How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?
My name is Molly Marie Sanders—but, for some reason, my mom thinks it’s funny to call me ‘Molly Lou.’ I live in Redbend, Oklahoma in a two-story house with my dad, mom, three-year-old brother, Max, and little Chihuahua named Boo.
I graduated high school in May, and last month started classes at Redbend College to pursue a degree in elementary education. I’m loving school so far, and have made a ton of new friends. But I miss my two best friends, Bianca and Lenni, like crazy. I can’t wait until Christmas break so that we can all meet up in Redbend and hang out. I mean, we see each other all the time on Facebook, but it’s not the same. I want to hug their necks—although I’ll probably have to catch Bianca, first. She’s never been one for physical affection.
Continuing to live at home while attending school works out well for my family. My dad works for an accounting firm, and Mom runs an online antique business, so I spend a lot of time helping around the house and caring for my little brother—which I enjoy doing.
I attribute my love of learning and interest in the educational field to a very special teacher I had in high school, named Mrs. Piper. Her lessons both inside and out of the classroom are the reason I decided to apply to Redbend College to pursue a degree in education. My dream is to someday co-teach with Mrs. Piper in the same creative writing classroom where she helped me find myself—and Jesus.
Are you a pet person?
Yes! I have a sweet little six-year-old Chihuahua named Boo. He was the baby of the family until my little brother, Max, came along three years ago. But Boo was a good sport about Max’s arrival, and didn’t get jealous. He loves Max, and even shares his dog bowl with him sometimes—when Mom isn’t looking. Lol.
Do you have any hobbies?
Other than running after Max and Boo, I don’t really have many hobbies—unless you count listening to music. Dizzy is my all-time favorite singer. I’ve loved her since I was fourteen, and have every album she’s ever recorded and every DVD she’s ever made. Lenni, Bianca, and I have gone to every single show she’s played in Oklahoma City. Her music embodies so many of our shared high school memories—both good and bad.
And speaking of music, thanks to my mom’s persistence, I even enjoy listening to 80’s music now and again. The two of us have gone to the shows of several throwback hair-bands. Mom’s favorite concert was one we went to last summer, given by a band called SQUALLER. Four guys with tight pants, protruding bellies, and thinning hair, attempting to look like angst-ridden teenagers. To me, they just looked like a bunch of car salesmen squinting into the sun. They pretty much sounded the way they looked, but I didn’t tell Mom that.
What are your reading tastes?
I guess I’m kind of a nerd, because I enjoy old books—really old books, like from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. The kind everyone moans about studying in Lit class. I’m especially fond of classic horror—The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I’m fascinated by the fact that no matter how old the story is, the characters remain relatable. Humanity is timeless. I also love reading the Bible, for that exact same reason. The stories are ageless, and the truth never changes.
List your favorite movie of all time and why.
I’m partial to The Wizard of Oz. I guess it might have something to do with my mother’s obsession over all things Oz related. Maybe she finally rubbed off on me. There was a time in my life when I absolutely hated the film—also a result of Mom’s Oz obsession. In addition to her ruby slipper keychain, Glenda the Good Witch coffee mug, and the flying monkey mobile she hung above Max’s baby crib, Mom had once placed a life-sized Wicked Witch of the West statue on our front porch. We were brand new in town, and you can only imagine the teasing I endured when the school bus pulled up in front of my house. There stood that stupid witch, in all her green glory, and nowhere near Halloween. The thing even added to the wrath and resentment Bianca felt for me back then. She thought I’d put the statue there as a way to make fun of her Witcha’be lifestyle. I’m happy to say I’ve grown past all that now, and love nothing more than to sing “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead,” right along with the colorized munchkins of Oz.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?
The summer before my freshman year of high school, my family and I moved from Crystal, Texas to Redbend, Oklahoma. Initially, the move wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Our family spent the last two weeks of June at the lake with the Flemming family, which was really cool. Neal Flemming is my dad’s boss, and his daughter, Lenni, and I became instant friends. Lenni told me all about her best friend, Bianca—how beautiful she was, what a great actor she was, and how she made all her own outfits. She couldn’t wait to introduce us.
