Category Archives: Vignette

Bellingwood Vignette, Book 21, #2

You Are My Sunshine

Illustration by Bec Schreiber

Lydia looked up from the desk where she was working when she heard the doorbell ring. “Who is bothering me this morning?” she muttered, sliding her feet back into her slippers. She ran up the steps from the basement and groaned at the top. “Slow down, old lady. No need for your knees to hurt any more than they already do.”

When she got to the front door, she pulled it open and laughed at the sight of Beryl standing outside the storm door with a single red rose in her teeth and carrying a small bag from Sweet Beans.

“Come in,” Lydia said as she opened the door. “What are you doing up and about so early?”

“I’m spreading joy and sunshine. Happy Galentine’s Day!” Beryl held out the rose. “I love you.”

“Well, I love you, too. I can assume, but what is Galentine’s Day? It really just sounds like you have a cold.”

Beryl laughed. “It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? But I think it’s also fabulous. Tell me this isn’t one of your church lady days.”

“No,” Lydia said with a rumbling chuckle. “It’s not a church lady day. Why?”

“Because part of Galentine’s Day is having brunch with your best gals. I want to take you out.”

Lydia glanced toward the stairs leading to the basement. Everything else could wait. “Sure. Where are we going.”

“There aren’t many options in Bellingwood. How about the diner?”

Lydia reached over to unzip Beryl’s jacket.

“What are you doing, woman?” Beryl batted her hand away. “This isn’t about being sexy, it’s just us girls telling each other how much we love each other. Can’t you do that and keep your hands off me at the same time?”

“I just wanted to see what you were wearing. How fancy are you?”

“My lordie, chick-a-doo, you could have asked. I thought you were making a move.”

Lydia dropped her head and laughed. “Not likely, you dope. Are you all dressed up?” She gestured at herself. “Is this okay?”

“No, you aren’t okay. Put something nicer on than a sweatshirt and flappy pants. What are you even thinking? You’d never be seen in public wearing clothes like that.”

Lydia frowned. “We’re just going to the diner, right?”

“Yes, and people will see you. March your little legs up those steps and change into a nice outfit. Move it, young lady. Move it.”

“What’s in the bag?”

Beryl opened it so Lydia could peek inside and see a decorated heart cookie. “Does that satisfy your curiosity? Go, go, go.”

Lydia put on her best pouty face and stomped up the stairs to her bedroom. Since today wasn’t a church lady day, she’d been looking forward to spending time in her comfortable clothes, messing about in her own home. It would figure that Beryl had something different to say about that. And that, from the woman who was always complaining that she didn’t get enough time to work in her artist’s shed without interruptions.

She pulled a pair of blue jeans out and then opened a drawer to search for a sweater. She’d wear red tomorrow for Valentine’s Day, but today it would be … pink. That would hush the crazy woman downstairs. Lydia quickly changed, knowing that to leave Beryl alone for long could be disastrous.

When Lydia got to the bottom of the steps, she looked around for her friend. “Beryl? Where are you?”

“Find me!” Beryl called back.

Lydia walked into the kitchen and found Beryl standing on a stepstool, reaching into the cupboard over the refrigerator. “What in the world are you doing up there?”

“Isn’t this where you keep your vases? I was going to put the rose in water.”

‘No, that’s not where I keep them.” Lydia walked into the dining room and opened the hutch, pulled out tall crystal vase, and went back into the kitchen. “Now what are you doing?”

“I’m stuck. I can’t get down.”

“You have to be kidding me.”

“Not kidding you. Something’s caught up here. What am I going to do?”

Lydia walked around Beryl and looked up. “I see where you’re caught, but what is it?”

“I don’t know. Help me.”

“Can you lift your arm up and over it?”

Beryl scowled. “Do you really think I haven’t tried that? It won’t release me.”

“Please release me, let me go,” Lydia sang.

“I’m going to kick your butt when I get out of this mess. What nasty traps have you set for people up here?”

“Take off your jacket. Once you’re free from it, you can unhook the thing.”

“I’m not taking off my jacket,” Beryl said. “Who’s to say what you’ll do to me when you see my glorious form?”

“I know what you’re snagged on. It’s literally a hook. Aaron installed it to hang a banner that Trinity made for me at Christmas. You’ve got yourself all twisted up in it now. You have to take your jacket off.”

“Not until you leave the kitchen.”


Beryl repeated herself. “Not until you leave. Go. Away.” She spat out the last two words.

“Okay. I’m leaving.” Lydia headed for the dining room and said, “I’m gone. Now do your thing.” She listened to the sound of scuffling and a few curse words. Then she heard something hard hit the step stool. “What was that?”

“I kicked the stupid stool – getting me in trouble and all that. You should teach those things better manners. You can come back in now.”

