NOVEL SAMPLE

Eddie barely heard the faint tinkle of laughter over the wind that rattled the house and the hiss of flame against damp wood. He stood up and sealed the wood stove before following the sound to the bottom of the staircase. The sound of his wife’s laugh followed by the deep and throaty voice of another man, stops him in his tracks, one foot poised over the first step. He hears music, the romance of Spanish guitar, a cassette he had made for her last birthday.

The music. The giggles. The sound of another man’s voice. All of it brings Eddie to a different time and place and suddenly he’s a young child again. He is standing outside of Adeline’s room, barely three feet tall, lips purple from unsanctioned candy. He stops at the closed door and grins because he thinks his mother is playing with his animal toy, a round object with a lever that, when pulled, expels the mewling and whines, cries and caws of animals in the wild.

He turned the doorknob with his small, sticky hand but the door wouldn’t budge against the lock. Adeline yanked the door open then and startled Eddie into tears.

“Get out of here!” Adeline shrieked. Eddie shuddered and ran off, up the hallway and out the front door where he sat on the steps until the man whom he’d heard in his mother’s bedroom told him to come in for something to eat.

The lightness in his wife’s voice pulls Eddie from his memories. He opens his mouth as if to shout or holler, eyebrows raised, a quick inhaled breath. But nothing comes out. He’s exhausted and worn from weeks of hard fishing, emotionally wrought after reading Adeline’s letter to him. He knows he can’t deal with whatever is happening in his bedroom and he backs away from the staircase. He feels surreal, like gravity has disappeared and he’s floating through space, no place to land.

The sight of the peach coloured envelope is Eddie’s lifeline, the distraction he needs. He pulls the junk drawer out until it’s dangling and sifts through the mess. He takes the old phone book from the bottom of the pile and flips through the first few pages. There, in green pen, was Adeline’s old phone number. Eddie’s hands shook as he punched the numbers into the telephone.

The number you are calling has been disconnected.

Eddie tried again to make sure he hadn’t entered the wrong number. Same message. Just as he places the phone back in the cradle, it rings.

Eddie’s hand shakes even more and he can feel his pulse on the inside of his wrists, like tiny wings snapping at his skin.

“Hello?”

Nothing.

“Hello?”

Silence.

“Who is this? Adeline? Is that you?” Eddie asks, his emotions a mixed jumble of hope and dread.

“Is this Eddie Rowen?” a feeble voice asks. Eddie thinks it’s a child then recognizes the weakened voice of someone much older, elderly.

“Yes.”

“Adeline is your mom?”

Eddie cringed when anybody called Adeline his mother. He felt she never earned the right to the title, refusing to address her by anything other than her given name.

“Yes,” he said reluctantly.

“Something’s happened to her,” the elderly woman said. Eddie heard a sniffle, a soft cry through the phone. “She didn’t come home last night.”

“You live with her?” Eddie asked.

“No, dear. I watch her. On Mondays she gets groceries. Tuesdays she putters around. Thursdays she goes to church. I saw her leave the house, but she never came back,” the elderly woman cried.

Eddie lowered his head and rubbed the back of his neck.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” he heard himself say. He heard the bedroom door open and close and he fought to tune it out.

“How’d you get my number?” Eddie asked.

“When Adeline didn’t come home I went to her house. Your name and phone number was pencilled on the inside of the phone book, dear.”

“I’m sure she’ll turn up.”

“I’m not sure…”

“If you’re worried, call the police,” Eddie said roughly.

“Well, I suppose, I just thought…”

“I can’t do anything from Nova Scotia. Just call the police and report a missing person.”

“Will you come?” the old lady asked.

“Yes,” Eddie lied and hung up and in that split second between rational thought and carnal rage heaved his mug against the wall. He heard a gasp on the staircase but wouldn’t look, wouldn’t turn around to acknowledge his presence. Instead, he took the broom and slowly swept shards of glass from the floor, his concentration focused on finding every last piece.

He heard a whisper. The crick of the staircase. Quiet footsteps over the hardwood floor.

Eddie swept the area again then got down on his knees and carefully wiped the linoleum with a damp piece of paper towel. He slowly opened the cupboard door and dumped the broken glass into the garbage can.

“Eddie?” Rachel called. “Is that you?”

The cold air that had seeped in through the opened back door settled into Eddie’s spine. He turned around. Rachel was fully clothed, both arms crossed over her chest, her cheeks pink, long hair pulled back.

“How long have you been home?”

Silence.

Unnerved, Rachel went to the window and looked outside. “Windy,” she said.

“Rach?” Eddie began. Rachel held her breath.

“Adeline committed suicide.”

Rachel spun around to face him, mouth agape.

“What?” she said. “Suicide?”

“It’s in the letter,” Eddie said and pointed his chin to the kitchen table.

“I don’t believe it. Did you call her? Have you called the police?”

“Of course I did,”Eddie shot back angrily. “I phoned the old number. Disconnected.”

“But you didn’t phone the police?”

“What can they do now? I’ve had the letter for days! If she tried anything someone probably found her by now.”

In five strides Rachel is in the kitchen reading the letter and muttering jesus jesus jesus as she does.

Rachel shook her head in disbelief. “She’s probably just trying to manipulate you into something.”

