The Color of Broken, an excerpt, the psychologist’s chair

 

TCOB eng sp fc 300

Title: The Colour of Broken, The Color of Broken (US version)
Author: Amelia Grace
Publisher: Lilly Pilly Publishing

The streets of Tarrin woke to a beautiful morn. Flowers for Fleur opened, gifting the township with its colourful blooms and magical flower fragrances that convinced people the world was indeed a beautiful place, filled with love and light.

Except, it was a lie.

There was darkness within. A darkness that sought to rise and consume the light of two souls. Two women. Two tragic tales. Broken lives. Broken dreams.
The loved and the unlovable, bound by blood.

 

 

The Color of Broken, an excerpt …

I SAT IN THE CHAIR OUTSIDE THE PSYCHOLOGIST’S OFFICE. I’m sure it had a permanent imprint of my butt on it. My mother’s hand was around my upper arm like a vice so I couldn’t run. She knew me well. Thank God. I didn’t want to be here, but I did. I needed to be here. Darkness had reached up to pull me under, yet again.

A woman in her thirties came out of the office. She had manicured nails, perfect hair, make-up, shoes that weren’t steel-capped safety work boots, and a matching handbag. But I couldn’t see what color she was. Not when I felt like this. I pulled a face. I wanted a matching handbag. No I didn’t. I wanted the perfect hair and make-up. No I didn’t. I wanted to be her instead of me. She didn’t look like she had any problems.

She turned her perfectly painted face towards me and smiled. One of those smiles that says, “I’ve got my shit together. I like me!” Maybe when I came out of my therapy session with Dr. Jones today, I’ll come out looking a million bucks—like her. A new person. A new past. My baggage gone like it was permanently lost on a plane flight, or spewed out into space, never to return.

I swallowed. The bitter reality was, this is me. Fucked up. Because of two men. Two cowardly bastards. I hated them. I hated them with every fibre of my being. I hated what they had done to me, what they had done to Mia—what I had become.

I lowered my head and sobbed.

My mother shifted in her chair and handed me a tissue—my dear mother, who had the same blond wavy hair and blue eyes like Gram and me. Except their hair fell to their shoulders, styled of course, while mine, dyed brown, fell to the middle of my back. Wild. I took the tissue from her and silently uttered a thousand apologies. Every parent deserved for their child to grow up happy—happy with a job, happy with friends, happy with themselves, happy with a partner, and babies. Not a self-loathing person like me. I should have d—

‘Yolande.’ Dr. Jones’s voice was comforting, like a warm childhood blankie and a mug of hot chocolate by the fireplace.

My mother’s grip loosened on my arm and I stood, eyes focused on the floor. I took slow steps into the office. The familiar office. I’d been here so often I was wondering when she’d ask me to pay rent.

Dr. Jones put a light hand on my shoulder and led me to the couch. Usually she asked me whether I wanted to sit on the chair or lie on the couch. Today there was no such question. She knew me well. For a moment I wondered if psychologists ever saw a psychiatrist or psychologist themselves? Who did they go to when they had a problem?

While my body moulded to the curves of the furniture, Dr. Jones went to make of pot of tea. I heard the chink of the china teacups and saucers and the boiling water. I closed my eyes and rested my hands on my stomach. I knew what questions were coming. And I knew how to answer them so she heard what she wanted to hear, which was not necessarily my truth. But today, I had decided, I was going to answer her questions, for me—for my truth, in the hope that it would set me free.

My stomach quivered. Courage. Step boldly. I had to do this for me.

At the sound of approaching footsteps I opened my eyes. Dr. Jones placed two teacups and saucers on the table in front of me. I reached over and picked up a cup. The warmth of the brew touched my lips and I relaxed a little. Aah … tea … the magic key to the vault where my brain is kept, according to Frances Hardinge.

‘What brings you here today, Andi?’ Dr. Jones asked, sitting behind me, so we were not face to face.

‘The darkness within,’ I said, and sipped on some more tea. ‘And fear.’

‘Ah … good old Darius Darkness. Your friend. What is he trying to tell you?’

‘I deserve everything that happened. I almost believed him. But Darius is such a liar. He’s relentless at times.’

‘Well done, Andi. So, I’m assuming fear has jumped onboard to weigh you down?’

‘Yes.’ I sipped on my tea. It warmed my throat and my stomach. I welcomed its warmth.

‘Fear of?’

‘Gram wants me to go to a garden party with a stranger to protect her bicycle. She told me not to wear my steel-capped boots.’

‘How does that make you feel?’

‘Terrified. I spiralled into a panic attack. I almost vomited from the anxiety it brought on. I took off my apron, and threw it at her, then ran. I ran away from Gram! I felt so terrible. She’s not well you know, and I did this to her on top of what she’s going through.’

‘Why did you throw your apron at her?’

‘She told me not to live my life in the shadows anymore. She said I was running in fear … all the time. She said everything I chose to do is based on fear. She said, “that’s enough of this nonsense, we have all put up with it for far too long!”’

I started to sob. I had failed everybody. I was a burden to everybody. I stole happiness from everyone who knew me. I felt like I was the color of black, absorbing everyone else’s color.

‘What did you think of your grandmother’s words?’

I gained some sort of control of my crying. ‘She … she spoke the truth … and it hurts.’