“What is up with you and that jacket today? I’ve seen your entire wardrobe. Granted, most of it is pretty wild, but still.”

“Who’s driving? You or me? We have one more stop to make.”

“Maybe I should drive. We’d hate for you to get lost.”

Beryl grabbed Lydia and pulled her to the front door, stopping in front of the coat closet. “I’m driving. You won’t die. I promise.”

Lydia took her coat out, put it on, and followed Beryl to her car. “What’s this?” she asked when she opened the passenger door.

“We have another stop to make.”

“Andy?” Lydia picked up the rose and Sweet Beans bag and sat down, holding them on her lap.

Beryl got in and drove around the circle to the street. “She doesn’t have to be at the library until one o’clock. I called her and told her to be ready early today, that I had plans for her.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“Because I wanted to surprise at least one of you and I knew that you’d be kind to me. You’re kind to everyone.”

Lydia patted Beryl’s arm. “It’s because I love you.”

“Thank goodness,” Beryl replied.

They drove to Andy’s house and Beryl parked in the driveway, then took the bag and rose from Lydia. “You stay here. This won’t take as long as it did at your house.”

“Just stay out of her cupboards.”


True to her word, within minutes, the two women were in the car.

“Did you get her to unzip her jacket?” Lydia asked Andy.

“No, why?”

“She won’t let me see what she’s wearing under there.”

Andy reached forward from the back seat and tried to pull Beryl’s jacket off her shoulder.

“Leave me alone, you crazy woman,” Beryl said. “You two are bound and determined to get me naked.” She headed for the highway. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” she sang. Then she poked Lydia. “See, I can sing songs too.”

“You make me happy when skies are grey.” Lydia returned.

Andy chimed in and the three of them continued. “You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

They giggled as Beryl turned north and headed for the downtown area. It was still early enough that the lunch crowd had yet to arrive at the diner, so she parked right in front.

“Come on, chickies. Let’s get our feedbag on.”

Lydia got out of the front seat and closed the door. “That is just gross. We’re not horses or cows.”

“We’re sunshine,” Andy said, jumping up onto the sidewalk and hooking her arm in Lydia’s. “She said so.”

They went inside and Lucy waved at them from the register. “Pick your table,” she said brightly. “I’ll be right there.”

Beryl pranced to a table right in the center of the room. “How’s this?”

“It’s fine,” Lydia said. “Though I’m a little worried about you.”

“You sit there.” Beryl pointed to the chair on her left. “Andy, you have to sit here.” She pointed at the chair on her right.

“What is up with you?” Andy asked.

Beryl slowly unzipped her jacket and held it closed. She loosened the cuffs at her wrists, then pulled it off in one swift move to reveal a hot pink sweatshirt. Rhinestone arrows pointed to her left and to her right. Above the left arrow, it read, “She loves me.” Under the right arrow were the words, “So does she.” When Beryl turned so they could see the back, in bright purple letters were their three names stacked on top of each other. “Lydia + Beryl + Andy = Galentine’s Day 2018.”

“What do you think?”

“You’re all sparkly,” Lucy said, coming up to the table. “That’s fantastic. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

Lydia sat there, her mouth open. “I can’t imagine you ever will again.”

“Andy?” Beryl asked.

Andy blinked a couple of times, then pointed at Beryl’s chair. “Sit down. Everyone’s looking.”

“That’s what it’s all about. Are you ashamed to be my best Galentine?” Beryl brought her oversized bag up from the floor and took out two more pink sweatshirts. “Will you wear them?”

Lydia gulped. “Uhhh.”

With a laugh, Beryl shook one open. Embroidered over the chest was a very pretty heart with words inside that read “Galentine’s Day 2018.”

Andy hitched in a breath. “I’ll wear that. You had me a little nervous. I didn’t want to disappoint you because I would never wear that.” She pointed at Beryl’s shirt.

Beryl laughed. “I know you two very well and I adore you. Sometimes I need to get you out of your comfortable houses and mess with your minds a little. Lucy, what shall we have to celebrate Galentine’s Day?”

Bellingwood Vignette, Book 19, #3

Earl’s favorite place in the whole world is snuggled up to someone. Mostly TB, but the rest of us will do. TB is tolerant – generally only for the short term. He doesn’t really want anyone to know how much he likes being loved.

There are only a few more days until Book 19 – Boundless Dreams is released. I’m excited to have this one out and the find my way back to Bellingwood for Book 20.

My publication dates are always the 25th of March, June, September, and December.

To ensure you never miss any exciting news from Bellingwood, be sure you sign up for the monthly newsletter. It comes out on the 25th of every month and includes a vignette and other bits and pieces of information. Sign up here.

Make sure you check out this post on the Facebook Bellingwood page and comment there with a memory about one of the first teachers who impacted your life. I’ll be giving away copies of the Book 19 ebook. The giveaway ends tonight (Thursday) at 8 pm.

