In an excerpt from Chapter One, of Web of Tyranny, Margaret Elaine Graham thinks back to some defining moments in her childhood.
Later in her life, Margaret would remember the summer of 1956 as that time when she’d still had illusions about what life could be.
Even with the backbreaking, seemingly endless chores, there was still that camaraderie amongst the workers. Even Lucy helped keep things light, chattering away about her plans for the evening. Margaret listened and pretended she had Lucy’s life with Lucy’s parents. Uncle Joe and Aunt Noreen laughed a lot. They even had a television set and when Margaret had the good fortune to visit at their house, hanging out with Lucy’s younger sister Nanette, the whole family sat around on the couch eating their dinner on TV trays and laughing along with the I Love Lucy show. Sometimes Margaret thought that Aunt Noreen, who was Father’s sister, must have grown up in a different family. They were total opposites. Father was all stern and uptight, while Aunt Noreen laughed and joked and seemed to enjoy being with her kids. Just like Father’s other sister Molly, who had all those stories to tell. Even Uncle Victor and Aunt Janice seemed so different from Father.
Margaret couldn’t figure any of it out back then. Later she would come to believe that it all had something to do with Father being the eldest child in his family. The one who had to drop out of school to work the farm. The one who had to give up his own fun and lightheartedness to help bring in the crops.
But in her tenth year of life, Margaret Elaine Graham only knew that the father who had once loved her had turned on her. And her life had somehow shaped itself into Before and After. First there had been love and acceptance. Then there was coldness and disapproval. And fleeting moments of secret fun and freedom meted out in small portions, to be grasped and cherished. As rare and unexpected as a stash of jewels. And just as precious.