on her way to Michelle’s home to have lunch.  Was he going to be there?  She hoped not.  She was getting tired of fending off his unwanted advances.  How could he think that she would want to get involved with him when he was married to her best friend?  What kind of person did he think she was?  And even if he weren’t married, she still wouldn’t be interested.  He wasn’t her type.  He was crude, insensitive and conceited.

What on earth did Michelle see in him?  They celebrated their tenth anniversary last week Saturday and they threw a big bash.  It was quite the celebration but she didn’t enjoy it one bit.  She mingled and tried to act like she was having a good time but at the back of her mind, she kept reliving the awful moment when he grabbed her in the basement.  She managed to fend him off and bolt from the room.

Should she tell Michelle? Would she believe her? Was spilling the beans worth it if it meant ruining their friendship?

200 Words

This was written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Escape/Shadows #writephoto

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Copyright Sue Vincent

It was like a prison.  This institution or fortress with its many gates.  Were they keeping people out or people in?  She stood in the shadows, watching and waiting, hoping to one day, slip through those gates and disappear.  What would she be leaving behind?  Only misery and intolerable conditions.  She hated it.  How she wished she had never been brought here.  She had put up a fight and protested vehemently but her efforts were ignored and her cries fell on deaf ears.  Big, strong hands had lifted her up and deposited her resolutely into the carriage.  Away, she went, from the place she had called home since she was a child, clutching her rag doll, her eyes wide with fear and a sense of foreboding because she was going to a strange place miles and miles away from home.

The journey was a long and tedious one.  As the carriage bumped along the unending and twisting roads which were illuminated at one point by the sun and then the next by the moon, she felt her eyelids growing heavy.  She had fought to stay awake because she wanted to see where she was going so that she could find her way back home but sleep won.  The next time she opened her eyes, she was here.  The carriage had stopped in the courtyard and the building loomed above her like an ogre, the light of the moon giving it a ghastly look.  She shivered not from the cold but from what might be inside those walls.

The door creaked open and a tall, willowy blonde woman emerged.  She spoke to the driver, took the suitcase from him and then turned to her as the carriage drove away.  “Hello, Janet,” she greeted the little girl who watched the carriage disappear into the night along with her hopes.  “You must be weary from your journey.  Come along.”  She held out her hand.

Janet took it and allowed herself to be taken through the enormous door, into a large foyer and up a staircase.  She was taken to a room which had rows of beds.  The lady led her to a bed in the corner and put her suitcase beside it.  “Are you hungry?” she asked.

Janet was but she shook her head.  Her brown eyes large in her small face.  She was ten years old but looked younger.  She removed her bonnet to reveal a head of shocking red hair which matched the freckles on her face.

“Very well, then.  After you have unpacked, you may turn in now and I shall see you in the morning.  My name is Miss Foster.” She left a candle burning although, the room was adequately lit by the moon and left, her long skirts making a bustling sound as they brushed across the floor.

For several minutes she had stood there, wishing she were far away.  Then a yawn galvanized her into action.  She unpacked her suitcase, changed and slipped under the covers.  In less than five minutes, she was fast asleep.

That was the beginning of her nightmare.  She stood there now in the shadows, gazing beyond the gates, longing from freedom.  Then, she heard the bell, signalling that recess was over.  She turned and headed toward the building, her mutinous gaze caught sight of the sign above the door, Ravenwood Institution.  Yes, one of these day, she was going to run away from this miserable place.  The only person she would miss was Miss Foster who had been very kind to her.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Shadows  at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Source:  Fantasy Name Generators

Jolene/Stark #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

“Y’all gonna be okay while I’m gone?” Darlene asked her husband, Mick and her daughter, Jolene.  She was heading off for the weekend to a Women’s Ministry retreat in Atlanta.

They both looked at her before Mick answered, “Yes, we gonna be okay.  Don’t fuss so.  It’s not like you ain’t been away before.  We can take care of ourselves.  Jolene’s gonna take good care of me, ain’t you, girl?”

Jolene’s answer was to blow a large bubble and then pop it.  She was at the table putting nail-polish on her long fingernails while chewing gum.  Her dyed blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail making her look younger than eighteen.  Long dark lashes framed big, bright blue eyes which narrowed now as she glanced at her step-father.

Darlene wasn’t convinced but, she just had to believe that they were going to be all right for the weekend.  She knew that they didn’t particularly like each other.  Jolene’s Dad died when she was three and until a year ago it was just the two of them.  Then she met Mick at a friend’s barbecue and fell in love with him.  He was a handsome man, tall, well built with jet black hair that covered the nape of his neck and he had the most amazing green eyes.  He was in his mid-forties but looked at least ten years younger.

They got married a couple of months after they met.  Mick tried to be a good Dad to Jolene but she no part of it.  In the beginning they were like cats and dogs with each other but now they seemed to tolerate each other, although the animosity was still there.  She had misgivings about leaving them alone but she was glad for the break.

The sound of a car horn, alerted her and galvanized her.  “Loreen’s here,” she announced unnecessarily.  “Well, you have enough food to last you until I come back on Sunday.”  She went over to Jolene and hugged her.  “You behave yourself, Missy.”

Jolene pursed her lips.  “Ma, I ain’t a child, ya know.”

“Oh, I do wish you’d speak better than that.  What I been sending you to school for?”

Mick chuckled.  “She ain’t into book learnin’.  She’s into boys.  Why you think she’s paintin’ her nails?”

Jolene took up the open magazine on the table and threw it at him.  It hit him on the shoulder.  He turned and glared at her.

Darlene shook her head.  “I’m gonna pray for y’all,” she said.  “It’s high time that y’all bury the hatchet.”  She went over to Mick and hugged him.  They kissed and then she pulled away to grab her overnight bag.  “See y’all on Sunday.  Love y’all both.”  And she was out of the room and the house.  Minutes later came the sound of a car driving away.  Silence, except for the television.

Jolene finished painting her nails and held them under the fan until they were dry.  Then, she got up from the table and went over to the sofa where Mick was.  Instead of sitting down next to him, she lowered herself slowly onto his lap.  Smiling, she put her arms around his neck, her bare legs over his long ones.  She felt his body respond.  “You want to bury that hatchet now?” she asked coyly and saw his face flush.

“You’re a little tease, you know that?” he muttered under his breath before he put his arms around her and lowered his head to kiss her.

“All set for a nice Spirit filled weekend?” Loreen asked Darlene as they sailed down the long stretch of road.  “I’ve been looking forward to it all week.

“Yes, I been looking forward to it for weeks, but I was worried about leaving Mick and Jolene alone cause of how things are between them.”

“Don’t worry about them.  I’m sure they’ll be fine.  Mick’s a no nonsense man.  He’ll keep Jolene in line.”

“I hope they’re gonna be all right.”

“I’m sure about it. Now stop worrying.”

Darlene looked out of the window at the landscape and then, she exclaimed, “Oh no!”

“What’s the matter?”

“I forgot to tell Mick that I had a security camera installed yesterday because of all those recent break-ins.”

“You can always call and tell him when we get to the retreat this evening.”

Darlene shook her head.  “No, it can wait until Sunday when I get home.”  She felt better knowing that it the camera was there in the house.  No one could tell that it was hidden behind the wall lamp in the living-room.  Right now it was recording everything that was happening in there.  So, she’d know if Jolene was giving Mick trouble or not.  Jolene.  She worried about her sometimes.  I’m gonna say a special prayer for her and hope that one of these days, she’s gonna give her life to the Lord.

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt –  Stark at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.