Andria is currently working on a seven-book series that starts in 1560 and ends in present day, threading all the stories together through the main character who holds the secrets and a little time travel.
Several of her short stories has received Honorable Mentions in writing contests. She also developed and wrote many marketing pieces, interviews, and blogs through Hotel News Now and MeetingKnowledge.com.
Andria is a member of the American Writers and Artists, Inc. (AWAI) and Circle of Success and has attended writer’s conferences and workshops, including the Writer’s Digest Conference and Pitch Slam.
Andria’s earlier professional experience eventually led to her writing.
She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts during her middle school years and decided that lighting design was the area where she belonged. She apprenticed at the John Drew Theatre and was a technical assistant for two seasons at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival. She earned her BFA degree from Boston University’s School of Fine Arts.
Andria established her lighting career in New York City on Broadway and Off Broadway, working with the best directors and playwrights on original plays and musicals, including when the RSC came to Broadway and has had the pleasure of working at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. She toured with Julliard’s The Acting Company and several dance and opera companies. She worked extensively in regional theatre and also taught Theatre Arts at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance.
Andria lives in Ridgefield, CT. USA
“Mama, watch out for those horses!” Miry shouted. It was normal to see horses running in open fields, or to spot two or three riders on the side of the road as they drove to town.
“Calm down, Miry. I see them!” Miry’s mother, Caroline, said defensively, gripping the steering wheel of their dilapidated old station wagon.
“Mama! Stop! Wasn’t that Scout I just saw?”
“Scout? No. He’d be dead by now.”
Miry twisted back to see the three horses and riders they had just passed. The middle horse looked like Scout, her father’s horse. Her mother had sold him seven years ago.
“No. No! It looks just like him!” Miry said, trying to do the math to figure out his age. “Who did you sell him to?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Mama, can’t you slow down a little?” Miry pleaded.
“Let it go, Miry.” Caroline warned.
Miry turned to face front and settled, unsettled, in the passenger seat.
Miry felt the tense undertow between them.
It was a classic case of abandonment. One day her father left the farm and his family. Disappeared. She didn’t remember much about him. She knew Dave, her older brother, remembered more, but they never talked about him. What was the point? He wasn’t there.
Suddenly it came to her, “Remember when Daddy marched right up to the front of Mrs. Huber’s kindergarten class and told them, “Miry is pronounced “‘Mee-ry” ’ not ‘“My-ree”,’ – got it?”
She giggled remembering with pride how her father had stood up for her and the kids had just stared back at him aghast. Nobody ever mispronounced her name again. But that was before..…he left.
“Yes, he sure set them straight.” Caroline muttered. She snapped on the radio as if to say end of conversation.
Miry let the silence lay. She leaned out the passenger window and closed her eyes to catch the warm morning breezes that caressed her cheeks and played with her hair and sighed contentedly. She enjoyed the Saturday morning treks to Miami, Oklahoma with her mother.
Miry Brook Johnson always believed she would know how to be a grown-up when the time came. But not today. Today was her fourteenth birthday (August 29). She had plenty of time to figure it out. She took comfort in that.
She thought it funny how she always felt special on her birthday for no particular reason.
“Jeannette was fit to be tied,” her mother, Caroline, was saying as they turned right onto Route 66 which would lead them onto Main Street, Miami. “She couldn’t believe her daughter went back to purple hair again. I sure hope Sally doesn’t go crazy when she gets to high school, with that gorgeous blond hair of hers.”
Caroline’s best friend, Jeannette Cummings, lived on the farm next door. Her younger daughter, Sally, was Miry’s age. It was Sally’s older sister, Rachel, who was indecisive about her hair color.
“How did you get off work to go with Mrs. Cummings to the hairdresser, Mama?”
“I called in sick, of course.”
Caroline worked as a receptionist at the local hospital. This was not the first time her mother had pulled such a mischievous stunt. Miry would never have the nerve to even skip school.
“Oh, Mama! They believed you?”
“Of course, they did. Clara even offered to bring me soup! And wouldn’t you know, later we almost ran into her on the street. I had to hightail it around the corner so she wouldn’t see me!”
Miry had to giggle. Her mother was tiny as a bird, with a curiosity in her blue eyes that always seemed to ask, “Where’s the action?” People were naturally drawn to her, wondering what her next crazy antic was going to be.
Caroline parked the car in the lot across from Tricklebee’s Market Place, as she did every Saturday.
“Miry–grab those two reusable shopping bags, would you, dear?”
“Mama, can I pick out what we are having for dinner tonight?” Miry asked as they crossed the street.
“Of course, you can. It’s your birthday,”
They entered the small grocery store.
“Hello, Lydia!” Caroline called out to her friend.
“Caroline! How are you, dear?” Lydia called back from behind the meat counter. Lydia and Stan Tricklebee had owned and operated the market on Main Street for over twenty years now. “I’ll meet you up front.”
