Olga Oliver: “Lizbeth’s Journey” (Mainstream fiction)

AUTHOR:   Olga Oliver
TITLE:  “Lizbeth’s Journey” (Mainstream, partial novel)
GENRE:  Mainstream
SYNOPSIS:  What if three secrets are unlocked and give Lizbeth Kelleye her real self.

Lizbeth’s Journey

by Olga Oliver

Dallas, Texas

October 1961            

… is that his voice? … that voice is mixed in the fog in my head … am I in church? … Catherine? … beside me … but her face … a foggy outline. Why am I here? I can’t feel my feet. Can I stand? What is wrong? I hold to the pew and stand. White caskets draped in creamy-white roses loom through the fog. I see him now … yes, there … in the pulpit—my twin brother, Patrick—in a shiny white suit. He comes toward me now, arms reaching out.           

 “Come Lizbeth; come tell Mother and Dad good-bye.”           

I grab Catherine’s hand, questioning. She pushes me toward him. His icy hands guide me up the steps to the pulpit. I face the audience and in the swirling fog, people twirl … like tossed puzzle pieces. Am I about to faint again?           

“Lizbeth, say what’s in your heart,” he whispers.           

Dark fog whirls across my eyes and I lunge at him, yelling, “Bastard, bastard.” Rolling down the steps, I find his hair, pull back his head, and whack his throat. His shouts echo, “Ambulance, call an ambulance.”He pins me on the floor between their caskets. Gauzy faces peer down. I reach out, struggling. He pulls me back, holds me to the floor under his weight. Repulsive memories swell and burst  … “You murdered them, Patrick … I hate you. You’re a murder, a murder.”           

 Something clamps over my face, and …    

CHAPTER 1             

Dallas, Texas

October 1961

Thirty-two years ago, they had shared the same warm womb. Now, Lizbeth Kelleye wondered how there could ever have been any warmth between them. Her twin’s cunning manipulation and disregard for her and their family had flavored all the growing-up years. Among his many cruel episodes during their childhood, only one outranked his actions of yesterday when he had her admitted to this psychiatric hospital.           

Awaiting the nurse for escort to the doctor’s office for discharge, Lizbeth stood at the barred hospital window looking down at morning activities.  She saw a stooped-elderly woman, assisted by an attendant or maybe it was her daughter, moving with sliding steps along the walkway. The elderly woman cautiously tried a footing on the grass before continuing to a bench. As she sat down, she smiled and shrank into the comfort of the helper’s arm.            

Oh, my god! What a precious scene. I don’t really know my mother or my father, and now they’re gone, Lizbeth thought. Pushing back pressure in her throat, she stepped away from the window, sat down and covered her face with trembling hands. “They’re gone and I don’t know why they didn’t love me.” In the darkness behind her eyes old memories played across her vision, the aching and longing for inclusion as intense now as back then, when Daddy would push Patrick onto his shoulders, swing him high in the air, and then grab Mommy in a hug. As they giggled and whirled Lizbeth jumped and held up her arms for inclusion until the empty space swelled in her chest and her eyes burned with dry tears. Then the whisper in her ear … don’t cry … run … hide.            

Unknown things accompanied the old memories, things she could only feel, couldn’t see. How could the loneliness of near abandonment as a child still live within her now? After all, they had given her everything a child needed except that which money could not buy … they did not love her, and now she must always wonder why. She ran a hand across dry eyes, inhaled deeply and sat straight. But those things must be put aside right now. Grieving must wait. Too much to do now. Too many questions. Why had she lost her cool and attacked Patrick at that particular time? Why had Patrick admitted her to this hospital? Catherine was right there. Why didn’t she bring her home? Janie Lou? Woody? Isaac? They were there.            

A knock on the door brought her to the moment as the nurse entered. “Good morning, Miss Kelleye, you’re ready. No one has to be awakened on departure day.”           

Lizbeth smiled and took in the man’s full height—a male nurse?”To the business office?” he asked and picked up her bag.           

“No, that’s been done. I need to see Dr. Kotzur on the way out.”           

As they entered his office, Dr. Kotzur stepped around his desk and shook her hand. Lizbeth nodded to the nurse and thanked him. As she watched him leave, she said, “A male nurse … is this something new? When did males enter the nursing field?”           

