Sarah’s Story Continues

( Advanced Level )

It’s nearly five years since Sarah walked away from her last failed marriage. She no longer thinks about the past but about her future. It’s been rocky at times but she has managed.

For the first few months, she blamed herself for not having the strength to stay and improve things. She felt as if she was a quitter.

Now, she realizes that no matter how long she would have in those relationships, staying it would not have changed the outcome. She had the choice to abide and be miserable and lose herself day by day.

Sarah traveled around a bit until she found herself in a cozy little village called Limone Sul Garda in Italy. She has a small simple cottage which has a breathtaking view of the lake.

It is a perfect place to heal and be who she wanted to be. At first, she took up writing in a journal. Writing about each day’s triumphs. Now she writes stories. She is amazed at how each story evolves from her imagination.

She made a few friends that she occasionally goes to lunch with. A few admirers have asked her for dates but she gently declines. In her mind, she is not ready for any relationship. Not yet, at least.

As she sat at a local café, in the heart of the village, she noticed a group talking with each other. What drew her attention was the passion with which they spoke. Some speak Italian and others English.

She found herself listening intently and curiosity got the best of her. She made her way over to talk to them. She was greeted with many smiles and introductions and was asked if she wanted to join them.

It turns out that this group meets twice a month to discuss a book they’ve read as a group. Today they were discussing a book about starting over in your life. Whether it was after losing a job, losing a loved one, or simply a relationship went bad.

Sarah had not read this book but she knew she could contribute to the conversation from her own experience. It was crazy in her mind how candid she was. Spewing her own experiences to total strangers.

After an hour or so the group ended their discussion as many had to return to their homes for one reason or another. One gentleman stayed behind for a minute to thank Sarah for being there and making the conversation even more interesting.

“It was rather nice having a new perspective on things, Sarah. I hope you will come again. We meet every other Thursday here at this same café.”

Sarah smiled, “I would love to. I don’t know what possessed me to come over to the group but I am glad I did. I had a wonderful afternoon and met many new friends. Thank you and I will be here most definitely.”

As she walked up the hill heading towards her cottage she reflected on what each person had said. Some argued terrific points on the subject. In a way, it helped her. It helped her look at things from a different viewpoint.

The same ritual continued every other Thursday. Now she had the chance to read the same book as the others. She spent most of her evenings either writing her own or reading that week’s assigned book.

Each member took turns recommending a book for discussion and her chance would be coming soon. What she hoped was to finish her own and allow the group to have the first chance to read it.

Maybe it would give her the confidence to publish it. The group had now become her close friends and they were well aware of her past history and specifics that had her end up in this tiny little village.

Lorenzo had been the one who stayed back at that very first meeting to welcome her to the group. They had become very good friends as he needed someone to talk to also.

His story was similar to hers in a way. His first wife was killed in an automobile accident after six years of marriage and his second marriage failed. As he looks back on this, he knew he was the fault for the second marriage failing. He was still in love with his first wife.

Knowing his story made Sarah relax when they were together. She wasn’t ready or didn’t want a relationship nor did he. Just friendship and an occasional early platonic dinner together.

The time came for Sarah’s choice for the group to read. She had finished her very first novel just a few nights before. She read it through once again to make sure it was perfect.

“When we meet again in two weeks I have something different for us to read.” She looked around at the group and saw they were hanging onto her every word. They watched her pull out a bundle of papers from her bag.

She let out a sigh,” Here is something I have worked on for the last year.” She handed each of them a copy. ” It is my first novel. I want everyone to be honest with me when we meet. Either you will love it, hate it, or be on the fence about it.”

Wow, this is something special,” Lorenzo said with a smile. He had no idea that she was writing her first book. He knew she wrote stories but a novel surprised him.

“I think I can speak for the whole group here. We are honored you chose us to have the first glance at your work.” He looked around at the group to see all with smiles and nods.

And Missy, we will be brutally honest with you!” He laughed. Everyone had gathered their copies and headed on their way back to their homes.

Lorenzo held back for a moment. He was always the perfect gentleman and made sure he was the last to leave.

Sarah sat in her living room that evening watching the sun setting. She knew the next two weeks she would be on pins and needles. She valued the opinions of each and every one of her newly found friends. Was she ready to hear what they thought?

Tick.Tick. Tick. As she glanced at the clock on the wall. The last time she listened to the sound of a clock was when she started her own life over. Not knowing what each day would bring. She has come a long way since then.

In a way, this could be a turning point for her in her life. Give her the validation of being someone of importance and not being known as someone’s ex-wife.

She rose early in the morning the day of her book group meeting. She showered and dressed then sat in front of her laptop. Her plan was to write but for some reason, all her words were muted by the expectations of the day.

Instead, she sat out on the balcony looking over the lake, sipping on her morning coffee. She listened to the birds as they flew by. This was her special place. The place where she could clear her mind and absorb the wonders of the day.