Miry loved the oldness of Tricklebee’s. She was enthralled by the original creaky wooden floors and endless well-stocked shelves that reached the tin engraved ceiling.
“What’s on sale today?” Caroline asked, as she did every week.
As she went about collecting her usual staples, Caroline quietly slipped a half-priced box of day-old cupcakes into the shopping cart. She went to the checkout counter to chat with Lydia. Miry came up and impulsively put two big cans of La Choy Chicken Chow Mein and Chop Suey into the cart.
“Anything else, Miry?”
“No, Mama. Thank you.”
“It’s Miry’s birthday today!” Caroline announced so everyone in the store could hear.
“Mama!” Miry said, completely mortified. She squirmed at any attention made on herself. Miry quickly went to help Lydia bag their groceries, in an attempt to hide.
“Happy birthday, Miry.” Lydia smiled at her understandingly. “Thanks for bagging.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Tricklebee.” Miry whispered back.
“It’s all on the tab, Caroline.” Lydia nodded. Certain preferred customers were allowed to have monthly tabs.
“Thanks, Lydia. See you at Bridge on Tuesday.” Caroline waved good-bye.
“I’ll be there, Caroline!”
Once they were outside of Tricklebees in the blazing sun on Main Street, Caroline said, “Oh, did I tell you the Webers have opened an office on Main Street? Long Range Real Estate. Just down the block. Maybe we should drop in and say hello.”
“Okay, Mama.” Miry secretly hoped Tom Weber wouldn’t be there. It would be embarrassing.
It was a fleeting memory—like a faded 16mm home movie: Tom Weber chasing Miry around the outside of his family’s huge plastic above-ground pool (huge to a five-year-old). The walls were so high she felt protected by a fort until Tom came barreling round the curve. Miry would scream, running the other way around the wall where, inevitably, her big brother, Dave, would ambush her from the other side. Together Tom and Dave would lift Miry up and throw her into the pool, ignoring her squeals of delighted protest. The recollection lasted six seconds at the most.
Tom’s parents sold their farm soon after and moved to Miami to try their hands in real estate. Tom was no longer a neighbor, but he and Dave were the same age and went through the Miami public school system together as best buds. Miry was two years younger. Schedules and personal maturing created a gap between them. She hardly saw Tom anymore.
In a few weeks, she would enter the ninth grade at Miami High School and would have to start taking the long school bus ride back and forth every day as Dave had been doing for a couple of years now. She supposed she would get used to it.
Long Range Real Estate looked closed, so Miry and her mother went back to the car and began the long dusty drive back to the farm.
Miry had grown up all her life in the Plains, about forty minutes north of Miami (pronounced “my-am-uh”), Oklahoma, population 13,484. Actually, the farm was closer to North Miami (again, “my-am-uh“), population 381.
She loved the Plains. Some people saw them as desolation. Not Miry. The wind seemed to permeate her skin with all the wisdom she would ever need in life. The darkness in the middle of the night made her feel she had been transported to a whole new universe, not of this world. It was her private religion.
When Miry was a little girl, she discovered a secret place in the middle of the endless fields where nobody could find her. She learned how to whistle with the wind, making up the harmony, knowing where the rests came as they sang together. Every year on her birthday she would steal away to her secret place and whistle “Happy Birthday” with the wind.
Miry knew she belonged here. She was comfortable in the isolation. Sometimes she felt like she got left back in time.
She preferred dresses to pants or jeans and wore her dark hair up in Gibson Girl fashion. It suited her. Her smile was warm and a bit winsome; her large soft brown eyes reflected an expectancy, as if wanting to hear a good story or one’s latest adventure.
It was a lonely life on the farm with her mother and big brother, Dave. She still could remember the headache she got as a little girl when Caroline made her ponytail too tight. It never occurred to Miry to complain about it. These days, she was consumed with the usual angst and insecurities of a teenage girl. She often felt wistful but could never figure out what she was yearning for.
As Caroline made the last turn to the farmhouse, Miry said, “Mama, I’m going to take Butterfly for a ride.”
“Okay. Are you going with Sally?”
“No, I’ll go by myself. A quick ride. I won’t be long.” Miry preferred to keep her annual birthday ritual to herself.
Caroline watched her daughter ride off on her horse and then turned to the house to make a cup of tea. Something was bothering her in the back of her mind. Once settled at the kitchen table, Caroline realized it was that darn horse that Miry mistook for Scout. The horse Caroline had sold once her husband abandoned his family.
Caroline lifted her teacup to her lips with both hands. For the first time in a long time she allowed herself to recall the memory. That darn horse!
“He took the frigging truck.” Caroline said sitting on the barnyard bench in front of the farmhouse.
Nine-year-old Dave was sitting on an old truck tire blown out long ago, and Miry, seven, was drawing pictures in the dirt with a stick.
“How else would he get out of town?”
She did not appreciate Dave’s sarcasm, but did see the humor. “He could have walked.”
