I wanted to tell you what that first kiss tasted like, but didn’t, because then you’d know it wasn’t you. Your kisses were always affectionate, but awkward. You never knew what to do with your mouth, or where your tongue should or shouldn’t go. I should have told you to trust your mouth, let your tongue weave until it became as natural as drawing breath.
I was seventeen and Mam was weeding bull thistles out of the garden. I offered Henry Miller a glass of lemonade. He was a neighbor boy who sometimes helped when things were run down or busted. We’d known each other since childhood. We were talking about the dust and the wind, and then he snuck a kiss. I felt his tongue dash around my teeth, and it startled me. But it was so sudden and sweet that I didn’t push him away. Not at first. It was like a spark set off in my head. Then he tried to slip a hand under my blouse, and I pushed him away, more afraid of Mam if she saw us than of what he was doing. Henry didn’t take offense. He knew he was being a rascal. He was two years older than me, and awfully presumptuous. I didn’t say a word to him, and he smiled, like he knew something about me that I didn’t.
Excerpt from A Very Tall Summer
Do you remember dreaming in colors, the sway of lilac leaves in the breeze, a green carpet underfoot? Or constellations of fireflies, dew trapped in cobwebs, the sound of fresh morning music from an orchestra of birds?
Neither do I.
Did he even see me?
There were weeks when he was the only person I saw. Hard winters, we’d be together, isolated with only each others dull company. And the more I think upon it, the more I believe Jeremiah was ashamed of how he looked, and could not confront his pug face every morning. Those set-back eyes and brooding, gray eyebrows. What did he see when he saw himself, I wonder. The terror of being lost in the vastness of a flat world, those acres and acres of disappointment and resentment? It’s all he had, all he knew. He was no accountant or artist, not a shopkeeper or salesman. He was a farmer. He knew the soil and I think he grew indifferent to it. The land could be cruel, and that cruelty grew in him, no matter his mild supplication of hope each spring. A man could tend to it the best he could, but it was beyond his will and desire. What was the point of it, but empty, wasted years with a wife who moved from room to room to avoid the emptiness.
What did he see? The same thing I saw, but magnified? And how did he see me? A disappointment? Someone whom he could lay claim to and control? There was kindness there, in the beginning, but it curdled with isolation. We had nothing in common other than our wariness of each other; fear of the land, fear of a stretched horizon that bled brown into an infinite sky.
Excerpt from A Very Tall Summer – now available
Seeing as A Very Tall Summer has sold only one copy in two days, I thought I’d offer readers the chance to sample the first chapter. It’s fairly lengthy and might entice anyone who’s interested.
I’m not going to whine… I know self-publishing is a risky business. But I love to write, and I truly hope there are some who would enjoy reading it. Success isn’t just about sales (though that would be awesome)… it’s about the joy I get from creating, and then sharing the work with others.
But enough about me.
May I introduce you to a woman who’s isolated and angry….
Now available from Amazon.
It was a very tall summer in 1957, and I’ll tell you why:
Old homesteads were set afire for no good reason, and the smoke and the dust eclipsed any kindness that may have had a chance to grow. I do recall the anger that slid in the smoky heat, uncoiling like a snake, waiting to strike…
It was a very tall summer in 1957, and I’ll tell you why…
And so begins the most terrible summer for Charlote Windover.
She and husband Jeremiah began a new life together surrounded by a wide expanse of a corn and sky. After years of brutal disappointment, she finally resolves to change her life. When Jeremiah is suddenly killed at an abandoned homestead, life becomes more isolated and harrowing. And with the threat of random fires being set by a mysterious figure known only as Croy, Charlotte’s life has become even more desperate.
In a land of big skies and small dreams, A Very Tall Summer is the tale of a broken woman’s resolve to overcome her past, and at any cost.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
― T.S. Eliot
Look back with wisdom; ahead, with a steady hand and courage.