I know on Tuesday that I promised you five days of previews of my new novel, which will be available on Amazon.com TOMORROW, November 1, and is available in print for in the Create space store RIGHT NOW BY CLICKING HERE. Unfortunately, my beloved grandmother passed
away yesterday. Thursday I was able to go see her one last time and she had a most amazing last day with family all around her. Her mind, though she was weeks away from her 99th birthday, was sharp. Finally it was her body that wore out. She was actually a little miffed, I think, at God for not taking her on Wednesday when she collapsed in the bathroom, but God knew her family needed one more day with her. So tomorrow, Sunday, we put her to rest next to her husband of nearly 70 years.
That said, I am managing to give you a few more pages of MISSING IN MANITOWOC right now. I'm so excited to start on this journey with Nora Hill, a woman who has been tested by God in so many ways. I hope you enjoy it too.
Again, this book will be available for kindle on Amazon tomorrow. I'm hoping all other digital platforms will also be ready to go today or tomorrow, and that includes Nook, Apple, Kobo...all of those.
Meanwhile, here's another few pages to whet your appetite! Enjoy!
“Is that your Subaru?”
I look at the mechanic in his coveralls. I wonder if his wife even attempts to wash the grease and oil stains out of the heavy denim union suit. Maybe she makes him leave it outside on the back porch.
That’s what my mother would do. “Germaphobic” is a huge understatement for her dedication to avoiding all things filthy. Probably why she married a minister, thinking he’d never come home with anything worse than maybe a small purple stain from serving Communion too vigorously.
She lived in a very tidy world, my mother did, until I came along. My two older sisters, born in her own image, never gave her a minute of grief. I swear, if you believe anything those three tell you, they were toilet trained immediately upon exiting the womb and never left a trace of themselves anyplace in the house. Call it my creativity, call it a willful streak, call it Original Sin…I was that kid in every family who was always three degrees off. You know, the kid who always had a scraped knee. The kid who always spilled something at a family reunion or church pot luck. The kid who was always tearing a hole in her ‘Sunday best.”
I never felt like I was born into the right family, you know? At my eight Christmas during the big family dinner with all the relatives there as witnesses, I asked if I was adopted. I mean, it’s a logical question. My sisters are seven and nine years older than I am. They are both tall and well built women. I’m short and frail looking. Kinda like one of those kids on those Christian Children’s Network commercials, the ones where kids are starving and have no clean water to drink, but a buck a week will keep them fed for a year.
So I asked the question. By the time I was eight I knew there was definitely something different about me that had little to do with my physical looks. It was clear, from the shocked reaction of those around the table, I’d struck an uncomfortable chord. True to my nature, however, I managed to spill an entire bowl of black olives on myself. So before anyone could think of a good answer to my question, the tension melted into laughter. Well, except for my mother. She dragged me into the bathroom to wipe the black, oily, juice off my Christmas dress.
My questions about why I’m so different from the rest of my tribe never have been answered. I dropped the adoption question that Christmas Day when Mom growled at me, “Don’t be ridiculous, Nora.” Some time ago I just accepted it. I’m that dirty kid every family has, the kid that is just never quite clean. Or normal.
Since then I’ve put distance between my family and me. It’s better this way. At first, sure, they protested. I shouldn’t be traveling alone. I might get hurt. I wasn’t being safe. I would one day be found dead in a ditch.
“Dead in a ditch.” That’s my mother’s biggest worry for all of us. Didn’t return a phone call? “You might have been dead in a ditch for all we knew!” Came in late after curfew? “You had us so worried that you were dead in a ditch!” When I started traveling for work, that was her biggest, and only, concern. “Nora, you have to promise you won’t camp out in your car. I couldn’t bear it if you were found dead in a ditch.”
I promised her I wouldn’t camp in my car anywhere near a ditch. She didn’t see the humor in that.
Sure she protested. I mean, I’m her kid, right? Of course she loves me. I’ve noticed, she has returned to her tidy way of life now that I’m not living there full time. She’s as happy as a clam. I don’t go home often. I don’t like to wreck her bliss.
