Fiction Friday: Part Four of One Mountain Away

Tuning in late?  Every Friday this month I’ve shared the beginning of One Mountain Away , and I’ll conclude next week on August 3.  By then the book will be at your favorite bookstore or better yet, on your personal bookshelf.  You can read prior excerpts by clicking on Goddesses Anonymous under Categories at the right.  Start reading from the bottom.  I hope you’re enjoying this advance peek.

Part Four: Chapter Two, Part Two 

The Reverend Analiese Wagner was thinking about food, which was not unusual. She always thought about food when she was worried, or when she had five things to do at once. Maybe that’s why she was picturing double cheeseburgers in her mind and double scoops of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. This afternoon she was doubly stressed.

“If I make it through the memorial service, double cheese on my next pizza,” she promised herself out loud, although she hadn’t eaten pizza for years because it was as impossible to stop eating as salted peanuts. Even now at thirty-eight, after years of adulthood as a willowy size ten, the fat little girl inside her was still clawing to get out. For the rest of her life she would be forced to watch every bite and exercise without mercy.

Someone had parked in the slot against the side fence reserved for clergy. To be fair, the driver hadn’t exactly parked in the slot. She–and Analiese knew it was a she–had parked beside it, but not well, so the silver Audi was actually taking up two places, one of them Analiese’s. She recognized the car.

“Charlotte Hale.” Mentally she thumped her palm against the steering wheel of her ten year old Corolla, the very same Corolla that Charlotte Hale had asked about several months ago, just before she handed Analiese the business card of a car dealer who could arrange a low-interest loan and a trade-in.
Analiese couldn’t recall seeing Charlotte at services or meeting in the past month or so, but that was likely to mean that today Charlotte had a list as long as her arm of problems she wanted to comment on.

Analiese found another spot at the end of the row, but once she turned off the Toyota’s engine, she sat quietly and closed her eyes.

“Please, Lord,” she prayed softly, “help me mind my tongue, my manners, and while we’re at it, today please give me an extra spoonful of compassion, no matter how bitter it tastes.” She hesitated. “A slice of no-cal pizza would be good, too, but I know better than to push.”

Out of habit she put two fingers against the hollow of her throat to loosen her clerical collar–until she realized she wasn’t wearing one. In half an hour she would be changing into her robe for the service she was here to conduct, so she was wearing a simple round-necked navy dress. Right now anyone who didn’t know her would assume she was one of the mourners come to honor Minnie Marlborough.

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