Ruby, begins in the summer of 1965 as she takes us on a journey with the flamboyant and carefree Candace, her mother whose attempt at preventing Ruby the heartache of an unhappy marriage and unfulfilled dreams sends her spinning into her youth years with a future and a hope. Week-end outings to the theater, the beach, and expensive shopping trips opens the young girl to a life outside the abusive home. She sees that there is a world where life is good and dreams can come true.

Unexpectedly the teenager finds herself alone. Her mantra, “Ruby dances in her dreams, Momma cooks and cleans and cleans. Daddy mustn’t ever know, that Ruby loves her dancing so,” becomes the catalyst that, along with her naiveté, sends her to the streets of NY grasping for meaning and purpose to the tragedy of her mother’s death. Thirty years later, through Ruby’s daughter Abby, secrets that Ruby has kept buried for three decades begin to surface. Candace’s hope for her daughter finally comes true once fate rises to meet her and forces the truth of her life in New York to surface. Ruby delves relentlessly into the vortex of shattered lives – and then – suddenly, beautifully, wondrously, it discovers hope. in the very darkness of a loathsome and frightening world there glimmers a profound and thorough declaration of individual redemption.

Excerpt from chapter 1 – Summer 2006
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT A COLD and rainy night that sends me into worlds past present and future, time all wrapped up into one moment. I suppose it’s those raindrops ferociously pelting against the windows as if screaming for some sense of escape from a terrible bondage, or the way they slowly merge into one as they make their way down the windowpane perhaps yearning to become a part of the whole. I could watch the rain for hours without interruption; it allows for great introspection and pondering the way of life.

It was on one such night that I had fallen asleep in my rocking chair only to be awakened by a loud clap of thunder followed by a streak of lightning whose light swept through the dim of the room when my worn hand groped for the lamp switch, but although I turned it on, darkness remained. I reached for some matches in the drawer of the table and lit the candle that sat waiting to do what it was created to do.
Ah, there it was, the soft flame of the candlewick sputtering light throughout the room. It seemed to grab hold of my spirit and edge out my profile, my head propped up by the high back of the rocking chair. I could see my silhouette rocking on the opposite wall. As we rocked back and forth to the flicker of the candles flame, my shadow and me, we danced to the creaking of the wood floor.

The glimmer of the light revealed a younger face standing on the table by the candle, smiling out from a tattered double-framed photograph of a twelve-year-old ballerina dancer, my own face frozen in time forty years ago. The invitation on the left was written by someone who had mastered the art of calligraphy, creating sleek and flowing letters that danced just as a seasoned ballerina would: Little Miss Ruby Renfroe invites you to attend her dance recital Saturday, June 16, 1956.

I took the photograph in my hands probably for the first time in thirty years except to wipe the dust away. It sent me back, way back, to a day where life was nothing but a future filled with big dreams and possibilities. I was afraid to go back too far, yet I knew I must.

As I began my journey back in time, I felt as if I were traveling a dark tunnel and didn’t want to come out on the other side, knowing, instinctively, that there was a place that was actually darker than the tunnel I was in at the moment. Darkness seemed to be a safe haven for me for some reason. Sometimes darkness is a good thing. Perhaps I should have let it permeate the room that night because that candle shed just enough light on the table in front of me to send me into a world I had so desperately tried to forget yet longed to reconcile with, much like those tiny raindrops. That tattered black-and-white photograph on the table keeps me frozen in time, reminding me of a person whose dreams were cut short by so many outside forces. In the darkness I can create my own light, but in the real light I can’t avoid the truth and that truth can be darker than any moonless and starless night that covers the earth.

There’s one thing I have come to reckon with: life is little more than a series of events, just like those raindrops racing down the windowpane. They all affect the course of our destinies, and when they ultimately begin to merge into one large drop, those events will bring us to the place of our hearts’ desire. Oh how I loved to dance . . . just like the flame atop the candlewick the ebb and flow in each of us dances to the storms of life, ultimately freeing us from our own individuality until we are merged into the sea of humanity, and we all dance in unison . . . and I must deal with it!

  • What inspired this book?

    Ruby is the novel that our feature film, A Dance for Bethany, was created from. Those who have ever produced a feature film understand that the story evolves often times as it is being prepared for production. So much of the beauty of the story was cut out in our film that I wanted to go back and capture the essence of Ruby: Secrets of a Wounded Soul to tell the entire story!

    Yvonne G. Williams
    Ruby, Secrets of a Wounded Soul