‘I agree with your grandmother, Yolande. What you’re doing day to day is surviving, not living. You’re leading your life within tight, constricting walls you have self-imposed, squeezing your right to happiness from you. What happened to you and your friend is not your fault. Those men had choices. And they chose wrongly. It had nothing to do with you, or your friend, what you did, or didn’t do, what you could have, or should have done. There was nothing you could have done to change the outcome of the events. The attackers were under a drug induced psychotic state. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

I closed my eyes and put my trembling hand over my mouth. I dragged my hand away and ran my fingers over my scar. ‘I know … I know all the facts and the results of the medical testing and psychiatric assessment of the bastards. The whole tragic event should never have happened. I want to go back in time and change the outcome. But I can’t.’

‘Have you visited Mia?’

‘No.’

‘It’s something you need to do. There’s a goal for you, Andi. I know you can do it. You have come such a long way since we first met, two and a half years ago.’

I sucked in a shuddering breath. ‘I know.’

‘Let’s go back to the incident with Gram. Which is worse? Going to a garden party with a stranger, or not wearing steel-capped boots?’

‘I think … deep down … it’s not wearing my steel-capped boots. They’re my safety net. I know they’ll inflict serious damage if I kick someone with them in self-defense, and give me time to run.’

‘I’m surprised. I thought going to the party with a stranger would rank higher than your steel-capped boots.’

I looked down at my faithful brown boots. I wore them with my jeans today and they didn’t look so out of place, unlike wearing them with a dress at Flowers for Fleur. I wondered how they would look with an Audrey Hepburn type of old-fashioned dress that Gram suggested I wear. I touched the scar on my chest again. I was hit with the realisation that a fancy, feminine, Audrey Hepburn dress would cover my scar entirely, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the scar accidentally revealing itself to innocent guests, who would then stare at me after the initial shock of seeing it, then communicate a look of pity to me. Gram always thought of everything.

‘At first, going to the garden party with a stranger was more terrifying, but when I thought about it, behind the stranger thing was that I had no one there to help look out for me, to be my extra eyes and ears in case of an attack. If I had my boots on, I’d feel safe. But when Gram added the no steel-capped boots, I felt cornered.’

‘And that triggered other negative emotions and memories?’

‘Yes.’

‘So … we return to the garden party and the boots. Knowing you, you already have a plan. What is it?’

‘I have to wear a dress, with normal dress shoes. My fear is I have nothing to protect myself with. I think shoe throwing would be laughable.’

‘It would still give you some time. Don’t underestimate it. What else can you take that could be tucked into your bag?’

‘Pepper spray. Hairspray. Whistle. Laser pointer. Self-defense safety rod. Mobile phone stun gun.’

‘Have you considered telling your garden party partner your safety concerns?’

‘Never. He knows nothing about me. He is literally a stranger, albeit one who has talked to Gram for close to an hour, and she’s given him permission to borrow her bicycle for four hours as long as I go with him—something she has never done! And I still can’t believe she has sacrificed my mental health in the equation.’

‘Do you think he—’

‘Xander—’

Xander … may feel the need to protect you if something unforeseeable happens at the garden party, considering you are going along as a guest?’

I closed my eyes. I had lost my trust in men. ‘I honestly can’t tell you. All I know is that I must be able to protect myself, no matter what, no matter who else is around, and never to rely on anyone else when it comes to my personal safety. I can’t ever trust a man again.’

‘That’s a valid reaction considering your history.’

There was a short conversation silence. I could hear Dr. Jones madly scribbling notes into her file titled, “Yolande Lawrence-Harrison”. I’m sure one of my therapy sessions will be on male trust, and learning to trust again.

‘Andi, I want you to visualise this … you’ve got your Audrey Hepburn style dress on, cleverly and safely covering up your chest scar. Your other scar is hidden, as you have perfected. On your feet are comfortable court shoes. I have chosen that style because you can run in them, or flick them off to throw, or to run faster from a possible threat.’ Dr. Jones sat opposite me and handed me a sketch pad. ‘I’d like you to draw a picture of yourself in your dress and shoes. Use any of the drawing implements that you feel will reflect how you feel about the situation.’

I took a calming breath and started to draw. Just a simple stick figure drawing of a girl in a dress with dress shoes. I used colour. I added a stick figure of Xander, in blue.

Dr. Jones leaned forward towards my art work. ‘What have you drawn on your face, Andi?’

‘It’s my mask. I wear it every day, without fail.’

‘Are you wearing it now?’

‘No. I feel safe to remove it here.’

‘Thanks. Would you now draw your handbag with all your safety tools inside it please? Visualisation is an important and powerful mind preparation tool.’

I drew a smallish bag, with only make-up inside it.

Dr. Jones looked at me and frowned. ‘Where’s your taser, laser light, mobile phone, pepper spray and self-defence rod?’

‘On me. In my pockets. If I lose my handbag in an attack, I still have protection implements.’

‘Clever.’

I picked up the black pen and gripped it in my hand. Hard. I let out a low scream between my gritted teeth and scribbled over the red mask on my drawing. Tears dripped from my eyes and landed on my drawing, making the ink run.

Dr. Jones did not speak. She did not react. After a while she asked, ‘What are you thinking, Andi?’

I sobbed. ‘I don’t want to keep wearing the mask … I don’t want to keep pretending everything is okay. I don’t want to be this person that I am after what happened. I want the carefree, happy, energetic, kind and loving me back. Everyone says it will get better with time. But it doesn’t. Why couldn’t it have been me, instead of her? It should have been me!’

