Title: Elaine’s Gift
Author: Victoria St. Michael
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 04/18/2023
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Pairing: No Romance, Female/Female
Genre: Contemporary, Contemporary, Family-drama, New Adult, Coming of age, Illness/disease, Grief, Mental illness
Still reeling from the untimely death of her wife, Elaine, twenty-seven-year-old Kit Barrows is a ghost of herself. But Kit’s fractured life is about to take a turn for the unexpected when she wakes up one morning to discover a mysterious envelope and a notebook sitting on her nightstand, with a note inside—a note addressed to Kit—in Elaine’s handwriting.
As Kit is led on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery and healing, she encounters a homeless veteran on the brink of death, two eccentric old ladies, nine porcelain dolls, a large sum of money, and an anonymous benefactor. As she learns to process her grief, Kit learns that even in death Elaine still has so much to teach her.
Victoria St. Michael © 2023
All Rights Reserved
As Kit steps out of the Uber into the howling wind and rain, the little voice in her head begs her to turn back. Wouldn’t you be so much more comfortable in bed, the voice asks, filling her with anxiety. Curiosity killed the cat, isn’t that what they say?
Kit shoves the voice into a box in the back of her mind and puts it on a shelf. Now muffled by her resolve, the voice continues to whine in the background as she fights desperately to ignore it. The urge to return to the car and head straight back home to her dusty, leaky apartment is overwhelming, but Kit gives the driver a quick wave and sloshes through the deep puddles to the sidewalk.
Ice cold water seeps through the worn-out soles of her boots as she clutches a little black notebook, no bigger than the palm of her hand, tightly to her chest. Kit has no idea how the book came to be in her possession, only that she had been meant to find it. It had been propped up on her bedside table when she had awoken this morning. Only four pages had been written on, the rest were blank.
The brief note scrawled in Elaine’s familiar, barely legible handwriting on the fourth page is imprinted in her mind. Kit had stared at it for so long that she had unconsciously memorized it:
Miss me? Eleanor Roosevelt said the purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. So, go live. I love you; I’ll see you in Paris. – E
Paris, Kit thinks bitterly to herself, another dream we were forced to put away on a shelf, left up there to collect dust. It’s just like E to be so frustratingly whimsical. Already slick with rain, the leather-bound cover of the notebook sends tiny shock waves from Kit’s fingertips to her chest. I can’t turn back, she tells herself. I have to do this. For her.
The hospital looms ahead, a pitch-black monster silhouetted against the angry storm clouds clogging the evening sky. Kit hates hospitals, this one more than most. She has not been here since that day and had not planned on ever returning if she could help it. And yet here I am, all because of this stupid book. She curses her own morbid curiosity.
Kit steels herself against the stinging wind and trudges up the steps into the fluorescent lights of the hospital lobby. She shakes droplets of rainwater off the notebook in her hands and opens it to the first page, feeling her pulse quicken as she reads the name and address written there:
Ridgeview Trinity Hospital: 394 Ridgeview Rd. Room 317, Thomas Greene.
It’s eerie, seeing Elaine’s loopy, slanted letters written so plainly on the page. Haunting. It’s something that Kit had never expected to see again. A hollow pain begins throbbing from somewhere deep in her chest. Kit remembers how Elaine used to say her thoughts flew by too rapidly for her hand to possibly keep up. She wonders when Elaine had written the note and tries to imagine her wife’s dainty porcelain hand gripping the pen. A tangible memory to hold onto.
Somewhere in her mind, Kit wonders why Elaine had even bothered to write down the hospital’s address. They had both learned it by heart, by the end.
She approaches the nurses’ station. Ridgeview is a small hospital; Kit could likely find Room 317 on her own, but she figures it would be more polite to ask. The nurse seated at the desk looks up from her book with surprise.
“Kit! I wasn’t expecting to see you here so soon. It’s a terrible night to be out and about! How are you holding up?”
Kit ignores the question.
“I’m looking for Room 317. I’m here to see,” she checks the name written in the book again, “uh, Thomas Greene?”
The nurse looks confused for a moment; then her face lights up. “Oh, that’s wonderful to hear. Tom never gets any visitors! This will make his night. Technically visiting hours ended at five, but I think we can make an exception. Tom has no family that we know of. Not even a next of kin, the poor man. Let’s go see if he’s awake, shall we?”
The nurse stands and hurries down the hall, gesturing for Kit to follow.
Meet the Author
Victoria St. Michael is a writer from Ontario, Canada. She has an Honours Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Ottawa and a Diploma in Journalism from Algonquin College, with bylines in various publications across Canada and the U.S. In her spare time she enjoys photography, horror movies, spilling her chaotic thoughts on her blog and going on adventures with her partner and their furbabies.
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