Cynthia J. McGean
Excerpt from Sparrow’s Secret Heart
a young adult novel
by Cynthia J. McGean


    I never used to think much about God, for all Momma's talk.  I figured he was like the guy behind the desk at the welfare office - big on the rules, always busy, the place you went if things got desperate.  Then God stomped in and hijacked my life.  
    Everything about that night is burned into my brain - the sounds of mariachi music from the upstairs apartment, the frost in the air, the smell of scorched brussel sprouts and stale beer, and Momma's face in the half-open doorway, framed with a yellow triangle of light like an angel in a painting.  She had her hair piled up all fancy in back, with little feathery pieces flying free along the edges.  When she turned her head, specks of glitter caught the light and sparkled on her cheeks and eyelids.   	
    Her boyfriend Ron was waiting in his car by the curb.  He leaned on the horn and yelled, "Come on, Ginny!  I've got my dancing shoes on!"     
    I stood tall as I could.  "Momma?" I said.  "Be careful."  Ron's mood could turn on a dime. 
    "Don't worry, baby," she said.  Her voice was like butterflies in summer.  "If God's watching the sparrows, he's watching over me."  She winked and planted a big sloppy kiss on my cheek.  
    I swiped it off.  "I'm twelve years old," I said.  "I ain't a baby."  
She reached over and brushed my hair off my face.  Her plastic bracelets rattled in my ear.  "I know that," she said.  
Ron honked again.  
    Momma rushed down the front steps.  Her dress swished 'round below her coat and caught the light from the streetlamp.  "Be good," she called back over her shoulder.   Then she got in Ron's car and they drove away.

    I waited up for her in my bedroom, stretched on the floor picking at the loops of shag carpet.  Uncle Everett dozed off on the couch in the living room watching late night TV.  The street lamp shined through my window blinds and made stripes across the floor - light and dark, light and dark.  The little numbers flipped by on my clock - midnight, one o'clock, one-thirty.  The radio upstairs went silent.  Uncle Everett switched off the TV.  A gust of wind rustled the trees, and stopped.  For a second, the whole world waited and listened.
    Then the phone rang and smashed apart the quiet.  Uncle Everett answered in a low, sleepy voice.  I couldn't make out what he said.  He swore and slammed down the receiver and his big heavy feet tromped across the floor.  My door squeaked.  The light from the hallway dribbled in.
    "Derek?"  His voice was scratchy.  He flicked on the light.  "Your momma's in the hospital."
Interested in reading the rest of Sparrow’s Secret Heart?  Contact me at'Leary's%20Tormentshapeimage_2_link_0

SPARROW’S SECRET HEART copyright 2009 Cynthia J. McGean.  All rights reserved.