There was a long silence. And I hated it. We had been over this road a million times before, and I wondered if Dr. Jones was getting tired of it.

‘Have you told her how you feel?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’

‘Because then I would feel ungrateful for being almost okay, when she’s not.’

‘You need to tell her, Andi.’

‘I know.’

‘When?’

‘Sometime in the future.’ I wasn’t ready yet. Was I being unkind? ‘And don’t ask me the magic wand question. There is no magic wand, so the question is pointless.’

‘You’re right. It is indeed a pointless question. So is wishing. If you want a wish to materialize, you have to act upon it and make it happen.’

‘Agreed.’

‘So, do you wish to go to the garden party with Xander in an Audrey Hepburn style dress with court shoes that you can either throw or fling off to run faster, and carry make-up in your bag while your self-defense tools are on your body and pockets to use in case your bag goes missing due to whatever reason?’

‘No. I do not wish to go. So it won’t be happening. Gram can accompany her beloved bicycle if she does not trust the very nice Xander to return it in one piece.’ I sighed and looked down at my hands. ‘I’m sorry for wasting your time today, Dr. Jones. Patients like me must be very frustrating.’

‘On the contrary, Andi. Challenging is a word I might use. But I love challenges. My goal is to help you overcome your obstacles by giving you a mental toolbox full of effective strategies, so you will be able to live a life full of rich and rewarding experiences with happiness thrown in as the icing on the cake. I have total confidence that you will get there.’

‘Some days are harder than others.’

‘Are the hard days becoming less?’

I thought for a bit. I didn’t like to look back into the past three years, but this question required it. ‘Yes. I think they are.’ I spoke in truth.

‘You do realise you’re looking a whole lot better now than when you came through that door an hour ago.’

Was she speaking the truth, or was she using psychological mumbo-jumbo on me? Words of persuasion. Whatever it was, her words did make me feel a little happier, and more like I could cope again. Maybe I wouldn’t have to put that mask back on when I walked out her door today …

‘Before we finish our session, Yolande, can I ask who the blue stick figure is in your picture?’

‘It’s Xander.’

‘Why is he blue?’

‘I see people in … colours …’

‘Like an aura?’

‘No. I see their character as a colour. The colour is usually above and behind their head.’

‘How do you work out their character?’

‘Intuition, behaviour, tone of voice, dress choice …’

‘Can their colour change?’

‘Absolutely, with incidents …’

‘I’m glad you feel safe enough to disclose this ability to me. How long have you possessed this way of seeing people?’

‘Since I was seven.’

‘What colour are you?’

I took a deep breath and twisted my fingers together. My stomach tightened. I cleared my throat. ‘The colour of broken …’

Dr. Jones was silent.

I stopped breathing when anxiety rose inside me like a wall of lava, about to incinerate me. It was freaking me out that she now knew this about me, and that she had not reacted to the description of my colour.

‘And what colour would that be?’ she finally asked.

I breathed out through my lips, slowly, steadily, counting to five in my head. ‘Gray with an “a”.’

‘There’s a difference?’

‘Oh, yes. Grey with an “e” is very different to gray with an “a”.’

‘How?’

‘Grey with an “e” is like the rain clouds. It’s melancholy, but an enjoyable melancholy that builds up until it releases, and then it’s like petrichor, the smell of the rain after warm, dry weather. Satisfying. Grey with an “e” is also when deep thought, philosophy and ponderings happen. Everyone should experience grey with an “e”, it helps to discover parts of you that you never knew existed, and it can vanish without leaving a bitter aftertaste.’

‘Tell me about gray with an “a”.’

I looked down at my knotted hands. ‘Gray with an “a” is … never enjoyable—it’s a very dark gray. It’s self-judgment, doom and gloom, forever hanging around and within. It wants to drag you into the dark abyss of the colour black, that absorbs all colours … the colour of self-condemnation, the colour of depression, the colour of death of the physical body.’

‘But not the spiritual body?’

‘No.’ I didn’t want to add any more to this conversation. It was painful to talk about.

‘So, me being a supposedly normal person, could I see your gray with an “a”?’

‘No. Because I mask it. And my gray with an “a” is not a plain gray with an “a”. It’s a crackled dark gray, with other colours that seep out … sometimes.’

‘What colours would they be?’

‘Drips of red for anger … specks of black—’ for self-hate, ‘—for my secret, blushes of pink for my love for Mia and my family, and explosions of turquoise that screams at me to love myself …’

‘That’s very insightful, Yolande. It’s highly intuitive. I’m curious … when you look at me, what colour am I?’

I hesitated before I spoke. I never told anyone the colour I had appointed to them for fear of them running from me. But Dr. Jones, she was different, she would understand …
‘You are … magenta,’ I finally said. ‘It’s the colour of a person who helps to construct harmony and balance in life, hope and aspiration for a better world—mentally and emotionally,’ I said, and held my breath, waiting for her reaction.

She raised her eyebrows at me. ‘That’s an amazing gift to have in your mind toolbox, Yolande. Does it ever lie to you?’

I closed my eyes. The two men on that terrible day of the scars were blue—trustworthy—until a truck load of alcohol changed them to negative red—aggressive and domineering, and then the drugs made them a violent and brutal dark red. Shades of red. Every colour had shades and positive and negative attributes. I pressed my lips together before I answered her question. ‘Alcohol and drugs change the essence of a person’s colour. But then I have to wonder whether their sober colour is their true color at all, and the inhibition that a little alcohol gives, reveals their real colour.’

