Eye of the Beholder
by Elissa Gabrielle
by Elissa Gabrielle
The true measure of our existence begins with the way we view the world...
Jerusalem "Jay" Jones, Iraq war veteran is a hero to most as he's bravely put his life on the line to serve his country. His second tour of duty has ended and Jay lies in a veterans hospital bed recovering from injuries he sustained while at war. His present circumstances should be a cake-walk for Jerusalem considering the tragedies he experienced as a child. Love, laughter and life have always seemed to elude Jerusalem, unfortunately, from his early days as a child growing up abused and terrorized on the tough streets of Newark. Vulnerable and reclusive, Jerusalem must now face the world in which he escaped, seeking a more fulfilled life, albeit, with dark secrets that burden his psyche as well as his physicality.
Jill Lopes, a hospital social worker who recently made a career change, longs to heal the broken. But, before she can heal the sick, she must first break through inner battles of unhappiness and resistance. When fate boldly enter Jerusalem's and Jill's life, they realize that the challenges we meet in life hold the power to open us to higher consciousness. Will Life become both meaningful and joyful when Jerusalem and Jill know the greater truth of who they are?
Does beauty really lie in the eye of the beholder? Experience the power of love on this redemptive journey where the purpose of the problems in one's life, will be empowered to uncover the gifts they bring.
PRAISE FOR EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
USA TODAY recommends EYE OF THE BEHOLDER! Read full recommendation: http://alturl.com/i2y4d
"The beauty of Gabrielle's voice is the deep emotional cadence as we enter each character's point of view. In those special worlds, she writes with the talent to keep you immersed so that you can understand and empathize with their motivations and the conflicts that may overwhelm. Skillful and full of artistry, Gabrielle shares a powerful romance worthy of its resolution."
~ Michelle Monkou for USA TODAY
"If the moon and the stars align Elissa Gabrielle will be a literary rock star. Eye of the Beholder marks in stunning fashion the return to readers the craft of writing that book lovers eyes should be awarded. A heartrending endorsement of losing trust, crossing lines and seeking forgiveness, Eye of the Beholder is a story of emotional deprivation beyond one's control, and searching for inner soul sustenance. Elissa Gabrielle has penned word by word and line by line from the beginning to the end poetic justice poetically in this novel. Eye of the Beholder is comparable in scope, texture, and depictions with the classics because of the strong wit and passionate intelligence."
~Alvin L. A. Horn?, author of Perfect Circle
"Elissa Gabrielle's Eye of the Beholder takes you to another place and time. Vulnerability and hope are the backdrop of this riveting novel. Gabrielle's words are like cool water for a thirsty soul, each one dripping with lyricism and purpose. Eye of the Beholder will cause you to experience firsthand the transformative power of love."
~J'son M. Lee, Author/Editor
Excerpt: Eye of the Beholder
"My music is the spiritual expression of what I am - my faith, my knowledge, my being. When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups ... I want to speak to their souls." ~John Coltrane
I wake to the sound of my own voice howling a blood-curdling scream into the cold, brisk air which fills my bedroom. The sound, even though it comes from my own body, startles me; causing me to sit up straight to regain my mentality and composure. I'm scared beyond belief; to the point of feeling my own body shake and tremble in fear beneath me. "It's a night terror, not current reality," I tell myself, but my mind could care less about the distinction as it relives the pain.
The chill in the air is offset by the warm beads of sweat dripping from the terror-filled adrenaline pumping through my body, drenching me from head to toe while warming me and causing my temperature to rise. My heart races and I inhale deeply, trying to catch breath that escapes me. The source of my screams, sweat, and tears is the same recurring invader plaguing my mind, from time to time, over the years without rhyme or reason. It is a mental sensation I have not been able to shake since the day I saw her in the hospital more than two decades ago. A mind-altering intruder of mine is more vivid and real than any nightmare a person could ever have, simply because it is my reality instead of being a product of an over-active imagination. Even in the realm of dreams, reality trumps fantasy. It is my mind's way of reliving the beginning source of my pain and my soul's way of reminding me never to forget.