This little vignette is a few moments between Marie Sturtz, Noah, and Elijah. They’ve had a busy day and it’s time for bed.

Boys and Their Toys

   “Will you tell us a story?” Elijah asked Marie. He scooted across the bed, coming to rest practically on top of Noah.
  Marie Sturtz sat on the edge of the bed near the headboard, Noah nestled in her arms. She reached out and rubbed Elijah’s shoulder. “What story do you want to hear?”
  “Tell us about the storm again,” Elijah said.
  “You’ve heard that one before. Let’s see.” Marie looked up at the ceiling. “What would be a good story to tell two little boys who should be going to sleep.”
  “A long one,” Noah said, his eyes twinkling.
  “Did you have fun today?” she asked them. The boys were glad to do anything and today they’d helped her can tomatoes, make tomato sauce and put up frozen corn.
  Noah nodded. “I liked the corn the best.”
  “Yes you did,” Marie said with a laugh. He loved eating corn on the cob. Both boys had gotten their fill today and she still managed to put plenty of it in the freezer.
  “I like tomatoes,” Elijah said. He held up his index finger. “That pan was hot, though.”
  “That wasn’t a fun lesson to learn, was it?” she asked.
  Elijah shook his head, looked down and then brightened up. “At least it was only one finger, right? It could have been much worse.”
  Those were the exact words she’d use when he’d burned himself by reaching out to touch a jar after she pulled it out of the boiling water bath. He knew better. She’d told him to be careful, but hadn’t been surprise when he had to try it for himself. Marie nodded and brushed her finger along his cheek.
  He bounced up and away and ran over to the dresser where they’d made room for extra sets of clothes for him and Noah. Polly had dropped fresh clothes off for them earlier this evening with a couple of extra items so they could establish their own territory here.
  Elijah opened the drawer and took out a t-shirt. “Is this a good shirt to wear tomorrow when we go pick raspberries?”
  “It will be fine,” Marie said. “Why don’t you put it on the chair over there so it’s ready for you in the morning.”
  “Should I take out socks, too?”
  “Maybe just the shirt for now,” she said. “Come on back to bed. It’s time for you to wind down so you can sleep. You don’t want to stay awake all night.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she knew she’d made a mistake.
  “Yes I do,” Elijah countered. “I could, too. I’ve done it before.”
  Marie patted the pillow. “Come on back up here beside your brother.”
  When Elijah jumped back on the bed, he bounced a couple of times and then climbed across Noah to get close to Marie. Noah, ever-obliging, just moved to make room for his brother.
  Giving him a snuggle and a kiss, Marie pointed to the other side of Noah. “Climb back over to where you belong,” she said.
  Elijah gave her a quick look to see if she was serious, then clambered across his brother and scooted up close to Noah’s back. “Where’s Grandpa?” he asked, looking pointedly toward the bedroom door.
  “Right where we left him,” Marie replied.
  “Watching TV?”
  Marie nodded and grinned. “Yes.”
  “Do you think he misses us? Maybe we should keep him company.”
  She laughed out loud. It had been years since she’d had children this age. Too smart for their own good, yet still so innocent. She had never wanted to pressure Lonnie and Henry to have babies. They had their own lives to live. She wasn’t sure if Lonnie would ever settle down and have a family. If that’s what her daughter wanted, then Marie was thrilled to support her. When Henry met Polly, Marie knew right away that babies were either out of the question or would be a long time coming. Those two were so happy with their lives, how could she even begin to pressure them just because she loved having little ones around. Who would have thought that her life would be filled with children of all ages within just a couple of years of meeting Polly, though. Marie’s life was so full right now, she went to bed exhausted and satisfied every night.
  Bill had found Henry’s old red wagon a couple of weeks ago and this afternoon, when he brought it out for the boys to play with, it was like brand-new. Noah had been over the moon. The boys took turns pulling each other and Bill even pulled the two of them a couple of times around the parking lot in front of the shop.
  Then, Noah discovered that he could be helpful and after securing an old tarp from Bill to keep the wagon bed clean, he’d helped pick up branches and sticks around the yard, then helped Bill transfer some river rock from the back of the shop to spots around the house. Elijah ran alongside, asking a million questions of Bill. The boy never ran out of questions.
  Bill loved spending time with these two little boys. He’d been so busy trying to make a living when Henry and Lonnie were children that he’d missed out on some of these wonderful moments. She couldn’t wait to sit with him tonight and listen as he went on about their day. Every time the boys spent a night with them, Bill turned into a kid himself. He had just started talking about a dream he’d had ever since he was a young man – setting up a model railroad in the basement where they’d once had all of the cars and race tracks. When Henry was young, they couldn’t afford the time or the money to build out a railroad, so he’d done the plastic track and cars, winding racetrack all over the place. Once Henry was out of school, Bill hadn’t wanted to do it alone. Then when he had time and the money to work on it, he figured he was getting too old and no one would be around to enjoy it anyway.
