A Carolina Coast Novella
by Normandie Fischer
Two orphans. One barn. And a community in need of miracles.
Linney needs protecting, and Louis is the only one left to save her. She may be his big sister, but her Down Syndrome will get her put in an institution if he doesn’t hide her well. Only, it’s getting harder and harder to pretend he’s older than ten and to keep her safe and warm in this old storage barn. Especially at Christmas, when all his sister wants is a tree with lights, like the one at the church next door.
Pageant preparations are in full swing, and Annie Mac and her crew are involved in the excitement. So is Lieutenant Clay Dougherty, her kids’ faux-father and the man who still makes her yearn for a whole lot more than she’s comfortable offering, especially when she’s plagued by crazy-making nightmares.
In this heartwarming tale of magic and miracles, the Beaufort, North Carolina, folk return to rescue more than themselves.
She didn’t want to be the crazy mother who raised crazy kids. There had to be an answer, somewhere. Because, if there weren’t, she didn’t know how she’d cope. The thing about being crazy, the real truth that scared the daylights out of her, was that sooner or later folk would find out, and when they did, she’d lose her babies, and then she’d die.
A promise was a promise – unless it became an impossibility. And then it was merely a regret.
Katie wasn’t hampered by her any of her mother’s concerns. She pushed past the other children and between the shepherds to march right up to Linney… And she sang the words she’d learned… As the song ended, Katie spoke into the hush of the church, loudly enough to be heard all the way to the back. ‘I’m an angel. I’m suppose to take care of you.’
I’m feeling dizzy. A few days ago I was on the verge of homelessness and poverty. Then I shifted income brackets with one phone call. And now I’m contemplating marriage and a family trip to France.
I’m marrying you for your kids… What can I say? Katie has killer eyelashes. She won my heart the first time she flashed them at me.
The wonder of Linney was that she could love without thinking much. If you were good to her, she’d give you the moon back.
Even if it was getting dark outside, in here, everything was light. And it smelled like Christmas ought to, even if they were already in January.
I had adored the characters of Clay and Hannah in Ms. Fischer’s masterful Heavy Weather, and I adored them even more in Twilight Christmas. I enjoy Clay’s exacting nature, his coffee needed to be made just so – from the grinding of the beans on to the exact temperature of the water. This novella finds the season to be a stressful period of transition for many, with Annie Mac still feeling the after-effects of her prior abusive life and seems unsettled and untrusting of herself and her decision making. Two young children are also out of pocket and alone in the cold. The sweetness and purity of dear little Louis squeezed and tugged my heart, he took the responsibility of his role of caring for his older yet developmentally delayed sister with extreme seriousness. Ms. Fischer’s writing was poignant and moving, and her magical combinations of words stung my eyes several times. But I was forced to a full stop while reading Katie’s immediate and unflinching reaction to Linny during the Christmas service. While the adults were flummoxed and at a loss, a young child knew just what was needed… my throat closes up just thinking of that scene. Sigh. Normandie Fischer has mad skills.
About the Author
Normandie had the best of several worlds: a Southern heritage, access to schooling in the DC area (which meant lots of cultural adventures), and several years of sculpture studies in Italy. It might have been better for her if she’d used all these opportunities more wisely, but it’s possible that the imperfect and the unwise also add fodder for the artist and the writer.
Her life changed radically when she married the love of her life at an age when some would have said she was over the hill and way past her prime. (Clichés often speak the truth, don’t they?) A lifelong sailor, she was delighted to find that Michael also longed to cruise lovely waters, which is what they did from Northern CA to Mexico, spending too-few years in the incomparable Sea of Cortez. Sea Venture, their 50′ ketch, is back home in North Carolina now because Normandie’s mama needed care. Still, it’s gorgeous there, too, and she can write from home as easily as she could on the boat.