Open with Kindness



“I am a writer perhaps because I am not a talker.” ~Gwendolyn Brooks

Ashley had a new notepad within reach as he stared at the postcard, a map, and a stack of five books. The conversation with Grandma Emery’s friend and former classmate led him to revisit the centermost state, which led back to the riddles.

Christina brought him back to the present. “Hope you’re getting more sleep than your current raccoon look suggests,” she said. “Hughes, Capote, Earhart, Brooks, and Baum – talk about an ecclectic collection you have there.”

“The Oz collection was part of the mailed book-of-the-month deal, along with the Earhart biography. Hughes and Brooks were gifts shortly after I declared my major.”

She held up the copy of ‘In Cold Blood.’ “Is this from your uncle Jerry?”

Ashley shook his head. “If he knew I had that one, he’d kill me. Too close to home, he’d say. Maybe.” He returned his attention to the riddles. “Lebanon! Great, another seven-step riddle to follow after this. Unless…”

Christina watched as he walked over to his poetry book collection in what most folks would have called a living room. “Two questions to add to your homework – what led you to write so many poems and why are you publishing them under a pen name?”

“I told you about Vivian Gates, right? Well, in between dance sessions and art lessons, she reconfirmed something Evan had joked about earlier. She read some of my stories – trying to red-pen-proof them before Wilder got them. Anyhow, she challenged me to try my hand at poetry. I liked it.

“Can you help me? I need the book that has the poem, Lebanon, in it.”

Christina grabbed a few of the books from his hands. “Are you going to kindly tell me what you hope to find?”

“The keys needed for the next puzzle, of course.”