Nowhere To Go, But Up-Chapter Two

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Chapter 2-The Letter

For most of his adult life, Chas did things his own way.  He rarely followed advice and often made decisions based on the proverbial gut-feeling.  Following his emotions at any given moment had a tendency to make life interesting for him.  Sometimes the process worked out in his favor, but there were times it did not.  There were days he wished a choice could be taken back; a do-over, if you will.  The chance to start all over again, had plagued his thoughts many nights.  The thought was particularly strong this morning, as he sat at the dining room table reading over the letter he had just written.


‘Dawn,

I don’t like the idea of leaving a letter because it seems cliché.  In truth, I can’t look into your eyes, because the hurt is still too fresh.  This is the first time in months I’ve mustered the urge to write, and it seems strange to pick this letter as my outlet.  So be it; here it is.  I have to share my thoughts, in light of what I’ve recently discovered. 

Bad deeds have a way of coming back to get you, when you least expect them to show up.  No one is exempt.  Our sins always find us out. To that end, I suppose I should have expected karma to find me. I guess I always figured my payback would come sooner, while I was prepared.  

I don’t trust you anymore, Dawn.  You’ve shown your lack of respect for yourself as a woman and for our marriage. Our relationship; everything we’ve built together over the years; means less to you than your personal quest for excitement.  You don’t seem to be in any hurry to change whatever it is about yourself that hurts our marriage.  I mean, how could you be? Your adulteress behavior over the last few years says it all.  You don’t care about me and I’m so tired of being disappointed by you time and again.  With each incident, your words of apology become more and more transparent. 

 I wanted to believe that together we could change your ways if you put your all into it. But you’ve proven that to be a useless dream. 

I’m leaving you, Dawn.  I just can’t take it anymore.  By the time you read this note, I’ll be gone.  I need a few days to clear my head and put things into perspective. When I come back, we’ll need to sit down with the kids and explain the situation.    

I’m sorry that I couldn’t be the only man you needed in your life.  I wish you could have been the woman I thought you were becoming.  For what it’s worth, we did have good times and five beautiful children to share.  I’ll always love you for that. 

 I hope you find whatever it is you continue to look for.

~Me~’


“I hope you find whatever it is you continue to look for,” Chas whispered.

Reading the last line of the letter, seemed to solidify the finality of his decision. This was it.  This move would change the course of seven lives.  It would change everything for his family, and he would undoubtedly be viewed as the bad guy in the end. If only time were changeable. This might be different.

“I hate you for doing this to our family, Dawn.” He muttered.

As he scanned over the letter, Chas brushed tears from his damp stubble cheeks.  His heartbeat pounded in his throat and temples. He looked through the living room toward the monotonous tick tock of the old Grandfather clock, standing against the far wall. That clock had been given to them by his late mother as a wedding present, ten years ago.  Under normal circumstances, the ticking worked to sooth his senses whenever he was stressed.  But this morning was different. The ticking only drove home the reality of what was about to happen.  Lately, the clock served as a constant reminder of a failing marriage, and unhappy family.

Chas walked through the living room, and stood before the great clock.  The dial hands read a quarter after four in the morning. He switched on the lamp stand next to the clock, illuminating the small living room. Charles stared at his reflection in the clock tower’s glass doors. His usual tone body and sinewy arms seemed to slouch.  These days, he ate less and less, continually troubled with his marriage.  Dark patches encircled his deep set brown eyes.  He bald head and strong jaw showed three days of hair growth. The marriage was physically taking its toll on him.

“I’m withering away. This marriage is draining the life from me.”

Chas’s tired gaze shifted from the clock mirror, up the beige living room wall, to the huge Red Oak framed family portrait. The Smith family had taken this picture when things seemed to be going well.  A depressed smile glistened over his face as he looked at each of his 5 children.

