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Authors: Rene Gutteridge

Tags: #Christian Fiction, General

Greetings from the Flipside

BOOK: Greetings from the Flipside
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Greetings from the Flipside, Digital Edition

Based on Print Edition

Copyright © 2013 by Rene Gutteridge, Inc. and Cheryl McKay

All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

978-1-4336-7689-5

Published by B&H Publishing Group

Nashville, Tennessee

Dewey Decimal Classification: F

Subject Heading: LOVE STORIES \ GREETING CARDS—FICTION

Scripture versions used:

New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

King James Version, public domain.

Publisher's Note: The characters and events in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental.

Acknowledgments

Rene Gutteridge

The first time I read one of Cheryl McKay's screenplays, I knew I had to hunt this woman down. I finally found her and gushed like a rabid fan. Thankfully I didn't scare her away, but I really wanted her to know what a phenomenal screenwriter she was. I never guessed that over the course of several more years, we would end up working together as a comedy writing duo, turning her fabulous scripts into novels.

Collaborations, especially between two writers, can often be tricky, but our working relationship has flowed seamlessly, and I couldn't be more grateful for it. What started as a writing partnership has transformed into a deep friendship that I count on every day. So, special thanks to Cheryl, who, in writing and in life, continues to show deep wisdom, unending love, and triumphant hope.

I'm also thankful for the support the B&H team gave us during this project. Julie Gwinn and Karen Ball, thanks for making the journey safe and encouraging and thanks for all your notes and insights into the manuscript.

As always, I'm grateful for my agent, Janet Kobobel Grant, whose faith in me often exceeds the faith I have in myself. And to my family, who blesses me with love when I doubt myself and acceptance no matter what. Sean, John, and Cate, I love you!

Last but not least, thank you to Jesus, who uses every story and every character to better my life story and increase my own character. And, thanks to what he did on the cross, I can be eternally grateful for all of it.

Visit Rene at www.renegutteridge.com, and on Twitter and Facebook.

Cheryl McKay

When I originally wrote this story, I was single and frustrated in the wait to find love. I took out my frustrations through writing Hope's story as she tried to focus on her career instead of love. Romans 8:28 has always been one of my favorite Bible verses. What spoke to me most while penning Hope's journey was how important it is to find the good in the painful things that happen to us.

I'm very grateful to everyone who had a part in bringing this story to life. To Rene Gutteridge, for always being so brilliant at taking my scripts and turning them into novels. I love the way you expand the inner life of the characters.

I would like to offer a special thanks to Art Within, who helped me develop the story while writing the screenplay: Bryan Coley, Terri Measel Adams, Jeanna Bagley, Sean Gaffney, Brent Sweitzer, Kathleen Snow (my prayer warrior), and my fellow fellows in the writing program: Liz Beachy Hansen, Miguel Almendarez, Jim Krueger, and Jared Romero. You all encouraged me develop the most unique set of characters I've ever put together on the same page. From our lively table read of the script, I'd like to thank Kelly Delany, who was the first actress to read Hope's character out loud and show me how funny she could be, and Belle Adams, for bringing Mikaela to life. I must also thank Susan Rohrer, Brian Belknap, and Nathan Scoggins, for all the supportive calls and writing life advice.

Thanks to Janet Kobobel Grant, for her unending support of Rene and me doing these script-to-book novelizations and for believing in us as a romantic-comedy duo. And to the B&H Publishing team, for all of their help and support during this project, and especially Julie Gwinn, Karen Ball, Jennifer Lyell, and Kim Stanford.

Lastly, I must thank my wonderful family, my parents, Tom and Denise, for their constant cheerleading, my sister, Heather, and to my husband, Chris, for his unending love and support of me—and for showing up at the altar. (That's a little Hope Landon humor.) And to God, without whom I wouldn't be able to do what I do.

Please visit Cheryl McKay online at: www.purplepenworks.com or www.finallyone.com

1

S
uck it in. Come on, suck it in.”

“My stomach is on the other side of my spine,” Hope wheezed, barely enough air in her lungs to finish the sentence. Becca tugged and jiggled the zipper while trying to maintain a smile for the crowd of elderly residents who'd gathered around for the fitting. Normally Hope would be leading them into the bingo hall, but today was different. Special. There was a certain excitement on all the faces of those who'd managed to stay conscious. “Are you sure you gave them the right measurements?” Hope whispered to Becca.

“Are you sure you haven't been eating cheese? Or Popsicles? Both?”

Then, with one final tug, the zipper slid up the teeth and the dress closed. Hope let out the breath she was holding, her stomach pooching a little. She prayed she wouldn't blow the seams out.

She turned and smiled for her seamstresses, every one of which was in a wheelchair or held steady by a walker.

“Oh, honey!” Mrs. Teasley gasped. “It looks beautiful. You're stunning!”

Miss Gertie, who had worked as a seamstress her whole life, wheeled closer. “Did you notice the hem, Hope? It's done the old-fashioned way. These days, nobody takes time on the hem, rushing through it as if it doesn't matter. It is the most important part!”

“Miss Gertie, it's perfect.” Hope whirled around, glancing in the mirror they'd brought out for her. She'd been hesitant when the nursing-home gang offered to make her dress. But she was barely making over minimum wage here, and her mother certainly didn't have any money to help. It had been a gamble, and for once, she won.