Wow, I’m off track. Now is not the time for these sorts of thoughts. Now is the time to get my car out of this garage and get out of this town before anyone recognizes me. Over the years I’ve changed my look, what woman hasn’t? But I’m still me…no matter how hard I try to change the fact.
“Yes, that’s my car.”
The mechanic wipes his hands on his coveralls and stares at my car as if seeing something rare and strange. While Subaru Foresters aren’t that uncommon in most of the world, around here it is. It’s not a pick-up truck, and there isn’t a boat hitched to the back of it. I don’t have to dig too far in my memory bank to recall my high school days when everyone drove a pick-up truck. Everyone, of course, except for me. Back then, the Forrester was new, a gift from my parents for my sixteenth birthday. While not wealthy, my father was one of those rare people who just knew how to save a dollar and turn it into five dollars. Each of us girls, first Rose, then Lily, then me, got a new car on our sixteenth birthdays. Rose and Lily have long since traded their cars in for an upgrade, of course, but I’m still driving mine. Some call it loyal, some call it cheap. I call it not wanting to clean out the car and put my stuff in a new one.
“Haven’t seen a Surbaru in a long time. Most people around here drive pick-ups and minivans. I do remember this one girl in high school…” With that, the mechanic’s voice drifts off and he turns his attention back to me. He stares at me. Hard.
I feel the start of a headache…the kind I get when I know something I don’t want to happen is about to happen.
“Do I know you?”
And that thing I didn’t want to happen is now starting. My headache is getting worse. We are about to get into an uncomfortable spot here. He’s recognized me.
That’s it. I officially want to fall through the floor. I want to hide away and not continue this conversation. I’ve had this dialogue a hundred times with people who knew me growing up, but I have absolutely no recollection of them. I remember places, experiences, and feelings with super high-def clarity. I can recall names, lists and lists of names. But faces, faces I can’t remember at all.
It’s not laziness on my part or a quirk I have. It’s not like those funny mental ticks we all live with, like how my brother-in-law never knows where his glasses are or how my oldest sister goes through the names of all of her kids before hitting the one she wants to yell at. It’s a medical thing. I have something.
My “something” has a name that’s a mile long: prosopagnosia. That’s what they call it on the health channel. Most people call it face blindness. Simply put, I don’t remember faces, even those of people close to me. If I see someone, and then they leave the room for five minutes or so, I completely forget their face.
This includes my mother’s face and my father’s, when he was alive, my sisters’ faces, too. Plus, while I can differentiate between male and female voices, I have trouble sorting out specific voices. Not uncommon to us face blindness folks. Most of us have some other “thing” along with the prosopagnosia. It’s like God sent us through the neurological cafeteria before we were born and wasn’t just happy with us having the main course. I’m “face blind with a side order of distorted hearing.” Others might have Asperger’s or autism. There’s no end to the fun combo packs available.
When I’m home, I’m able to sort out my mom and sisters out, so long as they’re sitting in a certain spot. It has nothing to do with their faces, but rather whether or not they’re in their favorite chairs. Lily likes the green love seat. Rose curls up in my father’s brown recliner. Mother seats herself in the white wing backed chair, a chair so pure white only she could sit in it, by the way.
If my mother ever gets new furniture, I’m doomed.
As you can imagine, this causes problems at family gatherings and whatnot. I can’t count the number of times I hear the whispers, “Oh, that’s Nora…she’s terrible with people.”
I’m not terrible with people. I’m terrible with faces.
Then again, it’s almost better to be thought of as careless and rude, as some of my relatives do, than to be thought of as mentally deficient, as some of my other relatives do. Seriously, I think everyone in my extended family would just feel more at ease with me if I got a seeing-eye dog or a helper monkey or something. I know, ridiculous. But still, it’s family, right?
“Nora Hill, is that you?”
The mechanic is still looking at me and I really, really want to run away. I have nothing to say to this person who may be a friend, but right now is a stranger to me. And since he recognizes me and knows my name, I’m already at a huge disadvantage.
This is why I don’t like being around people.