In this novel based on true events, a little girl kidnapped by her father must learn to survive in the midst of a chaotic existence.
Once upon a time in an exotic land called Miami Beach, a Jewish American princess was born. Not lucky enough to have a fairy godmother or even a mother to watch over her, the princess only had a wicked, malevolent, and misogynistic father.
Life was good for the little princess-until she turned three and her father snatched her away from everything she had ever known. Traveling in a 1941 Chrysler with a volatile man who took her to the Catskills, Mexico, and Las Vegas, the princess told herself that all would be well. She was with her father, after all. But the excitement of embarking on an adventure soon waned when she realized she might never know her real name, would never know where she will be living from one day to the next, and would never know if she would be acting like a boy or girl each morning when she woke up.
Based on true events, Then There's Tomorrow tells the compelling story of a little girl who must search for her own identity as she learns to cope in a turbulent existence chosen for her by a man who loves no one but himself.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.35(d)|
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Then There's Tomorrow
By Sandi Towers
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Sandi Towers
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIn the Beginning
The Princess's first few years were enchanted. She lived in a beautiful home in Coral Gables. She remembers a lovely Spanish-style house with a two-story living room and a huge organ set upon a cream-colored carpet.
She'd gently touch the keys of the organ, and magical tones would come forth. She especially loved when an adult would hear the note and praise her. She reveled in the attention and would clap her hands and giggle in delight.
Life was good.
Chapter TwoMiami to Providence
"Wake up! Wake up!" The Princess loved to hear these words. It meant her father had been called to deliver huge rolls of aluminum to some truly blessed place called Providence. She and her father would leave the house and load a huge truck. It would mean seeing new places and new people and experiencing life as an adult, at her advanced age of three.
She'd eat at new restaurants with the help of a booster seat. She'd sleep in the bunk behind the seat of the truck while her father drove. If she was lucky, her father would stop at a local bar. She would go in and entertain the patrons, doing a soft shoe dance to "I Need You Now," sung by Eddie Fisher.
What she hoped for was the breakdown of one of her father's trucks; then she and her father would have to fly to rescue the driver. The Princess loved flying. She loved how she was pampered, and she loved the sense of being in one place at one time and then quickly arriving somewhere completely different.
Chapter ThreeWhat About Mom?
One morning, the Princess heard "Wake up. Wake up." As usual, she was excited to hop on a truck or a plane.
Her father told her to pack her bag. He said, "Make sure you have all your favorite clothes and stuffed animals ... and plenty of underwear." The Princess gathered up her few possessions and put them into a tan valise with leather trim. She didn't understand why this morning was different. She didn't understand why she had to pack everything. She didn't know this trip would last the rest of her life.
When she asked her father where they were going, he told her, "Hurry up!"
What confused her was they didn't go to the airport or the place where the trucks were stored; they went to a place called a bus station. Even at three years of age, she knew her past life was over.
As she and her father stood in line, the warmth of the winter Florida sun penetrating her light blonde hair, the Princess asked her father, "What about Mom?"
"Don't mention her again. Forget everything about her. Make believe she's dead," her father ordered. Being an obedient child, she complied.
The Princess told herself all would be well. She was with her father. Yet there were the conflicting emotions of losing the life she loved and the excitement of an unknown adventure.
Chapter FourNew Jersey or Bust
As they settled into their bus seats, the Princess again asked, "Where are we going?"
"New Jersey," her father replied.
"I think we've been there before, haven't we?"
"Yes," he replied, "once while we were heading to Providence."
"Oh," she said. "I hope it's as nice a place as Providence."
Her father saw the doubt in her eyes but reassured her, "Don't worry. I grew up in New Jersey, and I know my way around."
Chapter FiveWe Hate New Jersey ... and New York
"I can't stand it anymore!" the Princess cried.
"What's wrong?" her father asked.
"The daughter in this house hits me in the lower back, and it hurts."
The Princess's father reprimanded her, saying, "We're lucky to find a room to rent in New Jersey and someone to watch you while I'm out selling televisions. I have to make a living. You need to be nicer to her."
"But I'm nice. She's being mean to me!" Her father ignored her, until two days later.
"How did you break your arm? You are so clumsy and stupid!" the Princess's father screamed at her as they sat in the emergency room of the hospital.
"I told you the daughter was out to hurt me," the Princess sobbed.
She related to her father the girl had grabbed her by her right leg and right arm and then lifted her up, beginning to spin her around in a circle. The whirling started slowly and then on each revolution speeded up, and then the girl let go and dropped the Princess on the floor. The Princess told her father she was in immediate and intense pain. Her right arm felt as if someone had stabbed her.
"Are you sure you didn't provoke her?"
The Princess cried and asked, "Why don't you believe me?"
As the doctor was treating her, the Princess didn't understand why her father was mad at her. She was trying to be a good girl.
