Though The Bud Bruised - released in June 2012.
On this page you'll find
The blurb, Readers Comments, The Opening Poem
and a sneak preview! The first pages of the book.
This book, a compelling, family drama, is a 'Faction' - a fiction that is based on a true story.
In November 2011, in the Caleb awards, it was named the winner of the 'Un-Published Category' in the adult Fiction section.
Can one little note, read at midnight, really trigger a chain of events that could shake the very foundation of Zara Heymer’s life? Can she even grasp the horror of what has happened within her family? The shock of discovering that evil, cleverly disguised, has penetrated her home and her church, has left Zara reeling. Feeling a total failure, she looks for a way to resign as a mother; a way to stop this nightmare.
But Issy, her daughter, desperately needs a good mother as she attempts to face life. Can Zara put aside her grief, her own need for acceptance, her narrow thinking, and deeply ingrained religiosity in time to help Issy? Will Issy even survive?
‘I just read Though The Bud be Bruised in one sitting. Just couldn't put it down. The single best story I have ever read in terms of 'real' Christianity - that is, without the usual idealised romanticised pious way it's supposed to be.’
President of Omega Writers.
Compelling read...brilliance in a book...
Thoroughly appreciated your book. What a great name you have given it. My endorsement would read as follows :
'A deeply compelling read. An absolute must for all church leaders. Sexual abuse must be exposed for both the perpetrator and the victim to receive healing and freedom. Jo Wanmer has courageously written of the devastation that a family endured in their struggle to find hope, love and forgiveness. Thank you Jo for your honesty. '
River of Life Church
I think this is a book that cries out to be published and circulated widely. I’m sure Zara and Sam have the potential to be classic Christian heroes, as their deep soul searching is so gut-wrenchingly real. It’s unusual to find a book that keeps peeling away so many layers, revealing totally unexpected evil in their midst. As each of them try to come to terms with what has happened, they realise that there have been in perfections brewing beneath the surface of their lives for a long time.
Author and winner of Caleb Prize
o I I was so engrossed in the book!! I read a lot of books, but there aren't many that I can't put down. The courage you have shown in writing it is mind blowing, my heart goes out to you and your whole family, and the faithfullness you have shown to our loving God is an inspiration. Thank you so much for writing this story, you have done an amazing job, and I will be happy to recommend the book to everyone - Mum will have to wait to read it as my 15 year old has stolen it and won't give it up = she says she is enjoying it too. - Friend on Facebook
The Opening Poem
She Had a Daughter
She sees a scrap of paper with familiar writing
And then another, and another.
She fits them together and she feels such pain.
She had a daughter, a special daughter
A happy, carefree, bright, loving daughter
Her eyes shone from the joy of living
Her feet dancing, too happy to be still
Her laughter was constant, like running water
And her love knew no bounds.
Now she sees a scrap of paper that talks of pain
And of jumping
So she fits them together and feels such pain.
For her daughter, her special daughter
Her happy carefree, bright loving daughter
Has been bruised, hurt, violated
Her heart and her being taken,
Beaten, bashed, bruised, very nearly destroyed
Her laughter stopped, her feet stilled, her eyes dark.
Only her courage remains.
She aches to hold her daughter,
To sooth her, to love her, to chase away her pain
But she can’t—
For her heart is too hurt to touch,
Too bruised to be held
And her being trusts no one
And she remembers—she had a daughter.
The Opening pages
The door burst open. A shaft of cool air cut the laughter and easy banter at the table.
‘That’ll be Isobel, now.’ As she rose from the dinner table, Zara felt the cold send a shiver down her spine.
However, it was their daughter’s friend, Amanda, who stormed into the house. Isobel was close behind her.
Amanda looked as though she was about to fight someone. Her eyes blazed. The muscles in her neck were taut. She stopped and glared around the room.
Isobel grabbed her arm. ‘It’s fine, Amanda. Thanks.’
She gave Isobel a hard stare. ‘Are you sure?’
‘It’s all good.’ Isobel tossed her blonde hair. For a brief moment she caught her mother’s eyes, then the hair masked her face.
Before Zara could speak, Amanda’s dad appeared at the open door.
Zara hurried to greet him. ‘Hi, Nick.’
He looked puzzled. ‘What’s going on? Amanda! You girls have whispered all the way home. Haven’t you done enough talking?’
Amanda threw a long, intense look at Isobel, then turned and strode to the door.
Nick raised his eyebrows. Zara shrugged. They both laughed.
‘Who can understand thirteen year olds?’ He turned to follow Amanda to his car.
Ignoring her family, Isobel fled towards her bedroom. Zara shut the door and returned to her meal.
Sam caught her eye across the table. ‘What was that all about, darling?’
‘Who knows?’ Zara turned from her husband to their friends, Harry and Mae. ‘Sorry about that.’
Harry seemed disappointed. ‘My favourite girl didn’t even say hello.’
Mae patted his arm. ‘I’m sure she will come and talk to us soon, Harry.’
When she didn’t return, Zara excused herself from the table and went to find her. ‘Issy! What was all that about?’ She was face down on the bed. ‘Honey, what is wrong? Did your musical practice go badly?’