Mr. Collins's hearing aid went off, sounding like a dying fire alarm. “Mr. Collins!” Hope tapped on her ear to let him know. She twirled again, her fingers sweeping over the hand-stitched pearls and the lace on the sleeves.

“Sam will love me no matter what I look like,” she said to Becca. “But I look awfully good, don't I?”

Becca clapped. Miss Gertie wheeled even closer to Hope. “I'm so glad this is your last day.”

Hope laughed. “I know you mean that in the nicest way.”

“You're too good for this place. You've got to go out in this world, make a name for yourself!”

That was the plan, to flee Poughkeepsie and move to New York City with Sam right after the wedding. She'd dreamed of it her whole life, and it was almost here. She glanced at Miss Gertie and Mrs. Teasley, both of whom had their hands clasped together, pure delight shining in their eyes.

Hope leaned in for hugs. “I'm going to miss you both.”

Miss Gertie sat up a little straighter in her chair. “Listen, we need to talk.”

“About what?”

“I know this may come as a startle, but when you get married, you're going to have duties.”

It was something about the way she said
duties
under her breath that made Hope realize Miss Gertie wasn't talking about vacuuming. “We don't really need . . . we don't have to talk . . .”

“Doesn't take long, dearie.” Mrs. Teasley patted her hand. “Just endure it.”

“I bet she'll be pregnant by Christmas!” Miss Gertie said to the room full of hearing aids. At the word
pregnant
seven of the ten ladies woke to attention. Ms. Cane was looking at her own belly.

A hot flush crept up Hope's neck. “Miss Gertie, really, it's okay—”

Suddenly Mr. Snow shuffled in, moving faster than anyone on a walker should. His bright white hair was blown back and he leaned way forward on his walker, making him look like he was fighting a stiff north wind. Hope knew he was looking for her but probably wasn't recognizing her in the long, white dress.

“Mr. Snow, over here!”

“Ah! There you are. Didn't see you.” He shuffled her way, smiling, his always-clean dentures sparkling under the fluorescent lights. He let go of his walker, which normally didn't turn out well for him, and grabbed her hand as he wobbled. “I'm going to miss you, Hopeful.”

“I'm going to miss you too, Snowball.”

He reached into the small bag that hung off the side of his walker and pulled out a card. “I couldn't let you leave without giving you a card to rewrite.”

Hope read it aloud. “‘There are five stages of grief.'” Hope looked at Mr. Snow. “I'm sorry. Who died?”

“My cousin, Burt. He was one hundred and three years old and wanted to die two decades ago.”

“Ah.” Hope opened the card. “‘Let the Lord help you with each stage, one step at a time.'”

Mr. Snow took out a pen from his bag and handed it to her. Hope thought for a moment, then scratched out the fancy italics, wrote beside them, then handed the card back to Mr. Snow. He slid his reading glasses on. “‘There are five stages of grief.'” His shaky hand opened the card. “‘You've been in denial for a while. Can I help you move on to anger?'”

The room was suddenly quiet. Hope fidgeted . . . too snarky? Too insensitive?

Then Mr. Snow threw his head back and laughed. Everyone else joined in and soon the room was filled with chuckles. Mr. Snow slapped her on the back. “Good one.”

Becca looked at her. “We're going to have to go soon.”

Hope nodded. She knew it was time to say her good-byes. One by one, she bent down to hug each person, careful to avoid any mishaps with the dress. Some of them hugged back. Some of them didn't. But they all knew she loved them.

She made her way to Miss Gertie and knelt by her wheelchair. “Will you make sure my grandmother's fresh flower arrives every day?”

“Only if, when you find that job making your own greeting cards, you send me a new card every day. They sure do make me giggle.”

“I promise.”

Becca tapped her watch. “We've got about forty more things to do today.”

“Just a few more minutes.” Hope hiked her dress up to her shins, headed down Wing Two. She smiled and nodded at all the familiar faces: Mr. Speigel, a once-successful CEO for a large bank, who hadn't had a single visitor in the last four years; Aunt Jackie, as she liked to be called, who suffered a stroke in September and lost the ability to move any muscles in her face—but there was life in those green eyes of hers; Old Benny, once a major-league baseball player, now with amputations at both knees because of diabetes. He lost his sight and his mind back in '08.

The door to Hope's grandmother's room was open, like always. Two towels were tossed on the floor. Hope dutifully stooped to pick them up and throw them in the hamper. Her grandmother sat by the window, staring out at nothing more than an empty lot washed in hazy sunlight, twirling a Columbine flower in her hand.

Hope scooped up tissues, flattened the silky bedspread, fluffed the pillows, wiped clean the sink, and replaced the tissue box. Five cards lined the same table that held the tissues. Ten more sat across Grandmother's nightstand, and another ten on the cabinet. There were weeks when Hope wrote a card a day and brought them to her grandmother's room. Sometimes they didn't move, other times her grandmother would give them away or, when she was more lucid, mail them. Mostly they just sat with all the others, simply signed
Hope
. A glance at one of the wittier lines she wrote caused her to laugh, and her grandmother looked her way.

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