Finally, they moved. Her father rented a room on Riverside Drive in New York City. The Princess was glad to be away from that wicked girl. She actually liked this new place. She especially liked the view of the river and the fancy people that walked down the street. The weather was cold and damp, much to the dislike of the Princess, but the woman they rented from was friendly; and the Princess's father wasn't blaming her for everything that went wrong.
Life was good, and the Princess was finally happy again, but not for long. One morning, her father told her they had to move—away from New York City.
The Princess asked, "Why?"
Her father mumbled something about having too many parking tickets because of something called "alternate side of the street parking," whatever that was.
The Princess asked, "Where are we going to move to?" She nervously trembled, waiting for an answer.
"Florida," he replied.
She couldn't believe her ears. "Florida!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, I miss the climate. I can't stand New York City. I've had enough of getting up in the middle of the night to move the car from one side of the street to the other," her father replied. "But we can't move back to Miami. We'll be moving to northern Florida, a place called St. Augustine. We'll be living in the oldest city in the United States."
That intrigued the Princess. She thought, How bad can this new place be? People have been living there for a long time and it's in Florida.
Chapter SixNot So Saintly Saint Augustine
"No, I don't want to go! I want to stay," the Princess screamed as she was taken away from the apartment her father had rented for them in St. Augustine just a week earlier. She didn't know why these people were taking her. What had she done wrong? She was truly afraid. She had no idea where she was headed. She had no clothes with her. She especially wanted her stuffed bear.
Her father bellowed, "Don't worry. I'll come and get you!"
She didn't believe him. She thought she had done something terribly wrong and was being arrested for some horrible crime—one she didn't know she had committed. Or worse: her father had hired someone to take her away so he could abandon her.
She didn't know it was her father who had done wrong—by not putting her into the only St. Augustine nursery school in existence ... and insisting she take naps in the back of the car while he sold televisions. The authorities "came to her rescue." Or so they thought.
It seemed like a long ride to the Princess's new residence. As the car pulled into the driveway of her new home, she looked out and saw a small Florida bungalow.
The people who owned this foster house were older. The man was weatherworn and wrinkled, probably from spending too much time in the northern Florida sun. The woman was somewhat stooped in her posture and had hair that was almost white. They seemed pleasant enough, but the Princess could tell they were taking in children mainly for the money. They gave her a bedroom, yet she remembers in that bedroom, there was only one light—a bare bulb that hung from the ceiling on the end of an electric wire. It was much different from the home she remembered in Coral Gables.
The couple tried to get her to eat dinner, but she was distraught. She had no idea what her fate would be. They put her to bed, but she could not sleep. She stayed up all night, staring at that lit lightbulb without a shade and wondering what was next.
Dawn finally came, which meant she no longer needed to stare at the lit bulb for comfort. The woman of the household came into the Princess's bedroom, and seeing the Princess awake, said, "Good morning."
The Princess, polite as always, replied in turn.
The woman said, "At breakfast, I'll tell you some good news." The Princess thought, What now?
Going out to the kitchen, she saw a small table with a vinyl tablecloth. On the table were the usual supplies of mustard, ketchup, sugar, salt, and pepper. Seated at the table were the man and woman of the house—and the woman who had taken the Princess away from her father the day before.
The Princess cringed inside. Where are they taking me now?
She still didn't remember doing anything wrong, although she had spent the night awake, trying to think of anything that might have irritated these adults.
The woman of the house spoke first, saying they were having pancakes for breakfast. That was good news; the Princess loved pancakes.
Later the woman said, "I'm inviting some children over so you can play."
That news wasn't that good; the Princess was afraid of other children after her experiences in New Jersey, and she didn't enjoy playing. She felt other children were immature and played stupid games. They'd ask her to make believe she was a monkey ... or other such nonsense.
Then the woman who took her from her father spoke up. "I've more good news for you. Your father will be here after he gets off work, and you two can spend a couple of hours together."
The Princess clapped with joy. She thought to herself, I couldn't have done anything that wrong, realizing he hadn't abandoned her. Despite all his meanness and lack of consideration toward her, he was all she had.
CH7[ I Want Out
The Princess couldn't stop crying while she sat with her father in the car on the beach.
Looking over her father's shoulder as he was seated in the driver's seat, she spied a large sign at the end of the sandy area. It had a huge star and the letters D-A-Y-T-O-N-A on it. (Although she was only a few months past three years of age, the Princess could make out letters. Yet putting them together as words and pronouncing them would take another few months of maturity.)
As she cried, she asked, "What's going to happen to me? Am I going to be stuck with those people?"
Her father, unusually acquiescent, tried to reassure her. He said, "I'll do everything I can to get us out of this mess. I promise I'll come from St. Augustine every day after work to see you and take you to the ocean."