She looked down at her watch and saw it was time for her to leave. She took her last sip of coffee and took one last look towards the lake.

“Here I go world. Let’s see what they think.” She locked up her door and headed on her way to the café. Her mind was occupied with thoughts that she arrived in record time.

To her surprise, everyone was there. She glanced at her watch again, “I’m not late, am I?” Lorenzo was the first to reply, “No, we are a bit early. Maybe over the excitement to discuss today’s read.”

She sat looking around at the group. “Well? Let me know what you think?” as she bit the side of her lip. She was ready. She told herself this would be an opportunity to better herself in the future so no matter what they said it would help.

Remembering the passion, months ago which drew her attention to the group, she heard once again here today. Everyone was talking in what seemed chaotic but organized. Each gives their own thoughts on what the character should have done.

Sarah glanced over at Lorenzo who sat there with pride. “See. We told you we would not hold anything back, It is magnificent. The details are written allowing us to be the character and ride the roller coaster of emotions. Well done Sarah, well done,”

“All of you are saying you like my story?” Everyone at the table raised their glass of wine with approval and in unison, they uttered, “Cin Cin“.

Written By: Angel

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Thoughts From Angel:

Finding yourself is the most challenging thing you will ever do in your life. We can be a best friend, a daughter or son, a wife or husband but when it comes to ourselves, we are complete strangers.

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Vocabulary:

rocky – adjective: unsteady

quitter – noun: a person who gives up easily 

outcome – noun: the way a thing turns out

abide – verb: accept

triumphs -noun: victory or achievement

evolves – verb: develop gradually

occasionally – adverb: at infrequent or irregular intervals

admirers – noun: a person who has particular regard for someone

declines – verb: refuse 

passion – noun: strong emotion

intently – adverb: eager attention

curiosity got the best of her – phrase: to gain or to lose control over someone or something.

contribute – verb: give

candid – adjective: truthful and straightforward

spewing – verb: expel large quantities of (something) rapidly

perspective – noun: point of view

possessed – verb: have

viewpoint – noun: a way to look at something

ritual – noun: repetitive

confidence – noun: self-assurance

platonic – adjective:  intimate and affectionate, non-sexual

hanging onto her every word – idiom: to listen very carefully or closely

bundle – noun: a collection of things or quantity of material

on the fence – idiom: not able to decide

honored – adjective: with great respect

brutally – adverb: in a direct way 

pins and needles – idiom: in a nervous state of anticipation

validation – noun: recognition

muted – adjective: not expressed 

expectations – noun: a belief that someone will 

absorb – verb: take in or soak up

chaotic – adjective: complete confusion and disorder

unison – noun: simultaneous, together

uttered – verb: make (a sound) with one’s voice

Cin Cin – saying (pronounced chin chin): cheers (a salute, informal)

Question ( s ):

What is something new you’ve started?

Imagine If

( Intermediate Level )

Imagine if you were a daughter of a mayor, in a town, where everyone knew everyone and thought they knew all about you, but really didn’t. This was Rebecca.

Rebecca, at sixteen, carried a secret that not even her parents knew about. For the last year and a half, she had struggled with depression. She was expected to be the best at everything but she could not.

Her grades, in school, had to be perfect. Her appearance had to be perfect. Her dad would tell her everyone was watching her since she was his daughter.

She was the only child and had no friends to talk to. The school had a guidance counselor who was too busy to see students other than academic counseling.

This was not for Rebecca. She was an outdoors person. She loved to go for long walks, hike, and even go fishing. She hated to wear dresses and have her hair done.

Her dad, Ken, would get so mad at her.” When you go out in public, you need to realize that you represent me. If you look like a street bum, what will they think of me? You should at least fix up your hair and stop wearing those silly ball caps.”

” Dad, I don’t care what others think of me nor should you. I am your daughter and you should love me for me.” She would always storm off frustrated with him and the way he thought.

This wasn’t the first time he said these words to her. He never really heard her words or tried to understand her.

Some days she wished her father had a different job. A job where they didn’t have to worry about what others might think. A job where they could do things like other normal families.

She knew her dad had helped her town grow and created many job opportunities for everyone. He had the support of the townspeople. Still, she wanted to be herself.

Rebecca spent many hours writing in her diary. Instead of writing about a boyfriend or some other happy event she wrote about her feelings. How no one excepted her for who she was.

“Dear Diary,”

“Why can’t my Dad be proud of me? Why does he not accept that I like to play sports? That I do not like dresses? That I do not care if I get dirty?”

“I love being outdoors instead of being inside and learning how to cook.”

“I hope one-day mom and dad can love me unconditionally. And not worry what others think of me or them.”

Each night she’d write a few words then safely tuck her dairy away so her parents would not find it. Some of the things she wrote in the past she didn’t want her parents to read.

Re – election was just around the corner and her parents were busy campaigning. Her dad had scheduled many meet and greet events to earn the community’s votes once again.

