Set in Central California’s farming country, Web of Tyranny introduces a young girl in her tenth year, and then follows her as she grows, changes, and encounters obstacles along the way. She becomes 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….
Today, I’ve continued to excerpt from Chapter One, of Web of Tyranny.
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.
She imagined that Cousin Lucy, who had turned fifteen that year, must have more excitement in her life than she could handle. Eldest daughter of Aunt Noreen and Uncle Joe, she sashayed into the shed every morning dressed like she was going out on a date. Today she had on tight Capri pants and a little white shirt with a Peter Pan collar; it seemed just a little too snug for the occasion, so Margaret knew that she must have a secret lover. She probably met him during lunch break. They would rendezvous down by the barn, behind the bales of hay; or maybe, they would meet down the hot country road at the next farm, behind the rows of grapes. Down where the packing boxes could be pressed into service as couches or chairs. He was probably one of the fruit pickers’ kids. Maybe that boy with the mysterious and brooding expression, the one whose jeans were too tight. Or maybe he was an outsider, a city boy working on a farm for the summer.
Margaret sometimes wandered down behind the grapevines, hiding in the foliage, hoping to catch a glimpse of Lucy kissing her boyfriend. But no matter how hard she tried, Margaret never caught her in the act. She sometimes wondered if Lucy’s boyfriend was something that she’d made up in her head. But then she remembered hearing Vernon and Lucy whispering their secrets and laughing. No, she wasn’t imagining things.
Sitting on the empty packing boxes one day, Margaret flashed back to a time when she and Vernon, three years older, had made trains out of them. Lining them all in a row, turning them right side up, they could sit inside the boxes, pretending they were train cars.
Now Vernon was too old to hang out with the likes of a ten-year-old. He followed Lucy, or even Charles, and they would disappear behind the barn. Probably smoking cigarettes.
Left to her own devices, Margaret listened, spun fantasies in her head, and tried not to be noticed. Sometimes, if she was really lucky, she could sneak off during lunch break and read a couple of chapters in her library book. She had to be very careful, because Father wouldn’t tolerate her reading those books. They were just adventure books, or sometimes love stories. But Father thought the books were frivolous and ungodly. If he saw them, he would toss them out in the incinerator. Margaret knew this because it had happened just last year.
She still shuddered at the memory of her father’s face as he’d shouted condemnation and lit the match to the blaze that had engulfed the trash, consuming her precious book. She had a hard time putting this new version of her father together with the daddy he had been, because once upon a time, Vincent Graham had been her hero. Sometimes Margaret could almost see traces of that daddy in his face; in the evenings, when he sat there reading his newspaper, all the sharp lines in his face disappeared. Or when he sat back in his big chair, falling asleep after dinner, she recalled how she had once trailed along after him when he took the milk cans out to the road. He would lift her up and put her on the cart; she could feel the breeze in her hair, smell the heavenly aroma of the countryside, and feel safe. Back then she’d still called him Daddy.
When had it all changed? Her memories blurred. One minute she was childlike and carefree, with Daddy tossing her in the air; then he was this stern Father with the gruff exterior and the harsh tones to his voice.