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Literary Fiction
(Fic)
When We Were Innocent: previously Of Birds and Men
by Shirley Holder Platt


Phoebe, the daughter of an ornithologist, has led a normal life until nightmares turn her world upside down. Has she buried a memory, or is it something else? "Sounds interesting!"

Chapter 1
Night Terrors

Some days I wished my therapist insisted that I lie on a couch like they do in the movies. This was one of those days. My body ached, my head throbbed, and I longed to close my eyes and block out the world. Sarah (she insisted we communicate on a first name basis) s...





Chapter 2
Something to Relax Me

James was in the kitchen when I got home. The house smelled of simmering onions and tomato sauce. His specialty dish is spaghetti. When I walked into the kitchen, he was singing along to a Sonny and Cher song from the seventies. He wore one of my aprons over his jea...





Chapter 3
World’s Worst Girlfriend

The next day I was irritable and my head hurt. I had papers to grade and had a tough time concentrating. James brought a cup of tea into my office space. I took a sip. He made it just the way I like it.

Kissing me on the forehead, he said, “You had...





Chapter 4
Subtlety is not her Strong Suit

James was on the phone with Wren when I came home from the grocery store the next day. He smiled and kissed my cheek as I unloaded my reusable bags into the pantry. He always smiled when he talked to Wren. Sometimes, I wondered if he would have been happier had he m...





Chapter 5
Obligatory Dinner

I stood on my parent’s front porch and squeezed James’ hand hard enough that he grimaced. I wondered why I let myself get talked into attending this dinner.

“Let up, champ,” he said moments before my mother opened the door. She was smi...





Chapter 6
Brotherly Love, or Not

The first person I saw coming into the kitchen was my brother. The lanky, emo brother I remembered had been replaced by a tall, dark man with broad shoulders, wavy dark brown hair, and a poker face. I was so angry I couldn’t speak. My mom trilled a hello and h...





Chapter 7
In the Spotlight

Back in Dr. Sarah’s office, I sat on the floral chair I always occupied when I talking to her. She was filling out some paperwork at her desk with her back to me, so I used the time to look around her office. The walls were painted a calming, light blue. She h...





Chapter 8
Family Resemblance

A week passed since I’d last seen Dr. Sarah. School work kept me busy for several days, but I’d kept a notepad with me at all times, scribbling memories as they floated up for me. Martin occupied a lot of my thoughts. I didn’t understand why the re...





Chapter 9
A Recessive Gene

A few days later, I was early for lunch with my dad. I slipped into the auditorium where he was teaching. The lights were low and he was showing slides of whooping cranes. A memory arose, so I searched through my bag for the notepad and scribbled the basics down. Wh...





Chapter 10
An Old Friend

The look on Dad’s face haunted me the next day, so I called my sister and invited myself over. She was happy for me to come, especially if I’d bring a couple of items from the store that she needed. As I picked up a box of sugary cereal someone called my...





Chapter 11
Columbian Soup

“Rebel, you’re like an hour late,” I said as I opened the door to my friend and she squeezed past me with her hands full of a hot pot of soup.

“Sorry, got caught up in a project. And, by the way, no one calls me Rebel anymore. I’m...





Chapter 12
Wait, what?

When I told Wren about my evening with Rebel, my sister wanted in on the fun and insisted the three of us get together for a girl’s night out. I agreed but put her off for a week until James had another late work night. I got to the bar and grill early and ord...





Chapter 13
Old Rumors

The ringing of my cell phone woke us up at the crack of dawn the next morning. James rolled over and pulled a pillow over his head. He loves to sleep late when he can. I reached for the phone and fumbled around until I could answer and decipher who was calling.

<...





Chapter 14
A Trip to the Library

Wren didn’t believe Rebel’s story about pretending to be interested in Martin to elicit information for us.

“She talked about how good-looking he is. Then she was totally obsessed with him at the bar. I don’t think she touched the food....





Chapter 15
A Head Full of Questions

After what seemed like years, Monday arrived. I kissed James goodbye at the door and padded to my computer for my morning classes. My mind was anywhere but on Algebra II, but I did the best I could under the circumstances. The kids couldn’t tell the difference...





Chapter 16
Confessions

Dad started with, “Girls, you have to understand…”

I jumped in with both feet and told him, “No, we don’t have to understand anything.” I was about to tell him how angry I was, but Wren stopped me again.

“I can see t...





Chapter 17
In Wren’s Nest

Wren’s home was built for comfort and children. She had nothing to knock off a table. The chairs and sofa were deliciously soft while somehow maintaining enough strength to keep you from sinking into their depths. She turned on soft jazz as soon as we walked i...





Chapter 18
Statistically Speaking

Unlike my dad, who claims to have known he wanted to study birds from the time he was five years old and found a stunned chickadee below his bedroom window, I have always loved numbers. I majored in mathematics with a minor in statistics. I would have majored in sta...





Chapter 19
Relative Comfort

Tears filled my eyes and I had difficulty staying on the road. My body shook, and my grip on the steering wheel turned my knuckles white. I thought we were in love. I thought sex was still new and exciting. When did he start to think I was boring? How could Rebe...





Chapter 20
Unburdening

While I slept, someone covered me with a soft blanket. I pushed it off my legs and shuffled down the hallway to the guest bathroom. The woman in the mirror stared at me with a blank expression. She appeared to have gone a round in the ring with life and been soundly...





Chapter 21
Heartsick

I knew that I was wallowing in self-pity, but I couldn’t find the energy to do more than lie in bed for the next couple of days. Wren came in on my third day of my staying in her guest room. She carried a steaming cup of tea.

“Morning, Phoebe. It&r...





Chapter 22
Shivers and Skunks

Before nightfall, my condition worsened. My head felt as if it would burst from the internal pounding, and my stomach rolled and had me dry heaving when I moved. I called to Wren, and she brought a thermometer in. My temperature was a little over one hundred and two...





Chapter 23
Time to Go

Wren let me sleep until ten the next morning. She took a couple of steps into the room and said my name. When I opened my bleary eyes, she smiled and asked if I felt good enough for her to open the curtains and let some sunlight into the room. I nodded, and she stro...





Chapter 24
No Place Like Home

My heart shattered when I walked into my home. I’d bought the bungalow a year before meeting James, but he’d been with me for the majority of the time I’d spent living in the place. He was everywhere I turned. Thankfully, Wren is a no-nonsense woma...





Chapter 25
A Sober Surprise

Despondent, and desperate for company at the close of the day, I drove over to my parents’ house for dinner. Since I had a standing invitation from Dad but hadn’t told him I was on my way, I stopped and bought a rotisserie chicken, potato salad, and a ba...





Chapter 26
Not Now!

I had a nightmare that night, despite coming home feeling relaxed and happy for the first time since James broke my heart. None of the dream remained the next morning. I woke up feeling awful and throwing up my toenails as soon as I could get to the bathroom. I...





Chapter 27
A Meeting of the Minds

James stopped texting and calling eventually, and the next three months crawled by at the pace of a sloth on Valium. I continued to wake at night with a nightmare haunting me and no details. The baby grew slowly. Morning sickness progressed to all day sickness and o...






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