  Now he was dreaming about it again and Marie was thrilled. They’d taken the boys down to the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad twice this summer. She was sure that if Bill had his way, he’d take them down every weekend. They were the perfect excuse for him to ride that train. Maybe she needed to ask more questions and find out which scale train he would like to start working with. That would make a fun Christmas gift for him.
  She looked at Elijah, who yawned as he leaned on his brother. “You two have had a busy day, haven’t you?”
  “It was a fun day,” Noah said. “I like coming over.”
  “Me too,” Elijah said, yawning again. “I miss Obiwan and Han. You should get a dog.”
  Marie chuckled. Bill had been talking about getting a puppy. She didn’t know if she could handle one more animal in her life, but if she was honest with herself, it sounded like a lot of fun. “Maybe someday,” she said quietly as Elijah’s eyes fluttered.
  He opened them wide and shook his head, refusing to accept that he was falling asleep. “You were going to tell us a story,” he said.
  “I was, wasn’t I?” Marie yawned. “What if I tell you a story tomorrow while we’re making raspberry jam? I’m awfully tired.”
  Elijah nodded in understanding.
  She looked down at Noah, who just watched her with a smile. “What are you thinking about, Noah?” she asked.
  “I love you,” he said so quietly she wasn’t sure she heard him.
  Marie leaned down and kissed his forehead. “I love you, Noah.” She stood up and bent over to kiss Elijah’s forehead. “And I love you, Elijah.”
  He reached up with both arms and wrapped them around her neck, then kissed her cheek. She couldn’t help the tears that sprang to her eyes as she held on to him in a tight hug.
  “Go to sleep, now,” she said, releasing him.
  Elijah dropped back down and scooted away from Noah, snuggling his face in his own pillow.
  Marie walked to the doorway, flipped the overhead light off, and stood watching the boys in the warm glow of the  nightlights on either side of the bed. She was thankful they were comfortable enough here to sleep on their own. Polly and Henry had been worried the first night the boys spent with Marie and Bill since it had taken them so long to feel safe again. Marie had stayed in their room that night until they fell asleep. She hadn’t slept well, waking with every sound, worrying that they would be frightened. The second time had been easier and each time they’d stayed, all of them grew more comfortable.
  A noise on the stairway caught Marie’s attention and she smiled at Bill who came to stand beside her. He put his arm around her waist as she put a finger up to her lip.
  He whispered in her ear. “The house is all closed up. Are you ready to be finished with the day?”
  Nodding, she took his hand and they walked into their bedroom. Once the door was closed, he grinned. “They wore me out today. How about you?”
  “I’m exhausted,” Marie agreed. “This is really early, but I’m ready to lie down and read for a while.”
  “That’s what I figured.”
  She sat down on the edge of the bed and removed her shoes, rubbing her feet as she did. “That feels good.” Smiling at him, she said, “I think you should consider building a model railroad. Those boys would love to do that with you.”
  “Really?” he asked, taken aback.
  “We could clear out the basement again. There’s no reason to keep all of that junk. Lonnie can take her boxes home. She’s never moving back. Henry has a huge house now and he can haul his own boxes around from now on.”
  “You don’t think I’m too old for this?”
  Marie waggled her eyes at him. “I don’t think you’re too old for anything.”
  “Honey, I’m awfully tired.”
  “I was just talking about model railroads,” she protested with a laugh. “But I think this might be the perfect time for you to start building them. I’ll bet you could get quite a bit of help from all your buddies.”
  Bill took a catalog off the bottom of a pile in the nightstand beside the bed. “I’ve been waiting to show this to you.” He opened it to the first page. “Look at everything that is available nowadays. They make it so easy for you to be creative. And I’ve been looking at videos on YouTube. There are guys out there who will teach me how to do it all.”
  “I’m not surprised,” Marie said, laughing out loud. “And if I’m honest, I can’t wait. This sounds like a lot of fun.”
  “You’ll help me?”
  “Absolutely. Which train gauge do you want to work with?”
  He sat beside her and the two lay back on the bed, turning on their sides to look through the catalog together. “I think HO. It’s the most common and I want to be able to easily find the things we need to work with.”
  Bill flipped a couple of pages and Marie stopped him, pointing at a river scene. “I want to build a campground.”
  “Honey, you can build anything you want. I will start clearing out that basement on Monday. Before you know it, we’ll have train track running all throughout the basement.”
  “Henry’s going to laugh at us.”
  “Let him.” Bill leaned over and kissed her. “I feel like a kid.”