Friday, 02 December 2022

G Guest Editorials

Celebrate Lit: A Sneak Peek into Night Songs

By Jennifer Sienes

Night Songs IG availableMy name is Charlie Van Cleave—protagonist in Jennifer Sienes’ novel, Night Songs. Charlotte is my professional name. Or it was, until I got fired. I’m thirty-two years old, and I have to say, my life resembles the aftermath of an EF4 tornado.

I grew up a missionary kid with my parents who served in Africa. When I was twelve, they were killed. The details are a little fuzzy, which sometimes haunts me. I moved to Tennessee with my daddy’s parents. Pawpaw died when I was in college. It nearly crushed me, so I could only imagine how hard it was on Nana. But she never let on. I don’t believe she was a Christian, but she sure had a lot of wisdom that seemed like it came from the book of Proverbs.

My reaction to Pawpaw’s death was to jump into life with both feet (and no parachute). As soon as I finished college, I married Nick Daniels. Was he the love of my life? No, ma’am. But he was there, and I was foolish enough to get pregnant. Pawpaw’s place was next to the Daniels’ farm, so Nick and I sorta grew up together. Nick had an older brother, Derek. While Nick was an adventurer, Derek was all about honor and duty. He was the only one who opposed our marriage. He said sure as Nick was a heart breaker, I’d get hurt. What choice did I have, given my predicament? Before the ink dried on our marriage license, I lost my baby. God’s punishment for my sinful behavior.

I got hired on at Nashville’s Downtown Decor, while Nick followed his dream of becoming a country music star. We were two self-centered kids who believed if we worked hard enough, good things would come our way. I’d pretty much given up on God. Instead, we put our faith in ourselves. I honestly didn’t see Nick making it as a country artist. Far as I could tell, he was all hat and no cattle.

A few years into our marriage, things went sideways. Nick played nights at rinky-dink bars on Broadway. Even though he was gone more than not, and I suspected he was sleeping around, I got pregnant again. It was a good sign, right? The baby would be an anchor for our marriage. Nick saw it that way, too. Only thing was, he saw that anchor would weigh him down rather than bind us together. When Nana died, I lost baby number two. God wasn’t done punishing me.

Then everything came to an ugly head—I caught Nick with one of his groupies, so I could no longer look the other way. I had a meltdown, verbally attacked one of my firms’ biggest clients, and got fired. I returned to Nana’s house in Shelbyville—the only thing I had left in my name—a monstrous place in disrepair. Might be I should finally let go and let God. Can’t do much worse.

Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including several in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.



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