Silence.

Eddie yanked the cupboard open and pulled out a glass. He filled it with ice and rum, a splash of cola.

“This is real, Rachel,” he said. He turned to look at her and raked his hand through his hair, the smell of ocean and bait still on his fingertips.

“How long have you been having an affair?” he asked, finally.

“Not very,” she whispered.

Eddie marched past her into the living room. He stood at the bay window and watched ice crystals layer themselves against the outside pane, each layer heavier and heavier until the whole structure collapsed.

Rachel shook her head in disbelief. “She’s probably just trying to manipulate you into something.”

Silence.

Eddie yanked the cupboard open and pulled out a glass. He filled it with ice and rum, a splash of cola.

Eddie took a deep breath, expanded his chest in the hopes that anger would anesthetize his pain. He raked his hand through his hair, the smell of ocean and bait still on his fingertips.

“How long?” he asked, finally. When there was no answer, Eddie turned to see if she were still there.

“Not very,” she whispered.

Looking straight ahead, Eddie marched past her into the living room. He stood at the bay window and watched ice crystals layer themselves against the outside pane, each layer heavier and heavier until the whole structure collapsed.

The wind picked up and whistled through the aged house, between poorly insulated walls and cracked window frames.

“What now?” Rachel said sadly.

Eddie’s gaze wandered slowly up the trunk of the aged tree on his lawn, into the twisted branches, to the sky. He stared hard, wondering if he could see the moment when the moisture left the clouds. He heard Rachel’s sigh and when she said, “You can’t punish me with silence,” he spun around.

“How could you do this to me?” he asked.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to happen. It just did.”

“It just did,” Eddie replied sarcastically.

“I’m sorry!” Rachel cried.

“You’re NOT SORRY!” Eddie roared, fists balled at his sides.

Rachel stepped back, afraid that even a man like Eddie might snap and become violent. She sobbed and covered her mouth with her hand.

Eddie paced the floor then stormed past Rachel into the front porch. He grabbed his foul-weather jacket and boots, clothing usually reserved for the fishing boat. His wooden hat was stiff with salt, a gift from the foamy sprays of the ocean. Rachel sobbed loudly in the living room, a sound that triggered Eddie’s anger more than his empathy. Disgust more than understanding.

The wind pushed against the door forcing Eddie to shoulder his way outside. Hail instantly stung his forehead and cheek like tiny stinging bees but he didn’t shield his face, grateful for the distraction. He loved being in the barn during a storm the way some people loved being in a camper during a deluge. Even though his own home held its comforts, he loved the way the barn shook in the wind, the way the cold floor seeped into his boots and up his legs, the romantic feel of danger that didn’t exist.

Eddie moved around the barn lifting things that didn’t need to be lifted, stacking dried-up paint cans into a pyramid. He smoked while he worked, the whole time fighting the helplessness that threatened to smother him. Outside, the wind screeched angrily through the trees taking thick branches along for the ride. Eddie let a sigh escape his cold lips and watched the whiteness of his breath live and die within seconds.

When he emerged a few hours later, the ground was covered in snow. Thick, sticky flakes of snow coated the trees and the power lines, clung to every inch of his truck and distinctly framed the dark patch of driveway where Rachel’s car had been.

He was at a loss as to what to do with himself the minute he stepped into his house. He picked up the letter from Adeline and let his eyes skim the words. Again he checked the date stamp as if, somehow, it might have changed.

The only sound in the house came from the hum of the refrigerator, the crackle of the fire from the wood stove. There was no movement in the air, nothing to signify another person existed in this house. Eddie moved around the house slowly, as if he didn’t belong. He touched picture frames on the wall, swept his thumb over the mantle where dust had settled. He went upstairs, unnerved by the creak of the old staircase, the scent of a house that had once been happy.

He went into the bathroom and peered behind the shower curtain. Rachel’s razor was gone. Her expensive shampoo, the one Eddie had teased her about, was also gone. The double-sinked counter was bare where Rachel’s makeup bag had been, all the accoutrements of her daily routine, gone.

Pain pierced Eddie’s eyes and chest. His throat pinched. He could call her friends, he thought. He’d call the hospital and talk to the nurses she worked with. Someone would know what was going on. Where she was.

Suddenly the light in the bathroom went out and the house fell completely silent. The power was out, a common occurrence during a nor’easter. Without electricity the house felt as if its own heart had stopped. With every powerful gust of wind the house shivered.

Eddie went downstairs to check on the fire and noticed he’d need to bring in more logs. He readied himself to open the door into the wind and jumped at the sound of a loud knock. He opened the door where two policemen stood, shoulders rounded forward, hunched against the force of the storm.

“Mr. Rowens?”

“Rowen,” Eddie corrected the officer.

“Are you the son of Mrs. Adeline Rowen of Montreal?”

“What’s going on?” Eddie asked, suddenly aware of the orange envelope within his peripheral vision.

“I’m afraid I have some bad news…”

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2 thoughts on “NOVEL SAMPLE

  1. Thats an awesome read Lisa, looking forward to reading more. Some names are fimiliar. Your making us all proud and mom to.

    Like

    1. Thanks. That means a lot. It’s not easy but I love writing.

      Like

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