Dr. Kotzur moved to the large windows overlooking the hospital grounds. “Males in the nursing field are new indeed. This is a wild year for us—1961—it’s giving us new and different everything. Good idea for this type of hospital. Richard came aboard only two days ago. He’s in medical school, planning to enter psychiatry. So he’s in a good training area.” The doctor motioned toward the view. “It’s a beautiful fall day, Miss Kelleye. Every leaf is paused, still and waiting. Air is clear and crisp. If you are perfectly still, you can see it sparkling.”               

Lizbeth joined him at the window. “Yes, it’s still a beautiful area; however, I’m shocked that this estate is now a hospital. This was the old Henderson Estate. My family’s place, the old homestead,  connects to this property.  My best friend, Catherine—she’s picking me up this morning—and I used to ride our horses through this property before there were fences. I’ve never heard this hospital mentioned; yet I have friends who see their psychiatrists several times a week … just like going to the tennis courts. Are psychiatric hospitals kept secret?”           

Dr. Kotzur motioned toward the seating area and chose a chair opposite her. She noticed his hesitancy in answering her question. Then his eyes held her direct gaze and she felt a brush of something like a timid bond. “Psychiatry is now progressing rapidly,” he said. “You might say this hospital is a slight secret. Perhaps not secret, but people simply do not talk about being a patient in a psychiatric hospital. Anything to do with one’s mind is hush, hush. It means one’s mind is ill, and yes, it’s a certain stigma, but such thinking will change. I see no difference in one’s mind being a little out, than if one’s back is a little out. Might be more serious, but stigma? That will change.”                “Oh, but my friends love talking about their shrinks, everybody’s going.”           

He grinned. “We’re living in a new time, making new paths. Seeing the most expensive shrink in town is fashionable, but admittance to the psychiatric hospital is a secret. Isn’t it amazing how we  human beings do not make sense sometimes and yet we are so intelligent?”            “I know of no one having gone to a psychiatric hospital, except, of course, I can now say, me, myself. I’m wondering how my brother knew about this hospital? When he graduated from college, he joined the CIA and our parents disowned him. That was over ten years ago. He simply went his way, and made no contact with any of us that I know about. Since there is some stigma from being admitted to a hospital like this, I’m wondering if it could affect my childcare businesses. I have built two childcare centers that I couldn’t bear losing.           

 Avoiding her question, the doctor asked, “Will you continue analyses with me, Miss Kelleye?”           

“You didn’t answer my question,” she said. “What is your opinion, do you think this crazy incident could affect my business?”           

Still avoiding her question, the doctor asked, “Will you continue analyses with me, Miss … may I call you Lizbeth?”           

“Of course,” she said and hesitated, glancing down at her hands. “Do I really need analysis?”           

He leaned forward, holding her in an intense gaze. “Yes. At our first session, after you were certain I wouldn’t use hypnosis, you told me some interesting things. The most interesting is that you don’t cry; can’t cry. You were embarrassed because you haven’t cried about your parents’ suicide. That admission is an opening to knowing more.”           

“I know that I vented and raged during that session. The aftermath of becoming violent and collapsing, I guess. I’m still embarrassed. But there are so many things I’ll never know, now that they’re gone. They didn’t care for me like they cared for Patrick.”            

“Don’t be embarrassed. How we grieve can’t be known until it spreads its many arms around us. Attacking your brother was a mammoth blast of grief, a healthy blast.”           

“Right now, it seems infantile.”           

But you’ve given me an insight in how I can offer my help. I would like to know more about your brother, why you dislike him. If you’ll continue therapy, we’ll have a great adventure.”           

“An adventure?” Lizbeth asked, her eyebrows lifting.           

The doctor nodded. “Yes, if you’re willing, and if you really want answers about your relationship with your brother. Now, to answer your question about this hospital incident. Please, don’t worry about it. Should anything arise, I would be called in for my opinion. Remember this, Lizbeth: You should not have been admitted to this hospital. I, too, would like to know why he had you admitted here.”           

