Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Shoes on the Stairs by Jan Steele

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Claire Blackwell can’t find that damn white light. Thanks to a mishap at an intersection, she’s dead and stuck somewhere between Heaven and what seems like Hell as she is forced to watch her husband and children unravel without her. While she struggles to find answers for her limbo state, her family begins to see her, offering what she believes, is a gift of second chances.
As she navigates through this new, untouchable world and the challenges it creates, she is forced to face some sad and potentially dangerous truths. Determined, she works to mend her relationship with her family, but her stubborn teenage son refuses to acknowledge her, and when tensions escalate with his long-time bully, her inability to control the physical world around her leaves her fearing for her family’s safety. With her time running out, she must find a way to save them before the progress she has made is lost and she fades from this world forever.
Excerpt

Back in the kitchen, Brad stood at the counter, amused by something on his phone while he sipped his coffee.

“Did you see this on Facebook?” He turned his phone screen in my direction.

“I haven’t been on Facebook in ages. Too busy for that time-suck.”

But truthfully, it wasn’t the time that kept me away as much as it was the lives of my “friends”, which always sounded monumentally better than my own, that stopped me from scrolling through the pages. The job promotions; the endless pictures of exotic vacations; the perfect children doing perfect things; the perfect, perfect lives everyone seemed to live. Everything and everyone were perfect on Facebook, and although deep down I knew no one lived the utopian life they portrayed on social media, the braggery still ate at me and left holes of inadequacy and unhappiness.

“Bridget Radcliff just published a novel. Isn’t she a friend of yours?”

“What?” I glanced at Brad’s phone. Bridget’s post made its way to his page from a friend of a friend of a friend in the small, claustrophobic world of fake-believe.

“Looks like it made it onto Amazon’s bestseller list.”

“Wow, fantabulous,” I said without an ounce of energy in my voice. “Another smut novel makes it onto the bestseller list. And if you must know, she’s an acquaintance, not a friend.”

I didn’t know if it was really a smut novel, but I assumed it was only because I couldn’t imagine Bridget writing anything else. But this, I admit, was one of my flaws. I assumed a lot about everything. I assumed I’d marry a prince and become a princess. I assumed I knew everything there was to know at fifteen. I assumed I’d want sex every day for the rest of my life and my marriage to Brad would be like living inside a rainbow every day. I assumed I wouldn’t miss my career when I stayed home to raise the kids. I assumed my children would be the best at everything because I assumed I would be the best mother there ever was. But now, even with all I knew about assumptions, about how they are idealistic dreams I refused to prove wrong, I still gave them weight in my life. Why would assuming Bridget wrote something scandalous be any different?

A little jealousy bounced within me. Even with Bridget being a divorced mother of two, she somehow found the time to write a best-selling novel. And that picture of her on Brad’s phone, all trim and sunshiny-beautiful holding her book, lit a fuse in me, or maybe it was already lit but had met the nitroglycerine.

In any case, I was ready to explode. I moved to the sink and gazed out the window, counting slowly to ten, fully aware of the emptiness growing within me. Each person’s success reminded me of my own career as a teacher I’d willingly given up for this.

About the Author

 photo photo 4_zpsa9yfmzld.jpgJan Steele grew up in the burbs of Chicago and after thirty-two years of shoveling snow, moved to Southern California with her husband and children. She has taught everything from Kindergarten through high school but found her passion for writing years later while living as an expat in Asia for four years. She’s a contributing author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Miracles and More (2018), shares a blog with her sister-in-law, and is an MFA student at UC Riverside. In addition to writing, she loves to travel, volunteer, watch college basketball and sunsets. She’s also passionate about shedding light on the lasting effects of bullying.
 

One Comment on “Excerpt and Sweepstakes: Shoes on the Stairs by Jan Steele

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