‘Do you think I should be serving up glasses of wine, rather than cups of tea?’ Dr. Jones smiled at me.

‘Clearly. If anything, it would make great research!’ I grinned, wondering whether Dr. Jones would have a glass of red on the table for me next time I was here.

‘Thank you for everything you have shared with me today, Yolande. For Sunday, use the mind tools I have given you. I’m confident that the afternoon will go well. And try to allow yourself to enjoy the event.’

‘Thanks, Dr. Jones.’

We both stood and walked to her door. She opened it for me, and I left, without one of those smiles that said, “I’ve got my shit together!”

 

*  *  *  *  *

A portion of sales from this novel will be donated to Meniere’s disease research at Meniere’s Disease Research Fund Inc.

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THe colour of broken new eng

 

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Amelia Grace is the pen name of Julieann Wallace, who is a published author of multiple, sort after stories. She writes novels (under her pseudonym) and is an author and illustrator of numerous children’s picture books, written under her own name. Prior to her career as a writer, Julieann was an educator with Education Queensland (Australia) for 25 years, and was nominated twice for the National Excellence in Teaching Awards.
Julieann is continually inspired by the gift of imagination and the power of words that can create change to reach out to others. She is a self-confessed tea ninja, has a quirky cat named Claude Monet, and has a passion for music, art and sport. She lives in
Queensland, Australia, and is a paper cut survivor…

Julieann is a member of:

 

 

The Colour of Broken – when hearts collide – an excerpt

tcob front cover

Title: The Colour of Broken
Author: Amelia Grace
Publisher: Lilly Pilly Publishing

The streets of Tarrin woke to a beautiful morn. Flowers for Fleur opened, gifting the township with its colourful blooms and magical flower fragrances that convinced people the world was indeed a beautiful place, filled with love and light.

Except, it was a lie.

There was darkness within. A darkness that sought to rise and consume the light of two souls. Two women. Two tragic tales. Broken lives. Broken dreams.
The loved and the unlovable, bound by blood.

 

The Colour of Broken … an excerpt …

 

Dear Flowers for Fleur,

How much is the bicycle?
I would like to acquire it.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear ?

The bicycle is not for sale.

Regards,
Andi

__________________________________________________________________________________________

‘FLOWERS, TEA, COFFEE … OR BOOKS?’ I said, according to Gram’s script, still looking at my list of jobs and trying to decipher Gram’s shaky writing. It was so unlike her meticulous decorative cursive script …

‘None. I’m delivering this letter in person instead of putting it in the flowers of the bicycle.’

I froze, unable to move my sight from the list. Xander was standing before me? His voice sounded so unlike a rotund, balding, middle-aged business man. I looked up at him and my thoughts scattered. His blue eyes were decadent, his dark hair inviting me to run my fingers through it. I blinked to find my senses. This tall, slender, fit looking, god-like person standing before me was the persistent, annoying, pigheaded stranger becoming an unstranger, the one wanting to acquire Gram’s Schwinn Phantom Cruiser bicycle? He was the color of azure blue, like a male morpho butterfly—determination and ambition—with a splash of … light red passion and sensitivity. What? Two colors? That was indeed a rarity. I raised an eyebrow at him, impressed by his presence of being. ‘So, you don’t want flowers today?’

‘No. Never in fact.’ His voice was fruity; deep and strong in a pleasant way.

I breathed out the luring potion he offered. ‘You know what flowers do—don’t you?’

‘Of course … they die!’ His lips curled up on one side.

I smiled. He was being obscure and intentionally annoying. I cocked my head and narrowed my eyes at him, then burst out laughing.

He frowned at me and smirked.

‘Flowers are happiness, bundled into a bouquet—they are regret, an apology, a bridge to amends, friendship, thinking of you, you make my heart sing, they are the color at a funeral, get well soon, thank you, a surprise, a grand celebration … I miss you—’ Was this really the man I had been writing notes to? He was stunning. ‘I love you.’ I stopped speaking and swallowed. He was hard to convince. If he was a flower, he would be a Nigella damascena, otherwise known as Love-In-A-Mist, or Jack-In-Prison. The petals would definitely be in shades of blue, it’s flowers hidden in the misty foliage. In the language of flowers, Nigella damascena was equal to perplexity.

‘Have you finished your rambling sales campaign?’ He lifted an eyebrow at me.

I sighed. I needed to dig deeper. Who was this beautiful man who stood before me who wasn’t responding to my sales tactics? They always worked. ‘Flowers for a girlfriend?’ I continued. Surely he had an elegant woman who graced the social pages.

No response.

‘Boyfriend?’

He took a deep breath.

‘Mother, or Grandmother?’

No response.

The phone rang. I held up my finger. ‘Wait … one moment, and I’m yours again.’ I picked up the phone and put it to my ear, and wrote down the flowers ordered for delivery. I finished the phone call and looked up at the beautiful Xander.

He let out an audible breath. ‘Just take the letter. I need an answer.’

What’s his problem? He seemed so arrogant. I took the letter from his hand, placed it on the desk and tapped it. Twice. ‘I’ll read it after the rush hour and get back to you.’

He nodded, removed a pink Peruvian lily from a container on a table to the right of the sales desk, and held it out to me. ‘For persuasion.’ He raised an eyebrow at me.

