Jane threw her Bible away years before she moved to Little Missouri. Her lack of faith is a major player in See Jane Run! Finding a way to show rather than tell readers why Jane threw her Bible away was a real challenge. My daughter, who is doing a final consistency read through before the manuscript goes to the publisher, says a recently added flashback rose to the challenge.
The flashback is based on something that happened during my high school years. I had forgotten about it until about 10 years ago when my uncle–the inspiration behind Uncle Tim in the novel–invited me to look through the journals he’s faithfully kept for decades. I chose the one for 1973-74, which was my senior year in high school. I scanned pages for mentions of our family. One described a phone call to my uncle after I got home from school and found Dad on the bathroom floor. My uncle came over. He cleaned Dad and dressed him in fresh clothes. My uncle’s journal account ended with these words, not written out of pity but with deep compassion: Poor man. Poor wife. Poor family.
To be clear, I didn’t lose my faith after the real event. However, I used it in a fictional flashback to show why Jane threw her Bible away and abandoned her faith. The excerpt you’re about to read is an early scene. It takes place a few days after Jane moves to Little Missouri. On a walk around town she meets Pam, who shows her around the Forest Service campus. Here goes:
After the tour ended, I declined Pam’s offer of more tea.
“Then would you join us at church tomorrow and come to Sunday dinner?”
I wanted to say no. After all, I had wasted years going to church, following every “thou shall” and “thou shall not” in the Bible. Every night at bedtime, I asked God to heal my father. I prayed the same prayer night after night. But Dad didn’t get better. He got worse. Even so, I prayed up a storm. Until the day I walked the bathroom and found him huddled on the floor by the toilet, feces smearing the floor.
He gazed at the wall and spoke in a monotone. “I fell off the toilet.”
“It’s okay, Dad. I’ll call Uncle Tim.”
His jaw clenched. “It’s not okay. A daughter shouldn’t see her father like this.”
Uncle Tim got there as fast as he could and took over. While he gave Dad a bath, I went to my bedroom, found my Bible, and threw it away.
I opened my mouth to say I didn’t go to church, but opted for Iowa nice. “I don’t want to put you out.”
“Put us out? Dan’s grilling hamburgers, and I’m making potato salad.”
My mouth watered.
What do you think of the scene? Does it showing rather than tell why Jane threw her Bible away? You can leave your feedback in the comment box!
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