Monday, November 15, 2010

The Upside of Down: Chapter 1, Part 5

Here is Chapter 1 of my new novel. If it whets your appetite, you can pre-order it at Amazon. Those who pre-order The Upside of Down by November 18, 2010 can be entered into a drawing for a $50.00 gift certificate from Amazon. Details for the contest are here.

A few moments later, Laura stood in the doorway holding the handset. “Mom, it’s for you.”

Natalie whispered, “I’m a little busy right now.” She pointed to Bradley, who was draped in suds. “Who is it?”

Laura shrugged. “It’s a man.”

“Fine.” Natalie wiped her hands on her well-worn black sweats and grabbed the phone.

“Sister Drake?” Her stomach tightened.

“Bishop, I’m so sorry. I completely forgot. We’re on our way, but it’ll take us at least twenty-five minutes.”

“I have another interview I can take care of. I’ll see you in a bit,” the bishop said.

Natalie hung up the phone. “Laura!” she yelled from the bathroom.


“Please finish bathing Bradley,” Natalie said.

Laura stood in the doorway of the bathroom, a large textbook in hand. “I have a ton of homework.”

“I need your help. I have to go to the church.” Natalie mentally chastised herself for being so forgetful.


“I’m not exactly sure. But I’m late. Where’s your dad?”

Laura shrugged. She placed her book on the floor, bent over the bathtub, and patted Bradley on the head. “I’ll wash your hair, okay?”

Natalie raced down the hall. She peeked into each bedroom as she passed. “Spence?”

No response.

She spotted Mariah in her bedroom. “Can you find Daddy and tell him I need him right away.”

“Okay.” Mariah ran away calling for Spence.

Natalie yanked a black skirt and bright pink blouse out of her closet. “I cannot believe I did this.”

Spence entered the bedroom. “What’s wrong?”

“We have an appointment with the bishop.” Natalie glanced at the clock radio on the nightstand. “About twenty minutes ago.”


“Brother Lakes called earlier and made the appointment. I got so busy with dinner and bathing Bradley that it slipped my mind.” Nata¬lie’s fingers fumbled as she tried to button her blouse. “Bishop Franken is waiting for us.”
Spence stepped over to his closet and grabbed a white shirt. “Did he say what it’s about?”

“I have no idea. I’m so embarrassed.” She finished buttoning her blouse.

During the ride into Farmington, Natalie tossed the reasons through her mind of why they were meeting with the bishop. “Do you know anything?”

Spence shook his head. “I’d guess it’s for a new calling.”

“But both of us have only had our callings for a short time.”

“What else could it be?”

“I don’t know.” Natalie applied some mascara and brushed her hair. “I can’t believe I forgot about this appointment. I’m so spacey lately.”

Spence gave a big smile. “Do I have anything in my teeth?”

“Nope. Perfect as usual. Though you still have some unruly hair in the back.” She patted down a clump of his hair.

They pulled into the church parking lot. Natalie checked her hair one more time and fluffed it before exiting the car. She hoped the appointment would be short and simple so she could get back home and put the kids to bed.

Inside the foyer of the building, the bishop, a short man with round glasses, stood at the top of the stairs just outside his office.

Natalie gazed up at the bishop and said, “I’m so sorry we’re late.” The embarrassment rose to her cheeks.

“No problem. I finished my other interview and had a bit of paper work. Brother Drake, may I have a word with you first? Sister Drake, we’ll only be a moment.”

Natalie sat on the upholstered couch at the foot of the stairs. The soft fluorescent lighting bounced off the cream-colored walls. Plum-colored carpet lined the entryway and the stairs leading down to the family history library. Her Primary classroom was across the cultural hall. She tried to imagine the large three-level building as the stake center many years ago when the stake included wards in New Mexico and Colorado. Now it housed three wards in Farmington, New Mexico, one of which included her rural La Plata ward.

Natalie bit at her fingernail, a nasty habit she’d picked up as a kid. Who could blame her after growing up with her mother? She placed her hands on her lap and laced them together. What was the bishop discussing with Spence? A calling? For him? Her?

Time dragged on while she waited. She checked her watch. A queasy feeling tempted her to bite her nails again, but she resisted.

She checked her watch again. How long could this take? Finally, after a few more minutes that felt like hours, the door opened, and Bishop Franken invited

Natalie into the office. Natalie sat in a chair opposite the bishop’s desk. She glanced at Spence to see if she could read his expression. He gave her a reassuring smile.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the final installment . . .

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