Tomas looked so handsome that day, dressed in a lavender shirt, with matching tie; the ensemble accentuating his pale brown latin skin tone.  It was hard for Chas to believe his 17 year old step-son was about to start his senior year of high school.  The boy’s lean muscular frame filled the dark purple suit to perfection and, for the first time, Chas could see the young man Tomas was destined to become, looking into those huge intense almond colored eyes.

Nate, at 12 years old, showed wisdom beyond his years, within his deep set hazel-brown eyes.  Chas chuckled, remembering what the photographer had to do to actually get Nate to smile for this picture.  His eldest son’s skinny, light brown, freckled face had a shine that contrasted with the dark brown suit Dawn had chosen for the occasion.  Chas stared into the frozen gaze of Nate’s photographed eyes, and recognized the look from countless old photos of himself, at Nate’s age.

Dominique’s awe-inspiring smile always melted Chas’s heart.  On bad days at the office, he would often look at smiling pictures of his 11 year-old daughter, to cheer himself up.  In the family portrait, her long silky hair draped down her back from a brown heirloom hair pendant; a gift from her late grandmother. The long brown dress she wore highlighted her brown skin color.

Jordynn, Chas’s 6 year-old daughter, looked absolutely beautiful the day of the family portrait.  Like Nate, her light brown skin tone seemed to glow against the contrast of the matching calf-length brown dress she and her older sister each wore.  Chas stared into the hazel-green eyes of his youngest daughter; glared at the dimpled smile of his baby-girl and had to choke back a fresh wave of tears.  She wouldn’t understand why Daddy had to leave, even if Dawn explained the situation using Crayola Crayons for display.

Hesitantly, Chas blinked and found himself staring into the dark brown eyes and innocent face of his little man: 3 year-old Zeek.  This handsome young fellow looked absolutely adorable dressed in a dark Purple pinstriped vest, with a light purple dress shirt, accented by a dark purple pinstriped clip-on tie.  Zeek’s light brown, ear to ear smile unexpectedly ripped the very air from Chas’s lungs.  For a moment, his knees unhinged as his weight threatened to tumble to the ground, looking at Zeek.  The little boy would never comprehend Daddy leaving the house forever.

Tears flowed freely down Chas’s cheeks, and clouded his vision.  For a brief moment, he reconsidered walking out the door while his family slept in their respective beds.  He hated the thought of his children thinking he had abandoned them, even for a few days.  Chas clamped his eyelids shut, forcing the salty tears to race down his streaked cheeks.  When he re-opened his eyes, he found himself staring into the photographed eyes of his wife, Dawn.

She was so happy, the day the family portrait had been taken.  Her dark hair had been freshly cut into a short teased bob with the dark red accents of her low curls sloping just above her ears.  The piercing stare of her green eyes always pierced Chas’s heart.  Dawn’s rosy cheeks combined with her peach colored, tanned skin worked miracles to accent the earth-tone ankle length dress she wore in the portrait.  Chas’s gaze traced the curve of her long neck, down the sightline of her C-cup breasts, down to her French manicured fingers resting across her folded left knee.  He traced the line of her shiny beautiful calf protruding out from the folds of her dress, down to her ankle.  How he had loved to watch this woman dress.  How he had once adored her.

Sorrow transformed into hatred as he envisioned Dawn willingly giving another man full access to those wonderful calves and ankles, that should have been his exclusively.  His brown eyes shot back up to Dawn’s frozen photographed stare.

“Thank you very much for destroying everything I’ve ever loved, Dawn.”

Chas glanced at the note.  Taking in a deep breath, he folded the note in half, then stuffed it into a blank white letter sized envelope, before sealing it.  Across the front, he scribed, ‘For You, From Me’.

Chas tucked the envelope into the bottom left corner of the Red Oak-framed family portrait; high enough out of the reach of their children.  He gently grasped the handles of the leather day bag sitting at his feet.  Taking a final look around the beige walls of the living room, Chas remembered all the plans he and his lovely wife had made for making this house a Christian home for their family.

