Sandra Leesmith is sharing some fascinating information about the inspiration of her latest book over at Seekerville
Of course, I’m often inspired by family haunts and traditions, but the scene below was inspired by a specific incident, and it’s one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever written so far.
From Love at Twenty Paces
She stood before the red barn. A place she’d never thought so threatening as she did at this very moment. The large building had been nothing more than a place to work and to play on an odd occasion. Now it seemed like a mountain needing to be moved. And she hadn’t a prayer in the world.
Nope. All she had was a pocket full of nails and a hammer in her hand. And absolutely no idea how she was going to gather the courage to climb that rickety ladder. Yet, she intended to do it herself. Especially since there was no one else.
She closed her eyes, counted to ten and clenched her fists.
“Why me, Lord?” She didn’t expect an answer. She had never expected an answer. In fact, she quite imagined He was laughing at her predicament. “Well, it’s my pleasure to be your source of entertainment,” she said aloud.
Blowing out a breath, she dislodged a wayward curl from her brow.
She opened her eyes.
She counted to ten. Again. And looked up at the peak of the roof.
“I’m going to be ill.” Her body began to vibrate as her muscles shook. But there was nothing to be done. Perhaps it was a consequence of her pride.
She tucked the hammer into the band of her britches, its weight heavy against her side. Chewing on her upper lip, she placed one boot on the bottom rung, the other boot firmly on the ground. All she had to do was rise up a little and she’d be completely out of the dust. However, that small action would make her committed.
Who was she kidding? This had to be done. If she didn’t do it, then she’d prove to Mrs. Farland and all her quilting cronies that she wasn’t fit to raise Matthew Mark and see to the managing of his ranch.
Well, there was nothing to be done. Other than, what needed to be done, which meant her stepping a foot on the ladder.
“Our Father who art in Heaven.” Darby grasped hold of the rung at eye level and stepped onto the second wrung of the ladder.
“Hallowed be Thy name.” She swallowed hard and glanced at the place where wood met dirt. A few more steps, and then a few more, and she would reach the edge of the roof. She fortified herself with a deep breath.
“Thy kingdom come.” She continued the climb reaching the edge of the roof. Another lump formed in her throat. “Thy will be done.”
Darby placed her hands firmly onto the edge of the roof and pulled herself up. A moment before she found a comfortable perch, the moment when her hands began to slip, she heard the distinct sound of wood thumping, and then bouncing to the dirt.
“No, no, no.” She dug her nails into the wood slats, seeking purchase. Her knees hit the rail running along the edge. She skidded to a stop. Her head dropped against the grainy wood, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Whatever had possessed her?
The pounding of her heart thudded against her chest. Splinters dug into her cheek. Fear gripped her. Her limbs froze. She squeezed her eyes shut and clung to the slope like a leech to bare skin after a dip in the pond.
Self-preservation kept her lids scrunched tight until her cheeks hurt from the effort. Some inner voice told her to breath slow and deep. Instead, fearing even that slightest movement would cause her to slip, she held her breath.
And she wouldn’t just thump like the crack of wood. No, she’d thump with the crack of bone. One mangled Creasy was enough for a week’s time. Besides, if she dared breathe, she was likely to upend all the contents of her stomach.
A snap resonated through the thick mire of fear. The roof beneath her bowed and groaned as it buckled. If she opened her eyes, perhaps she could find a way out of the muck, but she settled her focus on keeping her limbs glued to the roof, and prayed the strong Kansas wind would, for the time being, keep still. At least until she woke up from her nightmare.
Oh, but she was in the brine.
The pounding of her heart grew louder and louder, thundering in her ears. Another loud crack snapped and one of her knees slipped into the open air. She dug her fingers deeper into the wood.
Images of Matthew Mark and Lily flashed onto the backs of her eyelids. Her promises to them hung on a frayed tether. Promises she vowed to keep. Promises that would shatter if she fell to her death.
And what about Justice? His disappointment in her would never be erased. Not if she didn’t live long enough to make amends to Mr. McGuire. And poor Mr. McGuire, she’d never be able to look him in his eyes and apologize for her sore behavior. Never would she be able to show her dying gratitude for saving Matthew’s life.
Perhaps death would be preferable.
Not many called her Miss Creasy. Leastwise none that’d step foot on Creasy Ranch. And none with the ability to cause goose pimples to race over her arms. She released a heavy sigh, expelling the air she’d held, lest she fall. Leave it to her to conjure up the one man that turned her knees to sap.
She was going to die. Die without ever knowing if she could change her ways and prove her worth to a man like Mr. McGuire.
If only she had a second chance . . . .