Oaksmith, Ellyn: Divine Moves
By: Ellyn Oaksmith
Seventeen years of loving is a hard habit to break…
Meryl thought things couldn’t get any worse. She’s caught her husband in bed with the neighbor. She just found out she’s broke. Then her outrageous mother, Faye, shows up.
Faye wants to be a grandmother and has money to loan so it’s hard to say no. But what Meryl doesn’t know is that Faye, a former stripper and born again Christian, plans on opening an exotic dance and women’s fitness studio in Meryl’s affluent suburban community.
When Meryl’s book club gets roped into promoting the studio by dancing at a charity tea, they discover that their laced up ‘burb isn’t as proper as they think. As her husband fights to win her back, Meryl grows increasingly attracted to a handsome sheriff, recovering from his own loss. As a crisis looms, Meryl must face her demons from the past. But first she has to get through Christmas.
Funny, sad and sweet, Divine Moves reveals the forces that derail our lives and the sometimes divine intervention that keeps us on track.
Her headlights illuminated a white banner flapping in the wind, draped over the glass church doors: REJOICE. JOIN THE GIVING TREE. Something about the banners hopeful message made her long for a moment’s peace; a stillness that the silent church offered. Somewhere she’d read that a church doesn’t lock its doors on Christmas Eve. Although she was sure it couldn’t be true, she wanted to peer in the large windows, see the nave decorated for Christmas. Although she’d never attended as a child, she grew up watching movies where church was a refuge for the troubled. And refuge was exactly what she needed right now.
As she neared, she could see the giving tree, an enormous blue spruce inside the front door. Large colorful snowflakes were printed with the names and ages of the recipients: Thank you from Tiffany, 6. Thank you from Albert, 92. Thank you from Jesus, 14. Thank you from Rufus, 69. As she read, her nose stung with cold and something else: a bittersweet joy. These parishioners gave of themselves to complete strangers. It drew her in, compelled her to push the bar handle of one of the church doors, expecting it to resist. Miraculously, it didn’t.
“Hello?” She stood in the empty hall, staring straight ahead at the main nave, just visible through an open door. No answer. Fear mingled with curiosity as she took a few steps, repeating, “Hello?” Checking her cell phone before venturing further, she made sure that Nathalie could reach her, if necessary. She walked into the church. Incense and pine mingled with waxy burning candles.
“Oh hello, you’re early, come right in,” said a cheery man from behind.
Meryl nearly jumped out of her skin. A plump young priest, double chins straining at his collar, rubbed his chubby hands together. “I’m so sorry: I didn’t mean to freak you out. Welcome, welcome.” He held his hands out to her in a Christ-like gesture, then, realizing how ridiculous he looked, tried several other poses before locking his hands behind his back. Clearly he was new to this.
“Early?” Meryl felt like an intruder.
“For midnight mass. Not many takers in the suburbs but I suffer from insomnia so I do the whole shebang. That way Father Phelps can get some shut-eye for tomorrow. You know how it is. Excuse me; I’ve got to put on my vestments.” He bustled down the aisle toward the vestry. “I’m hoping for twenty people. That would be huge for me.”
Allowing herself ten minutes of peace before continuing her search, Meryl dropped into one of the back pews.
The priest turned around, searching for her in the dim light. “Oh come on, you can do better than that. If you sit way back there everyone will.”
Meryl thought about telling him that she wasn’t staying but decided it wasn’t worth it. She moved up to a front seat, enjoying the sight of the altar, festively strung with holly, sprays of evergreen and huge white and red bows. She leaned her head down, trying to find an utterly still moment, failing miserably. Images of her mother’s hurt face swam before her. This had been, without a doubt, the worst two weeks of her life. And her mother was a big part of it.
Disappointed, she looked at her watch. Her ten minutes of reflection was up. She stood, crossed herself (something she’d seen in a movie) and searched through her purse for her keys as she walked quickly toward the exit, hoping to avoid the priest. She collided with someone in the aisle. Dropping her keys, she looked up. It was her mother.
I’ve been hooked on writing since 4th grade when my story of an alley cat was read in class as an example of a good scene setting. I just about fell off the chair in utter joy. I was a total goner when a film I’d written while at the American Film Institute was screened and people laughed. At the right places!
At Smith College I gave my professor a heart attack when I compared Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the book, to the movie.
I write every day from 10-2 although while editing, it’s much longer. I live in Seattle Washington with my family and my shelter dog who is my workout partner. I love to interact with readers on https://www.facebook.com/EllynOaksmith and http://ellynoaksmith.tumblr
Two Digital Copies of DIVINE MOVES
Link to follow the tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2013/12/now-booking-tasty-virtual-book-tour-for_14.html