Unfortunately, the relationship between Bianca and me didn’t turn out quite as warm and fuzzy as Lenni planned. Bianca didn’t take too well to Lenni having a new friend, and strongly felt three was a crowd. Add the fact Lenni somehow forgot to tell me Bianca was a witch in training—aka Witcha’be—and, yeah, things got pretty crazy.
When summer ended, things got even crazier. Not only was I starting my first year of high school, I was going to be the new kid. I didn’t know anyone, except Lenni—and our friendship made Bianca mad. Cursing mad. So mad, she vowed to destroy me while honing her Witcha’be craft in the hallways of Redbend High. (The fact that I’m prone to violently hiccup whenever I’m scared didn’t help matters.)
If it weren’t for my creative writing teacher’s encouragement, I don’t know how I would’ve made it through those first couple of weeks of school. Mrs. Piper taught me that God hadn’t given me a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind. Her faith in God—and in what He could accomplish through me—gave me the courage to become friends with a bitter enemy.
Thankfully, all of that is way behind me now. Bianca, Lenni, and I have remained best friends throughout our high school years, and are now excitedly sharing our college experiences through calls, text messages, and Facebook. I know it sounds cliché, but I truly believe the three of us really will stay best friends forever.
Redbend High school seniors, Molly, Lenni, and Bianca, are enjoying their last spring break before graduation when a massive tornado touches down in the very park they are exploring. From out of nowhere, a courageous stranger appears, risking his own life to save the girls from the deadly storm, and leaving them thunderstruck.
As his injuries heal, the rescuer claims each of the girls’ hearts while reclaiming his strength. Soon Molly, Lenni, and Bianca find themselves caught in a fierce competition for the wounded hero’s affection. One hurt feeling leads to another, and before long their friendship is torn and barely hanging, like a battered leaf in a hailstorm.
Is the friendship Molly, Lenni, and Bianca share strong enough to withstand the brutal winds of jealousy, heartache, and betrayal?
Or will graduation from Redbend High really mean goodbye forever?
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Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.
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“What a rush!” Bianca dropped her head back and pushed off in the swing. “The rain feels amazing.” She laughed as she swung, rain soaking her hair and clothing. Lightning tore through the sky. The crack of thunder that followed seemed to shake the earth.
Molly didn’t know which was scarier—the black clouds overhead, boiling like a witch’s brew or the echo of Bianca’s laughter as she soared skyward toward the storm. Red hair flying, she winked one black-lined eye at Molly and swung even higher. Molly’s stomach churned along with the rumbling sky.
“I don’t think this is a good idea.” Lenni tucked her blonde hair behind her ear as the wind whipped more strands into her face. “I think I see a funnel.” She pointed to a monstrous cone-shaped cloud just above the train trestle.
“Seriously, Len? We’re in Oklahoma, remember?” Bianca dragged her feet in the red dirt, slowing the swing. “It’s nothing but a thunderstorm. We’re in for a little rain, at most. You might be sweet like sugar, but trust me, you won’t melt.” Bianca rolled her eyes. “Graduation is only eight weeks away. Relax and have some fun on our very last spring break together.”
Molly hiccupped loudly as the swirling cloud Lenni had pointed out dipped below the others. She always got the hiccups when she was scared. “Lenni’s right. We need to take cover.” She shot her gaze around the park, looking for shelter.
“Geez, not you, too, Mol? You’ve lived here long enough to know there’s constantly a storm on the horizon this time of year. People are always dragging one another to the cellar, only to learn it was a false alarm. Besides, do you think those guys would still be working on the trestle if a tornado was overhead?”
A big raindrop splashed the end of Molly’s nose as she looked toward the old trestle. Five or six men in bright orange vests moved quickly along the tracks, climbing over the rails and scurrying under the bridge as the rain began to pour.
Lenni widened her eyes at Molly, her gaze desperate. “The armory building beside the water tower is a community shelter. Maybe we can get in.” She clamped her hands together over her wet hair, holding it in place.
Molly glanced toward the water tower that pierced the angry sky a football-field length away. Could they make it in time? Hailstones pinged off the large metal swing set like warning shots. They had to try.