“Those are welcome words, but there are so many questions. I never lose control. I became a monster. And, of all places for going berserk—my parents’ funeral. Uncivilized. Why didn’t Catherine just take me home? Or Woody, Janie Lou, Isaac? They have known me all my life. I can’t believe they simply stood there and let Patrick … none of us had seen Patrick for over ten years until our parents died. He’s not a dumb-dumb. He knows my admission to this kind of hospital could possibly affect my business.”

Dr. Kotzur stood. “Let’s find out more about him, Lizbeth.”           

“I despise him, Dr. Kotzur  … to put my businesses in jeopardy is asking for my fury. If this incident gets into the news … somehow, oh, somehow the CIA had best protect their agent—Mr. Patrick Kelleye.” Straightening in the chair, Lizbeth caught her breath, held it, and slowly folded her rising anger.           

 The doctor held up his hands. “Let’s leave it here, Lizbeth. I take it that you’ll continue therapy. I can put you down for Monday, what’s your best time?”           

“Losing my temper like that … maybe I need therapy,” she said. “But the word therapy scares me, just sitting down and opening myself … you’re a total stranger. I don’t know you.”           

The doctor smiled. “You just said you would take on the entire CIA … what’s a little therapy?”           

Why not, she thought. Why not just go with it?  She stood. “Okay, I’ll do it … I’ll see.”           

“What’s your best time?” he asked again.           

“Early as possible. Mondays are busy days for us.”           

“Now, do you mean real early, say about 6:00 a.m. here in the in the coffee shop for breakfast?”           

“Therapy in the coffee shop?” she asked.           

“We’ll get acquainted over breakfast, then move on to the office and begin about seven, and of course, I’ll pick up the first breakfast tab.”          

Lizbeth smiled, “You say that as if it’s my tab the next time.”           

He chuckled. “I’m tight. It’s called alternating.”           

“I’ll shake on that,” she said, and held out her hand. “A 6 a.m. appointment in the coffee shop with my shrink will make me a star among friends.”           

He jotted on the calendar and smiled. “Doing things a little different can be fun. I’ll see you Monday at 6 a.m. in the coffee shop. He lifted the phone and asked for her people to come in.            

“People?” she asked. “I expected Catherine.”           

“Catherine and one of your ranch managers, the lady.”           

“Oh, Janie Lou. She’s in Dallas?”           

“Yesterday, she and her husband came to see me for first-hand information about you. They introduced themselves as co-managers of your ranch. She did most of the questioning, and after speaking with her for a few minutes, I decided our staff needs her. Could we offer her a job?”           

“Absolutely not! She and Woody have been in my family since before I was born. They are more my parents than … that’s why I can’t understand why they didn’t put my brother on his butt when he called that ambulance… they’re used to handling tough cowboys when they get outa line.”            

Catherine and Janie Lou rushed through the door and the doctor shuffled the trio out the hospital exit. Lizbeth took the passenger seat and looked back at the doctor, still standing there looking at the sky. He’s such a tiny man, she thought. Long face, big nose, thin lips. His black eyes seemed to plunge a current directly into her. Interesting and different. Something about him reminded her of a happy dwarf.             

As Catherine started the car, she said, “Scenic route or flight pattern?” Hearing no answer, she continued, “Okay, I’ll choose. This Chevy is flying. Control tower listen up: zooming south on south runway to University Park, small yellow brick house at 2210 Purdue. Happy landings.” Still nothing but silence, she glanced at Lizbeth. “Well … well, no one’s gonna talk? …okay, can someone say something, even if it’s wrong.”           

“Oh, so I’m supposed to talk?” Lizbeth asked. “Can’t you all talk? Afraid I’ll attack you?”           

“Liz…beth,” Catherine said, hitting the steering wheel. “Come on, we’re worried about you.”            

Raising her voice, Lizbeth said, “Hear this then, I’ll talk … I’m damn worried about all of you. Catherine, you insisted I go to the funeral when you knew I wasn’t able … I could hardly walk. I don’t even remember getting to the church. Something was going on in my head. Guess I was near fainting. When Patrick stood there reaching for my hand, you pushed me to him. Why did you let him take me up there? You knew I couldn’t speak, and most of all, why the hell did you let him take me to that crazy hospital?” She looked back at Janie Lou. “All of you. Why didn’t you take me home? All of you hung back like … oh, I don’t know, like what?” She turned back to Janie Lou. “What about you, you worried about me too?”           

