Keeper of the Secrets


Keeper of the Secrets

A lady with pink hair tries to kill her husband in a restaurant. Many people witness the scene or event, but each from their perspective shaped by their present dilemmas, and emotional fallout shadowing their lives. The female protagonists in various stories are hiding things from their spouses. Their secrets if revealed, will change their lives forever.

Secrets can destroy not only a marriage but the person holding that secret too. Living your life with someone in order to please another can hurt you, and also injure those hold dear. Raven Clarke is a psychotherapist who has harbored a secret for over 16 years. Married to a wonderful man, she often thinks of the life she could have had if she had stayed with another. Haunted by her past and reliving it in her mind, her dreams and her visions, Raven becomes more obsessed with what could have been versus what is. Three beautiful children and a loving husband that her mother insisted she marry, Raven comes face-to-face with a woman who shares a similar dilemma. And yet Raven fails to realize that she needs help. The linked novel, Keeper of Secrets…Translations of an Incident, centers on a violent incident that each of central characters in the 8 stories views in a different way. Observing the incident impacts both their present and pasts in an emotional way.

Raven Clarke is not the only one who has a secret in her family. Her mother does too. This becomes evident as you learn about their distant relationship, and the truth about why the man she called Daddy Bill really left. Raven is a former psychotherapist and cannot come to grips with the guilt she still faces about aborting her child from another man, namely Absylom, her Ugandan lover. Together she and Absylom would meditate, seek harmony and peace.

In Dancing Siva, Raven Clarke, is having dinner with her husband and his client when she sees this woman trying to kill her husband. Not at all happy to have accompanied her husband to the dinner partner Raven tunes out what is happening in front of her revisits her past instead. She had wanted to remain home due to lack of sleep and fatigue by her infant daughter’s nightly crying. Will Raven ever deal with her past, resolve her issues, and become one within herself?  Will she ever forgive herself, and stay true to her family, or continue viewing her situation and disturbing dreams as a bad omen resulting from what she did in the past?

Keeper of the Secrets is the second, and namesake story. This story brings us Lahni Irete who feels she needs psychotherapy in order to understand and deal with a horrific incident that haunts her mind and dreams too. Marrying a blind Nigerian financier instead of her longtime friend, Amos, Lahni begins to doubt her choice, and questions if what she feels is guilt from her past. While observing the incident in the restaurant, and she relives it with her husband. Lahni later recounts how Raven and Drew stepped in to help. This allows Lahni to finally see that her choice of spouse was right.

Lahni replays the incident in her mind, and remembers how Amos just sat there and stared at her, while Drew seeing that Raven was in trouble, came to her defense an loving husband would. What is Lahni’s horrific secret? Is it something that stems from her true heritage? Lahni’s mother died, and her father could not remarry unless he allowed his daughter to be circumcised in order for his new wife to trust Lahni, and feel safe around her. Would you allow this to happen to you or to your child? Nwoye’, Lahni’s husband sees many things despite his blindness.

And what Lahni does is pure self-defense. It haunts her until the very end with a conclusion that will endear Nwoye’ to her.

Dr. Reynard Williams is the link that binds all of these protagonists. After seeing Raven as a client, Reynard then consults with Sahel, our main character in the third story, As Far as I Can See. This third story reveals the ties that link these main characters. It shows that all of them have secrets that require forgiveness of self, and understanding before they can move on with their lives.

Sahel is blind and will not tell anyone how the specifics of the accident that rendered her sightless. As children Sahel and her husband, Titus, and their mutual, friend Carl were a threesome. However, Sahel’s bond with Carl did not sit well with her mother. Sahel received many painful beatings as a result of her mother’s anger resulting from various issues of which Carl was one. Only Carl and Sahel’s father know the secret of what caused her blindness and the significance of the ring that her mother placed on her finger at her death. When a parent abuses a child it takes a kind, and more than forgiving person to allow that parent to absolve themselves of their sins, even when that parent is on her or his deathbed.

Sahel is kind and compassionate. Though haunted by her past she learns more about herself when hearing from Reynard, in consultation, of Lahni’s secret. Hearing about the secret Lahni holds helps Sahel to understand more about herself and her blindness. Will she forgive herself and understand the true meaning of her husband’s love? Read this story and find out.

Dr. Reynard Williams wants to have a child with his wife, Aaron, but there are reasons why that might not happen. Remembering back to when he first met Aaron, and the circumstances surrounding their meeting, presents another story of tragedy that not only befell Reynard’s mother and father, but Reynard’s wife, Aaron too.

