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Ripples On the Water chapter three

Chapter Three


Ramón Flores was squatting in an abandoned house not far from Manor House Ministries. Whoever had once owned this place had built up a nice woodpile in the carport, but now he was running low. The house was in disrepair; there was no running water or electricity, but if he stayed close to the fireplace, the nights weren’t too terrible. Technically, winter wouldn’t arrive for another week, which meant things were only going to get worse. When Tracey Sutherland, at Manor House, informed Ramón that he’d have to start treatment or get out, he threw some things in a duffle bag and took off. He wandered aimlessly down the street until the sun went down. Finally, freezing, and tired, he came to a house on Terry Street; the yard was overgrown, and the windows boarded up, but at this point, he had nothing to lose. Ramón climbed in through a basement window, hid his stuff, then took off down the road in search of his dealer. The dealer’s name was Shaggy because of his uncanny resemblance to the cartoon character. He 75 supplied Ramón with heroin, which had become the central focus of his life ever since his wife died. Olive had worked in just about every field of nursing before applying for the job of Treatment Center RN at Manor House. When she found out they were also looking for a maintenance person, she felt like it was a sign from God, this was where they were meant to be. Ramón ran a fix-it shop out of his house so the transition wouldn’t be difficult for him. As an added incentive, Tracey told Ramón he could take over the shop in the backyard. It was basically empty except for a lawnmower and some unwanted, old furniture. It wasn’t long before Ramón had turned it into a workshop that any handyman would envy. After Olive’s funeral, Ramón revisited all the places they had once loved, like the hip little bakery on Jones and the Brewpub on Fifth and Henry. Sometimes they bought groceries there, or they’d often sit chatting with Liam the bartender while getting a bite to eat. Liam was several decades younger than Ramón, but from the moment they met, they’d hit it off like they’d been friends their whole lives. Ramón confided in Liam that he was an alcoholic and, at Olive’s earnest request, 76 Liam promised never to serve him a drink. Olive threw her arms around Liam and thanked him profusely. That was just Olive’s way, to hug someone she’d just met like they were family. Maybe it was because she had no children of her own, or maybe it was because she wore her heart on her sleeve; either way, everyone loved Olive. She was genuine; she lived life full-on and held nothing back. Ramón always knew how lucky he was to have her. Now that Ramón was alone, though, he could see nothing but pity in the eyes of their friends, and it reminded him that his beloved wife was buried in the dirt, a few miles away, next to the Humane Society. That thought alone was enough to make him sink a needle in his vein. It was his own personal tsunami. When it became clear that there was no way Olive was going to survive, she told Ramón she wanted to die at home. She knew what dying in a hospital entailed and having been a Hospice nurse for a time; she was sure she would prefer being in her own bed when the time came. Ramón was torn, though he would never tell her. He wanted to walk beside her through it all, the good and the bad, but he also wanted their home to be filled with memories of her life. Instead of the many years of 77 love and laughter, he was afraid he’d only remember her wasting away. When she finally did pass, it was worse than he’d imagined. He woke up next to her body, but it was empty of life, like a cicada shell left on a tree. Her eyes were open; her gaze fixed to the side, and it traumatized him. All these things played a part in driving him back into the arms of addiction. When he allowed his mind to remember how good it felt to forget and go numb, he began to yearn for the bottle. He knew he was going to fall off the wagon and worst of all; he knew he would be letting Olive down. The shame of it was almost too much to bear, and that was the thing that ended up pushing him over the edge: shame. As addicts are prone to do, he simply turned the volume down on the little voice that told him not to leave the house that night. Feeling determined in his choice, he walked to the brewpub and slumped into one of the back booths, already feeling guilty. He turned the volume up on the voice that reminded him he was a grown man, in charge of his own destiny. Liam saw him come in and knew by his face that he was not coping. Liam walked away from his customers, sitting 78 at the bar, and sat down across from Ramón in the booth. Their friendship had grown far beyond commerce, and when Ramón said he’d like a whiskey, Liam saw it as a cry for help. He tried to open up a dialogue, but Ramón had no intention of talking; he needed a drink, and nothing was going to stop him. He made every appeal he could think of, but Liam refused. Furious, Ramón hit the table with his fist, but the more he raged, the quieter Liam got. He gently reminded Ramón that, years ago, he’d promised Olive that he would never serve him alcohol. Liam headed to the kitchen to get him