‘Well, get up off that bed and come and say hello to Mr and Mrs P!’ Zara picked the school bag off the floor and hung it behind the door.
‘Issy, I must go back to Harry and Mae. Please come out and say hello.’
Issy curled tighter on the bed. ‘Too tired.’ Her voice was muffled by her pillow.
‘Isobel Mary! Do as you are told.’
She lifted her face a little. ‘Mum, I need to talk to you.’
Zara heard the pleading in Isobel’s voice, but her friends were waiting for dessert.
‘I’ll talk later! You need to come out. Harry and Mae are looking forward to seeing you.’
‘Why didn’t you tell me they were coming?’
‘I didn’t know. They dropped in, so I invited them for dinner. What’s wrong, Issy? You like Mr & Mrs P.’
‘I’m sick of them always being here!’ She stuck her head under the pillow.
‘Isobel! Remember your manners!’ Zara turned and left the
Within minutes, Issy appeared in the family room, cheerful, breezy and bright–eyed. Gliding around the table, she greeted Mae and Harry with the expected kiss. She side–stepped her brother and ignored her father. Sam’s shoulders drooped as she passed. Of late Issy refused to let him touch her.
Issy ruffled her big brother’s hair. ‘Heard you knocked out Golly today, David.’
He didn’t acknowledge her reference to their family joke about David and Goliath.
Taking a serving spoon off the table to use as a ‘microphone,’ she flung her head back. ‘Yes! The showdown was expected on the back oval! Everyone was going!’ Issy’s eyes sparkled. She looked around, making sure everyone was listening.
David threw his hands in the air. ‘Untrue!’
Issy pulled a face at him, continuing her performance with increased flourishes. She would never let the truth get in the way of a good story. The whole room was entertained for fifteen minutes. Mae laughed so much the tears ran down her face. Watching, Zara realised Issy hadn’t laughed once. She was performing but not participating.
The minute she stopped for a breath, David stood. ‘Then, Issy had a hissy!’
She shrieked and threw herself at him. He dodged and ran down the hall, Issy close behind. Zara knew they were playing but, still concerned, she followed.
‘Dave! Don’t you dare say anything!’ Issy’s whispered entreaty was muffled as her bedroom door shut behind them. Zara stood still, torn between her friends and her children. Hearing Mae beginning to clear the table, she rushed back to help.
Zara was washing the saucepans when Issy returned.
She poured a glass of water. ‘I’m going to bed.’ Dropping a kiss on the top of Mae’s head, she turned and hugged Zara. ‘Mum, I have to talk to you tonight, please.’ Her voice was a bare whisper.
‘Okay, darling! I’ll be there in a minute.’
‘No! Mum!’ This time the whisper was nearly frantic. ‘After they leave!’
Zara frowned and threw her arm around Issy’s shoulders. Together they walked down the hall. ‘Honey, I think they’ll be late. Harry and Dad are working on the trailer.’
‘I don’t care how late it is.’ Issy shook Zara off and walked towards her room. ‘Just don’t forget, Mum. Okay?’
Mae called from the kitchen. ‘Issy, remember to say goodnight to Harry and your father!’
Isobel stopped as though stung. ‘Mum?’
There was a desperation in her voice that Zara couldn’t understand. Her concern deepened. ‘I’ll say goodnight for you, honey.’
Issy’s shoulders slumped and she shut her door.
Zara stared. Something was definitely wrong with her girl. A tight little knot formed in the pit of her belly. She shook herself and dismissed the anxiety, berating herself for foolishness.
In the kitchen, Mae gave her quizzical look. ‘What was all the whispering about?’
Zara shook her head. ‘I don’t know, but something’s wrong.’
Mae hung up the tea towel. ‘I’ll go to her. Maybe she’ll talk to me.’
Over the past five years, the Pinzones had become very close. They had stepped into the role of grandparents to David and Issy, replacing Sam’s deceased Mum and Dad. The six of them often ate together and had even taken holidays together.
‘Thanks, Mae, but I think we’ll let her sleep.’ Zara poured hot water on the instant coffee and led Mae into the lounge room.
‘You said you wanted to talk about Harry. Or are you calling him Harold as you do when he’s in trouble?’
Mae sunk into the lounge chair. ‘No, Harry’s not in any more trouble than usual!’
She leaned toward Zara as though fearful of being overheard. ‘We had the talk!’
Bemused, Zara prompted. ‘The talk?’
‘He’s agreed with my plan. So now I’m free from the sin of adultery!’ Mae leaned back, a curious satisfied expression on her face.
‘Mae! You are married to Harry! We’ve been over this many times.’
Years before, Harry had convinced Mae to run away with him, leaving her first husband and children. She had never forgiven herself for walking out on her family. Even though she was now married to Harry, she still felt she was committing adultery.
‘Jesus died for all your sin, Mae. You are forgiven.’
‘Yes.’ Mae’s voice was low but insistent. ‘But just to be sure, I’ve told Harry I’ll share my life, my house and even my bed with him, but…’ She paused, as though selecting her words with care. ‘But I choose to withhold my body.’
