A Violent Hope
Ericka Clay is a published novelist and poet. She’s been awarded several times by Writer’s Digest for her short fiction pieces and is working on her latest novel, A Bird Alone (due to be published January 2024). She lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, daughter, and an insatiable need to push buttons, both figuratively and literally.
Mack Reynolds is battling his demons. After years spent attempting to heal wounds from being abused as a child, he confronts the author of his nightmares—his uncle—leading to a catastrophic decision and permanently sealing his fate. As the reality of Mack’s decision unfolds, his wife and daughter live life in a dark void, falling into addictions and assessing their pain through ways that only force them farther apart. It’s not until Mack’s mother, Rochelle, can confront her past, her questionable living arrangement with her husband and his mistress, and the bitter hurt that’s metastasized inside of her that Natalie and Wren can receive the guidance they both desperately need. But is it too late? Told through the lives of the three women touched by Mack’s struggle, A Violent Hope takes a deeper look into the human heart and the God who repeatedly heals all wounds.
Mack is sixteen-years-old, and man, does he have a mouth on him. He talks like a sailor and anger is woven through every inch of his clothes. He wears all black and his favorite bands are Slayer and Bathory. His brain breaks into puzzle pieces when he listens to it, and when he comes to, it’s like a deaf and dumb surgeon tries to put him back together again. He’s sentenced Roy McGruffin to the back of his closet. Leonard’s been sentenced to FCI Texarkana, the city’s finest correctional facility, which suits Mack just fine. His body is bigger, more filled out now. Even Dennis is scared to look him in the eye. Rochelle is working through her own journey. She’s absorbed You Can Heal Your Life like a salve on the skin. She’s taken her existence in her own hands and is roughly repurposing it. She’s just forgotten to assess the deep gash working between her feet and Mack’s. “I am beat,” she says. She smells like sweat and looks ridiculous in a neon pink headband and wrist warmers. She’s all spandex and endorphins, and Mack can barely look at her. Her room is sparse now, just a few outfits and toiletries to remind Mack he had a mother once. She lives mostly at Glenn’s and has been dragging her feet the past five years, working up the courage to officially move in and bring her son with her. But her son won’t speak to her. He grabs his bag and doesn’t even grunt a reply. He’s the star of the wrestling team even though he’s only a junior, but Mack looks like he’d rather put a curse on the team than be a part of it. He tries not to turn into a self-help nitwit himself and diagnose his feelings of abandonment and the sick feeling of not being enough anymore, not even for Dennis. Before he leaves the front stoop of the duplex, he punches his fist into the wall next to the door. He lives on that pain and breathes through it as he walks to Saturday morning wrestling practice. He doesn’t hang out with the team like he should, other than the pizza parties and canned food drives they put on to raise money. They all seem…content. Like they’ve each found the outline of themselves and have snugly shouldered their way into them. Mack feels like he’s free floating. And nobody is even attempting to swipe him back down to the ground anymore. “What’s this?” Coach Markle says as Mack walks into the locker room. He’s there early before anyone else is so he can change in private. He tries not to diagnose that either. “Oh, I don’t know. Just got a little upset,” he says, trying to shrug off the gash in his knuckles. Coach Markle nods. Markle’s always been like so many people I watch and love. There is an edge of goodness in him, one I want so desperately to grow. And here’s a moment I could watch the roots take hold into the soil, but he rips up the plant just like every other time.
Author Website http://erickaclay.com
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