a plate of food, but when he came back, Ramón was gone. Ramón was craving mixed drinks, but he would just have to grab a six-pack from a convenience store fridge. When he reached in his back pocket to pay, he realized he’d left his wallet at home. He felt the mania licking at his heels as he ran home and searched for his wallet. He turned the place upside down, but he couldn’t find it anywhere, and he had no cash on hand. He wondered if the universe was against him or if, possibly, Olive was controlling his life from beyond the grave. He looked at their bed and could still see her laying there, just as she was the morning she died. Only this time he didn’t turn 79 away in horror; this time, he followed her gaze to the side. It was at this moment that he noticed all of Olive’s pills sitting on her side table. He knew for sure two of them were opioids. He reasoned he would only need a few to get him through this rough patch. He downed a couple of tablets from two different bottles and before long a wave of numbness washed over him, and the oblivion carried him away like a sailor returning to his ship. His pain hadn’t disappeared, but it was a little less potent. It wasn’t long though until the high wore off and the pills ran out. He would have to find a replacement, or the demons would be back, scratching at the door. Heroin was cheap enough for a quick fix, but to remain strung out long-term would not be easy for a man who had stopped working and his savings was dwindling fast. It would only be a matter of time before he would have to steal to support his habit, and that time came quicker than he could have imagined. Tracey tried multiple times to get Ramón the help he needed, but he refused it and finally found himself out on the street. As a homeless person, Ramón ate and bathed very little, but there were a few shelters and churches around town 80 that offered help to the destitute. Without their shower facilities and soup kitchens, he would never have survived. Every so often, his drug treated him just so, and the old, abandoned house, bathed in the glow of a fire, took on the appearance of his apartment with Olive. He shivered from the cold as he watched the ghost of his true love cooking in the kitchen or laughing in the garden or kissing him goodnight. That was the high he chased over and over again. She was nothing but a vapor created when heroin attached to his neurons, but she looked unbelievably real. He sat transfixed as the drug allowed him to believe she was baking bread, something he’d seen her do a hundred times. She slipped off her wedding ring and put it into the pocket of her apron before she stuck her hands in the dough. As his high began to wear off, it occurred to him that her apron was still in the basement at Manor House. He felt a moment of overwhelming shame, but he knew it could get him a small chunk of change at the pawnshop. He would have to sneak into The Manor without anyone seeing him if he wanted that ring. There was still a help wanted sign on the door, so he knew his old apartment was still empty. They’d boxed up all of his 81 and Olive’s stuff so it might take time to find the apron, but what else did he have to do? He knew someone might call the cops on him for trespassing, but he figured he had a right to his own stuff. They probably wouldn’t have recognized him even if they did see him. At six-foot-two, with dark wavy hair, a strong jawline, and a solid build, Ramón had always been a pleasure to look at even into his fifties. Women had always been drawn to him, though he’d never had eyes for anyone but Olive. These days no one was looking at Ramón and they certainly weren’t making eye contact. As a matter of fact, they went out of their way to avoid him completely. The drug had not only changed his appearance, but it had also compromised his mental capacities. More than once, he thought he was invisible, when in fact, he was just repelling people. Olive had never been quite as attractive as her husband. She knew this, but it never bothered her in the slightest because the thought had never occurred to him. As much as Ramón loved her, she couldn’t have felt unattractive if she tried. The two grew up together on the same street in Cornwall, New York. As children, they celebrated more than a dozen fourth of July parties together. They played with the same kids, rode the 82 same bus, and, over the years, had many of the same teachers. It had all been very idyllic for a time. The romance began when Ramón, who sat behind Olive in Mrs. Green’s first-grade class, pulled her pigtails, “Classic,” he’d always said when Olive retold the event. First-grade etiquette required her to respond with an angry outburst, followed by tears and tattling, but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. She loved him even then. Instead, she would turn and face him, smile, and go right back to her studies. Though she couldn’t catch him in the act, Mrs. Green suspected Ramón was misbehaving, but Olive refused to turn him in. Even when questioned directly, she simply smiled and told the teacher that Ramón was very sweet. That’s when he stopped pulling her pigtails. Olive spent the next nine years trying to hide her crush on Ramón and that’s how things remained until one snowy December evening in 