An Accidental Life

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Once upon a time, I chose to write about those accidental events in life that come about due to unexpected circumstances…or sometimes the failure to make a choice.

An Accidental Life was born, and became my first published novel.

6-28-11:

An excerpt from An Accidental Life reveals two characters, moving slowly toward one another, cloaked in their individual fears.

Autumn slipped toward winter, its days beginning with that hideous, low-hanging fog that characterized this part of the valley.   But Melody woke in the mornings feeling something akin to happiness.  Taking her large mug of coffee over near the tall side windows, where she had set up a little table and wicker chair, she would spread out the newspaper.  Reading, sipping her coffee, and occasionally glancing toward the guesthouse, waiting for the first sign of Hugh so she could invent some excuse to saunter on over.

Since their first encounter a few months back, the two of them had established a more or less regular routine.  One or the other would initiate contact, they would chat for a bit, and then they would end up in bed.  Melody still felt wonder when she reflected on their moments together.  What an unlikely pairing they were.

She felt the heat rising in her face as her thoughts raced backward and she quickly fanned herself with the front page of the paper.  Despite all the passion the two of them generated, however, she sometimes walked away afterwards wondering who Hugh Kincaid really was…They never really talked about anything substantive.  Oh, they had shared the superficial biographical sketches.  He knew that she had been in Haight-Ashbury in the sixties and on the road for awhile in the seventies.  He knew about the trust fund that had brought her this house.  She knew that he’d retired from a state job as an engineer, that he loved photography as art, and that he had been married once…But had no children.

Her brow furrowed as she tried to focus on the newspaper.  Her thoughts refused to cooperate, continuing instead to ramble in Hugh’s direction.  She realized that she wanted to know more.  And she was even willing to share more of herself.  The realization surprised and worried her at the same time.  What did it mean?

***

The Beginning:

Once upon a time, Karin Larson had believed in endless possibilities. In her childhood, all the adults had asked her the same question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Picturing a giant list from which she could choose, Karin had played with the task, picking out one thing or another, while watching the reaction of the grownups to help her know if her choices were right or wrong.

In this excerpt from An Accidental Life, a mother and daughter try to enjoy a rare visit without calling attention to any of their previous conflicts or differences.

“Good morning, did you sleep okay?”  Joyce bustled in and set the tray at the foot of Shana’s bed, her eyes gleaming with excitement.  “I made your favorites…” She gestured toward the colorful plate bearing two slices of French toast with bacon; a large mug of coffee was set next to it, and a side plate held a grapefruit.

“You remembered!”  Shana enthused, not having the heart to remind her mother that she hadn’t eaten like this since she was a teenager.  “Looks delicious!”  She obediently sipped the coffee and scooped up a bite of grapefruit.  “Are you going to join me?”

“No, I’ve already eaten.  And I thought you might enjoy reading the paper in solitude.  Unless you’d like company,” she added, almost hopefully.

“Sure, why don’t you join me?  Have another cup of coffee and we’ll share the entertainment section.”  Shana patted the end of the bed.

Jumping up quickly, Joyce retreated to the kitchen, returning with a mug of coffee, which she placed carefully on the antique trunk at the foot of the bed.  Then she pulled up the little wicker chair and waited for her section of the paper.  As she did, she looked around the room, marveling again at how much difference a little paint and new linens could make.  Reaching for the proffered paper, she began to skim the pages, all the while very conscious of Shana sitting there, picking away at her food and apparently engrossed in her reading.

Joyce waited, not wanting to interrupt the mood.  Everything seemed so peaceful and this little ritual they had enjoyed all those years ago almost evoked that time in her mind.  But not quite.  Something was off.  But Joyce decided not to push the issue.

A few minutes later, Shana reached into her canvas bag and retrieved a pack of cigarettes, and at the same time, a little crystal ashtray, which she placed in her lap.  Joyce almost said something, but again held her tongue while Shana lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply.  In the end she couldn’t help herself.  “When did you start smoking?”

“Oh, sorry, Mum.  I guess I was a teenager when I first tried it, but I never smoked here in the house.  I knew you wouldn’t approve.  Want me to put it out?”

***

CHAPTER ONE

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