Tuesday, January 26, 2016

from Bound for the Hills

Usually my excerpts have been from books already published. I am, however, writing on a new one, tentatively due in March, the seventh Arizona historical. Here is a snippet from its rough draft, which means it might change some before it gets to the final stage.

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    With late afternoon, she unpacked her father’s journals, the box of receipts and invoices. She stacked five lined tablets along with pencils and pens with ink. She had not known the journals existed until months after her father had hung himself. Her desire to find a reason for his suicide, the strange certainty that someone had been in their home the day of the funeral, all had led to her searching the house, but only when her summer school classes had ended did she have time to put more into it. A place by the pantry that didn’t look like the wall around it had led to finding a panel of sorts. A fingernail into what only appeared to be a groove in a door frame popped it open.
     Inside had been four journals and boxes of billings and business papers. When she opened the journals, she could not make heads nor tails of what they were saying. Her father wrote with a fine hand but the words hadn’t made sense. It didn’t appear to be a foreign language but… Why would he go the trouble of creating a secret cupboard, fill journals with gibberish, and then gather all these papers? Her desire to figure that out as well as a need to get out of San Francisco, to try something different, had led to the abrupt decision to leave town without telling anyone.
     She kept thinking her father had a reason for killing himself but what? He had worked for the Hemstreets for many years and seemed happy with what he did. The last few years though she’d been wrapped up in teaching, she’d paid less attention to what must have been his growing depression. Did the evidence he amassed relate to his decision to take his life? She felt tears in her eyes but brushed them away. She’d cried enough over his death. It was time to do something about it, do something with what he’d apparently left in secret knowing only she would find it.
      As the sun began to sink in the west, she lit a kerosene lamp, ate a slice of bread with butter and then poured herself a sherry to sit on the porch. A roughly hewn bench was along one side and from it, she could enjoy the changing colors and how they transformed the lake from blue to purple and then a fiery red. Sipping the sherry, she thought about her life and how many changes she had known in her twenty-nine years.
 



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