1984. ‘I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore’ filled the gymnasium at their tenth-grade Christmas dance. Ramón, realizing the song couldn’t have been more appropriate, walked across the gymnasium floor to where Olive stood talking to her friends. When handsome, young Ramón approached, however, all talking stopped. They each prayed that 83 they were the one he’d come for, but Olive knew better. She had waited for this moment all her life, there was no way on earth he could have been there for anyone other than her. He smiled, took her hand, and led her out to the dance floor and after that night, they were never seen apart again. Ramón had been through many difficulties growing up, though he never spoke about them, and Olive never asked him to. She simply exuded a tenderness and compassion that made him feel safe. She was home base, and everyone knows when you’re running from something, there’s no place else you want to be. Even though nothing made him happier than Olive, he was already looking for new ways to run from his pain by senior year. Drinking with the guys after shop class became drinking alone as a young adult. It would have driven him to an early grave if Olive hadn’t given him an ultimatum. She told him it was either her or the booze. He knew he couldn’t possibly live without one of those things, so he never took another drink again. Neither Ramón nor Olive had ever dated or even considered dating anyone else; this was a love that was meant to be. So, on her twenty-second birthday, he got down on his knee in her parents' backyard, and in front 84 of her huge family, he proposed marriage. Her grandparents were visiting from Spain; lanterns hung from the tree branches, rumbas were danced, the night was as magical as any fairytale romance. However, these memories were no longer sweet to Ramón, instead, they reminded him of all he had lost. He couldn’t get high enough to forget her and the fact that he couldn’t made him crazy. Now, on the front porch of Manor House Ministries, he’d forgotten why he’d come. He stared at the front door for what seemed, to him, a short time, but was in fact more like ten minutes. Finally, he remembered that he was there for the wedding ring, but his memory was flooded with thoughts of Olive, and it felt like he was being torn into. Though ridiculously, he believed he was somehow flying under the radar, he actually stood arguing with himself about whether or not to pawn Olive’s wedding ring. He was so distracted he didn’t even notice that a corner of Mrs. VanBuskirk’s drapes were partially drawn as she watched him through her window. The old woman didn’t recognize him at first until she identified the winter hat he was wearing. For Christmas last year she had knitted matching ones for him and 85 Olive. They had pinecones dangling from the top and when she realized it was him, she gasped and threw her hand over her mouth. It seemed impossible that this was the same man she had known, and it broke her heart to see how drugs had ravaged him. Knowing how heroin had the power to change people, she didn’t feel safe, so she closed her drapes and hid in her bedroom. Ramón’s inner feud slowed long enough for him to notice the garden his wife used to keep so beautifully, only it wasn’t doing well now that she was gone; he identified with the garden. He looked at the basement window, covered in briars. The view was obstructed, and he thought of how Olive used to love looking up at her garden while she did the dishes. He remembered putting in a request to get a first-floor apartment when one became available, but, without his knowledge, Olive told Tracey to give the room to Mrs. VanBuskirk. When Ramón found out, he was very upset. “Why did you do that, Olive!” he huffed. Their accents became more profound whenever they argued; his Mexican and hers Latino. “What? She’s eighty-years-old, don’t be ridiculous! How long can she continue to climb all those stairs, Ramón?” Whenever she saw that he was getting upset, she did her best to 86 lighten the mood. She walked over to the CD player and slipped in a disc, it was their wedding song, she smiled at him then began to dance as she said, “This is the song that played the night you proposed, do you remember?” she asked as if he could possibly forget. His anger began to dissipate, and he rolled his eyes. She was just so ridiculous; she didn’t even try to disguise her efforts to manipulate his mood. She looked absurd, dancing a tango alone, but then that was her life’s mission to soften the blows before they got to Ramón. “Listen,” she said. It was her turn to take his hand and lead him onto the dance floor. “You know if she fell down those stairs, we would never forgive ourselves. Look at us, Ramón, we’re like spring chickens!” She laughed as she lifted his hand in the air and spun underneath it. “Why would we need that apartment? We are totally content here! Besides, moving is terrible! Do you really want to carry that sofa up the stairs?” “Olive,” he sat back down, nearly defeated. “You don’t understand, I wanted this for you.” She stopped dancing, dropped her arms to her sides, and looked at him like he was from a different planet. 