Introducing Team Orange: February Grace

February Grace is as lovely as her name. She is kind, giving, and an amazing writer. I can’t wait to share her story with you all. After her interview you will find an excerpt to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

Author Name: February Grace

Title of Short Story: Henley’s Scars

In 25 words or less tell me what this story is about:

The journey of one woman and her beloved childhood best friend as they travel together through life, love and loss.

How did you come up with the concept for the story?

We were allowed to submit two stories, and this one was the one that actually just popped into my head first; a clear mental image of Henley. However the second idea was so vivid that I wrote it first and sent it in. Something about Henley though— even his name— stuck with me from the moment I imagined him and I finally sat down and wrote the story beginning to end without stopping.  Wouldn’t you know that he’d be the one that would stay with other people, too!

I could see him in my mind so clearly even though he doesn’t exist as he’s described; he was inspired by the little toys my Grandmother used to sew for my younger cousins (she tended to make me dresses, not toys, because I had a favorite bear already. Though she did a vast amount of repair work on my favorite blanket…)

I was also inspired by experiences I’ve had in my own life that have left visible, physical scars. It just all seemed to fit together, and fit the anthology. So I held my breath, hit the ‘send’ button, and submitted it.

What prompted you to submit your story to the Orange Karen Anthology?

From the moment I heard about Karen’s illness, which occurred not long after I’d first ‘met’ her on Twitter through the wonderful Jennifer Gracen, I wished that I could do even the smallest thing to help, somehow. When this opportunity presented itself there was just no question: I was going to try to submit. So many of us just want to help however we could, we are grateful for this way to try. I just wanted, so badly, to write something worthy of the cause, of Karen.  I tried my best. This story is a huge piece of my heart.

Tell us one thing about yourself that we wouldn’t know about you from reading your bio:

That I’m an incurably hopeful —not hopeless— romantic.

john-cusack-boombox1

What is your favorite “orange” item (it could be a food, an object…sky’s the limit)? Why?

Sky’s the limit? That’s good, because I would have to say it’s the sun.

When I was losing my eyesight and they were telling me they didn’t think any of it could be saved, every night I would stop what I was doing and watch the sun set. Often I’d end up with tears running down my face because I didn’t know if that would be the last sunset I’d ever see. I never take for granted its warmth, the beautiful colors it casts to light the sky night and morning, or its ability to bring the new day. Yeah. The sun is cool.

Sun through the trees on a crisp fall day

Sun through the trees on a crisp fall day

If you had to use your favorite “orange” item to save the world, what would you do with it?

I wish I could find a way to make sunlight expedite the growth of love in the world. Turn the altering heat of its rays upon hate and greed and war until there was none left. If I could, I’d find a way to use the light to conquer all the darkness in our lonely world.  If only.

Who inspires you? Why?

Quiet courage, anywhere and in anyone I see it, inspires me on a daily basis.

There are people who have been through some really terrible things, health-wise, in their past or childhood, whatever the situation may be, but you would never know it. They don’t let it stop them. Somehow they keep going, make a better life for themselves and their families, even if they have to live with the memories every day in the form of mental and/or physical scars. No matter how hard they have to fight to do it, they just do it.

Soldiers coming home with stories they will never tell; people who have survived, against all odds, like Karen did. Those are the people who inspire me when I’m struggling, myself. Those are the real heroes in this life. I admire them all.

Excerpt:

Many times over the years, my friends tried to talk me out of carrying Henley around with me, or, when I got older, from displaying him on my bed. He was to be replaced, they said, first by dolls, then by electronics, and finally by a boy’s gifts — gaudy bears with rough synthetic coats and lifeless plastic eyes, won for me at carnival games and school Spring Flings.

I’d always end up giving such trophies away to younger siblings and their friends, feeling that to keep them would somehow be disloyal to my best friend, my one and only bright orange Henley, with his precious, artful scars.

I’m not ashamed to admit that Henley came with me on my honeymoon. Instead of making fun of me, the man I married understood that Henley was a member of the family and treated him as such. Henley has been photographed with landmarks and monuments alike, each picture lovingly arranged and appropriately captioned in his own special scrapbook.

Every trip he’d come back a little more worn, a little more frail. I never dreamed of attempting to repair him myself, though, no matter how old I got. That was a job that only one pair of skilled and loving hands could do.

So I would pack him up carefully and take him to see Grandma, and she would strain to see with aging eyes where the old stitches left off and begin to stitch in new thread, to give an old friend life again.

“We all have our scars, don’t we little guy?” she would say so gently, as she tucked in a little fresh stuffing to add to the old, sewed over the hole or weak spot, and always finished by giving him a little kiss on top of the head.

Every time she handed that bear back to me, I would feel the same love that I’d felt for him, and for her, when I was four.

Never did I imagine this day would come.

About February Grace:

February Grace is a published artist, writer, and poet. Her work has appeared in The Rusty Nail, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Rose & Thorn Journal, and Poetry Pact Volume One, 2011. She released her debut novel, GODSPEED, in 2012.

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