“I’m sorry God.  I can’t do it anymore.  I just don’t have enough love to hold us both up, when she’s only giving a fraction of herself.  I quit.  Please forgive me.”

Opening the old wooden front door, he quietly dropped the leather day bag onto the concrete porch.  Turning around, Chas gave the living room one final glance over.  Despite what the written letter said, he had no real intentions of ever returning to this living room.  Chas gently closed the wooden door, stepped off the concrete porch, and took his first few steps into his new life alone.

Chas hopped behind the wheel of his pickup truck intent on driving downtown to the nearest motel.  So many emotions to sort through; so many tasks needed to be completed.  He had no idea of how to begin divorce proceedings.  The only surety was that divorce was inevitable.  While driving up the block, he envisioned memories of happier times: teaching Tomas to ride his bike, the birth of Nate, Dominique’s first tooth falling out, walks along the river front with Dawn; memories scattered through the past, blown apart by years of pain.  As Chas continued to drive, his mind eventually settled on the beginning.  He remembered computer class of 1991, and the day he first locked eyes with the emerald stare of the girl who would someday capture his heart.

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Nowhere To Go, But Up-Chapter One

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I’m starting my new book. While the tale is fiction, a lot of it is based on true events. I’d like to share the first few chapters, just to through feelers out. Feel free to tell me what you think.


Chapter 1 – Losing Sleep

The bedside digital clock read 4:16 AM, when Dawn felt a shift in the bed.  She feigned sleep, taking labored deep breathes; her back turned against her husband.  Dawn could feel him staring through the darkness; could feel his accusing eyes glowering at her.  She knew he had spent the entire night lying awake.

Another shift in the bed, and Chas was now crossing the room to his dresser.  She heard the customary progression of open and shut drawers as her husband dressed for another day’s work.  But another glance at the clock assured her that he was at least an hour too early for that.  She started to question his intensions, but decided to remain quiet.

For every arguement they shared over the past few years, Chas had never looked at her the way he did yesterday.  It was as if she looked into her husband’s eyes and saw hatred personified, staring back at her. Dawn forced herself to mimic heavy, steady breaths as if enveloped in deep sleep.  She listened for any signs that her husband might attack her, just in case she would have to defend herself.  In all the years they had been together, Chas never once laid an angry hand on her.  But one could never be too sure when the first time might come.  After all, she’d seen her mother beaten by men, as a child.  In general, men couldn’t be completely trusted. Why should her husband be any different? He was a man, after all.

Dawn waited until she heard Chas tread down the bedroom steps before sitting up, propping her back against the headboard.  Staring across the pitch-black room, she replayed the events of the early evening in her mind: how Chas had screamed, in front of the children and how she had slandered him as if they were the only two people in the room.  Who gave him the right to question her whereabouts?  He had no right to demand any explanation on who she had spent the evening with.  She told herself these things, but deep down, her soul ached.

Dawn reached for her cell phone charging next to the clock.  A few quick taps along the screen brought up the name she searched for.  Fingers furiously tapping away, she typed out a message.

‘I can’t see you again.  It’s over. Please don’t call me anymore.  Have to do what’s right for my kids.’

“Yeah,” she whispered as she punched the SEND button. “They need me more than anyone else. What are you doing, girl?”

Dawn placed the phone back onto the table.  Drawing her knees up to her chin, she began to butt the heels of both hands against her forehead.

“Why do you keep doing this? You have to stop, before it’s too late,” she whispered through tears.

She lay down snuggling Chas’s pillow under her nose, taking in the scent of her husband.  It suddenly struck her funny, how much she hated the Old Spice. But at the moment, it smelled like home and security.  It smelled like Chas.