87 “What do you mean? I’ve never even thought about that apartment; how could you think it mattered to me in the slightest?” she asked, flabbergasted. “I just wanted you to have something better, Liv. The upstairs apartments are nicer, they’re brighter and they’re not drafty. Listen, we chose this life; I wouldn’t change it for anything, but sometimes it bothers me that, at the end of the day, you live in a basement. You deserve so much more!” His eyes got misty. “You are the most amazing woman I’ve ever known! You make life better for everyone you meet. You certainly made my life worth living, and I didn’t think I stood a chance. You deserve to live in the sunshine!” He smiled and gestured out the window to the ground floor with a pleading look on his face. “Oh, my sweet Ramón, I had no idea you’d been putting yourself through this. I have never once felt sorry for myself. Of course, we could have had more, but that’s not what being alive is about! We have a beautiful life here helping others, we contribute to people who have no hope! There are those out there who have everything, but they’ll never have what we have here. We have love and purpose, we’re settled, we’re happy. Honestly, I never want anything to 88 change, okay? So, no more talk, let’s never bring this up again.” She kissed him and with a wave of her hand, the conversation was over. A lively flamenco came on so she danced her way to the kitchen. “Now get back to work and I’ll make you a sandwich.” She looked in her bread container and said, “We’re almost out of bread. I’ll make a barra de pan for tomorrow; your favorite.” She winked at him, and just as her mother had always done, she took off her wedding ring and put it in her apron pocket to keep it clean. “Yeah, well, we may be settled, but I’m not sure about happy.” Ramón kept a straight face as he looked at her out of the corner of his eye. Olive tried to match his serious expression with her own, but she didn’t last two seconds. Her laugh was like a cannon-like explosion that always seemed to crumble any walls he tried to erect. She threw her head back as she laughed and yelled, “Ramón! You’re a terrible man!” ***** 89 Ramón stood frozen in the same place on the front porch of the manor. He had been lost in time, but he was sure everyone had heard Olive yell. Her words reverberated so loudly that he panicked, “Shh!” he said to no one there. Could she see him from the grave, did she know why he was there? He was trying to return to the present, but he couldn’t bear to leave Olive behind. Mrs. VanBuskirk returned to the window undetected to see if Ramón was still there and watched as he slid back and forth between realities. ***** Olive cut her husband’s sandwich diagonally on a Corelle dinner plate, then set it down in front of him with a glass of tap water. She waited for him to take a bite, but he was trying to attach a small metal bracket to a stool leg. She watched him for a moment, then asked, “What are you doing?” “Uh, I’m trying to make a four-legged stool out of a three-legged stool, what else?” 90 “And why would you want to do that?” she asked patiently. Ramón sighed and responded, “It’s Mrs. Van Buskirk’s footstool. She’s always standing on it so she can peep at everyone in the hall and Tracey’s afraid she’s gonna fall.” “That’s very kind of you,” she said. “Did you finish staining Fran’s sideboard yet? Or repairing Joe’s vacuum?” “I feel a reprimand coming on.” “Not at all! I love that you help everyone. I just can’t help but worry that you take on too much sometimes. It’s like you constantly need to be doing something. Was your father like that too?” Olive walked up behind her husband and tried to rub the arthritis out of his shoulder as he worked. “What do you mean?” he asked, as he softened at her touch. He adored her, even when she nagged. “Look at you, you’ve been working since dawn, and you probably won’t stop until it’s time for bed. When 91 your adoring wife sets a lovely Panini, with homemade bread, down in front of you, do you eat? No! You continue to work on Mrs. VanBuskirk’s stool. You are a workaholic and it just occurred to me that maybe you learned this from your father.” She stopped massaging his shoulder while she talked; gesturing was just a part of her nature, but he would have preferred it if she stopped talking and continued rubbing. She paused, turned his face towards hers and said, “So did you learn this behavior, or do you need this behavior?” Ramón made a show of setting the footstool down and picking up the sandwich; he knew his wife required more attention than the stool. He smiled and said, “You’ve got a lot of room to talk with your workload, Liv.” She gave him a look, but the truth was sometimes her workload got away from her too. She put in a forty-hour week, volunteered her services twice a month, and if she wasn’t nursing, she was in the garden. It gave so much to everyone. It provided food to a place that survived off donations, but it also provided troubled souls with purpose, reward, and tranquility. “Oh Liv, you and your philosophical questions. If I don’t hurry and fix this stool, Mrs. VanBuskirk might miss out on something important!” he laughed. 