The Evian water bottle on the nightstand next to me finds its way cleverly and productively into my hands, as it routinely does when my mind starts playing tricks on me during the night. I gulp down its purifying contents without missing a beat. Yet, no matter how hard I try to soothe the savage beast of my past, the water cannot drown the images that linger in my head no matter how fast or how hard I choose to swallow. Even as I quench the fire of my exhausting night thirst, I can't extinguish the fire ignited by my dreams-the contents of which refuses ignoring.
I still see her. I smell the scent of her Chanel No. 5, as if she is standing right next to me and I remember that day, as if it were today. I'm lost in that moment in time. My night terror ensures that I will never forget that day or her for that matter; despite how many minutes, hours, days, years or decades that pass. That day will always be today and she will always invade my dreams.
When the beginning of my end began, I was ten years old. That is the moment in time that changed my life-the point of definition known to me as the history of my life.
A ten-year-old does not possess the wherewithal to appreciate the blessings that make up life. A ten-year-old lives in the here and now; unaware of the need to smell the flowers of life along the way, or of how good life really is. If I had have known then, what I know now, maybe my life wouldn't be attacked routinely by night terrors clubbing me over the head while begging me to be thankful for what I currently have. Maybe, if I had have been a little more grateful, she would still be here. My dreams impose that mentality on me. They make me pose that inquiry to myself each time I awake in cold, night sweats remembering that day. Even as an adult, I know that rationale has no basis in fact, and was not the case then or now, yet my nightmares still make me wonder. In the instance of wanting to blame someone other than God for the fact that sometimes shit happens in life, my dreams still make me want to point the finger of blame at myself. That is what children do. Their minds often place blame on themselves instead of on the foundations concerning the cycle of life.
Even though I am an adult, remembrance of my mother is still through the eyes of a child. I do not see her weaknesses; a mother is Wonder Woman in the eyes of her child. Mothers are invincible; as such, I will forever see her in that manner. I couldn't see that she, just like all human beings, had the capability of being vulnerable. My mind cannot comprehend that her life was what it was intended to be-as God made it.
I look at things concerning her through the eyes of a child missing his mother; and all I can see is invincibleness; as such, all I can do is wonder what I did wrong that might have caused her to be taken away from me. Through the eyes of a child is how I see things when it comes to my mother. The view lies in the eye of the beholder, and the day it all began and ended still invade my dreams.
It began innocently enough. There was a carnival at school and Mom agreed to make cookies. I sat in the kitchen as she pulled the cookie sheets out of the oven, one by one. There were at least five dozen, if not more, and the aroma filled our house in a manner that only home-baked sweets can. I could not sit still because the smell was making my mouth water. I reached for one as she placed the cookie sheets on the top of the stove to cool.
"Can I have one?" I asked, as my hands hung midair in an attempt to have the first bite of what I knew would be pure, sugar-filled heaven. She had a way of making the best cookies in town; at least in my opinion, even if I was a little bias.
My Mom was the epitome of grace. I realized it then, I yearn for it now. The King of kings kissed her and turned her skin bronze; it was always aglow. Her deep, dark, penetrating almond-shaped eyes made my father weak. Full, thick, jet black hair; she wore it in a side sweep on special occasions, but mainly tied it up under a soft, satin scarf. Dad loved that. The sight of her face alone was enough for him.
Her lips were full, like the upper petals of an orchid flower. Dad's eyes danced with excitement whenever she pecked him on his cheek. He loved her so. We all loved her so.
And, when the kiss was planted on him, he would always reply, "A kiss from my angel, sweet love of my life."