I half-smiled, conscious of the warmth that flowed through me. ‘Flowers don’t work their magic on me. I live and breathe them five days a week. You’re going to have find something else. I hope your day gets better …’

He looked down at the flower and ran his hand through his dark hair, gazed into my eyes and pulled his eyebrows together. ‘I don’t think anything can beat the education about flowers you just gave me—but you forgot one description of them—they’re beautiful, like you.’

I laughed more loudly than I intended. Conversations stopped around the store and people turned to look at me, then him.

He looked around and gave a nervous smile.

‘Well played, Xander. The power of flattery. For a moment there, I almost believed you. Kindness and intelligence rank more highly on my list as a compliment. Beauty fades with age and fake beauty deceives and is all too abundant.’ I stilled for a moment, looking into his blue eyes, and sighed. ‘I’ll give you an answer, later today.’

He put his hands into his pocket. ‘I can’t ask for anything more. Thanks.’

He gazed into my eyes for a little too long. My lips parted in response to his unexpected, intimate, eye connection. He narrowed his eyes at me, took a deep breath, turned and left.

I watched as he threw his backpack over his broad shoulders, then took long strides out the door. I frowned. He was dressed in a black, sleeveless hoodie and black jogger pants, but he had the walk of a man raised with wealth and privilege. What’s his story?

A muffled scream sounded in the store. Gram.
I looked around for her, but she was nowhere to be seen. I rushed to her office and hesitated at the door, my heart thudding. When I opened it, Gram was sprawled on the floor, and blood was pooling near her head.
She was staring at the wall, her head held still.

I grabbed five sheets of paper towel and swooped down to her, and pressed them to her forehead to try to stop the bleeding, ignoring the poison of anxiety that tried to control me. I watched her eyes. They were moving rapidly from side to side. What’s going on?

‘Enough of this. I’m calling the paramedics.’ My voice was more forceful than I intended.

‘No. I’ll be fine, after a few hours—’

‘Gram, you’re bleeding! You won’t be fine!’ I tried to keep my panic from her.

Gram reached up to her head. The only part of her body that moved was her arm and hand. It was like she was a robot, the rest of her body fused into place.
Slowly, she moved her hand in front of her eyes, then vomited. Spectacularly. I squeezed my eyes shut while her body went into a spasmodic movement each time she expelled the contents of her stomach, numerous times.

‘I can’t do this anymore … please help me … please help me … I can’t do this anymore …’

Tears streamed down my face. There was something seriously wrong with Gram. I didn’t want it to be sinister … what would I do without my Gram? She meant everything to me.
I pulled my phone from my pocket with my free hand, and pressed some numbers. ‘I need an ambulance … please.’

*  *  *  *  *

A portion of sales from this novel will be donated to Meniere’s disease research at Meniere’s Disease Research Fund Inc.

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Formats and Editions
Trade paperback (print book)

the colour of broken 3d

ORDER AMAZON UK
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978-0-6480846-2-4
March 28, 2018
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The Color of Broken 3d copy

ORDER AMAZON US
9780648084662
March 28, 2018
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EBook

tcob front cover

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The Color of Broken

The Color of Broken cover

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IMG_0902.jpgcropped.jpgmoidtone.jpg midtones

Amelia Grace is the pen name of Julieann Wallace, who is a published author of multiple, sort after stories. She writes novels (under her pseudonym) and is an author and illustrator of numerous children’s picture books, written under her own name. Prior to her career as a writer, Julieann was an educator with Education Queensland (Australia) for 25 years, and was nominated twice for the National Excellence in Teaching Awards.
Julieann is continually inspired by the gift of imagination and the power of words that can create change to reach out to others. She is a self-confessed tea ninja, has a quirky cat named Claude Monet, and has a passion for music, art and sport. She lives in
Queensland, Australia, and is a paper cut survivor…

Julieann is a member of 

 

50f6bada3785a639f3356d91809f0f5f

The Colour of Broken, an excerpt

tcob front cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: The Colour of Broken
Author: Amelia Grace
Publisher: Lilly Pilly Publishing

The streets of Tarrin woke to a beautiful morn. Flowers for Fleur opened, gifting the township with its colourful blooms and magical flower fragrances that convinced people the world was indeed a beautiful place, filled with love and light.                 Except, it was a lie.                                                                                                                         There was darkness within. A darkness that sought to rise and consume the light of two souls. Two women. Two tragic tales. Broken lives. Broken dreams. The loved and the unlovable, bound together by blood.

‘FLOWERS, TEA, COFFEE, OR BOOKS?’ I know I didn’t need to ask the question, but I was trembling inside when I saw him … and Gram did want me to ask that question, each and every time.

‘Flowers … for Fleur,’ Gramps answered, not blinking. I had watched him walk toward the sales desk, with a stooped posture. I looked into his red eyes and swallowed the lump in my throat. He was the colour of orange smoke, like a flare. It was his distress signal.
‘She’s bad, Landi. Real bad. I want to fix her. But I can’t.’ His voice cracked, and my throat constricted once again.

Any ounce of happiness inside me evaporated. ‘Peonies are her favourite,’ I said, my voice flat.

‘I know. Make it a white bunch. Pure, like her heart.’ Gramps hung his head and walked away from the sales desk and over to the workbench. I followed him with slow steps, my heart crying in silence.

