Since today is my birthday, I wanted to give all of you a treat. Below is the first scene of my novel, Somewhere Only We Know. You can learn more about the book by clicking here or on its tab at the top of my website. The book comes out on November 18th, but you can pre-order the e-book version now. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
Somewhere Only We Know
After Mama died, Susan gathered all of her romance novels and lined them up with the spines down in an old cardboard box she found in the neighbor’s garbage. When i saw her doing it, i pointed out that the box had mold growing on its side and would probably end up ruining the books. She murmured that she didn’t care as she pushed me aside and carried the box past me up into the attic.
i forgot about the books for a while. It was strange not to see Susan with her nose in one of them—the ones with the shirtless men and pretty women on the cover and with titles that always had the word “love” in them—but i got used to how she was then. Quiet. Secluded. i thought Mama dying was what did it to her, but then i realized how wrong i was.
i make my way up to the attic now after He and Susan fall asleep. i can’t remember the last time i was up here. We haven’t decorated for Christmas in years, and the only other things up here are old clothes and school work, so there hasn’t been any reason to come to the attic.
It’s dark on the stairs. i don’t turn the lights on because i don’t want them to know i’m up here. i pull the flashlight out that i had hidden in my shirt and light my path. Spiders scurry out of the beam of light, their webs swaying from their sudden movement. i remember how scared of them Susan and i used to be, how we’d stand on our beds and scream for Mama when He wasn’t home and beg her to kill them for us. Spiders don’t scare me anymore. Nothing small like that scares me anymore.
i reach the top of the stairs and start scanning the rows of boxes with the light. Of course Mama would have kept it this way, with everything neat and ordered and labeled. Row one: Susan and Frankie baby clothes. Row two: Emma’s maternity clothes and Susan and Frankie elementary school art. Our lives are organized in this space, a place He hardly ever entered. i remember looking for Mama one day to ask her a question and Susan shushing me and telling me that Mama was in the attic and i should leave her alone. In the flashlight i see the old rocking chair in one corner. Stacked next to it are a Bible, my old baby blanket, and a couple of half-empty orange prescription bottles. A photo album is opened on the chair to a page of pictures from when they brought me home from the hospital. He and Mama look so happy in the pictures, with a five-year-old Susan straining on her tippy toes to look at me in the car seat. i can see why Mama chose this to be one of the last things she looked at.
Finally, in the back of the attic i see the moldy box. Susan tried to hide it, i think. It’s tucked under an old blanket, but it sticks out because it’s not organized like the rest. i put the flashlight between my teeth so that i can use both hands to pull it out. It’s heavy, like i thought, and it makes a loud scraping noise on the wooden floor. i freeze and try to hear any movement from His room below me, but all i can hear is the sound of my heart pounding in my chest. After a couple minutes go by and i can be sure He isn’t coming, i take the flashlight out of my mouth and stretch my jaw. Then i pull back the slightly rotting flaps of cardboard and look at the books inside.
It hasn’t been long enough for them to rot too, so the books still look as she left them, a sea of cream and white pages, rolling in waves of the different heights of the books. i guess she didn’t want to see their covers, didn’t want to be reminded of what these books contain. But i need to know what’s in these books. i need to know that what He’s doing to me, to us, isn’t normal. i need to know what this is supposed to be like, what love should actually feel like. And i begin to read the pages of Susan’s books to assure myself that this isn’t normal, this isn’t right. This isn’t normal. This isn’t right.