Either way, she could have used that truck. She went to throw some pig slop into the pen.
Caroline grew up in Burlington, Colorado, with her parents and her sister, Jemma. She would never forget the first time she saw her future husband. She was at the annual Kit Carson County Fair when she saw a tall, young man wearing a large floppy hat and a colorful shirt walking among the bulls and the pigs on the way to the Ferris wheel. He took one look at her and gave her the biggest, warmest smile she had ever seen. He removed his hat as if bowing to her and said, “Hey, pretty lady! Can I give you a lift?”
They rode the Ferris wheel three times before they were kissing. And, oh, could he dance! His thick black hair tousled to the beat of the music. Caroline still could smile about that night despite what had happened today. He had literally whisked her off her feet, and soon after she was marrying him and moving to Miami, Oklahoma, to start a farm he had just bought for “dirt cheap.”
But she knew he hadn’t been happy for a long time. Whatever spark that started that night at the Kit Carson County Fair ten years ago had gone out long ago.
“You sure you know how to drive that tractor?” she asked her son.
“Yes, ma’am,” Dave assured her.
Caroline turned to Miry. “How are you doing, dear?”
Her daughter had seemed surprisingly okay—like any other day.
“What’s going to happen to Scout?”
“I’ll get rid of him.”
“No longer needed.”
“Then I better say goodbye.” Miry dropped her stick and headed to the barn.
Caroline went inside to make supper. When it was ready she walked over to the barn to get Miry.
She watched as her daughter brushed Scout, using the step stool to make sure she was tall enough to reach all the spots, just like her father had shown her.
She listened to Miry’s lovely whistling that sounded like breezes in the wind, not wanting to interrupt her concentration, remembering her father bragged he had taught her how to do that.
That’s one way to say goodbye, Caroline had thought to herself.
Finally, she said softly, “Come on in, Miry. Time for supper.”
Miry had put the brush down and ran to her mother for a hug.
“I’m going to miss him,” she said, burying her face in Caroline’s apron.
“I know you will, dear,” Caroline said, holding her tightly. It didn’t matter to her whether Miry meant the horse or her father.
Over the next few weeks, Caroline quietly destroyed all photos and possessions of her husband that she didn’t need for the farm. She continued working the farm without any drama and managed to produce and sell enough to keep her children fed. Wheat mostly, hay and some soybeans.
Caroline never looked at another man again. She had the perseverance not to dwell on her setbacks, nor judge her failures. She had children to feed and a farm to run and preferred to be left alone to her own devices.
The farmhouse had two bedrooms. Caroline kept the larger bedroom and Dave had the smaller room. She figured he would need his privacy as he grew up. Miry had the second-hand pull-out couch in the drafty living room across from the kitchen. In winters, she could catch the warmth from the stove. Today’s version of “open concept”, to Caroline, was called “making do.”
If it was still light enough when they got home from school, Dave and Miry would go right to work doing their farm chores. Caroline did not express her appreciation, nor did they expect it. They did what had to be done.
Caroline recalled a memory of Miry coming home after school one day. It was September, the beginning of the school year. She must have been around nine years old, Caroline speculated. She could tell Miry was out of sorts just by the way she was walking from the school bus.
“Hello Miry.” Caroline said evenly.
“Hello.” Miry’s voice was muffled and rich with emotion. She went right past Caroline into the farmhouse and dropped her knapsack. She stood in the middle of the living area with nowhere to go. She did not have a bedroom where she could hide.
“What happened?” Caroline called in from the front door.
Caroline waited. She knew her daughter. She watched Miry pace herself into a tight circle. She watched her daughter begin to fill up.
Caroline took a glass from the kitchen cupboard and turned on the tap water. Miry appeared to be on the brink. As Caroline took a step towards Miry with the glass of water, Miry finally burst.
“Nobody likes me!” Miry flopped on the floor and sobbed.
Caroline thought, Not possible, nor necessary. She flopped down and faced Miry, without spilling a drop. She watched her daughter sob the hurt out of her system. Between jagged breaths, broken sentences came out from Miry’s insides that did not make sense. Obviously something had happened. Caroline impassively observed Miry’s face and listened deepl y. She did not ask why. The details did not matter as much as Miry being able to figure this out for herself, in order to be strong. Nevertheless, Miry had Caroline’s full attention.
Miry’s sobs started to subside. Caroline waited patiently until Miry’s eyes finally connected with her own. Once they locked eyes, Caroline swiftly brushed the hair out of Miry’s face and said firmly, “Like yourself, Miry. That’s all you need.”
Miry blinked a couple of times.
“Now come help me with the soybean bushels Dave brought in from the field. We need your help with the labelling.”
“Yes, Mama.” Miry took a sip of water and shuddered with relief.
Caroline sighed and took the last sip of tea. She had no regrets. She felt tired and went to her bedroom to take a nap before Miry came back from her ride.