BEAUTY FOR ASHES: CORA’S STORY BY K. SHARRONNE Cora grows up fast due to the cruel, unrelenting ways of a harsh mother and excruciating farm life. She gets married due to the unexpected pregnancy in hopes of a better experience with her husband but sees all her hopes dissipate when things do not turn out as planned. Cora speeds from one tragic life event to another at every turn. She overcomes a multiplicity of hardships in the form of child abuse, spousal neglect, and self-esteem issues because of her love for Christ. Cora's story is transformative tale that shows the power of God's mercy and grace to break every chain of despair in her life and those connected to her.
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EXCERPT The tears began to flow. The psalmist was incredible. Flags and banners lifted the name of Jesus. The praise in the church was astonishing. There was a Godly move in the place. Most of the parishioners were praising God with the pastor for the things they hoped for in the New Year. There was a feeling of celebration in the air. Holy Ghost moved freely in the church sending many mothers into shouts and tongues of their most high Jehovah.
Cora sat quietly in the back of the church. She was hoping she would not be noticed in the corner in her seat. She could feel a true desire to get up and clap, but she was so ashamed of what her life had become. Plus, she was not clear on how this church experience was supposed to be. So, she tried to dab her eyes with her tissue. She did not want any of the other folks in the church talking about her or staring. Eight years seemed like only a blink of an eye. But that was the amount time it had been since she'd lost her only son in a hit and run accident. Over the years, she had faced much criticism and been the talk of a lot of speculation concerning his accident. None of the hurtful words or thoughts of the folks in her town affected her. In fact, nothing affected her like it used to. The only thing that still stung like it was yesterday was the vision of her son dead in her arms. The image would come and go but it was still there haunting her like a photograph.
The past eight years had been long and hard. She wanted to be delivered from her problems and removed from her pain. It just seemed to consume her. Depression came off and on in her life like a faulty light. No matter what she did she could not knock the uneasiness she felt. Cora tried to numb her pain with the melody of narcotics. In the years since her son's death, she had tried a garden variety of drugs by themselves and in every concoction. She sought counseling from friends, frenemies, many pastors, therapists, and the bottle. Her life became a joke in town as she spiraled downward. The mention of her name would get anyone side stares. Cora went from a former beauty queen to a snagged-tooth, bald, emancipated version of herself.
She was doing much better than the first two years after her son was killed. It was a long journey to get to this pitiful state, and her image had not fully recovered. Her presence still managed to get her numerous glances and stares of disapproval. Cora's story was never mentioned or even whispered among others because of her tale was so wrenching. Not only could she not bring the words to her lips to even recant the tragedy, nobody else in town seemed to acknowledge her story. If a brave soul did speak to her, the conversation was brief and trivial. It was as if the tragedy was a pandemic virus that would spread from host to host and everyone was trying to avoid the main host.
Her nerves were still bad. She was easily angered by things. She neglected her appearance, losing over sixty-five pounds in the months after her son’s death. Her body faded from pin-up model to unidentifiable skin over bones. Cora had not set foot in a church in over three years because her church decided to put her out. It was voted on openly at the church meeting. Not one soul stood up for her. She had attended that church all her life. It contained all her history and at the very moment she needed them to love her, in her time of need, her church family turned on her and betrayed her. Her real family and church family washed their hands of her. Cora was left hung out to dry for no good reason at all.
She could still remember that day in church as if it were yesterday. She had returned after another stint in the local rehabilitation center. Cora remembered entering the church with a feeling of relief. Subsequently, she also felt a lot of dread when she took her seat in the pew. She went right to the front and sat down in the right pew where she used to sit when she was a child. Ms. Elsie, the mother of the church, looked her way but did not seem excited to see her as she usually did. Cora was not sure why because if there was one thing that remained true, it was the fact that Ms. Elsie was always happy to see folks come to church and praise the Lawd as she would put it. This day was different. The church mother turned her head yet continues humming the hymns rallying from the choir. Cora found it strange that the mother of the church did not look at her. Though she felt funny, there was no warning sign in her spirit to leave until it was too late.
The harmony from "Amazing Grace" barely left the air before Pastor Owens asked all the visitors to stand. Cora did not stand because she was a member of the church. She thought to stand because five years away was like being a visitor. Many of the elders were now gone to glory. There were a few new families attending since the last time.
Cora knew some of their faces because she saw them out downtown. On the days she managed to be somewhat sober, she went downtown to the café to get breakfast. Cora would have her regular of grits and cheese eggs scrambled hard with black coffee. She would sit for hours listening to the locals lie about their lives and watching others who knew the real story pretend to be intrigued. It was her time to read the papers and to catch an open-eyed nap before returning to one of the few abandoned houses in town to sleep until night.
At night, she would turn a trick with the same old tired men to earn enough money for her drug du jour. She mainly smoked crack, but sometimes she would do meth. She did not particularly like how it made her feel afterward, but the initial high was incredible. These were the only times Cora was able to clear her mind of the accident. The act of getting high became a habit of survival for Cora. She did not party with the other addicts in town, nor did hang out the crack houses in the area.
Her routine was simple. She collected her disability check and paid the bills on her house. She would stay home maybe two to three times a week. Then she would hitchhike or walk the seven miles into downtown. Once downtown, she would go to the café and then when night fell, the hilltop was her next stop. She would pick one or two of the same old men who frequented there and perform a quick sex act. This gave her enough money for drugs and food for the week; this is when she felt like eating. She'd get her drugs and either get high there or go home to get high in private. There were never many days that she was sober for the entire day. And there were fewer and fewer days that she was not turning tricks or doing petty crimes for drugs.
She would steal things from other peoples' yards or the local discount store. The stolen items were resold to some of the more unscrupulous locals for a fraction of their actual costs. The proceeds were always used for drugs and her limited survival.
ABOUT K. SHARRONNE K. Sharronne is a Christian/Inspirational Author and Poet. Since a child, she loved to write and her passion has continued through her current writings. Her favorite form of writing is poetry. Sharronne writes poetry almost daily. Currently, she has two other books published: I Dreamt of Love- Poetry Collection and Give Me a Reason to Love. K. Sharronne is the founder of an Indie publishing company, True Vine Press.K. Sharronne started True Vine Press to give a voice to authors that wanted to write about God in conventional and non-conventional ways. True Vine Press lives by the motto 'Be Inspired By Words.' The only caveat is that every story that uses scriptures or talks about God has to line up with premises and precepts of the Bible.