“Bianca, let’s go!” Molly screamed, the shriek of the wind stealing the words from her mouth and the breath from her lungs.
Molly lunged for Bianca’s airborne legs. Bianca’s heavy boots landed in Molly’s chest, knocking her flat on her back in the wet grass.
Bianca jumped from the swing, landing at Molly’s side. “What the heck? Are you crazy?” Her saturated curls whipped in the wind, reminding Molly of Medusa’s snakes. “You’re lucky I’m wearing motorcycle boots instead of stilettos. You’d have been impaled,” Bianca yelled, yanking Molly up by the wrists.
“Look!” Lenni shouted, pointing toward the trestle. A man wearing a hardhat jogged in their direction, scooping his arms through the air, motioning for them to come.
Through the rain, Molly spotted a blur of orange under the bridge—the neon vests of the other workers.
The tornado siren blasted, tearing through the train-like roar of the storm as the girls took off toward the trestle. Bianca caught Molly’s arm as they ran, jerking her close, putting her mouth to Molly’s ear. “One catcall or whistle from any of those guys, and they’ll get a motorcycle boot upside the head!” she shouted.
Leave it to Bianca, looking to set a bunch of railroad workers straight as the world blew to pieces around her.
“In here!” the guy in the hardhat yelled as they neared the trestle. Bianca glared as he shoved her under the bridge beside the huddled railroad crew. Quickly he turned and grasped Lenni’s shoulder, ramming her into Bianca.
“The ground’s soft here. Watch your step!” he shouted in Molly’s ear as he pushed against her back.
She nodded then yelped as a chunk of blowing debris banged hard against her skull. Stars burst behind her eyes as loose rocks shifted beneath her feet. Hardhat Guy wrapped a strong arm around her shoulders, steadying her as he hauled her under the trestle.
“Hold on!” He pressed her fingers to the rusted steel frame of the bridge, squeezing her knuckles beneath his strong hands.
Molly gripped the rail, the rough metal biting into her palm. Rain trickled down the side of her face and into her mouth, tasting like blood.
Suddenly, Hardhat Guy lost his footing as the embankment began to crumble. He lunged for the railing, wrapping his hand around a steel beam as his hardhat jarred from his head and tumbled down the embankment. Molly turned, peeking over her shoulder to see the hat careening into the shallow creek twenty feet below.
The trestle shook as the wind roared even louder. Molly prayed as she held to the vibrating metal, convinced Satan himself must be driving his long black train over the bridge.
Mingled with the ferocious sound of the wind and clatter of hail, she thought she heard whimpering. She opened her eyes and glanced over. Next to her, Lenni held tight to the same beam Molly clutched. In the near-dark, Molly could see her eyes were squeezed shut, her mouth moving silently in prayer. Shaken up, but not crying.
Molly looked to the other side. With only half his body wedged under the shelter, their rescuer struggled to keep his grip on the steel framing. The wind ripped at his dark hair and yanked at his orange vest. His tensed muscles looked like the exposed roots of a sturdy oak tree. At his feet, a small dog whined, its eyes wide with terror. Miraculously, the animal hadn’t been blown away by the wind.
Molly scrunched her body against Lenni’s. Her stomach cartwheeled as her feet slipped, sending more stones rolling down the steep ridge. No use. There wasn’t enough space on the disintegrating ledge for all of them.
The dog pawed at the guy’s jeans, begging to be held, reminding Molly of her own Chihuahua, Boo. Her heart hurt for the scared baby. She pulled her hand from the beam and bent down to scoop up the little dog.
The rescuer beat her to it, using one hand to lift the dog by the nape of the neck and bring it to his chest. His hand trembled wildly on the rail as the wind tried to wrestle him from beneath the bridge. He needed to hold on with both hands.
“Give him here!” Molly yelled, grabbing for the dog.
The gusting wind distorted the guy’s face, turning his brown eyes to slits. Grimacing like a bodybuilder deadlifting three-hundred pounds, he pushed the dog into Molly’s hand.
And then the rescuer was gone. Sucked from beneath the trestle like a stale, floorboard French fry through a hose-vac.