She slowly breathed in the pillow and remembered the first kiss they had shared.  Chas had worn enough Old Spice to make her eyes water, but she had endured the overbearing aftershave to share that special moment.  She had once adored him, and then…something happened.  What? She couldn’t remember.  Her mind sifted through miscellaneous memories of times shared, both good and bad. Yet, there was no one clear turning point buried in the recesses of her mind.

“What happened?” Dawn whispered.

As tears soaked the pillow case, Dawn’s memory shifted to a time before the children; before the marriage.  She remembered Chas away at college.  She recalled a surprise visit; remembered driving two and a half hours in the dead of Michigan winter, to see him.  In her mind, she saw the look of total astonishment on the face of Chas’s roommate, as she strolled through the front door of the apartment.  Dawn remembered the blissful feeling of comfort walking down the short hallway toward Chas’s room.  Her plan had been to simply undress, and spend a romantic evening with her love. She remembered turning the door knob, smiling giddy, only to find him cuddling with another woman under his bed sheets.

And then…suddenly…there it was. The image forever burned into her psyche like a black and white photograph. Dawn opened her bleary eyes as her breath caught in her throat.  Through the darkness of the bedroom, she could still see the look on Chas’s face, the night she had caught him with another woman.  It was as clear as if the whole event happened yesterday.

“I never forgave him for that,” she whispered. “…and that was it.  That’s when it turned. He turned out to be just another lying man, and I never forgave him for it. Lord help me, I still don’t. I don’t know how.”

Man, That Fight Though (Marriage Exerpt 2)

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This morning, I walked into a gas station and stepped right in the middle of a spousal feud. It was pretty bad, I have to warn you. The husband was irate.

“You wanna know when I stopped lookin’ at you? When you started to get fat! You wanna know when you started gettin’ fat? When you got a smart phone! For four years, you ain’t got the time for me because you’re too busy *blank*in’ your phone and eatin’ snacks! That’s why I’m seein’ another woman! If my wife ain’t interested in givin’ me what I need anymore, someone else is glad to take care of me!”

Needless to say, I bought my Gatorade at another station…quickly. I got out of there, before I became witness to a murder. As bad as that scene was, it did give me a moment to think about why some marriages fail. As I said last night, sin constantly wants to destroy biblical marriage. Any number of trials could trigger danger in a relationship, but the big one (in my opinion) is infidelity.

Last night, my son and I attended a men’s group at church. During the discussion, our brother Steve spoke on God’s intent for a man and his wife. Steve said in not so many words, “God intends for the husband and wife to have eyes for each other. What he wants for us is to not be able to keep our hands off of the one who is for us.” In this case, I should have eyes and a burning desire for my wife: her only.

When I thought back to that train-wreck I’d just witnessed in the gas station, I was reminded of just how far away from the biblical purpose of marriage that guy had fallen. He not only turned his eyes and desires to another woman; he loathed his wife. Her waistline and eating habits might have posed some difficulties in their marriage, but I got the feeling that he hadn’t really tried to work things out. Almost as if those qualities were his justified excuse for stepping out.

Marriage is work. Yep…I’m reiterating what was already said last night. Marriage is (sometimes) hard work. Chances are, 20 years after the wedding, we might look a little heavier or move a little slower. Maybe the fires of our youthful desire need a little stoking to rekindle. Whatever it takes, under God. Folks, we have to protect our marriages. Husbands need to adore their wives and wives need to cherish their husbands, because the enemy of biblical marriage is out there…winning. I saw it today. I almost experienced it personally, a few short years ago. Had it not been for God’s Devine intervention, this might be a totally different type of post.

I think sometimes we need to put our own wants aside and do for our spouse. If I know my wife desires something, but I purposely and frequently deny her, am I not setting our marriage up for failure? The reality is that temptation is real. If she’s not satisfied—whether it be physically, emotionally or spiritually—I’m making temptation that much more appealing to her. I have to put my selfish desires to rest and give her whatever she needs. It shouldn’t have to be a “job” to do so, either. I should do it because I want to please her.

We have to fight for our marriages.