Of course, Rebecca was to be by her dad’s side, smiling. Hiding the secret that she didn’t want her dad to be reelected. She hoped if he lost, their life would be normal again.

On Sunday evening, the night before the voting booths were to open, dinner was scheduled for those who contributed to her dad’s reelection campaign. The local community center was transformed into a beautiful banquet hall.

Over two hundred tables adorned with red table cloths were set in place Each table sat four people comfortably. In the center of each table sat a huge bouquet of red flowers with re – elect Ken Jones printed on streamers flowing down onto the tables.

An impromptu stage was made in the front of the seating area equipped with lights and a microphone. Ken had practiced his speech many times. He wanted to thank everyone for their support and only the votes would tell if their hard work paid off.

The Jones household was busy on Sunday. Jessica had gone to the salon to have her hair done, once again, and a fresh coat of nail polish. She chose a deep red to color match her dress. Ken went to the barber to have a haircut and beard trim.

Jessica was to go with her mom to the salon but she was nowhere to be found when her mom had to leave. Jessica had laid out Rebecca’s new dress on Jessica’s bed with a note.

Honey,

This is an important evening for your dad and us. The dinner is at seven and do not be late. And please do something with your hair.

See you there,

Mom

Jessica read the note and scoffed. She crumpled it up and threw it to the ground. She stood looking at the dress. It was pretty but she knew she would not feel comfortable in it. She turned and headed to take a shower.

As she stood in front of the bathroom mirror, she wondered what she would look like if her hair was shorter. Before she knew it she was cutting her long hair. The long curls that her mother loved so much.

In the end, she stood looking at herself, and that person, she now saw, was looking back at her, smiling. She felt free. This was the first choice she made, on her own, and not being told how she should look or act.

Jessica showered and put on the dress her mother set out for her. She ran her fingers through her hair and loved the new style. She slipped on her shoes and put on her favorite earrings and headed out the door.

It was a fifteen-minute walk to the downtown area and another five minutes to the community center. She had plenty of time. She walked with more confidence now. Taking the time to smile and say, “Hello” to people along the way.

“How can a simple thing like cutting her hair make her love herself more? Maybe because it was her choice.” She thought.

She arrived in plenty of time. Her mom and dad were busy talking to his supporters that they hadn’t seen her come in. Each table had name tags assigned to different families or groups. She looked around until she found their assigned table.

Many people that recognized her came and told her what a lovely dress and they loved her new haircut. This made Rebecca even happier. Hopefully, her parents would feel the same.

The hired staff started serving the dinner and this was her parent’s cue to head back to their table. It wasn’t long before her parents arrived and sat down.

Mom’s look on her face said everything. She was embarrassed and mad. Her dad, on the other hand, said she looked beautiful with her new haircut. Jessica wondered if he said this because people were watching.

It was time for Dad to give his speech. He excused himself from the table and headed to the stage. People were clapping and yelling his name. He pauses a few times to shake hands.

He stood quiet at the microphone for a few minutes. He looked around the room making eye contact with as many people as he could. He stopped for a moment at his table to look at his wife and daughter.

“I want to thank each and every one of you for all your support and donations for my reelection.”

“Tonight I stand before you and I have realized something important. I have not listened to some people. I will try harder to listen, in the future. Some have been by my side for a long time and I am apologizing to them now. ” He was looking directly at his daughter.

It is okay to be who you are and not try to be what others want you to be. Your choices matter. You should be loved and listened to, no matter what.” The crowd started chanting his name. “Ken. Ken. Ken”

Jessica looked over at her daughter who was smiling at her dad. She was whispering the words, “Thank you Daddy. I love you,” to him.

Written by; Angel

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Vocabulary:

mayor – noun: the elected head of a town

struggled – verb: facing difficulty

appearance – noun: the way someone looks

guidance counselor – noun: a person who works in a school giving students advice about careers and personal problems

salon – noun: where a hairdresser conducts business

street bum – noun: a homeless person

frustrated – adjective: feeling distressed or annoyance

normal – adjective: conforming to a typical standard

diary – noun: a book where a person writes their personal feelings

around the corner – phrase: very near or coming

meet and greet – noun: an organized event for a celebrity or politician where they talk to the public.

transformed – verb: changes in appearance or character

adorned – verb: embellish or decorate

impromptu – adjective: something done without rehearsal

scoffed – verb: made clear that you think they or ideas are stupid or silly

confidence – noun: a feeling of self-assurance

name tags – noun: a piece of paper, cloth, plastic, or metal that has a person’s name written on it

cue – noun: signal

excused – verb: to politely signal others that you are leaving

apologizing – noun: sorry for something wrong you have done

whispering – verb: to speak softly

Question ( s ):

Is it important to you what others think of you?

Remember when you were young(er) and your parents told you to behave when you went with them? Maybe to the local store or to a friend’s house? Share your experience.

Do you think it is necessary to tell your child( ren ) to behave? Wouldn’t they already know?