“Damn right, I’m worried about you,” she answered, and moved to the far side of the seat for direct eye contact. “Why shouldn’t we be worried … not only about you, but about Patrick also. What will he do next? Oh, god, your Mom and Dad.” Her voice crumbled into sobs.           

Lizbeth reached back and took her hand.           

“Oh, honey, Janie Lou continued, “All that’s so unreal. I’ve never seen you … it was berserk! It just wasn’t you. We couldn’t move. We didn’t know what to do. Too much had been dumped on all of us at the same time. Their suicide, Patrick coming in taking over and then …”           

“Yep, then my going crazy,” Lizbeth said. She leaned over and snapped off the radio. “Damn Tony Bennett and his San Francisco crooning.”                     

“Oh, honey,” Janie Lou said quietly, “We’ve been dumped on, all at once. Let’s not be cross with each other. You’re right; we should have stopped him and taken you home. That nice doctor told us that you should not have been admitted to that hospital.”           

Lizbeth patted Janie Lou’s hand. “Sorry, so many things going on in my head right now. I don’t even know where they’re buried, and I haven’t shed a tear. Maybe I need therapy.”           

“They are buried at Roseland,” Catherine answered.           

“Who made that decision?”           

Catherine glanced at her. “Don’t know; Patrick, I guess.”           

“Where is Patrick? He’s so interested in my proper care.”           

Catherine glanced at her.           

“Well … you don’t know where he is?” Lizbeth asked.            

“No, I don’t know,” she said and sighed. “I don’t know.”            

“Has he’s disappeared as quickly as he appeared. Don’t you all think it’s odd the way he appeared when they died? He just happened to be here when they died … he hadn’t been home in ten years..”           

“He was here when they … he found them, Lizbeth.”           

“That’s right … I’d forgotten that … all that is still fuzzy. All I remember is how I felt when they called me. I don’t even remember who called me. Who called me? Was it Patrick?”           

“He called Isaac. Isaac called you.”            

“Then Isaac will know where he is.”           

Lizbeth brushed a hand across her face. “Let’s talk about the centers. Things going okay? Have you talked with Mattie? Hasn’t Isaac called?”           

“Hey, hold it,” Catherine said as she eased around a car. “Can’t answer all those questions at once.  Hey, look there. Those girls hitchhiking. Can you believe that? Three of them. Their sign … California for us.”           

“Oh, my god,” Janie Lou said. “California? Oh, my …I see them on the highway all the time … talk about bravery.”           

“You didn’t answer my question, Catherine.”           

“Okay. Your childcare centers are fine. Mattie and I are on top of those. I had 100 percent capacity this morning, except for Little Charley. He had a temperature. Sent a temp to care for him after his mother called.  Mattie had 100% about nine this morning. Your children are fine. You can relax on that subject.”           

“Hasn’t Isaac called?”           

Perplexed, Catherine glanced at her. “Lizbeth, you’ve been away one day and one night. Of course, Isaac has called and there are other calls, but the house is not on fire. Janie Lou’s come to help, thinking the doctor would recommend you take it easy for a few days.”             “No such recommendation, but he wants me to continue therapy.”           


“Yes, Catherine, really. I’ll be eligible to join one of the fashionable clubs—you know—the My Said clubs. Exciting, hmm? My Analyst Said and My Tennis Instructor Said and My Beauty Operator Said. All those important clubs.”           

“Everyone’s going to a shrink … that is, those not going to California,” Janie Lou added.           

“Really,” Catherine said, “Even down in the ranch area?”           

“You bet; they come up here to Dallas.”           

Lizbeth braced with a hand on the dash as Catherine turned onto Preston Road. “Passengers, ready to deplane? We’ll be home in five minutes.”           

Lizbeth turned again to Janie Lou. “Nice of you and Woody to come. What’s Woody doing?”           

“Shopping. He needed some tractor parts, batteries. He had a long list.”           

“Wish we could talk him into getting some new tractors. Those old tractors are worn out. Is he staying the night? Maybe we could talk about new tractors instead of rehashing about my going nuts.”           

“Oh, no. He had several places to go. Said he’d be heading home about five.”           