He did, and each day while they were parked at the ocean, she'd always stare at that sign with the star on it—as if the star or the word on it had magical properties to grant her wish to be away from this beach and away from the house she felt imprisoned in.
A couple of weeks passed, and the woman who had originally taken the Princess from her father came and told her they were moving her to a more permanent place. The Princess was crestfallen.
"A more permanent place!" she exclaimed. "I thought my father was going to get me out of here." She broke down in tears.
The woman ignored her.
The Princess was put into another strange car and driven to a large building. It looked like a one-building school—with a brick façade and rows of windows evenly spaced on each of its three floors. When she entered, she saw dozens of children of all shapes and sizes inside. She asked, "What are all these children doing here?" She was told this was an orphanage, a place for children without parents.
She cried out, "I have a father! Why won't you let me stay with him?"
The Princess was shown to a cavernous room that ran the length of the entire building. It had a wide aisle in the center with ceiling fans revolving energetically above. Although there was a symmetrical spacing of windows, the room seemed dark and foreboding to the Princess.
This dormitory room contained numerous single-layer, twin-size beds. They were lined up on each side of the walkway in military fashion—with only a couple of feet between each of them ... just enough room to allow a child access. The Princess was shown which bed would be hers. There was a small footlocker placed in front of her bed for her few possessions.
As she assessed her surroundings, she hung on tightly to her teddy bear. She was in disbelief this was happening to her, but she resigned herself to her fate.
The next morning, she was led downstairs with the rest of the children for breakfast. Then there was finally some good news. A large black man was making pancakes. They were so good! She gradually settled into this new routine and actually started to play with some of the other children.
Her father showed up one day for their usual visit, but this time it was different. He didn't return her to the big building. He said there had been some sort of trial (whatever that was) and he'd won. They could now leave.
The Princess was happy, and she was glad to be with her father again. They left immediately. She didn't get to say good-bye to anyone, but she didn't care.
"By the way ...," her father began.
"Yes?" she asked.
Her father said, "I've been doing some serious thinking, and I think it would be better, for now, if you dressed and acted like a little boy. It would be easier to raise you that way. I wouldn't have to worry about someone stealing you."
The Princess didn't know the difference between boys and girls at her advanced age of three years and three months, except that boys had boy names. So she said, "Sure, that's okay. What will my name be as a boy?"
Her father said, "What about Michael?"
He then began to give her "boy" instructions. He said, "From now on, if we're at a public bathroom, you'll come into the men's bathroom with me. You'll go into a stall, and I'll protect you while you are inside. If someone is babysitting you, you can't let that person into the bathroom with you. You can't have anyone but me change you or give you a bath. After we leave Florida, we'll stop at a barbershop and get you a crew cut. We'll have to get you some new clothes, especially since we had to leave all your old clothes behind."
Gee, there are a lot of rules to becoming Michael, the Princess thought to herself. She also wondered, Am I now a prince?
She asked her father, "Where are we going?"
He said, "Houston, Texas, where you were born." That shocked her. All she knew was the house in Florida. How did they get to Houston for her birth? (It would take another sixteen years for her father to finally tell her the truth—she was born in Miami, Florida.) ]CH7
CH8[ I Now Pronounce You Princess Michael
The Princess asked, "When are we going to stop driving?"
Her father said, "I don't feel tired. Why don't you stretch out on the backseat of the car, and take a nap?"
Taking a nap on the backseat of their fourteen-year-old car, a '41 Chrysler, was standard for the Princess, and she complied.
It was dawn when the Princess awoke. Her father was saying to her, "Say good-bye to Florida."
The Princess saw the Welcome to Alabama sign, turned around to look back through the rear window of the car, and said a sad goodbye.
Her father said, "We're going to stop in Mobile."
Wherever that is, the Princess thought.
"I'll get you some 'boy' clothes, and you need to get a haircut."
"Okay," she said.
In Mobile, they stopped at a Sears store. They went in and headed for the boys' department. Her father looked at her and then at some pants and chose two pairs. Then they chose a couple of long-sleeved shirts and a few T-shirts. Finally, they went to the underwear department, and the Princess was confused.
"Why do boys' underwear have flaps in the front?"
Her father said, "It's the style for little boys, and you need to wear what they wear."
"Okay," said the Princess. She did like the looks of the wide waistband but thought, Why put a flap in front of underwear?
Her father paid for the garments and immediately took the Princess to the men's bathroom. It was empty. He told the Princess to change to the new clothes, including underwear. She did as he asked. She gave her old clothes to her father, and he immediately threw them out. She didn't understand why, but she didn't understand many things recently.
Now she looked like a boy with a pixie haircut. That had to change—fast!
They went into a barbershop, and her father told the barber they both needed haircuts.
Excerpted from Then There's Tomorrow by Sandi Towers Copyright © 2011 by Sandi Towers. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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