Book Showcase: Heaven’s Forgotten by Branden Johnson (with giveaway!)
Title Heaven’s Forgotten
Author Branden Johnson
Amazon purchasing link http://amzn.to/1RlQZ0T
Moira just wants a normal life for her daughter, Penelope. And sometimes, it seems like she has achieved it. Penelope is a sweet, smart, and precocious four-year-old girl. However, she is also the product of Moira's affair with an angel. Her parentage gives Penelope strength far beyond what any child should possess. It also makes her the target of fallen angels who intend to use her mysterious powers as their way back into Heaven. Worse yet, one of those fallen angels is her own father. Now, Moira finds herself caught up in a terrifying struggle for Penelope's life against beings more powerful than she can imagine. And when Penelope's true power is revealed, it will shake the foundations of reality.
Suspenseful and action-packed, Heaven's Forgotten demonstrates the power of a mother's love against the longest odds in Heaven and on earth.
Penelope liked to swing. On the playground, it was really the only thing she liked to do. The other children scaled the jungle gym, staking their claim to its peak and roaring superiority. Others clambered up the slide and screamed and laughed as they slid down to earth again.
Penelope did not want to return to earth. On the swings, she never had to touch the ground.
She had the whole swing set to herself this morning. That was okay. The other kids were nice sometimes, but she enjoyed swinging alone. She kicked her feet out and pulled on the chain and turned her face to the sky. The fall back down was exhilarating, even a little scary, but bearable because she knew she would rise again. Below her, the rest of the children scurried around the playground like the ants in their classroom ant farm.
She saw the little girl below, in her pink pants and white ballet slippers stained brown with mud. Penelope did not respond. She only kicked harder and let the wind cut across her face and blow back her hair, let the scattered droplets of rain splash her cheeks. If it started raining harder, the teachers would make them go inside, and that wasn’t any fun. She hoped it stayed just like this. Just like this forever.
The little girl was not leaving. And now there were three others besides. They stood with their arms crossed, all alike.
“We want to swing. Get off, please.” The little girl with the ballet slippers tapped her foot impatiently on the gravel.
“I’m swinging right now,” Penelope said.
The situation was clear. There were four swings and five girls. Five was bigger than four, so there weren’t enough swings for everyone.
“Get off, stupid,” said another girl. “You’re stupid.”
Penelope decided to be good. She closed her eyes and imagined her mother telling her, “Be good. Be good. Be good.”
Out loud, she said, “No, and don’t call me stupid because I’m not.”
“You are stupid,” said a third girl, this one with a big white bow in her hair. “You’re stupid and if you don’t get off and let us swing we’re gonna tell Mrs. Ritzky.”
“Stupid! Stupid!” the girls began to chant. “Stupid stupid stupid!”
But Penelope was being good.
“Stupid stupid stupid stupid!”
Sometimes being good was hard, but she knew that her Mommy was right, and that she had to be good, because—
“Stupid stupid stupid!”
Penelope shoved her feet into the gravel, sending it showering over the four girls. They screamed and covered their heads.
“Say you’re sorry to me,” Penelope said. She stepped from the swing. But she did not raise her voice. She kept her tone under control, like a good girl. She stood before the girl in the ballet slippers and said, “Apologize.”
The fourth girl, the one who so far had said nothing, the one who had taken a large chunk of pebble to her forehead—a wound that was already swelling into a quarter-sized welt—stepped forward and shoved Penelope.
Penelope fell on her backside in the gravel.
“Stupid!” said the girl with the welt, beginning to cry. “You’re mean!”
Penelope closed her eyes. A blush crawled over her, like a rash, spreading out from her face to the ends of her fingers and down to her toes. Her muscles ignited. She took a deep breath. When she opened her eyes, the girls were staring down at her as she sat in the damp gravel on her butt.
Then in a flash she was on her feet, and her hand flew out and smacked the first little girl’s nose. The girl flew back, sprawled, a tear like a fault line rending the leg of her pink pants. Penelope hit the next girl, and the next, and the next, and then a pair of grown-up hands had clasped her shoulders, and she kicked out behind her and connected with a teacher’s shin, and the teacher howled and fell away. Then at least three other teachers grabbed her—Penelope wasn’t sure how many, she was so focused on the girls who were lying on the ground holding their faces, holding in the blood that leaked between their fingers and pooled in the gravel.
The hands dragged her from the scene, and she listened to the crying. Even the teacher, the one she kicked, seemed to be crying, or trying not to cry.
She let her body go limp, so the grownups would have to struggle to move her. It was a technique that worked quite well on her mother. Then she shut her eyes and wondered what her mother would say, when she learned how bad Penelope had been.
Branden Johnson is a writer living near Chicago with his wonderful wife and hyperactive chihuahua. When he's not writing, he's playing music in the post-rock band These Guys These Guys. Heaven's Forgotten is his first novel.
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