Friday, 16 September 2011
Author Spotlight - Excerpt from Moving On
Enjoy this excerpt from June's Desert Breeze Release, "Moving on." June is offering a PDF copy of her novel to one lucky poster. Leave a comment between now and Sunday along with your email so we can get a hold of you. One lucky poster will be chosen on 19 Sep and announced here on the blog and on the DB Yahoo Group, Connections.
His death would have been easier. Laura Barron avoided looking at the burgundy leather armchair as she slipped her mother's crocheted afghan off her shoulders and placed another log on the fire. Laura glanced out the front window as the snow swirled against the window panes and inched its way up the stone steps, already covering the front porch of her nineteenth century Chester County farmhouse outside of Philadelphia. With a sigh, she returned to the sofa vaguely aware of Vivaldi playing softly in the background and opened the editorial section of the Sunday paper. It was already history since it was now Tuesday evening, but between working and caring for her teenage daughter, Kim, she usually found herself behind on reading. It still felt strange to be sitting there alone.
She pictured Dave across from her in his chair reading his latest medical journal. Funny, she thought they were happy -- at least as happy as most of her friends after a marriage of nearly twenty years. Laura looked up as Kim came down the stairs two at a time. Everything her daughter did and said was quick. Her tongue was as agile as her one hundred-and-ten pound body. She had inherited Dave's dark brown hair and expressive eyes and Laura's fair complexion and slender curves. It was no wonder boys called her all the time. Sixteen was an exciting age, the transition from child to woman.
"Mom, the hem's coming out of my slacks, and I have to wear them tomorrow. Would you be a sweetheart and fix them for me?"
"Mmm, I suppose so, but why can't you wear something else?"
"I have to wear these. They go the best with my new sweater, and I told Lisa I was wearing red so she's planning to wear her red sweater, too." Kim's eyes sparkled with anticipation.
Logical explanation. Laura smiled at her daughter. "I'll do it this time, but I've warned you that you should learn to sew. I'm not always going to be around to do it for you."
"You have to be around, at least till you're ancient. Who else will teach me how to take care of kids and all that stuff?"
Laura laughed and went over to the dry sink where she kept her sewing box. Kim went on chatting about her friends and the upcoming weekend. She told of her plans to go to an indoor skating rink on Saturday with her best friend, Lisa, plus five other girls from school. Lisa was in her class, and they attended the same small non-denominational church in West Chester, where Lisa's father was the pastor.
Kim and Laura had joined the church after the separation, since Dave had remained at their old church as part of the missions committee. Seeing him every week was too much of a strain, and people seemed to treat her differently once they were separated.
Laura watched as her daughter exclaimed over the all-night skate, expressing herself with her hands. She was entertaining and exuberant. That's what kept Laura going after Dave left.
Kim ran upstairs to answer her phone, and Laura's mind wandered again to the past. Why hadn't she seen it coming? Certainly the signs were all there. Perhaps she couldn't admit to herself that she had failed. Failed as a wife, anyhow. Her job was going well, and she'd been promoted two months before they broke up to assistant vice president. It was a small local bank, but it pleased her that she was rewarded for her efforts.
She should have seen it coming. Dave had joined the gym and went religiously every other morning to work out before heading for the hospital. Then there were the new suits and casual designer clothes. In the past she had to beg him to buy clothes for himself. He even changed from his childhood barber to a 'hair stylist.' She had figured it to be a midlife crisis though he was only forty-four.
Laura first saw Dave during her sophomore year in high school when she and her friends went to the football games. Dave Barron was the star running back, and all the girls had crushes on him. It was five years later that she and Dave officially met. She was home between semesters from Penn State, and he was on his break as a first year medical student at the University of
Pennsylvania. They were introduced at a Christmas party of a mutual friend. During school breaks they dated frequently, but their relationship did not develop into romance until her senior year of college.
She recalled the Christmas Eve when he promised to love her forever and placed a solitaire diamond on her hand. Not wanting to be apart any longer, they married the following December during his final year of medical school.
Dave was the only man she ever loved. She'd had crushes, but never knew the real thing until he came into her life. He also became her best friend.
As she hemmed the slacks, she thought back to the months before he left. He began staying late at the hospital, sometimes not arriving home until midnight. She never questioned him because there had always been trust between them.
Kim called down the stairs and shook Laura from her thoughts.
"No emergency on those slacks, Mom. School's going to be closed tomorrow because of the storm. I'm so mad."
"I'll finish them anyway, so you'll have them when you need them. How much snow do they predict?"
Kim came back down and plopped herself on the sofa across from Laura, folding her arms. "They thought it might be a foot or more by morning."
"It's nearly a foot already. It's so beautiful. Have you looked out?
"Yeah." Kim frowned and shook her head. "I had my whole day planned, and Lisa and I wanted to go shopping after school. Nothing ever works out."
"It will probably be over by Thursday. Maybe you can go shopping then."
"The sales are only for tomorrow, and I desperately need new jeans."
"Honey, you have at least five pairs in your drawer."
"They're way too big for me. You know I lost five pounds on my diet."
"I know and you're way too thin now. I wish you hadn't done that."
"Thin is in, Mom. You know that. Maybe that's one reason..." Her voice trailed off, and she looked away from her mother. "I have to call Lisa and tell her about school."
Laura knotted the thread and handed the finished slacks over to her daughter without a word.
"Sorry, Mom. I don't mean you're fat or anything."
"It's okay. I know what you mean. Deb is much thinner...and younger." She tried to keep the bitterness out of her tone as she mentioned Dave's fiancé. She wondered why the long engagement. After all, the divorce had been finalized for six months now.
Kim leaned over and kissed her mother goodnight and took the slacks as she went back upstairs.
Any mention of Deb or Dave brought back painful memories that Laura couldn't erase, though she thought she had trained her mind to avoid reverting to that difficult time in her life.
Maybe it was the smell of the burning wood and the memories of intimate evenings spent together that continued to haunt her.
Deb was thinner. Life was kind to her. She had beauty, youth, talent, and now -- Dave. And me? What do I have? Immediately the face of her beloved daughter filled Laura's mind. Some day she, too, will be gone and then what?
Her job filled her days, but not her nights. Not her weekends either, though as soon as it was warm enough, she planned to take some tennis lessons. Her backhand needed work. She played in a round robin every year at a local club. It was a good way to tone up.
Laura had friends, but most were married, and she never wanted to be a tagalong. It was time to develop more single friends who were as available as she. The one opportunity she had to date a man, she had ignored. No one appealed to her. It would always be Dave even if he never gave her a second thought.