Today is one year since I started my blog and I want to share with you where the name of my blog, A Broken Blue Sky, came from.
When we were trying to think of a blog name, everything we tried was already taken. Then I remembered my first fictional story I wrote for a creative writing class. I took this class when I went to college as an adult after raising my children. The working title of this story started out different. The final title came from a phrase I wrote within the story, and A Broken Blue Sky was born. The phrase and title have stuck with me, and since the title is an original, it was perfect for my blog… as the chances of someone else already having it was low. It also fit perfectly for my life and poetry and writings I have shared here.
The following is the first short fictional story I ever wrote. I am going to be vulnerable here and share it with you today:
A Broken Blue Sky
That evening we spent a peaceful family night together at home. My wife prepared a special dinner and afterward we all chipped in and helped to clean up so the fun could begin. We played games with the children, read stories, sang a few songs by the fireplace, and played our usual “tickle and chase” game as we all ran upstairs together to put the children to bed. I’ll never forget Jacob, our oldest, looking up at me with those beautiful big blue eyes and saying to me in his sweet little voice, “Daddy, I hope we can always be as happy as we are tonight.” As I held him closely I reassured him that we would always be together, that I will always love him, and that we would have a lifetime to continue sharing this happiness that we experienced tonight.
My wife and I spent the rest of the evening sitting by the fireplace reminiscing over the past year, the accomplishments of our children in school, and how fortunate we were to have found this house in such a wonderful neighborhood. We had struggled so much in the first few years of our marriage financially, but now my career was going well and Sharon had found a job that she enjoyed this past September when Theresa entered school for a full day. Our lives were beginning to change and it all felt great. We went to bed at around 10:30 pm and had a brief conversation planning where to take our family vacation this next summer. There was a peacefulness that filled our home as we held each other close and fell off to sleep.
In the middle of the night when the doorbell rang, I remember looking at the clock and noticing that it was 2:00 am. This strange and unwelcome sound brought questions and fear to both of us. The children were safe in their beds and we had no knowledge of any major problems in the life of those who were close to us. We couldn’t imagine who it could be. Sharon was so concerned that she insisted on coming with me as I went to answer the door. We looked through the window to first see who could possibly be at our door at this time of the morning. When we saw the police car in the driveway and two policemen standing at our front door, we thought something terrible must have happened.
I opened the door slowly and one of the policemen asked me if I was David Martin, to which I replied that yes I was. Immediately one of them began to handcuff me and tell me that I was under arrest for the murder of a man named Jonathan Stone, while the other one read me my rights. Sharon became hysterical and we both told them that there must be some mistake because neither of us even knew this person. However, nothing we said changed their minds and the next thing I knew I was in the police car looking back at my wife as we drove away. I will never forget the look in her eyes or the terror on her face. I was so frustrated because I couldn’t even wave to her or motion to her in any way because my hands were bound together behind me. The only thing I could do was move my lips and slowly speak the silent words, “I LOVE YOU.”
We were able to find an excellent attorney who believed us and became as passionate as we could have hoped for to help set me free. The problem was, finding out how this happened in the first place and then convincing the court system. As my attorney began his investigation, he eventually discovered that the police had arrested me not knowing that they had the wrong person. Proving this, however, was to be the most difficult part of the process.
The months that followed changed our lives forever. I lost my job, our children were ridiculed at school and my wife lived in constant fear, unable to believe that something like this could actually happen in America. I can’t begin to describe the feelings I had, knowing that some other man had the exact same name, birth date, and was even born in the same town as me. The court system’s mistake turned out to be my family’s nightmare.
I tried very hard to hide from Sharon the fear I lived with being locked up in this concrete and iron world in which I was held prisoner. The strip searching, “mug shot”, no choices for the food I ate, when I ate, or when I went to bed was a terrifying experience. I tried very hard to appear comfortable in a world I could have never dreamed of. We all wore the same blue prison scrubs and there was absolutely no privacy, not even to go to the bathroom or take a shower. I was NEVER alone, not physically or in the racing fear and worry that constantly filled my head. At night the silence seemed to rage in my cell as though even the spiritual world of the unseen was doing it’s own battle in this fight for justice. I needed something to hold on to and I struggled to find hope in the face of what now was my reality.
It seemed as though I never truly slept, although I’m sure there must have been times, from shear exhaustion, I would drift away into some state of sleep. However, to my knowledge it seemed as though I never slept at all. I would lay awake most of the night, too afraid to fall asleep. I would think but my thoughts, like drops of rain in the night rolling off into the darkness, seemed to evaporate. My thoughts would race, but I was powerless to do anything to change my circumstances. My life was in the hands of my attorney. I often felt angry and full of despair as helplessness constantly gripped me.