“So, you’re staying?”           

“Yes. I’m gonna take care of you, wait on you hand and foot and cook you some good food, until you run me home.”           

“We won’t fuss about some good home-cooked meals.”           

“No fussing about some home cooking,” Catherine said as she pulled in the driveway. “Get ready to deplane. Look, Lizbeth, your little hacienda is still standing, waiting for you.”           

“Love this little house,” Lizbeth said. “I want to wrap my arms around it and squeeze it.”           

“It’s lunch time,” Janie Lou said, as they filed in the house. “I know there’s nothing in your refrigerator. What would you all like?”             “That’s a funny question,” Catherine said. “You know what Lizbeth wants.”           

Janie Lou frowned. “Couldn’t possibly be that stuff that makes us fat … something like pizza?”           

“I’m starved,” Lizbeth said. “So I’m thirty pounds over, I’m so hungry.”            

“Shame, shame—you two live on pizza,” Janie Lou teased, shaking her head.           

“While we’re waiting, I’m showering off that hospital,” Lizbeth said, and dashed down the hall. She stepped into in her study, picked up the phone and dialed Isaac. Her first question only brought silence. “Well, is that the wrong question, Isaac? You’re not giving me an answer.”           

“I’m thinking, Lizbeth. Thinking how I can express my embarrassment for letting Patrick take you to that hospital.”           

“Janie Lou said you all were transfixed.”           

“That’s exactly the words I want to use,” Isaac said.           

“You can help me if you know where he is? Has he called you? Catherine hasn’t heard from him. I want to find him.”           

“I haven’t heard from him since he asked me to call you about Everett and Beatrice. That’s it. Are you okay?”           

“Okay for now, Isaac; I’ll see you at the bank for the Directors Meeting. Maybe we’ll have time to talk. If you hear from Patrick, let me know.”           

“Will do, honey. Take care.”           

After a quick shower, Lizbeth took her place at the table. “Hmm, smells heavenly,” she said.           

Janie Lou smiled. “I remembered to order the vegetable for you. Oh, the way you two eat!”             

 Lizbeth reached for another piece and tuned into her racing thoughts.  Where was her TO DO LIST?  Feeling panic, she hadn’t thought about that list for two days … where … in the office or her handbag?  She pushed back her chair and started to stand.           

 “Woah,” Catherine said.  “You’re still chewing – lunch isn’t over.”            

“Oh, sorry, lost in thought.”  She sat down.           

“Let it wait, Lizbeth. Here, have some salad.”           

Janie Lou giggled.  “And drink your milk.”           

“All right, you two, stop.  I’m not an invalid, just psycho. It’s about naptime for the kids, Catherine. Remember to check again on little Charley.”           

“That’s my notice to get back to work.” Catherine said. “Just listen to her. How did she remember which child wasn’t at the Center this morning? Janie Lou, listen to this. She knows the names of each parent and each child in both the Centers. We have five single parents.  Add this. With fifty kids, we add two parents each. That’s one hundred fifty names, less the five singles. That’s one-hundred forty-five names she can put with one-hundred forty-five faces at Center 1. The same for Center 2. That brings the total to 290 names she can put with two hundred ninety faces.” She clanked down her tea glass with a splat.           

“Amazing.  How do you do that, Lizbeth?” Janie Lou asked.           

“I don’t know, haven’t really thought about it.  I just know a person is important and a person’s name is important. Maybe I make a point of remembering because sometime I believe my parents forgot my name.”            

“Oh, Lizbeth,” Catherine chimed.           

Lizbeth looked up into eyes focused on her. “Well, it’s true. True.”           

“First time you’ve ever said that,” Catherine said.           

“There’s a lot of things I never talk about, Catherine. But now, guess I best start digging into my buried thoughts so that I can keep my analyst entertained.”           

“I’m jealous, Lizbeth.  I’d love to go to one,” Catherine said. “Remember Nancy Beckman?  She fell in love with her analyst. Maybe you’ll fall in love with him.”           

“That’s crazy,” Jane Lou added.           

Lizbeth smiled. “That’s what’s we’re talking about – crazies.”           

