- "One and a half
weeks left," Shelle said to herself as she rubbed the sleep
from her eyes and swung her feet over the side of the bed. She
made her bed, got dressed and fixed herself and the room and
then went downstairs. James was already up, getting breakfast,
so she went over to the piano. Her hands stroked the black smoothness
of the lid and then she lifted it and started to play. Music
filled the room and James began to sing as he flipped pancakes.
They ate and everything was done, so James lay full-length on
the couch with his feet thrown over the side and Shelle just
stayed at the piano.
"Well, Shelle, there isn't much to do around here,"
James said from the couch. "Where would you like to go?"
"Oh, I don't know," Shelle said. "Do you think
we could go to London?"
"Yeah. I've got to drop by my company and see what's going
They both got up and fixed themselves. James wrapped himself
in a long black coat while Shelle wore Lindy's yellow one. They
drove off and talked the long drive to London as storm clouds
threatened to shower them with rain. When they arrived, they
had lunch at a small cafÈ, but left quickly as soon as
photographers showed up on the scene. But as they quickly walked
away, a lady photographer asked politely if she could please
take their picture.
Shelle looked to James for help. She didn't mind, but would
"Sure," he consented, with a little uncertainty.
"Just stand there, you two," the lady said as she
adjusted her lenses.
James and Shelle stood together, James's hand on Shelle's shoulder
hugging her and Shelle's hand 'round his waist. They both smiled;
Shelle muttered a joke and James's famous grin came out and Shelle
just grinned as naturally as she could and two daisies she'd
picked at the cafÈ peeked out of her pocket.
"And so tell me now," the lady asked when she had
finished, "who is this charming young lady?"
"My niece," James answered, winking at Shelle. "Her
name is Shelle Stanley."
"Well, well," the lady said. "I didn't think
I'd see you again in the public eye for quite some time, Mr.
Mac, but I was wrong. I bet you're having fun gadding about London
with this little miss, a'n't cha? Well, well, the dead are forgotten
too soon nowadays."
James almost hit her. Shelle felt his anger; how dare this rude,
stupid twit speak of them-and Lindy-in such a degrading manner?
She put a hand on his arm, calming, restraining.
"I am very sorry, miss, to find that you have a grievous
misunderstanding of the situation," Shelle said gravely,
in a fine tone that instilled more than one meaning into her
words. "First of all, I asked James if we could come to
London. It's not like he wanted to or anything, but he did and
that's very kind of him. Second, we can't have any fun 'gadding
about' because we're constantly being followed by people like
you." She spat the words out as if they hurt her mouth.
"Third, James will never forget Lindy and neither will I.
I think the people that truly love James and Lindy will understand
this better than I can explain. I also think you, ma'am, are
a rude person, butting into affairs that don't concern you. Now
if you'll please excuse us, we'll be on our way. Let's go, James."
Shelle took James's hand and marched away, angry and defiant.
James was proud of Shelle, but he was also angry with the woman.
Their anger spent as they approached James's office/company
building. They had run through alleys to escape more photographers,
reporters, and fans.
"Hello, James," the passing workers inside said.
"Hey, Jeff," James said after they had reached a recording
studio a few floors up. "What's the scoop?"
"Oh, well...." Jeff prattled on with business figures,
money, current events, everything.
Shelle sat off to the side, not paying attention, for she had
spotted a piano inside the studio. She edged her way past the
two chatting men and sneaked inside. She was alone with the sounds
of silence. She went over to the piano and began to play, singing
along with herself. It calmed her and she relaxed in song.
"Hey, girl, d'you want me to run a tape for ya?" A
voice garbled something in some headphones lying on the piano.
Shelle put them on and responded with a "What?"
"I said, d'you want me to run a tape?"
"Record my stuff?"
"Well, I should think so."
"I think I'd like that," Shelle replied. "What's
your name and what are you?"
"I'm Fred Martin," the voice said in her ear. "And
I'm a human bein'."
"I think I know that," Shelle snapped.
There were some laughs on the other end before she got the answer:
"I'm pretty much everything. I produce, I mix, blah, blah;
"Oh," was Shelle's reply.
"Name of yer song?"
Shelle remembered an old recording of James and his first band.
One of his band mates was saying, "For the Benefit of Mr.
Site! This is take one!"
"Anything and everything played by Shelle Stanley. Take
Shelle sat at the piano again and started to play. After awhile,
she started to sing along with herself. Then she heard a maraca
being shaken and a trumpet. She turned and saw Jeff with the
maraca and James with the trumpet. They played for a little while,
James eventually switching to his guitar. When they finished
(or, to be more accurate, when they'd had enough), Shelle said,
"We're done, Mr. Martin."
"Alright." He stopped the tape and disappeared from
sight. Seconds later, he emerged with the tape and a smile on
"You've got style, kid," he said to Shelle as he handed
her the tape. Then he turned to James and hugged him. "Haven't
seen you in awhile," he was saying.
"Yeah, well." James's eyes threatened to give him away,
but he held himself in. "Just came to check up on everything.
We still have to do other things too, so we'd better go."
Fred nodded understandingly and James took Shelle's hand and
they left quietly. On the way across the offices of James's company,
something caught Shelle's eye. There was a portrait of Lindy
on a wall with lots of flowers under it and heaped upon it. Diagonally
across from her portrait was one of James and Lindy together
and this one was also garlanded in blossoms.
Shelle took the two flowers out of her pocket, smelled them,
and then when James wasn't looking, she let go of his hand and
placed the flowers on the tops of the two portraits. She took
James's hand again and they left the building without a word
and got into James's car as it started to rain.
"James," Shelle said as they buckled up, "there's
a place I'd like to go to before we go."
James looked like he was about to yell at her, but Shelle kept
her face expressionless.
"Where to, Shelle." He didn't ask. He just said it.
"To a church," Shelle replied calmly. "Take me
to a church."
He didn't even protest. He was tired, which accounted for his
mood, but he turned the keys and off they went. Soon they were
at the steps of a beautiful church. Shelle got out, but James
"C'mon, James," she said. He only shook his head. She
shrugged and went in, hugging her coat to herself.
James watched the yellow-coated dark-haired girl trudge up the
stairs of the church as the rain plastered her hair to her head.
Once inside, Shelle felt warmed. Lamps and candles cast a cozy
light over the long rows of pews as they burned. No one else
was in there. Shelle wanted
to go to the church; she needed to. She sat in a middle pew and
bowed her head to pray. She knew she could pray on the farm and
she didn't walk into churches to pray either. But today, she
wanted to and there she was.
James waited for her but she didn't come back out. He got out
of the car and went inside and found her, quietly praying, her
long eyelashes brushing her cheeks. Tears were running down her
face. It was the first time James had ever really seen her cry
and he felt astounded. Why was she crying? He sat with her and
put his arm on her shoulder. He found that she was limp, very
limp. She lifted her head once to see whom was next to her and
then she bowed it again.
Pray, James, a voice said within him. It doesn't do any harm.
It's good for you. Pray to God, tell Him your troubles. He will
He knelt obediently, bowed his head, and closed his eyes. He
prayed so fervently and sincerely that tears ran down his face.
He did not go limp, but remained strong. He felt so wholly clear
and clean when he opened his eyes and then he touched Shelle's
shoulder. She had finished and her eyes were dry. She wasn't
limp anymore, though she limped a little without her crutches.
She had left them behind at the farm. They walked out of the
church and got into the car and drove home.
© Lissa Michelle Supler
- Background and pearly stars courtesy
of Moira's Web Jewels