I began to keep a journal which was the only way I knew to try to keep my sanity. I often would sit just letting my thoughts and emotions spill out onto the paper that lay in front of me. This was the safest and only thing I could do with the hopelessness that filled my soul. The most moving words I wrote came out in the form of a poem which clearly depicted the darkness that trapped me behind these bars that held captive more than just my physical body. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months I often lost hope. Emptiness began to fill the spaces that once overflowed with joy.
While I was living my own private hell and trying so hard to mask my pain and fear from Sharon, she was living her own nightmare and I knew she tried to protect me from all that she feared and faced as well. During the short infrequent visits, we would struggle to capture and savor what little time we had together. The time passed quickly and it was so hard to say all the things we wanted and needed to, especially when there was so much neither of us dare to speak. I worried so much about her and the children. I missed being in our home together as a family and feeling the safeness and love that we shared and the peacefulness of the lives we created. Sharon tried to be strong for the children and keep their lives as normal as possible. She tried to give them hope and reassurance, while daily making phone calls. She did all that she could to try to get information that would lead to my release and our being a family once again.
The process of paper work being sent from one government agency to another seemed like dealing with two foreign countries that didn’t speak the same language. Every part of the process took weeks. When the court date was finally set I didn’t know whether to rejoice or worry more, for this either meant my freedom or the end of my life as I once knew it. Because when you are behind bars like this, it feels as though anything can happen and you feel completely out of control. The power that wrongfully put me here could also refuse to set me free.
When May 20th arrived and I entered the court room, there was such a feeling of anticipation and anxiety as the silence filled the room and shot from one wall to the next with as much force as any sound waves of the spoken word. When I saw Sharon from across the room and our eyes met, I saw in the light of her face hope of a future which gave me the strength to endure the next few hours that followed in the stiff, stale, power of that court room. As each second passed and drew us closer to the moment we both longed for and feared, my heart began to pound with such intensity I could swear everyone in the room could see its pulsating force through my shirt.
Finally, the evidence was delivered that would determine my fate. As each attorney brought forth their defense, uncertainty began to pierce my mind with doubts and fear because there was no room for dialogue, questions were asked and only straight forward answers were allowed. This was the most frustrating part of the hearing and felt so unjust and counterproductive to finding the truth. I found myself left to trust the system which wrongfully put me behind bars in the first place. However, the moment the words were spoken, “NOT GUILTY,” I felt like a huge weight fell off my shoulders. I collapsed into my wife’s arms and we wept together with all the emotion that was held back inside of us that no longer knew of the dam that once held us captive.
It was much later that I discovered that the other David Martin, the real murderer, had been located just a few days earlier.
Sharon and I were quiet most of the way home speaking passionately in our silence. I slowly opened the window of the car to breathe in some fresh air. The sky was a broken blue that day, streaked with white cracks. The sun struggled to shine through the few clouds that still lingered. I could almost taste the mist of the fog that had filled the air just a few hours ago. As I glanced over at Sharon, trying to absorb every part of her being, I saw tears in the corner of her eyes as we grasped each others hands tightly.
In some eerie way I felt like a stranger as I slowly entered our home, and yet there was this familiarity that seemed to be struggling to reach out to me. Jacob and Theresa came bursting through the living room and jumped into my arms. The months we were apart seemed like years. We held each other tightly trying to ignore the anxiety that hid deep inside. I pulled back to absorb their faces that once were so easy to read.
During dinner Jacob and Theresa barely ate any of their food. I could feel them staring at me for brief moments at a time, as if hoping I didn’t notice. They spent the rest of the evening never leaving my side. As we snuggled on the sofa feeling the broken, shallow breathing pattern of the other, I thought back to the last evening we spent together before this nightmare separated us. Just a few months earlier our home felt safe and was full of laughter, while tonight we sit clinging desperately to each other.
Although this is the exact room we laughed and played in that night, it now seemed strange with a hint of uncertainty that caused my mind to wonder…? “David,” Sharon said, “Would you like some dessert?” “Yes,” I replied “…Dessert… that would be wonderful!”
We sat quietly together eating slowly and deliberately, savoring more than just the taste of the sweetness and the luxury. Jacob broke the silence looking up at me with tears rolling down his face, “Daddy, will we ever be as happy as we were before you went away?” I held him ever so closely and tenderly with a reassuring embrace, tears now rolling down my own face. My thoughts raced inside… I had reassured him once before… will he ever be able to trust me, or anyone else, again…?