“Not me,” Janie Lou sighed. “Not me. Let’s talk about what we’re doing this afternoon. Catherine, you’re going back to the Center. Lizbeth, you’re going down the hall to your office. I’m going to the grocery. Good food is coming into this yellow brick house; that is, Lizbeth, if you’ll let me drive your car.”           

“It’s all yours. I’m going to work.”           

 “How about grilled steak for dinner? Charcoal?”           

“Everything’s in the patio pantry. Sounds good to me,” Catherine said.           

“Okay, get ready for a big dinner.”           

As they stood, Lizbeth looked at Catherine. “Isaac hasn’t heard from Patrick either?”           

Janie Lou looked at Catherine. Catherine patted her chest. “Am I being questioned? Am I the monkey?  I haven’t seen or heard from him since – well, since ….”           

“Since the day I attacked him? Just say it, Catherine. My day of infamy. Something I’ve wanted to do all my life, attack the bastard.”             Clearing the table, Janie Lou said, “Oh, Lizbeth, you don’t mean that.”           

“Certainly do,” Lizbeth said. Let’s get to work. Keys are in the car, Janie. Catherine, remember to check on little Charley.”

CHAPTER  2            

Lizbeth closed her office door and dialed Redd Erwin, family friend, and prominent Texas attorney who had assisted her with the legal complexities in setting up her childcare centers. He lived in Houston and practiced all over the country. Surprised that Mr. Erwin answered on the first ring, she hesitated for a moment … “Oh, hello, Mr. Erwin, this is Lizbeth Kelleye. It’s been a while since we’ve spoken. I need to meet with you. I have some new problems.”           

“Hello there, yes, it’s been a while … how are you, can we talk over the phone, or …”            

“No, I’d rather not. Some bizarre happenings. Have you heard about my parents?”           


“Supposedly suicide … last Saturday …”            

“No … no … never. Oh, my god, Lizbeth … suicide?  Never … I’m in shock. I’ve known and worked with your father for fifty years …wish you had called me … unbelievable. Just a moment, let me collect myself.”            

“I know … was too blown away to call anyone.”           

“Where is your brother?”           

“We don’t know. He was here. There’s so much …. I’ve done a crazy thing, some call it a breakdown.”           

 “Who wouldn’t have broken down. Oh, I’m so … can’t believe this.”           

“Must not have gotten in the news or you’d know. I completely lost myself, attacked Patrick at the funeral and he had me admitted to the East Dallas Psychiatric Hospital. Need I say more?”           

“A psychiatric hospital? He must have lost himself as well .. no way he should have done that …  what’s he thinking? Do you need me? I’ll come up there.”           

“You’ll help me?”           

“I can be there in the morning.”           

“That’s good to hear. Let me get things together a little more. I’m not certain what I want to do yet. Inside my head things are still bouncing around. All I can tell you right now is that Patrick came home last Friday. Saturday morning he found them asphyxiated in the car in the garage. Tuesday morning at the funeral, I attacked him, and he put me into a psychiatric hospital. And he seems to have disappeared. I just wanted to let you know and that I’ll call you when I’m a little more settled. I will say here … it’s confidential … but I suspect Patrick had something to do with their deaths.”            

“Okay. Let me digest this … keep me posted. I have nothing scheduled that would keep me from coming. I’m so sorry, Lizbeth, so sorry … and you seem so in control. Are you holding together okay? I’m here, call me anytime.”           

“Thanks very much. Yes, I’m okay. Feel a little overloaded, but okay. I’ll be in touch soon … oh, I must add that the psychiatrist at the hospital told me and others that I should not have been admitted to that hospital. I was discharged on day two … just wanted to add that so you wouldn’t think I’m totally whacko.”           

“Hold in there … you’re gonna be one busy lady. A lot of legalize going on with all your father’s holdings … you know his Dallas Central Bank was started on the banks of the Trinity River in the back of a wagon, don’t you? … forgive me, Lizbeth, guess I’m in shock. He was a good friend. He’ll be missed.”           

“Thanks, Mr. Erwin. I appreciate your thoughts. I’ll call soon.”            

After calls to check on Mattie and Center 2, Lizbeth stretched out on the bed and fell into deep sleep until conversation from the kitchen awakened her. She looked at the clock. Catherine home already?  As she put her feet on the floor, Janie Lou appeared in the doorway. “Come and get it … your steak is ready.”            

