Today I want to welcome Marian Thomas to my blog. Please enjoy this excerpt from her latest book, Aqua Blue.
The two best friends sat on the bank of the only lake that ran through Jackson County. One was a slightly tall, raging thin-framed girl with two long braids that hung on either side of her head. Full olive skin wrapped every inch of her body. Her tiny freckles, sporadically placed, highlighted her green eyes and pointed nose. Her mother was a short woman who moved to Jackson County from Virginia with her parents, when she was 15 and a half years old. She had found herself a tall country boy, and they had a small and swaddled country girl, if there ever was such a thing. They named her—Haley.
The other one was a smart, somewhat sassy, almond-skinned girl with eyes so blue they spun a rare color of aqua in the sunlight. Her long, thick hair and curvy frame completed the look. Her father was a slender man with brown wavy hair and green eyes. He was born in Chicago, but when he couldn’t find work after entering his adult years, he moved to the farm life of Jackson County, just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1955. It took him nine years to get the land going and six months after that, to fall in love with a young black woman named Hanna Lee. In the beginning, it had been tough for them. It wasn’t until the winter of 1967 that he was able to legally make her his wife. Their first and only child was born in 1968. They named her Simone Renée Thompson, but called her Aqua Blue.
Aqua Blue and Haley lay side by side, looking up at the moon as it sent what they called twinkles down, which splashed on the top of the sweet water. Yes, Jackson County had sweet water. Everyone in town thought so. All 4230 residents, 31, if you count Ms. June’s new baby. Truth be told, no one wanted to claim that one. Ms. June was not married, hence the “Ms.”
Aqua Blue remembered when Ms. June came to town three years ago, with a belly the size of two or three bowling balls. The scandal spread through the county like someone was paying everyone to talk about it. Aqua Blue had felt sorry for Ms. June, but that wasn’t why she was always so eager to go over to Ms. June’s house and help out. Ms. June had been the only sane individual in Jackson County. Aqua Blue couldn’t even declare that about her own parents. Her best friend Haley was as crazy as a puppy chasing its tail. But Aqua Blue would never tell her that.
Truth be told, Ms. June had been the only one to escape the dingy roads of Jackson County, the old smell that loomed in the air and the overalls that men wore every day without washing them. She had purchased a one-way train ticket to Atlanta and stole off into the night one Sunday in August. She had told everyone that she was going there to find her a city husband, a city house, and a white picket fence that enclosed a square piece of grass. Even in Jackson County, everyone knew that the city didn’t have grass. Nevertheless, Ms. June said that she only needed a square, as she wasn’t one for yard work in the first place. Six months later, Ms. June returned on a Monday with the bowling balls, and of course, no city husband. “At least,” Ms. June once told Aqua Blue just before her daughter Margaret was born, “I have a city baby.”
Everyone needed something to give a bad situation some bright light, Aqua Blue had thought when Ms. June made that statement.
“What are you thinking about, Aqua Blue?” Haley asked, interrupting Aqua Blue’s train of thought.
“Nothing really. Just wondering what it was like in Atlanta when Ms. June found herself there.”
“Does there have to be a reason for me to be contemplating something of that nature?”
“You know I hate that.”
“When you try to talk so proper and all.”
“You should try it. It can be refreshing.” Haley glared at Aqua Blue.
Aqua Blue gave her a friendly shove and the girls allowed the moment to pass.
“You know, I was only asking earlier because it looked like ya’ was about to explode from thinking so hard.”
“I wasn’t thinking hard. More like wondering. Wondering what it would be like to have the hope of never seeing the likes of this place again.”
“Why? You gonna’ leave me and run off to Atlanta like Ms. June and find yourself a good, city-like husband?”
“Not looking for a city husband, Haley.”
“So what ya’ looking in Atlanta for?”
“Actually, I want to go to New York.”
Haley sat up. “What in the good name for?”
“Haven’t you ever wanted to get out of this little dusty town, Haley? I know you have. I’ve seen it in your eyes, every time we see Ms. June.”
“I ain’t never!”
“I ain’t,” Haley said softly.
Aqua Blue saw her biting down on her lower lip. She smiled. “Well, I have. I want to go so bad, Haley, it hurts. You and I graduated this summer, and still, here we both are, doing nothing with our lives.”
“What’s in New York?”
“Life? Ya’ can find that, the same as the cows do, here. Chew-ing the grass and looking up at the sky. Besides, how ya’ gonna’ live in a place like New York, Aqua Blue? You’re only 18. You ain’t got no money.”
“Yes, I do.”
“I’ve been saving my money since I started getting an allow-ance. Then, when I started babysitting Margaret, I saved all of that as well.”
“How much you got?”
“How do you know that you got enough?”
“I spoke to Ms. June.”
“New York and Atlanta ain’t the same, Aqua Blue. In Atlanta, Ms. June could still find some of us, Southerners. New York ain’t got nothing but… big things. I hear they got big people too, who are mean, and big food that taste like it’s been fried and sitting in grease all day long. Don’t forget, they ain’t got no sweet tea. Who can live without them some good ‘ole sweet tea? Ain’t never heard anyone be able to survive without something as essential as that.”
Aqua Blue tried not to laugh as Haley seemed to get herself all caught up in the intensity of her speech.
“Then I heard that they ain’t got no place for you to lay your head if you find yourself in trouble or down-and-out. Here, you always got a place to lay your head, Aqua Blue. So why, is all I’m asking? What they got that you feel you gotta’ get?”
“We got music. Good music too. Music that come in all forms. Country, that new Rap, R&B that you’re always listening to, Jazz, and even some Blues, if you count Mr. Jacobson who lives down by the old barn. What makes music in New York so different than the music here in Jackson County?”
“I wanna sing, Haley. I wanna sing and write my own music.”
“Can you? I ain’t never in my life of 19 years once heard you sing.”
“That’s because I have never sung for anyone.”
“Then how do ya’ know you can do it? Sing, I mean. Ya’ know, singing in the shower ain’t the same as singing to make a living.”
“I know that.”
Aqua Blue stood up and dusted the grass off her rolled-up blue jeans. She walked to the edge of the lake and watched the twinkles dance off the sweet water. They were like tiny stars. The gentle breeze of the air caught her hair, and Aqua Blue felt a burning desire to prove to Haley what had been brewing down in her lungs.
She took a deep breath, and when she opened her mouth, Haley heard a voice she had never heard before. By anyone, for that matter.
It was as smooth as chocolate. Soulful. Passionate. Beautiful.
When Aqua Blue was done, all Haley could say to her was… “Let’s leave as soon as possible.”
Haley wishes her parents would forget her. Her mother wants to control her, her father constantly beats on her and Haley, however, just wants to dance on Broadway. Will her dreams cost her more than she ever expected?
Jonathan Jacob Benjamin Brown is running from the memory of a mother he loved. His journey will thrust him into a world filled with secrets so shocking, he must determine whether he will forgive or walk away.
As they each step foot into the intoxicating city of New York, their dreams are standing before them with open arms. Yet, in order to embrace the possibilities, they must first learn to live, love, and breathe.
About the Author
Author Marian L. Thomas is no stranger to the world of fiction. With three dramatic and engaging books to her credit: Color Me Jazzmyne; My Father’s Colors and Strings of Color, this award-winning author continues to weave colorful stories of emotion and realism, that crosses all boundaries and finds a home in the heart of today’s female reader. This has become her trademark. Her new release: AQUA BLUE, was released July 16, 2013.
Find out more about Marian on her website.
Aqua Blue can be purchased on Amazon.