Gramps ran his hand along the timber bench. ‘There was one test that was brutal, for Gram. The doctor said it was usually well tolerated … but not for Gram.’ He looked up at the ceiling, trying to stop his tears, I suspect. ‘The fear in her eyes was—’ He stopped talking and swallowed. ‘She was so brave …’ He leaned his elbows on the workbench and put his head into his hands. ‘I want it to be me, not her. Not my love …’ Gramps lifted his head and looked at me with wet eyes.

A tear slid down my face. On that side. The side of my face that always betrayed me. And I ran. In my work boots.

The door to the powder room banged when I pushed it open. I didn’t mean to push it so hard. I swooped down and grabbed my concealer makeup. I wanted to sob. Deeply. But this wasn’t the time, or the place. I had to hold myself together to serve at the flower store. For Gram.

I stood tall and looked in the mirror. I held my eyes in my own before I looked to my right cheek. And there it was, partly exposed from my tear. The scar. The scar of terror and broken dreams. I lifted my chin in defiance and applied the make-up. I was good at making the scar look invisible. Three years’ experience works a treat. I moved my face from the left to the right, checking my scrupulous application.

I took a deep, calming breath and left the powder room and walked back to the workbench. Gramps was sitting in the corner on a chair, his hand under his chin. ‘Sorry,’ he mouthed.

I gave him a thumbs-up. I couldn’t speak to him. Not yet.

I gathered the white peonies, blinking away my tears. Gram didn’t deserve this. Bad things aren’t meant to happen to good people. And Gram was the best. I grabbed a white square tin as a vase and placed the peonies into it. White on white. Pure white. Pure. Like Gram’s heart.

Gramps was in front of me then. ‘Beautiful. Thank you.’

‘Created with unending love, for Gram.’ I sniffed an ugly sniff, trying to stop the flow of tears. ‘I want to know the details of the tests … when it’s just you and me. Come at closing time.’

Gramps swallowed. ‘That would be best. I’ll be here.’

I walked around the workbench to Gramps and pulled him into a tight hug. ‘Good things are coming. We have to believe it.’

‘I know.’

‘Give my love to Gram. Tell her I’m thinking of her every minute of every day, and sending healing, Godspeed.’

Gramps pressed his lips together and picked up the peonies. ‘I will. Love you, Yolande.’
He left through the front double doors. He stopped at the bicycle and ran his hand over the handlebars with a look of despair. He shook his head, took a deep breath and walked off.

Flowers for Fleur. Love for Fleur. A cure for Fleur …

I brushed my hands down my apron and closed my eyes. I had to be strong. For Gram. I walked to the sales desk. Jobs to do. People to serve. With kindness and a smile. Like Gram. For Gram.

‘Flowers, tea, coffee or books?’ The man who stood before me was in good physical shape. A gym junkie to be succinct. He was the colour of dark orange: deceit.

‘Since I’m florally repenting, I’ll need flowers,’ he said without blinking.

‘Florally repenting?’ I asked, filled with disbelief at the words I heard.

‘Aaah … yes.’ He placed his hands into his pockets. He wasn’t florally repenting at all.

‘Really?’ I narrowed my eyes at him.

He touched his mouth then frowned. ‘Yes … yes I am.’ He pointed as he spoke. Liar. He needed a good dose of flowers for a fibber.

I looked down and nodded my head. ‘For him?’ I knew it would be a she, but I wanted to stir him a little.

His eyes bulged for a fraction of a second before he stepped back, looked away and shook his head. ‘Always for a woman,’ he said, his voice stressed.

‘Repenting, as in an apology?’

‘Hmmm … no. I’m not sorry for what I did.’

I tilted my head to the side a little and frowned at him. ‘I’m confused … you’re … florally repenting, but you’re … not sorry—is that correct?’

‘Exactly.’ He raised his eyebrows at me.

‘So … these flowers are to—’

‘Say sorry for what I did, even though I’m not sorry. But I need to act sorry for hurting her feelings,’ he explained.

‘Because …’

‘To look good in front of her friends, and to make her look good in front of her friends. It’s simple.’

‘Clearly.’ Not. I frowned. ‘You’re in luck today. I’ve created a display of “sorry” bouquets, over in the right corner of the store.’ I pointed to the colourful tulips, perfect for apologies.

He looked over and smiled, then pulled out cash to pay for his floral repentance.

‘Thanks,’ I said, and watched him sashay over to choose a bunch of tulips. He chose white, and left the store.

Arms wrapped around me from behind and I stiffened. ‘Are you okay?’ It was Charlotte. I hoped my chest scar couldn’t be seen.

‘Yes, just confused,’ I said, and pulled the top of my dress over my chest higher to make sure my scar was hidden.

‘Confused?’ Charlotte repeated.

‘Yes. That guy wanted to say sorry for what he did, even though he wasn’t sorry. He said he was “florally repenting”, to use his term … can you believe it?’ I shrugged my shoulders. ‘He’s bad news!’

‘Hmmm … wouldn’t it be good if women saw a warning colour or something with those types,’ Charlotte said.

‘Yeah,’ I said, and raised my eyebrows. What would she say if she knew of my colour visions?

‘And then we would all stay away from those deceitful “bad boys”,’ she said.

‘Absolutely,’ I agreed. Mia liked those smooth, deceitful, bad boys. She revelled in playing the flirting game with them. That’s how we got into our situation on that terrible day of the scars. Only, she didn’t realise how truly bad those two men were, until it was too late …

‘Thanks for coming in again, Charlotte. If it was just me and Darcy, I’d go insane!’