Conversation took second place to savoring Janie Lou’s steak. Finally, Lizbeth patted her stomach. “Great steak, Janie; simply perfection.”             

“Yes, perfection,” Catherine agreed, “Perfection.”            

“Tomorrow, I’ll do something about your empty refrigerator. It needs fresh vegetables – corn, green beans, okra, squash—but for now, right this moment, I need sleep,” Janie Lou said. “Been a long day; our alarm rattled at 4:30 this morning. Woody should be getting home in a little while. He’ll call, but tell him I’m already in bed, too tired to talk. I’ll call him in the morning.”           

“I hope he’ll tell me we have a new tractor,” Lizbeth said and smiled.            

“No way. He loves those old tractors, won’t part with them.”           

“He’s stubborn,” Lizbeth said as she went down the hall.  “Come on, I’ll get you a comforter, you’ll need it before morning.”            “Goodnight, Janie Lou,” Catherine said.  “Thanks again for that dinner.”           

Janie Lou kissed the top of her head. “You get more beautiful every day,” she said and ran her hand across Catherine’s naturally blonde hair. “You’re as fair as when you were three – clear blue eyes, white hair, peachy skin. Your folks must have been Nordic.”           

Catherine crossed her arms and mouthed a thank you.           

“Keep an eye on her,” Janie Lou whispered. She needs a lot of TLC.”           

Avoiding eye contact, Catherine said, “I know … she really lost her mind, makes you wonder …”           

“She’s tough; she’ll be okay. Will take a while. Goodnight now, see you in the morning.”           

Catherine started a fresh pot of coffee knowing Lizbeth would talk until wee hours. The childcare centers would be discussed again and again; Patrick and funeral questions again and again; plus what’s the gossip; has the horror gotten in the newspaper?           

As Lizbeth entered the kitchen, she sniffed the air. “Coffee smells so good. Nice of Janie Lou to come. So much going on at the ranch, I’m surprised she’s here … here’s my cup.”           

Catherine poured coffee and they settled in the living room. “You seem a bit preoccupied,” Lizbeth said. “Having a problem understanding how I simple went wild?  And, of all places …”           

Catherine sat down her cup and spread her arms wide. “How are you so all-together, so calm, Lizbeth? Your parents are gone. Why aren’t you crying, carrying on. You’re acting as if you don’t care. You haven’t shed a tear. You tried to kill Patrick …”

“Hold it, Catherine,” Lizbeth said and moved over to stand above her. “I didn’t try to kill Patrick. ‘

13 Responses to Olga Oliver: “Lizbeth’s Journey” (Mainstream fiction)

  1. Pingback: Update: New Fiction Posted on the Peer Review Page

  2. Laureli Illoura

    Whew! My eyes just flew across the words and I forgot to critique! LOL
    I guess looking back now, I did have just a wee bit of confusion over 2 small things- the date at the beginning (twice noted) and then again by the Doctor – I thought the first time it was illuminating a flashback, then having the Dr. reiterate it later was confusing. I had to wonder (and look at your words for a hint) as to why the date was so significant. It did jerk me ‘out of story’.
    When she was released from the hospital I kept expecting her and everyone to be OVER the past, and was surprised that it was still a fresh incident. I understood later of course, but as I neared the end with the lawyer conversation I thought maybe a criminal investigation will ensue later and you might be trying to set a timeline for that.
    Maybe it’s just me, but the pointing to the exact dates that way threw me off.
    Excellent writing otherwise (in my very humble opinion)!

  3. Olga Oliver

    Hi Laureli – thanks so much for giving me your thoughts. I’m a little confused about your thoughts about timing. Guess I need to contact Larry and get him to remove the timing that has attached itself at the end of the Prologue. Is that what you’re speaking about? That needs to be moved down to Chapter 1. And while we’re near the Prologue, would you have time to tell me what your thoughts are on the Prologue. Sometime a prologue can establish more problems than it’s worth. Thanks again. Olga

  4. Great mysterious premise drew me in. I like the Prologue – maybe needs a bit more of the setting. Because Lizbeth is confused (understandable, given the circumstances) her bits of thoughts and questions throw me into confusion.
    Patrick in a white suit had me thinking he was the pastor. But the entrance into Chapter One was very good, establishing their current ages, their kinship, etc. Into the story, I had a bit of trouble with all the people’s names and relationships, and their various jobs – child care centers, ranch, etc. Maybe too much information all at once.
    Looking forward to more.