‘Mae! What about Harry? He’s agreed with this crazy idea?’
‘I’ve been staying on my side of the bed for ages. He says it suits him.’ Mae sat back; a triumphant smile crept across her face. ‘Now I know there’s no sin impeding my prayers. You know how important prayer is to me.’
Zara tried to grapple with Mae’s news. Harry was a strong red-blooded male. He was six or seven years younger than Mae. Only slightly taller than Sam, he was broad-shouldered and muscled. His ample belly wasn’t the type that shook when he laughed. It was rock hard. When the kids played with him they would run and punch him, trying to wind him. All they gained was sore fists.
Unbidden, a thought popped into Zara’s mind. Was he being satisfied elsewhere?
She shook her head and pulled her thoughts back to Mae.
‘I’ve adjusted my prayer lists. I’m praying for Issy twice a day now. Let me know as soon as you find out what’s bugging her, and then I’ll know how to pray. I do like my prayers to be detailed.’
‘Thanks, Mae. I appreciate your intercession for our family.’ Zara relaxed and sipped her coffee before it went cold.
It was close to midnight when Harry and Mae left. Struggling to keep her eyes open, she kissed Mae. Harry’s hug pushed her breast into his chest. She felt slimy, unclean. Feeling guilty, she scolded herself for not being more careful.
She was about to climb into bed when she remembered her promise to Issy. Weary, she padded down the hall. Bending over the bed, she kissed her daughter on the cheek, expecting her to be asleep.
‘I wrote you a note.’ The whisper surprised her. ‘It’s on the table.’
Issy had written many notes over the years, ranging from ‘I lub u’ when she was little to the last one that Zara could remember. ‘I’m sorry, Mum. I always seem to ruin everything. x o x o’
Turning, she managed to find the wadded note in the dimly lit room. She slipped it in her pyjama pocket and left the room. ‘Thanks, honey. G’night.’
About to turn off the bathroom light, she paused, recalling Amanda’s strange behaviour. In recent months, Isobel had been so unpredictable Zara had prayed, asking God to bring any hidden problem into the light. But Amanda was such a stable girl. What could have caused her odd behaviour?
Why not read the note now? Zara blinked in the dim light. Struggling to focus, she scanned the few words in Issy’s tidy handwriting.
Stunned, she squeezed the paper into a ball.
She slumped against the wall.
‘No!’ She must have misread it. Shaking, she smoothed out the creases. She held the note up to reread the few lines.
Dragging her feet, Zara returned to Isobel’s room. What should she say? What could she do?
Sam shut the front door. They’d gone at last! His unread newspaper beckoned. Reading the paper was the highlight of his evening. Tonight he read the headlines and walked away. The world would have to go on without him. Sleep called.
Zara wasn’t in bed. Most times, she was fast asleep before he closed the front door. He went looking for her but, on hearing quiet voices from Isobel’s room, decided to leave the girls to it. ‘I wouldn’t like to think how long it was since I was the first to bed.’
While following his nightly routine, he thought of his two girls. Isobel’s snub tonight hurt. Zara had been saying for some time there was something wrong. But what? He knew she was asking God to reveal anything hidden. Sam smiled. Any thirteen-year-old probably had plenty going on in her life she didn’t want her mother knowing.
Climbing into bed, the soft light of the lamp irritated him. He pulled the covers over his head. Whatever could be taking Zara so long? It was well after midnight and Issy had school in the morning.
Sam started to think about the coming weekend—a luxury unit, right on the beach, just the four of them. Everyone was excited, no one more than Zara. The time in the unit was a gift from Cathy and Dwayne Baxter who’d decided they all needed a break. Sam had organised an early mark from work and they were leaving straight after school tomorrow.
He worried about Zara. She’d been on the edge of depression for several years. He had suffered from it himself so he recognised the signs. She scoffed though, refusing to see a doctor. However, tears were common. Often she just jumped in her little Honda and left. When she returned, everyone would breathe a sigh of relief, as though they’d all been holding their breaths.
Zara was the centre of the family, the soul of the house, the source of life and laughter. He shuddered to think of life without her. She thought prayer was the answer for every problem and had asked God to rescue her from her black hole before her fortieth birthday. Sam realised she was almost back to her old self. And it was still two months before she turned forty.
He tossed in his bed, trying to sleep. ‘What is she doing?’
He sensed, rather than heard her. Without a word, she slipped into bed beside him. Content, he welcomed sleep.
Zara turned out the lamp and lay down beside Sam. No point in them both missing sleep. She would tell him in the morning.
Rolling onto her side, she shut her eyes, the crushed note still balled in her clenched fist. But it was too much to carry alone.
Flinging back the sheets, she snapped on the lamp. He groaned.
She shook his shoulder. ‘Sorry’. Yes, she was sorry, very sorry. ‘Issy gave me this note. Read this!’
Sam was still half asleep. ‘Now?’
‘I’m sorry Sam, but you must read this!’ She handed him the crumpled note.
Blinking, Sam tried to focus on Issy’s writing. ‘Can’t you read it to me?’
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