‘I don’t know …’ Charlotte looked over at Darcy. ‘A good-looking man in the kitchen who can make a killer coffee and bake cakes is a win-win, I think.’

I looked over at Darcy. He was a keeper. My protector in the store and therefore my hero. ‘Yep. He has all the boxes ticked for husband material,’ I said.

Charlotte looked at me. ‘Your husband?’

‘No.’ My eyebrows snapped together and I shook my head. He knew too much about me and what I had been through. ‘He feels like … a big brother to me.’

Charlotte tilted her head to the side and considered him. ‘Maybe for you, but I think he’s rather cute!’ She waggled her eyebrows at me.

I smiled at her and picked up a piece of paper. ‘Here’s your list of jobs to do between flower sales. It’s considerably less than yesterday—so it’s a bit of a cruisy day!’ I smirked at her, then walked away to the workbench. It felt like I had a trillion orders to make and have delivered.

*  *  * 

The rain started its gentle pitter-patter when I closed the store doors at 5pm. By the time Gramps arrived at 6pm, it was a heavy and burdensome deluge, apt for Tarrin’s “more”.
Gramps shrugged off his coat and hung it in the wet room. I walked over and embraced him. When I stepped back, I watched as he wiped a tear from under his eye.

I felt an ache at the back of my throat as I tried to stop my sadness from surfacing. ‘Tea?’

‘That would be best.’

I walked over to Darcy. He should have left by now. But I had been here long enough to know that he never left before me—like my security guard. I assumed he did that for Gram as well.

‘I’ll bring you a large pot of tea, two teacups and cupcakes. Sit by the window,’ he said with soulful eyes.

‘Thanks, Darcy. Are you a mind reader?’

‘No. Just observative. When your Gramps walked in at 6pm, he could only be here to have a conversation with you that can’t be said on the phone … tea is liquid wisdom, it will help you through the conversation …’

My stomach quivered. I had invited Gramps back to the store because I needed to face him and read his emotions while he spoke. I twisted my fingers together. ‘I’ll clean up after we finish. Or maybe … I will sit and wallow and scoff the rest of your cupcakes …’

Darcy raised an eyebrow at me. ‘You know that Yolande with a belly full of cupcakes is bad news. I suggest you refrain from over-indulging on my baking, for the sake of everyone you know.’

‘Advice heard and considered … time for tea with Gramps. See you tomorrow!’ I placed my hand on his arm. His skin was warm and sent me a strange soothing comfort, like having a warm blanket wrapped around me on a freezing winter’s day.

When I turned to my preferred table, Gramps was already sitting there, looking out the window, lost in his thoughts. I took one step towards him and stopped. Anxiety rumbled in my stomach. I stretched my hands to use some excess energy from the anxiety, then continued my path to sit opposite Gramps.

Darcy placed our teapots, teacups and cupcakes onto the table once I had sat down. Gramps turned his attention to the teapot. He turned it three times to the left, and three times to the right, then poured our tea.

‘Meniere’s disease,’ Gramps said, stirring sugar into his amber brew.

‘Many what?’ I picked up my teacup and wrapped my hands around it, absorbing all the warmth I could while a shiver ran down my spine. Gram has a disease …

‘Meniere’s disease,’ Gramps repeated. ‘There’s no cure.’

Everything inside and outside of me froze. Except the tear that slid down my face. On that side of my face, revealing my past. ‘No cure!’ I said in a whisper that cracked my heart. I put my teacup back onto the table.

‘Debilitating vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, nausea, brain fog, loss of balance, depression—’

‘Gram will go deaf?’ I stood with an abruptness that caused my chair to fall backward onto the floor, landing with a bang. ‘She can’t, Gramps—she lives to hear your voice. It’s how you met. When you sing, she floats around with a beautiful smile on her face and … and—’

‘That’s enough, Yolande! Sit down and listen.’ Gramps ran his hand over his face.

My expression fell as I up-righted the chair and sat on it gingerly. I wrapped my hands around my teacup again, lifted it to my lips and took a sip. A long sip. My erratic heart rate returned to a calmer beat, and I watched Gramps stir his tea, unnecessarily.

‘How did Gram get this … this … Meniere’s disease?’ I asked.

‘No cause,’ he said. His voice was low.

‘No cause, no cure!’ I pinched my eyebrows together in frustration, then wiped a tear from my face.

‘Yesss …’ It was an exasperated yes from Gramps. He put his hands over his eyes. ‘One of the tests was brutal, Landi …’ He dragged his hands over his nose until they rested together in front of his lips, like he was praying.

‘What did they do?’

‘It was an electronically controlled chair that rotated from side to side … Gram had a severe vertigo episode because of it.’

‘But that’s good … right?’

‘I guess so. The doctors could truly see how debilitating her vertigo was.’

‘Where’s Gram now?’

‘In hospital. She’s been started on some new medications to see if it helps alleviate the symptoms.’

‘And if it doesn’t?’

‘Once they have exhausted all oral medications, comes the invasive intervention—grommets, injections into the middle ear, a vestibular nerve section, where they cut the balance nerve to the affected ear … or they remove the inner ear, Yolande … remove it!’ Gramps frowned and shook his head, then continued, ‘A labyrinthectomy—’ He stopped speaking and looked out the window. ‘Why has this happened to my beautiful Fleur? Why is this … this … Meniere’s disease even in existence? Why can’t the doctors fix it?’ Gramps took a long, deep breath, and looked back at me. ‘What are we going to do, Andi?’

