Saturday, 4 June 2016

GUEST POST: The Last Thing that Made Me Cry by Nell Castle #Contemporary #Romance

I have a hard time shedding appropriate tears. In a group of women opening their hearts to one another, I watch from the sidelines as my friends fight for the tissue box while someone shares a challenge, a sorrow, or even a joy. It's not that I don't have feelings. It's just that when my heart strings get pulled, I reach for a joke instead of a tissue. All that emotion makes me want to giggle. It's earned me a bad reputation.

So I was astonished and secretly thrilled a few weeks ago when I drummed up tears with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. We caught up with each other in her salon as she gave me a haircut. Her professional life had been tumultuous--after twenty years of business, she’d been forced to move to a new location. On top of the remodeling, she’d become a landlord of subsidized apartments upstairs. The colorful characters who paid rent alternately drove her crazy and broke her heart. 

Driving home from work one night through a city neighborhood, she saw a young man walking rapidly down the sidewalk to her right. Approaching an intersection with no stop sign, she assumed the man would stop at the corner. Instead, he lunged into the road in front of her car, turning to face her and throwing his arms up to shield his face. She wrenched the wheel to avoid him but couldn’t. His body slapped the windshield and rolled off onto the road, face-down and still. 

“I just pounded my steering wheel and started screaming,” my friend told me as she trimmed my hair. “For about thirty seconds, I couldn’t stop screaming and crying.”

“Was he dead?” In the mirror, I saw my eyes pop wide open.

“I didn’t know,” she said, adding a few expert snips to my long bangs as if hitting a man with her car was an everyday topic. “I finally calmed down enough to call 911. The police came first, and they turned him over. That was the first I knew he was still alive. The hospital was just a few blocks away, so they got there fast and loaded him into an ambulance. I stayed there about 45 more minutes answering questions while the police tried to find out who he was.”

I’ve seen a cat get hit by a car, and I wish I could erase the memory. How much worse to witness a car slam into a person? To be behind the wheel at the moment of impact?

I swallowed a lump in my throat. “Did you call your husband to come get you?”

From behind me, she shook her head, concentrating on the evenness of my hair on both sides of my face. “He was in a taekwondo class. I knew he wouldn’t have his phone on him.”

In the mirror, I saw my lips tremble. My poor friend had hit a person with her car, screamed and cried, and had to answer questions by the police for close to an hour, all by herself? My eyes stung, then flooded with tears. 

If my friend noticed, she didn't say so. The sad thing is, as soon as the tears hit, I wondered if I'd finally scored points as a sensitive woman. And that calculation dried up the tears fast. 

Still, I'd had a normal, female response to my friend's trauma. Maybe I only allowed myself to experience tears because her avoidance of emotional language didn't trigger my compulsion to laugh. Maybe my mirror neurons, those empathy-facilitating brain cells that fire when they watch someone perform an action as if they're actually performing the action themselves, need a real mirror to work right. 

Whatever the reason, I like to think I finally earned my place in the Sisterhood that day.    

Special events coordinator Sophia Anton is an old-fashioned girl. She wants a family by the time she’s 30, and she’s set her sights on an old friend. She just needs to lose 40 pounds, fast. But Jackson Thomas, the handsome new minister in town, turns her head to unexpected possibilities. Trouble is, Jackson’s taken a vow of celibacy, while Sophia’s scheme to snag the “man of her dreams” is working like a charm. So why does Jackson’s face haunt her when she closes her eyes? And how can Jackson dream of a future with Sophia after he’s shut the door on love?


The Wild Rose Press 

Author Bio:
Nell Castle grew up in western Pennsylvania and graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia. Since then, she’s lived in Key West, Anchorage, Sarasota, and Virginia Beach. She moved back to northeastern Ohio to raise her kids closer to the family homestead but looks forward to moving to a gentler climate after her youngest graduates. Until then, she revisits white powder beaches and craggy mountain tops only in her writing. She’s submitted a new manuscript to her publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and is currently at work on a novella.



  1. So happy to be featured on your blog today, Louise!

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  3. Sounds like your instinct is to play the supporting role in other people's drama! They say in relationships it's easier to be emotional when the other person is being strong, and vice versa. Do your own characters share that instinct?

    Did you find out what happened to the man she hit?

    1. Good observation--I definitely prefer to avoid drama in my own life! As for my characters, I like them to be strong with moments of vulnerability. The man she hit survived. He was a very troubled young guy, and this wasn't his first run-in with trouble. Pun not intended.

  4. I liked your story, Nell. :D
    And I imagine you earned your place in the Sisterhood ages ago by being a kind supportive friend...who still feels the pain of others but just expresses it differently.

  5. I can relate to sometimes feeling emotionless. I sometimes believe that is a survival technique because no matter what happens around you, life is still going on with work to be done. Some of us don't let ourselves stop and make time to truly feel the hurt, pain and sorrow. We may be empathetic, but we must stay strong and take care of business, not letting the emotion get below the surface. After all, "There is no crying in baseball!"

    That being said, I am truly sorry for your friend's turmoil. I am also happy to hear that the man survived both for his sake and your friend's.

    1. Thanks for your kindness, Wendy. btw, "There is no crying in baseball" has been a staple of my parenting lingo :)

  6. Nell, you are most definitely in the Sisterhood! Not necessarily because you cried at a socially "acceptable" time (or more pointedly, a socially EXPECTED time), but because by sharing this post with us you made yourself vulnerable. I was moved by your telling of your friend's tragic story, but also by knowing that I'm not alone in sometimes feeling that I am missing a female gene. While I may not respond to sadness with sarcasm, I do often respond to problems and crises with extreme pragmatism. Although I've found this to be a damn useful personality trait, others often perceive it as coldness. Like you, I care. I empathize. I just react differently than "normal." Thank you for sharing.
    Keep writing. Keep sharing. Keep being real.

    1. "Normal" is a wide net, and we can both crawl under it. Heart is what counts, and you've got plenty of it. Thanks for reading and responding!

  7. Nell, you have always been in the sisterhood. Who do I come to when my world is falling apart? Who is one of the first people I call? You have deep compassion and understanding of the human heart, however your delivery it is always what gets me through. You are who you are for a reason and I love exactly who you are.