"Can you have one?" She raised her eyebrow, as if she had been waiting for the exact moment in order to put class in session. "What have I told you about that word, 'Can'? 'Can' means do you have the ability to have a cookie. We both know you have the ability to have one. What you really want to ask me is, 'May I have a cookie?' By asking, 'May I have one?' you are really asking if I will allow you to have one. That is what you really want to know, isn't it, son? You really want to know if I will allow you to taste one-not if you have the ability to taste one-isn't that right?"
Mom smirked while continuing to stir batter for the next batch of cookies for the oven.
Hungry and wanting a cookie instead of hearing her insistence of teaching me something at every twist and turn, I rolled my eyes. I just wanted a cookie. She could have kept the English lesson to herself. Sorrowfully, I looked down at my Buster Brown shoes and beige corduroy pants. I smile when I think about how my mother dressed me in the early eighties.
"I guess so. So, can I have one, Ma?" My response was respectful, but to the point.
"Yes, you may have a cookie. However, as you eat it, I want you to remember the difference between the two words, son. Just by virtue of being alive, you can do many things in life. In addition, while those things are important and satisfying, recognize that what's more important are the things at which you may have to be a trailblazer; the things that life may restrict or dictate because of who you are. Those are the things in life that I want you to concentrate on, and not the things that life says you 'can' have, but the things that life takes a pause in telling you that you 'may' have."
At the time, I didn't hear anything she said other than, "Yes, you 'may' have a cookie." Now that she's gone, I wish I had paid more attention to everything she had to say. I wish I had lingered a little while longer at the feet of her wisdom.
Bending over the counter top, I reached for a chocolate chip cookie cooling on the tin sheet in front of me. As I did, I noticed her closing her eyes and rubbing her temples with the tips of her fingers. I gobbled the cookie quickly as crumbs fell from my mouth. I didn't want to give her a chance to change her mind.
"You okay, Ma?" My words came as an afterthought, as I reached for another cookie. Instead of the usual smile that she normally gave me, she collapsed. Hearing her plump frame hitting the kitchen floor, scattering kitchen table chairs in the process, was startling. She shook uncontrollably on the floor and my feeble, ten-year-old mind tried to comprehend what was happening.
"Ma! Ma! Are you okay?" I screamed, awaiting a response, but none came. My eyes grew big and I gnawed at my fingers contemplating what to do. I picked up the phone and fumbled with the cord to the headset, which always seemed to tangle right at the moment that it needed to be straight. Taped to the side of the refrigerator was Dad's office number for emergency purposes and even at ten years old, I knew Mom lying on the kitchen floor constituted an emergency.
In all of what a few seconds had to offer, I saw everything in my life flash before my eyes as I called Dad. President Reagan was on television, interrupting Mom's soap operas with a special news report. The wood paneling and drop ceiling in our kitchen, wow, I saw every one of them. The brick that covered the back wall to our stove and the yellow, linoleum floors in our cozy kitchen; I saw it all, in slow motion, as my heart raced.
Crumbling before my eyes was my safe haven in Newark, where Mom and Dad kept the outside evils away and the goodness of heaven in. Ripped from my ten-year-old hands was life, as I knew it, as she lay helpless with only me to rescue her.
Life as I knew it, was being ripped from my ten-year-old hands as she laid there, helpless.
Seeing her body shake and contort on the kitchen floor, was the beginning of my end; it is the sight that introduces my night terrors, and the vision that causes me to sit up straight in bed, screaming and sweating profusely. My memory fast-forwards from that moment to the next memory like a badly edited movie. The next image I have is of standing at her bedside in the hospital, as the doctor told my father that my mother had a brain tumor and only had days to live. Cold and callous were the doctor's words as if reciting items on a dollar menu at a fast food restaurant. I don't remember much about seeing her lying in bed dying, but I do remember the tubes in her nose, the sounds of machines keeping her alive, and the sound of Dad's voice saying, "Make sure she is comfortable so that she can go in peace."
( Continued... )
© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Elissa Gabrielle. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author's written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.
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