The Last Merry-Go-Round~~~
Completion date: Fall 2017
A-listed fashion designer, Diane Fletcher strolls alone, on a clement summer afternoon through New York’s Central Park. Within her sight are clusters of couples holding hands and sauntering past her, or affectionately sharing a picnic, or playfully kissing under a shade tree. Diane, as if applying lipstick, gently rubs her fingers over her mouth. She’s remembering two very different kisses—her husband’s and the other, her lover’s. Her walk suddenly comes to a purposeful pause when she sees an attractive couple on a park bench. The female’s body language accepts the man’s passionate feather kisses to her neck and lips, while the man’s arms wrap around her shoulders as if the temperature were below zero. Diane’s sunglasses hide her sudden tears. These strangers mirror eight of her most poignant years. Now it’s not a man who satisfies her, but something she values more. The church bells chime throughout the park. They’re a reminder of her next appointment with a prominent socialite. Diane’s pace quickens past the famous merry-go-round. A moment of remorse fills her heart. One more glance is all it takes to know that her last merry-go-round was just that: lost and thrown away love.
Callie’s dreams end when she’s fifteen. A one year old toddler and another pregnancy change her life’s direction. A welfare recipient and school dropout, Callie is on the same path as her five older sisters, their mother, and grandmother. They all attract like flypaper certain types of men—abusive alcoholics, junkies, useless drifters, and womanizers who leave their seed and never become a real part of their family’s lives.
Callie loves only one man, Miles, the father of her seven children by the time she’s thirty years old. She can’t keep him from straying or marrying her, even though she’ll name their next baby after Miles’ grandfather. Desperation drives Callie to drugs and alcohol, deforming her fetus. Ronald is born premature with two club feet, an undeveloped ear, and his right arm five inches shorter than the left one. No one wants Ronald, except Mary, Callie’s oldest born-again Christian sister. She agrees to raise Ronald as her son, but when Mary dies shortly after Ronald’s second birthday, Ronald is returned back to Callie. His deformity and lack of motor skills exasperate her and his brothers and sisters. The physical abuse begins and continues until he’s five years old, when a minister persuades Callie to give Ronald up for adoption.
The media features Ronald’s story and a Seattle couple with two other special needs children want him. Through time, with nurturing love, Ronald feels safe and blossoms intellectually. He also becomes an accomplished pianist. His natural gift and hard work earns him an audition and summer student internship at Julliard Music Academy. Ronald’s musical abilities flourish and upon high school graduation, he receives a full scholarship to Julliard. The song he composes for his final class project, Ronald’s Umbrella is a dedication to his mother, forgiving her. But can Callie forgive herself when she reads about her son’s notoriety, or does she have another plan if ever she meets Ronald again?
I Lived Through My Death~~~
Cynthia is 30 years old and she wants it all. She has a list of dreams: the romantic wedding, the sacrifices she makes sending her kids to college, the husband who makes her cry because he wasn’t listening and then sends her flowers, the dream house they can’t afford, and the meddling mother-in law she grows to love. Her obstacle, who wants a pudgy wallflower with a closet full of granny dresses? This is not the image of the California girl, the Beach Boys wrote about. But this is how Cynthia exists, alone in Los Feliz duplex. She rarely ventures away from the cocoon of her apartment after an exhausting work day as a city clerk A compulsive organizer, Cynthia’s source of contentment are her cat Henry, stacks of vintage jazz CDs, old movie collections, journal writing, romance novels, and a refrigerator full of frozen entrees, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. As tidy as Cynthia appears, she’s a procrastinator when it comes to her health. She ignores the signs, hoping they’ll disappear and go back into remission. The cervical cancer is back and no amount of rationalization can prepare her for the doctor’s prognosis. She’s in stage 3 with approximately two years to live.
What can I do? She writes in her journal: Either feel sorry for myself or have the courage to live life. Comprising one of the most important lists of her life are six things she wants to do before she dies. 1. Find a home for Henry. 2. Mend the hopelessly broken relationship with her father and sister. 3. Fall in love. 4. Explore the California coast. 5. Give her first ever party. 6. Volunteer as a mentor with the Big Sister’s Organization.
Making lists are never a problem for Cynthia, but knowing that time will cruelly erase her dreams, gives Cynthia courage—to live through her death.
The only surviving Morgan family members are sisters Katherine, Irene and Ava, and they sit like strangers in attorney David Howard’s Boston office. His letter arranged this meeting informing them of their oldest sister, Carol’s death. Unremorseful silence confirms Carol’s private investigations of what each sister feels. There’s no love lost between siblings who haven’t seen each other for forty years. Birthdays, holidays, and life have come and gone without any of them desiring knowledge of the whereabouts of the others.
David answers the sisters’ prying questions. He divulges he’s known Carol for over fifteen years and is aware of her complex battle with schizophrenia. He discloses a developer bought the family’s two hundred acre property years ago and also that Carol discovered two cigar boxes full of gold and silver coins hidden in the cellar walls. She retired as a school principal, purchased a home on Nantucket Island, extensively traveled abroad, and established a trust for each sister.
David reveals Carol’s guilt for each of her sisters leaving home and completely cutting her out of their lives. He promises her, on her death bed, he’ll find her sisters. Her instructions are unbending: Katherine, Irene and Ava must spend a week in her house in order to inherit Carol’s wealthy estate. Additionally, they must forgive each other, and say, “I love you”, and unconditionally agree to remain a part of each other’s lives. If they can’t complete this task, they forfeit everything. The sisters are unaware Carol has listening devices throughout the house so David will know if they’re unable to meet all the terms of her bequest. It’s easy to lie for money, or is it?