Today I am excerpting a portion of Chapter One, from Web of Tyranny, my fifth novel.
Synopsis: In equal parts funny and serious, Web of Tyranny by Laurel-Rain Snow is a proud, if poignant tale of Margaret Elaine Graham, a woman entangled in the trenches that epitomized her abusive childhood home only to flee into a stultifying marriage with Bob Williams. Seduced by the hope of achieving her goal of a college education and a life free from domination, she is blinded to Bob’s true qualities—and in a very real sense jumps from the pan into the fire. Oppression begets oppression and as Meg walks a thin line of human betrayal, she learns to stake her own claim to happiness—no matter how high the cost. Her fight leads to politicking during the radical antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, which manifests as a near-compulsion, which will turn her world on end. Enticed by the possibilities open to her and chafing at the strictures of the marital ties, Meg bolts from the marriage with her toddler son in tow where a whole myriad of troubles await her.
CHAPTER ONE: (EXCERPT)
For the first few seconds of every day, before reality hit, she felt her body floating in a cloudy tangle as she came up from her dreams. Beautiful dreams of sunny days filled with music, ice cream and lots of laughter. She could still remember a time when her days had been like that; she’d been much younger then, granted the indulgences of early childhood. Those moments usually happened in the warm, cozy rooms at Grandma’s house, when she’d had a feeling that everything would work out somehow.
But she was not at Grandma’s today, and as she tossed aside the heavy tangle of sheets and blankets, she knew she wouldn’t be going to Grandma’s again any time soon. Father had other plans for her. Her summer days would be full of farm chores, beginning in the early hours of the day and ending only when the last box of fruit had been emptied and the last peach had been cut and placed on the trays. In the shed, with its overhang that shielded from the hot summer sun, the smell of ripening fruit made her gag, but she had to stifle the urge. Otherwise, she could end up with a far worse punishment than cutting fruit all day.
Margaret shuddered as she recalled some of those punishments.
At least when she worked in the shed, she was surrounded by the friendly faces of aunts and cousins. Living within five miles of each other, the Graham relatives, especially the women, rallied around one another during harvest season. As she worked, she pretended to be a fly on the wall, listening to the adult’s conversations; they hardly noticed her and when they talked in those hushed tones, her ears perked up.
That was how she learned about Aunt Noreen’s heart condition and Aunt Molly’s foster child, the one who was expecting…When Aunt Molly’s voice fell into that whispery tone, Margaret knew that secrets were being revealed. Lola’s pregnancy and the dilemma about what would become of Lola’s baby after the birth.
Of all the aunts, Aunt Molly could tell a simple story and make it fascinating. Every day of her life sounded like melodrama. Even her physical ailments seemed like something out of a storybook. No matter what else was happening with her though, Aunt Molly always had a friendly word for the younger members of the family. She and Uncle Chester had only one child of their own; Charles was an oddly quiet boy who seemed misplaced in that family.
Before Aunt Molly had started taking in foster children, Margaret recalled summer nights when she had been allowed a sleepover at her house. In the tiny little cottage next to the meandering canal, Aunt Molly made up a bed for Margaret in the sleeping porch. While she lay there, Margaret would study the walls of the tiny room, her eyes following the pattern of the knotty pine; wide awake, she reflected on Aunt Molly’s warning words as she tucked her in. She’d spoken of the evils in the world and how Margaret had to be very careful to stay away from the field workers who roamed their farms during the summer. Because the men who worked the fields had evil intentions where young girls were concerned.
Aunt Molly’s warnings introduced fear into her life, like opening a door onto a dark netherworld. But in the mornings, all the blackness disappeared as Aunt Molly cheerfully served breakfast in the tiny little nook that looked just like a booth in a diner.
So in the summer of her tenth year, Margaret Elaine Graham paid attention to all the melodrama swirling around her and made up stories of her own to add to the mix….