Saturday, September 17, 2016
Haven on the Riverwalk by Eileen Cruz Coleman
Haven on the Riverwalk is perfect for fans of Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks.
The bus comes to a stop in front of a small convenience store. Some of the passengers are just waking up from a nap, some are talking and laughing eagerly wanting to step outside and stretch their legs, while others still have their faces in their books, magazines or phones.
One passenger, Maggie, sits very still staring out the window not sure whether or not to get off the bus or hide under her seat.
The driver stands at the front of the bus holding a microphone. "Okay, folks, we'll be here for two hours. That gives you enough time to have lunch and get some shopping done. Or, feel free to stay on the bus if you want." He plops down in his seat and lets out a thunderous yawn. "I'm going to take a nap, but wake me, if you need me."
Passengers surface and one by one leap off the bus. Maggie doesn't move. She tucks her hair behind her ears and pulls the baseball cap she's wearing further down on her forehead. It's a New York Yankees hat, used to belong to her brother. He's gone now, has been gone for six months. The hat is the only thing she has that belonged to him. Everything else died with him in the fire.
She sinks into her seat and closes her eyes. She's decided not to get off. Two hours will pass quickly and soon they will be back on their way to Raleigh, North Carolina, which is where she's headed. A new life is waiting for her there. New York is no longer her home.
Someone touches her on the shoulder, startling her. She sits up and adjusts her hat so she can see who it is that has frightened her.
"I'm sorry, Miss, I didn't mean to scare you," the bus driver says. He's a tall, heavy-set man with a thick southern accent and a bushy beard.
"It's okay," Maggie says. But, it's not okay. It's only okay because Maggie has gotten used to always saying everything is okay. When her father insulted her and then apologized, she'd say, it's okay. When he hit her across the face and then apologized, she'd say, it's okay. When her mother apologized for letting him do those things to her, she'd say, it's okay. And when her neighbors, police officers, and firefighters, told her how sorry they were that her brother had died in the fire, she said, it's okay.
But, none of it was okay. Maggie is far from being okay.
Eileen Cruz Coleman was born in Washington, D.C. to an immigrant El Salvadoran mother and a Puerto Rican father. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in History. Her award-winning short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals both online and in print. Before venturing into the indie world of publishing, she was represented by two New York Literary agents. She is an optimist and believes that no matter how bad things may seem, there is always a happy ending coming around the corner. When she's not writing, you can find her gardening, cooking, or watching movies with her family. She is fluent in Spanish and English. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.