Faced with the possibility that they might not be able to conceive a child, Reynard leans on his beliefs in Tibetan Buddhism and mediation and more. Here the author present another story of hope and forgiveness and that is linked to the previous 3 stories since Dr. Williams had enlisted the help of Sahel concerning his patient, Lahni.

Reynard’s memories of his father, and what happened in Reynard’s childhood create an anger in him so fierce, that when added to that his feelings of inadequacy with his wife, Aaron, leads to an eruption of anger. A meeting with a colleague and good friend enlightens Reynard when he hears her story, and how it relates to his. Every story in this collection intertwines with the one before. The author so aptly states: Anger is a loyal and good friend but not when we direct it to the ones we love or ourselves. How does Reynard come to understand the heart of his anger and let go? Read this story and find out.

The Bridge introduces Michael, a man who spent his whole life fixing bridges.  His wife Rachel would rather have him do something else. As a result of falling off a bridge Michael has lost his memory. He is frustrated.  Michael wants to recall the events of the months, and weeks leading up to the day he fell from the bridge. Rachel is his bridge to the past. Does he find Michael way back and if so, what happens? Learn when you read this heartfelt story.

In Three Movements, Arianne Gadsden’s faith in her ability to counsel terminally ill patients are questioned and her feelings for her life with her husband too. Ariane’s client Gayle is dead, but Ariane now she sees an image of Gayle in the mirror. Gayle speaks to Ariane, and directs Ariane to give her life with her husband a chance. Ariane’s life intersects that of Raven and Drew. Ariane’s feelings for the loss of her parents, and her friend, Gayle, weigh heavily upon Ariane.

During a gathering for a mother’s group of which Ariane is a member, Jack and Jill, Ariane’s anger and hurt rise to the surface. Gayle, now deceased, was also a member of Jack and Jill. You can feel the pain of Ariane’s loss. Ariane is struggling with her feelings for Jack, loving him, but also needing space to resolve her inner conflicts around the loss of Gayle, which also touches deeply upon the death of Ariane’s mother. Ariane’s comfort since losing her friend, Gayle, has been that of playing the piano along her son, Kent who plays the violin.

I related to this story in that when I was young and felt stressed from the pressures of school and the demands my parents placed on me, I found that playing the piano or my violin helped restore my calm and eliminate the anger.

The final two stories bring everything full circle. Myrandha presents the story of a man named Trey who lost his wife and never got to say goodbye. His aunt, while upon her hospital deathbed instructs Trey to speak with the man whom he has always known as his father, but who also abandoned Trey days after burying his wife who was also Trey’s mother. September 11, 2001 changes the lives of many people, including Trey. In order to face the present you need to forgive yourself for the past and learn to hear the words of others. Trey has tried to move on after his wife’s death at the hand of those who killed so many in the first tower. The incident in the restaurant triggered Trey’s memory of the fight with his wife, Myrandah, and her relationship with Skip, the man whom Trey, called Dad.

Life moves in strange ways. Many of the characters in this book see and hear the words, and faces of those whom they have lost. Theses family member help the characters understand and deal with their pasts in order to live in the present. This happens to Trey.

The final story reminds us of the war our country is fighting in Iraq. Captain Darryl Sharpton has to deal with his actions in Iraq. Coming home he finds an empty house. His wife Lisa and their two sons are gone. Darryl grows angry while searching for the answers. After speaking with his friend Chauncey, Darryl drives to Oakland, California where Lisa has gone. Darryl hopes that upon arrival in California he will learn the truth of why Lisa left, and that he has not lost her forever.

Mediation is often a way to help you relax, reflect and understand. It is a way to help you think and see and feel the presence of those who can help you find answers.

Each of these stories has a message of its own, but all of them unite in one: Before you can live in the present you must forgive yourself for the past. You need to listen to the words of others whether in your mind, dreams, or in life. From this you must create your own path into the future.

Life is like a precious diamond. You need to embrace it, and cherish it because you only get this invaluable jewel just once.

Raven and Drew of Dancing Siva learned to savor their lives together after that night in the restaurant and with their help so did many others.

Anjuelle Floyd’s messages and stories shed light on the hope that we can all learn to listen and hear the words of others before taking actions that will hurt them and us. Well-written, heartfelt and true to life.

Fran Lewis: reviewer and author of the Bertha Series of Books and Memories Are Precious by Alzheimer’s Book.

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