92 Olive ignored her husband’s attempts to deter her and waited for him to answer the question. He saw her serious expression and took a deep breath. He deliberated a moment, then focused again on his wife. “Okay, you win. What was the question? My father?” He took a bite of his sandwich and considered his response. “When I was a kid, I always thought of my father as a hard-working, blue-collar kind of guy. He was an excellent carpenter, I guess I learned everything I know from him. Um, he always took us to mass, as you know, and I think it was important to him to be a good provider.” He took another bite of his sandwich; he hadn’t thought about his father in a while. “Yeah, I guess he worked a lot. He was a good man, Liv, surely you remember him.” “Yes, but it’s not like we spent much time at your house, we were always at my parents’ home. Was that… because of Patty?” Ramón just nodded. He wasn’t going to talk about Patty and Olive knew not to press. “Tell me,” she said, switching gears. “What did you most admire about your father?” 93 Ramón looked down at his hands, and as he let his mind wander back to 1979, his hands became those of a young boy’s. They were tightly gripping his Atari joystick as his little brother tried to wrench it out of his grasp. David was throwing a fit, and Ramón couldn’t understand what his problem was. It was the day of their mother’s funeral, and they had just returned home. Their father retired to his room to take a much-needed nap, and he asked his sons to play quietly, but for reasons Ramón couldn’t understand, David seemed to be losing it. Ramón had reached an all-time high score of twelve-thousand points and there was no way he was handing the controls over to his brother before he either beat the aliens’ spaceships or they squashed him like a bug. Ramón answered Olive thoughtfully, “I would say my dad’s best quality was probably his patience.” Ramón could see his father walking back into the room the boys shared, looking twenty years older than he had the year before. He thought his dad was about to discipline them, but instead, he picked David up, held him close, and patted Ramón on the head. He told him to finish killing the aliens, then to go outside and get some fresh air. He then carried his crying son off to his recliner to 94 read to him. David needed a nap too, but more than anything, he needed his mom. “Dad could be unbelievably patient with us boys,” Ramón sounded far away. “I think the only bad thing he ever did in his life was replacing my mother with Patty.” He looked at Olive. “Do you remember it was only six months after my mother’s funeral when he married that woman?” He didn’t wait for her to answer; instead, he looked up at the sky through the basement window. Just the mention of his mother lined his eyes with tears. “None of the women in the neighborhood liked Patty,” Olive said. “She got dressed with her window shades open. My mother said she descended on your father before the funeral was over.” “I wouldn’t have minded if he’d have married again... eventually.” He looked at Olive for support, “but when Patty just showed up in the kitchen one night with that oily bag of fish and fries…” his face twisted. He remembered Patty’s bright red lipstick and sickly-sweet perfume mixed with the smell of the deep-fried fish, and his stomach knotted up. “I’ve dreamt of my mother’s homemade tamales ever since.” 95 “You should have told me. I would have made them more often.” “Yours is very good, but my mother made them from pork. You make them from chicken,” Ramón said. “Chicken is healthier!” Olive said, straightening her spine. She was embarrassed by her pride, and she smiled apologetically at her husband. “Do you have your mother’s recipe?” Ramón had buried every remembrance of that two-bedroom house on Lee Road after his mother died. He left immediately after graduating high school and took no souvenirs with him. He didn’t even see his brother again until their dad’s funeral. He and David had been close before Patty arrived, but she was toxic and poisoned their relationship. Ramón’s face had always grown dark on Memory Lane. He’d had enough reminiscing, “Why are we even on this, Liv?” He put down his sandwich and reached for the footstool hoping she’d change the subject. 96 Olive sat down with her coffee, smiling back at Ramón, but it wasn’t a happy smile, it was just her resting face. She knew it pained him to open up, but she thought maybe if he did it more often, it might weaken the grip of his ghosts. She handed him a napkin and gestured to the mustard on his lip. “Ramón, I know you’ve said before that you’re not the type,” he knew where this conversation was leading, “but I really wish you would consider talking to someone.” ‘Talking to someone was Olive’s way of saying that she thought he should see a therapist. He could never understand what she saw in him that worried her so. He worked hard, he was loving to her; kind to everyone, really, and he hadn’t had a drink since the early nineties. Any other woman would have given him a big stamp of approval and left well enough alone. All he wanted to do was forget; why couldn’t she just let him cope his own way? He gave his wife a look that said he appreciated her concern, but he would not be revisiting ‘the therapist conversation’ and certainly not on the heels of ‘the relatives conversation.’ Ramón sighed loudly and made a pronounced effort to turn his attention back to the footstool. He was about to make a joke, in hopes to 97 distract her, but to his astonishment, Olive spun his chair back around, fell to her knees in front of him, and began to cry. The magnitude of her concern absolutely floored him. “Ramón, sometimes I feel like you are tethered to a sinking ship, and it terrifies me.” He felt like she could see right through his chest and into his heart. It was far more intense than he could handle. “What would you do if I weren’t here, and you had no one? You are going to have to face your demons, and you cannot face them alone! Maybe if we’d had children, I wouldn’t worry so much about leaving you alone, but we don’t, and I do!” She wasn’t complaining, and he knew it. She had never once complained about not being a mother, though he knew that at times she longed for a child. Ramón told her, the night he proposed, that she should think long and hard before agreeing to marry him. He told her he’d never have children. Not that he couldn’t, but wouldn’t, and she loved him so much that she was willing to accept it. She said he would be enough, and because they’d had such an extraordinary relationship, her gamble had paid off. There had been times, though, times like this, where she worried that they’d missed out on something important. For the past week she’d 98 been feeling tired and run down and, as a nurse, she had her concerns. She hadn’t yet voiced them to Ramón, and she worried what would become of him should anything happen to her. He hated to see her cry, he tried to shift gears. If he could just get her to laugh, “You know, Liv, I think you’re right.” She knew him too well to hope that he was referring to the therapist. It would be just like him to crack a joke right now. “I’m totally serious,” he said with a straight face. “It’s not too late to get pregnant, let’s go give it a try.” She did her best to give him a venomous glare, but the gleam in his eye was so over the top that she had to burst out laughing. He was so relieved to see her laugh that he pulled her quickly into his arms and hugged her tight. “Ay yi yi, Ramón, you are a terrible man!” she reprimanded, as he held her close. She looked into his eyes and said, “Seriously though, I don’t like to think of you alone. It makes me incredibly sad,” she tried one last time, but he wouldn’t give her a chance to dwell on her thoughts anymore. 99 “Oh?” he laughed, “do you prefer to think of me with other women?!” their eyes both grew wide at the same time as her mouth dropped open in mock fury. She walked over to the stove, picked up a wooden spoon, and waved it over her head. He made a mad dash to the living room, then back to the kitchen as she chased after, trying to smack his butt with the spoon. He jumped back and forth over furniture finally diving headfirst into the bed. She fell into bed after him, still waving the spoon, but he snatched it out of her hand and threw it across the room. She laughed and gave up, laying her head on his chest. All their arguments came to an end in this bed. This was their happy place, and though she was feeling worn down she never wanted this moment to end. ***** Ramón stood on the porch, smiling from ear to ear as he listened to his wife’s laughter echo from the past. His daydream ended abruptly as the building’s newest tenant, a pretty, young black woman, whose name he couldn’t remember, exited the house, and silently stood 100 directly in front of him. She had a vacant look on her face as she waited for him to move out of her way. She seemed both familiar and foreign at the same time. Ramón felt visible for the first time in a long time, but he realized it wasn’t so much that she recognized him as much as he recognized himself in her eyes. It was like looking in a mirror. Something deep inside her was calling out for help and it terrified him.

Killy Ridols

Killy Ridols

Comments

Elisabeth Ellis (author) from Nashville, TN. on October 18, 2021:

I see, okay, thank you again John!

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 17, 2021:

Hi Sed-me, I came in at Chapter 3, as I wasn’t notified of the others. I think I was only notified on my feed because manatita (someone I follow commented on it)…I will go back to look at the first chapter but won’t be able to leave a comment there.

Elisabeth Ellis (author) from Nashville, TN. on October 17, 2021:

Thank you both for your input. The book is structured accordingly, I don’t know why it came out this way when it was transferred.

You both commented on ch 3. Does that mean you made it through all 3 chapters or you just went straight for the 3rd chapter? Either way, I appreciate you both taking the time. Thank you again.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 17, 2021:

Sadly, I have to agree with Manatita. Break it up into paragraphs and add images etc..at least for HubPages. It doesn’t matter how good the story is, people will have trouble reading it in the present form. Good luck.

manatita44 from london on October 17, 2021:

I got to the second line and that's it. I have an allergy to reading work that seems absolutely crowded, and this one does. I favour paragraphs of four or five lines, even six, not more. Add text and photo capsules and make the work more presentable.

Some friends I know are of similar opinion. Best wishes with your book.

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