  5. Hi Olga,
    Good opening scene with strong emotion and many avenues to explore how dark the twin relationship gets from there. Like Lois, I also had a bit of trouble following who was who, who was picking up Lizbeth at the hospital, and where they were taking her….farm, child care center, both? Otherwise, you definitely make the reader know that Lizbeth has trouble pouring in from several different directions and is wondering who really has her back here. That comes across as intensely as I’m sure you intended it to!

  6. Olga Oliver

    Thanks Lois and Jennifer for your comments. Your comments echoed my thoughts exactly about the number of characters involved. Right now, I don’t know what to do about that. There’s so much going on and Texans have so much space to fill, particulary in 1961. Three dozen projects going on at the same time is one of my protagonist’s weaknesses that I hope she’ll be able to overcome. I don’t want it to be a Texas saga, so I must figure a way to make the number of characters appear to be less. Thank you all so much for responding.

  7. 🙂 Are all the characters absolutely necessary? I plotted out a story with five siblings and discovered it just wouldn’t work, so killed off two of them! And if they are absolutely necessary, do they all have to come in to the first scenes of the story? Keep working it. It’s a good story.

  8. Olga Oliver

    Lois, thanks for the encouragement. Maybe some of these characters will simply cut-out!!

  9. As to your question above: DEFINITELY keep the prologue. I think it’s great–it draws the reader in with a suspenseful hook, with just a hint of what’s going on but holds back enough that we want to keep reading.

    I had a few other concerns about the multiple characters and timing, but others have already mentioned that. 🙂 But the prologue is practically perfect.

  10. Olga Oliver

    Thanks Julie – can’t say how much I ‘slurped up’ your comment about my prologue. I’ve really sweated with that THANG!! The main reason being that I have never fainted, passed out, or anything like that I could relate to. So that’s pure imagination. I know the many characters need work. Have had my head in Laurie Alberts book Showing & Telling all day studying the uses of summaries hoping to find an answer. This book is awesome. Thanks again.

  11. Mark

    Should the last dialogue in prologue end with “You’re a murderer, a murderer.”?

  12. Evonne M. Biggins

    Olga, the prologue didn’t confuse me, sounded fine to me. I wonder if “audience” is the right word to describe people attending a funeral? Also, would it be easier to show the main character’s emotions by using first person? There are so many other characters, that a first person “I”, instead of “she”, might help seperate the characters. Also, there’s a bit of telling and not showing as in, (ran her hand across Catherine’s naturally blonde hair)–just a thought.
    I like the story tone and your voice, although, when Lizbeth said, “…he’s not a dumb dumb,” that didn’t seem to match the character’s tone up to that point. Something about it jarred.
    When the doctor said it was 1961, that seemed off because the reader already knew the date… unless there’s areason for it later–maybe you are foreshadowing, or he’s tying to make her believe that it’s 1961…?.
    I loved… “…every leaf is paused. Still and waiting.” !
    I see some places where character inner reaction is missing–what’s she’s thinking, but mostly what she’s feeling: “Hold it, Catherine,” Lizbeth said and moved over to stand above her. “I didn’t try to kill Patrick. ‘

    Oh, Olga, I have fainting experience. (I wish there was a spell check here :-{ ). First, all sounds fade and get tiny, not just fainter, but acutally tiny, like they’d sucked air from a helium balloon. Then everything around the pupil (eye) gets dark like a black cloud closing in. Then (in my case) nausea, shakeyness, cold sweat and then nothing.
    When coming out of it, sounds get loud FAST and bigger and brightness rushes the eyes–the brain’s confused. Weakness follows for awhile.
    (I used to pass out in grade school when the teacher told me to go to the blackboard–and look at me now 🙂 )
    :-} I hope this helped.


  13. Olga Oliver

    Evonne – thank you very much for the fainting experience. I have made a note of it word for word. Will probably put this in my revision. Thanks mucho.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(Spamcheck Enabled)