There. Right there. That is when the heavy weight fell onto my shoulders and crushed me, and any hope I had of returning to my career. I looked out at the storm. I missed my old job. I missed the high security. I missed my uniform. I missed my dog tags, and I missed everyone I worked with. I especially missed the intense meetings at the round table.

After an almighty boom of thunder, the rain stopped. The storm clouds broke, and a rainbow appeared. Perhaps it was a sign. A promise. Gram would make it through her storm.

What are we going to do, Andi? I looked back at Gramps and put my hand over his. ‘We give to Gram what she has always given others—love, care, kindness and hope. We take each day as it comes and work together to get Gram well again, even doing our own research to find something that will help her. She needs to know, above all else, that we are here for her, fighting the battle with her, and that she’s never alone,’ I said with resolution.

A tear rolled down Grampapa’s face. My chest tightened, and I swallowed the sob that rose from my chest. He looked into my eyes and gave me a nod.

‘Let’s celebrate, Gramps,’ I said, eyeing off the cupcakes.

‘How can you even think of celebrating after this news?’ His voice cracked.

‘The doctors know what Gram has, and that means we can educate ourselves about the disease and start to work towards her wellness. That’s what we’re celebrating!’ I handed him a cupcake. He held it up and I touched my cupcake against his. ‘To Gram!’ I said, then shoved the entire cupcake into my mouth.

A portion of sales from this novel will be donated to Meniere’s disease research at Meniere’s Disease Research Fund Inc.

Formats and  Editions

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March 28, 2018
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Amelia Grace is the pen name of Julieann Wallace, who is a published author of multiple, sort after stories. She writes novels (under her pseudonym) and is an author and illustrator of numerous children’s picture books, written under her own name. Prior to her career as a writer, Julieann was an educator with Education Queensland (Australia) for 25 years, and was nominated twice for the National Excellence in Teaching Awards.
Julieann is continually inspired by the gift of imagination and the power of words that can create change to reach out to others. She is a self-confessed tea ninja, has a quirky cat named Claude Monet, and has a passion for music, art and sport. She lives in
Queensland, Australia, and is a paper cut survivor…

Julieann is a member of 

 

 

Heaven Forbid You Have “Bicycle Face”!

There’s a lovely vintage Schwinn bicycle sitting outside Flowers for Fleur in my soon to be released novel. I know, because I placed it there.

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And then I researched bicycles in the 1950s, and delved further into the history of women’s bikes, only to discover the enormous battle women fought to ride a bicycle. 

The first bicycles, invented in the early 1890s (known as velocipedes), were for men only, of course. But that didn’t stop women. By riding them, they discovered a new type of freedom, instead of being accompanied by a male everywhere they went, either by foot, horse or carriage.

However, it was known at the time that some men opposed women riding bicycles for different reasons, some being:

• Riding astride a bike was unfeminine
• The bicycle was thought of as a sexual threat – purely because it was believed that if women went around straddling something, they would start having orgasms all over the place!
• It was believed the bicycle would rattle women’s innards and leave them vulnerable to everything from tuberculosis to gout.
• There was also that troublesome “bicycle face”, the expression of concentration that would hinder them from looking beautiful
• Not to forget that they could become bowlegged from too much pedalling.
• there were a group of people who thought bicycles were “of the devil”. They would impede any woman on a bicycle

But then, it is reported, some men changed their tune and appeared in favour of women riding bicycles based on the shapeliness of the legs and ankles of the female cyclists!

And along came advertising for women’s bicycles…

Who is this advertising aimed at? Sex sells, right?

And what of the men in bicycle advertising?

No comment.

I was a very active child, which continued well into my twenties. But my most favourite thing in the world to do was to ride my bike (when I wasn’t playing sport). My mum and dad bought me a green Malvern Star Dragster for my 8th birthday, onto which I would peg a flap of cardboard onto the frame, touching the spokes, so it sounded like a Volkswagen when I rode. In my teenage years, I bought myself a men’s ten speed racer, AKA The black beast. I rode it to university for 3 years, up and down the hills, and peddled hard up the very long, steep incline to the campus. Coming home was a dream as I coasted the down long incline, only to peddle hard again to conquer the waves of hills.

There’s no disputing that the bicycle is the most efficient machine on earth! I am forever thankful to French nobleman Comte de Sivrac, who built the first bicycle, called the Velocipede, in 1791 . It had two wheels, a saddle and was foot powered. Another bicycle was invented in 1817 in Germany by Baron Von Drais. This one was made of wood and had a steerable front wheel without a pedal.

When I am no longer able to drive a car, this will be me…

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Julieann Wallace is a published author and illustrator, continually inspired by the gift of imagination and the power of words that can create change to reach out to others. She is a self-confessed tea ninja, has a quirky cat named Claude Monet, and has a passion for music, art and sport. She lives Queensland, Australia, and has discovered she is unable to type with chocolate in her hand.

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Julieann is a member of:

March 28th is set for the release date of my new novel under the pen name of Amelia Grace.

 

In case you were wondering…

Three Women who Changed the Course of History On Bicycles

The Feminist History Of Bicycles

Women on Wheels: The Bicycle and the Women’s Movement of the 1890s